Ezekiel 29 - Outline of Ezekiel (MENU page)
This section (ch. 25-32) concerning the LORD's judgment of the Gentile nations continues. The previous three chapters pronounced judgment upon Tyre, its human 'prince' and the spiritual 'king' who empowered him. Some elements of that prophecy have passed into history, others await fulfillment in the Tribulation, when the antichrist will be empowered by Satan.
     The next four chapters (ch. 29-32) pronounce judgment upon Egypt and its ruler (Pharaoh). While the prophecy primarily foretells the near term judgment of Egypt at the hands of Babylon, it also illustrates the downfall of the Gentile powers in the future day of the LORD, and reveals the spiritual plight of the fallen.
 
1. In the tenth year, in the tenth [month], in the twelfth [day] of the month,
the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, set thy face against Pharaoh king of Egypt,
and prophesy against him, and against all Egypt:
3 Speak, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD;
Behold, I [am] against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt,
the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers,
which hath said, My river [is] mine own, and I have made [it] for myself.
4 But I will put hooks in thy jaws,
and I will cause the fish of thy rivers to stick unto thy scales,
and I will bring thee up out of the midst of thy rivers,
and all the fish of thy rivers shall stick unto thy scales.
5 And I will leave thee [thrown] into the wilderness, thee and all the fish of thy rivers:
thou shalt fall upon the open fields; thou shalt not be brought together, nor gathered:
I have given thee for meat to the beasts of the field and to the fowls of the heaven.
6 And all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I [am] the LORD,
because they have been a staff of reed to the house of Israel.
7 When they took hold of thee by thy hand, thou didst break, and rend all their shoulder:
and when they leaned upon thee, thou brakest, and madest all their loins to be at a stand.
...in the tenth year, in the tenth month, in the twelfth day of the month...
This prophecy is dated about two months earlier than the prophecy against Tyre (Eze 26:1). Jerusalem had been under siege for more than a year. Six months remained before its fall (Jer 39:2).
...I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt...
The first biblical mention of Egypt occurs soon after the LORD initiated His covenant with Abraham (Gen 12:1-3,7). When famine came upon the land of promise, Abraham forsook it to seek sustenance in Egypt (Gen 12:10). Thus from its first occurrence, Egypt becomes a symbol for the world and its resources, as opposed to the LORD and His sure Word. Although God did not chide him on that occasion, Abraham had failed to seek His counsel, and took action according to his own fleshly wisdom, because he had not yet learned to rest fully in God's promise.
     Yet, during another famine about 200 years later, Jacob (Israel) was reluctant to leave the land until God specifically instructed him to take his family to Egypt (Gen 46:2-4). By then, Israel was an old man who truly knew the LORD. He would not turn from Him to put his confidence in Egypt. In fact, Egypt also would have perished in that famine, if the LORD had not sent Joseph "to save much people alive" (Gen 50:19,20). On that occasion, Israel went down into Egypt in obedient faith in God's Word and provision.
     While the children of Israel sojourned in Egypt, they grew into a great nation, which became enslaved to Pharaoh, until the LORD sent Moses to set His people free. The Exodus account declares that the Word of God overcomes the world, and delivers those who trust Him out of the kingdom of darkness.
     Although there was benefit (ie., the sustaining of life in a time of famine) in their early association with Egypt, God's people acquired ungodly influences through that association (eg., Abraham's Egyptian slave, Hagar, Gen 16:1-3; and Egyptian idolatry, Josh 24:14).
     King Solomon entered an alliance with Egypt through marriage to Pharaoh's daughter (1Kin 3:1; 11:1-8). In the ensuing years, Egypt and Israel were alternately aligned or at odds. King Josiah of Judah was killed in battle while attempting to interrupt Egypt's advance against Assyria, in 609 BC (2Kin 23:29-30). The last four kings of Judah, while mere pawns shuffled between Egypt and Babylon, frequently sought to play those major powers against each other (2Kin 23:31- 24:20). The final king, Zedekiah, turned to Egypt in rebellion against Babylon, which then returned to destroy Jerusalem (eg., Jer 37:7-10). Following the destruction of Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar allowed some Jews to remain in the land under Gedaliah, whom he appointed as governor. However, fearing Babylon, those Jews fled to Egypt, in disobedience to God's Word through Jeremiah. Therefore, the LORD had declared, through Jeremiah, that He would soon bring Nebuchadnezzar to conquer Egypt, and that Pharaoh-hophra would be deposed by his enemies (Jer 43:8-13; 44:24-30).
     With few exceptions, Israel's long relationship with Egypt produced more harm than good. Yet, Israel repeatedly turned to Egypt for deliverance, in times of trouble. In this, the people of God sinned, for it revealed their lack of trust in Him (Isa 31:1).
     Yet, here, the LORD declared that He would punish Pharaoh king of Egypt. How? Why?
...the great dragon {HB=tanniyn, sea monster, crocodile} that lieth in the midst of his rivers...
...which hath said, My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself.
Pharaoh was secure in his blasphemous self-confidence. Like the prince of Tyre (ch.28), he was moved by the self-exalting spirit of Satan, the deceitful dragon who draws followers after himself, and away from God.
...I will bring thee up out of the midst of thy rivers... leave thee in the wilderness... thee and all the fish of thy rivers.
The LORD would cause Pharaoh to come out of his place of security. Although Pharaoh thought he controlled his world according to his own will, the LORD would arrange events such that Pharaoh would rise up to counter an approaching enemy before he reached his land. In the process, he and his army {with soldiers, like the dragon's scales, as numerous as fish in the Nile}, would perish in the desert. Their unburied carcasses would be devoured by wild animals and birds (cp. Eze 32:4-6). Considering Egypt's longstanding status as a powerful nation, the fulfillment of this prophecy would have seemed unlikely, to Ezekiel's hearers... and especially to the Egyptians.
     When it came to pass, the Egyptians would "know that I am the LORD" (v.6).
     But why would the LORD take this action against Egypt?
...because they have been a staff of reed to the house of Israel... they took hold of {ie., grasped} thee by thy hand... thou didst break...
Although Israel should have been trusting in the LORD, and had wrongly placed their confidence in Pharaoh, Pharaoh had taken their money but let them down (Isa 30:2-7). The LORD would hold Egypt accountable for their unreliable assistance, when Israel sought deliverance from Assyria (during the reign of Hezekiah, c. 710 BC) and from Babylon (during the reign of Zedekiah; Eze 17:15-17; Jer 37:5-11). The words of v.6,7 echo the mockery of the Assyrian officer who threatened Jerusalem, during the reign of Hezekiah (2Kin 18:21; Isa 36:6). The LORD had delivered Jerusalem when Hezekiah looked to Him. But neither Egypt, nor the LORD, would help unbelieving Zedekiah.
8. Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD;
Behold, I will bring a sword upon thee, and cut off man and beast out of thee.
9 And the land of Egypt shall be desolate and waste;
and they shall know that I [am] the LORD:
because he hath said, The river [is] mine, and I have made [it].
10 Behold, therefore I [am] against thee, and against thy rivers,
and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste [and] desolate,
from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia.
11 No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it,
neither shall it be inhabited forty years.
12 And I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the countries [that are] desolate,
and her cities among the cities [that are] laid waste shall be desolate forty years:
and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse them through the countries.
13 Yet thus saith the Lord GOD;
At the end of forty years will I gather the Egyptians from the people whither they were scattered:
14 And I will bring again the captivity of Egypt,
and will cause them to return [into] the land of Pathros, into the land of their habitation;
and they shall be there a base kingdom.
15 It shall be the basest of the kingdoms;
neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations:
for I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule over the nations.
16 And it shall be no more the confidence of the house of Israel,
which bringeth [their] iniquity to remembrance, when they shall look after them:
but they shall know that I [am] the Lord GOD.
...I will bring a sword upon thee... the land of Egypt shall be desolate and waste... (cp. v.19,20)
Not only would Pharaoh and his army perish in the desert, at the hand of the invading army, but that army would continue into Egypt causing great destruction.
...and they shall know that I am the LORD: because he hath said, The river is mine, and I have made it.
This is a second reason that the LORD was against Egypt.
  • The first was Pharaoh's unreliable assistance to Israel (v.6,7).
  • The second was Pharaoh's blasphemous pride (v.3,9).
    Like the prince of Tyre (Eze 28:2), the Pharaohs were considered gods. During Israel's Exodus from Egypt, the ten plagues demonstrated, to the Egyptians, that their gods were nothing in comparison to the true and living God (eg., Ex 5:2; 12:12).
    So, in Ezekiel's day, 900 years after the Exodus, the lesson would be repeated (Jer 46:13-26).
...I will make... Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from the tower of Syene {ie., from Migdol to Syene} even unto the border of Ethiopia.
The word translated 'tower' {HB=migdol} is also the name of a city. Following the destruction of Jerusalem, the unbelieving refugees from Judah settled in Migdol and other nearby towns, located in the extreme north of Egypt on the Nile delta (Jer 43:7-13; Jer 44:1). Syene {a.k.a. Essuan or Aswan} was near Egypt's southern border with Ethiopia. (Since then, Ethiopia was divided and Egypt now borders Sudan.) Thus, the entire land of Egypt would be laid waste. Eze 30:10-13
...her cities...that are laid waste shall be desolate forty years: and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations...
...at the end of forty years will I gather the Egyptians from the people whither they were scattered...
Like the captivities of Jerusalem and Tyre, the desolation of Egypt would last until the fall of the Babylonian empire (eg., 2Chr 36:21; Isa 23:15,17; Jer 25:11,12). Nebuchadnezzar's siege of Tyre began shortly after the fall of Jerusalem. His advance against Egypt did not begin until after Tyre fell, 13 years later.
...I will bring again the captivity of Egypt... into... Pathros... into the land of their habitation, and they shall be... a base kingdom...
Pathros is the upper (southern) region of Egypt, as opposed to northern delta region of lower Egypt (upper / lower is relative to the flow of the Nile).
...I will diminish them... they shall be no more the confidence of... Israel... but they shall know that I am the Lord GOD.
Proud and powerful Egypt would be humbled by Nebuchadnezzar (and subsequent world empires). They would no longer have dominion over neighboring nations. Israel would never again have any reason to look to Egypt for help (eg., v.6,7; Eze 17:15-17). When Israel saw that Egypt had become a base nation, Israel would be reminded that it was because of their own misplaced confidence that the LORD had diminished Egypt... as He had previously diminished Israel to a base nation, under Gentile world dominion (eg., Eze 17:6,14). After that, Israel would place their confidence where it belongs (28:25,26).
 
17. And it came to pass in the seven and twentieth year,
in the first [month], in the first [day] of the month,
the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
18 Son of man,
Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon caused his army to serve a great service against Tyrus:
every head [was] made bald, and every shoulder [was] peeled:
yet had he no wages, nor his army, for Tyrus, for the service that he had served against it:
19 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD;
Behold, I will give the land of Egypt unto Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon;
and he shall take her multitude, and take her spoil, and take her prey;
and it shall be the wages for his army.
20 I have given him the land of Egypt [for] his labour wherewith he served against it,
because they wrought for me, saith the Lord GOD.
21 In that day will I cause the horn of the house of Israel to bud forth,
and I will give thee the opening of the mouth in the midst of them;
and they shall know that I [am] the LORD.
...the seven and twentieth year...
The fall of Jerusalem occurred in the eleventh year of Zedekiah's reign, which was the eleventh year of Ezekiel's captivity (cp. v.1; Eze 1:2). Therefore, this message (v.17-21) came approximately 16 years after the fall of Jerusalem, and about two years after the fall of Tyre.
...Nebuchadnezzar... caused his army to serve a great service against Tyrus... yet had he no wages...
The thirteen year long siege of Tyre had been costly for the Babylonians. They thoroughly destroyed the city, but they did not come away with much spoil, because Tyre's access to ships and the sea, allowed the Phoenicians to transport their treasures to other ports, before the city fell. Yet, the destruction of Tyre was a judgment from God.
...therefore... I will give the land of Egypt unto Nebuchadnezzar... it shall be the wages for his army...
...in that day will I cause the horn of... Israel to bud... and I will give thee {masculine singular} the opening of the mouth in the midst of them...
A 'horn' {ie., an animal's horn} is symbolic of power or strength. In the day that Egypt's power would be brought low, in fulfillment of Ezekiel's prophecy, the people of Israel would be strengthened, because they would begin to respect God's Word through the prophet's mouth.
     Through the fulfillment of God's prophetic Word, Israel will eventually be restored to power in the Kingdom of the Messiah (Eze 28:25,26; 1Sam 2:10; Psa 132:17; Jer 23:5,6; Luk 1:69).
...and they shall know that I am the LORD.
In the day that they (both Egypt and Israel) perceive that God's Word is sure, they will know Him (cp. v.6,9,16).

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