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Ezekiel was to wail and bemoan the fact that the day of the Lord was near. It would be a dark day for several nations since it would involve judgment for them. "The day of the Lord" is any day in which God acts in a dramatic way in history. The phrase "the day of the Lord" usually describes an eschatological day, but that is not its meaning here as is clear from what follows (Ezekiel 30:9; cf. Ezekiel 7:7; cf. Ezekiel 7:10; Lamentations 2:21-22). This judgment would come on Egypt soon.
3. The destruction of Egypt and her allies 30:1-19
Of the seven oracles against Egypt, this is the only one that is undated. Most of the commentators assumed that Ezekiel gave it in 587 B.C., the same year as the first, second, and third oracles. But he could have given it in 571 B.C. after his sixth oracle (Ezekiel 29:17-21). I think he gave it in 571 B.C. and that the writer placed it here in the text, after the other late oracle, because both of them contain specific references to Nebuchadnezzar. Knowledge that Nebuchadnezzar would be God’s instrument in judging Egypt is helpful in interpreting the remaining oracles against Egypt. If this chronology is correct, this would have been the last prophecy that Ezekiel gave that this book records.
This oracle appears to be a mosaic of four separate messages. Note the recurrence of the introductory clause "thus says the Lord God" in Ezekiel 30:2; Ezekiel 30:6; Ezekiel 30:10; Ezekiel 30:13.
An enemy would invade Egypt, slay many of her people, take away her wealth, and tear down her national foundations. [Note: See Josephus, 10:9:7.] Her neighbor Ethiopia (Cush, Nubia) would despair when this happened because Ethiopia had strong ties to Egypt. Egypt’s other allies would also fall: Put (on the African coast of the southern Red Sea), Lud (Lydia in Anatolia), Arabia, and Libya (farther west on the Mediterranean coast of Africa). "Arabia" (Heb. ha’arab) translates one pointing of the Hebrew text while "mixed people" (Heb. ha’ereb) renders another. Men from Put, Lud, Arabia, and other countries served Egypt as mercenary soldiers (cf. Ezekiel 27:10; Jeremiah 25:19-20 a, 24; Ezekiel 46:9; Ezekiel 46:21), and they may be the "mixed people" in view, if that is the correct reading. The Judeans who had fled to Egypt from the Babylonians would have suffered too, and they would have been part of this "mixed people."
The Lord announced again (Ezekiel 30:6-9) that the nations that supported Egypt would fall with her. Egypt would suffer humiliation from north to south (cf. Ezekiel 29:10) as the enemy slew many Egyptians.
The people and the cities of Egypt would become desolate. Then the Egyptians would know that the Lord is God when He destroyed the land as with a fire and rendered Egypt’s allies ineffective when they tried to help her.
On this day of the Lord (Ezekiel 30:3), the day of Egypt’s judgment, God would send soldiers against Egypt in ships, and they would frighten even the distant Ethiopians (cf. Ezekiel 30:4).
"The terror and consternation of Egypt in that hour can only be likened to the time of Egypt’s judgment when Israel was delivered from Egyptian servitude in the exodus (see Exodus 15:12-16)." [Note: Feinberg, p. 174.]
In a third message (Ezekiel 30:10-13), the Lord said He would make the vast wealth of Egypt cease when He sent Nebuchadnezzar against her. Nebuchadnezzar would come with his allies and fight against the Egyptians and slay large numbers of them.
Yahweh would cause the canals of the Nile River to dry up as a result of the warfare. The irrigation canals in Egypt required constant attention and maintenance, but during war the Egyptians would not have time for that. Consequently Egypt would stop producing food. The Babylonians, strangers to Egypt, would take over Egypt and desolate it.
Finally (Ezekiel 30:13-19), the Lord also promised to destroy the idols of Egypt, even from Noph (Gr. Memphis), the capital of Lower Egypt near modern Cairo. Some studies indicate that there were more than 1,200 gods in Egypt at one time. [Note: E. A. W. Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians, pp. ix-x; and B. E. Shafer, ed., Religion in Ancient Egypt: Gods, Myths, and Personal Practice, pp. 7-87.] There would no longer be a king over Egypt either; foreigners would rule over the land. Consequently the Egyptians would be very fearful. The Egyptians regarded their Pharaoh as the incarnation of a god.
Specifically, God would desolate Pathros (Upper Egypt, between modern Cairo and Aswan, cf. Ezekiel 29:14), He would burn up Zoan (Gr. Tanis), a chief city in the northeastern delta, and He would judge No (Gr. Thebes, modern Karnak and Luxor), Egypt’s southern capital. All the towns mentioned in these verses were important religious centers as well as large cities.
God would also judge the people living in Sin (Gr. Pelusium), one of the northernmost strongholds of Egypt, and He would allow the walls of No (Thebes) to be breached and its people slain. Noph (Memphis) would also experience daily distress during the war.
On or Aven (Gr. Heliopolis), a major religious center in Lower Egypt, and Pi-beseth (Gr. Bubastis), another capital city 40 miles northeast of modern Cairo, would also fall in the war, and the Egyptian women would go into captivity. It would also be a dark day for Tehaphnehes (Hanes, Gr. Daphne), a fortress town and residence of the Pharaohs (Isaiah 30:4; Jeremiah 2:16; Jeremiah 43:7; Jeremiah 43:9; Jeremiah 44:1), when Yahweh would break Egypt’s power. Egypt’s pride would cease, doom would overwhelm her, and her people would go into captivity. This is how the Lord would judge Egypt, and the people would know that He is the true God.
"Various forms of misery characteristic of the Day of the Lord are mentioned here as what the cities of Egypt may expect. All of them are intended to apply to all of Egypt, although the style of the passage is to pair miseries with cities randomly, in a kind of literary collage." [Note: Stuart, p. 288.]
Ezekiel received this oracle against Egypt on April, 29, 587 B.C., less than four months after the Lord gave him the first oracle (Ezekiel 29:1-16). [Note: See Parker and Dubberstein, p. 28.]
4. Pharaoh’s broken arm 30:20-26
Yahweh announced that He had broken Pharaoh’s arm. Ironically, "the strong-armed king had suffered a broken arm." [Note: K. S. Freedy and D. B. Redford, "The Dates of Ezekiel in Relation to Biblical, Babylonian and Egyptian Sources," Journal of the American Oriental Society 90 (1970):482-83.] It had not been set in a splint and supported, so he could not wield a sword effectively. This may refer to Egypt’s defeat at Carchemish in 605 B.C. when Egypt lost its share of control over the ancient Near East (cf. 2 Kings 24:7; Jeremiah 46:2). Another possibility is that the defeat in view was Hophra’s unsuccessful attack against the Babylonians near Judea a few months earlier (cf. 2 Kings 24:7; Jeremiah 37:5; Jeremiah 37:9; Jeremiah 44:30).
"Possibly the days between the first and fourth prophecies were approximately the length of time the siege on Jerusalem was lifted as Babylon repositioned its army to meet the Egyptian attack." [Note: Dyer, "Ezekiel," p. 1289.]
The Lord was about to break Pharaoh’s other arm and to break his previously broken arm again, personifications of Egypt’s fate. Egypt would suffer another defeat at the hands of the Babylonians and would never again regain its former strength. Yahweh would scatter the Egyptians from their homeland, and they would go to live in other countries.
The Lord described the conflict between Babylon and Egypt as a conflict between two warriors. Nebuchadnezzar would break Hophra’s arms as they battled. Egypt would groan like a wounded soldier. The people would know that Yahweh was God when He put His sword of power into Nebuchadnezzar’s arms and strengthened him to defeat Hophra and when the Egyptians dispersed from their land (cf. Ezekiel 30:17-18; Ezekiel 30:23; Ezekiel 29:12).
"The flexed arm was a common Egyptian symbol for the Pharaoh’s strength. Often statues or images of the Pharaoh have this arm flexed, wielding a sword in battle. A king with great biceps was especially a popular concept under the Saites Dynasty of Ezekiel’s day. In addition Hophra took a second formal title that meant ’possessed of a muscular arm’ or ’strong-armed’ . . ." [Note: Alexander, "Ezekiel," p. 897. His quotation is from Freedy and Redford, pp. 482-83.]
This oracle does not specify Nebuchadnezzar as the king of Babylon who would defeat Pharaoh. Evidently his identity was a later revelation that came in the oracles of 571 B.C (Ezekiel 29:17-21; Ezekiel 30:1-19). The point of this one is Yahweh’s certain and complete destruction of Egypt’s power.
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ezekiel 30". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany