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The prophecies against Egypt now follow, in which the prophet turns from the members of the coalition to its head.
Of the prophecies against Egypt there are in all six, each with a date,—properly only five, as the second (ch. Ezekiel 29:17 to Ezekiel 30:19) proves itself to be an appendix to the first by this, that it departs from the otherwise so strictly observed chronological order: it does not lie, as most of the other prophecies against foreign nations, between the date given in ch. Ezekiel 24:1 and that in ch. Ezekiel 33:21; it departs from the chronological order even within the collection of prophecies against Egypt. Its object is to point out that the fulfilment of the first prophecy is fast approaching, to which it is in part verbally attached, to show most emphatically that it has no independent import, but is merely a supplement. Thus there remain only the prophecies, ch. Ezekiel 29:1-16, Ezekiel 30:20-26, Ezekiel 31, Ezekiel 32:1-16, and Ezekiel 32:17-32. The number seven can only be carried through by forcibly separating what is united. There is in the whole collection of Ezekiel no single independent discourse which is not dated.
The first prophecy (ch. Ezekiel 29:1-16) belongs to the twelfth day in the tenth month of the tenth year after the captivity of Jehoiachin, and thus lies between the last prophecy against Judah, of the tenth day of the tenth month in the ninth year (ch. Ezekiel 24:1); and the prophecy against Tyre of the first day of the tenth month in the eleventh year, in ch. Ezekiel 26. The prophecy was delivered, as ch. Ezekiel 24:1 shows, during the siege of Jerusalem. The occasion is the hope of recovery through Pharaoh. The practical point of view, which it is of so great import to recognise in the exposition, is presented in Ezekiel 29:6-7, Ezekiel 29:16. The prophet predicts concerning Egypt, not for Egypt—what are things outside to Him?—but for Judah. The prophecy is to oppose the foolish hopes which were again placed in Egypt, to which Israel had so often resigned itself to its injury with idolatrous reliance; comp. ch. Ezekiel 16:26, Ezekiel 23:8, Ezekiel 23:19. How foolish to trust in the land which already stands itself on the brink of a precipice, which must so soon experience the judicial strokes of God! Who would bind himself to a corpse?
The prophet is, according to Ezekiel 29:2, to prophesy against Pharaoh, and against all Egypt. Accordingly he turns to the king, Ezekiel 29:3-7; to the land, Ezekiel 29:8-12. In the third section, Ezekiel 29:13-16, a mitigation, which, however, makes no change in the chief point: Egypt will, after the fall of the Chaldean empire, recover itself in some measure, but never again attain to such a state that Israel could be led to make it the object of its reliance.
Ezekiel 29:1-7. In the tenth year, the tenth month, on 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 Jehovah, Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his Niles, which says, My Nile is mine, and I have made myself. 4. And I will put a double ring in thy jaws, and hang the fish of thy Nile in thy scales, and bring thee up out of the midst of thy Niles, and all the fish of thy Niles shall stick in thy scales. 5. And I will leave in the wilderness thee and all the fish of thy Niles; upon the field thou shalt fall; thou shalt not be gathered nor heaped up: to the beast of the earth and to the fowl of the heaven I have given thee for food. 6. And all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the LORD; because they were a staff of reed to the house of Israel. 7. When they take hold of thee by thy hand, thou breakest and splittest all their shoulder; and when they lean upon thee, thou breakest and stayest all their loins.
The dragon ( Ezekiel 29:3) denotes, according to Genesis 1:21, the great sea animals in general, the monsters of the deep. That the prophet has the crocodile chiefly in view, which belongs to the remarkable peculiarities of Egypt, follows from the mention of the scales in Ezekiel 29:4. Already in Isaiah 27 the crocodile is named, the leviathan along with the dragon. The sea, in the symbolic language of Scripture, denotes the world. The dragon appears often as the king of the sea and head of the sea animals (comp. Psalms 74:13-14). In the sea of the world its natural counterpart is thus the great king, or the great power; comp. Isaiah 27:1, where it is said in reference to the world power: “In that day will the Lord visit with His hard, great, and strong sword leviathan, the flying serpent, and leviathan the wreathed serpent, and will slay the dragon which is in the sea.” Of Nebuchadnezzar it is said, Jeremiah 51:24: “He has swallowed us like the dragon.” In the Apocalypse the prince of this world appears as the great dragon, whose servants and instruments only the earthly despots are.  As the dragon is the symbol of the king, so are the Niles (the Nile in its several branches) the symbol of the land of Egypt in its riches and its power, which have the Nile for their source. In this sense the Nile occurs already in Isaiah 19, where in an extended delineation the destruction of the prosperity of Egypt appears under the figure of the drying up of the Nile. “I have made myself:” the Nile belongs to him. First, in connection with the Nile, is he what he is. There is an accordance in the thought with Ezekiel 29:9, where, in opposition to the sentence, “Let him do and rule,” he asserts that he has made all himself. By the rings, fastened in the softest and tenderest parts of the head ( Ezekiel 29:4), are the monsters tamed. The double ring is a ring that consists of two halves joined together in the middle, which are fastened on both sides, so that the joining middle comes into the mouth.  If the Nile denotes the prosperity of Egypt, the fish are its inhabitants living in prosperity, that feel themselves indeed as fish in the water, but now are placed on the dry ground. They are drawn out with the dragon; the subjects fall with the king, and in consequence of his fall. The wilderness ( Ezekiel 29:5), in contrast with the Nile, denotes the state of weakness without help or means. The contrast is taken from the natural conditions of Egypt, where the waste, awful wilderness borders on the fertile banks of the Nile. “I will leave thee into the wilderness “is the concise expression for, “I will bring thee into the wilderness, and leave thee there.” The field is the open field, in contrast with the splendid mausoleums in which the Egyptian Pharaohs were buried in the times of their glory. He comes down so low, that he does not even receive an honourable burial. Who would trust in a deliverer, and make him an idol, who cannot provide this for himself, who is destined to feed the raven, and will very soon be carrion! The king is, so to speak, an ideal person, who comprises in himself a great numerical multiplicity. Thus the statement is appropriate: “Thou shalt not be gathered nor heaped up.” Each of his deceased subjects was, as it were, a part of Pharaoh, as in the retreat from Moscow Napoleon was seen in every dead Frenchman. “They shall know that I am the Lord” ( Ezekiel 29:6): they have put themselves in Jehovah’s place, offered themselves as deliverers in scorn of Israel; so they must learn that they are men, and the God of Israel alone God, whereby it is not considered whether they recognise the effect proceeding from the God of Israel as proceeding from Him: it suffices that it really proceeds from Him, and is recognised by His believing people as proceeding from Him. A staff of reed can yield no firm support. There is an allusion to Isaiah 36:6, where Rabshakeh, the general of Sennacherib, says to Hezekiah: “Lo, thou trustest in the staff of this broken reed, in Egypt, which if a man lean on it, goes into his hand and pierces it: so is Pharaoh to all that trust in him.” So long has this miserable staff of reed already betrayed the people of God; even in the Assyrian times it was manifestly such; and yet men seek even at the present to lean upon it, and it makes every effort to delude into such folly. But soon is the miserable business to be arrested. “When they take hold of thee by thy hand, thou breakest” ( Ezekiel 29:7): the Jewish intended amendment of the text, “by the hand,” which Luther follows, arises from a material conception of the figure. They thought that a reed-staff could have no hand; but the king of Egypt has one, and yet is a reed-staff. We have an abridged comparison: when they take thee by the hand, thou wilt be like a breaking reed-staff. The king of Egypt not merely helped them not; he injured them, because he had led them to rebel in reliance on his aid, and prevented them from capitulating. “And stayest all their loins:” the staying is put sarcastically. He had promised to stay, and what he afforded to them was all he could do in the way of staying—was the staying in his sense and according to his lexicon; so that thus the staying is provided, as it were, with a note of quotation. A pretty staying, which is, in fact, a casting down. 
 The form תנים is found only here. It is a pluralis majesiatis from תן תנין , the more suitable here as a variation for this, as this dragon puffs himself up so much, presents himself as the ideal of all dragons. It appears that תן and תנין are originally the same word, and that only in the ordinary speech usage the first form was generally used of monsters on land, the second of monsters in water; an assumption the more natural, as תן never occurs in prose, and is a term not of natural history, but of poetry. As תן occurs here of the water animals, so תנין in Lamentations 4:3 of jackals.
 The reading in the text, חחיים , is the dual, in accordance with לחיים .
 Allusion to המעד , Psalms 69:24.
From the king the prophet now turns in the second section to the land. Ezekiel 29:8-12. Ezekiel 29:8. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will bring a sword upon thee, and cut off from thee man and beast. 9. And the land of Egypt shall be desolate and waste, and they shall know that I am the Lord; because he said. The Nile is mine, and I have made. 10. Therefore, behold, I am against thee and thy Niles, and I will make the land of Egypt an utterly desolate waste from Migdol to Syene, and to the border of Kush.”  11. No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it; and it shall not sit  forty years. 12. And I will make the land of Egypt desolate amidst the desolate lands, and its cities shall be desolate among the waste cities forty years; and I will scatter Egypt among the nations, and sprinkle them in the lands.
 Luther, “from the tower at Syene even to the border of the Moorish land,” which, as Egypt lies even on the border of the Moorish land, has no meaning whatever.
 Text: Luther has, in place of “sitting,” “be inhabited,” against the usage of speech, although even Hitzig renders, “it shall remain uninhabited.”
“Because he said, The Nile is mine, and I have made” ( Ezekiel 29:9)—namely, all that was to be made, so that no place remains for God: Luther rightly, “I am he who does it.” Isaiah 10:13 shows that we may not explain, I have made it, the Nile. Yet the Nile is of all things the department in which the making of the king appears, and from which the supernatural causality, is excluded. The land must suffer for what the king has committed, because the spirit of the people rules only in the king; Pharaoh was the Egyptian. “I am against thee, Pharaoh, and thy Niles” ( Ezekiel 29:10): the judgments of God against the foreign nations consist, with Ezekiel generally, only in hostile invasions, especially in the visitation by the Chaldeans. On the height of the usually so-called Nile, the enemy had as little influence as Pharaoh, who could in regard to it utter the proud speech, I have made. The Nile must thus also here stand in a symbolic sense, as a designation of the prosperity and power of Egypt—of its resources. As in this sense Pharaoh regarded himself as the creator of the Nile, so the king of Assyria says in Isaiah 10:13, “By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent.” Migdol appears also in Jeremiah 44:1, Jeremiah 46:14, as the border city of Egypt towards Judah, and thus in the north. It there stands at the head of the cities in which the Jews had sought refuge from Nebuchadnezzar. Syene is the southern border city of Egypt: it is distinguished as such by the addition, “and to the border of Kush;” Kush, Ethiopia, the south border land of Egypt. Thus the whole land shall be wasted, and nowhere a tenable point remain for Pharaoh. Ezekiel 29:11 is naturally to be understood with the limitations arising from that which generallv happens in a hostile occupation, which never involves the complete cessation of all intercourse, least of all in a great kingdom. “It shall not sit:” the opposite of sitting is here also the lying down. The time that Egypt is to lie waste is here fixed at forty years. That the Chaldeans must be regarded as the authors of this desolation, appears not only from the historical starting-point of the prophecy, which was uttered when Nebuchadnezzar’s army had already reached Judea, the border land of Egypt, and from the analogy of all other prophecies of Ezekiel against foreign nations; comp. especially ch. Ezekiel 26:7, but also from the passage in Jeremiah 46:26, where it is said of the Egyptians: “And I will deliver them into the hand of those that seek their lives, and into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar and his servants; and afterwards it shall dwell as in the day of old, saith the Lord.” The time that the nations, and among others the Egyptians, will be subject to the Chaldeans, is fixed in Jeremiah 25 and Jeremiah 29 at seventy years. The beginning of these seventy years is the fourth year of Jehoiakim. In this year was fought the great battle at Karkemish or Circesium, on the Euphrates, in which the power of Egypt was forever broken, which in the struggle between the African and the Asiatic world-powers decided in favour of the latter; comp. ch. Ezekiel 30:21. The desolation of Egypt, here fixed at forty years, is different from the servitude of seventy years, as in Judah also the desolation of the city and the temple was separated by an interval of eighteen years from the beginning of the servitude. Thirty years it lasted, until the war passed from the confederate nations or dependencies of Egypt to the proper head-land of the anti-Chaldaic coalition, and wasted it from end to end. The analogy of the seventy years, of which the forty here are merely a branch, shows clearly, that even the latter have a historical import,—not, as has been asserted, “a purely theological,” as a supposed antitype of the forty years’ march of Israel through the wilderness, with which the fortyears here have nothing whatever to do. Yet we may suppose that the period of time here, as most of the periods in the book of Judges, is a round number, which in general better suits the nature of prophecy, which reckons in the gross, and is the more probable, as the desolation is not so precise a fact as the supremacy, which was decided by a single battle. It is sufficient if the beginning of the desolation took place within the fourth decennium before its end. The end of the forty years, at all events, coincides with that of the seventy years. The beginning of the forty years was not yet immediately in view. Of the seventy years of Jeremiah, seventeen had elapsed at the time when our prophecy was published, of which seven fall in the eleven years of the reign of Jehoiakim, and ten, according to Ezekiel 29:1, in the reign of Zedekiah. Thus at least thirteen years must still have expired before the beginning of the forty years. Before the main blow could have been given to Egypt, the great and difficult work of the conquest of Tyre must have been completed, the maritime power of which might have been very dangerous in a premature march against Egypt, the chief enemy. Niebuhr (p. 217) places the war, “which was decided most unfortunately for Egypt,” in the thirty-fourth year of Nebuchadnezzar. The prophet has himself afterwards, in ch. Ezekiel 29:17, expressly determined the beginning of the four decenniums. He places it in the twenty-seventh year of Jehoiachin, which was the thirty-fourth of the seventy years of Jeremiah. “Amidst the desolate lands” ( Ezekiel 29:12): the desolate lands are those of the anti-Chaldaic coalition, the desolation of which the prophet had announced in the preceding prophecies.
Ezekiel 29:13-16. In the foregoing the duration of the desolation of Egypt was limited to forty years. This announcement is here confirmed by the express announcement of its cessation after forty years. That this cessation is in connection with the cessation of the Chaldean sovereignty, we must already expect from Jeremiah 25, where, after the end of the seventy years of the Chaldean servitude, the judgment on Babylon is published; as also from Isaiah 23:15, where the seventy years of the prostration of Tyre are designated as the years of “one king” of a reigning dynasty, after the fall of which Tyre again rises to power. The cessation of the desolation of Egypt is not, however, the chief thought of the section. It is rather, that even after this cessation takes place, Egypt will still continue in a feeble state, and never recover her ancient greatness. This served the practical object of the prophet, which was to warn against trusting in Egypt.
Ezekiel 29:13. For thus saith the Lord Jehovah, At the end of forty years will I gather Egypt from the nations whither they were scattered. 14. And I will return to the captivity of Egypt, and bring them back to the land of Pathros, to the land of their birth; and they shall be there a low kingdom. 15. It shall be lower than the kingdoms, and shall not exalt itself above the nations; and I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule over the nations. 16. And it shall no more be the confidence of the house of Israel, bringing iniquity to remembrance, when they turn after them: and they shall know that I am the Lord Jehovah.
“I will return to the captivity of Egypt” ( Ezekiel 29:14), is the same as, I again take pity on their misery.  The return to Pathros, South or Upper Egypt, is specially mentioned, because this was the proper kernel of the land—their birth-land: the restoration was thus only then complete, when this came again into their power. The passage is of historical interest, because according to it the original seat of the Egyptian kingdom must have been in the Thebaid; which leads us up beyond the Mosaic period, in which the capital Zoan or Tanis was in Lower Egypt.  “They shall be there a low kingdom:” this is, as already remarked, no mere prediction, but has an immediate practical import, that of an indirect advice, as Isaiah, in ch. Isaiah 41:28, terms the utterances of the prophet. It serves the object of the whole prophecy, to dissuade from a foolish confidence in Egypt. Even after its restoration, Egypt will not again return to its ancient greatness: its power is for ever broken. The weakness of the old Pharaonic monarchy after the time of Nebuchadnezzar, here so clearly and definitely announced, is fully attested by history. Never has it again pointedly affected the progress of history. Great catastrophes must have befallen Egypt in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, otherwise the consequence in the world’s history could not have been so thorough and enduring. How radical it was, is manifest from the single fact, that Cambyses seeks the daughter of Amasis of Egypt, not for a wife, but for a concubine, in which condition that of her people reflects itself; and that Amasis, who knows beforehand what is in agitation, although the Persian monarch had not expressly mentioned it, does not venture to refuse his request (Herod. iii. 1). The words, “And they shall be there a low kingdom,” refer, besides, to ch. Ezekiel 17:14. “A low kingdom:” the condition that Pharaoh had formerly prepared for the Israelitish kings, is now imposed upon himself, and that forever; while the kingdom of Israel rises from its deep humiliation to the highest pre-eminence (ch. Ezekiel 17:22 f.). Thus the places are changed. Whosoever beguiles into iniquity brings iniquity to remembrance ( Ezekiel 29:16), or to the knowledge of him to whom the iniquity refers. For existing iniquity cannot remain unmarked or unpunished by the “Judge of all the earth.”
 Comp. on 16:53. שוב , to return, is here obviously different from the following השיב , to bring back. The returning is the root of the bringing back.
 Comp. my treatise on Egypt and the Books of Moses, p. 41 f.
Ezekiel 29:17 to Ezekiel 30:19. We have here an appendix to the preceding prophecy,—an announcement from the twenty-seventh year of Jehoiachin, above sixteen years later than that in Ezekiel 1-16; later also than the concluding prophecy of this altogether chronologically arranged book, the vision of the new temple. For this belongs, according to ch. Ezekiel 40:1, to the twenty-fifth year of Jehoiachin. The appendix that, as already remarked, proves itself to be such by departing from the chronological order, goes on to the following new superscription, and so embraces not merely ch. Ezekiel 29:17-21, but also ch. Ezekiel 30:1-19. The resumption of Ezekiel 29:1-16 must, if it had taken place, have been more distinctly marked in ch. Ezekiel 30; and we cannot think of an independent discourse there, because all independent discourses are dated in Ezekiel. We have seen already that the prophecy in ch. Ezekiel 29:1-16 was not designed to go immediately into fulfilment. At the time when this fulfilment was to take place, and the course of instruction for Egypt during four decenniums was to begin, the prophet takes up again his earlier announcement, and enlarges it. The hindrance to the immediate fulfilment of the former prophecy, the resistance of Tyre, is now removed. The siege of Tyre began, according to ch. Ezekiel 26:1, towards the end of the eleventh year of the deportation of Jehoiachin. It lasted, according to Menander, extracting from the Tyrian annals (Joseph, c. Ap. i. 21) and Philostratus (Joseph. Arch. x. 10, 1), thirteen years. Some time of rest must have been granted to the army, which, according to ch. Ezekiel 29:18, was completely exhausted. The blow also which was to shake the foundations of Egypt required much preparation. Two years after the conquest of Tyre, at the beginning of the twenty-seventh year of Jehoiachin, began the expedition against Egypt, the principal foe; and simultaneous with this beginning is our prophecy, which, with a clearness and certainty that can only be given by the Spirit of God, declares the end from the beginning ( Isaiah 46:10). There is much probability that we have before us, in the chronological date at the beginning of our prophecy, at the same time that of the present collection of the prophecies of Ezekiel, and that on the occasion of this collection he added this supplement. The collection was prepared in connection with the great conclusion, which was accomplished by the expedition of Nebuchadnezzar to Egypt. The whole prophetic activity of Ezekiel moves around the great anti-Chaldaic coalition. His first appearance was contemporary with its formation. With its close, the expedition of Nebuchadnezzar to Egypt, the mission of Ezekiel is completed; and as soon as it is completed, he brings together the documents relating to it.
First, the introduction Ezekiel 29:17-21. And it came to pass in the twenty-seventh year, in the first month, in the first of the month, the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 18. Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon caused his army to serve a great service at Tyre: every head was made bald, and every shoulder peeled; and there was no reward for him or his army from Tyre, for the service that he served against it: 19. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will give Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon the land of Egypt: and he shall take its tumult, and seize its spoil; and it shall be a reward for his army. 20. As his hire, for which he has served, I give him the land of Egypt, because they wrought for me, saith the Lord Jehovah. 21. In that day will I cause a horn to bud forth for the house of Israel, and I will give thee the opening of the mouth in the midst of them; and they shall know that I am the LORD.
In the statement in Ezekiel 29:18, that the Chaldeans had laboured in God’s service against Tyre, it is involved that the taking of the city was actually accomplished: for where God gives a special mission, He causes it to attain its object; and the mission in regard to Tyre, according to all the announcements of Ezekiel, is not directed to the siege, which comes into view only as the means to the end, but to the conquest. That they attained the object of their mission is as good as expressly said, inasmuch as they obtain a reward for their severe labour. If they had not executed their task, there could have been no talk of a reward. For the work concerns God not in itself, but only in its result. The failure here intimated of a reward in Tyre for their labour there, says nothing against the conquest. For the prophet speaks of a reward which was suitable to a grand and decisive result obtained by immense efforts; and it will be expected beforehand, that after a siege of so many years, not much was to be found in Tyre, as the best was partly consumed, partly destroyed, and partly carried away. Moreover, we must distinguish between the thought and its form. The thought is, that Nebuchadnezzar, by God’s appointment, will find in Egypt abundant satisfaction for his expectations in Tyre that were not quite satisfied. The form is taken from human relations, where to one who has executed a task that does not repay him, another is committed in which he finds a recompense. It is impossible, in truth, to speak of reward, as Nebuchadnezzar acted not in obedience to the command of God, but in the service of his own lusts and passions. “Every head is made bald, and every shoulder peeled:” the labours in which this took place—the erecting of besieging towers, and especially the raising of a mound against Tyre—are described in ch. Ezekiel 26:8. To the impending humiliation of Egypt, the prophet in Ezekiel 29:21 opposes the impending exaltation of Zion, as he had done in regard to the other nations of the coalition at the close of the prophecy against them in ch. Ezekiel 28:25-26. “In that day”—when Egypt is thus humbled. The whole period of the humiliation of Egypt is viewed under the figure of an ideal day. The horn is an emblem of power and ability for self-defence,  in contrast with the weakness which befalls Egypt, which can no longer push the nations ( Deuteronomy 33:17), but only be pushed by them. The real fulfilment is, according to the other indications of the prophet himself—for ex., ch. Ezekiel 17:22 f.—to be sought in Christ, in whom Israel obtains the absolute power of defence against the heathen world (comp. Luke 1:69, Revelation 5:6), yet so that even earlier the prophecy several times prelusively verifies itself. “And I will give thee the opening of the mouth in the midst of them:” the prophet speaks, even after he is dead, lives still among his people, in his book still to be found at the close, on which, after the analogy of the monumentum exegi aere perennius, he here impresses as it were the seal. When all is finished that he has announced in this book, in salvation for Israel as well as in punishment for his foes and betrayers, then may he as it were joyfully open his mouth and say, “You have heard it, see it now all” ( Isaiah 48:6): ye see now that the son of man is no mere son of man; that the sentence, “And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,” is true, that I do not fall under the judgment of Deuteronomy 18:20. If his prophecy were not fulfilled, then must he, surviving in his book, have been dumb, and not have gone out of the door ( Job 31:34). The expectation that his prophecy of the horn being caused to bud forth for Israel would be fulfilled in his lifetime, Ezekiel could not entertain. For he was thirty years old in the fifth year of Jehoiachin (ch. Ezekiel 1:1), when twelve only of the seventy years of the Chaldean servitude had elapsed; and according to ch. Ezekiel 29:12-13, the Chaldean supremacy was to endure forty years after the desolation of Egypt here announced as impending, which absolutely excluded the budding forth of the horn for Israel.
 Comp. on Psalms 148:14.
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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Ezekiel 29". Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19