Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 32

Ironside's Notes on Selected BooksIronside's Notes

Verses 1-32

Chapter Thirty-two

Jehovah’s Lamentations Over Egypt

God’s judgments are reserved for individuals and nations which refuse to acknowledge His authority. As of old He sent message after message to Pharaoh through Moses, only to have the haughty monarch harden his heart against His entreaties, until at last judgment had to fall, so in the case that we have had before us in these last few chapters, God gave one warning after another through Ezekiel, which we may be certain were conveyed in some way to Pharaoh, the proud, insolent Egyptian ruler; but they brought forth no response, unless indeed, like his predecessor of so long ago, he became all the more set in his attitude of independence of God.

Finally, the last messages were given before the judgment fell; and these messages, it will be noted, take the form of lamentations because Pharaoh, like Israel in a later day, knew not the time of his visitation. Our Lord’s lamentation over Jerusalem was the expression of the heart of God over an unrepentant people, and such lamentations come before us here.

“And it came to pass in the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, in the first day of the month, that the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, take tip a lamentation over Pharaoh king of Egypt, and say unto him, Thou wast likened unto a young lion of the nations: yet art thou as a monster in the seas; and thou didst “break forth with thy rivers, and troubledst the waters with thy feet, and fouledst their rivers. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: I will spread out My net upon thee with a company of many peoples; and they shall bring thee up in My net. And I will leave thee upon the land, I will cast thee forth upon the open field, and will cause all the birds of the heavens to settle upon thee, and I will satisfy the beasts of the whole earth with thee. And I will lay thy flesh upon the mountains, and fill the valleys with thy height. I will also water with thy blood the land wherein thou swimmest, even to the mountains; and the watercourses shall be full of thee. And when I shall extinguish thee, I will cover the heavens, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give its light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord Jehovah. I will also vex the hearts of many peoples, when I shall bring thy destruction among the nations, into the countries which thou hast not known. Yea, I will make many peoples amazed at thee, and their kings shall be horribly afraid for thee, when I shall brandish My sword before them; and they shall tremble at every moment, every man for his own life, in the day of thy fall”-vers. 1-10.

It is noticeable that the first message recorded in this chapter was given in the twelfth year and the twelfth month, considerably more than a year-and-a-half from the time of the last prophecy. Ezekiel was commanded to take up a lamentation over Pharaoh, in which he was likened now not to a crocodile in the river, as previously, but to a young lion rearing himself up in his savage independence of spirit, and seeking to destroy the nations that were leagued against him. He is also likened to a great sea monster, possibly a whale, which had entered into the Nile and was slashing about in its waters, troubling them so that they were foul and unfit for drink. Against him Jehovah was to spread out a net, thus rendering him helpless when the foe came upon him.

It is an interesting fact that even at this present time, various African tribes when hunting the lion, the leopard, and other savage creatures, try to get them into a den or hut of some kind where the hunters can surround them completely with a net; for they have a saying, “The beasts know not the wisdom of the net.” The beasts become so bewildered and entangled that they are then dispatched easily. Thus it was with Pharaoh. All his efforts to recoup his fortunes were to prove vain; and in due time he was to be ignominiously defeated, and his people subjugated to his foe. The land should be watered with the blood of the slain in that day. God said He would cover the heavens and make the stars dark, veil the sun with a cloud, and so arrange it that the moon should not give its light. All the bright lights of heaven were to be darkened, and the whole land covered with gloom.

This prophecy is very interesting and helps us to understand similar prophecies concerning the judgments that are to fall upon the world in the last days. It is very evident that these words were not to be taken literally, but they indicated the destruction of delegated authority and the gloom that would settle down upon the hearts of men because of the ruin that was to fall upon the land.

Not only would judgment be visited upon the Egyptians, but upon many peoples who were allied with them, destruction was to come. While other nations standing afar off and hearing of the terrible defeat of Pharaoh and his hosts, would be amazed and horribly afraid as they realized the seeming impregnability of such power as Nebuchadnezzar’s. That it was the power of Babylon which God had in view is evidenced from the definite way in which He speaks in the next section.

“For thus saith the Lord Jehovah: The sword of the king of Babylon shall come upon thee. By the swords of the mighty will I cause thy multitude to fall; the terrible of the nations are they all: and they shall bring to nought the pride of Egypt, and all the multitude thereof shall be destroyed. I will destroy also all the beasts thereof from beside many waters; neither shall the foot of man trouble them any more, nor the hoofs of beasts trouble them. Then will I make their waters clear, and cause their rivers to run like oil, saith the Lord Jehovah. When I shall make the land of Egypt desolate and waste, a land destitute of that whereof it was full, when I shall smite all them that dwell therein, then shall they know that I am Jehovah. This is the lamentation wherewith they shall lament; the daughters of the nations shall lament therewith; over Egypt, and over all her multitude, shall they lament therewith, saith the Lord Jehovah”-vers. 11-16.

The sword of the king of Babylon was the sword of Jehovah, for God Himself had commissioned Nebuchadnezzar to subjugate, not only Egypt but also every other nation of the civilized world of that day. Therefore the Babylonians are described as the terrible of the nations who are to bring to nought the pride of Egypt and all its multitude.

Destruction, too, would fall even upon the beasts beside the waters. These were undoubtedly the water-buffalo, the king of Egypt, upon which the people were so dependent. God had decreed that the very means of livelihood should, temporarily at least, come to an end, so that all the nations would realize that He was dealing in judgment with them.

As He lamented over them because of their obdurate and misguided spirit, the voice of lamentation should be heard on all sides, weeping over Egypt and her multitude because God had destroyed them.

“It came to pass also in the twelfth year, in the fifteenth day of the month, that the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, wail for the multitude of Egypt, and cast them down, even her, and the daughters of the famous nations, unto the nether parts of the earth, with them that go down into the pit. Whom dost thou pass in beauty? Go down, and be thou laid with the uncircumcised. They shall fall in the midst of them that are slain by the sword: she is delivered to the sword; draw her away and all her multitudes. The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of Sheol with them that help him: they are gone down, they lie still, even the uncircumcised, slain by the sword”-vers. 17-21.

Fifteen days elapsed ere this final message came through the prophet. In it he speaks specifically not only of Egypt but also of various other nations with whom God was dealing at this time. He was called upon to wail for the multitude of Egypt who were to be cast down unto the nether parts of the earth, with them that go down into the pit, as we have seen already. They had forgotten God, and therefore they were about to be turned into Sheol, their day of probation on earth having come to an end. The prophet sees them literally covering the ground as slain with the sword, but beholds the spirit going deeper down even into Sheol, there to lie with all who were unclean in the sight of God.

“Asshur is there and all her company; her graves are round about her; all of them slain, fallen by the sword: whose graves are set in the uttermost parts of the pit, and her company is round about her grave; all of them slain, fallen by the sword, who caused terror in the land of the living”-vers. 22, 23.

Upon Asshur, or Assyria, as previously noted, the judgment had fallen already. Her graves were openly manifest, and her people who once caused terror in the land of the living, had gone down into the pit. The God who had dealt with this great empire was about to exercise the fulness of His indignation against Egypt.

“There is Elam and all her multitude round about her grave; all of them slain, fallen by the sword, who are gone down uncir- cumcised into the nether parts of the earth, who caused their terror in the land of the living, and have borne their shame with them that go down to the pit. They have set her a bed in the midst of the slain with all her multitude; her graves are found about her; all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword; for their terror was caused in the land of the living, and they have borne their shame with them that go down to the pit: he is put in the midst of them that are slain”-vers. 24, 25.

Elam is next mentioned, the ancient name of Persia. Nebuchadnezzar had already conquered this nation, destroyed its armies and slain vast multitudes who, with the others mentioned, had gone down into the lower parts of the earth; that is, into the pit, or Sheol. No longer would Elam be a terror to other nations. She was powerless before the might of Nebuchadnezzar’s army.

“There is Meshech, Tubal, and all their multitude; their graves are round about them; all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword; for they caused their terror in the land of the living. And they shall not lie with the mighty that are fallen of the uncircumcised, that are gone down to Sheol with their weapons of war, and have laid their swords under their heads, and their iniquities are upon their bones; for they were the terror of the mighty in the land of the living. But thou shalt be broken in the midst of the uncircumcised, and shalt lie with them that are slain by the sword”-vers. 26-28.

Meshech and Tubal, of whom we are to learn more later when we come to chapters 38 and 39, were the names of tribes that had descended from Japheth, as we learn in Genesis 10:0. According to the most ancient records that have come down to us, they dwelt in the region bordering on the Black Sea, and at one time evidently they were people of some renown, but their encampments had been destroyed, and the slain had gone down to Sheol with their weapons of war. They were buried with these weapons under their heads, as became mighty warriors. But all their might proved unavailing against the Babylonian armies. Those who escaped fled farther north, for later on we find them in history as a nomadic people dwelling north of the Black Sea, and ranging from there to the region of the Caspian Sea. Eventually they were absorbed into the great Russian empire. Some have thought even that the names Meshech and Tubal are practically preserved for us in the two great cities of Moscow in Europe, and Tobolsk in Siberia.

“There is Edom, her kings and all her princes, who in their might are laid with them that are slain by the sword: they shall lie with the uncircumcised, and with them that go down to the pit. There are the princes of the north, all of them, and all the Sidonians, who are gone down with the slain; in the terror which they caused by their might they are put to shame; and they lie uncircumcised with them that are slain by the sword, and bear their shame with them that go down to the pit”-vers. 29, 30.

Edom, related intimately to Israel as we have seen, descending from Jacob’s twin brother Esau, had rejoiced when they saw the sons of Jacob in adversity, but God had punished them by means of the same power that was wreaking vengeance upon the Jews. The princes of Edom, on the southeast of Palestine, and the Sidonians, a Phoenician people on the north, had been destroyed also. Their might availed nothing; they were put to shame, and they lay dead with others who had refused to obey the voice of Jehovah.

“Pharaoh shall see them, and shall be comforted over all his multitude, even Pharaoh and all his army, slain by the sword, saith the Lord Jehovah. For I have put his terror in the land of the living; and he shall be laid in the midst of the uncircumcised, with them that are slain by the sword, even Pharaoh and all his multitude, saith the Lord Jehovah”-vers. 31, 32.

God brought these various nations before Pharaoh, indicating their doom, that he might know the day would soon come when he and his armies would join them in their utter defeat and destruction. They had simply gone into Sheol a little ahead; Pharaoh and his people would soon be with them there. Thus should the judgment of God be visited upon all the nations roundabout Palestine that had refused to heed the voice of His prophets.

With this chapter this particular section of the book of Ezekiel comes to a close.

Bibliographical Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Ezekiel 32". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. 1914.