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Against Egypt - Ezekiel 29-32
The announcement of the judgment upon Egypt is proclaimed in seven “words of God.” The first five are threats. The first (Ezekiel 29:1-16) contains a threat of the judgment upon Pharaoh and his people and land, expressed in grand and general traits. The second (Ezekiel 29:17-21) gives a special prediction of the conquest and plundering of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar. The third (Ezekiel 30:1-19) depicts the day of judgment which will break upon Egypt and its allies. The fourth (Ezekiel 30:20-26) foretells the annihilation of the might of Pharaoh by the king of Babylon; and the fifth (Ezekiel 31) holds up as a warning to the king and people of Egypt the glory and the overthrow of Assyria. The last two words of God in Ezekiel 32 contain lamentations over the destruction of Pharaoh and his might, viz., Ezekiel 32:1-16, a lamentation over the king of Egypt; and Ezekiel 32:17-32, a second lamentation over the destruction of his imperial power. - Ezekiel's prophecy concerning Egypt assumes this elaborate form, because he regards the power of Pharaoh and Egypt as the embodiment of that phase of the imperial power which imagines in its ungodly self-deification that it is able to uphold the kingdom of God, and thus seduces the people of God to rely with false confidence upon the imperial power of this world.
The Judgment upon Pharaoh and His People and Land
Because Pharaoh looks upon himself as the creator of his kingdom and of his might, he is to be destroyed with his men of war ( Ezekiel 29:2-5). In order that Israel may no longer put its trust in the fragile power of Egypt, the sword shall cut off from Egypt both man and beast, the land shall be turned into a barren wilderness, and the people shall be scattered over the lands ( Ezekiel 29:5-12). But after the expiration of the time appointed for its punishment, both people and land shall be restored, though only to remain an insignificant kingdom (Ezekiel 29:13-16). - According to Ezekiel 29:1, this prophecy belongs to the tenth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin; and as we may see by comparing it with the other oracles against Egypt of which the dates are given, it was the first word of God uttered by Ezekiel concerning this imperial kingdom. The contents also harmonize with this, inasmuch as the threat which it contains merely announces in general terms the overthrow of the might of Egypt and its king, without naming the instrument employed to execute the judgment, and at the same time the future condition of Egypt is also disclosed.
Destruction of the might of Pharaoh, and devastation of Egypt
Ezekiel 29:1. In the tenth year, in the tenth (month), on the twelfth of the month, the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 29:2. Son of man, direct thy face against Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and prophesy against him and against all Egypt. Ezekiel 29:3. Speak and say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will deal with thee, Pharaoh, king of Egypt, thou great dragon which lieth in its rivers, which saith, “Mine is the river, and I have made it for myself.” Ezekiel 29:4. I will put a ring into thy jaws, and cause the fishes of thy rivers to hang upon thy scales, and draw thee out of thy rivers, and all the fishes of thy rivers which hang upon thy scales; Ezekiel 29:5. And will cast thee into the desert, thee and all the fishes of thy rivers; upon the surface of the field wilt thou fall, thou wilt not be lifted up nor gathered together; I give thee for food to the beasts of the earth and the birds of the heaven. Ezekiel 29:6. And all the inhabitants of Egypt shall learn that I am Jehovah. Because it is a reed-staff to the house of Israel, - Ezekiel 29:7. When they grasp thee by thy branches, thou crackest and tearest open all their shoulder; and when they lean upon thee, thou breakest and causest all their loins to shake, - Ezekiel 29:8. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I bring upon thee the sword, and will cut off from thee man and beast; Ezekiel 29:9. And the land of Egypt will become a waste and desolation, and they shall learn that I am Jehovah. Because he saith: “The river is mine, and I have made it,” Ezekiel 29:10. Therefore, behold, I will deal with thee and thy rivers, and will make the land of Egypt into barren waste desolations from Migdol to Syene, even to the border of Cush. Ezekiel 29:11. The foot of man will not pass through it, and the foot of beast will not pass through it, and it will not be inhabited for forty years. Ezekiel 29:12. I make the land of Egypt a waste in the midst of devastated lands, and its cities shall be waste among desolate cities forty years; and I scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and disperse them in the lands. - The date given, viz., “in the tenth year,” is defended even by Hitzig as more correct than the reading of the lxx, ἐν τῷ ἔτει τῷ δωδεκάτω ; and he supposes the Alexandrian reading to have originated in the fact that the last date mentioned in Ezekiel 26:1 had already brought down the account to the eleventh year. - Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, against whom the threat is first directed, is called “the great dragon” in Ezekiel 29:3. תּנּים (here and Ezekiel 32:2) is equivalent to תּנּין , literally, the lengthened animal, the snake; here, the water-snake, the crocodile, the standing symbol of Egypt in the prophets (cf. Isaiah 51:9; Isaiah 27:1; Psalms 74:13), which is here transferred to Pharaoh, as the ruler of Egypt and representative of its power. By יארים we are to understand the arms and canals of the Nile (vid., Isaiah 7:18). The predicate, “lying in the midst of his rivers,” points at once to the proud security in his own power to which Pharaoh gave himself up. As the crocodile lies quietly in the waters of the Nile, as though he were lord of the river; so did Pharaoh regard himself as the omnipotent lord of Egypt. His words affirm this: “the river is mine, I have made it for myself.” The suffix attached to עשׂיתני stands in the place of לי , as Ezekiel 29:9, where the suffix is wanting, clearly shows. There is an incorrectness in this use of the suffix, which evidently passed into the language of literature from the popular phraseology (cf. Ewald, §315 b). The rendering of the Vulgate, ego feci memetipsum , is false. יארי is the expression used by him as a king who regards the land and its rivers as his own property; in connection with which we must bear in mind that Egypt is indebted to the Nile not only for its greatness, but for its actual existence. In this respect Pharaoh says emphatically לי , it is mine, it belongs to me, because he regards himself as the creator. The words, “I have made it for myself,” simply explain the reason for the expression לי , and affirm more than “I have put myself in possession of this through my own power, or have acquired its blessings for myself” (Hävernick); or, “I have put it into its present condition by constructing canals, dams, sluices, and buildings by the river-side” (Hitzig). Pharaoh calls himself the creator of the Nile, because he regards himself as the creator of the greatness of Egypt. This pride, in which he forgets God and attributes divine power to himself, is the cause of his sin, for which he will be overthrown by God. God will draw the crocodile Pharaoh out of his Nile with hooks, and cast him upon the dry land, where he and the fishes that have been drawn out along with him upon his scales will not be gathered up, but devoured by the wild beasts and birds of prey. The figure is derived from the manner in which even in ancient times the crocodile was caught with large hooks of a peculiar construction (compare Herod. ii. 70, and the testimonies of travellers in Oedmann's Vermischten Sammlungen, III pp. 6ff., and Jomard in the Déscription de l'Egypte, I p. 27). The form חחיים with a double Yod is a copyist's error, probably occasioned by the double Yod occurring after ח in בּלחייך , which follows. A dual form for חחים is unsuitable, and is not used anywhere else even by Ezekiel (cf. Ezekiel 19:4, Ezekiel 19:9, and more especially Ezekiel 38:4).
The fishes which hang upon the scales of the monster, and are drawn along with it out of the Nile, are the inhabitants of Egypt, for the Nile represents the land. The casting of the beast into the wilderness, where it putrefies and is devoured by the beasts and birds of prey, must not be interpreted in the insipid manner proposed by Hitzig, namely, that Pharaoh would advance with his army into the desert of Arabia and be defeated there. The wilderness is the dry and barren land, in which animals that inhabit the water must perish; and the thought is simply that the monster will be cast upon the desert land, where it will finally become the food of the beasts of prey.
In Ezekiel 29:6 the construction is a subject of dispute, inasmuch as many of the commentators follow the Hebrew division of the verse, taking the second hemistich ' יען היותם וגו as dependent upon the first half of the verse, for which it assigns the reason, and then interpreting Ezekiel 29:7 as a further development of Ezekiel 29:6, and commencing a new period with Ezekiel 29:8 (Hitzig, Kliefoth, and others). But it is decidedly wrong to connect together the two halves of the sixth verse, if only for the simple reason that the formula וידעוּ כּי אני יהוה , which occurs so frequently elsewhere in Ezekiel, invariably closes a train of thought, and is never followed by the addition of a further reason. Moreover, a sentence commencing with יען is just as invariably followed by an apodosis introduced by לכן , of which we have an example just below in Ezekiel 29:9 and Ezekiel 29:10. For both these reasons it is absolutely necessary that we should regard ' יען ה as the beginning of a protasis, the apodosis to which commences with לכן in Ezekiel 29:8. The correctness of this construction is established beyond all doubt by the fact that from Ezekiel 29:6 onwards it is no longer Pharaoh who is spoken of, as in Ezekiel 29:3-5, but Egypt; so that יען introduces a new train of thought. But Ezekiel 29:7 is clearly shown, both by the contents and the form, to be an explanatory intermediate clause inserted as a parenthesis. And inasmuch as the protasis is removed in consequence to some distance from its apodosis, Ezekiel has introduced the formula “thus saith the Lord Jehovah” at the commencement of the apodosis, for the purpose of giving additional emphasis to the announcement of the punishment. Ezekiel 29:7 cannot in any case be regarded as the protasis, the apodosis to which commences with the לכן in Ezekiel 29:8, and Hävernick maintains. The suffix attached to היותם , to which Hitzig takes exception, because he has misunderstood the construction, and which he would conjecture away, refers to מצרים as a land or kingdom. Because the kingdom of Egypt was a reed-staff to the house of Israel (a figure drawn from the physical character of the banks of the Nile, with its thick growth of tall, thick rushes, and recalling to mind Isaiah 36:6), the Lord would bring the sword upon it and cut off from it both man and beast. But before this apodosis the figure of the reed-staff is more clearly defined: “when they (the Israelites) take thee by thy branches, thou breakest,” etc. This explanation is not to be taken as referring to any particular facts either of the past or future, but indicates the deceptive nature of Egypt as the standing characteristic of that kingdom. At the same time, to give greater vivacity to the description, the words concerning Egypt are changed into a direct address to the Egyptians, i.e., not to Pharaoh, but to the Egyptian people regarded as a single individual. The expression בכפך causes some difficulty, since the ordinary meaning of כּף (hand) is apparently unsuitable, inasmuch as the verb תּרוץ , from רצץ , to break or crack (not to break in pieces, i.e., to break quite through), clearly shows that the figure if the reed is still continued. The Keri בּכּף is a bad emendation, based upon the rendering “to grasp with the hand,” which is grammatically inadmissible. תּפשׂ with ב does not mean to grasp with something, but to seize upon something, to take hold of a person (Isaiah 3:6; Deuteronomy 9:17), so that בכפך can only be an explanatory apposition to בּך . The meaning grip, or grasp of the hand, is also unsuitable and cannot be sustained, as the plural כּפּות alone is used in this sense in Song of Solomon 5:5. The only meaning appropriate to the figure is that of branches, which is sustained, so far as the language is concerned, by the use of the plural כּפּות for palm-branches in Leviticus 23:40, and of the singular כּפּה for the collection of branches in Job 15:32, and Isaiah 9:13; Isaiah 19:15; and this is apparently in perfect harmony with natural facts, since the tall reed of the Nile, more especially the papyrus, is furnished with hollow, sword-shaped leaves at the lower part of the talk. When it cracks, the reed-staff pierces the shoulder of the man who has grasped it, and tears it; and if a man lean upon it, it breaks in pieces and causes all the loins to tremble. העמיד cannot mean to cause to stand, or to set upright, still less render stiff and rigid. The latter meaning cannot be established from the usage of the language, and would be unsuitable here. For if a stick on which a man leans should break and penetrate his loins, it would inflict such injury upon them as to cause him to fall, and not to remain stiff and rigid. העמד cannot have any other meaning than that of המעד , to cause to tremble or relax, as in Psalms 69:24, to shake the firmness of the loins, so that the power to stand is impaired.
In the apodosis the thought of the land gives place to that of the people; hence the use of the feminine suffixes עליך and ממּך in the place of the masculine suffixes בּך and עליך in Ezekiel 29:7. Man and beast shall be cut off, and the land made into a desert waste by the sword, i.e., by war. This is carried out still further in Ezekiel 29:9-12; and once again in the protasis 9 b (cf. Ezekiel 29:3) the inordinate pride of the king is placed in the foreground as the reason for the devastation of his land and kingdom. The Lord will make of Egypt the most desolate wilderness. חרבות is intensified into a superlative by the double genitive חרב שׁממה , desolation of the wilderness. Throughout its whole extent from Migdol, i.e., Magdolo, according to the Itiner. Anton. p. 171 (ed. Wessel), twelve Roman miles from Pelusium; in the Coptic Meshtol, Egyptian Màktr (Brugsch, Geogr. Inschr. I pp. 261f.), the most northerly place in Egypt. סונה , to Syene (for the construction see Ezekiel 30:6 and Ezekiel 21:3), Συήνη , Sun in the inscriptions, according to Brugsch ( Geogr. Inschr. I. p. 155), probably the profane designation of the place (Coptic Souan ), the most southerly border town of Egypt in the direction of Cush, i.e., Ethiopia, on the eastern bank of the Nile, some ruins of which are still to be seen in the modern Assvan ( Assuan, Arab. aswa=n), which is situated to the north-east of them (vid., Brugsch, Reiseber. aus. Aegypten, p. 247, and Leyrer in Herzog's Encyclopaedia). The additional clause, “and to the border of Cush,” does not give a fresh terminal point, still further advanced, but simply defines with still greater clearness the boundary toward the south, viz., to Syene, where Egypt terminates and Ethiopia beings. In Ezekiel 29:11 the desolation is more fully depicted. לא תשׁב , it will not dwell, poetical for “be inhabited,” as in Joel 4 (3):20, Isaiah 13:20, etc. This devastation shall last for forty years, and so long shall the people of Egypt be scattered among the nations. But after the expiration of that time they shall be gathered together again (Ezekiel 29:13). The number forty is neither a round number (Hitzig) nor a very long time (Ewald), but is a symbolical term denoting a period appointed by God for punishment and penitence (see the comm. on Ezekiel 4:6), which is not to be understood in a chronological sense, or capable of being calculated.
Restoration of Egypt
Ezekiel 29:13. For thus saith the Lord Jehovah, At the end of forty years I will gather the Egyptians out of the nations, whither they were scattered. Ezekiel 29:14. And I will turn the captivity of Egypt, and will bring them back into the land of Pathros, into the land of their origin, and they shall be a lowly kingdom there. Ezekiel 29:15. Lowlier than the kingdoms shall it be, and exalt itself no more over the nations; and I will make them small, so that they shall rule no more over the nations. Ezekiel 29:16. And it shall be no more the confidence of the house of Israel, bringing iniquity to remembrance when they incline towards it; and they shall learn that I am the Lord Jehovah. - The turning of the period of Egypt's punishment is connected by כּי , which refers to the time indicated, viz., “forty years.” For forty years shall Egypt be utterly laid waste; for after the expiration of that period the Lord will gather the Egyptians again from their dispersion among the nations, turn their captivity, i.e., put an end to their suffering (see the comm. on Ezekiel 16:53), and lead them back into the land of their birth, i.e., of their origin (for מכוּרה , see Ezekiel 16:3), namely, to Pathros. פתרוס , the Egyptian Petorēs ( Παθούρης , lxx Jeremiah 44:1), or south land, i.e., Upper Egypt, the Thebais of the Greeks and Romans. The designation of Upper Egypt as the mother country of the Egyptians, or the land of their nativity, is confirmed not only by the accounts given by Herodotus (ii. 4 and 15) and Diodorus Sic. (i. 50), but also by the Egyptian mythology, according to which the first king who reigned after the gods, viz., Menes or Mena, sprang from the city of Thinis ( Thynis), Egypt. Tenj, in the neighbourhood of Abydos in Upper Egypt, and founded the city of Memphis in Lower Egypt, which became so celebrated in later times (vid., Brugsch, Histoire d'Egypte, I p. 16). But Egypt shall not attain to its former power any more. It will be and continue a lowly kingdom, that it may not again become a ground of confidence to Israel, a power upon which Israel can rely, so as to fall into guilt and punishment. The subject to ולא יהיה is Egypt as a nation, notwithstanding the fact that it has previously been construed in the feminine as a land or kingdom, and in אחריהם the Egyptians are spoken of in the plural number. For it is out of the question to take מזכּיר עון as the subject to לא יהיה in the sense of “no more shall one who calls guilt to remembrance inspire the house of Israel with confidence,” as Kliefoth proposes, not only because of the arrangement of the words, but because the more precise definition of מזכּיר עון as ' בּפנותם אח clearly shows that Egypt is the subject of the sentence; whereas, in order to connect this definition in any way, Kliefoth is compelled to resort to the interpolation of the words, “which it committed.” מזכּיר עון is in apposition to מבטח ; making Egypt the ground of confidence, brings into remembrance before God the guilt of Israel, which consists in the fact that the Israelites turn to the Egyptians and seek salvation from them, so that He is obliged to punish them (vid., Ezekiel 21:28-29). - The truth of the prediction in Ezekiel 29:13-16 has been confirmed by history, inasmuch as Egypt never recovered its former power after the Chaldean period. - Moreover, if we compare the Messianic promise for Egypt in Isaiah 19:18-25 with the prediction in Ezekiel 29:13-15, we are struck at once with the peculiarity of Ezekiel, already referred to in the introductory remarks on Ezekiel 25-32, namely, that he leaves entirely out of sight the Messianic future of the heathen nations.
Conquest and Plundering of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar
Ezekiel 29:17. In the seven and twentieth year, in the first (moon), on the first of the moon, the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 29:18. Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, has made his army perform hard work at Tyre: every head is bald, and every shoulder grazed, and no wages have been given to him and to his army from Tyre for the work which he performed against it. Ezekiel 29:19. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I give Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, the land of Egypt, that he may carry away its possessions, and plunder its plunder, and make booty of its booty, and this may be the wages of his army. Ezekiel 29:20. As the pay for which he worked, I give him the land of Egypt, because they did it for me, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Ezekiel 29:21. In that day will I cause a horn to sprout to the house of Israel, and I will open the mouth for thee in the midst of them; and they shall know that I am Jehovah. - This brief prophecy concerning Egypt was uttered about seventeen years after the preceding word of God, and was the latest of all the predictions of Ezekiel that are supplied with dates. But notwithstanding its brevity, it is not to be taken in connection with the utterance which follows in Ezekiel 30:1-19 so as to form one prophecy, as Hitzig supposes. This is at variance not only with the formula in Ezekiel 30:1, which is the usual introduction to a new word of God, but also with Ezekiel 29:21 of the present chapter, which is obviously intended to bring the previous word of God to a close. This termination, which is analogous to the closing words of the prophecies against Tyre and Sidon in Ezekiel 28:25-26, also shows that the present word of God contains the last of Ezekiel's prophecies against the Egyptian world-power, and that the only reason why the prophet did not place it at the end when collecting his prophecies - that is to say, after Ezekiel 32 - was, that the promise in v. 30, that the Lord would cause a horn to bud to the house of Israel, contained the correlate to the declaration that Egypt was henceforth to be but a lowly kingdom. Moreover, this threat of judgment, which is as brief as it is definite, was well fitted to prepare the way and to serve as an introduction for the more elaborate threats which follow. The contents of the prophecy, namely, the assurance that God would give Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar as spoil in return for the hard labour which he and his army had performed at Tyre, point to the time immediately following the termination of the thirteen years' siege of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar. If we compare with this the date given in Ezekiel 29:17, the siege was brought to a close in the twenty-seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin, i.e., b.c. 572, and must therefore have commenced in the year b.c. 586, or about two years after the destruction of Jerusalem, and with this the extract given by Josephus ( c. Ap. i. 21) from the Tyrian annals agrees.
(Note: For the purpose of furnishing the proof that the temple at Jerusalem lay in ruins for fifty years, from the time of its destruction till the commencement of its rebuilding, Josephus gives in the passage referred to above the years of the several reigns of the kings and judges of Tyre from Ithobal to Hirom, in whose reign Cyrus took the kingdom; from which it is apparent that fifty years elapsed from the commencement of the siege of Tyre to the fourteenth year of Hirom, in which Cyrus began to reign. At the same time, the seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar is given by mistake instead of the seventeenth or nineteenth as the date of the beginning of the siege. (Compare on this point Movers, Phönizier, II 1, pp. 437ff.; M. v. Niebuhr, Gesch. Assurs u. Bab. pp. 106ff.; and M. Duncker, Gesch. des Altert. I p. 841.))
העביד עבדה , to cause a work to be executed, or service to be rendered. This labour was so severe, that every head was bald and every shoulder grazed. These words have been correctly interpreted by the commentators, even by Ewald, as referring to the heavy burdens that had to be carried in order to fill up the strait which separated Insular Tyre from the mainland. They confirm what we have said above, in the remarks on Ezekiel 26:10 and elsewhere, concerning the capture of Tyre.
But neither he nor his army had received any recompense for their severe toil. This does not imply that Nebuchadnezzar had been unable to accomplish the work which he had undertaken, i.e., to execute his design and conquer the city, but simply that he had not received the recompense which he expected after this severe labour; in other words, had not found the booty he hoped for when the city was taken (see the introductory remarks on Ezekiel 26-28). To compensate him for this, the Lord will give him the land of Egypt with its possessions as booty, ונשׂא המנהּ , that he may carry off the abundance of its possessions, its wealth; not that he may lead away the multitude of its people (De Wette, Kliefoth, etc.), for “ נשׂא is not the appropriate expression for this” (Hitzig). המון , abundance of possessions, as in Isaiah 60:5; Psalms 37:16, etc. פּעלּה , the doing of a thing; then that which is gained by working, the recompense for labour, as in Leviticus 19:13 and other passages. אשׁר עשׂוּ is taken by Hitzig as referring to the Egyptians, and rendered, “in consequence of that which they have done to me.” But although אשׁר may be taken in this sense (vid., Isaiah 65:18), the arguments employed by Hitzig in opposition to the ordinary rendering - ”for they (Nebuchadnezzar and his army) have done it for me,” i.e., have performed their hard work at Tyre for me and by my commission - have no force whatever. This use of עשׂה is thoroughly established by Genesis 30:30; and the objection which he raises, namely, that “the assertion that Nebuchadnezzar besieged Tyre in the service of Jehovah could only have been properly made by Ezekiel in the event of the city having been really conquered,” is out of place, for this simple reason, that the assumption that the city was not taken is a mere conjecture; and even if the conjecture could be sustained, the siege itself might still be a work undertaken in the service of Jehovah. And the principal argument, namely, “that we should necessarily expect עשׂה (instead of עשׂוּ ), inasmuch as with עשׂוּ every Hebrew reader would inevitably take אשׁר as referring to מצרים ,” is altogether wide of the mark; for מצרים does not signify the Egyptians in this passage, but the land of Egypt alone is spoken of both in the verse before us and throughout the oracle, and for this עשׂוּ is quite unsuitable, whereas the context suggests in the most natural way the allusion to Nebuchadnezzar and his army. But what is absolutely decisive is the circumstance that the thought itself, “in consequence of what the Egyptians have done to me,” i.e., what evil they have done, is foreign to, if not at variance with, all the prophecies of Ezekiel concerning Egypt. For the guilt of Egypt and its Pharaoh mentioned by Ezekiel is not any crime against Jehovah, but simply Pharaoh's deification of himself, and the treacherous nature of the help which Egypt afforded to Israel. ליהוה עשׂה לי is not the appropriate expression for this, in support of which assertion we might point to עשׂוּ לי in Ezekiel 23:38. - Ezekiel 29:21. On that day, namely, when the judgment upon Egypt is executed by Nebuchadnezzar, the Lord will cause a horn to sprout or grow to the house (people) of Israel. The horn is a symbol of might and strength, by which the attacks of foreigners are warded off. By the overthrow of Judah the horn of Israel was cut off (Lamentations 2:3; compare also Jeremiah 48:25). In עצמיח קרן the promise coincides, so far as the words are concerned, with Psalms 132:17; but it also points back to the prophetic words of the godly Hannah in 1 Samuel 2:1, “My horn is exalted in Jehovah, my mouth hath opened itself wide over my enemies,” and is Messianic in the broader sense of the word. The horn which the Lord will cause to sprout to the people of Israel is neither Zerubbabel nor the Messiah, but the Messianic salvation. The reason for connecting this promise of salvation for Israel with the overthrow of the power of Egypt, as Hävernick has observed, is that “Egypt presented itself to the prophet as the power in which the idea of heathenism was embodied and circumscribed.” In the might of Egypt the world-power is shattered, and the overthrow of the world-power is the dawn of the unfolding of the might of the kingdom of God. Then also will the Lord give to His prophet an opening of the mouth in the midst of Israel. These words are unquestionably connected with the promise of God in Ezekiel 24:26-27, that after the fall of Jerusalem the mouth of Ezekiel should be opened, and also with the fulfilment of that promise in Ezekiel 33:22; but they have a much more comprehensive meaning, namely, that with the dawn of salvation in Israel, i.e., in the church of the Lord, the word of prophecy would sound forth in the richest measure, inasmuch as, according to Joel (Ezekiel 2:1-10), a universal outpouring of the Spirit of God would then take place. In this light Theodoret is correct in his remark, that “through Ezekiel He signified the whole band of prophets.” But Kliefoth has quite mistaken the meaning of the words when he discovers in them the thought that “God would then give the prophet a new word of God concerning both Egypt and Israel, and that this is contained in the oracle in Ezekiel 30:1-19.” Such a view as this is proved at once to be false, apart from other grounds, by the expression בּתוכם (in the midst of them), which cannot be taken as applying to Egypt and Israel, but can only refer to בּית ישׂראל , the house of Israel.
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Ezekiel 29". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany