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3. Egypt (Ch. 29–32)
Ezekiel 29:1. In the tenth year, in the tenth [month], on the twelfth of the month, came the word of Jehovah to me, saying, 2Son of man, Set thy face upon [against] 3Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and prophesy upon him, and upon all Egypt! Speak and say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I [come] upon thee, Pharaoh, king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his streams, who saith, To 4me [belongs] my stream, and I, I have made myself. And I give rings in thy jaws, and hang the fish of thy streams, on thy scales, and draw thee out of the midst of thy streams, and every fish of thy streams [which] hangs on thy scales; 5And I set thee free [drive thee] into the wilderness, thee and every fish of thy streams; upon the plains of the field shalt thou fall, thou shalt not be picked up, and not gathered; to the beast [living creatures] of the earth and to the fowl of the heaven I have given thee for food. 6And all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am Jehovah! Because they were a staff of reed to the house of Israel,—7When they take hold of thee by thy hand, thou art broken, and splittest to them every shoulder [the whole shoulder]; and when they lean upon thee, thou art shattered, and lamest for them all loins,—8Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I bring upon thee a sword, and root out of thee man and beast. 9And the land of Egypt is [shall be] for desolation and a waste, and they know that I am Jehovah! 10Because He said, The stream [belongs] to me, and I, I have made it, Therefore, behold, I am against thee, and against thy streams, and I give the land of Egypt for deserts of waste of desolation, from Migdol to Syene [seveneh], and even to 11the borders of Cush. Foot of man shall not pass through it, and foot of beast 12shall not pass through it, and it shall not be inhabited forty years. And I have given the land of Egypt [for] desolation in the midst of desolate lands, and its cities shall be desolate forty years in the midst of desolate cities, and I disperse 13Egypt among the heathen and scatter them in the lands. For thus saith the Lord Jehovah, At the end of forty years will I gather Egypt out of the peoples 14whither they were dispersed: And I turn the misery of Egypt, and bring them back to the land of Pathros, to the land of their birth; and they are there a low 15kingdom. Lower than the kingdoms shall it be, and it shall not lift itself up any more above the heathen; and I diminish them, so that they do not rule among the heathen [have dominion over them]. 16And it shall no more be for confidence to the house of Israel, a remembrancer of iniquity, when they turn after them; and they know that I am the Lord Jehovah. 17And it came to pass in the seven and twentieth year, in the first [month], on the first of the month, the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, 18Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon has caused his army to serve a great service against Tyre: every head became bald, and every shoulder peeled; and there was not reward for him and his host out of Tyre for the work, which he has wrought against it [the city]. 19Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I give Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon the land of Egypt, and he takes away its tumult, and plunders its spoil, and seizes its prey; and it is a reward to his host. As his hire for which he has wrought against it [Tyre], 20I have given him the land of Egypt, because they did 21[it] for Me—sentence of the Lord Jehovah. In that day will I make a horn to bud forth to the house of Israel, and I will give thee the opening of the mouth in the midst of them; and they know that I am Jehovah.
Ezekiel 29:1. Sept.: ... μια τ.μηνος—
Ezekiel 29:2. ... μια τ.μηνος—
Ezekiel 29:3. ... στηρισον τ. προσωπον.
Ezekiel 29:4. ... τας παγιδας … ταις λετισιν σου τροσξολληθησονται.
Ezekiel 29:5. και καταβαλω σε ἐν ταχει κ. ταντας—
Ezekiel 29:7. Sept.: ... … τῃ χειρι αὐτων, ἐθλασθης, κ. ὁτε ἐπεκροτησεν ἐπ’ αὐτους πασα χειρ κ. ὁτε ἐπανεπαυσαυτο ἐπι σε συνετριβης κ. συνεκλασας αὐτων—Vulg.: … te manu … et lacerasti … et dissolvisti omnes renes eorum.
Ezekiel 29:10. ... χαι ἐτι ταντας τ.ποταμους σου … εἰς ἐρημου χ.ῥομφαιαν χ.ἀπωλειαν . χ.Συηνης—Vulg.: … in solitudines, gladio dissipatam a turre Syenes—
Ezekiel 29:12. ... εἰς ̣ τ. ἐρηωου, … ἀφανισμος ἐσται—
Ezekiel 29:14. Sept.: ... χαι χατοιχιω αὐτους, … ὁθεν ὲληφθησαν—in terra nativitatis suæ—
Ezekiel 29:15. παρα πασας τ. ἀρχας. Οὐ μη … του μη εἰναι αὐτους πλειονας ἐν—
Ezekiel 29:16 ... εἰς ἐλτιδα αʹναμιμνησχουσαν ἁμαρτιαν ἐγ τω̣ αὐτους . χαρδιων αὐτων—docentes iniquitatem. ut fugiant et sequantur eos;—
Ezekiel 29:17. ... μια τ. μηνος τ.πρωτου—
Ezekiel 29:19. ... τ.πληθος αὐτης—
Ezekiel 29:20. Ἀντι τ.λειτουργε ας αὐτου ἡς ἐδουλευσεν—19 … exercitui illius (20) et operi quo servivit—
Ezekiel 29:21. ... ἀγατελει χερας παντι τ.οἰχω̣—pullulabit cornu.
In reference to the anti - Chaldean coalition, Egypt, as the mainstay of the undertaking, justly forms the conclusion of those prophecies toward such as were without. But even apart from this, the significance of Egypt, as well in its antagonistic position to the Chaldean monarchy as in its relation to the people of God, and therewith to the world in general, demanded an adequate treatment at the close.
Ezekiel 29:1-16. Outline of the Prophecy as a whole.
Ezekiel 29:1-2. As to time (b. c. 588?), this first prophecy upon Egypt goes before Ezekiel 26:0 (two months, eighteen days, Schmieder). That notwithstanding it is placed later, shows the position of Egypt at the close is to be regarded as an intentional one; comp. also Ezekiel 29:18-19. Hengst. remarks: “The prophecy, as appears from Ezekiel 24:1, was delivered during the siege of Jerusalem. The occasion is the hope of recovery through Pharaoh.” (Schmieder: six months, except three days, before the taking of the city (Jeremiah 39:2), one year and two days after the prophet’s mouth had been shut for his people.)
Ezekiel 29:2. שׂים פניך על, elsewhere with אל; for example, at Ezekiel 6:2.—פרעה, the title of all the native kings of Egypt down to the Persian times; according to Josephus and the Coptic, as much as king (comp. פֶּרַע, prince); Jeremiah 44:30, Hophra. The prophecy, in accordance with its general character, stretches over king and people, or more precisely, the land.
Ezekiel 29:3-6 a. This portion has respect to the king of Egypt.—תנים, only here, according to Gesen. a mere corruption for תנין; according to Hengst. intentionally the plur. majestatis from תנין תן: “since this dragon blows himself up so much, sets himself forth as the ideal of all dragons.” What is meant by it is no great sea-fish or great serpent, but what was so distinctive of Egypt, as also suitable for the description in Ezekiel 29:4, the crocodile; Job 40:0; Job 41:25-26. For a farther symbolical application of the idea, comp. Isaiah 27:0.; Psalms 74:13-14; Revelation 12:0. (תנה–תנן—τεινω, to stretch, of the long-stretching body; also of the long-protracted sound, the jackal.)—The consciousness of power on the part of the Pharaohs, their pride of sway, is visibly expressed by רבץ (Ezekiel 19:2), the secure rest, the undisturbed comfortable lair, after the manner of the crocodile, and by the nearer designation: in the midst of his streams. &יְאֹר יאור) Gesen.: an Egyptian word, on the Rosetta inscription, jor—here of the (seven) arms of the Nile (Isaiah 7:18), elsewhere of its canals, when those are called נהרות The Nile is “the heart of Egypt”, on account of which divine honours were of old paid to it, in particular by the kings, with devout regard, “as the vivifying father of all that exists” (Champollion). As he already says my stream (Ezekiel 28:2), the לי may not merely import that it belongs to him, is his property, but: it belongs to me of right, or so that it cannot be taken from me—therefore lawfully and inalienably. It gives expression to the loud boast on the ground of natural might as from primeval time and for ever; in which lies the heathenish contrast to Jehovah, who alone is unchangeable, eternal, gives and takes according to His will.—עשיתני, either (ואני, nom. absol.), that he had made himself, which, apart from the fact that the Egyptians boasted of being the oldest men (Herod. Ezekiel 2:2; Diodor. 1:10, 50; Plato in Tim.), accords well with the Egyptian deification of the kingdom. So upon the monuments the priests ever are represented as kneeling in the dust before the kings. The Pharaohs—and this is peculiarly Egyptian—were not merely sprung from the gods, but were themselves gods of the land (Duncker, Hist. of Antiquity, 1:150). Therefore, as the king of Tyre (Ezekiel 28:2) with his gods’ seat asserts his divinity, so does the king of Egypt with his stream at least his independence of any other origin = what I am, that am I of myself. Or, we may take the suffix as equivalent to לי, for which, however, Ezekiel 29:9 cannot be adduced, and which cannot be understood with Häv. as meaning: “I have secured for myself its blessings,” or, as still more strongly put by Hitzig: “I have made it for me in a right condition,” with its canals, embankments, sluices, etc., as the Dutch also have been named the creators of their land. [Targum Jonathan: meum est regnum, et ego subjugavi illud.] Jerome: He trusts in the peculiar overflowings of the Nile, which belongs to him; the rain of heaven is of no moment for him. Thus also the old expositors of Homer understood the διιπετεος of the “Aigyptos,” i.e. the Nile, of the annual overflowings (Odys. iv. 477). In its application to Pharaoh Hophra (Apries), the notice of Herodotus is characteristic, that he thought neither the power of men nor of gods could destroy his kingdom (2:100:169).
Ezekiel 29:4. The sin referred to is followed by a corresponding punishment, as the threatening is given forth, that from both king and people the ground of their pride and prosperity should be taken away.—The “behold I am against thee” of Ezekiel 29:3 explicates itself.—חְַחִיִּים, Qeri חַחִים, from חָח, ring, such as is put into the nose of beasts, or about the most tender and susceptible parts of the head, for taming them. Hengst.: “a double ring,” in the Dual, like לחיים, so that both halves join together in the mouth (comp. Ezekiel 19:4). Rosenm. understands it of the hooks, by which, according to Herodotus, the crocodiles were taken (Job 41:2).—The fish, of the arms of the Nile signify the living and well-conditioned Egyptians in general, who had felt themselves like fish in the water, but were now to be placed upon dry ground. Hitzig: specially Pharaoh’s men of war; Jonathan: the princes and nobles.—הדבקתי, Ezekiel 3:26.—For תדבק, supply אְַשֶׁר.—As to what historical signification is to be put upon the image, which is of a quite general kind, no indication whatever is given. But see the Doctrinal Reflections, No. 2.
Ezekiel 29:5. The wilderness forms, as to the sense, the contrast to might and pomp and all sort of abundance; as to the figure, it is a contrast to the Nile, which formed an oasis in the midst of the wilderness, being secured by the heights on the west against the quicksands and storms of the great desert, and separated by the mountains on the east from the rocky cliffs, the desolate plains, and sand downs. The irrigation of the ground in consequence of the abundant waters of the Nile, especially at the season of the yearly overflowing, the cooling of the atmosphere precisely at the time when the heat is greatest, are the more important, since the blue and shining heaven is never troubled by rain-clouds, the heat is strong, and the south-west gales sometimes drive the sand and dust of the Sahara over the Libyan mountains as far as the Nile. (“Egypt is a land without rain, without springs, without refreshing winds, without alternating seasons. Instead of these, however, it possesses a fertile stream, which has not its like upon earth. In the far-reaching expanse one sees only the dead wilderness; but on approaching the Nile, all is life and prosperity. The camel of the desert scents the fresh Nile air at the distance of half a day’s journey. The Arabs call it Bachr, the sea; it is, however, one of the greatest and longest rivers of the earth, to be compared with the Amazon, Mississippi, and Yenisei.”—Sepp.) Hence, for the very reason that it reckons itself distinguished, as forming a green oasis of luxuriant fertility and coolness in the midst of a boundless waste, Jehovah brings it into that wilderness condition. A deeper parallel, however, also lies in this relegation to the wilderness, in respect to the divine guiding of Israel into the wilderness when Israel came out of Egypt.—“Upon the face of the field” means the same as “the wilderness;” according to Hengst.: “the open field as contrasted with the splendid mausoleums in which the Egyptian Pharaohs were buried in the times of their glory.” Not even an honourable burial would be given him (Targum). At all events, in the place where he falls, there he remains lying; and, indeed, what previously were separate from each other, thee and every fish, now come to be united in the representative person of the king. “Every one 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” (Hengst.). They are simply abandoned to the wilderness; hence there is found no gathering up and carrying away (אסף), no bringing together (קבץ).—Comp. Matthew 13:47 sq.
Ezekiel 29:6 a. A knowledge which is the very reverse of what was distinctively Egyptian, according to which the Pharaohs were honoured, on the monuments, as “the dispensers of life,” the “ever-living,” and such like. (Comp. the Rosetta inscription.)
Ezekiel 29:6-12Ezekiel 29:6-12. This section has respect to the land. The words: all the inhabitants of Egypt, mediate the transition from the king to the land.—The יעןֹ can scarcely be the reason for the fact of the Egyptians knowing God; but this sentence properly breaks off here, and a new sentence begins, to which Ezekiel 29:8 forms the conclusion; so that Ezekiel 29:7 comes in parenthetically (Kl.).—The image of the reed-staff is derived from Isaiah 36:6, the more suitably as it is there found in the mouth of the Assyrian king, whose heritage passed over to the Chaldeans; and to repeat with the fact the addition of broken, used there by him, was, as a judgment already openly pronounced upon Egypt, so much the more a ground of shame for Israel. What had discovered itself even in the Assyrian time should have needed no fresh proof.
Ezekiel 29:7. It means that a reed-staff is not only no support, but a hurtful support; it carries with it a show and deceit of a dangerous kind. It is not, however, to be forgotten, that there is a characteristic allusion involved in the figure to the prolificness of Egypt in reeds and bulrushes (Isaiah 19:6).—Instead of בְכַפְּךָ, the Qeri has בַכַּף, as if the personified Egypt, or this as addressed in its king, could have no hand! In order to hold fast by the image of the reed, which is certainly continued by the רצץ (Isaiah 36:6), Kliefoth translates: “by thy twig” but who would lay hold thus of a reed if he means to support himself upon it?—That Israel promised himself support from Egypt is evident from the result of the breaking of this reed-staff; while the wounded, torn shoulder leant upon it, the splinters of the reed ran thereinto.—Klief.: “the staff of reed pierced through the hand and arm, up even to the shoulder.” The שׁען expressly says this, at the same time strengthening the “laying hold of” to a resting thereon with the whole body.—והעמדת׳, Gesen.: only the Hiphil, transposed for וְהִמְעַדְתָ (Psalms 69:24 ), “and makest shake.” Hengst.: sarcastically, “a pretty staying, which was, in fact, a casting down.” If the root-meaning of עמד is to draw together, it might stand here as = laming: “and drawest together for them the whole loins” (Meier). “To make to totter,” or shake, certainly says very little, and “to make to stand,” so that they must use their own loins, without any stay, can hardly be the right explanation. Klief.: it pierced through their shoulders, and made these, by injuring their muscles, ligaments, and joints, stiff and rigid, so that they could but stand, and move no more. (“So fared it with the kingdom of the ten tribes under Hosea in connection with Egypt, and likewise with the kingdom of Judah under Zedekiah.”—J. D. Michaelis.)
Ezekiel 29:8. Solemn conclusion, with feminine suffixes, on account of the reference to the land. The sword indicates war; Ezekiel 14:17.
Ezekiel 29:9. The consequence of this desolation of the land.—יען, as in Ezekiel 29:6.—Comp. at Ezekiel 29:3. Because Pharaoh, regarding himself as all Egypt, in his lordly spirit asserts for himself the right and power of all,—ואני points back to &כי אני עשׁיתי, not so properly the Nile as generally what is to be made (Isaiah 10:13), always, however, with reference to the arms of the Nile,—therefore, in Ezekiel 29:10, Jehovah falls upon this pompous “I,” as well as its supports, the streams which it calls its own, and gives the land of Egypt, with which this “I” had identified itself, to a state of most complete desolation. The heaping together of the synonyms, and the double genitive, express a superlative. Here, as at Ezekiel 29:5, the wilderness in contrast to the Nile. [Hitzig points לָחְָרָבוֹת, “for deserts, desolation of the waste.” Schmieder remarks on it, that definite pre-intimations of inevitable chastisements are commonly milder, and draws attention to an unmistakeable softening in what follows (Ezekiel 29:12-16), which might be still more lightened in the execution of the punishment.] From Migdol, a similar bounding to that in Ezekiel 25:13 (Sept.: ἀπὸ Μαγδώλου); placed over against Syene (Aswan), the most southerly boundary, on the cataracts of the Nile, and to be taken as the boundary on the north. It was, as the name imports, a “fortress,” perhaps the border-watch toward Syria; on account of which Jerome: a turre Syenes. סונה, according to Champollion, from ouen, to open, and sa, through which it acquires the sense of “the opener,” the key (of Egypt). Here rise the mighty terraces of reddish granite (Syenite), which formed the building material of the Egyptian kings. The determining expression ועד׳ does not go beyond, but fixes Syene as the boundary on the Ethiopian side.
Ezekiel 29:11 paints the desolation (Ezekiel 29:9-10), corresponding to Ezekiel 29:8. Neither traffic nor travel.—ולא תשב, Hengst.: “and it shall not sit” (!); therefore it shall lie down. The forty years are (according to him) historical, to be branched off from the seventy of Jeremiah, Ezekiel 25, 29, which began in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, when, with the slaughter at Circesium on the Euphrates, the power of Egypt was for ever broken. Thirty years had it continued, till the war passed over to the proper head of the anti-Chaldean coalition, and Egypt was laid waste. Hitzig takes the number for a found one (1 Samuel 17:16; Exodus 24:18, etc.), after the analogy of Ezekiel 4:6 (but see there). The parallel already indicated at Ezekiel 29:5, as well as the general character of the prophecy, Nebuchadnezzar not being named here, recommend the symbolical import of the number: Israel, when delivered from Egypt, forty years in the wilderness; Egypt, with respect to Israel, forty years a wilderness; there a proving, here a judgment, punishment. [Tholuck is of opinion that the number is indeed a round one, but still of an approximate nature as regards the probable reckoning, about 36 or 37.]—On תשׁב, comp. Ezekiel 26:20. ישׁב signifies: “to be master of something,” to possess, therefore: to tarry somewhere, and so here: to occupy house, be at home. We are not to regard it as a poetical phrase for being inhabited (Klief.), but rather to consider it as spoken with reference to the scattering, etc., of the inhabitants in Ezekiel 29:12.
Ezekiel 29:12. As an absolute contrast to Israel in the wilderness, corresponds in a symbolical respect the repeated delineation of the like total desolation of Egypt (Ezekiel 12:20; Ezekiel 14:15). In reality, this can only be understood relatively, as compared with Egypt’s former flourishing condition as a land.—The twice repeated בתוך points to the neighbouring lands, with their cities, or to the provinces of Egypt, or to the members of the coalition against Babylon (Hengst.). Häv. regards it as purely ideal, since otherwise the article must have stood before ארצות. According to Hengst.: “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 from its end (?). The end of the forty years, at all events, coincides with that of the seventy years in Jeremiah, of which the first seventeen had elapsed at the time our prophecy was published—seven under Jehoiakim, ten under Zedekiah. Therefore there still were thirteen years to expire before the beginning of the forty years. In Ezekiel 29:17 the prophet has himself expressly determined the beginning of the four decenniums.”—By the scattering of the Egyptians is meant the deportation of the young and the noble, as such was then associated with every hostile occupation, Nahum 3:10 (Tholuck). Also those scattered through terror are not to be forgotten. Häv.: “Almost the same expressions here of Egypt, which elsewhere are used only of the dispersion and gathering again of Israel.” “Egypt the caricature of Israel.”
Ezekiel 29:13-16. The end.
Ezekiel 29:13. The כי assigns a reason for the forty years, by pointing to what is to take place thereafter. But that by the end of this period respect is had to the end of the Chaldean supremacy, as in Jeremiah, is not indicated in the text, nor would it have been according to Ezekiel’s style (comp. Introd. to Ezekiel 25:0 sq.; comp. also Jeremiah 46:26).—The promised gathering of Egypt, in Ezekiel 29:14, is restitution (comp. at Ezekiel 16:53), indeed, to their original condition, but not to the height which it had then reached.—Pathros is what belongs to the south; South or Upper Egypt, Thebes, which (as Ewald remarks) “was not, according to the Manethonian dynasties, precisely the oldest seat of royalty, yet still a Southern Egypt older than Memphis; but after the time of the Hyksos, all the power of Egypt departed from Thebes.”—Comp. Herod. 2:4, 15; Diodor. 1:50.—מכורתם, see at Ezekiel 16:3 (Eze 21:35 [Ezekiel 21:30]).—On the expression: a low kingdom, comp. at Ezekiel 17:14. Hengst.: “This is no mere prediction, but an indirect practical advice (Isaiah 41:28), to dissuade from a foolish confidence in Egypt.” The parallel, besides, with Israel has already been noticed.
Ezekiel 29:15. Comparison with other kingdoms. Such it had often made, and therein gone to excess. Now God makes the comparison, and certainly with another result.
Ezekiel 29:16. למבטח, compare therewith the repeated לבטח, Ezekiel 28:26.—יהיה, masc., while formerly תהיה, a kingdom being thought of, but here it is conceived of as a people, or as king.—That the Egyptian people (as the אחריהם might indicate) could inspire Israel with confidence, so that the latter should lean upon them, support itself on them, especially as against Babylon—in that respect they were a remembrancer of iniquity (comp. on Ezekiel 21:28 ). This is what is plainly expressed by פנה with אחרי, namely, “to turn oneself to any one, in order to follow him”—on which comp. Ezekiel 17:6-7; Psalms 40:5 . (Hengst.: “Whosoever beguiles into iniquity brings iniquity to remembrance, or to the knowledge of him under whose cognizance it falls. For the iniquity which is committed cannot remain unmarked by ‘the Judge of the whole earth,’ nor unpunished.” Häv.: “Now Egypt comes forth as an accuser of the covenant-people before God, as a witness in respect to their want of confidence in Him, their idolatrous admiration of worldly, external power, therefore of their falling away from God.” Ewald translates: “Still further the house of Israel had a Satan for their confidence.”) The knowledge of Jehovah as Lord and Ruler, as in judgment, so in compassion, is the perpetual refrain; it is for Israel and for the heathen the end of the ways of God.
Ezekiel 29:17-21. The appended key for understanding the prophecies concerning Egypt.—Not merely the relation to what went before, but the relation also to what follows, calls for consideration. In the former respect, the section is an appendix; in the latter respect, and generally, it is a key for the understanding of the prophecies respecting Egypt. We have to regard it as a sort of parenthesis, since the announcement of time in Ezekiel 29:17 expressly shows it was above 16 years later than Ezekiel 29:1, later even than Ezekiel 40:0. [Schmieder: exactly 16 years, 2 months, 17 days after the preceding prophecy; not quite 17 years after the destruction of Jerusalem, two years after Ezekiel’s vision of the new temple. Hitzig: the new-moon day of April 572 b. c.] It consequently stands quite apart from the preceding prophecy, but so does it also from the one that follows, Ezekiel 30:1-19, by its closing verse. Ezekiel 30:1-19 stands related to Ezekiel 29:1-16, as Ezekiel 26:7-14 to Ezekiel 26:2-6; so that the indication of time in Ezekiel 29:1 holds good also for Ezekiel 30:1. Hengst. denies the number seven for the prophecies upon Egypt, because the necessary chronological specification is wanting at Ezekiel 30:1. This reason cannot avail against the consideration that the significant number, which rules the whole, in a way that perfectly accords with its symbolical import as well as with the relation of the close (of Egypt), reverts with this close to the whole, and thereby connects the whole together. The chronological specification has been omitted at Ezekiel 30:1, because it would have been the same as that at Ezekiel 29:1; and the verses 17–21 are interjected here precisely on this account, that Ezekiel 30:1-19, being contemporaneous with Ezekiel 29:1-16, might form a separate prediction, and so complete the seven number of prophecies upon Egypt.
Ezekiel 29:18. The thirteen years’ siege of Tyre furnishes the key for the more immediate understanding of the prophecy upon Egypt; the breaking off of the siege in question rendered possible the approaching fulfilment of the anti-Egyptian predictions.—Ezekiel 26:7.—The work against Tyre, consequently the siege of the city, is designated great, and this not without respect to the consequences which it involved for the host of the king of Babylon. Of the bearing upon the head and shoulder, with reference to helmet and burdens, קרח and מרט are used, which presuppose long and heavy toil. According to Hengst. the works had to do with the erecting of besieging towers, and especially the casting up a rampart (Ezekiel 26:8); but they suit decidedly better when viewed with respect to the mound running over to insular Tyre, as indicated by Ewald (Ezekiel 26:10). Hitzig makes the ingenious remark, that the shallowness of the sea-strait in Alexander’s time, mentioned by Arrian, may have been occasioned by the efforts of Nebuchadnezzar to construct this mound. However, it is not in such respect, therefore, as to what concerns the greatness of the work, that ושכר לא׳ is to be understood of a like great reward corresponding to it. שׂכר, according to its root-meaning, is “a something made fast,”—either subjectively, what any one held fast by himself or had made fast with another, or objectively, what for material considerations must be held fast. It is in a general way denied that Nebuchadnezzar and his host had received from Tyre hire or reward for their work. As the siege was the work, the hire must mean the booty, especially with respect to the host. The separate mention of him and his host seems to point to a distinction between Nebuchadnezzar and his host in reference to the hire. Jerome affirms simply, though he does not say on what grounds, that the nobles and rich men of Tyre made away from it in ships, carrying with them their treasures over the sea, and Nebuchadnezzar’s host could find no spoil. Ewald accepts this; and Häv. cites in support of it Isaiah 23:6, and what happened at the siege of Tyre under Alexander (Diodor. xvii. 41; Curt. Ezekiel 4:3). Probable, at all events more probable than the supposition of Hitzig that the money of the Tyrians was spent in the war, must be the consideration that the besiegers of Tyre also had an interest in sparing the city, and refraining from plundering it. Only the prophet does not say this, but makes the Chaldee host come to Egypt to its hurt. With the conquest of the city, however, whether it was or was not effected, our verse has nothing really to do, as Movers justly remarks. Ezekiel 29:19 rather suggests another reference. For Nebuchadnezzar, at least, the consequence of the siege of Tyre, “his hire,” could only be Egypt, if the great work was not to remain without reward. First with the punishment of Egypt did the recompense become complete which must strike the anti-Chaldean coalition. Egypt also would otherwise have remained the spark which was ever ready to inflame a new Phœnicia and Syria. If the overthrow of Tyre was to yield profit to Nebuchadnezzar, not merely must Jerusalem be laid prostrate, but Egypt also, the pillar of all opposition, as against Assyria so against Babylon, be brought down. It is from such points of view in Babylonian policy that we are to understand what is meant by his hire not having been given him. But what naturally mediates the result, what forms the consequence of the evil, this is in truth, spiritually considered, the divine punishment; and hence the therefore, etc., in Ezekiel 29:19. The policy of the divine recompense as against Egypt (the prop of Israel’s unfaithfulness and treachery to the covenant), so for Nebuchadnezzar’s work (“which they did for Me,” Ezekiel 29:20), in the service of Jehovah, is primarily the key of the prophecies touching Egypt.—המון is noise, and from that “a noisy multitude;” here, on account of the connection, and because נשׂא merely is used: the great mass of things, therefore: the riches. [Ewald: “its noisy pomp.”]—As Herodotus and Diodorus report, certainly after the quite untrustworthy tradition of Egyptian vanity, Hophra had besieged the Phœnicians and Cyprians by land and sea, and returned with rich booty to Egypt. There were assuredly no lasting results of such a thing; for after the defeat at Carchemish, and the miscarrying of the relief of Jerusalem, the position of Egypt was not adequate to that; although still, as also Duncker thinks, the Egyptians might have brought home spoil and trophies. There was a glimmering of Egypt’s early splendour in the Circumstance of its being given for a reward to Nebuchadnezzar.—Hitzig takes as the subject to והיתה the land of Egypt (Ezekiel 29:20).
Ezekiel 29:20. פְּעֻלָּה, as in Psalms 109:20, that which is wrought for, the fruit of labour. Ewald: “as his pay.”—בה is perhaps, after the expression in Ezekiel 29:18, אשר עבד עליה, to he understood of the city of Tyre. It is commonly rendered: for which he wrought. Hitzig justly remarks: “that Nebuchadnezzar had besieged Tyre in the service of Jehovah could have been declared by the prophet only then, if the city had been conquered;” but since, according to Hitzig, this could not be, he applies עשו to the Egyptians (!), as was already done in the Targum of Jonathan, and necessarily imposes on אשר the signification: in regard to that which; that is, for that which.
Ezekiel 29:21. This verse vividly represents the character of the whole section. It is a close which corresponds to the subsidiary character of the section, Ezekiel 29:17-20, in relation to the general prophecy upon Egypt, by the generalness of the style in which it is given, as thereby also it accords with the design that this section should serve as a key to the Egyptian prophecies generally. Comp. the analogous Ezekiel 28:25-26. In the latter respect it is indicated to us in Ezekiel 29:21, that although the immediate fulfilment of that which concerned Egypt should be accomplished through Nebuchadnezzar, yet Egypt opens a farther prospect still, since it is to be regarded, in these prophecies of Ezekiel upon foreign peoples, as heathendom generally in its close coming into regard for Israel’s destruction. From this point of view, the ביום ההוא certainly connects itself with the moment of the fulfilment through Nebuchadnezzar; but it at the same time conducts farther, expands this day to “an ideal day” (Hengst.)—the day of the Lord (Ezekiel 30:3)—to the Messianic time, as Ewald has properly recognised. [Schmieder: “every annihilation of a national power, which bent itself against the Lord, is to the prophet a type of all human power which rises against God—a type of the world’s judgment. Therefore also the promises, which were given Israel for the last time, connect themselves therewith, and now revive again.”] According to Hitzig, the attack upon Egypt was to Ezekiel the pledge of the then also beginning salvation announced in Ezekiel 20:40 sq., Ezekiel 17:22, Ezekiel 16:60.—צמח, used of gradual growth out of small beginnings and constant burstings forth again, new shoots, with reference to the צֶמַח in Jeremiah and Zechariah.—The horn, as very commonly derived from horned beasts, in particular the bull, a biblical expression for strength, and the courage resting thereon; not so properly with reference to pushing (Hengst.), for which the context affords no occasion; as in contrast to the impotence of Egypt (heathendom), the power and pomp of the flesh—therefore another sense of power, the consciousness of the victory which overcomes the world. Psalms 75:5; Psalms 132:17; Lamentations 2:3; Luke 1:69; comp. also 1 Samuel 2:1 with respect to the following פתחון־פה.—The opening, of the mouth points expressly to Ezekiel 24:26. (See there.) What was said in that place upon the symbolical import of the dumbness of the prophet determines also his speaking here in the midst of Israel as a prophetical one. Only, “the house of Israel” must not be resolved into the community of the Lord, and the mouth of Ezekiel into the word of prophecy, agreeably to Joel 3:0, as Theodoret already explained the matter; but we have to cleave to the second chief part of the predictions of our prophet, for which the opening of his mouth to Israel is, according to Ezekiel 24:26 sq., the characteristic, in contradistinction to the first main portion of his book. But in so far will such opening of Ezekiel’s mouth have place as his prophecy of the compassions of God shall then have found their confirmation.
1. Although the prophecy in Ezekiel 29:0 is of a general character, yet by the reference to Nebuchadnezzar, and especially from Ezekiel 29:17 onwards, it gets a more specific character. We have therefore to hold by a fulfilment through the Chaldeans, and, indeed, in connection with what is said respecting Tyre. Apart from the circumstance that we have here to do with a prophet of God, we could not judge otherwise simply on this account, that a little reflection upon the inevitable disgrace of such a self-deception as would have been the case in respect to Tyre must alone have kept Ezekiel—instead of merely suppressing the prophecy in question while the book was still in his own hand—from wishing now to compensate for the mistake by awakening like inconsiderate and rash expectations concerning Nebuchadnezzar in regard to Egypt. For one to whom the prophet is nothing but a writer must still at least credit him with this much of worldly prudence in respect to his literary honour. And if Ezekiel must needs prophesy ex eventu (as Hitzig, for example, conceives), then prophecies like those contained in Ezekiel 26:0 and some following ones are purely unthinkable, so far as they remained unfulfilled; since it cannot but be supposed, that when our prophet closed his book, matters must have stood before him widely different from what they are presented in his prophecy. The “dogmatic criticism,” however, cannot once admit now that a prophecy has been fulfilled,—a limitation of the standpoint which is not improved by the circumstance that the truth of the divine word (2 Peter 1:21) is made dependent on the statements or the silence of profane writers, and even of such as have given notoriously imperfect reports. The false prophet, he whose word did not come to pass, has by God’s word (Deuteronomy 18:22) been as clearly as possible excluded from the canon.
2. The reward for work, which, as Hitzig rightly enough says, had still to be given to Nebuchadnezzar, raises no question as to the conquest and, as could not fail to happen after a thirteen years’ siege, the destruction of Tyre. If the booty might have been thought of for the army, for Nebuchadnezzar it is necessary to think of Egypt. The song of triumph demanded by Hitzig for the fulfilment of the prophecy against Tyre is the double lamentation which we find in Ezekiel 27:28. Every one has his peculiar manner. But as regards the so-called “historical witnesses,” who should speak the decisive word on the fulfilment or non-fulfilment particularly of the prophecy of Ezekiel in respect to Egypt, they are “the Greek historians, at the head of whom stands Herodotus, and they know absolutely nothing of a Chaldean invasion of Egypt—nay, their narration is opposed to anything of the kind” (Hitzig). This is imposing; let us reflect, however, that Herodotus had also learned nothing from his Egyptian informants of the defeat at Carchemish. We need only mention farther, that this Greek historian himself reproaches the priests of Egypt, and precisely in regard to this particular time, with embellishing the history of their country. Now, according to Herodotus, Pharaoh Hophra—in consequence of the defeat which his army sustained from the Cyrenians, against whom it was to have rendered help to the Libyans, and of the revolt which in consequence thereof, and of the foreign mercenary troops retained in Egypt, broke forth on the part of the Egyptian warrior-class against Amasis, who, instead of bringing back the rebels to obedience, suffered himself to be proclaimed king by them—lost freedom and his throne, and by the infuriated people was even murdered. Tholuck, who, “if the cattle with the ark of the Lord should once turn aside, would not obstinately drive forward,” remarks that as a witness Herodotus alone comes into consideration; before whom, however, the testimony of Ezekiel, himself a contemporary of the events, has no need to be abashed. “If Herodotus readily received intelligence of the prosperous battle fought by Necho at Megiddo, but none respecting the much more important defeat sustained by him on the Euphrates from the Chaldeans, should it be thought strange if the priests observed silence also regarding the irruption of the Chaldeans into their own land? yea, if the miserable end which Hophra suffered through the foreign conqueror should have been rather represented by them as the deed of his own people?” (So also Rawlinson’s Herod. B. ii. appen. c. 8.) With a fair appreciation of the historical representation of Herodotus, the cause there assigned, especially the revolution among the warrior-class of Egypt, might suffice for the overthrow of Hophra. Yet the hatred of the Egyptian people, not only expressed in Herodotus, but confirmed by monumental evidence (Rossellini points in this connection to a by-name of Hophra on the monuments: “Remesto”)—such a hatred as is described in Herodotus toward Hophra (ii. 161–169), manifested in respect to a native ruler, is scarcely to be explained from what is stated, if it did not come into some sort of connection with a Chaldean invasion of Egypt, whereby the haughtiness of Hophra might well appear all the more hateful to the Egyptian people, as the misery of the land and the inhabitants, occasioned by him, stood in sharpest contrast to the previous prosperity and splendour. The grudge of the Egyptian warrior-class against the foreign mercenaries could not be of such moment as some have supposed, since even Amasis, who thereafter held possession of the throne till his death (forty-four years), and was succeeded in it by his son, took lonians for his bodyguard, and generally granted to the Greeks still greater favour and privileges than his predecessor. Besides, as generally held, there is also the outline of the prophecy against Egypt in Ezekiel 29:0, which exhibits a distinction between Ezekiel 29:6 sq. and Ezekiel 29:4 sq.—in the one, the sword constitutes the figure (Ezekiel 29:8); in the other, overthrow with reference to the wilderness. Especially if Hitzig’s interpretation of “the fish” (Ezekiel 29:4) as denoting Pharaoh’s men of war is accepted, and under “the wilderness” there is couched an allusion to Libya, what is said in Ezekiel 29:4 sq. might be explained by the narration which is reproduced by Herodotus, and Ezekiel 29:6 sq. would, with the sword of Nebuchadnezzar, be such a supplementing as the conquest of Tyre to the siege of that city, also given elsewhere. Out of the miserable condition in which Hophra perished, Amasis would then have raised Egypt. Anyhow, as Tholuck brings out, the death of Hophra falls exactly into the time in which the occupation of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar must have occurred; and thus the position of matters approaches to that which is wont to be extracted from Josephus in confirmation of our prophecy—contr. Ap. i. 19. It is there stated that Berosus reports of the Babylonian (Nebuchadnezzar) that he “conquered Egypt, Syria, Phœnicia,” etc. Again, in Ezekiel 20:0, he states that Megasthenes placed Nebuchadnezzar above Hercules, since he had subjected to himself a great part of Libya and Iberia (comp. Antiq. x. 11. 1, and Strabo xv. 1. 6; see also Häv. Comm. p. 435, against Hitzig’s remarks). In the 10th book of the Antiq. Ezekiel 9:7, Josephus expresses himself to this effect, that “in the fifth year after the destruction of Jerusalem, which was the twenty-third of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, he made an expedition against Cœlesyria; and when he had got possession of it, he made war against the Ammonites and Moabites; and when he had brought these nations into subjection, he fell upon Egypt in order to overthrow it, and did indeed slay the king who then reigned, but set up another; after which he took those Jews that were there captive, and brought them to Babylon,” etc. The ten years’ time, which Hitzig doubts as the period of the earlier warlike expeditions, is maintained by Tholuck. The fifth year after the taking of Jerusalem would be 581; the thirteen years’ siege of Tyre would fall into the period 586–572 or 573. For the different actions which were in part parallel as to time, we have only to suppose various divisions of the army employed, so that the whole might of Nebuchadnezzar did not at the same time lie before Tyre. The forty years of the Egyptian oppression, Tholuck, like Niebuhr, extends over the entire space that lies between the disaster at Carchemish and the overthrow of Hophra (thirty-six years), “during which Egypt, through the continued and in great part unfortunate warlike enterprises of Hophra, must have been much depopulated and extremely weakened, till at length the inroad of the Chaldeans consummated the oppression.” Tholuck thinks that, “as the prophets in the beginning of the fulfilment comprehended the future (Jeremiah 13:18; Ezekiel 30:24), in the last and completed fulfilment they also comprehended the earlier incomplete ones.” The symbolical explanation of the forty years is not thereby denied (see the exposition). The worth of the statements of Josephus may be questioned, as is done by Hitzig; but for the relation of profane history to our prophecy, it suffices that Hophra miserably perished (Ezekiel 29:4 sq.; Jeremiah 44:30 sq.), and that Egypt again revived, as took place under Amasis, although as a kingdom it was fit to be compared neither with its ancient glory nor with other great monarchies (Ezekiel 29:13 sq.). As regards the resuscitation of Egypt, Duncker mentions that, according to a return of the priests, it then reckoned 20,000 country towns and cities (Herzog’s Realencyc. 1 p. 150), though it was “the last period of Egypt’s glory;” and Lepsius says of the same, that Egypt succumbed to the first pressure of the Persian power, and remained from 525 to 504 a Persian province; that afterwards it became again for a short time independent, until in 340 it was reconquered by the Persians, and in 332 fell under Alexander the Great, etc.
3. Upon the importance of Egypt for the revenge of Nebuchadnezzar, see the exposition of Ezekiel 29:18. Also generally for the Chaldean policy the transition to Egypt is rendered plain to us from Ezekiel 29:17 sq. (Häv.: “if Nebuchadnezzar would make the possession of Phœnicia once for all sure, Egypt must be completely broken.”) Of the importance of Egypt by itself, its characteristic importance, some notice has already been taken, toward the close of the introductory remarks to Ezekiel 25:0; as also of the distinction, indicated with correct feeling by Keil, between Egypt and the other nations mentioned by Ezekiel. But what Egypt signifies in its connection here, this must be discerned from its relation to Israel. It is quite true that the charge laid against Ammon, Moab, etc., also against Tyre, for spiteful joy, hostility, envy toward Israel, is not mentioned in respect to Pharaoh and Egypt. It may be said that Egypt’s guilt in regard to Israel was that rather of a false, treacherous friendship. If, on the other hand, the excess of proud self-sufficiency must be regarded as the characteristic of Egypt, the same sort of self-elation meets us in the king of Tyre (Ezekiel 28:0); and in this respect Tyre formed a fitting transition-point to Egypt. The distinction between Tyre and Egypt might perhaps be found in this, that while in particular the kingdom of Tyre had had its time of sacred splendour and past greatness, as we have seen, in its former connection with the kingdom of David, Egypt on its part acquired importance on account of the sojournings of the pilgrim-fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and still more on account of the formation of their descendants into a people. Above all, the idea of redemption was associated with the land of Egypt. Here, therefore, the inverse relation holds good: Tyre has gone with Israel to school; Israel, on the other hand, was at school in Egypt, as was evidenced in manifold agreements and contrasts exhibited in their peculiarity as a people, without our needing on that account to ride off on the Spencerian principle [namely, of a servile borrowing from the institutions of Egypt]. More than from anything else, may be understood from Israel’s reminiscences as a people, and the impress of Egyptian style and manner even upon their sacred things, their abiding sympathetic turning back toward Egypt. That Israel could not let Egypt go out of sight had its root in human nature; we must learn even from the children of this world (Luke 2:6). But it had also its dangerous side. It was Israel’s worldliness, relapse, since Israel had been delivered by Jehovah from this world, and Jehovah had through Moses threatened them in connection with Egypt with the greatest evils (Deuteronomy 28:68). We have tribulation in the world, and we may have fear before the world; such fear, however, may be salutary in its operation. But dangerous is the stay that is sought in Egypt, trust and confidence therein. In this respect Egypt is designated a remembrancer of iniquity (Ezekiel 29:16), since for Israel it had, and not as of yesterday, but from of old (comp. also Ezekiel 16:26; Ezekiel 23:8; Ezekiel 23:19), the fatal significance of a pride which resists Jehovah and leads away from Him, of a consciousness of worldly power, which amid the characteristic Pharaonic arrogance expressed itself just as distinctly (Ezekiel 29:3; Ezekiel 29:9) as in Exodus 5:2, and had this the more seductively, as a self-conscious abiding worldly power is in fact fitted to impose on people. Friendship with Egypt is the most contemptuous relation in which Israel can be thought of, on account of the indifference which it necessarily implied on the part of the Israelitish people not only in regard to their former house of bondage, but also to the mighty deliverance obtained from it, and generally in what concerned their relation to Jehovah, on whom, as their own and their fathers’ God, they had been thrown from their state of childhood. To make account of this specific historical position in respect to each other, according to which the growth, bloom, and decay of Israel were closely interwoven with Egypt, the prophecy of Ezekiel “dwells at greater length on Egypt than on the other nations” (Häv.). Still more, however, it serves to explain the representation of the judgment upon Egypt as strikingly parallel with that on Israel, and to the last carried out (comp. Ezekiel 29:5; Ezekiel 29:9 sq., 12, 13, etc.). Not less remarkable, because singular, is the prospect and declaration in regard to the resuscitation of Egypt, and of it alone, which have been introduced into the prediction of our prophet; by this also is Egypt quite expressly kept parallel with Israel. The reminiscence which brings up Egypt so distinctly is not simply that of the house of bondage, or of iniquity, but it is Joseph’s post of honour, and the corn granaries of Jacob, together with his family. Comp. also Deuteronomy 23:7.
4. The interpretation of Neteler strikes out what is certainly a quite different path, strikingly reminding one of Cocceius, only with a specially Catholic tendency. According to him, the prophecies against the foreign nations constitute four groups, each of which contains four pieces: the first, Ezekiel 25:0; the second, the overthrow of the Canaanitish culture - development, standing in contrast to the higher calling of Jerusalem, and reaching its culmination in Tyre. The prophecy against Sidon he severs from Tyre, in the interest of this fourfold division; it belongs to the Egyptian group, inasmuch as “Sidon’s bloom falls into the time in which Egypt was the bearer of the Hamitic power and culture,” and “the Sidonian development was a shoot of the Hamitic-Egyptian.” The promises for Israel in this third section (Ezekiel 28:20 to Ezekiel 30:19) must stand parallel with those of the same kind in the first group, wherein punishment is threatened to the four nations with reference to Israel; as the first group, “through Ezekiel 21:0 (Ammon), is placed in connection with the first destruction of Jerusalem,” so “the third stands, through the opening of the mouth which occurs in it, in closer relation to the symbol of the second destruction of Jerusalem.” The four last prophecies against Egypt are “mere symbols,” according to Neteler. As Ammon “drove the surviving remnant, after the destruction of Jerusalem, out of Judea,” so had “Moab decoyed Israel into gross idolatry before their entrance into Canaan;” and so, in the prophecies against Ammon and Moab, the beginning and end of Israel in regard to Canaan are connected together. The punishment of Edom and the Philistines must point to the “re-establishment of the house of David.” In regard to Tyre Neteler expresses himself thus: “The command given to Israel to root out the Canaanites, but by them neglected to their destruction, God will execute on Tyre through Nebuchadnezzar;” and this command must stand in a noteworthy relation to the historical development of the last period of 800 years before Christ, in which “those to the west (Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans) brought a real advance, while those to the east (the Hamitic kingdoms of Ethiopia and Egypt, the Semitic kingdoms of Assyria and Chaldea, the Japhetic Medians and Persians) repeat the development of the two earlier periods in smaller measure, yet as if thereby the problem of the western circle should be solved.” He says: “If Israel, through the extirpation of the Canaanites, according to Numbers 36:6-9 (!), had entered into the place of the Phœnicians, it would have formed the first member in the development of this period, and would have shown the right path to the Greek culture which came forth in the second third of it.” To retrieve as much as possible that which was neglected (! ?), “Nebuchadnezzar must subject the Hamitic Tyre, even to the pillars of Hercules, and unite the eastern circle to the monstrous Chaldean kingdom, so that the externally insignificant Israel might be set in the centre of this gigantic Semitic power, which extended its sway even over the Turanian tribes in the high north.” This contrast between the Semitic and Hamitic races (already occurring in the prophecy of Noah) must be of great importance for the understanding of the symbolical representation of Ezekiel in the prophecies relating to Tyre and Egypt. Upon the third group which Neteler distributes, and which reaches to Ezekiel 30:19, we learn that, first of all, in the prophecy against Sidon, “the second possession of the land is associated with the first, as in Ezekiel 20:0 the first deliverance from Egypt is made parallel with a deliverance in a higher sense.” “As Israel did not fully carry out the extirpation of the Canaanites, whose place, according to Numbers 33:54, it was their part to occupy, these were turned for them into thorns and briers. With the second possession, on the other hand, the servitude of Canaan, which was announced even by Noah, was after a sort realized, since the Canaanitish history becomes extinct. The second piece in this section, namely Ezekiel 29:1-16, connects the end of the first Israelitish sojourn in Canaan, brought about by Egypt’s iniquity, with the end of Egypt; and the humiliation of Egypt is such an elevation of Israel, that Christianity will not be under temptation to lean upon a decaying heathenism.” The forty years occurring at Ezekiel 29:11 sq. must not be distinguished from the forty years of Judah, for which the prophet had to lie forty days upon his right side; that is, as Neteler remarks on Ezekiel 4:0, “a symbolical designation of the time, reaching from the destruction of the temple to the return from exile, derived from the sojourn in Kadesh.” “The two first pieces, Ezekiel 28:20 to Ezekiel 29:16, set forth the world-historical ideas, which were to be realized by the introduction of Christianity, but give, as to the way and manner in which the realization should be prepared for, begun, and carried forward, no information—this being first introduced by the prophet in the third piece (Ezekiel 29:17-21). The might of Shem, through which God conquered Canaan in the world’s history, must also carry forward the work in regard to Egypt. In the interest of Israel, whose service to God stands in contrast to Canaanitish industry, God will turn the Semitic world-power against Egypt, by which Israel was compelled to do Canaanitish work, and establish for them, on account of their labour in respect to Canaan, claims for compensation, which God would render valid because of the bondage laid by Egypt on the Israelites. The booty which God took from Egypt after the conflict, on occasion of the first deliverance, was only a type of a later plundering, which in a preparatory manner was begun by Nebuchadnezzar, and after the second deliverance from Egypt, that is, after the redemption achieved by the sufferings of the Servant of God was realized, when all power in heaven and on earth was committed to the episcopate of the Church (!!). The consequence of this victory over Egypt (Ezekiel 30:1-19) is given in the form of a judgment upon Egypt, in which is delineated its desolation and the annihilation of its idols and yokes; but the sons also of the covenant - land are smitten by the judgment, which points to a fall that should take place among them.” The continuation of this Catholic-theological-historical explanation and interpretation of Ezekiel will be given in No. 9.
5. Cocceius remarks on Ezekiel 29:21 : “Evil Merodach gave Jehoiachin freedom, and the first place of honour among the kings. Farther, Daniel was great in the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar, and under the Persian dominion. Cyrus was called by God to give command to lead the people back, that they might rebuild the temple. Still higher grew the horn of Israel when they became free, and their priests assumed the diadem, as a sign of the freedom of the people, and the Israelites had become greater than their fathers, as announced in Deuteronomy 30:5. But most especially was it so, when out of David’s house the horn grew, which set the people free from all slavery, which subdued their enemies, and rendered the Gentiles subject to Israel, Psalms 132:13-18.”
6. The day of Jehovah, Kliefoth remarks, “is not judgment in one point of time and destruction over the whole heathen world;” and then he continues: “The day of Jehovah is a period of indefinite duration, in the course of which God will punish with judgment and destruction all heathen nations in succession, just as they have shown their hostility to the people of God, and He sees that their time has come. From this point of view, also, is the announcement always to be understood, that this day of Jehovah is at hand. The day continues so long, that it lasts till, in the final judgment, the whole world, in so far as hostile to God, shall be destroyed; but it constantly begins anew, when any particular people, on account of their malevolence manifested to the people of God, falls under the righteous doom of perdition. Hence the day of Jehovah upon the heathen nations has, in the several prophecies, a different terminus a quo, according as they refer to this or that kind of relations.” Only it must not be overlooked, that in Ezekiel 30:1 sq. not indeed Egypt alone is contemplated, but Egypt in its connection with heathen nations; and yet, that it is not the day of judgment upon all anti-theocratic powers that is to be understood, as already Hävernick makes the prophet see this general idea obtaining realization; but as the time of Jerusalem was come, the time when judgment had begun at the house of God, so the time must now be near when this judgment of God shall go forth upon the heathen. Hengstenberg finds here the fundamental passage for Luke 21:24, and points to the overthrow of the Roman Empire,—the “mountain” which was to be cast into the sea after the fig-tree of the Jewish people was withered (Matthew 21:0.), the “mulberry-tree” which was to be plucked up and removed into the sea (Luke 2:7.).
7. As in the kingdom of Tyre, Ezekiel 28:0, allusion was made to a time of sacredness upon the holy mount of God, so there was also found there, by way of similitude, a bringing to remembrance of Eden, and especially of the garden of God. This retrospect of paradise furnishes the beau-ideal, the standard for the Old Testament world generally; hence with Assyria, and in connection therewith in reference to Egypt, which had not the same historical position as Tyre, it appropriately comes back again in Ezekiel 31:0. As in the New Testament all is measured with heaven, so in the Old Testament what is or was glorious upon earth is made to hold of Eden and paradise.
8. On the derivation of the word “Sheol” there confessedly prevails a great diversity of opinion. For the biblical idea, especially the signification of the word in the Old Testament, this only is to be learned from this matter of etymological controversy, that as well the derivation from שָׁעַל, to be hollow (therefore for שְׁעֹל), since it points to “hollowing,” and in so far to the grave, as the derivation which Hupfeld adopts from: “to sink down,” and: “to go apart from one another,” therefore: sinking down, depth, abyss, and: cleft, hollow, empty space—since the burying and the being in the sepulchre can be thereby expressed—both alike avail for the affirmation, that Sheol and the grave more or less run together. The derivation, on the other hand, from שָׁאַל to demand, expresses as to Sheol only what constitutes generally the power and manner of death to demand for itself with insatiable desire all living beings (comp. Isaiah 5:14; Habakkuk 2:5; Proverbs 27:20; Proverbs 30:16). As to form an infinitive verbal substantive, the use of the word belongs predominantly to the poetic language of the Old Testament, whence also is to be explained the circumstance that it never stands with the article. Sheol appears as the aggregate of all graves. Who could venture to deny this aspect of the matter, at least for the 31st and 32d chapters of Ezekiel? It is the universal grave, which calls down to itself all earthly life, how high soever it may have reached, however magnificent it may have been, however valiantly it may have fought. But much, also, as Sheol and the grave (בור) sometimes appear to approach (comp. also Isaiah 14:11; Isaiah 14:15), to cover one another, it must still not be overlooked that the grave, more exactly considered, is only the entrance into Sheol (Psalms 16:10), which certainly, as it is commonly represented, keeps the hue of the grave, in generals as well as in particulars (ירכתי בור, Ezekiel 32:23); it is the carrying over of the grave to the future state (while the grave as such is still always something here). It is quite reconcilable with this representation when Sheol is conceived of as a locality, and indeed as a deep abyss, just as the standing form of speech: “to go down,” “to be thrown down,” is thence explained as equivalent to being consigned to the dead. The occasional poetic delineation of this future must only not be formally dogmatized into an actual under-world with gates, rivers, etc. (Job 38:17; Psalms 18:5 sq.) The going down of the company of Korah (Numbers 16:30) is often what is floating before the writer’s mind; and not so much the locality of Palestine, which was rich in grottoes and caverns, or the darkness of the Hebrew family tomb-vaults, the stillness of the Egyptian catacomb-world. The interior and inmost part of the earth (Ezekiel 26:20; Ezekiel 32:18), however, is not the earth’s inner region as such, but שְׁאוֹל תַּכְתִיָּה is the Sheol “beneath” (the underground, Ezekiel 31:14); that is, partly the contrast to heaven as the region of the divine life, partly the distinction from the surface turned toward heaven, the face of the earth. Out of that contrast, in which, however, the earth also and its life have their place, and still more in accordance with this distinction from the earthly life, must Sheol and what is connected therewith be understood. The death to which one is surrendered (Ezekiel 31:14) is not simply a going down, not annihilation, but as punishment for sin, the necessary consequence of the negation of God. Considered as a state, it is the contrast in respect to God, as curse, as judgment upon the sinner; hence the contrast in respect to life as divine, as salvation and blessedness, even to eternal perdition; and so Sheol posits a concrete, individual prolongation of life: the dead are represented in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 31:0.) as living on individually and in space. Passages such as Psalms 104:29; Psalms 146:4, and others, certainly have respect to the earthly life in the body, with its purposes and undertakings, doing and thinking, knowledge and wisdom together, Ecclesiastes 9:10 (so our Lord Himself in John 9:4 makes account of it for His diligence in working while in the flesh). As life on earth in a mortal body is for all men a troublesome, poor, and sorrowful thing, so certainly the advancing decay of the powers of life, with the dissolution of the union between soul and body, necessarily becomes quiescence, impotence, and withdrawal of their life-energy in regard to the appointed sphere of action. But passages like Job 26:5 sq., Ezekiel 38:17, Proverbs 15:11, Psalms 139:8, testify to the presence of the living God, through whom the subsisting and passing away of all beings is conditioned, as is said also in the אֲבַדּוֹן made parallel with Sheol (comp. Mark 12:27; Luke 20:38). The contrast, therefore, to the heavenly upper world as the proper region of the divine life is not that of not-being and being; and just as little is the continued existence in Sheol an unconscious shade-existence, at least not according to Ezekiel’s representation: the heroes in Sheol speak and know themselves as such over against others, feel, etc. As the designation of shades (דפאים) for the dead in the Old Testament times cannot be proved, so the appearance, for example, of Samuel (1 Samuel 28:0.), so entirely accordant with the spirit and address of Samuel as he actually lived, is not at all brought forward as an exception, somewhat after the manner of the Theban seer Tiresias (Odyss. x. 492 sq.). In the Old Testament, also, we read nothing of an instinctive repetition and continuation of the past life connected with the possession of blood. The representation of Sheol, into which there has often been greatly too much imported of heathen elements, is in no respect the localizing of the image, which, as Meier says, “remains like a blanched, bloodless, shadowy form, in the spirit of the living, of their dead and buried fellow-men.” Life in Sheol cannot, indeed, run counter to the conditions that prevail in respect to human life. Man is soul, but he has spirit, which for him constitutes the power wherein the life of the individual consists; while the soul is plainly the seat of that, as the body is its organ. If the life connected with the body appears as life in the flesh, when separated therefrom it will become an existence of the spirit, and departed men will necessarily have to be thought of as spirits, and can only in so far be termed “souls” as a retrospective sense of the earlier corporeal life has place. On this side the description of Sheol is certainly, and especially as contradistinguished from the earthly upperground life, kept in due regard to the state of things existing there. With the going down into the grave, the bright joyful sunlight vanishes for men; hence Sheol is the land of darkness and of the shadow of death (Job 10:21). While the world of light is an organized one, the midnight region of Sheol appears as a confused intermingling of substances, chaotic (Job 10:22). Busy life, so repeatedly designated “tumult” in this chapter of Ezekiel, becomes motionless in the grave; so in Psalms 115:17 the dead go down to silence, to stillness (comp. Psalms 104:17; Psalms 31:18). The expression, however, of “land of forgetfulness,” Psalms 88:12, must not be overstretched, though the reference is to be held fast in which it is said that, as God has given the earth to the children of men (Psalms 115:16), so the manifestation of His wonder-working power and righteousness is promised to them on the earth while they are in the flesh. Not in the heathen materialistic sense, but Christologically, however still on the temporal side, the thought as to its form was presented in the Old Covenant. And thence are such passages as Psalms 6:5; Psalms 30:10 [Psalms 30:9], Psalms 88:10-11, Psalms 115:17, Isaiah 38:18, to be understood. The dead, accordingly, are done (Psalms 88:5); their state, Sheol, is without a history (on the other hand, comp. 1 Corinthians 15:19). But to complete our knowledge of the Old Testament Sheol, the ethical side is not to be overlooked, that is, the idea of recompense comes therein likewise into consideration (comp. Ezekiel 32:23 sq.). The godly are there gathered to their fathers (Genesis 25:8; Genesis 35:29, etc.). It is a mode of representation which incidentally receives a very touching illustration in Luke 16:22 for the poor, who has no brother in the world, who is an abject, forlorn, when he is said to be received into Abraham’s bosom. The righteous snatched away enters into peace, and rests therein upon the foundation of the grave (Isaiah 57:1). How far with the soul, when unclothed of the body, there takes place “an ineffectual tormenting effort to consolidate itself corporeally” (Beck)—the spirit, however, being incapable of being contemplated apart from the soul, which conditions its individuality, therefore also not to be thought of “as sunk after death into the corruption of the flesh”—may be left undecided. It is enough that the rich man found himself “in torment.” With justice, however, Lange presses the thought that for the wicked Sheol is still not hell.
9. Neteler (comp. 4) maintains concerning Ezekiel 30:21 to Ezekiel 32:32, that is, the fourth of the groups set off by him, that “through four symbols the overthrow of a power standing in antagonism to the Church is exhibited,” and that what is said is to be taken “eschatologically in a wider sense.” Egypt is considered by him as “a symbol of the power of Magog,” and under the Chaldeans is found “a combination of Romans and Germans.” And here Neteler’s book dwells on the “Russian Panslavism.” The two last symbols must be fulfilled in the overthrow of Magog “only provisionally,” so that “their complete fulfilment belongs to a still later future.”
On Ch. 29
Ezekiel 29:1-5. The close is made with Egypt, as Egypt was the beginning in respect to Israel.—“Egypt is with Ezekiel the oldest country of his people’s disgrace” (Umer.).—How clear is what God causes to be said to us! The address is plainly written, and can occasion no doubt to whom the word is directed; and not less clearly does it shine forth whose subscription stands under it, and who, therefore, will look after the punctual execution of the things spoken. It will not proceed according to man’s sayings and opinions, but as God the Lord has said.—The prophetic word so much the surer as the fulfilment of it now lies completely before us.—What still survives of the Pharaohs lies in the midst of the wilderness; they are ruins to which the sand has still refused burial!—“Where can a mortal say: This is mine, or: This remains to me? But prosperity, where it is not understood as God’s blessing, makes people stupidly proud. See there, too, the blessing of tribulations, which demonstrate before our eyes, that nothing is our right, and nothing our abiding property” (Stck.).—Those who do not seek after the things which are above regard the Nile, which flows on the earth, with precisely such eyes.—“But that there is also a spiritual Egypt may be seen from Revelation 11:8, and that is a people, kingdom, and dominion which holds in fetters the people of God and makes them slaves. Now, as under the great dragon in the sea Antichrist also comes to be considered, together with his scales and members that stick to him, and are in a manner innumerable, so shall this power also after the prince of Tyre receive his doom, with all his adherents, who by overbearing conscience have done so much wrong to the faithful. Then also will appear the vain help which the house of Israel has sometimes assumed as belonging to the reed of the fleshly arm” (B. B.).—“Satan says to Jesus: All this will I give thee, all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, though still there was not an atom thereof in reality his” (Luther).—“Oh how vain is man in prosperity!” (St.)
Ezekiel 29:4-5. Higher still than the highest is the Most High. He who comes from heaven is higher than all.—“It is bad when only amid loss people come wisely to learn that they had all of God, of which they were so proud and boasted themselves” (Stck.).—Pharaoh in the wilderness, and Jesus in the wilderness.—They who set themselves up above others may readily observe that they are thrown off and away before they are themselves aware of it!—The judgment of Jehovah upon the Pharaohs!—Jehovah at the Pyramids, a very different object from Napoleon before them.—The overthrow in the wilderness an image of a desolate ruin.
Ezekiel 29:6-7. God punishes not those only who rely upon flesh, but those also who are flesh and yet wish others to find comfort in them.—No knowledge of God and no knowledge of self—this is what gives false self-confidence, and false confidence in man.—The love of God in discovering the false and rotten props.—“A reed is everything that is in this world, as man’s favour, temporal prosperity, beauty, yea, the corporeal life itself; from without it appears like a staff, and as if many were walking with it, but within it is hollow and brittle” (Stck.).—But for none is such a reed more suspicious than for the people to whom God has pledged Himself, and therewith all His wisdom and His omnipotence.—It is certainly the same with the deceit and show of one’s own righteousness, good purposes, and pious works. One cannot keep hand and shoulder far enough from these.—How many a one has such like splinters in his conscience!—The false reed-splinters in our bones, which make our going so feeble and our holding so insecure.—“The soldiers give to Christ a reed in mockery, Matthew , 27.” (Luther).
Ezekiel 29:8-16. The judgment of God by the sword in its significance for enemy and friend, warrior and conqueror, land and people.—Desolation is always a mark of punishment. First men become waste, then their place is laid waste.—Where the people become waste as regards God, there God causes the land to be waste of its people.—Whosoever will have it that he has made himself to be what he says that he is, with him God must make an end, so that he may learn what he himself is, and how still God can do all.—The mine and thine, as the grand controversy which moves the world’s history.—So the sin of the people is their ruin; but though ancient history is full of examples, those who now live are not disposed to profit by them.—“Should one not be ashamed of such a speech, since it must so soon be changed into a past—it has been mine; and this often with much sorrow?” (B. B.)—The description of the earth is also a description of divine justice.—By means of fragments and arrow-heads in the yellow sands of the desert, and obelisks which still point heavenwards, people now read the names of men, of kings, and such like; but the feci of God is likewise to be read there.—The divine seasons of respite.—The years of humiliating in their significance for Egypt and for us all as punishments and deliverance from high-mindedness.—To stand low is to stand more secure than to go beyond bound and limit.—“All changes in the world have their bearing ultimately on the Church” (St. ).—God knows how to withdraw from the eyes of His own what dazzled their eyes and held them captive.—“Such is the aim of all the judgments that are inflicted, to withdraw the body of the faithful from confidence in what is human, and to supplant it by a firm trust in God” (B. B.).
Ezekiel 29:17-21. Warrior service hard service. He who serves God does not serve without pay.—The recompense of our works is never made on the ground of merit, but is always of grace.—“The downfall of the world is the deliverance of the chosen” (H. H.). Therefore lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh (Luke 21:28).—When the world becomes poor, then the bones of the righteous flourish.—The new life out of ruins.—Upon silence to speak is better than to be silent upon speech.—It is God who must open the mouth for us, and He also can do it.—Immortality in the world and the eternal life in the sanctuary, Psalms 23:6.
On Ch. 30
Ezekiel 30:1-9. “The judgments of God pass from His own people to other peoples; hence the day of the heathen could not be far off” (Cocc.).—Despair howls, hope waits.—A day in clouds is also the day of death; the earth is shrouded from the eye, and especially when first the heaven has been covered to the spirit. Darkness then reigns below and above. How dark, then, is the grave!—Bad times are met by watchfulness; howling merely goes before them as the loud blast before the outburst of the thunderstorm.
Ezekiel 30:4-5. Many others are carried along with the fall of one. In every judgment that takes place in the world, behold a type and prelude of the judgment which is to be executed on the world.—If not with the sinner immediately, yet on the sinner, and therefore through the sinner his companions shall be punished.—Where God strikes the blow, there not only is the stir which a people makes, and with which it makes such a noise, its work and gain brought down, but also law and order and that whereon all rests are overthrown.
Ezekiel 30:6-7. How helpless with all his appliances may one that was helpful to us prove in a night! May God be our help, who has made heaven and earth.
Ezekiel 30:9. Everything does service as a messenger for God; in particular His word, which hence cannot be bound, but accomplishes that whereto it is sent.—God’s seat of judgment stands always among mankind, and the world’s history is God’s judgment.—The terrors in the history of the world.—As there is a false security in individual men, so is there also a bad security with whole peoples.—The national security a national loss.
Ezekiel 30:10-19. When men do not sanctify God on holidays, God makes their bustling activity to keep holiday.—When God wills, a man’s name can cause terror to the world. But only One Name is given under heaven to men wherein we can happily exult before all terrors.—Upon deeds of violence come still more violent ones, and tyrants are precipitated through tyrants.—“Whosoever sells himself to sin has already in doing so sold himself to his enemy” (Stck.).—God’s blessing fills, His curse impoverishes a land.
Ezekiel 30:13. The hand of God alights some time upon all idols.—From the overthrow of heathenism is seen the vanity of idols.—“Where are the famous cities of the olden times? Why do they lie buried in disorderly stone-heaps? Sinner, behold what sin may effect” (St.),—how it may build very high indeed, yet not for continuance, and still more may destroy.—Gods and princes combined the common delusion of idolatry, at first in splendour, so afterwards in ruin!—Terror is the opposite of courage, but not the fear of the Lord.—Where God kindles a fire, it is always for judgment; the old is consumed therein, but a new springs forth out of the ruins.—Without casting down, no progress in the life of humanity.
Ezekiel 30:16. Must not man always be engaged in conflict?
Ezekiel 30:17. With its youth the human future of a people goes down. Even the youth should be “the chosen” of God; instead of this, Satan at no period has so much of his nature in men as in the season of youth.
Ezekiel 30:18-19. Walk in the light while ye still have the light,—we, that is, who have the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ.—The judgment of God may, through the dogmas of men and a false philosophy, veil to us also the sun of truth, and wrap in darkness to men’s view heaven and eternity.—When at length, with the authority of God, the authority also of the law over men gives way, then, where superstition gives place to unbelief, there falls upon them yoke for yoke, one in the room of another; there is only an exchange of tyrants.—How much old and high renown have the gravediggers of the world’s history already buried under the sod among other sweepings! What is gloria mundi?—a transit.—The new plagues of Egypt.—The spirit of Pharaoh continued to be the spirit of the Pharaohs.—Self heights are no heights—none, at least, that stand in the judgment of God, and remain above though all else should go down and disappear; but a height in the true sense is that simply whereof it is said, As high as heaven is above the earth, Psalms 103:11. This ought to be recognised, and that not merely at the last, amid howlings and gnashings of teeth, but betimes, when it may still serve for peace, with the calm open eye.—“The most wretched of all thoughts is that of having no part in God. How many an evil-doer has readily presented his head to the sword, in the conviction that through the punishment he should become a partaker of God!” (H.)
Ezekiel 30:20-26. How many the things are that men prize as an “arm,” and how easily these arms are broken!—The arm of the Lord (Isaiah 53:0.), and the arm of man, and the armies of princes.—“More easily is an arm broken than healed; but now first of all the conscience, how Gainfully does it sting, and how long is it in healing!” (Stck.)—What God has broken, God only can heal.
Ezekiel 30:22. But man never has enough by a fracture; so long as he can still move and stir otherwise, he must show himself. Therefore shall there come to be a destruction without mercy, if we will not submit to God on the footing of grace.—“Sickness breaks one arm, death both arms” (Stck.).—Every breakage which we must suffer is a call to repentance.
Ezekiel 30:23. “He who will not fear God in his fatherland has no injustice done him, if in a foreign land he is made to experience all sorts of misfortune” (St.).
Ezekiel 30:24-26. “Strength and weakness come both from God” (W.).—“Upon whose side Jehovah stands, that man prevails in the conflict; to him there is prosperity in life; he enjoys a blessing with his work. But this favour has the Lord promised to the righteous. Without God all ends unfortunately, mournfully, and in perdition” (Stck.).—What serves God, that serves also the kingdom and the power of the Spirit; just as at the last, all the kingdoms of this world shall become God’s and His Christ’s.
On Ch. 31
Ezekiel 31:1-2. “The greatness of Egypt was the presumption against the warnings of the prophet. But greatness is no security against destruction; no greatness upon earth can withstand the strokes of God” (H.).—“With justice are kingdoms compared in Scripture to trees, as well on account of their form, the protection and shadow they afford to men and beasts, as also on account of their fruits; and still farther in this respect, that kingdoms, like trees, flourish and again cease to exist, torn up by the wind, or cut down by the hatchet of man” (L.).—It is very well for people to compare themselves with others, though not for the purpose of thinking better of themselves than others, as the Pharisee in the temple over against the publican, or in order to envy others; but humbly to learn that we are a part of mankind, and that what is human may befall us, and shall at last take place without exception. Also to make each one more contented with his lot, a comparison with others is, as a rule, fitted to be serviceable.—“Both the one and the other inference is right: As God has elevated that humble one, so can He, in His own time, elevate me; as God has abased that proud one, so may it also be done with me” (Stck.).
Ezekiel 31:3-9. “The histories of the world might teach great lords much, that they should not rely upon their own powers” (Lg.).—Rulers and princes should be shady trees to the righteous.—“God has done good also to the heathen, that they might seek Him, if haply they might find Him, Acts 17:26-27” (Stck.).—“Oh, what streams of grace flow upon the unthankful, if they would only perceive them! The waters are indeed not of one sort—one portion swims in pure felicity, another in tribulation and adversity; but the aim is uniform, and the divine loving-kindnesses which are concealed under the latter are certainly greater than the former, in the eyes of those who know to estimate things aright” (B. B.).—But their favourable condition and the friendliness of God only serve with many to puff them up, and render them proud and arrogant,—an end for which certainly all this was not given.—He with whom it overflows should make it trickle over upon others.
Ezekiel 31:7. To be radical in the proper sense is a good thing, namely, that one should know that his root is in God.—“The true comeliness of a prince stands in comely virtues, which adorn every man, especially a prince,—clemency and justice above all; to afford protection and solace to the persecuted; to spread forth as it were his branches to the miserable; to have about him servants resplendent with his own virtues, so that, as in every branch the nature of the tree, so in every servant the character of the prince, may appear reflected. He and they must not be terrible to the good, nor oppressive to his subjects. The love of the people is a good root for a race of princes” (Cocc.).
Ezekiel 31:8. Better to be envied than commiserated. God makes man beautiful, as He alone also makes him good; the latter is the divine nature, the former the divine form, of a man.
Ezekiel 31:10-13. I have given thee into the hand of such and such an one—this explains much darkness.—The haughty spirit going before, the key to the fall afterwards.—“Now, however, we are all in Adam inclined to pride of soul; and the perishing things of this world, riches, honour, splendour, beauty, knowledge, etc., nourish our natural inclination, being all things which we overestimate. However, even a plain smockfrock often covers a repulsive arrogance. But kings are through their flatterers nourished in this vice, which is the root of all others” (L.).—One must grow in order to be able to lift the top so high; this is not so quickly reached;—on the other hand, to arrive at the lowest depth there needs only one overthrow, which may take place in a single moment.—One falls more quickly down a stair than one mounts up again.—God cannot suffer pride; I am meek and lowly in heart, it was said by Him who was God manifest in the flesh, Matthew 11:29.—Out of the heart of man proceed also all high things that are offensive to God, which need not always wear a crown, but may have merely a pen behind the ear, or a pair of spectacles on the nose.
Ezekiel 31:12-13. From the foreign land comes much suffering—first foreign sins, then punishment through foreigners.—A shameful fall into sin, and a frightful fall into misfortune—both invite to study.—There must also fall into the valleys branches that have been broken off, that poor people may not think the great ones of the earth are freed from death and judgment.—When the punishments of God break forth, then such as can flee gladly make off, while they were not to be enticed out of the shadow of sin, in which they delighted themselves.—God shakes the luxurious tree from top to bottom, and then all that stuck to its branches fall off; and so they are struck off, since they did not allow themselves to be warned off.—“How does the shadow of the rich vanish with the sun of prosperity, and with the shadow depart also the flatterers and panegyrists ! ” (Stck.)—He who chooses to be forsaken must become poor.—Fate can keep up the interest, but a rich man who has become poor is a woe-begone phenomenon for the world.—“How often do the goods of a rich man become scattered over the world after his death!” (Stck.)—Discern false friends in adversity!—To cut, and peck, and aid in plundering the very person in whose prosperity men formerly basked, and whom they hardly knew how to laud highly enough!—“So deeply is the friendship of the world rooted, and its caresses. So long as all goes well, friends and worshippers are readily found. But when that changes, all goes otherwise”(B. B.).
Ver.14. Precautions must be taken that the trees do not grow into the heavens.—All are born naked—no one comes in purple into the world; but that is far from working so powerfully as the thought that the king must die as the beggar.—Death the moral of the human fable.—“A mighty lesson for our time” (Richt.).—Somewhat for People who would see clearly upon the death of Napoleon.—That there is to be a general judgment after this life is evident alone from death, which strikes all, even great men.—“The consideration of the inevitable exit of all who live should beget moderation in pretensions. We take nothing with us of that which so many desire with such eagerness” (L.).
Ezekiel 31:15-18. Great fates cast forth also great shadows.—If our terrors did but lead us to the knowledge of our misery, as well as of the glory of God!—The grave unites all at the last.—“The glory of the earth must become dust and ashes,” etc.—But who believes our report may be said also here: he who exalts himself shall be abased, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.—“Thus God throws the loftinesses of men into one heap ” (B. B.).—“And so circumcision makes a distinction in death—not, of course, that which is done in the flesh, but the circumcised heart; so that a circumcised person may have his place also among the uncircumcised, as, on the other side, uncircumcised persons, who are not so in heart, may be counted as circumcised. At the close, however, the prophet writes the name ‘Pharaoh’ on the lid of the coffin” (Cocc.).
On Ch. 32
Ezekiel 32:1-2. How far otherwise have the court-poets ever and anon elegized !—The comparison with lions and dragons withdraws much that is human in respect to Pharaoh.—“This robberfish (?) and dragon, which with his feet troubles the streams, is like the beast that should ascend out of the sea (Revelation 13:0.). Pharaoh is hence the enemy of the chosen, a roaring lion, which troubles the waters of heavenly wisdom with the slime of human additions, so that they provide no proper drink for those who thirst for salvation” (H. H.).—“Should Christian kings be like lions and dragons? They ought to be the fathers of their country, caring day and night for the welfare of their subjects” (St.).—“Tyrants and the covetous are insatiable, and cannot be at rest” (Stck.).—“Ah! how much misfortune can be brought about by a restless ruler! Therefore pray for a peaceful government of the kingdom” (St.).
Ezekiel 32:3-10. “The godless hasten to meet their destruction, without being afraid of it, but often secretly driven thereto by God ” (H. H.).—“God is the supreme hunter and fisher; He can throw upon the lions His toils, and upon the whales His net, to catch and destroy them” (W.).—“God knows how to tame the untamed, to humble the proud, and to curb the fierce; who can resist His power?” (Stck.)—To be rejected, if not thrown entirely away, is the end of the mighty after the flesh.—Corruption the last strophe also in heroic poetry.—“How mournful is it to be cast away by God!” (Stck.)—Even the ass will plant his footstep on the wounded dying lion.—What the rich boast themselves so much of is but a carcase, which those who live after them will divide among themselves.—“After death, shame and reproach overtake the wicked and shameless” (H. H.).
Ezekiel 32:5-6. Overflowing for overflowing; for the waters of Egypt, now the blood of the hosts of Pharaoh.—“They who formerly swam in pleasures, shall by and by swim in their own blood” (Stck.).
Ezekiel 32:7. “The greatness of the calamity is described by the prophet from the sense of those whom the tribulation affects, to whom it seems as if the whole world were enveloped in darkness” (H. H.).—“The lights of heaven truly shine only for the happy; the sun exists not but for the sunlit eye” (H.).—“The godly sustain themselves in such circumstances by the thought that the Lord is their light, and therefore will not suffer the light of their heart to go out” (L.).—“But he who despises the light of grace, for him the light of glory also shall not shine” (Stck.).—It is also dark, and the stars even fall from the heaven, when great, noble, important, eminent men, heroes, sages, lawgivers, governors, teachers, are carried off by death—or worse, when they fall away into superstition or unbelief, ungodliness, injustice, and violence.
Ezekiel 32:9. “Many a fall leads to the elevation of others” (St.).—To be frightened is still not to be awakened, and awakening without enlightenment is spiritual tumult without spiritual life.—The grave, too, is an unknown land, and thither we are all journeying. Yet for faith there is a sun which rises upon it, that never goes down.—“So the Lord loves to inspire terror, that He may break fleshly confidence” (H. H.).—Happy for him whom a sincere conversion has made secure against the terrors which seize upon the whole earth!—He who still has to fear for his soul, let him consider that the whole world can profit him nothing!—Every moment are we in danger of death, and consequently in sight of eternity.
Ezekiel 32:11-16. If no other cure proves effectual, then God betakes Himself to the sword.—The method of salvation through blood and iron; but what is the state of society presupposed in connection with it!—The guillotine and the sword both do their work quickly, and bring what is before as it were under them.
Ezekiel 32:13. “It touches a miserly man much more nearly if his beast dies, than if his children are taken from him by death” (St.).—A stock of cattle a state of peace.
Ezekiel 32:14-15. The stillness of the desert is indeed stillness, but it is not peace, any more than to flow “like” oil is the soft nature of the spirit.—There is rest in the grave, but much unrest thereafter, yea, more unrest, and of a worse kind than existed before.—“There go the waters softly, as in mourning” (Umbr.).—But God knows how to set at rest a land and its creatures which have been plagued and misused by men. Where have the oppressors gone? They also lie still.—Lamentation does not take away the pain, but in the lamentation it lives on.
Ezekiel 32:17-32. Whoever would gain a thorough insight into the dominions and powers of the earth, he must look down into hell.—The instructive glance into hell.—The song of hell.—La divina comœdia of Ezekiel.—The doctrine of Sheol as the doctrine of the state after death.—What does the Sheol of the Old Testament signify? (1) According to its name, the demand of death on all persons and things, therefore the power of death over every individual person and thing; therefore that death is the wages of sin, the judgment of God’s wrath which takes effect on the flesh. (2) As to the thing, it is the state after death as existence in a spacious grave; that is, notwithstanding the dissolution of the body and the separation of soul and body, a continuous life of the spirit, and that with consciousness and recollection—hence, according to the character of this, in peace or disquiet.—Woe to him whom the doom of death precipitates into condemnation in death!—One can strike up no song to the living more unacceptable, yet at the same time none more profitable, than one about dying; should any one refuse to accompany it, it will still be sung upon him.—He to whom the earth was all, when he sinks into the grave, all sinks with him. It is thus easily comprehensible how death stretches into the future, even into the grave, and how all appears as grave and graves.—People and princes, Sheol demands both.—“Only to the pious is the tomb a chamber where they softly sleep, a resting-place without pain and commotion, a mother’s bosom (as we are from the earth), a place of repose to lie down in” (Stck.).
Ezekiel 32:19. It will be so much the worse if one has been nothing but fleshly, for death seizes in a rough and frightful manner.
Ezekiel 32:20. The sword cuts into the life, severs from life, sadly if also from God. For to die is what still goes on, to corrupt also; but to become lost for ever, that is the death without end, to die for evermore.
Ezekiel 32:21. The salutation of the dead toward the living when they die.
Ezekiel 32:22 sq. “What is received into the human heart, finds its grave also there; so round about the prince of death are his grave-places, wherein after a spiritual manner he is buried” (Gregory).—The grave for the unconverted, the condemned, the perspective of the future world.—“The grave is very deep, even though in a material point of view it may be but a few feet down: it is deep enough to shroud all glory” (H.).—“Powerfully seizes the mind and humbles the pride the ever-recurring There, when the subject of discourse has respect to a fallen king and his hosts. … We look upon a limitless field of graves, and it is remarkable and peculiar to our prophet, that he transfers the graves also to the lower world” (Umbr. ).—“As the elect come from the east and the west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God, so the cast off find their way to the uncircumcised, to the pierced by the sword, in the depths below” (H. H)—Here many graves, in the house of the Father many mansions.—The counterpart of the fellowship of believers upon earth, of the elect in heaven.—The lowest Sheol and the heavenly Jerusalem.—The earth is everywhere indeed the Lord’s, but not all the dead die in the Lord.
Ezekiel 32:27. Men take with them into the state of the dead their knowledge, and along therewith the judicial sentence due to their manner of life.—Nothing is forgotten before God which is not forgiven.—The wrath of God remains on them, it is said in John.
Ezekiel 32:31. “It is a wretched consolation which is derived from the circumstance that people see in others the same torments which themselves experience. And yet misguided mortals do really comfort themselves with it. It is a common necessity, they say; others have experienced the same, and are experiencing it daily,” etc. (H. H.)—The word of God, however, brings home to every man at last the application: this is such and such an one; as we find written on the tombstones: Here lies N. N.—“The Pharaohs prepare to swallow up without mercy: Jacob’s Shepherd laughs at them,” etc. (Hiller.)
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Ezekiel 29". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26