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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 32

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 3417. B.C. 587.

We have in this chapter a further description of the lamentable destruction of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, which is set forth under two similitudes.

(1,) The killing of a mischievous lion, and a whale, crocodile, or some such devouring creature, Ezekiel 32:1-16 .

(2,) The funeral of a great commander, or captain-general, brought down to the grave with the nations of the uncircumcised, Ezekiel 32:17-32 .

Verses 1-2

Ezekiel 32:1-2. In the twelfth year Namely, of Jehoiachin’s captivity, about which time Amasis began to set up himself against the king of Egypt, concerning whom this prophecy is. Son of man, take up a lamentation for Pharaoh “To the preceding funeral panegyric over Assyria, the fate of which was past, Ezekiel prophetically subjoins a similar panegyric over Egypt, though its fate was still future; making plainly here a happy variation in the oratorical figure, by which past events are brought down and represented as now present before our eyes; whereas, on the contrary, by this prophetic figure future events are anticipated, and represented as already past.” Obs. on Books, 2: 188. Thou art like a young lion of the nations Thou art like a beast of prey, devouring far and near. Thou art as a whale in the seas By the word tannim we may fitly understand a crocodile, as has been observed upon Ezekiel 29:3, and the description that follows agrees very well to a crocodile, but cannot be applied to a whale. And thou camest forth with thy rivers, &c. Or rather, Thou rushedst forth through thy streams, and didst trouble the waters, &c.; that is, thou wentest beyond the bounds of thine own kingdom, and didst trouble and tread down, or subdue, the neighbouring cities and nations.

Verses 3-6

Ezekiel 32:3-6. I will spread out my net over thee, &c. I will bring thine enemies upon thee, who shall encompass thee on every side, and master thee as a wild beast or monstrous fish is taken in a net. Then will I leave thee upon the land That is, leave thee to certain destruction, or take away from thee all means of recovery. For Pharaoh being here spoken of as a water animal, leaving him upon the land, signified leaving him to certain death, without the means of escaping it; for a fish left upon the land must needs die, let it struggle as it will, water being absolutely necessary to its life. This was literally fulfilled when, making war upon the Cyrenians, he was vanquished, and his army cut in pieces, and left a prey to the fowls and beasts in the deserts of Libya and Cyrene: see note on Ezekiel 29:4-5. And I will fill the beasts of the whole earth with thee With the flesh of thy vast armies. Or rather, understanding the words figuratively, I will enrich all nations with thy spoils. And I will lay thy flesh upon the mountains, &c. Thy people shall be slain, both upon the mountains and in the valleys, and their carcasses lie unburied there. I will also water with thy blood the land wherein thou swimmest The land of Egypt, wherein thou bearest rule; even to the mountains The mountains shall be wet with it, as well as the lower grounds: compare Isaiah 34:3. And the rivers shall be full of thee All places, both high and low, both land and water. All the expressions in these verses are hyperbolical, signifying the vast slaughter that should be made of the Egyptians, and the immense booty that should be obtained by their enemies.

Verses 7-10

Ezekiel 32:7-10. And when I shall put thee out When I shall cast thee down from thy power, and extinguish all thy glory. I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark It is well known that the downfall of states and kingdoms, kings and princes, is often expressed in the Scriptures by these or such like metaphors: see notes on Isaiah 13:10; Isaiah 24:23; Isaiah 30:26. But here the expressions may mean, I will make every thing look sad and dismal, or will cause a universal sorrow; for to men amidst great calamities and afflictions every thing appears dark and gloomy, and even the light itself seems little different from darkness; and therefore it is usual to express a state of great sorrow by the heavens being covered, and the stars darkened. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee I will involve thy whole land in trouble and distress, making every thing in it look dismal. I will vex the hearts, &c., when I shall bring thy destruction among the nations When thy exiles shall be dispersed into foreign countries, (see Ezekiel 29:12,) and relate the miserable circumstances of thy destruction, it shall cause grief and consternation in all that hear it. Yea, I will make many people amazed at thee, and their kings, &c. The kings and princes of Africa, who lay near to Egypt, seem here to be spoken of; for the destruction of Egypt could not but fill them with fear for themselves, lest the victor should make them suffer the same fate.

Verses 13-14

Ezekiel 32:13-14. I will also destroy the beasts thereof Their horses, in which they trusted so much, Isaiah 31:3, and other cattle, feeding in their rich pastures by the river sides. Neither shall the foot of man, nor the hoofs of beasts, &c. The country shall be so deserted that the waters of the river shall not be fouled by man or beast. But we may understand the prophet here as speaking metaphorically, and by the beasts of Egypt, intending its armies, which had frequently troubled the neighbouring nations, but which, it is here said, should trouble them no more; for when Egypt should be made desolate, and the number both of men and beasts should be diminished by their wars and confusions, then they should neither have the will nor the power to give their neighbours any further molestation; but the nations around them should enjoy quietness, like that of a river which smoothly glides along, and never has its streams fouled or disturbed: see Ezekiel 32:2. Then will I make their waters deep, &c. The nations which used to be harassed and troubled by the Egyptians, shall then enjoy great peace and quietness.

Verse 15

Ezekiel 32:15. When I shall make the land of Egypt desolate, &c. When I shall bring the fore-mentioned dreadful calamities upon it. Then shall they know that I am the Lord The awful and destructive visitation shall be sanctified to those that survive: it shall yield them important instruction, and they shall give glory to my power and justice, while a sensible conviction of the vanity of the world, and of the fading and perishing nature of all things in it, shall draw their affections from it, and from all that it contains, and induce them to seek an acquaintance with me as their portion and happiness.

Verse 16

Ezekiel 32:16. This is the lamentation wherewith they shall lament her This is the substance of the lamentation, which may be properly used to bewail the calamities which Egypt shall suffer: see note on Ezekiel 32:2. The daughters of the nations shall lament her That is, the people of the neighbouring countries shall use such like words as these when they hear of Egypt’s calamities: thus the daughter of Zion and of Babylon signifies the inhabitants of those cities. This verse alludes to the mourning women, whose office it was to lament at funerals.

Verses 17-18

Ezekiel 32:17-18. It came to pass, in the fifteenth day of the month Namely, of the month before mentioned, which was a few days after the time of the preceding revelation. The word of the Lord came unto me Giving me further directions how to improve the fall of Egypt. Son of man, wail for the multitude of Egypt Prepare the funeral ceremonies at the burial of Egypt, and compose an elegy suitable to the sad occasion. Bishop Lowth observes, that “this prophetic ode is a master-piece in that species of writing which is appropriated to the exciting terror.” And cast them down, even her, &c. Houbigant renders this clause, And thrust them down with the daughters of the nations; thrust them down to the lower parts of the earth, to those who are gone down to the lake. And he observes, that “the prophet is commanded to thrust the Egyptians down to the shades below; that is, to exhibit, by an hypotyposis, familiar with the prophets, the ruin of the Egyptians, similar to the ruin of the people who have been destroyed and gone down to the regions of the dead.” The reader will observe that this figure of speech is a representation of things painted in such strong and bright colours as may cause the imagination of the hearers to conceive of them rather as present to their view than described in words. Such is the representation which the prophet here gives of the calamities of the Egyptians. The expressions, Unto the nether parts of the earth, with them that go down into the pit, denote utter destruction, and are parallel to those elsewhere used, of being brought down to hell, to the grave, or into silence. The Egyptians affected to be buried in their pyramids, and their kings, princes, and nobles would be laid by themselves, but Ezekiel provides them their graves among common people, to lie just where they fell.

Verses 19-20

Ezekiel 32:19-20. Whom dost thou pass in beauty? What reason hast thou to prefer thyself before others? Art thou better than they, that thou shouldest not die and be laid in the dust as well as they? Go down Namely, to the regions of the dead; and be laid with the uncircumcised Among profane and loathed carcasses, such as the bodies of the uncircumcised were in the opinion of the circumcised: see notes on Ezekiel 28:8-10; Ezekiel 31:18. The circumcised, in Scripture, being put for those for whom God had a peculiar regard, and this being one of the distinguishing characteristics of his peculiar people, therefore the term uncircumcised seems to be used for those whom God had rejected, that is, for the wicked and profane. They shall fall in the midst of them that are slain by the sword Thy people shall not die the common death of all men, but shall be cut off by an extraordinary judgment from the hand of God himself: they shall be slain by the sword. Draw her and all her multitude Carry her and her people away to the grave, like so many carcasses, which are buried without any solemnity. The words seem to be spoken to the Babylonians, the executioners of God’s judgments upon Egypt.

Verse 21

Ezekiel 32:21 . The strong among the mighty shall speak to him Namely, to the king of Egypt; out of the midst of hell Or, the pit, as Bishop Newcome renders the word: see Ezekiel 32:23. The passage is “a poetical description of the regions of the dead; where the ghosts of deceased tyrants, with their subjects, are represented as coming to meet the king of Egypt and his auxiliaries, upon their arrival at the same place. Hell signifies here the state of the dead.” Lowth. See note on Isaiah 14:9. They are gone down The warriors, famous in their time for their exploits, have undergone the same fate with other men of blood, and are gone down to the grave by violent deaths.

Verses 22-23

Ezekiel 32:22-23. Asshur is there and all her company The Assyrians, both king and people, whose destruction is represented in the foregoing chapter: though famous, warlike, and victorious, that mighty monarch fell. His graves are about him The graves of his soldiers slain in the war. This expression, and that in the next verse, her company is round about her grave, seem to signify no more than a universal destruction of high and low, and that death had made them all equal. The masculine and feminine genders are promiscuously used in the following verses. The masculine referring to the prince, whose subjects the deceased were; the feminine to the nation or country to which they belonged. Whose graves are set in the sides of the pit Here is supposed a spacious vault, in the midst whereof the king of Asshur lies, and round the vault, in receptacles hewn about its sides, his famous captains and commanders. And her company is round about her grave Like lesser graves placed round the monument of some person of great quality. All of them slain, which caused terror, &c.

Who were a terror while they were alive to their neighbours.

Verses 24-25

Ezekiel 32:24-25. There is Elam and all her multitude Which was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar: see note on Jeremiah 49:36. The nations mentioned in this and the following verse were probably confederates with the Assyrians, and fell when they did. Which caused terror yet have they borne their shame They have been shamefully subdued, and have lost their lives and glory together, as Asshur did before them. They have set her a bed in the midst of the slain, &c. Elam and her people have gone down to the state of the dead, among those who have fallen by the sword. The word bed is used for the grave, Isaiah 57:2, and may, in both places, allude to the costly monuments, or sepulchres, which used to be erected for persons of great quality. Her graves are round about him The king and people are involved in the same common destruction.

Verses 26-28

Ezekiel 32:26-28. There is Meshech, Tubal, &c. These are some other of the Assyrian allies; some think the Cappadocians, and other nations neighbouring to them, are here meant. The Scythians also, who anciently governed Asia, may be comprehended, and their expulsion from Media by Cyaxares may here be referred to: see Obs. on Books, 1: 192. And they shall not lie with the mighty, &c. They shall not lie among those heathen heroes, men of courage and fortitude, who were laid in distinct graves, with pomp and magnificence, but shall all be tumbled together into one common pit, as their actions have not made them worthy of any distinction. Which are gone down to hell Or, the state of the dead, as the word which we translate hell ought often to be rendered. With their weapons of war Brave men, who had gained signal victories, used, by way of honour, to have their arms buried with them, or hung upon their sepulchres. Thus was the grave of Misenus honoured by Æneas.

“ Ingenti mole sepulchrum Imponit, suaque arma viro.” ÆN. 6:232.

“It was usual,” says Kirchman, De Funer. Roman., 50. 3. c. 18, “in former times, in some places, to put swords, shields, and other armour in the graves of military men, as they did in the grave of Theseus, and on the bier of Alexander the Great.” But the meaning of the prophet here is, that those, of whom he speaks, should be without these usual martial solemnities, with which people formerly often honoured their dead. Instead of which he says their iniquities shall be upon their bones Their death shall carry in it plain tokens of their sins, and of God’s vengeance pursuing them on account of them. Yea, thou shalt be broken in the midst of the uncircumcised Thou, O king of Egypt, shalt have no honorary distinctions paid thee at thy death, or be laid in a magnificent tomb, as those great conquerors have been, but shalt lie in a common pit, or grave, promiscuously with those who are overcome and slain in battle.

Verses 29-32

Ezekiel 32:29-32. There is Edom, her kings, &c. Of whose destruction Ezekiel prophesied, Ezekiel 25:12; laid by them that were slain by the sword Laid among the conquered. With them that go down to the pit Among those of no renown, who are thrown into one common grave without any honour or distinction paid to them. There be the princes of the north By these, it seems, are meant the Tyrians, who lay north of Judea, and were overcome in many battles by the Chaldeans. Pharaoh shall see them, and shall be comforted, &c. Here, by a poetical figure, sense is given to Pharaoh among the dead, and he feels a consolation in that state to see so many other kings and nations brought into the same condition as himself and his people were in. Even Pharaoh and all his army slain by the sword Herodotus affirms, that Apries, or Pharaoh-hophra, was strangled: οι δε μιν απεπνιξαν , 50. 2. p. 154. But the enemies of Apries may have used the sword against him before he expired. For I have caused my terror in the land of the living In the Hebrew text it is, חתיתו , his terror, that is, I have permitted the king of Egypt to be a vexation and terror to many while he was alive in the world. And he shall be laid in the midst of the uncircumcised That is, with the basest sort, or those of no distinction. Or, if we read with the Masorites, whom our translators follow, my terror, the meaning of the verse may be, As these kings and nations have been a terror to the world while they were in it, Ezekiel 32:24, &c, so will I be now a terror to them, and especially to Pharaoh and his people, in making them a remarkable example of my vengeance. Observe, reader, the calamitous state of human life! See what a dying world this is! The strong die, the mighty die; Asshur, Elam, Meshech, Tubal, Edom, the princes of the north, the Zidonians, Pharaoh, and all his multitude! But here is likewise an allusion to the final and everlasting death of impenitent sinners. Those that are uncircumcised in heart are slain by the sword of divine justice. Their iniquity is upon them, and they bear their shame for ever!

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Ezekiel 32". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/ezekiel-32.html. 1857.
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