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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Ezekiel 29

 

 

Verse 1

In the tenth year, in the tenth month, in the twelfth day of the month, the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

This is the last of the world-kingdoms against which Ezekiel's prophecies are directed, and occupies the largest space in them-namely, the next four chapters. Though further off than Tyre, it exercised a more powerful influence on Israel.


Verse 2

Son of man, set thy face against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and prophesy against him, and against all Egypt:

Set thy face against Pharaoh - a common name of all the kings of Egypt, meaning the sun; or, as others say, a crocodile, which was worshipped in parts of Egypt (cf. Ezekiel 29:3, "the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers"). Hophra or Apries was on the throne at this time. His reign began prosperously. He took Gaza of the Philistines (Jeremiah 47:1), and Sidon, and made himself master of Phoenicia and Palestine, recovering much that was lost to Egypt by the victory of Nebuchadnezzar at Carchemish, wherein the latter "took from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates all that pertained to the king of Egypt" (2 Kings 24:7; Jeremiah 46:2) in the fourth year of Jehoiakim (Wilkinson's 'Ancient Egypt,' 1: 169). So proudly secure, because of his successes for 25 years, did he feel, that he said not even a god could deprive him of his kingdom (Herodotus,

ii. 169). Hence, the appropriateness of the description of him in Ezekiel 29:3, as saying, "My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself." No mere human sagacity could have enabled Ezekiel to foresee Egypt's downfall in the height of its prosperity.

There are four divisions of these prophecies: the first in the tenth year of Ezekiel's captivity; the last in the twelfth year. Between the first and second comes one of much later date, not having been given until the twenty-seventh year (Ezekiel 29:17 to Ezekiel 30:19), but placed there as appropriate to the subject-matter. Pharaoh-hophra or Apries was dethroned and strangled, and Amasis substituted as king, by Nebuchadnezzar (cf. Jeremiah 44:30). The Egyptian priests, from national vanity, made no mention to Herodotus of the Egyptian loss of territory in Syria through Nebuchadnezzar, of which Josephus tells us, but attributed the change in the succession from Apries to Amasis solely to the Egyptian soldiery. The civil war between the two rivals no doubt lasted several years, affording an opportunity to Nebuchadnezzar of interfering, and of elevating the usurper Amasis, on condition of his becoming tributary to Babylon (Wilkinson). Compare Jeremiah 43:10-12, and my note, Ezekiel 29:13, for another view of the grounds of interference of Nebuchadnezzar.


Verse 3

Speak, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself.

The great dragon - Hebrew [ taniym (Hebrew #8577)], any large aquatic animal, here it is the crocodile, which on Roman coins is the emblem of Egypt.

That lieth - restest proudly secure.

In the midst of his rivers - the mouths, branches, and canals of the Nile, to which Egypt owed its fertility.


Verse 4

But I will put hooks in thy jaws, and I will cause the fish of thy rivers to stick unto thy scales, and I will bring thee up out of the midst of thy rivers, and all the fish of thy rivers shall stick unto thy scales.

I will put hooks in thy jaws - (Isaiah 37:29; cf. Job 41:1-2, "Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? Canst thou put an hook into his nose?") Though man cannot do so, God can and will. Amasis was the 'hook in the hand of God.' In the Assyrian sculptures prisoners are represented with a hook in the under lip, and a cord from it held by the king.

I will cause the fish of thy rivers to stick unto thy scales - Pharaoh, presuming on his power as if he were God (Ezekiel 29:3, "I have made it"), wished to stand in the stead of God as defender of the covenant-people, his motive being, not love to them, but rivalry with Babylon. He raised the siege of Jerusalem, but it was only for a time (cf. Ezekiel 29:6, "They have been the staff of a reed to the house of Israel;" Jeremiah 37:5; Jeremiah 37:7-10); ruin overtook not only them, but himself. As the fish that clung to the horny scales of the crocodile, the lord of the Nile, when he was caught, shared his fate: so the adherents of Pharaoh lord of Egypt when he was overthrown by Amasis, should share his fate.


Verse 5

And I will leave thee thrown into the wilderness, thee and all the fish of thy rivers: thou shalt fall upon the open fields; thou shalt not be brought together, nor gathered: I have given thee for meat to the beasts of the field and to the fowls of the heaven.

I will leave thee thrown into the wilderness I will cause thee to be led into captivity beyond thy kingdom I will leave thee thrown into the wilderness - I will cause thee to be led into captivity beyond thy kingdom. The expression is used perhaps to imply retribution in kind. As Egypt pursued after Israel, saying, "The wilderness hath shut them in" (Exodus 14:3), so herself shall be brought into a wilderness-state. Compare also with the close of this verse, "I have given thee for meat to the beasts of the field" (Psalms 74:14, "Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat for the people inhabiting the wildness").

Thou shalt fall upon the open fields - literally, 'the face of the field.'

Thou shalt not be brought together - as the crocodile is not, when caught, restored to the river, so no remnant of thy routed army shall be brought together, and rallied, after its defeat in the wilderness. Pharaoh drained Egypt of almost all its forces to form an army which he led against Cyrene, in Africa, in support of Aricranes; the latter had been stripped of his kingdom, Libya, by the Cyrenians, who had seized on it with the help of Greek auxiliaries. The army of Pharaoh perished in the wilderness, and Egypt rebelled against him (Junius). But the reference is mainly to the defeat by Nebuchadnezzar.

I have given thee for meat to the beasts of the field, and to the fowls of the heaven - i:e., to hostile and savage men.


Verse 6

And all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the LORD, because they have been a staff of reed to the house of Israel.

They have been a staff of reed to ... Israel - alluding to the reeds on the banks of the Nile, on which if one leaned they broke (note Ezekiel 29:4; Isaiah 36:6, Rabshakeh said to Hezekiah, "Lo, thou trustest in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it." All Israel's dependence on Egypt proved hurtful instead of beneficial (Isaiah 30:1-5).


Verse 7

When they took hold of thee by thy hand, thou didst break, and rend all their shoulder: and when they leaned upon thee, thou brakest, and madest all their loins to be at a stand.

When they took hold of thee by thy hand - or handle of the reed.

Thou didst break, and rend all their shoulder - by the splinters on which the shoulder or arm would fall, on the support failing the hand.

Thou brakest, and madest all their loins to be at a stand - i:e., thou madest them to be disabled. Maurer somewhat similarly (referring to a kindred Arabic form), 'thou hast stricken both their loins.' Fairbairn, not so well, 'thou lettest all their loins stand,' i:e., by themselves, bereft of the support which they looked for from thee.


Verse 8

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD Behold, I will bring a sword upon thee, and cut off man and beast out of thee.

Behold, I will bring a sword upon thee - Nebuchadnezzar's army (Ezekiel 29:19). Also Amasis and the Egyptian revolters who, after Pharaoh-hophra's discomfiture in Cyrene, dethroned and strangled him, having defeated him in a battle fought at Memphis (Junius).


Verse 9

And the land of Egypt shall be desolate and waste; and they shall know that I am the LORD: because he hath said, The river is mine, and I have made it.

They shall know that I am the Lord - in antithesis to the blasphemous boast repeated here from Ezekiel 29:3, "The river is mine, and I have made it."


Verse 10

Behold, therefore I am against thee, and against thy rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia.

I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from the tower of Syene. Grotius translates, 'from Migdol (a fortress near Pelusium, on the north of Suez) to Syene' (in the farthest south) - i:e., from one end of Egypt to the other. So in Ezekiel 30:6, margin. However, the English version rightly refers Syene to Seveneh - i:e., Sebennytus, in the Eastern Delta of the Nile, the capital of the Lower Egyptian kings. The Sebennyte Pharaohs, with the help of the Canaanites, who, as shepherds or merchants, ranged the desert of Suez, extended their borders beyond the narrow province east of the Delta, to which they had been confined by the Pharaohs of Upper Egypt. The defeated party, in derision, named the Sebennyte or Lower Egyptians foreigners and shepherd kings (a shepherd being an abomination in Egypt, Genesis 46:34). They were really a native dynasty. Thus, in the English version, "Ethiopia" in the extreme south is rightly contrasted with Sebennytus or Syene in the north.


Verse 11

No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years.

No foot of man shall pass through it ... neither shall it be inhabited forty years - corresponding to the 40 years in which the Israelites, their former bondsmen, wandered in "the wilderness" (cf. note, Ezekiel 29:5). Jerome remarks, the number 40 is one often connected with affliction and judgment. The rains of the flood in 40 days brought destruction on the world. Moses, Elias, and the Saviour fasted 40 days. The interval between Egypt's overthrow by Nebuchadnezzar and the deliverance by Cyrus was about 40 years. The ideal 40 years wilderness-state of social and political degradation, rather than a literal non-passing of man or beast for that term, is mainly intended (so Ezekiel 4:6; Isaiah 19:2; Isaiah 19:11).


Verse 12

And I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate, and her cities among the cities that are laid waste shall be desolate forty years: and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse them through the countries.

I will make the land of Egypt desolate ... forty years: and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations - as Israel passed through a term of wilderness-discipline (cf. Ezekiel 20:35, etc.), which was in its essential features to be repeated again, so it was to be with Egypt (Fairbairn). Some Egyptians were to be carried to Babylon, also many "scattered" in Arabia and Ethiopia through fear; but mainly the 'scattering' was to be the dissipation of their power, even though the people still remained in their own land.


Verse 13

Yet thus saith the Lord GOD At the end of forty years will I gather the Egyptians from the people whither they were scattered:

At the end of forty years will I gather the Egyptians from the people where they were scattered - (Jeremiah 46:26, "I will deliver them (the multitude of No and Pharaoh and Egypt) ... into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar

... and afterward it shall be inhabited, as in the days of old, saith the Lord").


Verse 14

And I will bring again the captivity of Egypt, and will cause them to return into the land of Pathros, into the land of their habitation; and they shall be there a base kingdom.

And will cause them to return into the land of Pathros, into the land of their habitation - the Thebaid, or Upper Egypt, which had been especially harassed by Nebuchadnezzar (Nahum 3:8; Nahum 3:10, "Populous No ... Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength ... yet she went into captivity: her young children also were dashed in pieces at the top of all the streets"). The oldest part of Egypt as to civilization and art. The Thebaid was anciently called 'Egypt' (Aristotle). Therefore, it is called the 'land of the Egyptians' birth' (margin, rightly for "habitation"). [The same Hebrew word, m


Verse 15

It shall be the basest of the kingdoms; neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations: for I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule over the nations.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 16

And it shall be no more the confidence of the house of Israel, which bringeth their iniquity to remembrance, when they shall look after them: but they shall know that I am the Lord GOD.

It shall be no more the confidence of the house of Israel - Egypt, when restored, shall be so circumscribed in power that it shall be no longer an object of confidence to Israel, as formerly; e.g., as when, relying on it, Israel broke faith with Nebuchadnezzar (Ezekiel 17:13; Ezekiel 17:15-16).

Which bringeth their iniquity to remembrance, when they shall look after them - rather, 'while they (the Israelites) look to (or, turn after) them' (Henderson). Israel's looking to Egypt, rather than to God, causeth their iniquity (that is, unfaithfulness to the covenant) to be remembered by God.


Verse 17

And it came to pass in the seven and twentieth year, in the first month, in the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

In the seven and twentieth year ... the word of the Lord came unto me. The departure from the chronological order occurs here only, among the prophecies as to foreign nations, in order to secure greater unity of subject.


Verse 18

Son of man, Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon caused his army to serve a great service against Tyrus: every head was made bald, and every shoulder was peeled: yet had he no wages, nor his army, for Tyrus, for the service that he had served against it:

Nebuchadnezzar ... caused his army to serve ... against Tyrus ... yet had he no wages ... for Tyrus, for the service - i:e., in proportion to it, and the time and labour which he expended on the siege of Tyre. Not that he actually failed in the siege (Jerome expressly states, from Assyrian histories, that Nebuchadnezzar succeeded); but so much of the Tyrian resources had been exhausted, or transported to her colonies in ships, that little was left to compensate Nebuchadnezzar for his thirteen years' siege.

Every head was made bald, and every shoulder was peeled - with carrying baskets of earth and stones for the siege-works.


Verse 19

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD Behold, I will give the land of Egypt unto Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon; and he shall take her multitude, and take her spoil, and take her prey; and it shall be the wages for his army.

Behold, I will give ... Egypt unto Nebuchadnezzar ... and he shall take her multitude - not as Fairbairn, 'stone;' but, he shall take away a multitude of captives out of Egypt. The success of Nebuchadnezzar is implied in Tyre's receiving a king from Babylon, probably one of her captives there, Merbal (Josephus Apion 1: 21, on the authority of the Phoenician annals).

And take her spoil and take her prey literally 'spoil her spoil prey her prey;' ie as she spoiled other And take her spoil, and take her prey - literally, 'spoil her spoil, prey her prey;' i:e., as she spoiled other nations, so shall she herself be a spoil to Babylon.


Verse 20

I have given him the land of Egypt for his labour wherewith he served against it, because they wrought for me, saith the Lord GOD.

I have given him the land of Egypt ... because they wrought for me - the Chaldeans, fulfilling my will as to Tyre (cf. Jeremiah 25:9).


Verse 21

In that day will I cause the horn of the house of Israel to bud forth, and I will give thee the opening of the mouth in the midst of them; and they shall know that I am the LORD.

In that day will I cause the horn of the house of Israel to bud forth. In the evil only, not in the good, was Egypt to be parallel to Israel. The very downfall of will be the signal for the rise of Israel, because of God's covenant with the latter.

I cause the horn of ... Israel to bud - (Psalms 132:17). I will cause its ancient glory to revive: an earnest of Israel's full glory under Messiah, the son of David (Luke 1:69). Even in Babylon and Medo- Persia an earnest was given of this in Daniel raised to be the first of the three presidents over the whole Medo-Persian empire (Daniel 6:2), and Jechoniah lifted up by Evil-Merodach above all the kings with him in Babylon (Jeremiah 52:31).

I will give thee the opening of the mouth in the midst of them. When thy predictions shall have come to pass, thy words henceforth shall be more heeded (cf. Ezekiel 24:27).

Remarks:

(1) Egypt was of old the enemy of Israel, and more recently the seducer of the elect nation into idolatry and estrangement from God. Therefore God declares by Ezekiel to the Egyptian king, "Behold I am against thee" (Ezekiel 29:3). God is against all who injure His people, whether by oppression or by seduction, and sooner or later will severely punish them: for it is written as to the people of God, "He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of His eye" (Zechariah 2:8).

(2) Overweening self-sufficiency was the characteristic sin of the then-reigning King of Egypt. Proud of his successes for five and twenty years, Pharaoh-hophra had in blasphemous presumption said that not even a god could deprive him of his kingdom. Resting in haughty security on the abundant resources which Egypt derived from the fertilizing powers of the Nile, Pharaoh said within himself, as though he were the Deity, "My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself" (Ezekiel 29:3; Ezekiel 29:9). Thus, carnal minds in prosperity attribute the glory of their possessions to themselves, and forget that all which we have we owe to God, and to God we ought to consecrate all that we possess and all that we are.

(3) God taught Pharaoh by destroying judgments to unlearn his presumptuous confidence in his own inviolable security. The retribution inflicted on him was one in kind. As of old a former Pharaoh had pursued after Israel, saying, "The wilderness hath shut them in" (Exodus 14:3), so Egypt was herself to be brought into a wilderness-state of 40 years, like the similar period of Israel's sojourn in the wilderness (Ezekiel 29:11-12), and her sons' carcasses were to be for meat to all beasts and fowls (Ezekiel 29:5). The Egyptians themselves thus should know to their cost the power and justice of the God of Israel (Ezekiel 29:6). All who hurt or tempt the people of God shall suffer for it in the end.

(4) Israel, too, was taught to perceive the folly and sin of her past dependence on Egypt, which had proved to her but a staff of reed. At the time of the Jews' greatest need, when they were besieged by Nebuchadnezzar, from whom they had revolted, in reliance on the promises of Egypt, the expectation of deliverance from that quarter proved an utter disappointment: the reed which they leant upon with their whole weight snapped asunder, and rent their shoulder fatally (Ezekiel 29:7). Thus they who make flesh their arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord, always find their hope disappointed in the hour of their sorest need. God at once, in justice, as also in wisdom and mercy to His people, breaks every creature-confidence on which His people in sinful folly lean, in order that henceforth they may rest wholly on the Lord.

(5) Yet even for Egypt God had mercy in store after judgment (Ezekiel 29:14). "He will not always chide: neither will He keep His anger forever" (Psalms 104:9). But Egypt was henceforth to be but "a base kingdom" (Ezekiel 29:14-15). She was no more to have that power and eminence whereby Israel was tempted to look to her for protection, and so to conform to her corrupt ways (Ezekiel 29:16). We may truly bless God when He destroys all our cherished idols, and thereby draws us into closer communion with Himself.

(6) God will never suffer Himself to remain in debt to any man. Even a pagan Nebuchadnezzar, when he had executed God's will, and performed the "service" which God required against Tyre, was not allowed to go unrequited, inasmuch as he "wrought for the Lord" (Ezekiel 29:18-20).

(7) Israel was to rise on the fall of Egypt, because of the everlasting covenant which God made with His elect people (Ezekiel 29:21). God "caused the horn of Israel to bud forth" after the 70 years of depression and captivity. Herein God fulfilled in part His promise in Psalms 132:17, "I will make the horn of David to bud." The fuller accomplishment of this word took place when He "raised up a horn of salvation for His people in the house of His servant David" (Luke 1:69), in the first coming of Messiah the Saviour. The fullest accomplishment shall be when Messiah shall come again in glory as the universally recognized King of the Jews, and when His ancient people, as well as all His saints, shall hail Him, saying, "Hosanna! blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord! Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" (Mark 11:9-10.)

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ezekiel 29:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/ezekiel-29.html. 1871-8.

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Saturday, November 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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