The Judgment upon Pharaoh and Egypt.

THE DESTRUCTION OF PHARAOH’S POWER AND THE SUBSEQUENT RESTORATION OF EGYPT. — V. 1. In the tenth year, namely, after Jehoiachin had been deposed and led away into captivity, in the tenth month, in the twelfth day of the month, the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, v. 2. Son of man, set thy face against Pharaoh, king of Egypt, in a gesture which signified stern reproof and opposition on the part of the Lord, and prophesy against him and against all Egypt, the country being guilty with its ruler. V. 3. Speak and say, in a message which was, in every word, the message of Jehovah against a heathen ruler who was guilty of so much wickedness over against the Lord’s people, Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh, king of Egypt, this special prophecy referring to Pharaoh-hophra, who then occupied the throne, the great dragon, the crocodile, type of the land of Egypt, that lieth in the midst of his rivers, the Nile with all its canals and the network of streams which compose its delta, which hath said, with the pride which sets aside the blessings of the one true God, My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself, the Pharaohs from olden times considering themselves gods of the land and thereby heaping blasphemy upon the name of the one true God. V. 4. But I will put hooks in thy jaws, as men did in the case of crocodiles, such rings effectually restraining the fierce reptiles, and I will cause the fish of thy rivers to stick unto thy scales, namely, the inhabitants of Egypt, who would, for the most part, share his fate, and I will bring thee up out of the midst of thy rivers, like a captured crocodile, and all the fish of thy rivers shall stick unto thy scales, and thus share the fate of their ruler. V. 5. And I will leave thee thrown into the wilderness, far from food and water, the life-giving element in the case of these animals, thee and all the fish of thy rivers; thou shalt fall upon the open fields, literally, “upon the plains of the fields,” far from food and nourishment; thou shalt not be brought together nor gathered, no one taking the trouble of picking up what was so deliberately cast aside. I have given thee for meat, that is, for food, to the beasts of the field and to the fowls of the heaven. Thus the prophet draws a very vivid picture of the destruction which would come upon the land of Egypt and its ruler. V. 6. And all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the Lord, the one God who directs the destinies of nations, because they have been a staff of reed to the house of Israel, the latter’s dependence upon Egypt as a trusted ally proving hurtful to the Lord’s people instead of beneficial; for not only was the might of Egypt unequal to the task of protecting Judah against the mighty Eastern empires, but the idolatry spread by the Egyptians was a downright curse to the people of the Lord. V. 7. When they took hold of thee by thy hand, in seeking the assistance of Egypt, thou didst break and rend all their shoulder, the broken pieces of the staff piercing through the hand and arm, up even to the shoulder; and when they leaned upon thee, in relying upon Egypt’s help, thou brakest and madest all their loins to be at a stand, that is, the firmness of Israel’s loins was so badly shaken that the power to stand upright was taken away. Egypt was not only an unreliable ally, but a menace of the worst kind. V. 8. Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will bring a sword upon thee, in conquering and devastating warfare, and cut off man and beast out of thee, in a universal destruction. V. 9. And the land of Egypt shall be desolate and waste, literally, “shall be for a desolation and a waste,” and they shall know that I am the Lord, by the evidence furnished by his severe punishment upon them, because he, the ruler of Egypt, hath said, The river is mine, and I have made it, the Lord once more calling attention to this blasphemous statement. V.10. Behold, therefore I am against thee and against thy rivers, the chief source of Egypt’s wealth, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, literally, “I will give the land of Egypt to desolations of desolation,” from the tower of Syene, rather, “from Migdol,” the northernmost point of Egypt, “to Syene,” on its extreme southern border, even unto the border of Ethiopia, the country which extended to the south of Egypt. V. 11. No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years, during which time the power of Egypt would be utterly broken, and there would be neither traffic, travel, nor industry. V. 12 And I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate, in the general punishment which struck the lands at this end of the Mediterranean Sea in the Chaldean conquest, and her cities among the cities that are laid waste shall be desolate forty years, for the time determined by the Lord, and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, so that they also would suffer the evils of an exile, and will disperse them through the countries, Egypt thus, as one commentator has it, being the caricature of Israel. Yet the mercy and long-suffering of the Lord becomes apparent also in this connection, and the prophecy takes a more cheerful turn. V. 13. Yet thus saith the Lord God, At the end of forty years, the period determined by Him for the carrying out of His judgment, will I gather the Egyptians from the people whither they were scattered, in the misery of their subjugation and captivity, v. 14. and I will bring again the captivity and will cause them to return land of Pathros, that is, South or Upper Egypt, with Thebes as its capital, into the land of their habitation, literally, “the land the of their birth,” for the nation of Egyptians had their origin in this part of Egypt; and they shall be there a base kingdom, no longer a power of the first rank, but altogether subordinate to other nations. V. 15. It shall be the basest of the kingdoms, instead of occupying the first position, to which it aspired; neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations, for I will diminish them that they shall no more rule over the nations, never again occupy a position which would cause others to look to it for assistance. V. 16. And it shall be no more the confidence of the house of Israel, the fact by which the downfall of Judah was brought about, which bringeth their iniquity to remembrance, when they shall look after them, that is, the fact that the Jews turned to Egypt for help and sought deliverance with an idolatrous nation causes the Lord to remember that He was bound to punish them; but they shall know that I am the Lord God. It is always foolish, and usually disastrous as well, for believers to turn to the enemies of God for help and deliverance in any emergency.

THE CONQUEST AND SPOIL OF EGYPT. — V. 17. And it came to pass in the seven and twentieth year, after the accession of Zedekiah, and seventeen years after the message contained in the first part of this chapter was delivered, this section thus being the last prophecy of Ezekiel, in point of time, in the first month, in the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, v. 18. Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, caused his army to serve a great service against Tyrus, namely, in laying siege to this city, the task, according to secular accounts, taking him thirteen years; every head was made bald, and every shoulder was peeled, on account of the difficult labor connected with transporting material to fill up the arm of the sea between the mainland and the island on which Tyre was located; yet had he no wages, nor his army, for Tyrus, very likely because the rich spoil which he had hoped to make had meanwhile been removed on the Tyrian ships and stored in safe places in her colonies, for the service that he had served against it, he had not found enough to reimburse him for the campaign. V. 19. Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will give the land of Egypt unto Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, so that he would bring the country into subjection to Chaldea; and he shall take her multitude, a great number of captives, and take her spoil, her wealth and stores making a welcome booty, and take her prey, so that the country would be stripped of its riches in every form; and it shall be the wages for his army, a well-merited reward or recompense, since his army, unknown to the heathen ruler himself, had been the instrument of God in carrying out his will. V. 20. I have given him the land of Egypt for his labor wherewith he served against it, namely, against Tyre, because they, the Chaldean king and his army, wrought for Me, saith the Lord God. V. 21. In that day, namely, at the time which was generally included in this section, will I cause the horn of the house of Israel to bud forth, the horn being the symbol of power and authority, and the expression pointing forward to a revival of Judah’s might, and I will give thee the opening of the mouth in the midst of them, so that Ezekiel and every true prophet of the Lord would have willing hearers among the chastened congregation; and they shall know that I am the Lord. The words do not promse that the ancient glory of Israel as a political state would be revived, but they contain an earnest of the spiritual growth of the true Israel and of its eventual full glory under the Messiah, the Son of David.