Two Elegies over Egypt and Its King.

LAMENT OVER THE KING OF EGYPT. — V. 1. And it came to pass in the twelfth year, after the carrying away of Jelioiachin, in the twelfth month, in the first day of the month, that the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, v. 2. Son of man, a weak human being, and yet the messenger of the almighty God, take up a lamentation for Pharaoh, king of Egypt, very likely Pharaoh-hophra, and say unto him, Thou art like a young lion of the nations, in his behavior over against them, in the terror which he inspired, and thou art as a whale in the seas, rather, a dragon or crocodile, an object of fear wherever he was known; and thou camest forth with thy rivers, as a mighty stream from its underground bed, and troubledst the waters with thy feet, deliberately dirtying it, and fouledst their rivers. Egypt had gone forth to vanquish and subdue other nations, taking away their independence and troubling them in various other ways. V. 3. Thus saith the Lord God, I will therefore spread out My net over thee, the invading armies being his instruments, with a company of many people, all associated in the work of carrying out the Lord’s vengeance upon Pharaoh; and they shall bring thee up in My net, the picture being that of the capture of a crocodile. V. 4. Then will I leave thee upon the land, I will cast thee forth upon the open field, cp. chap. 29, 5, and will cause all the fowls of the heaven, scavengers and birds of prey, to remain upon thee, and I will fill the beasts of the whole earth with thee, the thought thus being the same as in chapter 31, 13. V. 5. And I will lay thy flesh upon the mountains, like a huge corpse in the process of decay, and fill the valleys with thy height, with great heaps of his followers, or in utter humiliation of his boundless pride. V. 6. I will also water with thy blood, in great streams of blood shed in the great slaughter, the land wherein thou swimmest, in which he had till now disported himself as he chose, even to the mountains, the entire lowland thus being filled with the outflowing of Pharaoh’s strength; and the rivers shall be full of thee. Thus the destruction of Pharaoh was to bring death and destruction upon the entire land of Egypt, while other nations would derive benefit therefrom. V. 7. And when I shall put thee out, as when one extinguishes the light of a candle, I will cover the heaven and make the stars thereof dark, to express mourning and condolence; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light, the underlying thought being that of the great Day of Judgment, for every judgment upon the nations of the world is a type and precursor of the Last Judgment. V. 8. All the bright lights of heaven, otherwise given as lights for men, and for the delight of their eves, will I make dark over thee, on account of the judgment upon godless Egypt, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord God. V. 9. I will also vex the hearts of many people, filling them with extreme fear and terror, their sympathy with fallen Egypt taking this form, when I shall bring thy destruction among the nations, when the information concerning the manner and extent of its destruction would be spread, into the countries which thou hast not known, as the tidings were carried by captive and dispersed Egyptians. V. 10. Yea, I will make many people amazed at thee, in horrified astonishment over the fall of Egypt, and their kings shall be horribly afraid for thee, literally, “shudder over thee shudderings,” strong enough to make their hair stand on end, when I shall brandish My sword before them, swinging it back and forth before their faces in a menacing attitude; and they shall tremble at every moment, every man for his own life, fearing that the fate of Egypt would strike them next, in the day of thy fall. All this is now more specifically set forth. V. 11. For thus saith the Lord God, The sword of the king of Babylon, in this case in the service of the one almighty God, shall come upon thee. V. 12. By the swords of the mighty will I cause thy multitude, the inhabitants of Egypt with all their wealth and pomp, to fall, the terrible of the nations, the fierce and violent Chaldean soldiers, all of them; and they shall spoil the pomp of Egypt, that of which Egypt boasted in her pride, and all the multitude thereof shall be destroyed, all that had caused them to boast of their numbers and of their wealth. V. 13. I will destroy also all the beasts thereof, one of the chief sources of Egypt’s wealth being the immense herds of cattle in the delta of the Nile, from beside the great waters; neither shall the foot of man trouble them any more, the depopulation being so great that it would happen but seldom that a man would touch the waters of any canal of the Nile, nor the hoofs of beasts trouble them. “Foreign dominion inflicting mischief, causing man and beast to disappear, should bring to a stand the native pernicious rule of Pharaoh.” V. 14. Then will I make their waters deep, causing the muddiness to sink to the bottom and the water to be clarified, and cause their rivers to run like oil, or “with oil,” a strong figure to express the blessing of the Lord upon a nation, saith the Lord God. While Pharaoh had muddied and spoiled the waters of Egypt, the Lord, after the overthrow of the king, intended to clarify its waters once more and to impart to the land the riches of His blessings. The reference is undoubtedly to the living power of God’s Word and Spirit, which could be given to Egypt only after its natural power was destroyed, after its boastful pride had been taken away. V. 15. When I shall make the land of Egypt desolate, by the destruction now threatened upon it, and the country shall be destitute of that whereof it was full, literally, “is wasted away from its fullness,” when I s hall smite all them that dwell therein, then shall they know that I am the Lord, thus gaining the knowledge which may be the beginning of a new life. V. 16. This is the lamentation wherewith they shall lament her, the daughters of the nations, who were usually the professional or principal mourners, shall lament her; they shall lament for her, even for Egypt, and for all her multitude, saith the Lord God. The punishments of the Lord, also in our days, have one chief purpose, namely, that of bringing men to the realization of His holiness and righteousness and of their own sin, for with this much done by way of preparing the heart in true repentance, the path is opened for the understanding of the grace and mercy of God in Christ Jesus, the Savior.

DIRGE OVER TILE DESTRUCTION OF TILE EGYPTIAN POWER. — V. 17. It came to pass also in the twelfth year, in the fifteenth day of the month, most likely of the twelfth month and therefore only fourteen days after the previous message of lamentation, that the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, v. 18. Son of man, wail, in a gloomy, sorrowful grave-song, for the multitude of Egypt, the inhabitants of the country with all their pomp, pride, and tumult, and cast them down, even her, and the daughters of the famous nations, the various glorious heathen peoples of former times, whose evil fate had already overtaken them, unto the nether parts of the earth, with them that go down into the pit, those who were even then in the realm of the dead. V. 19. Whom dost thou, namely, Egypt with its king, pass in beauty? Where was a heathen people lovelier or more excellent than Egypt? Yet the command here goes forth, Go down and be thou laid with the uncircumcised, to share the fate of other heathen nations; for Egypt, after all, could not demand a preference for itself and expect exemption when other great and glorious nations had been overthrown. V. 20. They, namely, Pharaoh and his tumultuous and boastful multitude, shall fall in the midst of them that are slain by the sword, pierced through in the same slaughter; she is delivered to the sword, as one upon whom sentence has been passed; draw her and all her multitudes, dragging them down to the realm of the underworld. V. 21. The strong among the mighty, the allies and associates of Pharaoh that have preceded him into the realm of the dead, shall speak to him out of the midst of hell with them that help him, for so certain is his overthrow; they are gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword, so that he joins them with the other dead. V. 22. Asshur is there and all her company, haying been overthrown some time before; his graves are about him, all holding their dead, all of ‘them slain, fallen by the sword, v. 23. whose graves are set in the sides of the pit, according to the custom in the Orient of hollowing out the rock and laying the dead in niches thus hewn out, and her company is round about her grave, all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which caused terror in the land of the living. V. 24. There is Elam, whose territory lay in what is now Persia, adjoining that of Assyria, and all her multitude round about her grave, sharing the fate of Assyria in every particular, all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which are gone down uncircumcised, perishing in their godlessness, into the nether parts of the earth, which caused their terror in the land of the living, also known for the ruthlessness of their conduct over against others; yet have they borne their shame with them that go down to the pit, that is, they properly bear this disgrace of being overcome by death. V. 25. They have set her, the land of Elam, a bed in the midst of the slain with all her multitude, so that there is no question of her being entirely in the power of death and destruction; her graves are round about him, those destined to hold the slain of Earn; all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword; though their terror was caused in the land of the living, rather, “because terror was spread before them,” yet have they borne their shame with them that go down to the pit, properly being loaded down with this disgrace; he is put in the midst of them that be slain. V. 26. There is Meshech, most likely the Scythians north of the Black Sea, Tubal, a northern power, apparently between the Black and the Caspian Sea, and all her multitude, the people with all their wealth and tumult; her graves are round about him, as in the case of the other heathen powers; all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword; though they caused their terror in the land of the living, they also spread fear before them wherever they went. Yet there is a difference between these nations and those mentioned before. V. 27. And they shall not lie with the mighty that are fallen of the uncircumcised, not even be accorded the honor which the other godless nations enjoyed, which are gone down to hell with their weapons of war, the burial with weapons being one of the ways in which soldiers fallen in battle were distinguished, and they have laid their swords under their heads, the survivors honoring their heroes in this manner; but their iniquity shall be upon their bones, namely, by their being obliged to bear the consequences of their guilt, though they were the terror of the mighty in the land of the living, so that even those who excelled by virtue of their fierceness were not excluded from the Lord’s punishment, for all human accomplishments and excellencies cannot redeem from His wrath. V. 28. Yea, thou, namely, Meshech-Tubal, shalt be broken in the midst of the uncircumcised, sharing the fate of the godless in every way, and shalt lie with them that are slain with the sword. V. 29. There is Edom, or Idumea, the country south of the Dead Sea, extending to the Elanitic Gulf, her kings and all her princes, which with their might, in spite of all their courage and fearlessness, are laid by them that were slain by the sword, also included in the Lord’s punishment upon all the godless nations; they shall lie with the uncircumcised and with them that go down to the pit. V. 30. There be the princes of the North, all of them, very likely all those of ancient Syria and its tributary states, and all the Zidonians, the people of Phoenicia, which are gone down with the slain; with their terror they are ashamed of their might, that is, in spite of their fierce courage which inspired such abject terror in the hearts of their enemies, they have been brought to shame, covered with disgrace; and they lie uncircumcised with them that be slain by the sword and bear their shame with them that go down to the pit. V. 31. Pharaoh, when entering into the realm of the dead, shall see them and shall be comforted over all his multitude, deriving at least some measure of satisfaction over the fact that others, even before him, have had the same fate which now strikes him, even Pharaoh and all his army slain by the sword, saith the Lord God. V. 32. For I have caused My terror in the land of the living, that is, God permitted him to spread terror on earth, he was, in some instances, the scourge of the Lord; and he, having become guilty as set forth throughout these chapters, shall be laid in the midst of the uncircumcised with them that are slain with the sword, even Pharaoh and all his multitude, saith the Lord God. It is a somewhat fanciful picture which is drawn in this dirge, in having nations represented in this manner after they have entered into the kingdom of death, but the form is most effective in bringing out the just punishments of the Lord upon all godless people.