EZEKIEL CHAPTER 29
The judgment upon Pharaoh for his treachery to Israel, Ezekiel 29:1-7. The desolation of Egypt, and restoration of it after forty years, Ezekiel 29:8-16. Egypt the reward of Nebuchadrezzar’s service against Tyre, Ezekiel 29:17-20. Israel shall flourish again, Ezekiel 29:21.
The tenth year of Jeconiah’s captivity. The tenth month, which answers to part of our December and part of January.
Set thy face: see Ezekiel 20:46 21:2.
Pharaoh; Hophra, as the Scripture styles him, Jeremiah 44:30; the Greek authors call him Apries, and Vaphres: most like he was grandson to Necho, who slew Josiah in fight, 2 Chronicles 35:23,24.
Prophesy against him; in prophetic style and authority declare what shall be done to him in his person.
All Egypt; the whole multitude of Egyptians; for it is the place for the people dwelling in it.
Thus saith the Lord God; that God that drowned one of thy predecessors with his army, horsemen, and horses in the Red Sea, at whose name thou shouldst tremble, who ever fulfilled his word, and is the same, it is he foretells thee by my mouth what is to be. I am against thee: see Ezekiel 28:22. Pharaoh: see Ezekiel 29:2.
Great; it may refer either to the grandeur of this king, as if he had been Pharaoh the Great, or to the largeness of this creature, to which he is by this hieroglyphic compared.
Dragon: some would have it the whale, but that lies not in rivers, as in his own place: it is surely the crocodile, of which Nilus hath many; and Ezekiel 32:2, our prophet doth, and so Isaiah 51:9, compare the Egyptian king to that devouring serpent, or dragon.
That lieth; not only at rest, but waiting for a prey, which never escapes, if this devourer lay any considerable hold of it.
In the midst of his rivers: Nilus was the chief river of Egypt; but either there were some less rivers that run into Nilus, or some divisions of it, where it made some islands, or the seven mouths of it, where it falls into the sea, which may give the name of rivers to it, or those channels that were cut large and deep, to convey water into the country; in all which these crocodiles bred, and rested, and waited for their prey.
Which hath said; which hath thought, accounted, and boasted; by which it appears the prophet speaks of a dragon in a figurative sense.
My river; kingdom, power, riches, and forces, signified here by a river. All the strength and glory of Egypt are mine, saith this proud king.
Is mine own; at my dispose and will. It is probable that this king of Egypt was an aspiring king, who aimed at absolute power, and thought he had secured it to himself; for the river, the emblem of the kingdom, is mine, saith he. I have made it: this seems to give some credit to the conjecture, that this king had raised the prerogative royal, and done what others before him would, but could not, and therefore assumes it to himself, as his own work, forgetting God, who gives kingdoms, and whose they are.
I have made it for myself; somewhat like the proud boast,
I have built for the glory of my name, Daniel 4:30, and like to meet as sad an end.
Thou art secure against all, but God will draw thee out of thy river to thy ruin.
Hooks; the allegory is continued; fish are drawn out with hooks and lines, and God hath hooks for this proud dragon, first Areasis, and next the Babylonian king. The expedition of Areasis at the head of the Cyreneans and Grecians, and the event of it, is exactly represented in this hieroglyphic in the text. Amasis with those forces mastered Libya, the king thereof applies for help to this Pharaoh, he gathers all the power of Egypt out of Egypt with him into Cyrene, where he was defeated, lost all but a few that fled with him, and on this occasion the Egyptians rebelled against him: now this short history opens the parable. The first hook you see in the jaws of this dragon, this drew him out of his river, i.e. his kingdom.
The fish; these are the people of Egypt, the subjects of this kingdom.
To stick unto thy scales; to adhere to their king in this war.
I will bring thee up out of the midst of thy rivers; both the king and his subjects, which made up his army, go out of the rivers, leave Egypt, and march into Cyrene (which was part of that kingdom now called Bares) with their king, as if they had been little fishes on the back of a mighty one. Thus far the emblem; the rest follows.
When thus brought out, as a fish out of the water, I will leave thee. God left this king.
The wilderness; the deserts of Libya and Cyrene.
All the fish; the whole army of Egyptians. Thou shalt fall upon the open fields; there was this king and his army ruined.
Thou shalt not be brought together, nor gathered, as usually the slain are to be buried; these were not buried, but left in the wilderness, where they fell to be a prey to wild beasts, and birds of prey which haunted the wilderness, and would soon gather to their prey.
This mighty overthrow shall be known through all Egypt, and as it shall fill them with fears and troubles, so it should be a convincing argument to them that God had done this, and punished them, and their proud king, who used to say, as Herodotus reports, that God could not turn him out of his kingdom. Because they, both king, princes, counsellors, and people of Egypt,
have been a staff of reed; treacherously, as next verse, dealt with the Jews, whom they seduced to trust and depend on them, and then perfidiously broke promise with them. It was the sin of the Jews to trust Egypt; it was Egypt’s great sin to falsify promise with the Jews, and for this God now punisheth Egypt.
When they, the Jews, unable to stand on their own legs, as men ready to fall, took hold of thee by thy hand; caught thine hand to lean on, as when besieged by the Chaldeans.
Thou didst break: it includes a designed and voluntary failure; Egypt would not support.
And rend all their shoulder; didst tear, and pierce, and wound arm and shoulder, didst them much mischief instead of benefiting them, as thou hadst promised, Jeremiah 37:7 42:17.
When they leaned, & c.; the same thing in words little different.
The loins are the strength of a man: thou hast put them to use all their strength to repel the enemy, thou hast been chief occasion of their engaging against.
Therefore, for thy atheistical pride, and thy perfidious mischief to the house of Israel, and other thy sins,
I will bring a sword upon thee; war, and the effects of it. First, a civil war arose against this king Hophra, who, weak and contemned, and fallen under the jealousies and disgusts of his subjects after his overthrow in the deserts of Libya and Cyrene, was again overthrown by his rebel subjects in a bloody battle at Memphis, was taken in his flight towards Sain, his royal seat, and some time after strangled by the enraged rout. The next sword, brought on Hophra’s successor, and on the land of Egypt, was the sword of Nebuchadnezzar, in the same year after the overthrow of Tyre; the civil war of Egypt inviting him to take the occasion, and some few requests, it is likely, from the rebellious to assist them.
Cut off man, by the sword in battle and sieges, and by famine.
And beast; eaten up by a numerous army invading and prevailing, and which will drive away what they eat not. The same phrase you have Ezekiel 14:13,17.
The land of Egypt; that part here intended, say some, and in the 10th verse, bounded from Syene to the borders of Ethiopia; nor is this inconsistent with that Ezekiel 29:2, against all Egypt, for all Egypt suffered much, though all were not equally wasted, and turned into a desolation, as these parts shall be. Desolate; a desolation, i.e. most desolate, and wasteness by the sword of the enemy, and by drought, as the word imports both: and this latter part of the judgment was executed by the folly of the twelve Egyptian roitelets, who made a mighty lake, Morris, to fill which they much drained and weakened Nilus, that it could not, as before it did, water and fertilize the land; suitable to Isaiah 19:5.
He hath said, & c.: see Ezekiel 29:3.
I am against thee: see Ezekiel 28:22.
Thy rivers: see Ezekiel 29:4.
Waste: see Ezekiel 29:9.
The tower; thus, as a common name, we, and the French, and others read it; but some account it a proper name of a town or city, called Magdalum, for aught I know the old Migdol, Exodus 14:2 Numbers 33:7,8; it was on the Red Sea side, north-east of Egypt: from this part unto Syene.
Syene; a city on the east of Nilus over against Arabia, saith one; a city that is just below the great cataract or fall of Nilus toward Ethiopia, and such a boundary between Ethiopia and Egypt as admits dispute to which it belongs. Ethiopia: now, to dispute nothing of this geography, it seems likely to me, that what we render Ethiopia is not so well and plainly rendered; for Syene being so near to Ethiopia, we must look some place of Egypt at some greater distance from Syene than this Ethiopia is; if then it were translated, the border of Cush, to whom Moses assigns Arabia, Genesis 10:7. Let us suppose then Magdalum, instead of
the tower, as one term; Syene on the edge of Ethiopia, as another; and the opposite point on the Red Sea towards Arabia; and then almost all Egypt is comprised herein, from north-east to south-east, down the Red Sea, thence to the westward as far as Ethiopia, and thence up the Nile as high northward as Magdalum.
No foot of man; not strictly to be taken, but in an accommodated sense, or comparatively to what once was, or so little traffic and passing to and fro, that no footsteps or tracks of men were found. It is a Scripture hyperbole, as Luke 19:44 Isaiah 14:31 Ezekiel 26:14,21.
Nor foot of beast; of profitable, useful, and tractable, as sheep, oxen, and horses; but of wild beasts too many are in the desolate places of that part of the world.
Neither shall it be inhabited forty years: accounting these years from the first wastings of Egypt by their civil dissensions and wars, some nine or ten years before Nebuchadnezzar subdued and wasted it, which he did in the thirty-fifth, thirty-sixth, and thirty-seventh years of his reign, or thereabout. So that these forty years will fall in about the thirtieth year of Jeconiah’s captivity, and end with the seventieth year of the captivity, which was the first of Cyrus.
This verse is a further repeated confirmation of what was said before, and needs no new explication, every thing in it being already spoken to in the former verses.
Among the nations; some into captivity, others by a timely retirement dispersed themselves, and got among their neighbours, who escaped, and where they kept, till the forty years expired.
Forty years: see Ezekiel 29:11.
Gather, by some eminent acts of Providence toward them, perhaps inclining the generous mind of Cyrus to favour them, and proclaim liberty to them, and under the government of old Areasis, that reigned fifty-five years, saith Diodorus, some ten or twelve of which might be under Cyrus, who had a kindness for the old man; and he, to repair the wastes, obtained and published great privileges for the new replanters.
The people; Babylon, Ethiopia, Libya, and other countries, that can be but conjectured to have been receptacles for them.
The captivity; which Nebuchadnezzar led away into Babylon.
The land of Pathros; one province or country of Egypt; it was a southern part of Egypt. in which was the famous city Thebae or Thebais, known for its hundred gates.
The land of their habitation; the ancient habitation of the fathers of the most of those that did return, forty years having eaten up almost all that had lived there before.
A base kingdom; a low, tributary, dependent kingdom, subject to the Persian kingdom as Areasis was to Cyrus; and though it did at length grow great, yet was it always dependent on Greeks or Romans.
The basest; the most abject, debased, and most underling. It is likely the kings to whom Egypt was tributary kept them lowest, as knowing how dangerous that kingdom might be, as it recovered its ancient greatness; and the word seems to intimate this, for it is more than the kingdoms it shall be depressed.
Neither shall it exalt itself; its masters would so watch and check it. I will diminish them; beside the hard and cruel usages of the Persian kings, which might be unjust enough, God’s most just judgment should follow them to lessen their numbers, power, wealth, and honour.
They shall no more rule over the nations; though once they had subdued and ruled, yet should they not any more. In the times of the Ptolemies, though it was considerable, yet then it was not a kingdom that ruled the nations about her, though she made war upon them.
The confidence: on every occasion the Jews were wont, against express prohibition, to renew friendship with Egypt, and make leagues for defence by them, and here they sinfully rested, as Isaiah 30:2 31:1 36:6,9: see Ezekiel 29:7.
Which bringeth their iniquity to remembrance; which sinful reliance on the arm of flesh provoked God to call to mind other their iniquities which accompanied this, viz. their idolatry, and going a whoring with these their confederates. God never forgets, but when he visits, punisheth, and judgeth a nation for their sin, then their sin is come up into remembrance.
When they shall look after them; or, in their, i.e. the house of Israel’s, looking after, i.e. with a desire that the Egyptians would, with hope they will, and with confidence that they can, relieve, rescue, and save them; when they forgot God, and respected Egypt.
They shall know; the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord, and whoso knows him will put their trust in him, Psalms 9:10.
The seven and twentieth year of Jeconiah’s captivity, the year after the conquest of Tyre, and the thirty-fifth of Nebuchadnezzar.
The first month; part of our March and April.
His army: the army, the inferior officers, and principal commanders, it is like, were weary of the siege, and might advise the raising it; but the authority, presence, and immovable resolution of the king kept them on still, and made them hold out.
A great service; it was service to the justice of God in punishing the Tyrians by the ambition of Nebuchadnezzar, who would not endure any thing to stand against him. It was great service, both for hardness of work, heaviness of burdens, and unreasonable length of the siege, thirteen years together.
Every head was made bald; either age, or sicknesses, (which often make men bald,) or continued wearing of the helmets, spoiled the best heads of hair amongst them; or perhaps it noteth the weeping bargain they had, though they mastered Tyre, where they got no booty; and both Nebuchadnezzar and his army might shave their heads, in token of mourning for their loss, rather than crown their heads with garlands of joy for gaining of the city.
Every shoulder was peeled; either clothes wore out, they had scarce any to their backs in so long a siege, or galled and blistered with carrying burdens, stones, timber, iron, and earth for fortifications, and to make a passage from the continent to Tyre; which sores, when healed, left scabs or dead skin that peeled off.
He had no wages; for though Tyre was very rich when first besieged, no doubt very much wealth was carried away by shipping at the beginning and during the siege, which none could prevent, very much spent and wasted in the siege, and what was left preserved by articles of surrender; for most conclude that it was delivered on composition, and the conqueror had only victory for his pains and charge.
I will give the land of Egypt: yet it is certain that the discontents of Egypt gave occasion, and the revolts of some of the subjects from Hophra, or Apries, and their inviting Nebuchadnezzar, gave him Egypt; but these were the irregularities of men, which God did wisely and justly manage to effect what he designed, and God gave, and men gave too; as the ten tribes gave, so God gave, the kingdom to Jeroboam; so the first cause and second causes produce the same effect. Her multitude; common people, who shall be made captives by the power of the conqueror, and servants or slaves next by the will of those that buy them of the soldier.
Her spoil: much of the Egyptian riches were the spoil of other nations, or the spoils of one another in the late civil wars between Pharaoh-hophra and Areasis; and now their dishonest gains shall be a prey to Babylonians.
Her prey; that which was once another’s possession, whilst right prevailed; but became a prey when Egypt’s power mastered the possessors.
The wages for his army: his army could not have plunder of Tyre, because it was surrendered on terms, but now they shall, and this shall be their prey.
I have given him; it is as sure as in his possession; thought he must fight for it, and it will cost blood, yet he shall surely have success.
Against it; Tyre.
They wrought for me; the proud, revengeful, covetous, and cruel Babylonians designed themselves, and did work for themselves, but God had further, higher, and more excellent ends, his work was doing by them who thought nothing less.
In that day; about that time, when Egypt was spoiled, Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon, his wars first, and soon after his life, ended, about four or five years after his return out of Egypt into Babylon; for about the thirty-seventh or thirty-eighth of his reign he finished his conquest of Egypt, and in the forty-third year he died at Babylon.
The horn; Jehoiachin by Evil-merodach was advanced, Jeremiah 52:31-33; beside dignities given to Daniel, the three children, and many others, under whose authority and favour the affairs of the Jews began, as a root that hath life in it, to spring and flourish; and whatever was the more immediate visible cause that prevailed with Evil-merodach, we are sure the principal cause was this, God’s mercy and veracity, who had promised he would do it, and foretold the time when he would begin to do it.
The opening of the mouth; thou shalt with greater authority be heard speaking, when the sorrows thou foretoldest, and the joys thou promisedst, both come to pass; and both Jews and Babylonians shall see and own it; or, thou shalt have liberty and freedom, as well as will and cause to speak, to open thy mouth in comforting the good among them, and to give praise to God, who revived their hopes, and made them know him as the Lord their God.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ezekiel 29". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://pro.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent