Judgment on Egypt
Text: Ezekiel 29-32
I. This section is composed of six prophecies given at various times. It is not in chronological order as far as when the prophecies were given.
A. Ezekiel 29:1 the twelfth day of the tenth month of the tenth year
1. July 14, 588 BC
B. Ezekiel 29:17 the first day of the first month of the twenty-seventh year
1. September 2, 572 BC
C. Ezekiel 30:20 the seventh day of the first month of the eleventh year
1. October 5, 588 BC
D. Ezekiel 31:1 the first day of the third month of the eleventh year
1. November 27, 588 BC
E. Ezekiel 32:1 the first day of the twelfth month of the twelfth year
1. August 8, 586 BC
F. Ezekiel 32:17 the fifteenth day of the twelfth month of the twelfth year.
1. August 22, 586 BC
II. The first prophecy comes during the siege of Jerusalem, about the time Pharaoh’s army was coming to rescue Jerusalem (Ezekiel 29:1-16) - Jeremiah 37:5
A. The Pharaoh is Pharaoh Hophra - Jeremiah 44:30
1. The name Pharaoh is a title all kings of Egypt wore. It means “the sun.”
2. History tells us that Pharaoh Hophra (or Apries) ruled twenty-five years
3. He was strangled by his one of his generals, Amasis, and replaced
4. Egyptian history makes no mention of the violent overthrow. They just speak of the changing succession.
5. Nebuchadnezzar was at war with Egypt at this time and supported the overthrow, probably in exchange for an oath of loyalty to Babylon - Jeremiah 43:10-12
B. He is called a great water monster
1. Commentators often use “crocodile” because they can’t believe there exists “monsters” (i.e. dinosaurs). A crocodile was the symbol of Egypt in Roman times.
2. The old King James version uses “dragons” or “whales”
C. His fault is his pride. He believes his kingdom exists by his own power
1. God will put a hook in his mouth (control him) - Job 41:1-2
2. Fish will stick to his scales (the people of Egypt will stick to him and suffer the same fate) - Habakkuk 1:14-15
3. He would be dragged out into the wilderness and there he would die along with his followers
a. History tells us that there was a rebellion in Cyrene in Africa.
b. Aricius, king of Libya, was exiled and appealed to Pharaoh Hophra, an old friend, for aid.
c. Pharaoh Hophra went there to crush the rebellion, but he lost and his army rebelled against him.
4. When Pharaoh falls as God predicted, the people of Egypt will understand that God is in control
D. Pharaoh was a reed staff (as in a walking staff), weak, useless - II Kings 18:21; Isaiah 36:6; 30:1-7; Lamentations 4:17
1. Those who lean on Egypt (Israel) for support will find none because Egypt broke ranks
2. Like an old man trying to walk with no cane, Israel will tremble - Jeremiah 37:5-11; Proverbs 25:19
E. God would bring a sword (war with Nebuchadnezzar and the rebellion) and people would then see that God is in control of the nations. Note the contrast to Pharaoh’s belief in Ezekiel 29:3 - Jeremiah 43:11-12
1. Migdol is in the northern end of Egypt (a fortress near Pelusium on the north of Suez) and Syene is at southern end.
2. The land would suffer for forty years.
a. The time between Nebuchadnezzar’s conquering and Cyrus deliverance was about 40 years
b. 40 often represents judgment and suffering, as in the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.
c. The suffering is figurative and not literal - Isaiah 19:2, 11
d. Amasis, the usurping general, ruled Egypt for forty years
3. The people would be scattered as a result of Nebuchadnezzar’s conquering - Nahum 3:8-10
a. But more so, Egypt’s power was scattered as Babylon ruled.
b. Jeremiah 46:19
F. When restored by Cyrus, Egypt would not be the mighty power it once was.
1. Pathros (Ezekiel 29:14) is in northern Egypt’s delta land.
2. Thereafter, Egypt became a conquered nation of succeeding empires for almost 2,000 years.
3. Without its strength, it would not longer be an attractive ally for Israel.
a. It’s ruin would remind Israel that God alone rules.
b. It would serve as a reminder of Israel’s own sins.
III. The next prophecy came seventeen years later - Ezekiel 29:17-30:19
A. By its date, it is the last prophecy written by Ezekiel
1. As if God, through Ezekiel, added an addendum to the first prophecy against Egypt
2. Matthew Henry’s Commentary: “After the destruction of Jerusalem Nebuchadnezzar spent two or three campaigns in the conquest of the Ammonites and Moabites and making himself master of their countries. Then he spent thirteen years in the siege of Tyre. During all that time the Egyptians were embroiled in war with the Cyrenians and one with another, by which they were very much weakened and impoverished; and just at the end of the siege of Tyre God delivers this prophecy to Ezekiel, to signify to him that the utter destruction of Egypt which he had foretold fifteen or sixteen years before, which had been but in part accomplished hitherto, should now be completed by Nebuchadnezzar.”
3. Jeremiah 43:8-13 - Prophecy of Jeremiah while in Egypt
B. The battle against Tyre is now over
1. Nebuchadnezzar wore himself out over it and did not gain nearly enough to compensate his cost
2. It took him thirteen years and since the people fled with their wealth, he had nothing to show for his effort.
C. God will give Nebuchadnezzar Egypt as compensation
D. God would also begin to restore the power of Israel
1. Psalm 132:17 - The kingship is the horn
2. Ten years after this prophecy Jeconiah was released - Jeremiah 52:31-34
E. A lamentation over Egypt’s fall - Ezekiel 30:1-19
1. Wail because the time of destruction has come. It will arrive shortly.
2. The day of the Lord - The time of God’s judgment - Amos 5:16-20
3. A day of clouds (a day of judgment) - Isaiah 19:1, Joel 2:1-2
4. The time of the Gentiles (the heathen nations will have the upper hand)
5. The battle will reach all the way down to Ethiopia
a. She will lose people slain in battle
b. Her wealth
c. And her government
6. Her allies, those nations surrounding her, will also fall.
a. Mingled people are probably the mercenary soldiers - Jeremiah 46:8-9, 20-21
b. All supporters of Egypt will collapse completely, from north to south
c. The allies will be desolate and Egypt will be chief - Ezekiel 30:7
d. The destruction would cause them to understand who God is.
7. Ships would bring God’s message to the Ethiopians, traveling up the Nile
a. Ethiopia had become careless because Egypt stood as a barrier between them and the rest of the world, but no more.
b. It would cause fear and confusion
8. Nebuchadnezzar would destroy Egypt
a. The rivers would dry up. A reference to the canal system to irrigate the farm lands.
b. Either a literal drought kept the Nile from its annual rising or the war caused a lack of people to operate the canals, which dried up the land. - Isaiah 19:5-10
9. Noph, another name for Memphis, Egypt’s capital would fall.
a. The idols destroyed
b. No longer a native Egyptian ruling all the land of Egypt
c. Pathros is a major city in upper Egypt
d. Zoan (or Tanis) is a major city in lower Egypt
e. No is a city on the delta that later becomes Alexandria (Nahum 3:8)
f. Sin (or Pelusium) was a fortress city on Egypt’s northeast frontier
g. Aven (or Heliopolis) - seat of the worship of the sun
h. Pibeseth (or Bubastis)
i. Tehaphnehes - Seat of Pharaoh’s queen and Pharaoh’s residence - I Kings 11:19-20; Jeremiah 43:7,9
(1) Here her ability to control the nations would be broken.
IV. Babylon’s victory - Ezekiel 30:20-26
A. This prophecy takes place about 3 months before the taking of Jerusalem, about the time Egypt attempted to lift the siege against Jerusalem - Jeremiah 37:5, 7
B. The power of Egypt is broken, there will be no healing it - Jeremiah 46:2,11; II Kings 24:7
1. A broken arm cannot wield a sword. Egypt will no longer have a mighty army to employ
2. Breaking both arms means there will be no alternative
C. Egypt will be sent into captivity
D. Though weakening Egypt, God is strengthening Babylon
V. Learning a lesson from Assyria - Ezekiel 31:1-18
A. This prophecy comes one month before Jerusalem falls.
B. Jerusalem is about to fall and rather than rejoice, Egypt should realize that it to can, and will, fall. A comparison is made to another mighty nation: Assyria.
C. Like a cedar of Lebanon, Assyria was mighty, tall, above all others
1. It was the waters that made it great
a. Water often refer to the people
b. The channels refer to colonies that sent back resources
c. It was rich in resources to tap
2. The birds nested in its branches
a. Other nations, merchants, people, benefitted from its protection
3. Great nations lived under its shade - it was an empire controlling other nations who benefitted from its overrule
4. No other might nation could match it for its strength and beauty
a. God made Assyria for what it was
b. But the other nations were jealous of what God gave it
D. Because of its greatness, Assyria became proud
1. Therefore God gave it over to a mighty one (Nebuchadnezzar)
a. Nebuchadnezzar conquered Assyria in the first year of his reign
b. El is used to refer to him because he is God’s representative - Daniel 2:37-38
2. It became a place to plunder.
a. Nothing of its former greatness was left.
b. People who once benefitted from it left
3. Its fall was to serve as a warning to all rulers who become too prideful
a. They can fall in the same manner
b. Nothing lasts forever. Death is a part of this world. - Psalm 82:7
E. When it fell, the resources dried up, causing those around to mourn Assyria’s passing
1. A great country doesn’t fall without a major impact in the world
2. It caused fear in the lesser nations that they may go as well
3. Yet the lesser nations also found comfort because the threat was removed.
4. Yet his allies went with Assyria when it fell
F. Egypt is not Assyria’s equal
1. But it is going to fall. Egypt is not invincible
VI. Lament for Pharaoh - Ezekiel 32:1-16
A. At the time of this prophecy, Jerusalem has fallen and Amasis had started his revolt against Pharaoh Hophra
B. Pharaoh was a trouble maker
1. The lion is a fierce land animal and the leviathan was a fierce sea animal
2. He troubles the nations around
3. And he has fouled his own nation (muddying his own waters)
a. Job 41:31 - Leviathan causing the sea to boil
C. Just as a dangerous animal is hunted down, so Pharaoh will be caught in a net
1. God would use the nations against Pharaoh
2. He would die on the open fields (happened in Libya) to be eaten by birds of prey
3. A massive slaughter of Pharaoh’s army would take place
D. Egypt’s light would be put out
1. The government will be removed - Job 18:5
2. Pharaoh being the sun, his queen or some sub-government being the moon and stars being the rest of the officials - Isaiah 13:10; Joel 2:31; 3:15; Amos 8:9; Matthew 24:29
E. As word of the destruction of Egypt goes forth along with the people of Egypt into captivity, the nations will be troubled
1. Even those with little or not connection to Egypt
2. Because if great Egypt can fall, then their own nation is at risk as well.
3. God’s sword here is Nebuchadnezzar
4. There is no mighty nation left to challenge the power of Nebuchadnezzar
F. God is giving Egypt over to Nebuchadnezzar - Jeremiah 46:25-26
1. Many of Egypt’s people would die and her wealth plundered.
2. The land would become so empty that nothing remains to trouble the waters
3. But this also answers the problem of Pharaoh troubling the nations and his own nation
4. The land would become desolate and people will realize that God controls it all.
G. It is a sad consequence for a once great nation
VII. Lament for the people of Egypt - Ezekiel 32:17-32
A. This prophecy comes two weeks after the previous one
B. The imagery is a funeral where the people of Egypt are represented by the body about to be buried.
1. Ezekiel is told to take up a wail as people sometimes do at a funeral
2. Burial is to take place where other nations have been buried.
3. Note the repetition of “slain by the sword.” Like a funeral dirge that monotonously drones on.
C. Egypt’s beauty will not spare her from the same fate as other Gentile nations
1. As Adam Clarke points out, a beautifully embalmed body is still just as dead.
2. The kingdom will die by the sword
3. It will be dragged unwillingly to the grave. The place of the uncircumcised is a place of contempt.
D. Egypt is greeted by the strong and their allies who have died before - Isaiah 14:9-10
1. Assyria and her confederates, all slain with sepulchers in the sides of the Pit - Isaiah 14:15
a. The Pit is another name for the grave - Job 33:18
b. She is there despite her fierceness
2. Elam (Persia) - Jeremiah 49:34-39
a. Fierce and prideful, but now dead and with the common
b. Persians, it appears, bury their dead in coffins (beds)
3. Meshech and Tubal
a. From the area we now know as Cappadocia and Albania
b. They are buried with their weapons under their head, but these fallen do not get the grand burial. Instead they have a mass grave
5. All the kingdoms of the North, including Sidon, have been conquered by Babylon and “died.”
E. Pharaoh will see this assembly and find some comfort in that they are with him
1. Note indication of consciousness after death