Ezekiel 29

CHAPTER XXIX

This and the three following chapters foretell the conquest of

Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, which he accomplished in the

twenty-seventh year of Jehoiachin's captivity. The same event

is foretold by Jeremiah, Jer 46:13, &c.

The prophecy opens with God's charging the king of Egypt

(Pharaoh-hophra) with the same extravagant pride and profanity

which were in the preceding chapter laid to the charge of the

prince of Tyre. He appears, like him, to have affected Divine

honours; and boasted so much of the strength of his kingdom,

that, as an ancient historian (Herodotus) tells us, he

impiously declared that God himself could not dispossess him.

Wherefore the prophet, with great majesty, addresses him under

the image of one of those crocodiles or monsters which

inhabited that river, of whose riches and revenue he vaunted;

and assures him that, with as much ease as a fisherman drags

the fish he has hooked, God would drag him and his people into

captivity, and that their carcasses should fall a prey to the

beasts of the field and to the fowls of heaven, 1-7.

The figure is then dropped; and God is introduced denouncing,

in plain terns, the most awful judgments against him and his

nation, and declaring that the Egyptians should be subjected to

the Babylonians till the fall of the Chaldean empire, 8-12.

The prophet then foretells that Egypt, which was about to be

devastated by the Babylonians, and many of the people carried

into captivity, should again become a kingdom; but that it

should never regain its ancient political importance; for, in

the lapse of time, it should be even the BASEST of the

kingdoms, a circumstance in the prophecy most literally

fulfilled, especially under the Christian dispensation, in its

government by the Mameluke slaves, 13-16.

The prophecy, beginning at the seventeenth verse, is connected

with the foregoing, as it relates to the same subject, though

delivered about seventeen years later. Nebuchadnezzar and his

army, after the long siege of Tyre, which made every head bald

by constantly wearing their helmets, and wore the skin of off

every shoulder by carrying burdens to raise the fortifications,

were disappointed of the spoil which they expected, by the

retiring of the inhabitants to Carthage. God, therefore,

promises him Egypt for his reward, 17-20.

The chapter concludes with a prediction of the return of the

Jews from the Babylonish captivity, 21.

NOTES ON CHAP. XXIX

Verse 1. In the tenth year] Of Zedekiah; and tenth of the

captivity of Jeconiah.

The tenth month, in the twelfth day of the month] Answering to

Monday, the first of February, A.M. 3415.

Verse 2. Set thy face against Pharaoh king of Egypt] This was

Pharaoh-hophra or Pharaoh-apries, whom we have so frequently met

with in the prophecies of Jeremiah, and much of whose history has

been given in the notes.

Verse 3. The great dragon] hattannim should here be

translated crocodile, as that is a real animal, and numerous in

the Nile; whereas the dragon is wholly fabulous. The original

signifies any large animal.

The midst of his rivers] This refers to the several branches of

the Nile, by which this river empties itself into the

Mediterranean. The ancients termed them septem ostia Nili, "the

seven mouths of the Nile." The crocodile was the emblem of Egypt.

Verse 4. I will put hooks in thy jaws] Amasis, one of this

king's generals, being proclaimed king by an insurrection of the

people, dethroned Apries, and seized upon the kingdom; and Apries

was obliged to flee to Upper Egypt for safety.

I will cause the fish-to stick unto thy scales] Most fish are

sorely troubled with a species of insect which bury their heads in

their flesh, under their scales, and suck out the vital juices.

The allusion seems to be to this. Pharaoh was the crocodile; the

fish, the common people; and the sticking to his scales, the

insurrection by which he was wasted and despoiled of his

kingdom.

Verse 5. I will leave thee thrown into the wilderness] Referring

to his being obliged to take refuge in Upper Egypt. But he was

afterwards taken prisoner, and strangled by Amasis. Herod. lib.

ii. s. 169.

Verse 6. They have been a staff of reed] An inefficient and

faithless ally. The Israelites expected assistance from them when

Nebuchadnezzar came against Jerusalem; and they made a feint to

help them, but retired when Nebuchadnezzar went against them. Thus

were the Jews deceived and ultimately ruined, see Eze 29:7.

Verse 10. From the tower of Syene] mimmigdol seveneh,

"from Migdol to Syene." Syene, now called Essuan, was the last

city in Egypt, going towards Ethiopia. It was famous for a well

into which the rays of the sun fell perpendicularly at midday.

Verse 12. Shall be desolate forty years] The country from Migdol

or Magdolan, which was on the isthmus between the Mediterranean

and the Red Sea, was so completely ruined, that it might well be

called desert; and it is probable that this desolation continued

during the whole of the reign of Amasis, which was just forty

years. See Herod. lib. iii. c. 10; and see Calmet.

Verse 13. Will I gather the Egyptians] It is probable that Cyrus

gave permission to the Egyptians brought to Babylon by

Nebuchadnezzar, to return to their own country. And if we reckon

from the commencement of the war against Pharaoh-hophra by

Nebuchadnezzar, to the third or fourth year of Cyrus, the term

will be about forty years.

Verse 14. Into the land of Pathros] Supposed to mean the Delta,

a country included between the branches of the Nile, called Δ

delta, from its being in the form of the Greek letter of that

name. It may mean the Pathrusim, in Upper Egypt, near to the

Thebaid. This is most likely.

Shall be there a base kingdom.] That is, it shall continue to be

tributary. It is upwards of two thousand years since this prophecy

was delivered, and it has been uninterruptedly fulfilling to the

present hour. 1. Egypt became tributary to the Babylonians,

under Amasis. 2. After the ruin of the Babyionish empire, it

became subject to the Persians. 3. After the Persians, it came

into the hands of the Macedonians. 4. After the Macedonians it

fell into the hands of the Romans. 5. After the division of the

Roman empire it was subdued by the Saracens. 6. About A.D. 1250,

it came into the hands of the Mameluke slaves. 7. Selim, the ninth

emperor of the Turks, conquered the Mamelukes, A.D. 1517, and

annexed Egypt to the Ottoman empire, of which it still continues

to be a province, governed by a pacha and twenty-four beys, who

are always advanced from servitude to the administration of public

affairs. So true is it that Egypt, once so glorious, is the basest

of kingdoms. See Newton on the prophecies.

Verse 17. The seven and twentieth year] That is, of the

captivity of Jeconiah, fifteen years after the taking of

Jerusalem; about April 20, 3432. The preceding prophecy was

delivered one year before the taking of Jerusalem; this, sixteen

years after; and it is supposed to be the last which this prophet

wrote.

Verse 18. Caused his army to serve a great service against

Tyrus] He was thirteen years employed in the siege. See Joseph.

Antiq. lib. x. c. 11. In this siege his soldiers endured great

hardships. Being continually on duty, their heads became bald by

wearing their helmets; and their shoulders bruised and peeled by

carrying baskets of earth to the fortifications, and wood, &c., to

build towers, &c.

Yet had he no wages, nor his army] The Tyrians, finding it at

last impossible to defend their city, put all their wealth aboard

their vessels, sailed out of the port, and escaped for Carthage;

and thus Nebuchadnezzar lost all the spoil of one of the richest

cities in the world.

Verse 20. I have given him the land of Egypt for his labour]

Because he fulfilled the designs of God against Tyre, God promises

to reward him with the spoil of Egypt.

Verse 21. Will I cause the horn of the house of Israel to bud]

This may refer generally to the restoration; but particularly to

Zerubbabel, who became one of the leaders of the people from

Babylon. Or it may respect Daniel, or Mordecai, or Jeconiah,

who, about this time, was brought out of prison by Evil-merodach,

and afterwards kindly treated.

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