Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 32

Ellicott's Commentary for English ReadersEllicott's Commentary



This chapter, which consists of two distinct prophecies (Ezekiel 32:1-32), with the interval of only a fortnight between them, closes the series at once against Egypt and against foreign nations. The former of these prophecies is a further declaration of the approaching conquest of Egypt by “the king of Babylon,” while the latter is a dirge over its fall, like the dirge over Tyre in Ezekiel 28:0

Verse 1

(1) In the twelfth year.—This was one year and between six and seven months after the destruction of Jerusalem, and when, therefore, one great hindrance to Nebuchadnezzar’s march upon Egypt had been removed. It is also nearly two months (Ezekiel 33:21) since Ezekiel had heard of this calamity through a fugitive. It could not have been very long before the arrival of the fugitive Jews in Egypt, after the murder of Gedaliah; yet that it was somewhat earlier is plain from Ezekiel 33:24. It was about the same time with the similar prophecies of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 43, 44); but as the date both of the murder and of the flight are unknown (except that the former occurred in the seventh month—Jeremiah 41:1—but of what year is not stated), the exact chronological relation of these things must remain uncertain.

Verse 2

(2) As a whale.—Rather, a crocodile. (See Note on Ezekiel 29:3, where the same word is used.) A striking contrast is brought out in this verse which is lost in our translation. “Thou wast compared to a young lion of the nations,” i.e., their leader and glory; “but thou wast (really) like a crocodile in the seas,” stirring up and fouling the rivers, the sources of their prosperity.

Thou carmest forth with.—Better, thou didst break forth in thy rivers, referring to the crocodile basking upon the bank, and suddenly plunging into the stream and stirring up its mud.

Verse 3

(3) Spread out my net over thee.—The figure (Ezekiel 32:4-6) of drawing the crocodile to land and casting him upon the desert for food to the birds and beasts of prey is the same as in Ezekiel 29:4-5. (Comp. also Ezekiel 31:12-13.) In Ezekiel 32:6, “the land wherein thou swimmest” is, literally, the land of thine outflow, and may be taken either of the land on which his blood is poured out, or, more probably, the land of the inundations of the Nile, now to be watered with blood.

Verse 7

(7) Make the stars thereof dark.—This verse follows very closely Isaiah 13:10, spoken of Babylon. In this and the following verse the judgments of God are described in the common prophetic figure of changes in the heavenly bodies. (See Note on Ezekiel 30:18, and references there.)

Verse 9

(9) Vex the hearts.—The margin, provoke to grief, is better, as being less ambiguous. “Thy destructionmeans, the news of thy destruction. As is more fully expressed in the following verse, the fall of Egypt should be such a striking instance of Divine judgment as to awaken fear in every nation that should hear of the catastrophe.

Verse 13

(13) Will destroy also all the beasts thereof from beside the great waters.—The figurative description of this and the following verses is taken from the vast herds of cattle in Egypt going to the river to drink, and trampling the banks and disturbing the water with their feet (comp. Ezekiel 32:2). These represent the restless activity and stir of Egyptian life, and its constant disturbance of surrounding nations. With its conquest all this ceases, and, restrained within its own boundaries, Egypt shall no longer be a disturber.

Verse 14

(14) Deep should rather be rendered quiet. When the restless ambition of Egypt should be curbed, there would come about peace and quiet prosperity. This is thought by many to be a glance forward at the Messianic blessing of the future; but it does not necessarily look so far.

Verse 16

(16) Daughters of the nations is a common enough expression for the nations themselves, but is peculiarly appropriate in connection with a lamentation, since the formal mourning of the East was always performed by women.

Verse 17

(17) The fifteenth day of the month.—The month itself is not mentioned, but since the previous prophecy was in the twelfth, or last month of the year, this must be in the same. There was thus an interval of just fourteen days between them. This dirge, which occupies the rest of the chapter, is to be compared with Isaiah 14:0, on which it is evidently founded.

Verse 18

(18) Cast them down.—The prophet is here, as often elsewhere, told to do that which he prophesies shall be done. This is a forcible way of stating the certain fulfilment of that which is declared by Divine command.

Verse 19

(19) With the uncircumcised.—See Note on Ezekiel 28:10. All question as to the use of circumcision among the Egyptians is out of place; the word is simply used as the ordinary phrase for the heathen.

Verse 20

(20) Draw her.—Viz., down to her judgment.

Verse 21

(21) Speak to him.—The pronoun oscillates between the masculine and the feminine, because the thought is partly of the king and partly of the kingdom. The pronoun is determined by whichever is for the moment uppermost in the prophet’s mind. On Hell, see Note on Ezekiel 31:16-17. It occurs also at Ezekiel 32:27.

Verse 22

(22) Asshur is there.—In the previous verses we have had a general picture of the fallen nations awaiting to receive Egypt as their companion; in Ezekiel 32:22-30 there follows an enumeration of the most prominent of them, with a few words about each. Some of them were not yet fallen; but in this prophetic view it is their ultimate condition which rises to the prophet’s mind. All worldly power that opposes itself to God must go down and share the judgment soon to fall on Egypt.

His graves are about him.—The graves of the people are about those of their monarch. All are fallen together into one common ruin.

Verse 24

(24) There is Elam.—Jeremiah had already prophesied against Elam twelve years before (Jeremiah 49:34). Elam is substantially equivalent to Persia, and had been repeatedly conquered by Assyria and Chaldæa. It was a fierce and warlike nation, and its soldiers had long served in Nebuchadnezzar’s army. It was by the aid of Persia that he had succeeded in overthrowing Assyria. It was by a subsequent union of the same Power with the Medes that the Babylonian power was overthrown. Not until after that union did Persia become a very prominent nation. It continued a great Power until its conquest by Alexander. The prophet is therefore anticipating the events of the future when he represents Elam as already in the pit. But, as before said, his thought looks on to the ultimate result, without making prominent the comparative dates of the future. It is possible, however, so far to separate Elam from Persia as to look upon the former as one of those nations out of whose ruins the latter arose, and in this case Elam was already past. The former interpretation seems preferable.

Verse 26

(26) There is Meshech, Tubal.—See Note on Ezekiel 27:13. It is difficult to obtain historical data for the exact time of the fall of these more obscure kingdoms; but at this period of the world these smaller states were being rapidly swallowed up and absorbed by the greater Powers who were contending for the world’s empire. Meshech and Tubal, like Persia, do not appear at this time to have yet attained their greatest development.

Verse 27

(27) And they shall not lie.—If this be the correct translation, then a distinction is implied between these nations and the others. The others have been honourably buried “with their weapons of war,” while these come to a more disgraceful end. It is better, however, to take it as a question (which the Hebrew fully admits): “Shall they not?” &c.

Their iniquities shall be upon their bones—i.e., they shall die in their iniquity. As we say in English, their sins shall be upon their heads.

Verse 29

(29) There is Edom.—Edom had been long since conquered and almost destroyed by Israel, but had again revived to mock at her calamity (Ezekiel 25:12-14). It was soon, like its neighbours, to be swept away by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar.

Verse 30

(30) The princes of the north.—The word is not the same as that used for the princes of Edom in Ezekiel 32:29. That refers to the heads of the Edomite tribes, but this is thought to imply enfeoffed or vassal princes. However this may be, from the connection with the Zidonians it is clear that not the far north is intended, but perhaps chieftains of Syria, Damascus, and the like.

The Zidonians.—With the rise of Tyre, Zidon had long since lost its pre-eminence among the Phœnician cities; but it was still an important and an independent city, and was doomed to far greater humiliation in the future.

Verse 31

(31) Shall be comforted.—Comp. Ezekiel 31:16.

Here closes the series of prophecies against foreign nations. It is true that there are other prophecies against them in Ezekiel 35, 38, 39; but these, as already said, have much more of the character of promises to Israel than of simple denunciation of their enemies. The greater part of this series was uttered between the investment and the close of the siege of Jerusalem, a time during which the prophet was to be dumb towards the children of his people, and at the close of which his mouth was again to be opened. At this time, therefore, his prophetic gifts were appropriately exercised towards foreigners, and at the close, with the renewal of his instructions to Israel, a fresh charge is given as a sort of fresh induction to his prophetic office (Ezekiel 33:1-30).

Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Ezekiel 32". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.