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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Ezekiel 29

Verses 1-12


The section of Ezekiel 29-32 deals with the judgment on Egypt. In this section, “the word of the LORD” comes to Ezekiel seven times (Ezekiel 29:1; Ezekiel 29:17Ezekiel 30:1; Ezekiel 30:20Ezekiel 31:1; Ezekiel 32:1Ezekiel 32:17). Seven is the number of perfection. This emphasizes that it is a complete message.

We might ask, why does God pay so much attention to Egypt? Throughout the Old Testament, Egypt is a land full of luring wealth and power, a picture of the world. The pride of Egypt is one reason for God to give this message. Egypt is a natural enemy for Israel, but when Israel falls into unbelief and no longer trusts God, Egypt shows itself to be a generous but unreliable ally. Once and again Egypt promises to help with armies, but once and again they turn out to be empty promises.

The message is addressed to Egypt, but it is also intended for the people of God. The people of God must be made aware by this message of the true character of this enemy. The lesson is that Israel has often put its trust in this land rather than in God and that this trust has always been betrayed (cf. Jeremiah 17:5).

Judgment on Egypt

The word of the LORD comes to Ezekiel (Ezekiel 29:1). The message has a date. By our calendar, the date is December 29, 588 BC. A year earlier, Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem began (Jeremiah 32:1-Deuteronomy :; Jeremiah 52:4Jeremiah 39:1; Ezekiel 24:1). Ezekiel is commanded to set his face against Pharaoh and prophesy against him and against all Egypt (Ezekiel 29:2). The LORD tells him what he is to speak on behalf of the Lord GOD (Ezekiel 29:3).

The judgment announcement begins with a parable. Pharaoh is described as “the great sea monster”. The Greek translation of the Old Testament calls Pharaoh “the great dragon”, the same designation Satan has in the New Testament (Revelation 12:9). The LORD thus points to the satanic nature of Pharaoh’s government. Satan has Pharaoh in his power and expresses himself through him. The judgment on Pharaoh is therefore at the same time the judgment on Satan. This sea monster is in the midst of the rivers of Egypt, all of which he considers his property. The sea monster mentions the Nile by name and he adds that it is his, “my Nile”, and that he made it for himself.

Egypt owes its prosperity to the waters of the Nile. The river makes the Egyptian soil fertile. It is blasphemous pride on Pharaoh’s part to claim that he is the creator and owner of the Nile. Pharaoh sees himself as God (cf. Ezekiel 28:2), as the creator of prosperity and well-being for his people.

There is no thought of the true God in Pharaoh’s haughty, arrogant language. We hear the same spirit of independence and selfishness in the language Nabal utters when the men of David come to him to ask for a favor (1 Samuel 25:11). God is not taken into account at all. Pharaoh thinks and talks as if he himself were God.

Modern man, who believes that everything belongs to him and that he has made everything for himself, utters the same language. Any notion of God as Creator and Sustainer is banished from thought. Everything in creation, everything he thinks he owns, is seen simultaneously as property and as an object of worship. Man thinks he is free to use creation, but he is essentially a slave to materialism.

The LORD lets Pharaoh know what He will do to him and the inhabitants of Egypt (Ezekiel 29:4). He will pull the monster with the fish – the fish refers to the Egyptians – out of the river and give it to the beasts and birds for food (Ezekiel 29:5).

The occasion of this judgment is the deception that the Egyptians committed against Israel (Ezekiel 29:6-Judges :). Israel made a covenant with them against Babylon, but Egypt broke that covenant (Jeremiah 37:5-2 Samuel :; Ezekiel 17:15). It has been shown that Egypt cannot provide any support, for it is only a reed. On a reed you cannot lean. If you do, it snaps. To this the commander of the king of Assyria reminds the envoy of Hezekiah (Isaiah 36:6). That Israel itself was warned against such a covenant is also true, but that is not the issue here. The issue here is Egypt’s untrustworthiness to God’s people.

Because of the deceitfulness of Egypt, the LORD will judge them (Ezekiel 29:8). He will do this by bringing the sword upon them. As a result, the land of Egypt will become a desolation and waste (Ezekiel 29:9). Through that judgment, they will know that He is the LORD Who will withstand every pride and will judge.

The LORD in his judgment repeats Pharaoh’s bragging about the Nile as his possession for himself. Pharaoh speaks highly of the Nile as his exclusive possession. In doing so, he defies God, Who made the Nile. Therefore God will make his whole land, from north to south, an utter waste and desolation, from Migdol in the north to Syene in the south, where the land borders Ethiopia (Ezekiel 29:10).

What remains of Egypt presents a particularly sad sight. Not a living being will pass through it (Ezekiel 29:11). Yet it is not a final situation. Its duration is set at forty years (Ezekiel 29:12). During that time the Egyptians will have been driven out of their land by God and scattered among the nations and dispersed among the lands.

Verses 13-16

Restoration of a Remnant of Egypt

Then we see that God in His grace also provides for a remnant of Egypt (Ezekiel 29:13). His grace is not limited to His people, but He shows it to Egypt as well (Isaiah 19:1-Lamentations :). He announces a return of Egyptians whom He will make return form the scattering to their land of origin, Pathros (Ezekiel 29:14). There will not be many of them. The returnees together will be but an insignificant kingdom. They will be so “low” that they will not be able to rise above other nations, and they will be so “small” that they will not be able to rule over other nations (Ezekiel 29:15). Egypt will be of such little importance that it will have ceased to be a world power.

Egypt’s greatness and display of power will be gone. As a result, Egypt will no longer be a temptation for Israel to seek support there, as they have in the past (Ezekiel 29:16). That seeking support from Egypt has been an iniquity for Israel. They will no longer commit that iniquity, and Egypt will know that He is the Lord GOD Who turns everything to good.

Verses 17-21

Egypt as a Reward for Nebuchadnezzar

The word of the LORD comes to Ezekiel with the date added when this happens (Ezekiel 29:17). It is sixteen years later than the previous prophecy (Ezekiel 29:1). The LORD informs Ezekiel how He appreciates Nebuchadnezzar’s efforts in his battle against Tyre (Ezekiel 29:18). Nebuchadnezzar’s armies have done hard work in carrying out His judgments on Tyre. The siege of Tyre was hard work because it was an island city and it also lasted a very long time. The bearing of the siege implements made heads bald and shoulders were rubbed bare.

For all this hard and many work, they received comparatively little pay, less than the LORD considers this work worth. It has been assumed that because of the long siege, the inhabitants of Tyre were able to bring many of their riches to safety, leaving relatively little spoil at the fall of the city. Therefore, the LORD determines that additional wages must be paid. This He gives in the form of the conquest of Egypt which Nebuchadnezzar is allowed to rob of its abundance (Ezekiel 29:19; cf. Isaiah 43:3).

The LORD additionally mentions that Nebuchadnezzar’s siege and destruction of Tyre was a work Nebuchadnezzar did for Him (Ezekiel 29:20). Therefore, the LORD gives him the land of Egypt. Egypt is conquered by the Babylonians.

For us, here is an encouragement. If God rewarded the king of Babylon for work he did ignorantly and for his own sake, how much more will the Lord Jesus reward us when we serve Him intentionally and for His sake.

The prophecy against Egypt ends in a promise of salvation for Israel (Ezekiel 29:21; cf. Ezekiel 28:25-:). “On that day”, that is, the day of judgment on the nations, the LORD will do something for Israel that will make that day a day of salvation for them: He “will make a horn sprout” for them. This horn – a picture of power – refers to the Lord Jesus (Luke 1:69).

The fulfillment of the prophecy will vindicate Ezekiel regarding all that he has announced. It will encourage him all the more to open his mouth to speak what the LORD has said.

In a prophetic sense, all who are under the rule of the Lord Jesus, when He rules, will open their mouths to testify of Him. They will know and let it be known that He is the LORD.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Ezekiel 29". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.