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Bible Commentaries

Layman's Bible Commentary

Ezekiel 29

Verses 1-16

Egypt (29:1-32:32)

Prophecy Against Egypt (29:1-16)

Tyre, as the chief center of seagoing commerce, could be symbolized by a ship, and her destruction could be spelled out in terms of a sinking ship. In similar fashion Egypt’s life was so closely associated with the Nile River that "the great dragon" (crocodile) came to represent Egypt. In a poetic oracle Ezekiel proclaims that this crocodile, Egypt, will be captured, dragged ashore, and left on the open land to provide birds and beasts their food (vss. 3-5). Explanation for this harsh execution is given in a prose passage immediately following the poetic oracle. The unreliability of Egypt as an ally of Israel and her vacillation in foreign relations are the chief items in the indictment. When the house of Israel reached toward Egypt as a staff for strength, it proved to be a brittle reed which broke when weight was put on it, causing considerable injury to Israel. Certainly Judah’s and Israel’s dependence upon Egypt in former times had proved disastrous (see Isaiah 36:6; 2 Kings 18:21). Even as late as the siege of Jerusalem, groundless hope for rescue from siege had been raised by an Egyptian diversionary thrust from the south (see Jeremiah 37).

Egypt in great pride claimed with unequaled egotism, "My Nile is my own; I made it," The ultimate human madness arises when men begin to take credit for their own origin. Because of pride which leaves God out of creation itself the Lord promises to sweep the land from Migdol on the Delta in the north to the first cataract of the Nile at Syene in the south, that is, from one end 3f the country to the other. For forty years (one generation) the [and of the Nile shall lie desolate. During those forty years a general dispersion of the Egyptians among the nations will occur.

God promises restoration to the Egyptians, but it is a restoration to humiliation wherein they will never again be permitted to »ain an exalted position or rule in harshness over their neighbors, [n the world where Israel is to be dominant, Egypt will exist, but she will no longer menace others.

Verses 17-21

Egypt, the Prize for Nebuchadnezzar (29:17-21)

Nebuchadnezzar besieged Tyre for about thirteen years (585- 572 B.C.) without capturing the island fortress. Because the Chaldean leader had "made his army labor hard against Tyre" in this manner without "pay for the labor he had performed," God promised to give Egypt to the Chaldeans. Note that this oracle is dated in the twenty-seventh year (about 571 B.C.), after the siege of Tyre had been lifted and peace terms had been drawn. This prose passage was doubtless added to the collection in the thirtieth year as an explanation of the nonfulfillment of an earlier prediction that Tyre would be destroyed. Egypt will be Nebuchadnezzar’s recompense. Jeremiah had earlier predicted the destruction of Egypt at the hands of the Chaldean army (Jeremiah 43:8-13; Jeremiah 46:1-26). Nebuchadnezzar did invade Egypt in 568-567 B.C., but the shadow of his power on the Nile was short-lived.

Verse 21 appears to be a later editorial comment. It has some relationship to the prophet’s strange silence which will end when a horn (Messiah) arises after Egypt has fallen.

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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Ezekiel 29". "Layman's Bible Commentary".