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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ezekiel 32


A lamentation for the fearful fall of Egypt. The sword of Babylon shall destroy it. It shall be brought down to hell among all the uncircumcised nations.

Before Christ 587.

TO the preceding funeral panegyric over Assyria, the fate of which was past, Ezekiel prophetically subjoins a similar panegyric over Egypt, though its fate was still future; making plainly here a happy variation only in the oratorical figure of προ ομματων ποιειν . For by that figure past events are brought down, and represented as now present before our eyes; whereas on the contrary by this prophetic figure future events are anticipated, and represented as already past.

Verse 2

Ezekiel 32:2. Take up a lamentation As the style of the lamentations was always figurative and poetical, Ezekiel describes the king of Egypt as a great dragon or crocodile,—for so the word תנים tannim, should be rendered, and not whale,—troubling the waters with his feet, and fouling the rivers; or disturbing all the nations round about him: and in the name of the Lord he threatens to take him in his net, and cast him forth into the open field, as a prey to the fowls of the air, and the beasts of the whole earth; Ezekiel 32:3-4. So that he should no more trouble the waters with his feet, but the rivers should run [smooth] as oil: Ezekiel 32:14. And in the following part of the chapter, having sent Pharaoh and his multitude to the land of the Inferi; Eze 32:18 he represents the inhabitants of these lower regions, as addressing the king of Egypt in the same manner, as Isaiah in his 14th chapter describes them welcoming the king of Babylon. Ezekiel 32:21. The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of Sheol, &c. The Hebrew for what we render, The strong among the mighty, is גבורים אלי eilei gibborim, The gods of the mighty; meaning, no doubt, their hero gods, whose souls, though the superstition of that people had placed them among the stars, the prophet, on the contrary, intimates to them were to be found in Sheol; thus ridiculing the worship of their men deities, of which Egypt was the great promoter, if not the inventor. But the most remarkable thing in his threatening of Pharaoh is, the prophet's telling him more than once, that he should lie down with the uncircumcised; Ezekiel 32:19-28. It is well known, that circumcision was in use and honour among the Egyptians; whatever reasons they might have for it, or what advantages soever they hoped from it. But the circumcision of this heathen prince, the prophet plainly tells him, should be of no avail to him after death. For an idolater and unbeliever, without doubt, though circumcised, must be in the same state there with other unbelievers. He should be laid with the uncircumcised, and find the same bad reception in the other world. But does not this of the prophet plainly speak a difference between the death and consequences of it to the uncircumcised, or unbelievers, and that of the circumcised believers, or God's people, and consequently tend to confirm the truth of that notion, that God's covenant with Abraham, of which circumcision was the seal, implied in it the promise of a future resurrection?—And if so, it is unreasonable surely to suppose, with some learned writers, that the body of the people, who were all without exception by an express law commanded to be circumcised, (see Genesis 17:14.) should be unacquainted with the very design and nature of that solemn rite by which they were admitted into covenant with God. See Peters on Job, p. 376.

Verse 5

Ezekiel 32:5. With thy height Or, With thy bulk. Houbigant renders it, With thy stench.

Verse 6

Ezekiel 32:6. I will also water with thy blood, &c.— I will water the land with thy blood; thy gore shall cover the mountains, and torrents shall abound from thee. Houbigant.

Verses 7-8

Ezekiel 32:7-8. I will cover the heaven, &c.— See Isaiah 24:23; Isa 30:26 where the same metaphors are used, to denote the downfal of states and governments.

Verse 9

Ezekiel 32:9. I will also vex, &c.— I will also cause the hearts of many people to quake concerning thee, when I shall bring thy captives among the nations, &c. Houbigant.

Verse 13

Ezekiel 32:13. Neither shall the foot of man, &c.— "The men and beasts in Egypt being intirely destroyed, it shall be like the waters of a river, which are never disturbed, but run pure and clear." See Lowth.

Verse 14

Ezekiel 32:14. Then will I make, &c.— Then will I make their waters to rest, or subside, and cause their rivers to glide smoothly like oil, &c.

Verse 17

Ezekiel 32:17. In the fifteenth day of the month In the fifth month, the tenth day of the month. Houbigant.

Verse 18

Ezekiel 32:18. Son of man, wail, &c.— Bishop Lowth observes, that this prophetic ode is a master-piece in that species of writing which is appropriated to the exciting of terror. Houbigant reads the second clause, And thrust them down, with the daughters of the nations; thrust them down to the lower parts of the earth, to those who are gone down to the lake. And he observes, that the prophet is commanded to thrust the Egyptians down to the shades below, that is, to exhibit by an hypotoposis familiar with the prophets, the ruin of the Egyptians, similar to the ruin of the people who have been destroyed and gone down to the regions of the dead. See the note on Ezekiel 32:2.

Verse 20

Ezekiel 32:20. They shall fall, &c.— Houbigant connects this with the preceding verse, thus, [Be thou laid] among these who have fallen by the sword: the sword hath rushed in, and taken her away, and all her multitudes.

Verse 21

Ezekiel 32:21. With them that help him With them that have helped him, who are gone down, who lie in the midst, victims of the sword. Houbigant. But this difficult verse may be otherwise rendered: The strongest of the mighty men shall speak unto him out of the midst of the pit: they are gone down, they lie, together with them that helped him, uncircumcised, slain by the sword.

Verse 24

Ezekiel 32:24. There is Elam, &c.— The reader will observe, that the ideas in this description are taken from the manner in which the bodies were deposited in the Eastern sepulchres, concerning which we have spoken before. See Isai. chap. 14:

Verse 27

Ezekiel 32:27. Gone down to hell To Sheol, or the place of the dead.

Verse 31

Ezekiel 32:31. Pharaoh shall see them Shall be seen among them, and shall be comforted for the loss of his army and kingdom; considering that so many and such great princes and nations have met with the same fate as himself. It appears from this, that Ezekiel supposed among the Egyptians a belief of the existence of souls when separated from their bodies. See Calmet.

Verse 32

Ezekiel 32:32. For I have caused my terror For I will cast my terror upon the land of the living, that he may lie down in the midst, &c. Houbigant.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, Though Egypt was an idolatrous nation, and Pharaoh a wicked prince, the prophet must take up a lamentation over them. For the ministers of God, when they can do no more, must weep over those who, hardened in sin, refuse to shed a tear for themselves.

1. The king of Egypt is compared to a lion, fierce, devouring, ravenous; to a whale, or crocodile with his rivers, a multitude of people, or from his rivers, sallying forth in quest of prey; and as this animal with his feet troubles the waters, so did he with his armies disturb the tranquillity of his neighbours. Note; Ambitious princes are the troublers of the earth, and the scourges of mankind.

2. His destruction is foretold. The same similitude is continued; God, the author of his punishment, shall take him as a great fish in his net, with all his numerous forces, and drag him to land; where, as a fish out of his element, he must perish, and, being cast forth into the open field, become a prey for every fowl and every beast. Yea, so immense will be the carnage, such a torrent of blood be shed, that the valleys shall be filled with the corpses of the slain, and the rivers swelled with human gore, hyperbolically speaking, as high as the mountains. The sword is God's, the executioners of vengeance the Chaldeans, mighty men, the terrible nations, who shall spoil the pomp, plunder the wealth, and slay the multitude of the Egyptians. Yea, the very cattle shall be destroyed, and the foot of man or beast shall no more disturb the waters, so few should remain. The land throughout shall be desolate, and all its plenty be at an end. Even the luminaries of heaven, as if shocked to behold these ravages, shall be darkened, and clothed in sackcloth; and the once rapid rivers, as if congealed with grief, shall with difficulty roll slowly on their heavy flood.

3. The tidings of Pharaoh's fall, with his multitudes, will alarm, amaze, and bitterly affect the nations. Not only the neighbours and allies would be vexed at their overthrow, lament them, and tremble at the judgments which they beheld; but even the remotest countries, who had no connection with the Egyptians, shall hear with astonishment the report, and dread every moment, lest that sword of the Lord, brandished before them by the king of Babylon, should fall at last upon their heads. Note. (1.) When the sword of judgment is brandished before us, and we see others smitten, it is high time to tremble for ourselves. (2.) Instead of being humbled by the visitations of God before them, hardened sinners murmur and fret against God.

4. The Lord will make himself awfully known by these strokes of vengeance: the folly of pride and creature-confidence will then appear, and God be found the only true abiding support, and satisfying portion.
2nd, About a fortnight after the former prophesy, according to our version, another was delivered. It brings Pharaoh, with his multitude, to their graves; and the prophet must lament over them, or rather compose a funeral dirge to be sung on this melancholy occasion.
1. Egypt is brought to the grave, and received among the dead. The prophet is ordered to cast them down, because divine power accompanied his prophetic word. Like other famous nations, she must lie low, nor be exempted from the common fate of those, whom in beauty she rivalled. She is delivered to the sword, and dragged, as the corpses of malefactors, in ignominy to the pit. The mighty among the dead, are poetically represented as rising to congratulate Pharaoh on his arrival, Isa 14:9 and admit him free of their dreary mansions.

2. A variety of nations are mentioned who had gone down before him to the grave, and waited, in derision, to pay him mock honour, now become like one of them.
[1.] The Assyrian monarch with his subjects, a vast congregation, once the terror of the living, now slain by the sword, and their graves in rows placed round the sepulchre of their king. Note; They who have been a terror to others, must themselves fall before the king of terrors.

[2.] The Persians with their king next appear; they too had raised a mighty noise in the world, but are now gone down uncircumcised, unholy and profane, into the nether parts of the earth, slain by the sword, and hid in an ignominious grave.

[3.] Meshech and Tubal lie there, supposed to be the Scythian nations, not buried in state as the mighty, but with their swords under their heads, as warriors; and their iniquities shall be upon their bones, dug out of their graves, and ignominiously exposed, though once the terror of the mighty in the land of the living.

[4.] There lies Edom with her kings and princes; their might unable to protect them, and forced to stoop to the devouring sword. Though the circumcised descendants of Abraham, yet, being unlike him in their spirit and temper, they fall among the uncircumcised. No outward privileges can protect those whose hearts are apostatized from God.
[5.] The princes of the north, with the Zidonians, notwithstanding their maritime forces, and strong fortifications, are fallen, and their pride confounded in the dust.

3rdly, Pharaoh, with his multitude slain by the sword, shall make his grave with these, and share that consolation, if such a wretched reflection can be supposed to administer comfort, that he looks round and beholds other mighty monarchs as low and wretched as himself.
In all this description of Egypt's fall, perhaps something typical may be intended, respecting the ruin of the anti-christian foe, Rev 11:8 which may engage the prophet to dwell the longer upon it. And we may in general read and tremble, while we see sinners so many and mighty cast down into the pit of destruction; and learn how fearful a thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Ezekiel 32". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.