I'm Against You, Pharaoh, King of Egypt

Ezeki'el 29: 1-16

DIG: Later in this commentary (Gn – A Prophecy Against the King of Tyre) ADONAI depicts Tyre as a ship. How does He depict Egypt? Why is it appropriate? For what two things does God punish Pharaoh? How reliable was Egypt as a military ally (Second Kings 18:19-21)? How will ELOHIM punish Egypt? When will God re-gather her? How does this compare with the fate of Ammon (Ezeki’el 25:7)? Tyre (Ezeki’el 26:14)? Or Isra’el (20:36-38)?

REFLECT: Does God work in your life without you knowing it? On hindsight, when do you recall this happening? How does the LORD reveal His actions and plans to you? How can you better understand and fit in with His purposes? Is it good to rely on others or is it wiser to be as independent as possible? How would you define: (a) Dependence? (b) Independence? (c) Inter-dependence?

The prophecy was given in Tevet, 588 BC
after the siege of Jerusalem began
(see Fk – Jerusalem as a Boiling Pot)
and before the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC.
However, the prophecy wasn’t fulfilled until many years later in 571 BC.

Pharaoh Necho II had been defeated by Nebuchadnezzar at Carchemish in 605 BC. The Egyptian pharaoh was succeeded by his son Psammetichus II who died in 588 BC, and Psammetichus’ son, Pharaoh Hophra, followed him. Hophra besieged Tyre and Tzidon, but was unsuccessful against Cyrene and was deposed by Amasis in 569 BC. Zedekiah, and his predecessors Hezekiah and Jehoiakim, sought Egyptian help against the Babylonians. Ezekiel predicted Egypt would be a poor ally in time of need. Isaiah (see the commentary on Isaiah Fr - Warning Against Alliance with Egypt) and Jeremiah before him had condemned Egypt.

Ezekiel’s first prophecy was against Pharaoh individually and Egypt as a nation. On the twelfth day of the tenth month of the tenth year of Jehoiachin’s captivity, the word of ADONAI came to me, saying: Son of man, set your face against Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt and prophesy against him and against all Egypt (Ezeki’el 29:1-2). He was the fourth king of the twenty-sixth dynasty who reigned from 589 to 570 BC.

The near historical destruction of Pharaoh: Speak to him and say: This is what Adonai ELOHIM says: I'm against you, Pharaoh, king of Egypt. You are like a monster crocodile lying in the Nile River. You say, "The Nile River is mine. I made it for myself" (Ezeki’el 29:3). The Nile River, which overflowed its banks periodically and brought fertility to the land, was the source of Egypt’s prosperity and pride. Like the prince of Tyre, Pharaoh Hophra thought of himself as a god, the creator of the strength and prosperity of Egypt (see the commentary on Exodus Bc - Pharaoh as God and Uphoder of Ma'at). He thought the position that his country occupied in the world at that time was due to his exceptional powers.

Like the crocodile is captured and drawn by hooks from the river, so will Egypt be defeated by her enemies and lose the wealth yielded by her river. But I will put hooks in your jaws and make the fish of your streams stick to your scales. I will pull you out from among your streams, with all the fish sticking to your scales (Ezeki’el 29:4). The fishes that adhere to the scales of the crocodile typify the whole nation. Both Pharaoh and common people will perish.

I will leave you in the desert, which spells certain death for the crocodile and fishes, you and all the fish of your streams. You will fall on the open field and not be gathered or picked up. I will give you as food to the beasts of the earth and the birds of the sky (Ezeki’el 29:5). The fallen Egyptian soldiers will not be given burial as human dignity requires, but will lie about abandoned and neglected. Egypt will be destroyed.

Then all those living in Egypt will know that I am ADONAI. Egypt, you have become like a [broken] walking stick to the nation of Isra’el, which provides no support and breaks when one leans upon it. She proved untrustworthy as an ally of Isra’el. When they grasped your hand, you splintered and threw all their shoulders out of joint; when they leaned on you. This was essentially what happened when Egypt rebelled against Babylon. Isra’el leaned upon Egypt, but Egypt collapsed and so did Isra’el. She proved to be a broken walking stick. People who depend upon Egypt find their support giving way so they fall and dislocate their shoulder. Isra’el broke when the Egyptians leaned on them and made them all wrench their backs (Ezeki’el 29:7-7 CJB).326

The far eschatological destruction of the land of Egypt: Therefore, Adonai ELOHIM says: I will bring the sword against you and kill both people and animals (Ezk 29:8). This will be a total, not a partial, destruction. After his defeat at Cyrene, Pharaoh Hophra was strangled by his successor Amasis. However, what we are about to read in the following statements of this passage requires the fulfillment to go well beyond that of Hophra’s defeat and death. A literal interpretation does not fit ancient Egypt. The land of Egypt will become a desolate waste, and they will know that I am ADONAI. The Egyptians will know that the God of Isra’el, YHVH, is the true God - not Pharaoh.The Nile is mine; I made it,” said Pharaoh (Ezk 29:9); but YHVH is the Creator - not Pharaoh.

Therefore, Ha’Shem announces His judgment: I am against you and your Nile; and I will make the land of Egypt a totally desolate waste from Migdol to Aswan. The whole country will be punished; Migdol was a frontier fortress at the northeast corner of Lower Egypt and Aswan is in the extreme south as far as the border of Ethiopia (Ezeki’el 29:10). The point of the prophecy is that the total desolation will cover the entire country of Egypt from the north to the South. Then Ezeki’el goes on to deal with the extent of that desolation.

No human foot will pass through it, and no animal foot will pass through it; it will be uninhabited for forty years (Ezeki’el 29:11). This was obviously not the case after Hophra’s defeat and subsequent life in ancient Egypt. It is no accident that the same amount of time that Isra’el spent in wilderness after leaving Egypt will also be the same amount of time that Egypt will be desolate in the future. The same amount of time Isra’el wandered around without a homeland in the past will be the same amount of time that Egypt will be without a homeland in the future.

Then Ezekiel elaborates on this forty-year period. Yes, I will make the land of Egypt desolate, even when compared with other desolate countries, likewise her cities in comparison with other ruined cities. The extent of Egypt’s desolation will be obvious when compared with other ruined cities that had been invaded throughout human history. Egypt will be desolate for forty years. There has never been a period in Egyptian history where she has gone totally uninhabited of both people and animals for forty years. This could not have been fulfilled in the days of Pharaoh Amasis. And why will the land of Egypt be desolate? The One True God declared: I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and disperse them through the countries (Ezeki’el 29:12 CJB). This prophecy should be taken literally and placed in the first forty years of the messianic Kingdom.

But there will be a future restoration of Egypt (see Dh – A Message Concerning Egypt). Later Egypt will be inhabited as in times past, declares ADONAI. However, as promised by Isaiah (see the commentary on Isaiah Eg – Blessed Be Egypt, Assyria and Isra’el), Ezeki’el (Ezeki’el 29:13-16), and John (see the commentary on Revelation Fk – Gentiles in the Messianic Kingdom), Egypt’s destruction will not be complete. But the long standing animosity towards Isra’el cannot be so easily erased in light of the principle of Genesis 12:3. So for the first forty years of the thousand year millennial Kingdom, the Egyptians will be dispersed among the nations the world and the land of Egypt will lie uninhabited. The Egyptian dispersion, however, is not intended to be permanent just as Jewish dispersion was not intended to be permanent. So after forty years the Egyptians will be regathered as a nation and send representatives up to Zion to keep the festival of Sukkot (Zech 14:16-19).

For this is what Adonai ELOHIM says: At the end of forty years I will gather the Egyptians from the peoples where they were scattered. Just as there was and will be a regathering of the Jews at the end of the Great Tribulation (see the commentary on Isaiah De – God Is My Salvation, I Will Trust and Not Be Afraid); there will be a worldwide regathering of the Egyptians during the millennial Kingdom. I will restore the fortunes of Egypt and return them to Upper Egypt, the land of their origin. But there they will be a humble kingdom (Ezeki'el 29:13-14 CJB), with Isra’el being the head of the nations in that day (see the commentary on Revelation Fi – The Government of the Messianic Kingdom).

Then Ezeki’el deals with the status of Egypt in the messianic Kingdom. It will be the lowliest of the Gentile kingdoms on the earth at that time and will never again exalt itself above the other nations. Egypt will be the lowest of the low. Perhaps that may be one of the reasons why Egypt will be reluctant to send a delegation to the Holy City to observe Sukkot. Finally, everyone remaining from all the nations that came to attack Yerushalayim will go up every year to worship the king, ADONAI-Tzva’ot, and to keep the festival of Sukkot. If any of the peoples of the earth does not go up to Tziyon to worship the king, ADONAI-Tzva’ot, no rain will fall on them. If the people of Egypt do not go up, if they refuse to come, they will have no [annual] overflow [from the Nile]; moreover, there will be the plague with which ADONAI will strike the nations that don’t go up to keep the festival of Sukkot. This will be Egypt’s punishment and the punishment of any nation that doesn’t go up to keep Sukkot (Zechariah 14:16-19).

After Egypt is reestablished, after forty years of dispersion in the nations of the world, then Ha’Shem will make it so weak that it will never again rule over other nations. Egypt will no longer be a source of confidence for the people of Isra’el. That’s what got Isra’el into trouble in the past, but that will never happen again. This will be a reminder of their sin in turning to her for help (Second Kings 18:21, Isaiah 19:15-17 and 36:6, Ezeki’el 29:16) Trusting in Egypt brought about the fall of Jerusalem and Isra’el will not forget that lesson. Then they will know that I am Adonai ELOHIM (Ezeki’el 29:15-16).327

 

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