Ezekiel 30 - Outline of Ezekiel (Book Notes menu page)
In the previous chapter, the LORD declared that Egypt would be overtaken by Babylon. The land would lie waste and her people would be dispersed in captivity for forty years. Afterwards, the nation would be restored, but as a 'base' nation, with greatly diminished power.
     The present chapter provides a more detailed view of when and how these things would come upon Egypt. The primary application relates to the conquest of Egypt, by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. However, the judgments upon Egypt also foreshadow the judgment upon the nations in the future Day of the LORD.
1. The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD;
Howl ye, Woe worth the day!
{ie., Alas, for the day!}
3 For the day [is] near, even the day of the LORD [is] near,
a cloudy day; it shall be the time of the heathen.
4 And the sword shall come upon Egypt,
and great pain shall be in Ethiopia,
when the slain shall fall in Egypt,
and they shall take away her multitude,
and her foundations shall be broken down.
5 Ethiopia, and Libya, and Lydia, and all the mingled people,
and Chub, and the men of the land that is in league,
shall fall with them by the sword.
6 Thus saith the LORD; They also that uphold Egypt shall fall;
and the pride of her power shall come down:
from the tower of Syene
{ie., from Migdol to Syene (see note at Eze 29:10)}
shall they fall in it by the sword, saith the Lord GOD.
7 And they shall be desolate in the midst of the countries [that are] desolate,
and her cities shall be in the midst of the cities [that are] wasted.
8 And they shall know that I [am] the LORD,
when I have set a fire in Egypt, and [when] all her helpers shall be destroyed.
9 In that day shall messengers go forth from me
in ships to make the careless Ethiopians afraid,
and great pain shall come upon them, as in the day of Egypt: for, lo, it cometh.
...howl... woe... for the day... the day of the LORD is near... it shall be the time of the heathen...
The destruction of Egypt by Babylon would be reason for such an outcry of grief (eg., Isa 19:1). However, these words also echo the woe of the future Day of the LORD (v.3; cp. Isa 13:6; Joel 2:1,2; 3:11-14), which will bring an end to the times of the Gentiles (Luk 21:24).
     Today, Egypt remains a base nation and is no longer a world power (Eze 29:14-16). But in the Day of the LORD, another world power will arise as "the confidence of Israel." The fall of that power, like the fall of Egypt and of Tyre, will adversely affect many dependent nations.
...Egypt... and the men of the land that is in league, shall fall with them by the sword...
The nations mentioned in v.5 were allies of Egypt. But they would be unable to stand against Nebuchadnezzar's army.
     Some of these nations are also mentioned in the context of battles which will occur during the Tribulation period (eg., Eze 38:5,6).
     'Lydia' was a region of Asia Minor (modern Turkey, called Togarmah in Eze 38:6). (Note: In Eze 27:10, where Lydia is called Lud, and Libya is called Phut, the same HB words are used. However, in ch.27 the words are transliterated according to their sounds, while here (in v.5), they are translated according to more recent place names.)
     The location of Chub is uncertain. The 'mingled people' includes soldiers of many nations (eg., Jer 25:20,24).
...Egypt shall fall... her cities shall be in the midst of {ie., among} the cities that are wasted...
The cities of Egypt would be destroyed, just like those of other nations conquered by Babylon.
...in that day shall messengers go forth from me...
...to make the careless Ethiopians afraid... as in the day of Egypt, for lo, it cometh.
Prior to the approach of Nebuchadnezzar, Ethiopia had been secure. But they would be overtaken by fear, at the news of Egypt's fall.
     Yet, this verse also looks beyond Egypt's immediate difficulty (which was 'the day of Egypt'), to another judgment that is sure to come. In the Day of the LORD, nation(s) beyond Ethiopia, which were previously secure, will not escape the fires of judgment which will devastate the world (eg., Isa 18:1,2; Eze 39:6).
     These terrifying events, both near-term and far-future, were pre-determined by the LORD, as necessary judgments upon sinful nations.
...and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I have set a fire in Egypt...
In Scripture, 'Egypt' is sometimes used symbolically of slavery to sin and the world. Although the LORD brought His people out of slavery in Egypt, many Israelites failed to fully trust Him, continued to carry the false gods of Egypt in their hearts, and longed to return to 'the pleasures of sin.' cp. Heb 3:16-19; 8:8-12; 11:24-28
     In the future day, when the LORD exercises final judgment upon the ungodly world system, His people will know and serve Him.
     Meanwhile, in the near-term, Egypt would know that the LORD had kept His Word, when they were overtaken by Babylon.
10 Thus saith the Lord GOD;
I will also make the multitude of Egypt to cease
by the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon.
{cp. Eze 29:4,5,19}
11 He and his people with him, the terrible of the nations,
shall be brought to destroy the land:
{cp. Hab 1:6-9}
and they shall draw their swords against Egypt, and fill the land with the slain.
12 And I will make the rivers dry,
{cp. Isa 19:4-10}
and sell the land into the hand of the wicked:
and I will make the land waste, and all that is therein, by the hand of strangers:
I the LORD have spoken [it].
13 Thus saith the Lord GOD;
I will also destroy the idols, and I will cause [their] images to cease out of Noph;
and there shall be no more a prince of the land of Egypt:
and I will put a fear in the land of Egypt.
14 And I will make Pathros desolate,
and will set fire in Zoan, and will execute judgments in No.
15 And I will pour my fury upon Sin, the strength
{ie., stronghold} of Egypt;
and I will cut off the multitude of No.
16 And I will set fire in Egypt: Sin shall have great pain,
and No shall be rent asunder, and Noph [shall have] distresses daily.
17 The young men of Aven and of Pibeseth shall fall by the sword:
and these [cities] shall go into captivity.
18 At Tehaphnehes also the day shall be darkened,
when I shall break there the yokes of Egypt:
and the pomp of her strength shall cease in her:
as for her, a cloud shall cover her, and her daughters shall go into captivity.
19 Thus will I execute judgments in Egypt:
and they shall know that I [am] the LORD.
...I will destroy the idols... their images {HB='elil, vanities}... there shall be no more prince...
The LORD's judgment, at the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, would reveal the worthlessness of Egypt's false gods, and remove Pharaoh from power. (cp. Ex 12:12; Jer 43:12,13)
...I will put fear in the land of Egypt... the sword... captivity...
The defenses of powerful cities and populous regions would prove inadequate.
The places cited are...
  • Noph {Memphis} - the capital of lower Egypt.
  • No {Thebes} - the capital of upper Egypt.
  • Zoan {Raamses, Tanis} - in the eastern Nile delta.
  • Sin {Pelusium} - on the eastern edge of the Nile delta.
    This, unlike other Egyptian cities, was a fortified walled city, which guarded the entrance to Egypt via the major overland route from the north and east.
  • Aven {HB='aven, wickedness, vanity} is used derogatorily for On {Heliopolis}.
    This city was given to the worship of the sun. Gen 41:45
  • Pathros is the region of upper Egypt.
  • Pibeseth {Pubastum}- a city in the southeastern portion of the Nile delta.
  • Tehaphnehes {Tahpanhes, Tahapenes} - a city in the northeastern Nile delta. Jer 46:14
20. And it came to pass in the eleventh year,
in the first [month], in the seventh [day] of the month,
[that] the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
21 Son of man, I have broken the arm of Pharaoh king of Egypt;
and, lo, it shall not be bound up to be healed,
to put a roller to bind it,
{ie., the wound would not be wrapped, splinted or bandaged}
to make it strong to hold the sword.
22 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD;
Behold, I [am] against Pharaoh king of Egypt,
and will break his arms, the strong, and that which was broken;
and I will cause the sword to fall out of his hand.
23 And I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations,
and will disperse them through the countries.
24 And I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon,
and put my sword in his hand:
but I will break Pharaoh's arms,
and he shall groan before him with the groanings of a deadly wounded [man].
25 But I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon,
and the arms of Pharaoh shall fall down;
and they shall know that I [am] the LORD,
when I shall put my sword into the hand of the king of Babylon,
and he shall stretch it out upon the land of Egypt.
26 And I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations,
and disperse them among the countries;
and they shall know that I [am] the LORD.
...in the eleventh year, in the first month...
This message is dated about 3 months prior to the fall of Jerusalem (Jer 39:2).
...I have broken the arm of Pharaoh... it shall not be bound up or healed... to make it strong...
During the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, king Zedekiah had sought the aid of Pharaoh-hophra (who reigned from 589-570 BC). Seeing the approach of the Egyptian army, the Babylonians temporarily withdrew from Jerusalem. At that time, Jeremiah told Zedekiah that Egypt would not deliver the city, and Babylon would return to finish the siege (Jer 37:5-10).
     Pharaoh's first 'broken arm' may refer to one, or a combination, of several defeats:
  1. At the battle of Carchemish, Pharaoh-necho was defeated by Babylon,
    in the fourth year of Jehoiakim (c. 604 BC; Jer 46:2).
  2. In the failure of Pharaoh-hophra to deliver Jerusalem, from Babylon,
    in the time of Zedekiah (c. 585 BC, Jer 37:5-10).
  3. Following Pharaoh-hophra's return from Judah, his army suffered severe losses
    in a disastrous military expedition against Cyrene in Libya.
    This defeat occurred while Babylon was pre-occupied with the siege of Tyre.
The LORD further weakened Egypt, breaking both of its arms, by means of a civil war (spurred by the defeat at Cyrene), in which Pharaoh-hophra was dethroned and driven into Upper Egypt by Amasis II (Ahmose II). This was a sign for the unbelieving Jews, who had fled to Egypt, that Nebuchadnezzar's invasion would soon follow (Jer 44:29,30). Nebuchadnezzar took advantage of Egypt's discord and disarray, to invade and conquer that nation (fulfilling Jer 43:8-13).
     Although the forces of Babylon occupied the whole land, they did not accomplish the complete destruction of cities and idols which were foretold in this chapter. Neither did such ruin occur during Egypt's later conquest and rule under the Greek Ptolemaic dynasty. However, about a thousand years after Nebuchadnezzar (c. 640 AD), the predicted destruction was thoroughly accomplished by Islamic invaders. Thus, like the prophecy against Tyre, the LORD's judgment of Egypt was fulfilled over a period of hundreds of years, at the hands of many nations, which came upon them in waves (cp. Eze 26:3).

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