THE BOOK OF EZEKIEL
Part III: Judgment Against the Nations
Chapter 28: The Pride of Tyre is the Reason for its Ruin, Judgment Against Sidon, and Israel Delivered from the Nations
Chapters 29-30: Judgment Against Egypt
Lord of Mercy and Justice,
We have faith that Your temporal judgments, Lord, are always intended for our redemption. It is Your will that all sinners learn through their temporal judgments, repent their sins, and return to fellowship with You and Your Church. However, Your spiritual judgments are far more serious for those of us on this side of salvation history from the people of Ezekiel's time. Their blessings were not eternal nor were their judgments. However, our eternal future depends entirely on our response to mortal sins in our lives and our willingness to live in the obedience of faith to the commands of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Give us the tenacity of faith that we need, Lord, to resist the power of sin, but when we do sin, give us the humility to return to You in faith and obedience. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
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The chief author
of sin, then, is the devil, the author of all evil. Not I but the Lord has
said, "The devil sins from the beginning." Before him no one sinned. Nor did
he sin because by nature he was of necessity prone to sin, or else the
responsibility for sin would reflect on him who created him in this way, but
after being created good, he became a devil by his own free choice, receiving
that name from his action. Though he was an archangel, he was afterwards
called devil (slanderer) from his slandering, and though he was once a good
servant of God, he was afterwards rightly named Satan, for Satan is interpreted
Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 2.4
God has not singled out Jerusalem for punishment when all her neighbors are guilty of many of the same sins. The destruction of Jerusalem is a signal that the time of punishment for their sins has arrived. Ezekiel receives the oracles of Tyre's doom in the same year that Jerusalem fell according to the Hebrew text, but the year after according to the Greek Septuagint translation in 586/5 BC (Ez 26:1). Unlike Jeremiah's oracles against Judah's neighbors, only the exiles in Babylon heard Ezekiel's oracles against the nations. The ambassadors of the condemned nations who were in Jerusalem heard Jeremiah's symbolic "thongs and yokes" messages that he was instructed to send to their rulers "through their envoys accredited to Zedekiah king of Judah" (Jer 27:1-11). The purpose of Ezekiel's oracles was to tell the exiles that Yahweh is the Divine Judge of all nations, and when Nebuchadnezzar fulfills all the oracles, both the exiles and the nations "will know that I am Yahweh" (repeated in 24:24, 27; 25:5, 7, 11, 14, 17; 26:6; 28:22, 23, 24, 26; 29:6, 9, 16, 21; 30:8, 19, 25, 26; 32:15).
Tyre was the driving force behind the rebellion against the Babylonians and sent her ambassador to urge King Zedekiah of Judah to join in the rebellion against king Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 27:3-11). Through Jeremiah, Yahweh warned the city-states and nations of Tyre, Sidon, Edom, Moab, Ammon, and Judah not to continue in their plans for rebellion because Nebuchadnezzar was God's instrument of judgment against these nations for their sins. They were warned to save themselves and submit to Babylon (Jer 27:1-11). It was a warning that was ignored.
Nebuchadnezzar's siege of Tyre lasted thirteen years from 586-573 BC. The location of the great port-city of Tyre on Mediterranean coast was 60 miles northwest of Nazareth in the Galilee. It was a double city with one part on an island, and the other part on the mainland in a fertile and well-watered plain at the western foot of the Lebanon mountain range. Tyre was a great maritime power in the ancient world, renowned for its splendor and fabulous wealth. The city was at its zenith from the 12th to the 6th centuries BC until Nebuchadnezzar's siege destroyed Tyre's power and influence. At the height of power, Tyre had colonies on the north and west coasts of Africa, in Spain, and Britain, and controlled the commerce of the Mediterranean, with the trade wealth of all nations from the islands and coastal cities of the Mediterranean, to Mesopotamia, to Asia Minor, to Greece, the Iberian Peninsula, to Britain, to Africa, to the Arabian Desert, to the Black and Caspian Seas passing through its ports. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed her daughter cities on the mainland, but could not break the island defenses of Tyre and finally made a treaty with the city. Later, even the island city of Tyre was completely destroyed by the armies of Alexander the Great in 332 BC. It never recovered it former glory and for centuries was a "bare rock" where fishermen "spread their nets" (26:4, 5, 14), in fulfillment of Ezekiel's prophecies in 26:14, 21; 27:36; 28:29. Today it is a small city in southern Lebanon.
Chapter 28 divides into three oracles and ends with a
promise of restoration and safety for Israel. Each oracle begins with the
announcement statement "The word of Yahweh was addressed to me as follows"
(verses 1, 11, and 20)
Oracle 1: Charges and judgment against the ruler of Tyre (28:1-10)
Oracle 2: Lament for the fall of the King of Tyre (28:11-19)
Oracle 3: Charges and judgment against Sidon (28:20-23)
Concluding passage: Israel's restoration and security from her neighbors (28:24-26)
Ezekiel 28:1-6 ~ Charges Against the Prince of Tyre
1 The word of Yahweh was addressed to me as follows, 2 "Son of man, say to the ruler [nagid] of Tyre, The Lord Yahweh says this: Because your heart has grown proud, you thought: I am a god; I am divinely enthroned far out to sea. Though you are human, not divine, you have allowed yourself to think like God. 3 So, you are wiser than Danel; no sage as wise as you! 4 By your wisdom and your intelligence you have made yourself a fortune, you have put gold and silver into your treasuries. 5 Such is your skill in trading, your fortune has continued to increase, and your fortune has made your heart grow prouder.'
The first oracle divides into two parts: verses 1-5 and
6-10, with each part introduced by the phrase, "The Lord Yahweh says this..." The
Hebrew title melek, king, is not used for the ruler of Tyre until verse
11. The Hebrew word nagid translates as "prince," "commander," or
Question: What was the root of the sin of the ruler of Tyre?
Answer: Excessive pride that led to thinking he was godlike.
Question: In his excessive pride, what three prideful
claims does Yahweh accuse the ruler of Tyre of making in verse 2?
His greatest sin was hubris that led to other sins. Hubris, a word from ancient Greek, describes a person who exhibits the quality of extreme or foolish pride or overconfidence. In the Greek context, the typical description is of behavior that defies the norms of behavior to the point of challenging the gods, which in turn results in the downfall of the perpetrator of hubris. The Christian author C. S. Lewis wrote that pride is the "anti-God" state in which one's ego and self are directly opposed to God: "Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through pride that the devil became the devil: pride leads to every other vice; it is the complete anti-God state of mind" (Lewis, Mere Christianity). See CCC CCC 1866, 1784, 2094, 2317, 2514, 2540, 2728.
3 So, you are
wiser than Danel; no sage as wise as you!
The ruler of Tyre is credited with wisdom, but his pride, successes, and greed have led him to think that his abilities place him far above mere mortals. For the peoples of the ancient Near East, the gift of wisdom involved both intellectual power and prudence. According to verses 4-5, the prince of Tyre had the gift of wisdom, but his excessive hubris led him to believe no other human could demonstrate his wisdom and therefore he must be divine. God challenges him by asking is he wiser than Danel?
In the past, commentators thought the sage mentioned in verse 3 was Daniel the prophet and younger contemporary of Ezekiel, but the connection was never a good fit. This time period was the beginning of Daniel's career in the court of Nebuchadnezzar, and how would the ruler of Tyre have heard of someone who was at this time an obscure minister in the service of the King of Babylon? After the discovery of ancient Near Eastern texts with the legend of a wise and righteous Gentile king named Danel, it became obvious who was the wise Danel referred to in the Scripture passages in Ezekiel 14:14 and 28:3. You may recall that in 14:14 two other righteous Gentiles from the period before the time Abraham were named with Danel: Noah and Job.1
Ezekiel 28:6-10 ~ Judgment Against the Ruler of Tyre
6 "And so, the Lord Yahweh says this: Since you have allowed yourself to think like God, 7 very well, I am going to bring foreigners against you, the most barbarous of the nations. They will draw sword against your fine wisdom, they will desecrate your splendor, 8 they will throw you down into the grave and you will die a violent death far out to sea. 9 Will you still think: I am a god, when your slaughterers confront you? But you will be human, not divine, in the clutches of the ones who strike you down! 10 You will die like the uncircumcised at the hand of foreigners.' "For I have spoken-declares the Lord Yahweh."
In verses 6-8, Yahweh pronounces His sentence against the Prince of Tyre for claiming divinity: a foreign army will destroy his wealth and power, and because he is human and not divine, he will be powerless to save himself.
will die like the uncircumcised at the hand of foreigners.' "For I have
spoken-declares the Lord Yahweh."
Circumcision of all males was practiced by the Israelites as a sign of their covenant with Yahweh since the time of Abraham (Gen 17:9-14; Lev 12:3; Josh 5:3-8). However, most of the peoples of the Levant, including the Phoenicians, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, and the Egyptians practiced circumcision (Jer 9:24-25). To "die like the uncircumcised" suggests dying like a barbarian.
Ezekiel 28:11-19 ~ Lament for the Prince of Tyre
11 The word of Yahweh was addressed to me as follows, 12 "Son of man, raise a lament for the king of Tyre. Say to him, The Lord Yahweh says this: You used to be a model of perfection, full of wisdom, perfect in beauty; 13 you were in Eden, in the garden of God. All kinds of gem formed your mantle: sard, topaz, diamond, chrysolite, onyx, jasper, sapphire, garnet, emerald, and your ear-pendants and spangles were made of gold; all was ready on the day you were created. 14 I made you a living creature [anointed cherub] with outstretched wings, as guardian, you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked amid red-hot coals. 15 Your behavior was exemplary from the day you were created until guilt first appeared in you, 16 because your busy trading has filled you with violence and sin. I have thrown you down from the mountain of God and destroyed you, guardian winged creature [cherub], amid the coals. 17 Your heart has grown proud because of your beauty, your wisdom has been corrupted by your splendor. I have thrown you to the ground; I have made you a spectacle for kings. 18 By the immense number of your crimes, by the dishonesty of your trading, you have defiled your sanctuary. So I have brought fire out of you to devour you; I have reduced you to ashes on the ground before the eyes of all who saw you. 19 Of the nations, all who know you are stunned at your fate. You are an object of terror; gone forever.'"
Like all laments in Scripture, this one divides into two
parts with verse 15b as the transition from the first to second part:
Part 1: A description of past glory (verses 12b-15)
Part 2: An account of disaster, which in this case is justified punishment (verses 16-19).
Notice how the focus of the lament changes from the "king of Tyre" in verse 12 to the "cherub" [living creature] in verses 14 and 16.
The anger of God directed against Tyre's ruler is not because of any explicit offense against Israel but against God. In the lament, God adds an addition sin. The two stated offenses are hubris in self-deification born of wealth and splendor (verses 2, 5, 17) and corruption in commerce that results in offenses against a universal code of morality (verse 18).
The perfect creature in Part 1 becomes a winged-creature/cherub in Part 2. The "mountain of God" becomes "holy precincts" and "precious stones" from the real world are replaced by "red-hot coals" from which the cherub is ultimately banished (verses 14 and 16). Part 2 describes the sin and punishment of the cherub/winged creature described in Part 1 to have sinned "in commerce." The judgment in Part 2 is before royal peers "a spectacle for kings" (verse 17) and "before all the eyes that saw you" (verse 18). Part 2 describes the sin and punishment of the creature in which the series of punishments is graded:
In the lament, there are obvious references to the fall of man through the temptation of Satan from Genesis Chapter 3. The Prince of Tyre is compared to Adam in his fall, to Satan in his former perfection and in his pride that evolved into wickedness and his desire to be divine.
Question: What promise did Satan make to
tempt Adam and Eve to rebel against God to eat the forbidden fruit? How is the
Prince of Tyre like Adam? See Gen 3:5.
Answer: Like Adam he is a creature created by God and is fully human, but like Adam he aspired to be godlike.
If someone makes the free-will decision to reject becoming a child of God, then in that rejection the person chooses to follow the path of Satan whose hubris led to rebellion against Yahweh. The description in verses 12b to 19 is more fittingly ascribed to Satan, the Adversary/Accuser than to the Prince of Tyre. This is a passage that recalls Isaiah's verses concerning the judgment of the King of Babylon in Isaiah 14:4-21. The Fathers of the Church saw in this passage a description of Satan in Eden before his rebellion. As in all creatures created by God, he was "perfect," a "cherub"/angel-winged creature of magnificent beauty until guilt appeared in him (verse 15). He was the guardian of Eden, purified by God to "walk among red-hot coals" in the Sanctuary on God's "holy mountain." Eden was an earthly mountain Sanctuary God created for His first human children. See Isaiah 6:6 where an angel uses a red-hot coal from God's heavenly altar to purify Isaiah.
That Satan is in Eden is by the will of God; nothing happens without God's consent. The description of the cherub-angel covered with precious stones and spangles or scales made of gold presents the picture of a formidable being that must have terrified Adam and Eve. Revelation Chapter 12 describes Satan as a dragon/serpent who led a rebellion against God and was defeated by the Archangel Michael: The dragon fought back with his angels, but they were defeated and d riven out of heaven. The great dragon, the primeval serpent, known as the devil or Satan, who had led all the world astray, was hurled down to the earth and his angels were hurled down with him (Rev 12:8-9). The Prince of Tyre, like Satan, received every gift for success; and yet he abused those God-given gifts when he dared to aspire to divinity. Therefore, God judged him for his sins and sentenced him to destruction (verses 17b-19) in the same way Satan was judged for his sins and sentenced for destruction.
Two short oracles complete Chapter 28: An oracle
against Sidon (verses 20-23) and a second oracle of hope for Israel (verses
Ezekiel 28:23-26 ~ Oracle Against Sidon
20 The word of Yahweh was addressed to me as follows, 21 "Son of man, turn towards Sidon and prophesy against her. 22 Say, The Lord Yahweh says this: I am against you, Sidon, I will show my glory in you! They will know I am Yahweh, once I execute sentence on her and display my holiness in her. 23 For I shall send her the plague, and there will be blood in her streets, and in her the dead will fall under the sword raised against her from all sides, and they will know that I am Yahweh.'"
Located about 20 miles north of Tyre, Nebuchadnezzar conquered Sidon and deported her citizens in the same year he began the siege of Tyre, 586/5 BC. The Table of Nations in Genesis Chapter 10 lists Sidon as the eldest son of Canaan son of Ham and grandson of Noah (Gen 10:15; 1 Chr 1:13). Sidon had close relations with Israel in the 9th century BC when a daughter of the King of Sidon named Jezebel married Ahab, King of the Northern Kingdom Israel. It was a marriage with disastrous consequences, during the prophetic ministry of Elijah (1 Kng 16:31).
Sidon was a dependent of Tyre, and the metaphorical ship of Tyre had Sidonese oarsmen (Ez 27:8). Along with Tyre, it is listed among the nations that sent emissaries to Zedekiah to urge him to join the rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar. Since Sidon was part of the policy leading to the ruin of Judah, God called Jeremiah to condemn the ruler of Sidon, together with the other rulers who planned the rebellion, to fall into the hands of the Babylonians and to drink from "the cup of the wine of wrath" (Jer 24:22). Jeremiah sent letters to all the rulers of the rebellion including Sidon with Yahweh's promise to spare them bloodshed if they would not resist the Babylonians: The nation, however, that is prepared to bend its neck to the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I shall leave in peace on its own soil ... (Jer 27:11).
Question: Since they failed to believe in
Yahweh's power and heed the warning, what is Sidon's sentence?
Answer: God sentences the city to fall to the Babylonian army and for her people to experience sickness and bloodshed. The fulfillment of the prophecy will be the proof they need "to know that I am Yahweh."
Documents in Ancient Near-Eastern Texts 308 mention the conquest of Sidon by Nebuchadnezzar, fulfilling God's sentence against the city. Today Sidon it is the modern city of Saida, 28 miles south of Beirut, Lebanon.
Jesus visited the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon (Mt 15:21; Mk 7:24, 31), and people from Sidon came to hear Jesus preach (Mk 3:8; Lk 6:17). Jesus used Tyre and Sidon as examples of deep-seated paganism which would have converted if they had received the ministry and had seen the miracles that He performed in the cities of Galilee. Therefore, He said, they will receive more favorable treatment in the Last Judgment than those cities who heard Him and saw His mighty works (Mt 11:21f; Lk 10:13f).
Ezekiel 28:24-26 ~ Oracle Promising Israel's Deliverance from the Nations
24 "No more, for the House of Israel, shall any of the hostile nations surrounding them be a thorn that wounds or a briar that tears; and they will know that I am Yahweh. 25 The Lord Yahweh says this: When I gather the House of Israel back from the peoples where they are dispersed, I shall display my glory in them for the nations to see. They will live on the soil which I gave to my servant Jacob. 26 They will live there in confidence, build houses, plant vineyards. They will live in safety, once I inflict punishments on all the hostile nations surrounding them, and they will know that I am Yahweh their God.'"
This passage makes the same promises God instructed Jeremiah to give the Jerusalemites in Jeremiah Chapters 30-31 in "The Book of Consolation": For look, the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when I shall bring back the captives of my people Israel and Judah), Yahweh says. I shall make them come back and take possession of the country I gave to their ancestors (Jer 30:3).
God fulfilled the prophecy after the covenant people spent the seventy year exile in atonement for Judah's sins. When Persian King Cyrus defeated the Babylonians, he issued a decree called the Edict of Cyrus (539 BC), allowing all people taken into exile by the Babylonians to return to their homelands (2 Chr 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4). The nation of Judah lived in peace with all her neighbor states under the protection of the Persian Empire until the conquest of Alexander the Great. Judah submitted to the Greeks under the rule of the Greek Egyptians and then the Seleucid-Syrian Greeks. Judah then gained her independence for a brief hundred years, achieved by the efforts of the Maccabee brothers and their descendants the Hasmonean kings of Judah. The period of independence lasted until the Romans made Judah the Roman vassal state of Judaea in 63 BC. After the Roman conquest, Judaea lived in peace with her neighbors under Rome's protection.
Chapter 29: The Prophecies Against Egypt
this: Look, I shall hand Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt, over to his enemies and
to those determined to kill him, just as I handed Zedekiah king of Judah over
to his enemy Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, who was determined to kill him.
In Chapters 29-32, Ezekiel receives seven oracles predicting Nebuchadnezzar's invasion of Egypt and Egypt's loss of power and influence in the region. All the oracles except Oracle 3 begin with a date, and all are announced by the word-formula, "the word of Yahweh was addressed to me as follows..." They all end with the announcement formula, "...they will know that I am Lord Yahweh" or "they will know that I am Yahweh" except for the allegory of the Cedar Tree in Oracle 5.
King Nebuchadnezzar invaded and plundered Egypt in 572 and again in 568 BC. Egypt never returned to her former glory, fulfilling in a very real sense Ezekiel's prophecy that it would become "the most modest of kingdoms and no longer dominate other nations" (Ez 29:15). The first oracle begins with another date which in our calendar would be December/January 588/87 BC, six months before the fall of Jerusalem and fifteen years before Nebuchadnezzar invaded Egypt.
Ezekiel 29:1-7 ~ Oracle 1 Against Egypt
1 In the tenth year, on the twelfth day of the tenth month, the word of Yahweh was addressed to me as follows, 2 "Son of man, turn towards Pharaoh king of Egypt and prophesy against him and against the whole of Egypt. 3 Speak and say, The Lord Yahweh says this: Look, I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt "the great crocodile wallowing in his Niles who thought: My Nile is mine, I made it. 4 I shall put hooks through your jaws, make your Nile fish stick to your scales, and pull you out of your Niles with all your Nile fish sticking to your scales. 5 I shall drop you in the desert, with all your Nile fish. You will fall in the wilds and not be taken up or buried. I shall give you as food to the wild animals and the birds of heaven, 6 and all the inhabitants of Egypt will know that I am Yahweh, for they have given no more support than a reed to the House of Israel. 7 Wherever they grasped you, you broke in their hands and cut their hands all over. Whenever they leaned on you, you broke, making all their limbs give way.'"
The first oracle divides into three parts with each
part announced by the phrase "the Lord Yahweh says this" (verses 3, 8, 13):
Part 1: Announcement of the charges against Egypt (29:1-7)
Part 2: The judgment against Egypt (29:8-12)
Part 3: The restoration of Egypt (29:13-16)
The Old Testament calls Egypt Misraim. The Table of Nations in Genesis Chapter 10 includes Misraim-Egypt among the sons of Ham with Cush, Put, and Canaan (Gen 10:6). The political geography of Egypt in ancient times extended from the valley of the Nile River and its delta, to the arid wastes of the Libyan Desert to the west, and the Arabian Desert on the east between the Nile and the Red Sea. For centuries, the Egyptians were the region's superpower. However, Egyptian power began to crumble after the reign of Amenhotep III (ruled c. 1386-49) and slowly but steadily collapsed under his successors. Pharaoh Hophra (Apries) who assumed the throne in 588 BC at the time of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, urged King Zedekiah of Judah to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar. In the same year, he sent an Egyptian army to rescue Jerusalem. The Babylonians raised the siege long enough to repulse the Egyptian arms, and came back and settled the fate of Jerusalem (Jer 37:3-8).
The Egyptian people worshipped their pharaoh as a
divine being in human form.
Question: What are the two judicial charges that Yahweh makes against the Egyptian pharaoh?
Answer: Yahweh's charges against the pharaoh includes his claims to divine actions that exclusively belong to Yahweh, like the creation of the Nile River, and he failed offer sufficient resistance against Nebuchadnezzar as he promised in his alliance with Judah.
Ezekiel 29:8-12 ~ Yahweh Judgment Against Egypt
8 "So, the Lord Yahweh says this: I shall send the sword against you to denude you of human and animal. 9 Egypt will become a desolate waste, and they will know that I am Yahweh. Because he thought: The Nile is mine, I made it, 10 very well, I am against you and your Niles. I shall make Egypt a waste and a desolation, from Migdol to Syene and beyond to the frontiers of Ethiopia. 11 No human foot will pass through it, no animal foot will pass through it. For forty years it will remain uninhabited. 12 I shall make Egypt the most desolate of countries; for forty years its cities will be the most desolate of wasted cities. And I shall scatter the Egyptians among the nations and disperse them among the countries.'"
Question: Egypt's judgment is to have "the
sword" sent against her. Who is "the sword"? See Ez 21:23-24.
Answer: Yahweh's sword is Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon.
As previously mentioned, Nebuchadnezzar's siege of Tyre lasted thirteen years from 586-573 BC, and it ended in a treaty. An attack by Babylonian troops took place against the Egyptian border in 572 BC with captives taken to Babylon, but it was more a test than a full-scale attack. After Nebuchadnezzar was certain that Tyre could not pose a military threat, he took his army to Egypt a second time in c. 568-67 BC during the reign of Pharaoh Amasis II who ruled from 570-526 BC (Jer 43:12-13).
Ezekiel 29:13-16 ~ Restoration of Egypt
13 "The Lord Yahweh, however, says this: After forty years have passed, I shall gather the Egyptians back from the nations where they were dispersed. 14 I shall bring the Egyptian captives back and re-install them in the land of Pathros, in the country of their origin. There they will constitute a modest kingdom. 15 Egypt will be the most modest of kingdoms and no longer dominate other nations; for I shall reduce it, so that it will not rule other nations ever again. 16 It will no longer be anything for the House of Israel to trust in, but will be a reminder of the guilt which lay in turning to it for help. And they will know that I am Lord Yahweh.'"
Most scholars connect the name Pathros with an Egyptian expression meaning " Land of the South," evidently referring to Upper Egypt.2 Unlike the oracles against the other six nations, like Judah, the Egyptian exiles in Babylon will be restored to their land. The Egyptians, however, will not regain their former glory. Therefore, the remnant of Israel that returns to their land will not be seduced into turning to Egypt again in an alliance, nor will they be seduced into worshipping Egypt's false gods.
Ezekiel 29:17-21 ~ Oracle 2 Against Egypt
17 In the twenty-seventh year, on the first day of the first month, the word of Yahweh was addressed to me as follows: 18 "Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has taken his army in a great expedition against Tyre. Their heads have all gone bald, their shoulders are all chafed, but even so he has derived no profit, either for himself or for his army, from the expedition mounted against Tyre. 19 Since this is so, the Lord Yahweh says this, Look, I shall hand Egypt over to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. He will carry off its riches, loot it, put it to the sack; that will be the wages for his army. 20 As wages for the trouble he has taken, I am giving him Egypt instead (for they have been working for me),' declares the Lord Yahweh. 21That day, I shall raise up a new stock for the House of Israel and allow you to open your mouth among them. And they will know that I am Yahweh."
This is an oracle that is out of sequence from the others and is the last oracle of Ezekiel's prophetic ministry. The second oracle announces that Nebuchadnezzar has already taken his army to Tyre. The siege lasted from 586-573 BC and ended in a treaty. But now, in March/April 571 BC, Yahweh announces as compensation for only a partial success against Tyre (verse 18), that Nebuchadnezzar has permission to plunder Egypt.
Question: Why does Yahweh say He will give
the Babylonian king victory over Egypt and its wealth? See verse 20.
Answer: Egypt is Nebuchadnezzar's reward for his action as Yahweh's agent in His judgment of Judah and her neighbors. As Yahweh's agent of divine punishment, he deserves his wages.
day, I shall raise up a new stock for the House of Israel...
This is an expression that signifies renewed strength. In Psalm 132:17, it has messianic overtones: I shall raise up a line of descendants [new stock] for David, light a lamp for my anointed...
Question: What will happen to Ezekiel after
the Babylonian invasion of Egypt three years later in 568 BC?
Answer: On the day Nebuchadnezzar takes Egypt, Ezekiel will be able to return to normal speech.
Chapter 30: Against Egypt ~ The Day of Yahweh
Chapter 30 has oracles 3 and 4 of Egypt's 7 judgment
oracles with each oracle introduced by the phrase: The word of Yahweh was
addressed to me as follows:
Oracle 3: Announcing Yahweh's Day of Judgment for Egypt (30:1-19)
Oracle 4: The defeat and exile of Egypt (30:20-26)
Oracle 3 divides into four parts with each part
identified by the repeated phrase Yahweh says this...
Part 1 announces the coming of "the sword" in verses 1-5.
Part 2 announces the extent of territory to suffer destruction verses 6-9.
Part 3 announces the extent of bloodshed within Egypt in verses 10-12.
Part 4 announces the destruction of Egypt's pagan idols in verses 13-19.
Ezekiel 30:1-5 ~ Oracle 3, part 1: The Sword, Yahweh's
Day of Judgment for Egypt
1 The word of Yahweh was addressed to me as follows, 2"Son of man, prophesy and say, The Lord Yahweh says this: Howl: Disaster day! 3 For the day is near, the day of Yahweh is near; it will be a day dark with cloud, a time of doom for the nations. 4 The sword will come on Egypt, and anguish on the country of Cush when the slaughtered fall in Egypt, when her riches are carried away and her foundations are destroyed. 6 Cush, Put and Lud, all Arabia, Cub and the children of the country of the covenant will fall by the sword with them.'"
The first part of the oracle announces the day Egypt will "drink the cup of Yahweh's wrath." For Yahweh, the God of Israel, said this to me, "Take this cup of the wine of wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it; they will drink and reel and lose their wits, because of the sword I am sending among them. I took the cup from Yahweh's hand and made all the nations to whom Yahweh sent me drink it. Jerusalem and the towns of Judah, its kings and its chief men, to make them a ruin, an object of horror and derision and a curse, as is the case today): Pharaoh king of Egypt, his officials, his chief men and all his people ... (Jer 25:15-19).
4 The sword will come on Egypt... the "sword" is the army of King Nebuchadnezzar. 6 Cush, Put and Lud, all Arabia, Cub and the children of the country of the covenant will fall by the sword with them, refers to Egypt's allies and Judah's refugees living in Egypt: Cush is Nubia, Put is probably Sudan, Lud is probably modern Lybia, and Cub is unknown but considering the other peoples who are mentioned, it is probably another African nation or perhaps an Egyptian name for people descended from the Canaanites since all the name are linked to Ham son of Noah. Arabia refers to the tribal people of the Arabian Desert.
Question: Cush, Put, and Lud are named in the
Table of Nations in Genesis Chapter 10. Who are their ancestral fathers? Note
that Mizraim is Egypt in the list.
Answer: Cush was the eldest son of Noah's youngest son Ham and the brother of Mizraim/Egypt, Put, and Canaan, ancestor of the Canaanites. Mizraim/Egypt, the second son of Ham, was the father of Lud. Put is Ham's third son and the brother of Mizraim/Egypt, Cush, and Canaan.
Ezekiel 30:6-9 ~ Oracle 3, part 2: The Extent of
Territory to Suffer Destruction
6 "Yahweh says this: The supports of Egypt will fall; the pride of her strength will crumble; they will fall by the sword from Migdol to Syene,' declares the Lord Yahweh. 7 They will be the most desolate of desolate countries, and its cities the most ruined of cities. 8 And they will know that I am Yahweh when I set fire to Egypt and all its supports are shattered.' 9 "That day, I shall send messengers by ship to terrify the carefree Cushites, and anguish will overtake them on the day of Egypt; it is coming now!
from Migdol to Syene refers to the extent of destruction from northern to southern Egypt. The word Migdol in Hebrew means "watchtower" and refers to one of many Egyptian military lookout posts, a string of fortresses defended the Egyptian frontier, especially along Egypt's northern border. A site called "Migdol" was on the route of the Exodus out of Egypt (Ex 14:2). Another Migdol, or perhaps the same one as mentioned in Exodus 14:2, is where the Jewish refugees who fled to Egypt lived after the fall of Jerusalem (Jer 44:1; 46:14; one of four sites).
Syene was a city on Egypt's southern frontier also mentioned in Ezekiel 29:10. Most Biblical scholars and historians identify it with modern Assuan, 560 miles south of the Mediterranean Sea and a few miles north of the 1st cataract of the Nile River and the traditional boundary point in ancient times between Egypt and Cush (usually Nubia but sometimes refers to Ethiopia).
Ezekiel 30:10-11 ~ Oracle 3, part 3: The Extent of
Bloodshed within Egypt
10 The Lord Yahweh says this: I shall destroy the huge population of Egypt at the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. 11 He and his people, the most barbarous of nations, will be brought to ravage the country. They will draw the sword against Egypt and fill the country with corpses. 11 I shall dry up the courses of the Nile and sell the country to the wicked. I shall lay the whole country waste and everything in it, at the hand of foreigners. I, Yahweh, have spoken.
The bloodshed within Egypt at the hands of the Babylonians and their allies will be devastating.
Ezekiel 30:13-19 ~ Oracle 3, part 4: The Destruction
of Egypt's Pagan Idols
13 "The Lord Yahweh says this: I shall destroy the foul idols and take the false gods away from Noph. Egypt will be left without a ruler. I shall spread fear through Egypt. 14 I shall lay Pathros waste, set Zoan on fire, inflict my punishments on No. 15 I shall vent my fury on Sin, the bastion of Egypt; I shall wipe out the throngs of No. 16 I shall set fire to Egypt; Sin will be seized with convulsions; a breach will be opened at No and the waters flood out. 17 The young men of On and Pi-Beseth will fall by the sword and the cities themselves go into captivity. 18 At Tahpanhes day will turn to darkness when I shatter the scepters of Egypt there, when the pride of her strength ceases. A cloud will cover Egypt itself, and its daughters will go into captivity. 19 Such will be the punishments I inflict on Egypt. And they will know that I am Yahweh." '
Not only will the people suffer death but Egypt's false gods will be shown to be powerless, and their temples and images will be destroyed. The oracle names seven Egyptian towns:
18 At Tahpanhes
day will turn to darkness when I shatter the scepters of Egypt there, when the
pride of her strength ceases. A cloud will cover Egypt itself, and its daughters
will go into captivity.
Ezekiel's prophecy repeats Jeremiah's prophecy in Jeremiah 43:9-12.
Ezekiel 30:20-26 ~ Oracle 4 Against Egypt
20 In the eleventh year, on the seventh day of the first month, the word of Yahweh was addressed to me as follows, 21 "Son of man, I have broken the arm of Pharaoh king of Egypt; you can see that no one has dressed his wound by applying remedies to it, by bandaging it and by dressing it, to make it strong enough to wield the sword. 22 This being so, the Lord Yahweh says this, Look, I am against Pharaoh king of Egypt; I shall break his arms, the sound one and the broken one, and make the sword drop from his hand. 23 I shall scatter Egypt among the nations and disperse it among the countries. 24 I shall strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon and put my sword in his hand. I shall break Pharaoh's arms and, confronted with his enemy, he will groan like a dying man. 25 I shall strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, and the arms of Pharaoh will fall. And they will know that I am Yahweh, when I put my sword into the hands of the king of Babylon and he wields it against Egypt. 26 I shall scatter Egypt among the nations and disperse it among the countries; and they will know that I am Yahweh." '
The date is March/April 587. Jerusalem fell in the eleventh (or twelfth year in the LX) year, in the fourth month, on the ninth day. As we count, it is three months until the siege ends and Jerusalem falls to the Babylonians. Pharaoh's sword arm is broken because his attempt to break the siege of Jerusalem was a failure (Jer 37:5-8). The judgment is defeat and exile for the Egyptians. When the Babylonians disperse and scatter them "among the nations," then they will know that Israel's God is the only true God because their gods couldn't save them and the oracles of Yahweh's prophets came to fulfillment.
Questions for discussion or reflection:
What is the cause of the loss of faith in God? How is Satan still seducing humanity with the lure of self-deification? How has atheism become a popular trend with the absence of any defined moral code in doing what "feels right" to you and no requirements associated with faith in a "higher power"? How would you respond to someone who defends atheism? See CCC 2123-28, 2424, 2140.
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2017 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.
1 Danel was the legendary Gentile king of Ugarit. Named in twelfth-century BC Ugarit text, he was hailed as "upright, sitting before the gate, beneath a mighty tree on the threshing floor, judging the case of the widow, adjudicating the case of the fatherless" (Ancient Near-Eastern Texts, page 151). Another possibility fitting the chronological frame of the other two men is the Dan'el of Jewish tradition who was the grandfather of Methuselah (Book of Jubilees, 4:20).
2 "Upper Egypt" is southern Egypt while "Lower Egypt" is northern Egypt. This designation is because the Nile River, Egypt's life-line, flows from south to north.