Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
This chapter is made up of two distinct prophecies: Ezekiel 30:1-19, and Ezekiel 30:20-26. The latter is distinctly dated, and comes in regular chronological order between Ezekiel 29:1-16 and Ezekiel 31; but whether the former belongs to this series, or is connected with Ezekiel 29:17-21, has been questioned. There are no sufficient data for a positive determination of the point; but the general presumption is that an undated prophecy belongs in the interval between the dates which precede and which follow. With this presumption the mention of the nearness of the event (Ezekiel 30:3) and of the name of Nebuchadnezzar (Ezekiel 30:10) agree, though not in themselves determinative.
The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
For the day is near, even the day of the LORD is near, a cloudy day; it shall be the time of the heathen.(3) The time of the heathen.—The judgment upon Egypt is but an individual instance, and is symbolic of general judgment upon all merely worldly power. Her fall is one step in the general overthrow of whatever exalts and opposes itself to God. Very similar to Ezekiel 30:2-3 are the prophecies in Isaiah 13:6; Isaiah 13:9; Joel 1:13; Joel 1:15; Joel 2:2; Obadiah 1:15; Zephaniah 1:7; Zephaniah 1:14.
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.(5) Ethiopia, and Libya, and Lydia.—Ethiopia and Egypt were closely connected, and during much of their history were often under one government. Ethiopian soldiers served in great numbers in the Egyptian armies. Libya and Lydia are an unfortunate substitution for the original terms, Phut and Lud, which are preserved in Ezekiel 27:10, where see Note. They are there mentioned as furnishing mercenaries to the Tyrian army; and it is known historically that they supplied them to a still greater extent to the Egyptian army.
All the mingled people, and Chub.—There is the same expression, “mingled people,” in reference to Egypt, in Jeremiah 25:20. In the connection here it may be understood especially of the foreign mercenaries from various quarters in the Egyptian armies. Chub is a name entirely unknown. Various conjectures have been hazarded, and various changes in the text proposed, but none are supported by sufficient evidence. It evidently denotes some ally of Egypt, possibly Nubia.
Men of the land that is in league.—Literally, sons of the land of the covenant. The ancient interpreters, St. Jerome and Theodoret, understood this expression of the Jews who had sought refuge from Nebuchadnezzar in Egypt after the murder of Gedaliah (Jeremiah 42, 43, 44), to whom Jeremiah had expressly prophesied that the sword and famine of which they were afraid should overtake them there (Jeremiah 42:16-18). This interpretation is supported by the translation of the Septuagint, made in Egypt, “land of my covenant.” The objection made to this view, that Palestine is never called “the land of the covenant,” and that this must therefore signify some unknown country in alliance with Egypt at the time, seems rather specious than real. If it happens that this expression is never used of Palestine, yet that was unquestionably the land of the people of the covenant, and a particular expression may very well be used once without occurring again.
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 shall they fall in it by the sword, saith the Lord GOD.(6) From the tower of Syene.—From Migdol to Syene. (See Note on Ezekiel 29:10.)
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.(7) Shall be desolate.—This verse is almost an exact repetition of Ezekiel 29:12.
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.(9) Messengers go forth from me in ships.—Comp. Isaiah 18:1-2. This does not mean the army of Nebuchadnezzar, which did not penetrate into Ethiopia, but the flying Egyptians, who ascend the Nile to seek safety in Ethiopia, and alarm it with the tidings of Egypt’s fall. The “careless” are the secure Ethiopians. “As in the day of Egypt” is a reference to a past event, and can only mean, as in the day of judgment upon Egypt at the Exodus.
And I will make the rivers dry, 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.(12) Make the rivers dry—i.e., the canals of Egypt, by which the land was irrigated, and on which its fertility depended. It may also include the comparative drying, the lessening of the inundation of the Nile, which occurred from time to time, and was the cause of the various famines in Egypt mentioned in Scripture.
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.(13) Noph.—A contraction of Menoph, Memphis, the capital of Lower Egypt, situated in the region of the Pyramids, the seat of several dynasties, one of the chief centres of Egyptian idolatry, and celebrated for its Temple of Ptah.
There shall be no more a prince is to be understood, in accordance with the rest of the prophecy, not absolutely, but relatively: there shall be no more a native prince possessing the power of former kings.
And I will make Pathros desolate, and will set fire in Zoan, and will execute judgments in No.(14) Pathros . . . Zoan . . . No.—For Pathros, see Note on Ezekiel 29:14. Zoan (see Numbers 13:22; Isaiah 19:11) is Tanis, a city of Lower Egypt, on the Tanitic branch of the Nile. No, mentioned again in the next Verse, more fully written No-Amon (Nahum 3:8), is the celebrated Thebes of Upper Egypt, still famous for its ruins at Luxor and Karnac. The mention of these various cities is to make emphatic the universality of the judgment upon the whole land.
And I will pour my fury upon Sin, the strength of Egypt; and I will cut off the multitude of No.(15) Sin is Pelusium, so called from the marshes around it, on the easternmost branch of the Nile, only two-and-a-half miles from the sea. It was the frontier city, strongly fortified, and considered rightly as the key of Egypt, and hence called in the text its “strength.” It is mentioned again in Ezekiel 30:16. The expression, “distresses daily” (literally, by day), applied to Noph (Memphis), is a difficult one; it is understood by many as perpetually, but more probably means distresses in the open day. Its enemies shall make no covert attack, but come upon it boldly.
The young men of Aven and of Pibeseth shall fall by the sword: and these cities shall go into captivity.(17) Of Aven and of Pi-beseth.—Aven is the same as On of Genesis 41:45; Genesis 41:50, and as Bethshemesh (House of the Sun) of Jeremiah 43:13, the Heliopolis of the Greeks, so called because from the remotest times a chief seat of the worship of the sun. The vowel points are slightly changed from On to make Aven, nothingness, often used of idols. Pi-beseth, on the monuments Pi-Pasht—so called from the cat-headed goddess there worshipped—is Bubastis, situated on the canal leading from the Pelusiac branch of the Nile towards Suez.
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.(18) Tehaphnehes.—(Jeremiah 2:16; Jeremiah 43:7-9; Jeremiah 44:1; Jeremiah 46:14.) Otherwise called Tahpanhes; the city Daphne, also a frontier town near Pelusium, strongly fortified. It may be especially mentioned, because the Jews who fled from Palestine through fear of Nebuchadnezzar had taken refuge there (Jeremiah 43, 44).
The yokes of Egypt.—Not the yokes placed upon Egypt, but the tyranny which she exercised over others. The fuller expression, “bands of a yoke,” occurs in Ezekiel 34:27, and also in Leviticus 26:13, the latter in reference to the deliverance of Israel from the bondage of Egypt. It appears from Jeremiah 43:9-10 that there was a royal palace at Tahpanhes, and it was foretold by the prophet that Nebuchadnezzar should there set up his pavilion, and thence smite Egypt. It is correspondingly foretold here that the power of Egypt should there be broken, because this and the neighbouring Pelusium were the frontier fortresses and keys of the land.
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,(20) The eleventh year.—This was the year of the fall of Jerusalem, and the present prophecy (Ezekiel 30:20-26) was uttered a little more than three months and a half before its destruction. Very likely this prophecy had its occasion in the temporary raising of the siege of Jerusalem by Pharaoh-Hophra, and Nebuchadnezzar’s driving him away, the news of which would have been some months in reaching Chaldæa.
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, to make it strong to hold the sword.(21) I have broken.—This is in the perfect tense, and refers to the breaking of the power of Egypt by the former conquests of Assyria, and perhaps especially to the great battle of Carchemish (about twenty years before), in which Egypt received a blow from which she never recovered. The word “roller” would be better understood now if translated bandage.
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.(22) The strong, and that which was broken—i.e., the whole power of Egypt, both in so far as already crippled, and in so far as it still retained strength.
And I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse them through the countries.(23) Will scatter the Egyptians.—Repeated verbally in Ezekiel 30:26. (See Note on Ezekiel 29:12.)