Ezekiel 17:17
Neither shall Pharaoh with his mighty army and great company make for him in the war, by casting up mounts, and building forts, to cut off many persons:
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(17) By casting up mounts.—This translation implies that “the casting up mounts and building forts” were to be the act of Pharaoh; but such things are done not by the relieving, but by the besieging army. A better translation would be, “when they cast up mounts,” &c.—i.e., at the time of the siege. We learn from Jeremiah 44:30 that the particular Pharaoh here referred to was Hophra, the Apries of the Greeks. In Jeremiah 37:5-11, it is said that an Egyptian army did come up and temporarily raise the siege of Jerusalem; but it was of no avail. Pharaoh did him no good—did not “make for him in the war.” The Chaldæans speedily returned, drove away the Egyptians, and renewed the siege, finally capturing and burning the city.

17:11-21 The parable is explained, and the particulars of the history of the Jewish nation at that time may be traced. Zedekiah had been ungrateful to his benefactor, which is a sin against God. In every solemn oath, God is appealed to as a witness of the sincerity of him that swears. Truth is a debt owing to all men. If the professors of the true religion deal treacherously with those of a false religion, their profession makes their sin the worse; and God will the more surely and severely punish it. The Lord will not hold those guiltless who take his name in vain; and no man shall escape the righteous judgment of God who dies under unrepented guilt.To cast up mounts and build forts - was the business not of the relieving but of the besieging army. Translate it: when men cast up mounts and build forts to destroy many persons. 17. Pharaoh—Pharaoh-hophra (Jer 37:7; 44:30), the successor of Necho (2Ki 23:29).

Neither … make for him—literally, "effect (anything) with him," that is, be of any avail to Zedekiah. Pharaoh did not act in concert with him, for he was himself compelled to retire to Egypt.

by casting up mounts, &c.—So far from Pharaoh doing so for Jerusalem, this was what Nebuchadnezzar did against it (Jer 52:4). Calvin Maurer, &c., refer it to Nebuchadnezzar, "when Nebuchadnezzar shall cast up mounts."

Let his army be made up of ever so many well-disciplined soldiers, if as many as the Egyptian can vainly promise, or the Jews more vainly hope. Great company possibly may refer to the multitudes which usually attended the march of armies, or else it is a doubling the thing in doubled words.

Make for him: if Zedekiah be the person, as our version carrieth it, it foretells the unprofitableness of the Egyptian army, that shall not do him any kindness. If Nebuchadnezzar be intended, as the version which renders the Hebrew particle against, then it foretells the little hurt that the Egyptians shall do to Nebuchadnezzar.

By casting up mounts; when Nebuchadnezzar shall with so much speed and skill east up forts and build mounts, wooden castles, to annoy Jerusalem, secure his own forces, and terrify the Egyptian king from the difficulty of raising the siege, which could not be done without expense of much blood.

To cut off many persons, of the besieged in Jerusalem, and of the Egyptians, if they attempt to raise the siege; this sense it bears in the French version.

Neither shall Pharaoh, with his mighty army and great company,

make for him in the war,.... The king of Egypt, to whom Zedekiah applied for horses and men to help him; though he should come with a great army, and a large multitude of people, yet should be of no use to Zedekiah, nor do any hurt to Nebuchadnezzar, or hinder him from taking Jerusalem:

by casting up mounts, and building forts, to cut off many persons; that is, when Nebuchadnezzar should besiege Jerusalem, and raise mounts, and build fortifications, in order to take the city, and destroy its inhabitants; as he did, Jeremiah 52:4; the Egyptian army should not be able to hinder him going on with the siege, and taking the city; for though the siege was broke up for a time, upon the approach of Pharaoh's army, yet Nebuchadnezzar, having conquered the Egyptians, returned again to the siege of Jerusalem, and took it; see Jeremiah 37:5.

Neither shall Pharaoh with his mighty army and great company make for him in the war, by casting up mounts, and building forts, to cut off many persons:
17. The aid of Pharaoh shall be in vain; cf. Jeremiah 37:5, and the pathetic references to the hopes and disappointments of the besieged during the last days of Jerusalem in Lamentations 4:17.

On “mounts,” &c., cf. ch. Ezekiel 4:2.

Verse 17. - By casting up mounts, etc.; better, with the Revised Version, when they cast up mounts. The words describe the strategical operations, not of the Egyptians against the Chaldeans, but of the Chaldeans, when they recovered from their first alarm, against Jerusalem (2 Kings 25:1; Jeremiah 39:1). The Egyptians, Ezekiel predicts, would be powerless to prevent that second and decisive siege. In vers. 18, 19 the prophet emphasizes the fact that this would be the just punishment of Zedekiah's perfidy. Ezekiel 17:17Interpretation of the Riddle

Ezekiel 17:11. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 17:12. Say to the refractory race: Do ye not know what this is? Say, Behold, the king of Babel came to Jerusalem and took its king and its princes, and brought them to himself to Babel. Ezekiel 17:13. And he took of the royal seed, and made a covenant with him, and caused him to enter into an oath; and he took the strong ones of the land: Ezekiel 17:14. That it might be a lowly kingdom, not to lift itself up, that he might keep his covenant, that it might stand. Ezekiel 17:15. But he rebelled against him by sending his messengers to Egypt, that it might give him horses and much people. Will he prosper? will he that hath done this escape? He has broken the covenant, and should he escape? Ezekiel 17:16. As I live, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, surely in the place of the king, who made him king, whose oath he despised, and whose covenant he broke with him, in Babel he will die. Ezekiel 17:17. And not with great army and much people will Pharaoh act with him in the war, when they cast up a rampart and build siege-towers, to cut off many souls. Ezekiel 17:18. He has despised an oath to break the covenant, and, behold, he has given his hand and done all this; he will not escape. Ezekiel 17:19. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, As I live, surely my oath which he has despised, and my covenant which he has broken, I will give upon his head. Ezekiel 17:20. I will spread out my net over him, so that he will be taken in my snare, and will bring him to Babel, and contend with him there on account of his treachery which he has been guilty of towards me. Ezekiel 17:21. And all his fugitives in all his regiments, by the sword will they fall, and those who remain will be scattered to all winds; and ye shall see that I Jehovah have spoken it.

In Ezekiel 17:12-17 the parable in Ezekiel 17:2-10 is interpreted; and in Ezekiel 17:19-21 the threat contained in the parable is confirmed and still further expanded. We have an account of the carrying away of the king, i.e., Jehoiachin, and his princes to Babel in 2 Kings 24:11., Jeremiah 24:1, and Jeremiah 29:2. The king's seed (זרע המּלוּכה, Ezekiel 17:13, as in Jeremiah 41:1 equals זרע המּלך, 1 Kings 11:14) is Jehoiachin's uncle Mattaniah, whom Nebuchadnezzar made king under the name of Zedekiah (2 Kings 24:17), and from whom he took an oath of fealty (2 Chronicles 36:13). The strong of the land (אילי equals אוּלי, 2 Kings 24:15), whom Nebuchadnezzar took (לקח), i.e., took away to Babel, are not the heads of tribes and families (2 Kings 24:15); but the expression is used in a wide sense for the several classes of men of wealth, who are grouped together in 2 Kings 24:14 under the one term כּל־גּבּורי ח (אנשׁי חיל, 2 Kings 24:16), including masons, smiths, and carpenters (2 Kings 24:14 and 2 Kings 24:16), whereas the heads of tribes and families are classed with the court officials (סריסים, 2 Kings 24:15) under the title שׂריה (princes) in Ezekiel 17:12. The design of these measures was to make a lowly kingdom, which could not raise itself, i.e., could not revolt, and to deprive the vassal king of the means of breaking of the covenant. the suffix attached to לעמדהּ is probably to be taken as referring to ממלכה rather than בּריתי, although both are admissible, and would yield precisely the same sense, inasmuch as the stability of the kingdom was dependent upon the stability of the covenant. But Zedekiah rebelled (2 Kings 24:20). The Egyptian king who was to give Zedekiah horses and much people, in other words, to come to his assistance with a powerful army of cavalry and fighting men, was Hophrah, the Apries of the Greeks, according to Jeremiah 44:30 (see the comm. on 2 Kings 24:19-20). היצלח points back to תּצלח in Ezekiel 17:9; but here it is applied to the rebellious king, and is explained in the clause 'הימּלט וגו. The answer is given in Ezekiel 17:16 as a word of God confirmed by a solemn oath: he shall die in Babel, the capital of the king, who placed him on the throne, and Pharaoh will not render him any effectual help (Ezekiel 17:17). עשׂה אותו, as in Ezekiel 15:1-8 :59, to act with him, that is to say, assist him, come to his help. אותו refers to Zedekiah, not to Pharaoh, as Ewald assumes in an inexplicable manner. For 'שׁפך סללה , compare Ezekiel 4:2; and for the fact itself, Jeremiah 34:21-22, and Jeremiah 37:5, according to which, although an Egyptian army came to the rescue of Jerusalem at the time when it was besieged by the Chaldeans, it was repulsed by the Chaldeans who marched to meet it, without having rendered any permanent assistance to the besieged.

In Ezekiel 17:18, the main thought that breach of faith can bring no deliverance is repeated for the sake of appending the further expansion contained in Ezekiel 17:19-21. נתן ידו, he gave his hand, i.e., as a pledge of fidelity. The oath which Zedekiah swore to the king of Babel is designated in Ezekiel 17:19 as Jehovah's oath (אלתי), and the covenant made with him as Jehovah's covenant, because the oath had been sworn by Jehovah, and the covenant of fidelity towards Nebuchadnezzar had thereby been made implicite with Jehovah Himself; so that the breaking of the oath and covenant became a breach of faith towards Jehovah. Consequently the very same expressions are used in Ezekiel 17:16, Ezekiel 17:18, and Ezekiel 17:19, to designate this breach of oath, which are applied in Ezekiel 16:59 to the treacherous apostasy of Jerusalem (Israel) from Jehovah, the covenant God. And the same expressions are used to describe the punishment as in Ezekiel 12:13-14. נשׁפּט אתּו is construed with the accusative of the thing respecting which he was to be judged, as in 1 Samuel 12:7. Jehovah regards the treacherous revolt from Nebuchadnezzar as treachery against Himself (מעל); not only because Zedekiah had sworn the oath of fidelity by Jehovah, but also from the fact that Jehovah had delivered up His people and kingdom into the power of Nebuchadnezzar, so that revolt from him really became rebellion against God. את before כּל־מברחו is nota accus., and is used in the sense of quod adtinet ad, as, for example, in 2 Kings 6:5. מברחו, his fugitives, is rendered both by the Chaldee and Syriac "his brave men," or "heroes," and is therefore identified with מבחרו (his chosen ones), which is the reading in some manuscripts. But neither these renderings nor the parallel passage in Ezekiel 12:14, where סביבותיו apparently corresponds to it, will warrant our adopting this explanation, or making any alteration in the text. The Greek versions have πάσας φυγαδείας αὐτοῦ; Theodoret: ἐν πάσαις ταῖς φυγαδείαις αὐτοῦ; the Vulgate: omnes profugi ejus; and therefore they all had the reading מברחו, which also yields a very suitable meaning. The mention of some who remain, and who are to be scattered toward all the winds, is not at variance with the statement that all the fugitives in the wings of the army are to fall by the sword. The latter threat simply declares that no one will escape death by flight. But there is no necessity to take those who remain as being simply fighting men; and the word "all" must not be taken too literally.

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