No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Neither shall it be inhabited forty years.—In Ezekiel 29:9-12 a state of desolation is predicted for Egypt, which, if understood in the literal sense of the words, has certainly never been fulfilled. In Ezekiel 29:9 it is said that it “shall be desolate and waste,” and this is repeated with emphasis in Ezekiel 29:10; while in Ezekiel 29:11 it is declared that neither foot of man nor foot of beast shall pass through it. There is also a difficulty in regard to the time of “forty years,” mentioned in Ezekiel 29:11-13. No such definite period can be made out from history. The two difficulties go together, and the former is explained by the latter. It has already been seen in Ezekiel 4:6 that the prophet represents the calamity of Judah in the historic terms of their former suffering in the wilderness, without thereby intending either any specific time or any precise repetition of the same troubles they had then experienced. He does the same thing here in regard to Egypt. The people are to pass into a condition like that of the Israelites in the wilderness, in which they were to endure the judgment of God upon their sins. This is expressed, after the manner of Ezekiel, in strong concrete terms, the literal fulfilment of which was neither intended nor expected.
We have no record of the circumstances of the Chaldsaean invasion of Egypt, but it is possible that it did not take place until after the fall of Tyre. We gather of what nature it must have been by comparing the description of the results of Assyrian conquest (Isaiah 37:25 ff). Minute fulfillment of every detail of prophecy is not to be insisted upon, but only the general fact that Egypt would for a time, described as 40 years, be in a state of collapse. No great stress is to be laid on the exact number of years. The number of years passed in the wilderness became to the Hebrews a significant period of chastisement.
Nebuchadnezzars occupation of Egypt was of no long duration, and his ravages, though severe, must have been partial. Peace with Babylon was favorable to the development of home-works, but since the peace was in truth subjugation, it was hollow and in fact ruinous. Further, it is to be remembered that God fulfils His decree by a gradual rather than an immediate process. The ravages of Nebuchadnezzar were the beginning of the end, and all the desolation which followed may be looked upon as a continuous fulfillment of God's decree. The savage fury with which Cambyses swept over Egypt amply realized all that Ezekiel foretold. Many places recovered some wealth and prosperity, but from the time of Herodotus the kingdom never again became really independent. Egyptian rulers gave place to Persian, Persian to the successors of Alexander the Great, who gave place in turn to Rome. So thoroughly was the prophecy of Ezekiel fulfilled Ezekiel 29:14-15.No foot of man; not strictly to be taken, but in an accommodated sense, or comparatively to what once was, or so little traffic and passing to and fro, that no footsteps or tracks of men were found. It is a Scripture hyperbole, as Luke 19:44 Isaiah 14:31 Ezekiel 26:14,21.
Nor foot of beast; of profitable, useful, and tractable, as sheep, oxen, and horses; but of wild beasts too many are in the desolate places of that part of the world.
Neither shall it be inhabited forty years: accounting these years from the first wastings of Egypt by their civil dissensions and wars, some nine or ten years before Nebuchadnezzar subdued and wasted it, which he did in the thirty-fifth, thirty-sixth, and thirty-seventh years of his reign, or thereabout. So that these forty years will fall in about the thirtieth year of Jeconiah’s captivity, and end with the seventieth year of the captivity, which was the first of Cyrus.
no foot of beast shall pass through it: no droves of sheep and oxen, and such like useful cattle, only beasts of prey should dwell in it:
neither shall it be inhabited forty years: afterwards, Ezekiel 29:17, a prophecy is given out concerning the destruction of it by Nebuchadnezzar, which was in the twenty seventh year, that is, of Jeconiah's captivity; now allowing three years for the fulfilment of that prophecy, or forty years, a round number put for forty three years, they will end about the time that Cyrus conquered Babylon, at which time the seventy years' captivity of the Jews ended; and very likely the captivity of the Egyptians also. The Jews pretend to give a reason why Egypt lay waste just forty years, because the famine, signified in Pharaoh's dream, was to have lasted, as they make it out, forty two years; whereas, according to them, it continued only two years; and, instead of the other forty years of famine, Egypt must be forty years uninhabited: this is mentioned both by Jarchi and Kimchi.No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)11. No foot of man] See Ezekiel 32:13, cf. Ezekiel 33:28, Ezekiel 35:7; Jeremiah 2:6. The desolation of Egypt shall continue forty years, the period of Chaldean supremacy (cf. Ezekiel 4:6).Verse 11. - Neither shall it be inhabited forty years. It need hardly be said that history reveals no such period of devastation. Nor, indeed, would anything but the most prosaic literalism justify us in looking for it. We are dealing with the language of a poet-prophet, which is naturally that of hyperbole, and so the "forty years" stand, as, perhaps, elsewhere (Judges 3:11; Judges 5:31, etc.), for a period of undefined duration, and the picture of a land on which no man or beast sets foot for that of a time of desolation, and consequent cessation of all the customary traffic along the Nile. Such a period, there is reason to believe, did follow on the conquests of Nebuchadnezzar. It is implied in Vers. 17-21, which carry us to a date seventeen years later than that of the verse with which we are now dealing; and also in Jeremiah 43:10-12. Josephus ('Contra Apion,' 1:20) speaks of Nebuchadnezzar as having invaded Libya. The reign of Amasis, which followed on the deposition of Hophra, was one of general prosperity as regards commerce and culture, but Egypt ceased to be one of the great world-powers after the time of Nebuchadnezzar and fell easily into the hands of the Persians under Cambyses. It is noticeable that Ezekiel does not, like Isaiah (Isaiah 19:18-25), connect the future of Egypt with any Messianic expectations.
Ezekiel 28:1. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 28:2. Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Because thy heart has lifted itself up, and thou sayest, "I am a God, I sit upon a seat of Gods, in the heart of the seas," when thou art a man and not God, and cherishest a mind like a God's mind, Ezekiel 28:3. Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; nothing secret is obscure to thee; Ezekiel 28:4. Through thy wisdom and thy understanding hast thou acquired might, and put gold and silver in thy treasuries; Ezekiel 28:5. Through the greatness of thy wisdom hast thou increased thy might by thy trade, and thy heart has lifted itself up on account of thy might, Ezekiel 28:6. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Because thou cherishest a mind like a God's mind, Ezekiel 28:7. Therefore, behold, I will bring foreigners upon thee, violent men of the nations; they will draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and pollute thy splendour. Ezekiel 28:8. They will cast thee down into the pit, that thou mayest die the death of the slain in the heart of the seas. Ezekiel 28:9. Wilt thou indeed say, I am a God, in the face of him that slayeth thee, when thou art a man and not God in the hand of him that killeth thee? Ezekiel 28:10. Thou wilt die the death of the uncircumcised at the hand of foreigners; for I have spoken it, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - This threat of judgment follows in general the same course as those addressed to other nations (compare especially Ezekiel 25), namely, that the sin is mentioned first (Ezekiel 28:2-5), and then the punishment consequent upon the sin (Ezekiel 28:6-10). In Ezekiel 28:12 מלך is used instead of נגיד, dux. In the use of the term נגיד to designate the king, Kliefoth detects an indication of the peculiar position occupied by the prince in the commercial state of Tyre, which had been reared upon municipal foundations; inasmuch as he was not so much a monarch, comparable to the rulers of Bayblon or to the Pharaohs, as the head of the great mercantile aristocracy. This is in harmony with the use of the word נגיד for the prince of Israel, David for example, whom God chose and anointed to be the nâgīd over His people; in other words, to be the leader of the tribes, who also formed an independent commonwealth (vid., 1 Samuel 13:14; 2 Samuel 7:8, etc.). The pride of the prince of Tyre is described in Ezekiel 28:2 as consisting in the fact that he regarded himself as a God, and his seat in the island of Tyre as a God's seat. He calls his seat מושׁב , not "because his capital stood out from the sea, like the palace of God from the ocean of heaven" (Psalm 104:3), as Hitzig supposes; for, apart from any other ground, this does not suit the subsequent description of his seat as God's mountain (Ezekiel 28:16), and God's holy mountain (Ezekiel 28:14). The God's seat and God's mountain are not the palace of the king of Tyre, but Tyre as a state, and that not because of its firm position upon a rocky island, but as a holy island (ἁγία νῆσος, as Tyre is called in Sanchun. ed. Orelli, p. 36), the founding of which has been glorified by myths (vid., Movers, Phoenizier, I pp. 637ff.). The words which Ezekiel puts into the mouth of the king of Tyre may be explained, as Kliefoth has well expressed it, "from the notion lying at the foundation of all natural religions, according to which every state, as the production of its physical factors and bases personified as the native deities of house and state, is regarded as a work and sanctuary of the gods." In Tyre especially the national and political development went hand in hand with the spread and propagation of its religion. "The Tyrian state was the production and seat of its gods. He, the prince of Tyre, presided over this divine creation and divine seat; therefore he, the prince, was himself a god, a manifestation of the deity, having its work and home in the state of Tyre." All heathen rulers looked upon themselves in this light; so that the king of Babylon is addressed in a similar manner in Isaiah 14:13-14. This self-deification is shown to be a delusion in Ezekiel 28:2; He who is only a man makes his heart like a God's heart, i.e., cherishes the same thought as the Gods. לב, the heart, as the seat of the thoughts and imaginations, is named instead of the disposition.
This is carried out still further in Ezekiel 28:3-5 by a description of the various sources from which this imagination sprang. He cherishes a God's mind, because he attributes to himself superhuman wisdom, through which he has created the greatness, and might, and wealth of Tyre. The words, "behold, thou art wiser," etc. (Ezekiel 28:3), are not to be taken as a question, "art thou indeed wiser?" as they have been by the lxx, Syriac, and others; nor are they ironical, as Hvernick supposes; but they are to be taken literally, namely, inasmuch as the prince of Tyre was serious in attributing to himself supernatural and divine wisdom. Thou art, i.e., thou regardest thyself as being, wiser than Daniel. No hidden thing is obscure to thee (עמם, a later word akin to the Aramaean, "to be obscure"). The comparison with Daniel refers to the fact that Daniel surpassed all the magi and wise men of Babylon in wisdom through his ability to interpret dreams, since God gave him an insight into the nature and development of the power of the world, such as no human sagacity could have secured. The wisdom of the prince of Tyre, on the other hand, consisted in the cleverness of the children of this world, which knows how to get possession of all the good things of the earth. Through such wisdom as this had the Tyrian prince acquired power and riches. חיל, might, possessions in the broader sense; not merely riches, but the whole of the might of the commercial state of Tyre, which was founded upon riches and treasures got by trade. In Ezekiel 28:5 בּרכלּתך is in apposition to בּרב הכמתך, and is introduced as explanatory. The fulness of its wisdom showed itself in its commerce and the manner in which it conducted it, whereby Tyre had become rich and powerful. It is not till we reach Ezekiel 28:6 that we meet with the apodosis answering to 'יען גּבהּ וגו in Ezekiel 28:2, which has been pushed so far back by the intervening parenthetical sentences in Ezekiel 28:2-5. For this reason the sin of the prince of Tyre in deifying himself is briefly reiterated in the clause 'יען תּתּך וגו (Ezekiel 28:6, compare Ezekiel 28:2), after which the announcement of the punishment is introduced with a repetition of לכן in Ezekiel 28:7. Wild foes approaching with barbarous violence will destroy all the king's resplendent glory, slay the king himself with the sword, and hurl him down into the pit as a godless man. The enemies are called עריצי גּוים, violent ones of the peoples - that is to say, the wild hordes composing the Chaldean army (cf. Ezekiel 30:11; Ezekiel 31:12). They drew the sword "against the beauty (יפי, the construct state of יפי) of thy wisdom," i.e., the beauty produced by thy wisdom, and the beautiful Tyre itself, with all that it contains (Ezekiel 26:3-4). יפעה, splendour; it is only here and in Ezekiel 28:17 that we meet with it as a noun. The king himself they hurl down into the pit, i.e., the grave, or the nether world. ממותי חלל, the death of a pierced one, substantially the same as מותי ערלים. The plural ממותי and מותי here and Jeremiah 16:4 (mortes) is a pluralis exaggerativus, a death so painful as to be equivalent to dying many times (see the comm. on Isaiah 53:9). In Ezekiel 28:9 Ezekiel uses the Piel מחלּל in the place of the Poel מחולל, as חלל in the Piel occurs elsewhere only in the sense of profanare, and in Isaiah 51:9 and Poel is used for piercing. But there is no necessity to alter the pointing in consequence, as we also find the Pual used by Ezekiel in Ezekiel 32:26 in the place of the Poal of Isaiah 53:5. The death of the uncircumcised is such a death as godless men die - a violent death. The king of Tyre, who looks upon himself as a god, shall perish by the sword like a godless man. At the same time, the whole of this threat applies, not to the one king, Ithobal, who was reigning at the time of the siege of Tyre by the Chaldeans, but to the king as the founder and creator of the might of Tyre (Ezekiel 28:3-5), i.e., to the supporter of that royalty which was to perish along with Tyre itself. - It is to the king, as the representative of the might and glory of Tyre, and not merely to the existing possessor of the regal dignity, that the following lamentation over his fall refers.
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