Therefore thus said the Lord GOD; Behold, I will give the land of Egypt to Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon; and he shall take her multitude, and take her spoil, and take her prey; and it shall be the wages for his army.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)I will give.—In the original this is in the form of a participle; literally, I am giving. This form is often used of the future, but with especial appropriateness of the immediate future. The other tenses, according to the Hebrew usage, take the temporal meaning of the principal verb. This seems probably to have been spoken at the very time of Nebuchadnezzar’s campaign and conquest. On the evidence that he did actually conquer Egypt, see Excursus at the end of the book. He must have there found abundant booty, as the kings of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty were commercial, and greatly given to the accumulation of wealth.
EXCURSUS E: ON CHAPTER 29:19.—ON NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S CONQUEST OF EGYPT.
The fact of this conquest having been called in question, it may be well to state very briefly the points of evidence in its favour. It is admitted by all that Pharaoh-Hophra was dethroned, and died a violent death, and was succeeded by Amasis, who was at first little regarded by the people, though he afterwards won their confidence. The account given of this revolution by the Egyptian priests to Herodotus makes no mention of any foreign interference, but represents it as wholly an internal affair, caused by a revolt of the troops of Hophra, He sent Amasis to them to bring them back to their allegiance, but they saluted him as king. This authority is suspicious, since the priests were prone to cover up whatever they considered against the honour of their country; and the two facts of the popularity of Amasis with the troops and his unpopularity with the people are scarcely consistent, since it is said that he spared Hophra for a time, but afterwards, yielding to the wishes of the people, strangled him. Now against this suspicious and interested story stands the much more probable supposition that Hophra was dethroned and Amasis put into his place by the power of Nebuchadnezzar. Megasthenes and Berosus, according to Josephus, expressly testify that “Nebuchadnezzar conquered a great part of Africa, and having invaded Egypt, took many captives, who were committed to the charge of persons appointed to conduct them after him to Babylon.” This conquest, according to the dates already given, must be placed just at the time of the fall of Hophra. Besides this, there is a very full prophecy of the conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 46), uttered in the first year of his reign (comp. Jeremiah 46:1 with Jeremiah 25:1). But Jeremiah was himself afterwards carried into Egypt, and while there uttered other prophecies to the same effect (Jeremiah 43, 44). It is altogether probable that he was still living there at the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s expedition; and, on the lowest grounds, it is inconceivable that he should have allowed these various prophecies to remain on record if they had been proved false by the event. The same thing substantially may be said also of the present prophecy of Ezekiel, and of that in Ezekiel 30:10, although the prophet was not, like Jeremiah, living where he could be an eye-witness of the result of the attack. Other prophecies against Egypt (Isaiah 18, 19, 31; Joel 3:19) are more general, and may not have in view this particular conquest.
Again, Ezekiel represents Egypt as spoiled by Nebuchadnezzar, while both ancient history and the monuments describe the country as rich and prosperous under Amasis. There is really no inconsistency, but entire harmony between these accounts. The great drain upon the resources of Egypt for many generations had been her foreign wars with the powers of Mesopotamia. Relieved of this, and at peace with Nebuchadnezzar, under the government of his vassal, Egypt would soon have recovered her prosperity in wealth and art, while still politically desolated and no longer able to appear as a great power among the nations. From this time through all subsequent history Egypt was a base kingdom, and never again able to dispute, as in former days, the sovereignty of the world.
There is an apparent difficulty about the date of this conquest, alluded to under Ezekiel 29:17. The prophecy of Ezekiel is in the future, and yet was spoken in the thirty-fifth year of Nebuchadnezzar (the twenty-seventh from the accession of Zedekiah). Now, Jerusalem was taken in his nineteenth year (2Kings 25:8). and an interval of sixteen years seems, at first sight, inconsistent with the statement of Josephus. But if that statement be examined, it will be found to be entirely indefinite (see under Ezekiel 29:17), and it is hardly to be supposed that Nebuchadnezzar would have undertaken the conquest of Egypt while still engaged in the siege of Tyre; in fact, Ezekiel 29:18-19 distinctly imply that the one was subsequent to the other. Now, the siege of Tyre appears to have been begun about two years after the capture of Jerusalem, and lasted thirteen years. It closed then fifteen years after the destruction of Jerusalem, and supposing the campaign against Egypt to have followed immediately, in the next year, we get the exact date of this prophecy. (For the references to Josephus, see Antiqq., Bk. x., cap. ix., § 7; Cont. Ap., Bk. 1, § 19, 20.)Ezekiel 29:19-20. He shall take her multitude, and take her spoil — Nebuchadnezzar and his army shall have the captives and spoil of Egypt, which they shall utterly pillage and lay waste. Because they wrought for me, saith the Lord — The destruction of cities and countries is a work of God’s providence, for the effecting of which he makes use of kings and princes as his instruments. Upon this account he calls Nebuchadnezzar his servant, Jeremiah 25:9, because he wrought for him, as it is here expressed, that is, executed his judgments upon Tyre, and the other cities and countries which God had delivered into his hands. Though Nebuchadnezzar was actuated by his own ambition to make the conquest of Tyre, yet, because in doing it he had executed God’s purposes, and that which was pleasing to him, in humbling the Tyrians, therefore God here declares that he should not go without a reward; for that he would give him the spoil of Egypt, which nation was ripe for punishment. If God is so gracious as to reward those who do but execute his designs accidentally, not intentionally, how much reason have we to expect that he will most amply reward those who intentionally obey his will!
take her spoil … prey—literally, "spoil her spoil, prey her prey," that is, as she spoiled other nations, so shall she herself be a spoil to Babylon.I will give the land of Egypt: yet it is certain that the discontents of Egypt gave occasion, and the revolts of some of the subjects from Hophra, or Apries, and their inviting Nebuchadnezzar, gave him Egypt; but these were the irregularities of men, which God did wisely and justly manage to effect what he designed, and God gave, and men gave too; as the ten tribes gave, so God gave, the kingdom to Jeroboam; so the first cause and second causes produce the same effect. Her multitude; common people, who shall be made captives by the power of the conqueror, and servants or slaves next by the will of those that buy them of the soldier.
Her spoil: much of the Egyptian riches were the spoil of other nations, or the spoils of one another in the late civil wars between Pharaoh-hophra and Areasis; and now their dishonest gains shall be a prey to Babylonians.
Her prey; that which was once another’s possession, whilst right prevailed; but became a prey when Egypt’s power mastered the possessors.
The wages for his army: his army could not have plunder of Tyre, because it was surrendered on terms, but now they shall, and this shall be their prey.
behold, I will give the land of Egypt to Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon; which will make him a sufficient recompence for his loss of time, men, and money, before Tyre; and though the conquest of Egypt was made easy to him, by the internal divisions and wars which were among the Egyptians; yet these were suffered, and ordered by the providence of God, to bring about this his will, by way of righteous punishment of the Egyptians, for their treachery to his people, and other sins:
and he shall take her multitude, of soldiers, and of inhabitants, and carry them captive:
and take her spoil, and take her prey; that which the Egyptians had spoiled other nations of and made a prey of that should now become the spoil and prey of the Chaldeans:
and it shall be the wages for his army; with this the king of Babylon would be able to pay off the arrears of his army; which had lain so long against Tyre; or this would be a recompence to them for all the hardships they there sustained.Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will give the land of Egypt unto Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon; and he shall take her multitude, and take her spoil, and take her prey; and it shall be the wages for his army.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)19. take her multitude] i.e. carry away. Others: her wealth, or abundance, but wrongly, cf. Ezekiel 30:4; Ezekiel 30:10; Ezekiel 30:15, Ezekiel 31:2; Ezekiel 31:18. The words rather disturb the vigorous “spoil her spoil” (Ezekiel 38:12-13), and are wanting in LXX.Verse 19. - Behold I give the land of Egypt, etc. For this disappointment, Ezekiel, writing, so to speak, the postscript which he incorporates with his earlier oracles, promises compensation. Egypt, as he had said seventeen years before, should be conquered, and its cities plundered, and so there should be wages enough for the whole thirteen years of fruitless labor in the siege of Tyre. In that labor, the prophet adds (Ver. 20), they, though they knew it not, had been working out the will of the Supreme. They also had been servants of Jehovah, as Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:9) had described Nebuchadnezzar himself.
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