Ezekiel 29:3
Speak, and say, Thus said the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lies in the middle of his rivers, which has said, My river is my own, and I have made it for myself.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) The great dragon.—This word is usually translated dragon in the English version, but sometimes whale (Ezekiel 32:2), and (in a slightly modified form) serpent (Exodus 7:9-10; Exodus 7:12). It unquestionably means crocodile, the characteristic animal of Egypt, in some parts hated and destroyed, in some worshipped as a deity, but in all alike feared, and regarded as the most powerful and destructive creature of their country.

Lieth in the midst of his rivers.—Egypt, a creation of the Nile, and dependent entirely upon it for its productiveness, is personified by the crocodile, its characteristic animal, basking upon the sand-banks of its waters. The expression “his rivers,” used of the branches of the Nile near its mouth, is peculiarly appropriate to the Twenty-sixth Dynasty, to which Pharaoh-Hophra belonged, whose capital was Sais, in the midst of the Delta.

My river is mine own.—This is characteristic of the pride of Hophra, who, according to Herodotus, was accustomed to say that “not even a god could dispossess him of power.” The whole dynasty to which he belonged, beginning with Psammeticus, improved the river and encouraged commerce with foreign nations, thereby acquiring great wealth.

29:1-16 Worldly, carnal minds pride themselves in their property, forgetting that whatever we have, we received it from God, and should use it for God. Why, then, do we boast? Self is the great idol which all the world worships, in contempt of God and his sovereignty. God can force men out of that in which they are most secure and easy. Such a one, and all that cleave to him, shall perish together. Thus end men's pride, presumption, and carnal security. The Lord is against those who do harm to his people, and still more against those who lead them into sin. Egypt shall be a kingdom again, but it shall be the basest of the kingdoms; it shall have little wealth and power. History shows the complete fulfilment of this prophecy. God, not only in justice, but in wisdom and goodness to us, breaks the creature-stays on which we lean, that they may be no more our confidence.The king is addressed as the embodiment of the state.

Dragon - Here the crocodile, the great monster of the Nile, which was regarded very differently in different parts of Egypt. By some it was worshipped and embalmed after death, and cities were named after it (e. g., in the Arsinoite nome). Others viewed it with the utmost abhorrence. An animal so terrible, so venerated, or so abhorred, was an apt image of the proud Egyptian monarch - the more so, perhaps, because it was in truth less formidable than it appeared, and often became an easy prey to such as assailed it with skill and courage.

Lieth in the midst of his rivers - Sais, the royal city, during the twenty-sixth dynasty was in the Delta, in the very midst of the various branches and canals of the Nile.

My river is mine own ... - It was the common boast of Hophra (Apries), that "not even a god could dispossess him of power." The river was at all times the source of fertility and wealth to Egypt, but especially so to the Saite kings, who had their royal residence on the river, and encouraged contact with foreigners, by whose commerce the kingdom was greatly enriched.

3. dragon—Hebrew, tanim, any large aquatic animal, here the crocodile, which on Roman coins is the emblem of Egypt.

lieth—restest proudly secure.

his rivers—the mouths, branches, and canals of the Nile, to which Egypt owed its fertility.

Thus saith the Lord God; that God that drowned one of thy predecessors with his army, horsemen, and horses in the Red Sea, at whose name thou shouldst tremble, who ever fulfilled his word, and is the same, it is he foretells thee by my mouth what is to be. I am against thee: see Ezekiel 28:22. Pharaoh: see Ezekiel 29:2.

Great; it may refer either to the grandeur of this king, as if he had been Pharaoh the Great, or to the largeness of this creature, to which he is by this hieroglyphic compared.

Dragon: some would have it the whale, but that lies not in rivers, as in his own place: it is surely the crocodile, of which Nilus hath many; and Ezekiel 32:2, our prophet doth, and so Isaiah 51:9, compare the Egyptian king to that devouring serpent, or dragon.

That lieth; not only at rest, but waiting for a prey, which never escapes, if this devourer lay any considerable hold of it.

In the midst of his rivers: Nilus was the chief river of Egypt; but either there were some less rivers that run into Nilus, or some divisions of it, where it made some islands, or the seven mouths of it, where it falls into the sea, which may give the name of rivers to it, or those channels that were cut large and deep, to convey water into the country; in all which these crocodiles bred, and rested, and waited for their prey.

Which hath said; which hath thought, accounted, and boasted; by which it appears the prophet speaks of a dragon in a figurative sense.

My river; kingdom, power, riches, and forces, signified here by a river. All the strength and glory of Egypt are mine, saith this proud king.

Is mine own; at my dispose and will. It is probable that this king of Egypt was an aspiring king, who aimed at absolute power, and thought he had secured it to himself; for the river, the emblem of the kingdom, is mine, saith he. I have made it: this seems to give some credit to the conjecture, that this king had raised the prerogative royal, and done what others before him would, but could not, and therefore assumes it to himself, as his own work, forgetting God, who gives kingdoms, and whose they are.

I have made it for myself; somewhat like the proud boast,

I have built for the glory of my name, Daniel 4:30, and like to meet as sad an end. Speak, and say, thus saith the Lord God,.... The one only, living, and true God, the almighty, eternal, and unchangeable Jehovah, which the gods of Egypt were not:

behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt; who, though so great a king, was not a match for God, yea, nothing in his hands; nor could he stand before him, or contend with him; or,

I am above thee (y); though the king of Egypt was so high above others, and thought so highly of himself, as if he was a god; yet the Lord was higher than he:

the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers; the chief river of Egypt was the Nile, which opened in seven mouths or gates into the sea, and out of which canals were made to water the whole land; and which abounding with rivers and watery places, hence the king of it is compared to a great fish, a dragon or whale, or rather a crocodile, which was a fish very common, and almost peculiar to Egypt; and with which the description here agrees, as Bochart observes; and who also remarks that Pharaoh in the Arabic language signifies a crocodile; and to which he may be compared for his cruel, voracious, and mischievous nature; and is here represented as lying at ease, and rolling himself in the enjoyment of his power, riches, and pleasures:

which hath said, my river is mine own, and I have made it for myself; alluding to the river Nile, which his predecessors had by their wisdom cut out into canals, for the better watering of the land; and which he might have improved, so that it stood in no need of rain, nor of the supplies of other countries, having a sufficiency from its own product; though he chiefly designs his kingdom, which was his own, and he had established it, and made himself great in it; for the last clause may be rendered, either, "I have made it", as the Syriac version, the river Nile, ascribing that to himself which belonged to God; or, "I have made them", the rivers among whom he lay, as the Septuagint and Arabic versions; or, "I have made myself", as the Vulgate Latin version; that is, a great king. So the Targum,

"the kingdom is mine, and I have subdued it.''

Herodotus says of this king, that he was so lifted up with pride, and so secure of his happy state, that he said there was no God could deprive him of his kingdom (z). This proud tyrannical monarch was an emblem of that beast that received his power from the dragon, and who himself spake like one; of the whore of Babylon that sits upon many waters, and boasts of her sovereignty and power, of her wealth and riches, of her ease, peace, pleasure, prosperity, and settled estate, Revelation 13:2.

(y) "super te", Montanus. (z) Herodot. Euterpe, sive l. 2. c. 169. & l. 11. c. 163.

Speak, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great {b} dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, My river is my own, and I have made it for myself.

(b) He compares Pharaoh to a dragon which hides himself in the Nile river, as in Isa 51:9.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. the great dragon] i.e. the crocodile. Conversely the present Arabs with some humour name the crocodile “Pharaoh.”

midst of his rivers] The Nile arms and canals.

My river is mine] The Nile. The prophet is well aware what the Nile is to Egypt, and he represents Pharaoh, who, just like the prince of Tyre, is the impersonation of the spirit and disposition of the people of Egypt, as equally well aware. The Nile is the life and the wealth of the land. And Pharaoh in his pride claims to be the creator, the author of it. To the prophet’s profoundly religious mind this is blasphemous arrogance.

made it for myself] A peculiar construction, but not impossible, cf. Zechariah 7:5.Verse 3. - The great dragon. The word is cognate with that used in Genesis 1:21 for the great "whales," monsters of the deep. The "dragon," probably the crocodile of the Nile (compare the description of "leviathan" in Job 41.) had come to be the received prophetic symbol of Egypt (Psalm 74:13; Isaiah 27:1; Isaiah 51:9). The rivers are the Nile-branches of the Delta. My river is mine own. The words probably imply that Hophra, like his grandfather Necho, in his plan of a canal from the Nile to the Red Sea, had given much time and labor to irrigation works in Lower Egypt. The boast which rose to his lips reminds us of that of Nebuchadnezzar as he looked on Babylon (Daniel 4:30). He, like the kings of Tyre and Babylon, was tempted to a self-apotheosis, and thought of himself as the Creator of his own power. The words of Herodotus (2. 169), in which he says that Apries believed himself so firmly established in his kingdom that there was no god that could cast him out of it, present a suggestive parallel. Fall of the Prince of Tyre

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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