Thus was he fair in his greatness, in the length of his branches: for his root was by great waters.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Fair; beautiful, lovely, and desirable. In his greatness; not exerted in tyranny and oppression, but exercised in the royal art of imitating the greatest and best being who is King over all, for he doth good to all.
In the length of his branches; how far soever remote, yet the justice and goodness of the government appeared the beauty of those provinces, as well as of the whole kingdom.
His root, whence he sprung, which supported and supplied the kingdom, was right, the laws, punishments, rewards, and encouragements neither founded in cruelty, nor maintained by violence.
By great waters; not by blood, which is no proper kindly nourishment for such cedars, but by waters, which are kindly and proper, and these great enough for his own growth and to nourish others too.
in the length of his branches; in the extent of his empire, and the provinces of it:
for his root was by great waters; his kingdom was well established, firmly rooted among a multitude of people; from whom he had a large revenue to support his throne and government, and the dignity of it; by tribute, taxes, customs, and presents; and through the large trade and traffic of his subjects in different parts, from whence he received great profit and advantage. The Targum is,Thus was he fair in his greatness, in the length of his branches: for his root was by great waters.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ezekiel 29:17. In the seven and twentieth year, in the first (moon), on the first of the moon, the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 29:18. Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, has made his army perform hard work at Tyre: every head is bald, and every shoulder grazed, and no wages have been given to him and to his army from Tyre for the work which he performed against it. Ezekiel 29:19. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I give Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, the land of Egypt, that he may carry away its possessions, and plunder its plunder, and make booty of its booty, and this may be the wages of his army. Ezekiel 29:20. As the pay for which he worked, I give him the land of Egypt, because they did it for me, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Ezekiel 29:21. In that day will I cause a horn to sprout to the house of Israel, and I will open the mouth for thee in the midst of them; and they shall know that I am Jehovah. - This brief prophecy concerning Egypt was uttered about seventeen years after the preceding word of God, and was the latest of all the predictions of Ezekiel that are supplied with dates. But notwithstanding its brevity, it is not to be taken in connection with the utterance which follows in Ezekiel 30:1-19 so as to form one prophecy, as Hitzig supposes. This is at variance not only with the formula in Ezekiel 30:1, which is the usual introduction to a new word of God, but also with Ezekiel 29:21 of the present chapter, which is obviously intended to bring the previous word of God to a close. This termination, which is analogous to the closing words of the prophecies against Tyre and Sidon in Ezekiel 28:25-26, also shows that the present word of God contains the last of Ezekiel's prophecies against the Egyptian world-power, and that the only reason why the prophet did not place it at the end when collecting his prophecies - that is to say, after Ezekiel 32 - was, that the promise in v. 30, that the Lord would cause a horn to bud to the house of Israel, contained the correlate to the declaration that Egypt was henceforth to be but a lowly kingdom. Moreover, this threat of judgment, which is as brief as it is definite, was well fitted to prepare the way and to serve as an introduction for the more elaborate threats which follow. The contents of the prophecy, namely, the assurance that God would give Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar as spoil in return for the hard labour which he and his army had performed at Tyre, point to the time immediately following the termination of the thirteen years' siege of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar. If we compare with this the date given in Ezekiel 29:17, the siege was brought to a close in the twenty-seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin, i.e., b.c. 572, and must therefore have commenced in the year b.c. 586, or about two years after the destruction of Jerusalem, and with this the extract given by Josephus (c. Ap. i. 21) from the Tyrian annals agrees.
(Note: For the purpose of furnishing the proof that the temple at Jerusalem lay in ruins for fifty years, from the time of its destruction till the commencement of its rebuilding, Josephus gives in the passage referred to above the years of the several reigns of the kings and judges of Tyre from Ithobal to Hirom, in whose reign Cyrus took the kingdom; from which it is apparent that fifty years elapsed from the commencement of the siege of Tyre to the fourteenth year of Hirom, in which Cyrus began to reign. At the same time, the seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar is given by mistake instead of the seventeenth or nineteenth as the date of the beginning of the siege. (Compare on this point Movers, Phnizier, II 1, pp. 437ff.; M. v. Niebuhr, Gesch. Assurs u. Bab. pp. 106ff.; and M. Duncker, Gesch. des Altert. I p. ))
העביד עבדה, to cause a work to be executed, or service to be rendered. This labour was so severe, that every head was bald and every shoulder grazed. These words have been correctly interpreted by the commentators, even by Ewald, as referring to the heavy burdens that had to be carried in order to fill up the strait which separated Insular Tyre from the mainland. They confirm what we have said above, in the remarks on Ezekiel 26:10 and elsewhere, concerning the capture of Tyre.
But neither he nor his army had received any recompense for their severe toil. This does not imply that Nebuchadnezzar had been unable to accomplish the work which he had undertaken, i.e., to execute his design and conquer the city, but simply that he had not received the recompense which he expected after this severe labour; in other words, had not found the booty he hoped for when the city was taken (see the introductory remarks on Ezekiel 26-28). To compensate him for this, the Lord will give him the land of Egypt with its possessions as booty, ונשׂא המנהּ, that he may carry off the abundance of its possessions, its wealth; not that he may lead away the multitude of its people (De Wette, Kliefoth, etc.), for "נשׂא is not the appropriate expression for this" (Hitzig). המון, abundance of possessions, as in Isaiah 60:5; Psalm 37:16, etc. פּעלּה, the doing of a thing; then that which is gained by working, the recompense for labour, as in Leviticus 19:13 and other passages. אשׁר עשׂוּ is taken by Hitzig as referring to the Egyptians, and rendered, "in consequence of that which they have done to me." But although אשׁר may be taken in this sense (vid., Isaiah 65:18), the arguments employed by Hitzig in opposition to the ordinary rendering - "for they (Nebuchadnezzar and his army) have done it for me," i.e., have performed their hard work at Tyre for me and by my commission - have no force whatever. This use of עשׂה is thoroughly established by Genesis 30:30; and the objection which he raises, namely, that "the assertion that Nebuchadnezzar besieged Tyre in the service of Jehovah could only have been properly made by Ezekiel in the event of the city having been really conquered," is out of place, for this simple reason, that the assumption that the city was not taken is a mere conjecture; and even if the conjecture could be sustained, the siege itself might still be a work undertaken in the service of Jehovah. And the principal argument, namely, "that we should necessarily expect עשׂה (instead of עשׂוּ), inasmuch as with עשׂוּ every Hebrew reader would inevitably take אשׁר as referring to מצרים," is altogether wide of the mark; for מצרים does not signify the Egyptians in this passage, but the land of Egypt alone is spoken of both in the verse before us and throughout the oracle, and for this עשׂוּ is quite unsuitable, whereas the context suggests in the most natural way the allusion to Nebuchadnezzar and his army. But what is absolutely decisive is the circumstance that the thought itself, "in consequence of what the Egyptians have done to me," i.e., what evil they have done, is foreign to, if not at variance with, all the prophecies of Ezekiel concerning Egypt. For the guilt of Egypt and its Pharaoh mentioned by Ezekiel is not any crime against Jehovah, but simply Pharaoh's deification of himself, and the treacherous nature of the help which Egypt afforded to Israel. ליהוה equals עשׂה לי is not the appropriate expression for this, in support of which assertion we might point to עשׂוּ לי in Ezekiel 23:38. - Ezekiel 29:21. On that day, namely, when the judgment upon Egypt is executed by Nebuchadnezzar, the Lord will cause a horn to sprout or grow to the house (people) of Israel. The horn is a symbol of might and strength, by which the attacks of foreigners are warded off. By the overthrow of Judah the horn of Israel was cut off (Lamentations 2:3; compare also Jeremiah 48:25). In עצמיח קרן the promise coincides, so far as the words are concerned, with Psalm 132:17; but it also points back to the prophetic words of the godly Hannah in 1 Samuel 2:1, "My horn is exalted in Jehovah, my mouth hath opened itself wide over my enemies," and is Messianic in the broader sense of the word. The horn which the Lord will cause to sprout to the people of Israel is neither Zerubbabel nor the Messiah, but the Messianic salvation. The reason for connecting this promise of salvation for Israel with the overthrow of the power of Egypt, as Hvernick has observed, is that "Egypt presented itself to the prophet as the power in which the idea of heathenism was embodied and circumscribed." In the might of Egypt the world-power is shattered, and the overthrow of the world-power is the dawn of the unfolding of the might of the kingdom of God. Then also will the Lord give to His prophet an opening of the mouth in the midst of Israel. These words are unquestionably connected with the promise of God in Ezekiel 24:26-27, that after the fall of Jerusalem the mouth of Ezekiel should be opened, and also with the fulfilment of that promise in Ezekiel 33:22; but they have a much more comprehensive meaning, namely, that with the dawn of salvation in Israel, i.e., in the church of the Lord, the word of prophecy would sound forth in the richest measure, inasmuch as, according to Joel (Ezekiel 2:1-10), a universal outpouring of the Spirit of God would then take place. In this light Theodoret is correct in his remark, that "through Ezekiel He signified the whole band of prophets." But Kliefoth has quite mistaken the meaning of the words when he discovers in them the thought that "God would then give the prophet a new word of God concerning both Egypt and Israel, and that this is contained in the oracle in Ezekiel 30:1-19." Such a view as this is proved at once to be false, apart from other grounds, by the expression בּתוכם (in the midst of them), which cannot be taken as applying to Egypt and Israel, but can only refer to בּית ישׂראל, the house of Israel.
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