It came to pass also in the twelfth year, in the fifteenth day of the month, that the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The fifteenth day of the month.—The month itself is not mentioned, but since the previous prophecy was in the twelfth, or last month of the year, this must be in the same. There was thus an interval of just fourteen days between them. This dirge, which occupies the rest of the chapter, is to be compared with Isaiah 14, on which it is evidently founded.Ezekiel 32:17-18. It came to pass, in the fifteenth day of the month — Namely, of the month before mentioned, which was a few days after the time of the preceding revelation. The word of the Lord came unto me — Giving me further directions how to improve the fall of Egypt. Song of Solomon of man, wail for the multitude of Egypt — Prepare the funeral ceremonies at the burial of Egypt, and compose an elegy suitable to the sad occasion. Bishop Lowth observes, that “this prophetic ode is a master-piece in that species of writing which is appropriated to the exciting terror.” And cast them down, even her, &c. — Houbigant renders this clause, And thrust them down with the daughters of the nations; thrust them down to the lower parts of the earth, to those who are gone down to the lake. And he observes, that “the prophet is commanded to thrust the Egyptians down to the shades below; that is, to exhibit, by an hypotyposis, familiar with the prophets, the ruin of the Egyptians, similar to the ruin of the people who have been destroyed and gone down to the regions of the dead.” The reader will observe that this figure of speech is a representation of things painted in such strong and bright colours as may cause the imagination of the hearers to conceive of them rather as present to their view than described in words. Such is the representation which the prophet here gives of the calamities of the Egyptians. The expressions, Unto the nether parts of the earth, with them that go down into the pit, denote utter destruction, and are parallel to those elsewhere used, of being brought down to hell, to the grave, or into silence. The Egyptians affected to be buried in their pyramids, and their kings, princes, and nobles would be laid by themselves, but Ezekiel provides them their graves among common people, to lie just where they fell.Ezekiel 32:17-32. A funeral dirge founded on Ezekiel 31:18. The figure is the same as in Isaiah 14, where see the notes. In this dirge Pharaoh is especially addressed. The other nations are represented by their kings, the nations' overthrow being depicted by the king's body laid low in the grave.
The month - i. e., the twelfth (see Ezekiel 32:1).
the month—the twelfth month (Eze 32:1); fourteen days after the former vision.In the twelfth year: see Ezekiel 32:1.
The fifteenth day; about the 19th of February new style, or the 1st of March old style.
in the fifteenth day of the month; of the twelfth month, the month Adar, which is not here expressed, because mentioned before, Ezekiel 32:1, it was about a fortnight after the other prophecy. The Septuagint and Arabic versions read it,
"it came to pass in the twelfth year, the first month, the fifteenth day of the month;''It came to pass also in the twelfth year, in the fifteenth day of the month, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)17. The month is not specified, but presumably the same month as that named in Ezekiel 32:1 is intended, the twelfth. The present passage would in that case date a fortnight later than Ezekiel 32:1-16. LXX. reads first month of twelfth year; if this reading were followed the year in Ezekiel 32:1 must be read eleventh (with Syr.).
17–32. Dirge sung at the interment of Egypt and its multitude
Several things are observable in this remarkable passage:
1. It is a funeral dirge primarily over the multitude or nation of Egypt; and so in the case of the other nations referred to, Asshur, Elam and the rest. These peoples are all gone down to Sheòl, uncircumcised, slain with the sword. There in the world of the dead each people has an abode to itself. Around one chief grave the graves of the general mass are gathered. The chief grave is probably that of the prince, though the prince is considered the genius, the embodiment of the spirit and being of the nation. The prophet regards the nations, even when no more existing on earth, as still having a subsistence in the world of the dead (cf. on Sodom, ch. 14). They are beings, who, having once lived, continue throughout all time. Though passed from the stage of history they still subsist in Sheòl. This idea of the continued existence, not of individuals only but of nationalities, suggests a conception of the meaning of history upon the earth which is not only weird but almost disturbing.
2. The prophet uses two words for the world of the dead, “the pit” and Sheòl. The former name seems suggested by the grave, which is regarded as the entrance to Sheòl, and indicates what kind of place Sheòl is. It is a vast burying-place, deep in the earth, and full of graves. The nationalities spoken of have, like Egypt, all fallen by the sword, and the scene on earth is transferred to the world below. The nation and its prince are represented as slain on the battle-field, and the graves that crowd the field, the prince or genius of the nation in the midst, and those of the multitude around, are let down so to speak into Sheòl beneath, where they abide. This scene of overthrow, the final experience of the nation on earth, expresses the meaning of the nation’s history and the verdict of God upon it, and it is consequently transferred to the world of the dead and made eternal. In this respect the idea of the prophet in regard to nations coincides with the general view of the Old Testament regarding individuals; the judgment of God regarding a man’s life becomes manifest at the close of it on earth, and the state of death but perpetuates the manner of the end of life.
3. For, of course, the prophet desires to express by his representation a moral truth. The nations which he mentions are those that have come into conflict with Israel, although their sin is regarded as more general than this. They are chiefly the contemporary peoples whom Nebuchadnezzar, under commission from Jehovah, was to destroy, though Asshur belongs to an earlier time. Although, therefore, the nations can hardly be supposed to fall under a common judgment, the day of the Lord, the effect is the same. Their fate is the judgment of Jehovah upon them, his verdict in regard to their life as nations. Their common sin is violence: they put their terror in the land of the living. And their fate is but the nemesis of their conduct: taking the sword they perish by it. The history of nations is the judgment of nations. But the nations like individuals continue to subsist, they bear their shame in Sheòl for ever.
4. The text of the passage is in considerable disorder. The LXX. offers a briefer and smoother text, though it is also marked by singular blunders (cf. Ezekiel 32:29-30). It can hardly be doubted that the Hebrew is to some extent overgrown with glosses. The meaning too is in some parts obscure. The passage has affinities with Isaiah 14, but the representations there are in some respects different, and care must be taken to allow each passage to speak for itself. It is doubtful if any ideas to be called specially Babylonian be found in either of the prophets. There are two points in the interpretation of some difficulty: 1. There are two names for the world of the dead, “the pit” and Sheòl; are they different in meaning? or, do they indicate, if not strictly a different locality in the underworld, a different condition? The usage of other passages appears decidedly against any distinction. The term “pit” is used of what we so call, e.g. of the pit into which Joseph was cast (Genesis 37:24), of the “dungeon” into which Jeremiah was thrown (Jeremiah 38:6 seq.), and the like (Jeremiah 41:7). The ideas of the people regarding the world of the dead were formed by looking into the grave and from the condition of the body in death. The world of the dead was created by the shuddering imagination out of these things. Apparently the name “pit” was given to the underworld because the grave was the mouth of it. The “pit” is used in parallelism with Sheòl, and in the same sense, e.g. Psalm 30:3; Psalm 88:3; Psalm 4:2. Another question closely connected is this. Certain persons called the mighty ones (Ezekiel 32:21; Ezekiel 32:27) are referred to and spoken of as being in Sheòl (A.V. hell), and the question is, are these persons, though in Sheòl, in a condition in some measure different from those like Pharaoh and his multitude, slain by the sword? Unfortunately in both verses the Heb. and Greek disagree. In Ezekiel 32:27 Heb. reads: they (Meshech and Tubal) shall not lie with the mighty ones, while LXX. omits the not, making their destiny the same.Verse 17. - For yet fourteen days the mind of the prophet brooded over the fall of Egypt, and his thoughts at last found utterance in another lamentation, based upon that of Isaiah 14. Taken together, the two passages give a vivid picture of the thoughts of the Hebrews as to the unseen world, and we find in them the germs of the later belief of Judaism in Paradise and Gehenna. What I have called the Dante element in Ezekiel it seen here raised to its highest power. Ver 18. - Cast them down, etc. The prophet thinks of himself as not only the predictor, but the minister, of the Divine judgments. So it was given to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:10) "to root out and to pull down," and to Amos (Amos 9:1) to "smite" and to wound. He executes the sentence, not on Egypt only, but on the other daughters of the famous nations, sc. on the nations themselves, especially those that are named in the verses that follow. Ezekiel 30:21. son of man, the arm of Pharaoh the king of Egypt have I broken; and, behold, it will no more be bound up, to apply remedies, to put on a bandage to bind it up, that it may grow strong to grasp the sword. Ezekiel 30:22. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will deal with Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and will break both his arms, the strong one and the broken one, and will cause the sword to fall out of his hand. Ezekiel 30:23. And I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and disperse them in the lands, Ezekiel 30:24. And will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, and give my sword into his hand, and will break the arms of Pharaoh, so that he shall groan the groanings of a pierced one before him. Ezekiel 30:25. I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, and the arms of Pharaoh will fall; and they shall know that I am Jehovah, when I give my sword into the hand of the king of Babylon, that he may stretch it against the land of Egypt. Ezekiel 30:26. I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and disperse them in the lands; and they shall know that I am Jehovah. - The perfect שׁברתּי in Ezekiel 30:21 is not a prophetic utterance of the certainty of the future, but a pure preterite. This may be seen "both from the allusion in Ezekiel 30:21 to the condition resulting from the shbr שׁבר, and also to the obviously antithetical relation of Ezekiel 30:22, in which future events are predicted" (Hitzig). The arm is a figurative expression for power, here for military power, as it wields the sword. God broke the arm of Pharaoh by the defeat which the Chaldeans inflicted upon Pharaoh Hophra, when he was marching to the relief of besieged Jerusalem. חבּשׁה is a present, as is apparent from the infinitive clauses ('לתת וגו) which follow, altogether apart from הנּה; and חבשׁ signifies to bind up, for the purpose of healing a broken limb, that remedies may be applied and a bandage put on. לחזקהּ, that it may become strong or sound, is subordinate to the preceding clause, and governs the infinitive which follows. The fact that the further judgment which is to fall upon Pharaoh is introduced with לכן (therefore) here (Ezekiel 30:22), notwithstanding the fact that it has not been preceded by any enumeration of the guilt which occasioned it, may be accounted for on the ground that the causal לכן forms a link with the concluding clause of Ezekiel 30:21 : the arm shall not be healed, so as to be able to grasp or hold the sword. Because Pharaoh is not to attain any more to victorious power, therefore God will shatter both of his arms, the strong, i.e., the sound one and the broken one, that is to say, will smite it so completely, that the sword will fall from his hand. The Egyptians are to be scattered among the nations, as is repeated in Ezekiel 30:23 verbatim from Ezekiel 29:12. God will give the sword into the hand of the king of Babylon, and equip and strengthen him to destroy the might of Pharaoh, that the latter may groan before him like one who is pierced with the sword. This thought is repeated in Ezekiel 30:25 and Ezekiel 30:26 with an intimation of the purpose of this divine procedure. That purpose it: that men may come to recognise Jehovah as God the Lord. The subject to וידעוּ is indefinite; and the rendering of the lxx is a very good one, καὶ γνώσονται πάντες.
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