Matthew Poole's Commentary
And it came to pass in the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, in the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,A lamentation for the fearful fall of Egypt, Ezekiel 32:1-10. The sword of Babylon shall destroy it, Ezekiel 32:11-16. It shall be brought down to hell among all the uncircumcised nations, Ezekiel 32:17-32.
In the twelfth year of the captivity of Jeconiah.
In the twelfth month, answering to part of our February and part of March, and called Sabat. In the first day; and was the 15th of February old style, and the 5th new style.
Son of man, take up a lamentation for Pharaoh king of Egypt, and say unto him, Thou art like a young lion of the nations, and thou art as a whale in the seas: and thou camest forth with thy rivers, and troubledst the waters with thy feet, and fouledst their rivers.Take a lamentation: see Ezekiel 19:1 27:2.
Like a young lion: of this hieroglyphic see Ezekiel 19:3,6.
Of the nations; among, or to, the nations round about thee, spoiling all thou canst, a cruel devourer abroad.
A whale; a crocodile, a devouring dragon in thy rivers at home, for there the crocodiles lay and did mischief, though sometimes they went down the river to the sea.
In the seas; that comes forth to seek prey and devour, so a lion at land, a whale, or crocodile rather, at sea, ravenous every where.
Camest forth with thy rivers; raisedst mighty armies, and didst lead them out against thy neighbours, as in particular, Ezekiel 29:3,4.
The waters; the people, kingdoms, and kings near thee.
With thy feet; with thy soldiers.
Fouledst their rivers; disturbed and muddied their pleasant clearness, and made them unfit to drink, i.e. did spoil all the pleasant and useful conveniences of thy neighbours.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will therefore spread out my net over thee with a company of many people; and they shall bring thee up in my net.My net; a large, long, and wide net, drawn out to full extent.
Over thee; with which both lions and crocodiles might be taken, and in which this lion and crocodile should certainly be taken; for God, whose hand never erreth, will spread the net.
With a company of many people: in the countries where these creatures were hunted, they went in mighty companies to the game, as they accounted it.
Bring thee up in my net; drag thee along to destroy thee, pull thee up out of the pit, in which the net was laid to take the lion to kill him, and draw this crocodile up out of the water for the same end; in brief, war by land and sea by a confederacy of many people against Hophra shall be God’s net, wherein he shall be taken, kept a prisoner, as he was, and at last strangled: see Ezekiel 29:4.
Then will I leave thee upon the land, I will cast thee forth upon the open field, and will cause all the fowls of the heaven to remain upon thee, and I will fill the beasts of the whole earth with thee.Leave thee upon the land; thy beaten army shall be slain: see Ezekiel 29:5: it was literally fulfilled in the deserts of Libya, where the slain of Hophra’s army were left to be devoured by fowls and beasts. Metaphorically it is gathering a mixture of people, soldiers, like ravenous birds and beasts. from all parts to spoil Egypt.
To remain upon thee; they should not be removed till filled with the spoils of Egypt.
The beasts of the whole earth; the foreign and mercenary soldiers shall be enriched by the slaughter and plunder of the Egyptians.
And I will lay thy flesh upon the mountains, and fill the valleys with thy height.Will lay; throw or cast.
Thy flesh; the carcasses of thy slain men and soldiers.
Upon the mountains; whither they retired for safety. Fill the valleys; not so fill them as to equal them in height with hills, but we say a man fills a place who scatters much or many things though but on the surface; so here valleys filled.
With thy height; with the carcasses of thy princes, as the Chaldee paraphrast I think hits right; and so the French, et remplirai les vallies de tee glorieux qu’ on aura abbatus.
I will also water with thy blood the land wherein thou swimmest, even to the mountains; and the rivers shall be full of thee.Water with thy blood; most plentifully pour out thy blood, as water is poured out to water land, when men float their grounds.
Wherein thou swimmest; either because of the plenty thereof, wherein they swimmed, as we say; or else because this king was a whale or crocodile, his dwelling must be the waters, and in them he swimmeth. To the mountains; an hyperbole; blood shall be poured forth, as if it were to rise to the very mountains and cover them; or thy blood shall be shed through all thy plain country, to the very mountains, which I think are toward the south-west parts toward Ethiopia; so they should be slain from Migdol or Magdalum to Syene, as Ezekiel 29:10.
Full of thee; of thy blood, and of thy carcasses cast into the rivers by thine enemies, or drowned in attempting flight by water from the drawn sword.
And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light.Put thee out; as a torch is extinguished, Isaiah 43:17, so I will put out thy light, and turn thee into darkness.
Cover the heaven; either by dark vapours that arise from blood and putrefying carcasses, which darken the heavens; or it is a description of great sorrows, fears, troubles, and perplexities; or else it may intimate particularly the total ruin of the whole kingdom, in which the best, greatest, and noblest parts are; as heaven suppose the government, the sun the king, the moon the queen, the stars the princes and nobles, bright lights the most eminent of the subjects for wisdom and understanding, and then the land the common people: all shall be covered with clouds, and darkness of misery first, and sorrow next. Or it is possible that some unusual darknesses might be seen in the heavens and on the earth about that time.
All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord GOD.These two foregoing verses contain the same thing four times with a little variation, repeated to affect the hearers, and to impress it the more deeply on their minds.
I will also vex the hearts of many people, when I shall bring thy destruction among the nations, into the countries which thou hast not known.Vex; it speaks a passion mixed and made up with grief for what is done, fear of the consequence of it, anger against him that did it, and an astonishment at the report, and it seizeth the heart and spirits of the hearers.
Many people, and great nations.
Thy destruction; either the fame of it, or the remainders that fled timely from thy destruction, or thy captives who after thou art destroyed are carried away, and the news of thy fall with them, or when the like ruin and destruction shall fall upon them. Which thou hast not known; such as were strangers to Egypt, and which Egypt had no commerce with, shall be troubled with apprehension what mischief may come upon the world from so mighty a conqueror, and by the accession of so great a kingdom and power as that of Egypt.
Yea, I will make many people amazed at thee, and their kings shall be horribly afraid for thee, when I shall brandish my sword before them; and they shall tremble at every moment, every man for his own life, in the day of thy fall.Many people, and mighty people too.
Amazed; astonished and puzzled, not knowing what resolutions to take, what advices to follow, or what to do. Their kings, who usually are, and in reason should be, undaunted, and discover no signs of fear, shall discover mighty disorders of fear and doubt, both for Egypt and themselves. Horribly afraid: see Ezekiel 27:35.
Brandish my sword; or, make my sword pass with such speed, as if it did fly along their borders, or hover near them, and so threaten them. They shall tremble; be greatly afraid, lest Nebuchadnezzar, who here is God’s sword, should smite them.
Every man; every one of the kings, whose kingdoms are near to Egypt, and by whose borders the Babylonish army must pass in their marches.
For his own life; they should be solicitous, not for the outmost parts of their kingdoms, or for their subjects, but for their own life.
In the day of thy fall; when they shall hear of Hophra beaten, taken, imprisoned, his kingdom taken from him, and he dead by a shameful death, and all his people slain, captivated, spoiled, or fled.
For thus saith the Lord GOD; The sword of the king of Babylon shall come upon thee.See Ezekiel 30:24,25.
Upon thee; both king and kingdom of Egypt.
By the swords of the mighty will I cause thy multitude to fall, the terrible of the nations, all of them: and they shall spoil the pomp of Egypt, and all the multitude thereof shall be destroyed.By the swords of the mighty; the soldiers of Nebuchadnezzar, helped also by Amasis, and the rebellious Egyptians that joined with Amasis and Nebuchadnezzar against their own king.
The multitude; the people of the land, which were numerous before they were wasted by these wars.
The terrible of the nations: see Ezekiel 31:12.
Spoil the pomp; break her strength, rob her treasures, sack her cities, captivate her people, and make the kingdom tributary, and so stain all her glory.
All the multitude thereof, from high to low, the great and the mean promiscuously, shall perish.
I will destroy also all the beasts thereof from beside the great waters; neither shall the foot of man trouble them any more, nor the hoofs of beasts trouble them.All the beasts thereof; the sheep and oxen devoured by hungry Chaldean soldiers, or else driven away; the horses taken up to mount the horsemen of the Chaldee army, whose own horses were tired or spoiled.
Beside the great waters; the pastures lying along the river’s side, and along their canals, should be emptied of all cattle, with which once they were full.
Neither shall the foot of man throttle them; there should be so few men left in Egypt, that they should not, as formerly, disturb the waters by digging, swimming, or rowing on them; or, no more trouble the waters with the passing of mighty armies over them to invade their neighbours.
Nor the hoofs of beasts trouble them; so few horses or cows, that they should not at watering times, or in the heat of the day, foul the waters by running into them, and stamping or trampling in them; but the waters shall continue pure and undisturbed.
Then will I make their waters deep, and cause their rivers to run like oil, saith the Lord GOD.Make their waters deep: the sense literally this, the waters undisturbed shall be clear, the mud settled at the bottom, and the waters above it of good depth.
To run like oil; smooth and softly, as oil glides along, which will be when neither men nor cattle disturb the rivers: but figuratively, waters and rivers are people and nations, and those near to, and once disturbed, and put into confusion by Egypt, at whose fall all those troubles shall cease, the people shall settle in quiet state, and affairs shall, like a quieted river, run smoothly and in great peace.
When I shall make the land of Egypt desolate, and the country shall be destitute of that whereof it was full, when I shall smite all them that dwell therein, then shall they know that I am the LORD.The former verse assures us of what it foretold, and the assurance is the word and truth of God; this verse tells us when this shall be.
Shall be destitute: this phrase is Ezekiel 12:19.
That whereof it was full; men and women, cattle, food, wealth, and peace. When I shall smite by the sword, the destroying sword of the Chaldeans.
Then shall they know that I am the Lord; then shall they confess it to the glory of God’s power and justice.
This is the lamentation wherewith they shall lament her: the daughters of the nations shall lament her: they shall lament for her, even for Egypt, and for all her multitude, saith the Lord GOD.This heavy, mournful, and sad account, which the prophet hath given of the state of Egypt,
is the lamentation, the funeral speech of this kingdom; for this, as a funeral oration, tells us what was their ancient glory, and what is now their miserable reproach and loss.
They shall lament; her friends, or the Egyptians themselves rather.
The daughters of the nations: this may be expository of the former, and tell us who they are that shall lament Egypt, the provinces and cities of their neighbouring nations; or literally, the daughters, the tender-hearted virgins and women abroad.
Even for Egypt; ruined Egypt.
All her multitude; the common people, many of whom suffered for what they could not prevent; a sort of people that were fitter to be pitied and spared, than to be robbed and slain, a sort of people none but unrelenting hearts could be harsh to or hasty with.
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,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.
Son of man, wail for the multitude of Egypt, and cast them down, even her, and the daughters of the famous nations, unto the nether parts of the earth, with them that go down into the pit.Prepare the funeral ceremonies at the burial of Egypt, compose a suitable song or speech, utter it with a like suitableness to the sad occasion. Jeremiah 9:17-19, and Amos 5:16, use the word, and the places read will explain this.
Cast them down; either declare that they shall be cast down from their height and glory; or rather, because this was done already, lay them down as dead in the grave, bring him to his grave, as the word is used, with addition of sheol, 1 Kings 2:9, and much like are Ezekiel 26:20 31:16.
The daughters of the famous nations; and celebrate the funerals of other cities and kingdoms, that lie buried in their own ruins and other men’s oblivion.
The nether parts of the earth; a well-known description of the state of the dead and the grave.
Go down into the pit: usually this is no more than a common description of men’s going to the dust in their burial, but here it includes more. The Egyptians affected to be buried either in the isle Chemnis, or in the pyramids, their kings and great ones thus would be laid by themselves; but Ezekiel provides them their grave among common people, buries them where they fall; for they shall not have what they account so much of in their funeral.
Whom dost thou pass in beauty? go down, and be thou laid with the uncircumcised.The whole, from this verse, is a most elegant personating of the dead, as if sensible, and acquainted, and discoursing with, and rejoicing at the fall of proud tyrants, who took not warning by their fall. Such a prosopopoeia you have Isaiah 14. In this chapter the actors are the prophet, the king of Egypt and his people, and their auxiliaries.
Whom dost thou pass in beauty? the prophet begins with this question dialogue-wise, Art thou better than others, that thou shouldst not die and be laid in dust, as well as all others? speak, Hophra, if thou hast any privilege to plead, what hast thou to say why thou shouldst not go down to the pit as a despised mortal?
Go down: the prophet, hearing no plea of privilege, adjudgeth him to the grave, or lays him own with somewhat a sarcasm, Go down like others.
Be thou laid; take up thy lodging, thy long, dark, and dismal recess, where thy dust and bones shall never be known by any royal figure.
With the uncircumcised; among profane and loathed carcasses; such the uncircumcised were in the opinion of the circumcised, and Herodotus in Euterpe saith the Egyptians were circumcised. However, in Scripture, a burial with the uncircumcised is a note of dishonour and contempt; thus for the king and princes.
They shall fall in the midst of them that are slain by the sword: she is delivered to the sword: draw her and all her multitudes.Now the prophet determines concerning the people, which die as others, fall undistinguished, and. as undistinguished, must be laid in the pit.
They; the Egyptians. In the midst; in battle shall die.
By the sword; either of one another in civil war, or of their neighbours they invaded, or of Babylonians that invaded them.
She is delivered; the whole Egyptian kingdom is given up of God.
To the sword of wasting enemies, especially of the Chaldean. Draw her; make no ceremony more than usually is made, when common soldiers, slain in the field where the battle is fought, are dragged by scores into mighty pits, and thrown into them promiscuously; or, as the interlude will bear it, suppose any of them unwilling to stoop, draw them to it against their will.
All her multitudes, of soldiers and people, subjects, allies, and helpers of Egypt.
The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell with them that help him: they are gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword.The prophet seems in this verse to introduce the next speakers in this parley, and bringing them in, gives their character.
The strong; the powerful, the valiant, whose natural strength of body was great, and their courage greater, those that were strongest.
Among the mighty; for feats they did, by which it appeared they might compared with others, pass for giants, mighty warriors. conquerors, and riders.
Shall speak to him, the king of Egypt.
Hell; or rather, the grave, where they lie without strength, as dead mortals, though while they lived they bore themselves as if gods and immortal.
Them that help him; either these great ones shall speak to Hophra’s helpers, or else these his friends, slain in his quarrel and dead before him, shall speak to him.
Gone down to the grave: see Ezekiel 32:18. Uncircumcised; neglected and forgotten, or remembered with contempt: see Ezekiel 32:19.
Asshur is there and all her company: his graves are about him: all of them slain, fallen by the sword:Asshur, the famous, warlike, victorious kings of Assyria, is there; in the state of the dead, in the land of darkness and oblivion;
and all her company; princes, captains, soldiers, subjects, and confederates.
His graves are about him; perhaps his the greater, yet a grave, and they about him who were slain with him.
All of them slain; some in wars, whilst the kingdom began, grew, and flourished; others, when the kingdom was destroyed; these fell by the sword. Awhile their sword was longest; at last a longer sword, that of Arbaces the Mede, with his accomplices, wounds Asshur to the heart, and he is brought to the grave.
Whose graves are set in the sides of the pit, and her company is round about her grave: all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which caused terror in the land of the living.At least for decorum here is supposed a spacious vault, or pit, in midst whereof the king of Asshur in a stately tomb lies buried, and round about the vault are places to lay others dead with him, and in his cause, some of his more famous captains and commanders.
Her company; the common subjects and soldiers of the Assyrian empire, all buried undistinguished about her: see Ezekiel 32:22.
Her grave: the ruins of an empire are its grave; and so all the subjects of this empire lie buried with it.
Caused terror; were a terror to all they would be enemies to, and proudly boasted of and inhumanly used their power, now lie quiet, their dust little regarded, less feared, and least of all pitied. In the land of the living; while they were in the land of the living, a periphrasis of life.
There is Elam and all her multitude round about her grave, all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which are gone down uncircumcised into the nether parts of the earth, which caused their terror in the land of the living; yet have they borne their shame with them that go down to the pit.Elam; the Persians, and their great, famous kings, who lived in former days. All her multitude: see Ezekiel 32:22,23.
All of them slain: see Ezekiel 32:22.
Gone down: Ezekiel 32:21.
Uncircumcised: see Ezekiel 32:21.
The nether parts of the earth: see Ezekiel 32:18.
Their terror: see Ezekiel 32:23.
Their shame God and man poured contempt upon them, and punished them for their pride, and turned their glory into shame, whose vices and miscarriages are more remembered than their noble facts and glorious achievements.
They have set her a bed in the midst of the slain with all her multitude: her graves are round about him: all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword: though their terror was caused in the land of the living, yet have they borne their shame with them that go down to the pit: he is put in the midst of them that be slain.Some conceive the prophet may allude to the manner of burying with the Persians who had their coffins, or sepulchral chests, in which with balms and spices the dead were kept, and these chests placed in midst of places provided for them; in such is the king of Elam here placed with his slaughtered captains about him: see Ezekiel 32:23.
There is Meshech, Tubal, and all her multitude: her graves are round about him: all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword, though they caused their terror in the land of the living.Meshech: see Ezekiel 27:13.
Tubal: see Ezekiel 27:13; to which interpretation I still adhere, adding that in the full extent of these Moschi and Tibareni, these Cappadocians and Albanians, the Scythians may be included, many of which were next neighbours to them. Junius is of opinion that the Scythians are here meant, and so am I. But it will be said they never had such a settled kingdom worth noting. It is true of that barbarous people, there is no account that ever they were lords of the world; yet they caused their terror in the land of the living, and were slain by the sword under the command and in the expeditions of their kings into Asia, who were accompanied with her multitudes. Velleius reports they wasted Asia 350 years before Rome was thought of, and that is about 1082 years before Christ’s birth. Again, we find them in arms, (no doubt in numbers much like what they appeared in when Tomvris their queen destroyed Cyrus, or when they have moved against their neighbours in later days,) and with those arms wasted the Cimmerii, a people seated near them on the Euxine Sea and the Maeotis Palus; and about that time they did under their chieftains waste Asia, they forced Cyaxares from the siege of Nineveh, such considerable strength they had then; this was 634 before Christ’s’ birth, were lords of Asia for twenty-eight years, and it seems that their power was such, Cyaxares was glad to decline plain dealing, and to overthrow them by a wile, as Calvisius tells us, ad A.M. 3344, and the help of Halyattes, king of the Lydians. These things were fresh in memory when Ezekiel prophesied thus against Egypt, for they fell out about the eighth or ninth year of Pharaoh-necho, some fourteen years before Pharaoh-hophra came to the crown; now about the sixth year of his reign came this word of the Lord to Ezekiel; so that the prophet might well mention these as instances of God’s power abating the pride and destroying the kingdoms of the mighty, and these are with reason brought in among the Persians and Assyrians.
And they shall not lie with the mighty that are fallen of the uncircumcised, which are gone down to hell with their weapons of war: and they have laid their swords under their heads, but their iniquities shall be upon their bones, though they were the terror of the mighty in the land of the living.They shall not lie with the mighty; the leaders of these Scythians were not buried with a pomp like that of Asshur or Elam, but, surprised by the fraud of Halyattes and Cyaxares, were cut off with all their multitude, and tumbled into pits with the rabble. With their weapons; a ceremony observed in pompous funerals of great captains, to have their weapons and their armour carried before the hearse.
Laid their swords under their heads; either when carried out to be buried, or laid under their head in their graves; or perhaps under the statues of them placed on the tops of their tombs: these barbarous Scythians were not so buried.
Their iniquity, the exemplary punishment of their iniquity,
shall be upon their bones; shall be seen upon their bones unburied, and cast out on the earth by the just judgment of God.
Though they were the terror; because they were Cruel, bloody, ravenous, and mischievously tyrannical while they lived.
The mighty; Cyaxares and the Persians, that durst not again attempt Nineveh, till the Scythians were fallen.
Yea, thou shalt be broken in the midst of the uncircumcised, and shalt lie with them that are slain with the sword.Thou; chief of Meshech and Tubal, though not named.
Shalt be broken; shalt be killed with the rest of wicked followers.
Shalt lie with them; without regard hurled into the pit with the common soldiers, as thou fallest with them.
That are slain; whose throats were cut after they were taken.
With the sword of Halyattes and his Lydians, in revenge it is like of the spoil done to Sardis; and by Cyaxares, in revenge of the-affront they gave him, forcing him to quit the siege of Nineveh, and by giving him child’s flesh to eat, pretending it was venison taken by them in hunting.
There is Edom, her kings, and all her princes, which with their might are laid by them that were slain by the sword: they shall lie with the uncircumcised, and with them that go down to the pit.Edom; the posterity of Esau, the name of the country too in which they dwelt.
Her kings; which had been many, and some great warriors.
Her princes, or dukes, as Genesis 36:20,21.
With their might; showed in the assistance they gave the Assyrians.
Are laid by them; are slain, and laid aside to be buried, as commanders are usually after their death regarded, and their bodies kept for a funeral.
With the uncircumcised; yet, as the uncircumcised, so these must to the pit, though no mention is made of their being a terror to the nations.
There be the princes of the north, all of them, and all the Zidonians, which are gone down with the slain; with their terror they are ashamed of their might; and they lie uncircumcised with them that be slain by the sword, and bear their shame with them that go down to the pit.Of the north; of all those countries, Tyrians, Zidonia Assyrians, and Syrians, &c., which lay northward from Judea, now swallowed up by the Babylonian. With the slain conquered and slain.
With their terror; their terror buried with them.
Ashamed of their might; when it appeared a vain confidence, and too weak to resist the enemy and save themselves.
Uncircumcised; scorned and cast out, as profane and loathsome.
By the sword of their conquering enemy.
Bear their shame; they lie under shameful fall, from a seeming glory to a real ignominy.
Pharaoh shall see them, and shall be comforted over all his multitude, even Pharaoh and all his army slain by the sword, saith the Lord GOD.Hophra shall go to them by a like destruction, and, as he saw them all ruined as he was, should be comforted, rejoice that others before him met with the same fatal end and whatever comfort this might be, it is all he shall ever have, did he know all those things and persons that are here represented and personated to us.
For I have caused my terror in the land of the living: and he shall be laid in the midst of the uncircumcised with them that are slain with the sword, even Pharaoh and all his multitude, saith the Lord GOD.It is God that speaketh, who had punished former tyrants and by a retaliation, that the world might see his just judgments. They were a terror to the world by their cruel oppression, and continued violence, by their covetousness ambition, and pride; and God hath made them a terror his just severities in their punishments. And so, saith God will I do with Pharaoh;
he shall be laid; that is, Pharaoh-hophra shall suffer as they did; since he sinned as thye, he made himself like them by choice of their vices, I will make him like them by like miseries and just recompences and these shall be to his subjects as well as to himself. Hophra, who was strangled, and likely cast out without burial; to Amasis, who was taken out of his tomb and burnt to ashes: so unlike the condition of the dead, which usually is rest to the body, was their condition after death, who in life made it unlike, and imagined it was above, the condition of mortal men.