The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
Verse 1. - The word of the Lord came again, etc. The section that follows, ending with Ver. 18, is exceptional as standing without a date. It may be either
(1) a continuation of the prophecy in Ezekiel 29:17-21, and so belong to the latest years of Ezekiel's work; or
(2) that prophecy may be regarded as standing by itself - a parenthesis inserted at a later date, so that we go back to the earlier word of the Lord in Ezekiel 29:1-16. Jerome, Havernick, Hitzig, Rosenmüller, Kliefoth, and others are in favor of the former view, chiefly on the ground that Ver. 3 speaks of the nearness of the coming judgment. That the day of the Lord should be "near" is, however, too vague and relative a term to be decisive. On the whole, the question must be left as one which we have no sufficient data for solving. The close parallelism with Ezekiel 29. seems to me slightly in favor of the second view.
Son of man, prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Howl ye, Woe worth the day!
Verse 2. - Howl ye. The words read like an echo of Isaiah 13:6, and find a parallel also in Joel 1:11, 13; Zephaniah 1:7, 14. Woe worth the day! It may be well to note that the familiar phrase is a survival of the Anglo-Saxon verb weorthan (German werden), "to become," so that its exact meaning is "Woe be to the day"
For the day is near, even the day of the LORD is near, a cloudy day; it shall be the time of the heathen.
Verse 3. - The day of the Lord. Here, as everywhere (see note on Ezekiel 13:5), the words stand for any time in which the Divine judgments manifest themselves in the world's history. Of it Ezekiel says, following in the footsteps of Joel (Joel 2:2), that it shall be a day of cloud, i.e. of darkness and trouble; a day of the heathen, i.e. a time in which the heathen who had exulted in the punishment of Israel should know that the Lord was their Judge also, that he had his "day" appointed for them.
And the sword shall come upon Egypt, and great pain shall be in Ethiopia, when the slain shall fall in Egypt, and they shall take away her multitude, and her foundations shall be broken down.
Verse 4. - Great pain shall be in Ethiopia. The words point to the extension of the invasion of Egypt - by Nebuchadnezzar in the first instance, and afterwards by other conquerors - to the upper valley of the Nile. They shall take away her multitude. The word is taken by Keil, Smend, and others of things rather than persons, the multitude of possessions. Hengstenberg renders "tumult" in the sense of the stir of a crowded city. The foundations are probably to be taken figuratively of the bases of the prosperity of Egypt, its allies and mercenaries, rather than of actual buildings (comp. Psalm 11:3; Psalm 82:5).
Ethiopia, and Libya, and Lydia, and all the mingled people, and Chub, and the men of the land that is in league, shall fall with them by the sword.
Verse 5. - Libya. Here the Authorized Version gives (rightly enough, though inconsistently) the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Phut, which is reproduced in the Revised Version. The Lydians, in like manner, stand for Lud; but we have to remember, as before (Ezekiel 27:10), that they are the African, and not the Asiatic, people of that name. In Jeremiah 46:9 the two nations are named among the auxiliaries of Egypt. Possibly the similarity of name may have led to the term being used also for the Lydian and Ionian forces enlisted by Psam-metichus I. (Herod., 3:4); but there seems more reason for including these in the mingled people that are next mentioned. Chub, or Cub (Revised Version), is found here only, and has consequently given occasion to many guesses Havernick connects it with the Kufa, a district of Media, often named in Egyptian monuments; Michaelis, with Kobe on the Ethiopian coast of the Indian Ocean; Maurer, with Cob, a city of Mauretania; Gesenius, Ewald, and Bunsen suggest the reading Nub, and identify it with Nubia; Keil and Smend adopt the form Lub, found in the Lubim of 2 Chronicles 16:8 and Nahum 3:9. On the whole, there are no adequate data for the solution of the problem. The men of the land that is in league. Here, again, we are in a region of many conjectures.
(1) Hitzig and Kliefoth (following Jerome and the LXX., which gives, "the land of my covenant") take it of Canaan, as being the land in covenant with Jehovah (Psalm 74:2, 20; Daniel 11:28; Acts 3:25).
(2) Hengstenberg, for the Sabeans, as being members of the Judaeo-Egyptian confederacy implied in Ezekiel 23:42.
(3) Keil, Ewald, and Smend, of a people among the allies of Egypt, unknown to us, but sufficiently designated by Ezekiel for his readers.
Thus saith the LORD; They also that uphold Egypt shall fall; and the pride of her power shall come down: from the tower of Syene shall they fall in it by the sword, saith the Lord GOD.
Verse 6. - They that uphold Egypt. The words include the allies named in Ver. 5; but also embrace the rulers, generals, perhaps the idols, of Egypt itself. From the tower of Syene. As before, in Ezekiel 29:10, "from Migdol to Syene."
And they shall be desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate, and her cities shall be in the midst of the cities that are wasted.
And they shall know that I am the LORD, when I have set a fire in Egypt, and when all her helpers shall be destroyed.
In that day shall messengers go forth from me in ships to make the careless Ethiopians afraid, and great pain shall come upon them, as in the day of Egypt: for, lo, it cometh.
Verse 9. - In that day shall messengers, etc. The whole passage seems an echo of Isaiah 18:2. The ships are those that bear the tidings of the conquest of Lower Egypt to the upper valley of the Nile. The careless Ethiopians are so named as confiding in their remoteness from the scene of action. They thought themselves safe, and were lulled into a false security (comp. Isaiah 32:9-11 and Zephaniah 2:15, for a like rendering of the verb). As in the day of Egypt. As Isaiah (Isaiah 9:4) refers to "the day of Midian," so Ezekiel points to the memorable time when like tidings of the judgments that fell on Egypt carried dismay into the hearts of the surrounding nations (Exodus 15:14, 15).
Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also make the multitude of Egypt to cease by the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon.
Verses 10, 11. - By the hand of Nebuchadnezzar. Hitherto (on the assumption that Ezekiel 29:17-21 stands by itself, and that we are still in the prophetic message of Ezekiel 29:1-16) the predictions have been general. Now Ezekiel, following in the footsteps of Jeremiah (Ezekiel 46.), specifies the Chaldean king and his people, the terrible of the nations (as in Ezekiel 28:7; Ezekiel 31:12, et al.), as those who were to execute the Divine judgments.
He and his people with him, the terrible of the nations, shall be brought to destroy the land: and they shall draw their swords against Egypt, and fill the land with the slain.
And I will make the rivers dry, and sell the land into the hand of the wicked: and I will make the land waste, and all that is therein, by the hand of strangers: I the LORD have spoken it.
Verse 12. - I will make the rivers dry. The rivers are the Nile-blanches of the Delta, and their being dried up points, perhaps, literally to a failure in the inundation of the Nile on which its fertility depended; figuratively to a like failure of all its sources of prosperity.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also destroy the idols, and I will cause their images to cease out of Noph; and there shall be no more a prince of the land of Egypt: and I will put a fear in the land of Egypt.
Verse 13. - Noph, or, as in Hosea 9:6, Moph, is a form of the Egyptian M'noph, the reek Memphis (so in the LXX.), the capital of Lower Egypt, the chief center of the worship of Phthah, whom the Greeks identified with Hephaestos. Hence the special mention of the idols and images.
And I will make Pathros desolate, and will set fire in Zoan, and will execute judgments in No.
Verse 14. - (For Pathros, see note on Ezekiel 29:14.) Zoan - joined with Noph in Isaiah 19:11, mentioned in Numbers 13:22 as older than Hebron - is the Tanis of the Greeks, situated on the Tanitic branch of the Delta of the Nile. No; or, as in Nahum 3:8, No Amon (equivalent to "the abode of Ammen"), the sacred name of the Egyptian Thebes. The LXX. gives Diospolis; the Vulgate, by a curious anachronism, Alexandria.
And I will pour my fury upon Sin, the strength of Egypt; and I will cut off the multitude of No.
Verses 15, 16. - Sin. The name signifies "mire," like the Greek Pelusium (so the Vulgate), from πήλος (Strabo, 17. p. 802). The modern name Pheromi has the same meaning. The remains of an old fortress near the town are still known as Tineh, the "clay" of Daniel 2:41. The fortress stood on the eastern branch of the Nile, surrounded by swamps, and its position made it, in modern phrase, the "key" of Egypt. Suidas and Strabo (ut supra) describe it as an obstacle to invaders from the East. Ezekiel, in describing it as "the strength of Egypt," must have known its local characteristics. The multitude of No; in the Hebrew, as in Jeremiah 46:25, Hamon-No. Did the prophet, after the manner of Micah 1:10-14, indulge in a play on the full name of the city as given in Nahum 3:8? The LXX. as before, gives Diospolis, and the Vulgate Alexandria. Noph shall have distresses daily. So the Vulgate, angustiae quotidianae. Hitizig and Keil, however, take the words as "troubles in the day-time." The city should be attacked, not by night (Obadiah 1:5), but in open day (compare "the spoiler at noonday" of Jeremiah 15:8). The LXX. emits the name of the city, and renders, "waters shall be poured out." For Sin the LXX. here gives, following a different reading, "Syene."
And I will set fire in Egypt: Sin shall have great pain, and No shall be rent asunder, and Noph shall have distresses daily.
The young men of Aven and of Pibeseth shall fall by the sword: and these cities shall go into captivity.
Verse 17. - The young men of Aven; the "On" of Genesis 12:45, the "house of the sun" of Jeremiah 43:13, the Heliopolis of the LXX. and Vulgate. The form Avert (Hebrews for "a vain thing!" as in Hosea 4:15; Hosea 10:5) was perhaps chosen as a word of scorn pointing to the idolatry of the city. Pibeseth; LXX., Bubastos. The city situated on the Suez Canal, begun by Necho and finished under Ptolemy II. (Herod., 2:59). It derived its name from the eat-headed goddess Pasht, and was the chief seat of the home which was named after it. It was destroyed by the Persians (Diod. Sic., 15:51), but the name lingers in Tebbastat, a heap of ruins about seven hours journey from the Nile.
At Tehaphnehes also the day shall be darkened, when I shall break there the yokes of Egypt: and the pomp of her strength shall cease in her: as for her, a cloud shall cover her, and her daughters shall go into captivity.
Verse 18. - At Tehaphnehes; the Tabu-panes of Jeremiah 2:16; Jeremiah 42:7; Jeremiah 44:1; Jeremiah 46:14; (where it appears as having a royal palace); the Taphnae of the LXX.; the Daphne of Herod., 2:30. It was another frontier-fortress in the neighborhood of Pelusium, built by Psammetichus. It may, perhaps, be represented by the modern Tel-ed-Defenne, about twenty-seven miles southwest of Pelusium. The day shall be darkened. The normal image for the departure of the sunshine of prosperity, as in Ver. 3 and Ezekiel 32:7 (comp. Amos 5:20; Amos 8:9; Isaiah 5:30; Jeremiah 13:16, etc.). The yokes of Egypt. Commonly, as in Ezekiel 34:27; Leviticus 26:13; Jeremiah 27:2; Jeremiah 28:10, 12, the phrase would imply the deliverance of Egypt from the yoke of oppression suffered at the hand of others. Here that sense is clearly inappropriate. The LXX. and Vulgate give "the scepters" of Egypt, which implies a different reading, and this is adopted in substance by Ewald and Smend, the latter preferring rendering it by "supports" or "props," the "red" being used as a "staff" rather than as a "scepter" (comp. Ezekiel 19:14; Jeremiah 43:8; Jeremiah 48:17). The pomp of her strength. The phrase meets us again in Ezekiel 33:28, and includes what we speak of as the parade of power, here probably with a view to the foreign forces that garrisoned both Daphne and Pelusium. The daughters may be literally the women of the city, who were to share the usual fate of their sex on the capture of a city; or as in Ezekiel 26:6, 8; or probably as in Ezekiel 16:53, 55, for the villages and towns dependent on the strong city. On the whole, looking to the mention of the "young men" in Ver. 17, the literal meaning seems preferable.
Thus will I execute judgments in Egypt: and they shall know that I am the LORD.
And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the first month, in the seventh day of the month, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Verse 20. - In the eleventh year, etc. Assuming that the whole section, Ezekiel 29:17-30:19, were a later insertion, that which follows was written in April, B.C. 586. Its contents show that it was written at or about the time of the abortive attempt of Pharaoh-Hophra to come to the relief of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 34:21; Jeremiah 37:5-7). This was the breaking of the arm of Egypt, of which the next verse speaks.
Son of man, I have broken the arm of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and, lo, it shall not be bound up to be healed, to put a roller to bind it, to make it strong to hold the sword.
Verse 21. - I have broken the arm. The metaphor was in itself one of the most familiar (Ezekiel 17:9; Ezekiel 22:6; 1 Samuel 2:31; Jeremiah 48:25). What is characteristic in Ezekiel is the way in which he follows the figure, so to speak, into its surgical details. A man with a broken arm might be cured and fight again; but it was not to be so with Pharaoh. His arm was not to be bound with a roller (the equivalent of the modern process of putting it in "splints"). The Hebrew word for "roller" is not found elsewhere, and Ezekiel's use of it is one of the instances of his knowledge of surgery. The corresponding verb is used by him of the bandages or swaddling-clothes of infancy (Ezekiel 16:4).
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and will break his arms, the strong, and that which was broken; and I will cause the sword to fall out of his hand.
Verses 22-24. - The strong, and that which was broken. The image is pressed yet further. A warrior whose sword-arm was broken might go on fighting with his left. Hophra might continue to struggle, though with diminished strength. Ezekiel's words shut out the hope of any such struggle. The left arm also should be broken as the right had been. The Chaldean king should wax stronger and stronger. The sword of Nebuchadnezzar should be as truly "the sword of Jehovah," as that of Gideon had been (Judges 7:18). Figuratively, he should stand before him groaning as a man wounded to the death. So in Jeremiah 43:9; Jeremiah 44:30; Jeremiah 46:26, we have allusions to an invasion of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, which was to end in his sitting on his throne in the stronghold of Tahapanes.
And I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse them through the countries.
And I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, and put my sword in his hand: but I will break Pharaoh's arms, and he shall groan before him with the groanings of a deadly wounded man.
But I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, and the arms of Pharaoh shall fall down; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall put my sword into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall stretch it out upon the land of Egypt.
Verses 25, 26. - The imagery is slightly varied. The arms of the Egyptian king are described, not as broken, but as feeble. They hang down by his side instead of wielding the sword. I will scatter, etc. The prophet dwells once more, repeating the very words of Ver. 23 and Ezekiel 29:12 with all the emphasis of iteration, on the dispersion which was the almost inevitable sequel of an Oriental conquest. There in the land of exile they should see that they had been fighting against God; and so the prophet ends the chapter with his ever-recurring formula, They shall know that I am Jehovah (Ezekiel 28:26; Ezekiel 29:21).
And I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and disperse them among the countries; and they shall know that I am the LORD.