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Egypt Will Fall to Babylonian Conquest (Ezekiel 29:17-30:19) March 4-6

In the spring of 571 B.C., two years after Ezekiel's vision of the temple, the prophet receives one more dated prophecy. Jeremiah has already been taken to Egypt by the remnant of Judah, against his warnings from God. He prophesied that Nebuchadnezzar would take Egypt (Jeremiah 43:10-13; 44:30). Ezekiel, too, has already received a series of prophecies about the coming fall of Egypt to the Babylonians (see the other prophecies of Ezekiel 29-32). God now gives Ezekiel two more prophetic messages concerning Egypt, which the prophet includes with the section of his book dealing with that nation.

Ezekiel is told that God will give Egypt into Nebuchadnezzar's hand, as "payment" for the work the ruler of Babylon unwittingly performed on God's behalf, especially against Tyre (Ezekiel 29:18-20). "As a fulfillment of God's judgment on Tyre, Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army laid siege to Tyre for thirteen years (cf. Jos[ephus] Antiq[uities of the Jews] X, 228 {xi.1}). The scant historical data indicates that Egypt and Tyre became allies under Pharaoh Hophra (Apries). The extended siege of Tyre was perhaps due to the aid Tyre received from the Egyptians. In such an act Hophra was going contrary to God's purposes. Not only was the siege prolonged by Egyptian support, but some also surmise that Egypt's maritime aid enabled Tyre to send away her wealth for security during the siege" (Expositor's Bible Commentary, note on Ezekiel 29:17-21).

As you may recall from our reading of Ezekiel 26 and the prophecies against Tyre, in spite of 13 years of siege, Nebuchadnezzar failed to capture the island fortress and its store of wealth. God says here that He will give him Egypt to make up for it.

The meaning of Ezekiel 29:21, in which God says He "will cause the horn of the house of Israel to spring forth," is uncertain. Given in the same context as the opening of Ezekiel's mouth, it is usually interpreted to mean that the Jewish exiles would be strengthened or encouraged at the time of Egypt's fall to Babylon along with further encouraging messages from the prophet that are unrecorded. Yet given the duality in these prophetic sections concerning Egypt, verse 21 could perhaps refer to a strengthened end-time Israel finally receiving Ezekiel's prophecies. Yet there is another possibility. While the horn can symbolize national strength or power, it can also represent the power center of a nation—its ruler. Consider that it was during the period of Egypt's ancient destruction that Jeremiah oversaw the transfer of the throne of David from Judah to the house of Israel in the British Isles (see The Throne of Britain: Its Biblical Origin and Future at www.ucg.org/brp/materials/index.htm). This seems a likely fulfillment of this verse.

Ezekiel then receives another prophecy from God in the first part of chapter 30—the last recorded message in the book. Ezekiel 30:2-3 mentions the "day of the LORD" in wording very similar to Joel 2:1-2. In this case, he describes the day as it will be from Egypt's perspective, but the wording—fire and desolation—is quite similar (compare Ezekiel 30:7-8; Joel 2:3). However, the imagery need not exclusively apply to the end time. As Expositor's notes: "yom laYHWH ('a day of the LORD') is not a construct state and therefore is not properly translated 'the day of the LORD' [but], literally, 'a day {belonging} to the LORD.' The word yom ('day') is indefinite twice in this verse. Those who see the 'day of the LORD' here as an earnest of the eschatological [i.e., end-time] Day of the Lord (cf. Joel), keeping it as a technical expression, generally link together the near and distant future into a singular meaning with multiple fulfillments" (footnote on Ezekiel 30:3). This seems reasonable—that the ancient time of divine intervention was intended by the passage as well as, in type, the end-time intervention yet to come.

Verse 5 mentions other doomed lands in alliance with Egypt. Where the New King James Version has "all the mingled people," the New International Version has "all Arabia." Expositor's explains: "The translation 'Arabia' is based on a revocalization of ha`erebh ('Arabia'?) to `arabh ('Arabia') with the Syrian. However, some prefer to read ereb ('mixed company') since the term is modified by kal ('all').... The exact meaning is still unclear" (footnote on verse 5). The identity of "Chub" or Kub is also unclear. Some have proposed the Cobii (or Cubians), a people of the Egyptian province of Mareotis in the western Nile Delta mentioned by the ancient Greek geographer Ptolemy (see John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, note on verse 5; Adam Clarke's Commentary, note on verse 5).

Nebuchadnezzar evidently laid waste the entire country of Egypt. "Migdol to Syene" (verse 6)—that is, Suez to Aswan—denotes, as it did in 29:10, the whole land from north to south. We read about Noph, Pathros and Tehaphnehes (Tahpanhes) in connection with Jeremiah's journey to Egypt in Jeremiah 43-44. Noph (Memphis), Zoan (Tanis), Sin (Pelusium), Aven (On or Heliopolis), Pi Beseth (Bubastis) and Tehaphnehes (Daphne) were in the northern Nile Delta region of Egypt. No (Thebes), Pathros (southern Egypt) and Syene (Aswan) were all in the south.

However, this could also refer to destruction meted out over time—by Nebuchadnezzar yes, but also by later invaders. Notice the prophecy of verse 13: "There shall no longer be princes from the land of Egypt." This has been understood to mean that the rulers of Egypt would no longer be native Egyptian. Under Babylonian rule, the pharaoh was subject to the Babylonian emperor. Yet, although a vassal, the pharaoh did rule as king and was Egyptian. This changed after the invasion by the Persian emperor Cambyses II, son of Cyrus the Great. "When the last Egyptian king was defeated by Cambyses II in 525 BC, the country entered a period of Persian domination under the 27th Dynasty. Egypt reasserted its independence under the 28th and 29th dynasties, but the 30th Dynasty was the last one of native rulers" (http://www.emayzine.com/lectures/egyptciv.html). At the time of Alexander the Great, Egypt came under Greek rule, which was perpetuated through the dynasty of Alexander's general Ptolemy. This reign was broken when, following in the tradition of the earlier northern empires, the Romans later invaded and took over Egypt as well.

Perhaps a similar measure of destruction will come in the last days when the ruler of end-time Babylon, the future Roman emperor and "king of the North," invades and assumes control of Egypt, as described in Daniel 11:40-43.

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