Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
NEBUCHADNEZZAR; THOUGH ABOUT TO
BE IN A
This is the last of the world kingdoms against which Ezekiel's
prophecies are directed, and occupies the largest space in them, namely,
the next four chapters. Though farther off than Tyre, it exercised a
more powerful influence on Israel.
2. Pharaoh--a common name of all the kings of Egypt, meaning "the
sun"; or, as others say, a "crocodile," which was worshipped in parts of
Hophra or Apries was on the throne at this time. His reign began
prosperously. He took Gaza
and Zidon and made himself master of Phœnicia and Palestine,
recovering much that was lost to Egypt by the victory of Nebuchadnezzar
in the fourth year of Jehoiakim [WILKINSON,
Ancient Egypt, 1.169]. So proudly secure because of his
successes for twenty-five years did he feel, that he said not even a
god could deprive him of his kingdom [HERODOTUS,
2.169]. Hence the appropriateness of the description of him in
No mere human sagacity could have enabled Ezekiel to foresee Egypt's
downfall in the height of its prosperity. There are four divisions of
these prophecies; the first in the tenth year of Ezekiel's captivity;
the last in the twelfth. Between the first and second comes one of much
later date, not having been given till the twenty-seventh year
(Eze 29:17; 30:19),
but placed there as appropriate to the subject matter. Pharaoh-hophra,
or Apries, was dethroned and strangled, and Amasis substituted as king,
by Nebuchadnezzar (compare
The Egyptian priests, from national vanity, made no mention to HERODOTUS of the Egyptian loss of territory in Syria
through Nebuchadnezzar, of which JOSEPHUS tells
us, but attributed the change in the succession from Apries to Amasis
solely to the Egyptian soldiery. The civil war between the two rivals
no doubt lasted several years, affording an opportunity to
Nebuchadnezzar of interfering and of elevating the usurper Amasis, on
condition of his becoming tributary to Babylon [WILKINSON]. Compare
and see on
for another view of the grounds of interference of Nebuchadnezzar.
3. dragon--Hebrew, tanim, any large aquatic animal, here the
crocodile, which on Roman coins is the emblem of Egypt.
lieth--restest proudly secure.
his rivers--the mouths, branches, and canals of the Nile, to which
Egypt owed its fertility.
4. hooks in thy jaws--
Job 41:1, 2).
Amasis was the "hook." In the Assyrian sculptures prisoners are
represented with a hook in the underlip, and a cord from it held by the
cause . . . fish . . . stick unto . . . scales--Pharaoh, presuming
on his power as if he were God
"I have made it"), wished to stand in the stead of God as defender of
the covenant-people, his motive being, not love to them, but rivalry
with Babylon. He raised the siege of Jerusalem, but it was only for a
Jer 37:5, 7-10);
ruin overtook not only them, but himself. As the fish that clung to
the horny scales of the crocodile, the lord of the Nile, when he was
caught, shared his fate, so the adherents of Pharaoh, lord of Egypt,
when he was overthrown by Amasis, should share his fate.
5. wilderness--captivity beyond thy kingdom. The expression is used
perhaps to imply retribution in kind. As Egypt pursued after Israel,
saying, "The wilderness hath shut them in"
so she herself shall be brought into a wilderness state.
open fields--literally, "face of the field."
not be brought together--As the crocodile is not, when caught,
restored to the river, so no remnant of thy routed army shall be
brought together, and rallied, after its defeat in the wilderness.
Pharaoh led an army against Cyrene in Africa, in support of Aricranes,
who had been stripped of his kingdom by the Cyrenians. The army
perished and Egypt rebelled against him
[JUNIUS]. But the reference is
mainly to the defeat by Nebuchadnezzar.
beasts . . . fowls--hostile and savage men.
6. staff of reed to . . . Israel--alluding to the reeds on the banks of
the Nile, which broke if one leaned upon them
All Israel's dependence on Egypt proved hurtful instead of beneficial
7. hand--or handle of the reed.
rend . . . shoulder--by the splinters on which the shoulder or arm
would fall, on the support failing the hand.
madest . . . loins . . . at a stand--that is, made them to be disabled.
MAURER somewhat similarly (referring to a kindred Arabic form),
"Thou hast stricken both their loins."
FAIRBAIRN, not so well, "Thou
lettest all their loins stand," that is, by themselves, bereft of the
support which they looked for from thee.
8. a sword--Nebuchadnezzar's army
Also Amasis and the Egyptian revolters who after Pharaoh-hophra's
discomfiture in Cyrene dethroned and strangled him, having defeated him
in a battle fought at Memphis [JUNIUS].
9. I am the Lord--in antithesis to the blasphemous boast repeated here
"The river is mine, and I have made it."
10. from the tower of Syene--GROTIUS
translates, "from Migdol (a fortress near Pelusium on the north of
Suez) to Syene (in the farthest south)"; that is, from one end of Egypt
to the other. So "from Migdol to Syene,"
Margin. However, English Version rightly refers Syene to
Seveneh, that is, Sebennytus, in the eastern delta of the Nile, the
capital of the Lower Egyptian kings. The Sebennyte Pharaohs, with the
help of the Canaanites, who, as shepherds or merchants, ranged the
desert of Suez, extended their borders beyond the narrow province east
of the delta, to which they had been confined by the Pharaohs of Upper
Egypt. The defeated party, in derision, named the Sebennyte or Lower
Egyptians foreigners and shepherd-kings (a shepherd being
an abomination in Egypt,
They were really a native dynasty. Thus, in English
Version, "Ethiopia" in the extreme south is rightly contrasted with
Sebennytus or Syene in the north.
11. forty years--answering to the forty years in which the
Israelites, their former bondsmen, wandered in "the wilderness"
(compare Note, see on
JEROME remarks the number forty is one
often connected with affliction and judgment. The rains of the flood in
forty days brought destruction on the world. Moses, Elias, and the
Saviour fasted forty days. The interval between Egypt's overthrow by
Nebuchadnezzar and the deliverance by Cyrus, was about forty years. The
ideal forty years' wilderness state of social and political
degradation, rather than a literal non-passing of man or beast
for that term, is mainly intended (so
Isa 19:2, 11).
12. As Israel passed through a term of wilderness discipline (compare
&c.), which was in its essential features to be repeated again, so it
was to be with Egypt [FAIRBAIRN]. Some Egyptians
were to be carried to Babylon, also many "scattered" in Arabia and
Ethiopia through fear; but mainly the "scattering" was to be the
dissipation of their power, even though the people still
remained in their own land.
14. Pathros--the Thebaid, or Upper Egypt, which had been especially
harassed by Nebuchadnezzar
(Na 3:8, 10).
The oldest part of Egypt as to civilization and art. The Thebaid was
anciently called "Egypt" [ARISTOTLE]. Therefore it
is called the "land of the Egyptians' birth" (Margin, for
base kingdom--Under Amasis it was made dependent on Babylon; humbled
still more under Cambyses; and though somewhat raised under the
Ptolemies, never has it regained its ancient pre-eminence.
16. Egypt, when restored, shall be so circumscribed in power that it
shall be no longer an object of confidence to Israel, as formerly; for
example, as when, relying on it, Israel broke faith with Nebuchadnezzar
(Eze 17:13, 15, 16).
which bringeth their iniquity to remembrance, when they shall look
after them--rather, "while they (the Israelites) look to
(or, turn after) them"
[HENDERSON]. Israel's looking to Egypt, rather
than to God, causes their iniquity (unfaithfulness to the covenant) to
be remembered by God.
17. The departure from the chronological order occurs here only, among
the prophecies as to foreign nations, in order to secure greater unity
18. every head . . . bald, . . . shoulder . . . peeled--with carrying
baskets of earth and stones for the siege works.
no wages . . . for the service--that is, in proportion to it and
the time and labor which he expended on the siege of Tyre. Not that he
actually failed in the siege
(JEROME expressly states, from Assyrian
histories, that Nebuchadnezzar succeeded); but, so much of the Tyrian
resources had been exhausted, or transported to her colonies in ships,
that little was left to compensate Nebuchadnezzar for his thirteen
19. multitude--not as
FAIRBAIRN, "store"; but, he shall take away a
multitude of captives out of Egypt. The success of Nebuchadnezzar is
implied in Tyre's receiving a king from Babylon, probably one of her
captives there, Merbal.
take her spoil . . . prey--literally, "spoil her spoil, prey her prey,"
that is, as she spoiled other nations, so shall she herself be a spoil
20. because they wrought for me--the Chaldeans, fulfilling My will
as to Tyre (compare
21. In the evil only, not in the good, was Egypt to be parallel to
Israel. The very downfall of Egypt will be the signal for the rise of
Israel, because of God's covenant with the latter.
I cause the horn of . . . Israel to bud--
I will cause its ancient glory to revive: an earnest of Israel's full
glory under Messiah, the son of David
Even in Babylon an earnest was given of this in Daniel
I will give thee . . . opening of . . .
mouth--When thy predictions shall have come to pass, thy words
henceforth shall be more heeded (compare