Ezekiel 29-32 – A Message Against Egypt

29:1-6a – A prophecy against Pharaoh.  The date notice places this prophecy on January 7, 587 BC.  The prophecy against Pharaoh (king of Egypt) is also be connection a prophecy against all of Egypt.  Pharaoh Hophra (Greek—Aphries 589-570 BC; see Jer. 44:30; Her. Hist. 2.161; Jos. Ant. 10.7.3 §§108-110), a Saite of the Delta region, was the great “monster” (Jer. 51:34; Heb. hattannim “jackals” should read as Targ. and Syr. tnyn; cf.  “Rahab” in Job 9:13; 26:12; Ps. 87:4; 89:10; Isa. 30:7; and “Leviathon” in Job 41; Ps. 74:14; 89:10; Isa. 27:1) of the Nile (which may refer to a crocodile that is somewhat mythologized).  Though he thinks himself great the LORD will catch him from the streams of the Nile with all the fish and cast him out into the desert as food for others.  What is the point of this judgment?
29:6b-21 – Egypt: a staff of reed (2 Kings 18:21; Isa. 36:6).  Staffs are never made of read because they are both weak and will easily splinter.  Egypt proved to do nothing for the help of the House of Israel (Judah) other than to wound Israel; therefore the LORD promises desolating judgment upon Egypt (cf. Jer. 43-44; 46:13-24) for opposing His plan to judge Israel at the hands of the Babylonians.  The LORD would judge Egypt forty years for pride and opposing His purposes and send them into exile.  After the forty years Egypt would be restored, but not to their former glory and power.  If there was hope for Egypt it would seem to be because at least they (unlike Judah’s neighbors) offered assistance against the Babylonians even if this was against the will of the LORD.  The date notice (vs. 17) means April 26, 571 BC which was nearly 17 years after the previous prophecy.  The LORD would reward Babylon since they did not receive the rewards of conquering Tyre.  Does this mean that the prophecy against Tyre had failed (see Eze. 26-28)?  Is it possible that the lack of the fulfillment was the result of Tyre choosing to submit to Babylon after thirteen years of siege and therefore the LORD relented of the judgment that was promised (much as the judgment of Ninevah was promised by Jonah, but it was actually the LORD’s intention that Ninevah should repent and be spared)? 
30:1-19 – A Lament for Egypt.  Egypt would not only face the “day of the LORD” but also all those who were allied with Egypt.  All of Egypt’s most important cities and allies would be made desolate.  How was this fulfilled historically, by whom (vs. 10), and what was the LORD’s intention (Eze.30:8, 19)?  In 568 BC, Nebuchadnezzar marched against Egypt which had just finished with a civil war that left Hophra dead and Amasis (570-526 BC) as his successor (Block NICOT II:151).
30:20-26 – Pharaoh’s arms will be broken by the LORD.  The date notice places this prophecy on April 29, 587 BC.  The pharaohs as well as their gods were often referred to as the “strong arm/s of Egypt” (cf. the repeated references to the “arm” of the LORD in Israel’s deliverance from Egypt).  The LORD would make sure that there would be no strength left to Egypt and that Babylon instead would receive the strength of the LORD.
31:1-18 – Pharaoh is compared to Assyria (reading ’ šwr “Assyria” instead of t’šwr “Cypress” with MT in verse 3; see Block NICOT II:184-5) and likened to a great cedar.  The date notice refers to June 31, 587 BC which is just two months after the last prophecy.  The description of the tree (cf. Dan. 4:10-12) is splendid.  Its branches provide shelter for all the creatures and it reaches to the heavens.  It is sustained by the waters of the “deep” (Heb. tehom) and so finds no comparison even among the trees of Eden.  However, because of its pride it will be humbled by the LORD by being cut off from the waters of the deep, felled and cast into the “pit” (or the “grave”) along with all others that exalt themselves and were united with that great tree.  Who is the tree declared to be? (see 31:2, 18)
32:1-16 – A “lament” for Pharaoh (Heb. qinah; though once again the qinot of Ezekiel do not follow the typical 3:2 pattern).  The date notice points to March 3, 585 BC nearly two years after the former prophecy.  The Pharaoh is compared to a lion (which is another typical self-designation of the pharaohs as well as other kings of the ancient Near East) and once again a “monster” but this time in the “seas”.  This represents the Pharaoh as a terror to all others, but the LORD declares that he (and Egypt with him) will be captured and cast into the desert where his flesh will feed all the creatures and will be spread far and wide.  Also, there will be a darkening of the heavens in the judgment (cf. Ex. 10:21-23; Isa. 13:10; 34:4; Joel 2:31; Matt. 24:29; Rev. 6:12-13; 16:10).  At Egypt’s judgment the nations will be terrified.  The waters and land will no longer be troubled by Egypt but given a reprieve in order to bring Egypt to know the LORD (see Isa. 19:16-25 that speaks of Egypt and Assyria becoming the people of the LORD and being redeemed).
32:17-32 – The descent to the grave (“Sheol”).  The date notice suggests March 18(?), 585 BC which is just two weeks after the qinah prophecy.  Egypt will not be alone in being consigned to Sheol.  Egypt will be among all the “uncircumcised” (used theologically rather than naturally since several of the nations including Egypt were known to practice circumcision; see Duguid NIVAC 375fn.5).  Assyria, Elam, Meshach and Tubal, Edom, the princes of the north and the Sidonians will all be in Sheol in their respective places having been killed by the sword and being among the “uncircumcised” in judgment.  Pharaoh with his army will suffer the same fate.  Why would the LORD command Ezekiel to “wail” for the Egyptians in their judgment? 
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