Dirge for Egypt
The word of the Lord came again to me, saying, “Son of man, prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God,
“Wail, ‘Alas for the day!’
“For the day is near,
Even the day of the Lord is near,
It will be a cloudy day;
A time of doom for the nations.
“A sword will come upon Egypt,
And anguish and trembling will be in Ethiopia (Cush),
When the slain fall in Egypt
And they [of Babylon] carry away her great mass of people and her riches
And her foundations are torn down.
Ethiopia (Cush), Put, Lud, all [a]Arabia, Libya (Cub) and the people of the land of the covenant [the Jews who had taken refuge in Egypt] will fall with the Egyptians by the sword.”
‘Thus says the Lord,
“Those who uphold and support Egypt will fall
And the pride of her power will come down;
From Migdol [in the north] to Syene [in the south]
They will fall within her by the sword,”
Says the Lord God.
“And they will be desolate
In the midst of countries that are desolated;
And her cities will be
Among cities that are devastated [by plunder and slavery].
“And they will know [without any doubt] that I am the Lord,
When I have set a fire in Egypt
And all her helpers are shattered and destroyed.
On that day [swift] messengers will go from Me in ships to frighten the careless and unsuspecting Ethiopians, and there will be anguish and trembling in them as in the day of [judgment for] Egypt; for behold, it is coming!”
‘Thus says the Lord God,
“I will also make the great people of Egypt cease
By the hand of [b]Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.
“He and his people with him,
The most violent and ruthless of the nations,
Will be brought in to destroy the land,
And they will draw their swords against Egypt
And fill the land with the slain.
“And I will make the rivers [of the Nile delta] dry
And sell the land into the hands of evil men;
I will make the land desolate
And all that is in it,
By the hand of strangers. I the Lord have spoken.”
‘Thus says the Lord God,
“I will also destroy the idols
And I will put an end to the images in Memphis;
There will no longer be a prince of the land of Egypt.
And I will put fear in the land of Egypt.
“I will make Pathros desolate,
Set fire to Zoan
And execute judgments and punishments on Thebes.
“I will pour out My wrath on Pelusium,
The stronghold of Egypt,
And I will cut off (destroy) the population of Thebes.
“I will set fire to Egypt;
Pelusium will writhe in [great] anguish,
Thebes shall be torn open
And Memphis shall be in daily distress.
“The young men of On (Aven) and of Pi-beseth
Will fall by the sword,
And the women [and children] will go into captivity.
“In Tehaphnehes the day will be dark
When I break the yoke bars and dominion of Egypt there.
Then the pride of her power will come to an end;
A cloud [of disasters] will cover her,
And her daughters will go into captivity.
“In this way I will bring judgment and punishment on Egypt.
Then they shall know [without any doubt] that I am the Lord.”’”
Victory for Babylon
In the eleventh year [after King Jehoiachin was taken to Babylon], in the first month, on the seventh of the month, the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, I have broken the arm of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and behold, it has not been bound up to heal or wrapped with a bandage, so that it may be strong to hold and wield the sword. Therefore thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I am against Pharaoh king of Egypt and will break his arms, both the strong one and the broken, and I will make the sword fall from his hand. I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and will disperse them throughout the lands. 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 will groan before him (Nebuchadnezzar) with the groanings of a [mortally] wounded man. But I will strengthen and hold up the arms of the king of Babylon and the arms of Pharaoh will fall down. Then the people [of Egypt] will know that I am the Lord, when I put My sword into the hand of the king of Babylon and he stretches it out against the land of Egypt. When I scatter the Egyptians among the nations and disperse them through the lands, then they will know [without any doubt] that I am the Lord.’”
Pharaoh Warned of Assyria’s Fate
In the eleventh year [after King Jehoiachin was taken captive to Babylon], in the third month, on the first of the month, the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, say to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his hordes,
‘Whom are you like in your greatness?
‘Behold (listen carefully), Assyria was a cedar in Lebanon
With beautiful branches and with forest shade,
And of high stature,
With its top among the clouds.
‘The waters nourished it, the deep [underground waters] made it grow tall.
Its rivers ran all around the place where it was planted,
Sending out its streams to all the trees (other nations) of the field.
‘Therefore it towered higher than all the trees of the forest
And its boughs multiplied and its branches grew long;
Because there was so much water they spread outward.
‘All the birds of the sky made their nests in its twigs,
And under its branches all the animals of the field gave birth [to their young],
And all of the great nations lived under its shadow.
‘So it was beautiful in its greatness, in the length of its branches;
For its roots extended [downward] to great waters.
‘The cedars in the garden of God could not hide or rival it;
The cypress trees did not have boughs like it,
And the [a]plane trees did not have branches like it.
No tree in the garden of God was like it in its beauty.
‘I made it beautiful with the great mass of its branches,
So that all the trees of [b]Eden which were in the garden of God were jealous of it (Assyria).
‘Therefore thus says the Lord God, “Because it is high in stature and has set its top among the thick boughs and the clouds, and its heart is proud of its height, I will [c]hand it over to a mighty one and a mighty one of the nations; he will most certainly deal with it. I have driven it away in accordance with its wickedness. Alien tyrants of the nations have cut it down and left it; its foliage has fallen on the mountains and in all the valleys and its branches have been broken in all the ravines of the land. And all the nations of the earth have come from under its shade and have left it. All the birds of the sky will nest in its ruins, and all the animals of the field will rest on its fallen branches so that none of the trees by the waters may exalt themselves because of their height, nor set their top among the clouds, nor their well-watered mighty ones stand [arrogantly] in their height. For they have all been handed over to death, to the earth beneath, among the sons of men, with those who go down to the pit (the grave).”
‘Thus says the Lord God, “On the day when Assyria went down to Sheol (the place of the dead) I caused mourning; I closed the deep [subterranean waters] over it and restrained its rivers. And the many waters [that contributed to its prosperity] were held back; and I made [the heart of] Lebanon mourn for it, and all the trees of the field wilted away because of it. I made the nations quake at the sound of its fall when I cast it down to Sheol with those who descend into the pit; and all the well-watered trees of Eden, the choicest and the best of Lebanon, will be comforted in the earth beneath [at Assyria’s downfall]. They also went down to Sheol with it to those who were slain by the sword; those who were its strength lived under its shade among the nations.
“Which among the trees of Eden do you equal in glory and in greatness [O Egypt]? Yet you [also] will be brought down with the trees of Eden to the earth beneath (nether world). You will lie among the [d]uncircumcised (the barbaric, the boorish, the crude) with those who were slain by the sword. This is how it shall be with Pharaoh and all his hordes!”’ says the Lord God.”
- Ezekiel 31:8 This enormous tree may grow to a height of a hundred feet. The diameter of its base may vary from six to ten feet.
- Ezekiel 31:9 The traditional site of Eden was within the general area of the Assyrian Empire. However, this does not imply that Assyria was in the garden of God described in Gen 2:8.
- Ezekiel 31:11 The significance of comparing Egypt and Assyria becomes clear when it is remembered that Assyria had conquered and held Egypt in servitude, and had then been conquered and destroyed about twenty-five years before the date of this prophecy by an alliance of Media and Babylon, which at that time was ruled by Nebuchadnezzar’s father Nabopolassar. Now Babylon, under Nebuchadnezzar, is predicted to bring judgment on Egypt. Egypt could not realistically expect victory over the conqueror of her conqueror.
- Ezekiel 31:18 There were other circumcised nations besides the Hebrews, notably the Egyptians (as early as 3000 b.c.), Thus here the term has a general pejorative sense, not the specific meaning that it would have had for an Israelite.