For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2003 James Melough

29:1.  “In the tenth year, in the tenth month, in the twelfth day of the month, the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,”


29:2.  “Son of man, set thy face against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and prophesy against him, and against all Egypt:”


The date was January 5, 587 B.C.; and since Egypt is a type of the world of business and pleasure living in arrogant independence of God, the prophecy should be understood, not simply in relation to its literal application to Egypt and its king, but as an allegorical warning to our present-day world.  And keeping in mind that Pharaoh is a type of Satan the prince of this world, and the power behind every earthly throne, it should be read also as the foretelling of his ultimate doom.


29:3.  “Speak, and say, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself.”


As the Lord was against Pharaoh and Egypt so is He also against Satan and this present evil world; nor should we miss the significance of Pharaoh’s being called “the great dragon,” for the same word is used to describe Satan, “And he (the angel) laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent which is the Devil, and Satan ...” Re 20:2.


The river and rivers are literally the Nile and its tributaries, but symbolically they represent the great river of wealth which waters the world’s business and pleasure, relative to which the men of the world have exactly the same attitude as did Pharaoh to the Nile: they consider the world’s wealth their own, that which they themselves have created, and denying the Lord any part in it, their rebellion being declared in their refusal to even use His name, for example, every natural phenomena is attributed to Mother Nature rather than to God.


29:4.  “But I will put hooks in thy jaws, and I will cause the fish of thy rivers to stick unto thy scales, and I will bring thee up out of the midst of thy rivers, and all the fish of thy rivers shall stick unto thy scales.”


Proud Pharaoh was about to learn that his power, and his freedom to use it, were given by God, Whose control is demonstrated in His metaphorically putting a hook into Pharaoh’s jaws as would a fisherman hook a fish, the fish adhering to his scales representing all the people of Egypt.


Few of those who study Scripture will have difficulty seeing in this the symbolic description of the end of the Tribulation-age Beast ruler and his followers, and of the later ultimate fate of Satan as described in Re 20:10.


29:5.  “And I will leave thee thrown into the wilderness, thee and all the fish of thy rivers: thou shalt fall upon the open fields; thou shalt not be brought together, nor gathered: I have given thee for meat to the beasts of the field and to the fowls of the heaven.”


Like creatures of the water taken out of their natural element, and thrown into a desert, so would Pharaoh and his people be treated by God: that generation of Egypt was to be destroyed.


All of this is the symbolic foreshadowing of what will be in the fast-approaching Great Tribulation, when today’s proud, God-rejecting world will also become a desolate ruin, with one third of its population slain, see Re 9:15,18.


29:6.  “And all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the Lord, because they have been a staff or reed to the house of Israel.”


Egypt’s being likened to a fragile reed of staff is because of its failure to give promised aid to Israel in her conflict with Babylon.


29:7.  “When they took hold of thee by thy hand, thou didst break, and rend all their shoulder: and when they leaned upon thee, thou breakest, and madest all their loins to be at a stand.”


This continues to describe Egypt’s failure to aid Israel when she was attacked by Babylon, as described in Jer 37:5-8, the harm to Israel being likened to the pain and disablement resulting from a dislocated shoulder, or a hand pierced by the splinters of a broken staff upon which a traveler had leaned for support.


“... and madest all their loins to be at a stand” is also translated “madest their loins to tremble”; “caused them to stagger”; “caused them to fall headlong.”


29:8.  “Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will bring a sword upon thee, and cut off man and beast out of thee.”


Babylon was the sword which God was going to bring against Egypt to destroy her.


29:9.  “And the land of Egypt shall be desolate and waste; and they shall know that I am the Lord: because he hath said, The river is mine, and I have made it.”


It was Egypt’s proud self-sufficiency and rejection of God that prompted Him to destroy her; and it is for the very same reason that today’s equally proud, self-sufficient, and Godless world will be destroyed in the coming Great Tribulation.


29:10.  “Behold, therefore I am against thee, and against thy rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia.”


As noted in verse three, the rivers (tributaries of the Nile) represent all the channels of wealth that contribute to the existence of today’s vast and powerful business world; but their coming destruction is symbolically portrayed here in God’s being against the Nile and its tributaries, and His determination to destroy Egypt.


Syene was the ancient name of present-day Aswan which is located a few miles north of Lake Naser in the middle of the country; but

some translations render the latter part of this verse as “from Migdol to the tower of Syene, etc.,” and since Migdol was located in the delta, the announcement then is of destruction from north to south of Egypt, i.e., throughout the length and breadth of the land, for Ethiopia is south of Egypt.


29:11.  “No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years.”


29:12.  “And I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate, and her cities among the cities that are laid waste shall be desolate forty years: and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse them through the countries.”


While there is no historical record of this forty-year desolation, Nebuchadnezzar did attack Egypt, and it can scarcely be doubted that he deported many of the people, and left the land in the condition described here.  In 539 B.C. thirty-three years after Babylon’s defeat of Egypt, Cyrus of Persia defeated Babylon, and permitted the captive Jews to return to Palestine, and it is very likely that within the next seven years he may have granted the same permission to the captive Egyptians to return to their homeland.


29:13.  “Yet thus saith the Lord God; At the end of forty years will I gather the Egyptians from the people whither they were scattered:”


29:14.  “And I will bring again the captivity of Egypt, and will cause them to return into the land of Pathros, into the land of their habitation; and they shall be there a base kingdom.”


Pathros was a region in southern Egypt, believed by many to have been the nation’s birthplace, and is used here to designate the whole land.


At the end of forty years God would restore the Egyptians to their own land, but as an inferior nation, that having been their condition until the present.


29:15.  “It shall be the basest of the kingdoms; neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations: for I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule the nations.”


This continues to describe Egypt’s degradation - a condition that has existed from then until now - and is the assurance that they will never again be anything but an inferior nation.


29:16.  “And it shall be no more the confidence of the house of Israel, which bringeth their iniquity to remembrance, when they shall look after them: but they shall know that I am the Lord God.”


The clarity of The New English Bible translation of this verse renders further comment unnecessary, “The Israelites will never trust Egypt again; this will be a reminder to them of their sin in turning to Egypt for help.”


29:17.  “And it came to pass in the seven and twentieth year, in the first month, in the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,”


29:18.  “Son of man, Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon caused his army to serve a great service against Tyrus: every head was made bald, and every shoulder was peeled: yet had he no wages, nor his army, for Tyrus, for the service that he had served against it.”


The year was April 26, 571 B.C.


Nebuchadnezzar had spent thirteen years besieging Tyre before capturing it, but there was little in the way of plunder to reward him, for the Tyrians seem to have shipped away most of their wealth before surrendering.


The baldness is probably metaphoric, and is generally believed to have had reference to the long time the Babylonian soldiers had worn their helments, i.e., had served in the course of the thirteen-year siege of Tyre.


The peeling of every shoulder refers to the galling or chafing of their shoulders resulting from the work of building siege mounds, etc.


29:19.  “Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will give the land of Egypt unto Nebuchadressar king of Babylon; and he shall take her multitude, and take her spoil, and take her prey; and it shall be the wages of his army.”


“... her multitude” is generally taken to refer to the multitude of the Egyptians who would be taken captive; while spoil and prey refer respectively to general plunder and valuables stripped from the individuals captured or slain.


29:20.  “I have given him the land of Egypt for his labor wherewith he served against it, because they wrought for me, saith the Lord God.”


The Babylonians had been God’s instrument of judgment against Egypt, and He Who will be no man’s debtor took care to see that they were rewarded for their service to Him, even though that service had been rendered unwittingly.


29:21.  “In that day will I cause the horn of the house of Israel to bud forth, and I will give thee the opening of the mouth in the midst of them; and they shall know that I am the Lord.”


The budding of the horn of Israel is a poetic way of saying that God would would make His judgment of Egypt a means of infusing fresh life into Israel, that life resulting from her deliverance from Egyptian domination.


“... and I will give thee ...” is God’s promise to Ezekiel that He will enable His servant to speak to the people with what another has described as “unhampered utterance,” the objective being to make the people know that the prophet was God’s spokesman, and causing them to know that He Whom the prophet served was the omnipotent Jehovah.

[Ezekiel 30]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough