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

30:1.  “The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying,”


30:2.  “Son of man, prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord God; Howl ye, Woe worth the day!”


This continues the record of the judgments that would desolate Egypt, “Woe worth the day” meaning “Alas for the day.”  Woe, sorrow, anguish would cover the land like a pall.


30:3.  “For the day is near, even the day of the Lord is near, a cloudy day; it shall be the time of the heathen (nations).”


In the present context “the day of the Lord” was the terrible dark day when He would pour out His judgments upon Egypt, but there is undoubtedly here also a reference to that still future, but now impending day when the terrible Tribulation judgments will devastate the whole world.


30:4.  “And the sword shall come upon Egypt, and great pain shall be in Ethiopia, when the slain shall fall in Egypt, and they shall take away her multitude, and her foundations shall be broken down.”


The sword that would decimate Egypt was Babylon, the taking away “her multitude,” referring to the multitudes of survivors who would be carried away captive; and the breaking of “her foundations” meaning the seizure of all her wealth by the invaders.


30:5.  “Ethiopia, and Libya, and Lydia, and all the mingled people, and Chub, and the men of the land that is in league, shall fall with them by the sword.”


30:6.  “Thus saith the Lord; They also that uphold Egypt shall fall; and the pride of her power shall come down: from the tower of Syene shall they fall in it by the sword, saith the Lord God.”


Ethiopia lay south of Egypt; Libya, west; and Lydia was a part of what is modern-day Turkey.  See 29:10 for comments relative to Syene.  The location of Chub is unknown.  All who allied themselves with Egypt would be defeated.


30:7.  “And they shall be desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate, and her cities shall be in the midst of the cities that are wasted.”


The New English Bible translation of this verse reads, “They shall be the most desolate of desolate lands, and their cities shall lie derelict among the ruined cities....”  This continues the description of the ruin of Egypt and her allies at the hand of the Babylonians.


30:8.  “And they shall know that I am the Lord, when I have set a fire in Egypt, and when all her helpers shall be destroyed.”


What Egypt and her allies had refused to learn in the midst of prosperity, they would learn through their own destruction.  The God they could have known as the God of blessing, they would know only as the God of destructive judgment.  So will it be with every man who dies without having trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.


30:9.  “In that day shall messengers go forth from me in ships to make the careless Ethiopians afraid, and great pain shall come upon them, as in the day of Egypt: for, lo, it cometh.”


By boats traveling on the Nile, Ethiopia (Cush), Egypt’s southern neighbor, would hear of her destruction, and would be terror-stricken by the knowledge that if mighty Egypt had fallen, then she herself had no hope should Babylon decide to attack her.  And her fear was justified, for her own doom was certified by God’s assurance that her destruction was on its way, “lo, it cometh.”


30:10.  “Thus saith the Lord god; I will also make the multitude of Egypt to cease by the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon.”


While “the multitude of Egypt” may refer to the population, it is understood by many competent scholars to refer to her material riches.  They would be plundered by Nebuchadnezzar.


30:11.  “He and his people with him, the terrible of the nations, shall be brought to destroy the land: and they shall draw their swords against Egypt, and fill the land with the slain.”


“... terrible” is also translated most ruthless: most violent: most barbarous: fiercest, the application being to the Babylonians, who were notorious for their cruelty, and whom God was going to use as His instrument to destroy proud Egypt and her allies.


30:12.  “And I will make the rivers dry, and sell the land into the hand of the wicked: and I will make the land waste, and all that is therein, by the hand of strangers: I the Lord have spoken it.”


All of Egypt is desert, apart from a strip about twelve miles wide on either side of the river, that is fertilized by canals which are here called rivers.  God would dry up those canals, probably by having strangers, the Babylonians and their allies, destroy the mechanisms which conducted the water into them, thus returning the land to its original desert state, the judgment being assured by the words, “I the Lord have spoken it.”


30:13.  “Thus saith the Lord God; I will also destroy the idols, and I will cause their images to cease out of Noph; and there shall be no more a prince of the land of Egypt: and I will put a fear in the land of Egypt.”


Noph is another name for Memphis the ancient capital of Egypt, and remaining an important religious center even after ceasing to be the capital.  God was going to destroy the idols in Noph and throughout the land, taking away the king, and leaving the land filled with fear and confusion.


30:14.  “And I will make Pathros desolate, and will set fire in Zoan, and will execute judgments in No.”


Pathros was another name for Egypt, see comments on 29:14; and Zoan was another name for Rameses a royal residence; and No, another name for Thebes, former capital of Egypt, was an important city about four hundred miles south of modern-day Cairo.  The whole land would be left a desolate ruin, Zoan being destroyed by fire, while No (Thebes) would be devastated by unspecified judgments.


30:15.  “And I will pour my fury upon Sin, the strength of Egypt; and I will cut off the multitude of No.”


Sin is another name for Pelusium which was located on the extreme north-east corner of the delta, and is called here “the strength of Egypt” because it was a major garrison center.  No (Thebes) was just a little over two hundred miles south of Cairo.  Its population was to be killed.


30:16.  “And I will set fire in Egypt: Sin (Pelusium) shall have great pain, and No (Thebes) shall be rent asunder, and Noph (Memphis) shall have distresses daily.”


Egypt would be ravaged by one disaster after another: some places by fire; No (Thebes) being inundated by water pouring through its breached walls; and Noph (Memphis) by unspecified afflictions.


30:17.  “The young men of Aven (On, also called Heliopolis), and of Pi-biseth (Bubastis) shall fall by the sword: and these cities shall go into captivity.”


Aven or On are other names for Heliopolis which lay about a hundred miles south of the mouth of the delta.  Pi-biseth (Bubastis), present-day Tel-Basta was about thirty miles north-east of Cairo.  Most of the men would die by the sword, and most of the women would be led into captivity.


30:18.  “At Tehaphnehes (Tahpanhes) also the day shall be darkened, when I shall break there the yokes of Egypt: and the pomp of her strength shall cease in her: as for her, a cloud shall cover her, and her daughters shall go into captivity.”


It would be a very dark day for Egypt when Tahpanhes, in the north-east near the Suez Canal, was destroyed for it was one of her principal cities.  The yokes here refer to Egypt’s power: it would be broken; and the covering cloud is a synonym for the dark despair that would envelope the whole land.


“Her daughters” refer to the smaller towns and villages.  Their people would be led away into captivity.


30:19.  “Thus will I execute judgment in Egypt: and they shall know that I am the Lord.”


The sad truth continues to be emphasized here as throughout the book: the people who might have known God as the Blesser, had they obeyed Him, must instead know Him as the stern Executor of judgment.


30:20.  “And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the first month, in the seventh day of the month, that the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,”


The date was April 29, 587 B.C., just about four months since Ezekiel had pronounced his first prophesy against Egypt.


30:21.  “Son of man, I have broken the arm of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and, lo, it shall not be bound up to be healed, to put a roller to bind it, to make it strong to hold the sword.”


This declares the dreadful finality of Egypt’s doom: there would be no restoration of her departed power and glory.


30:22.  “Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and will break his arms, the strong, and that which was broken; and I will cause the sword to fall out of his hand.”


The broken arm is usually taken as a reference to Egypt’s failed attempt to aid Israel when she was being attacked by Babylon, see Jer 37:5-8; the strong arm being used as the symbolic description of her power and might just prior to her final destruction by Babylon.  The broken arms signify the complete destruction of Egypt’s power.


30:23.  “And I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse them through the countries.”


This scattering of the Egyptians refers to their dispersal as captives following their defeat by Babylon and her allies.


30:24.  “And 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 shall groan before him with the groanings of a deadly wounded man.”


God would make Babylon His instrument for Egypt’s destruction, Pharaoh’s broken arms and his groaning as a mortally wounded man being the symbolic description of Egypt’s irreparable ruin.


30:25.  But I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, and the arms of Pharaoh shall fall down; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall put my sword into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall stretch it out upon the land of Egypt.”


God’s strengthening of Babylon as His instrument to destroy Egypt, is the reminder that He never fails to bestow upon His servants the ability to do the work He assigns them, a fact which ought to encourage us to greater diligence in obeying His command, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” Mk 16:15, there being added the further assurance, “And, lo, I am with you always....” Mt 28:20.


30:26.  “And I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and disperse them among the countries; and they shall know that I am the Lord.”


This continues to emphasize that everything God does is so that men might know Him: believers knowing Him as the God of love, grace, and mercy’ and unbelievers, as the God of righteous judgment.

[Ezekiel 31]


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