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

32:1.  “And it came to pass in the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, in the first day of the month, that the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,”


32:2.  “Son of man take up a lamentation for Pharaoh king of Egypt, and say unto him, Thou art like a young lion of the nations, and thou art as a whale in the seas: and thou camest forth with thy rivers, and troubledst the waters with thy feet and fouledst their rivers.”


The date was March 3, 585 B.C., just a few months after Babylon had destroyed Jerusalem; and whereas chapter thirty-one began with God’s command to Ezekiel to “speak unto Pharaoh,” here the prophet is told to take up a lament for him, because God was now going to destroy Egypt and her wicked king, Pharaoh’s pride being emphasized again in the accusation that he had imagined himself to be like a strong young lion amongst the nations, or like a whale in the seas, seas being used here to symbolize the peoples of the surrounding nations.  (Whale is also translated crocodile: dragon: monster).


“... rivers” have the same meaning here as in 31:12, i.e., commerce, so that Egypt’s having “troubled the waters ... and fouled their rivers” may be the symbolic announcement that Egypt had troubled “the waters,” i.e., the people of the surrounding nations, by harsh oppressive rule; while the fouling of their rivers may refer to restrictive trade laws and oppressive taxation.  The reference may be also as suggested by The Bible Knowledge Commentary, “Pharaoh’s actions were disturbing the international scene as he tried to blunt Babylon’s power.”


The fact that the prophet was commanded to lament Egypt’s doom confirms what is written concerning God, “... I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked: but that the wicked turn from his way and live....” Ezek 33:11, the further demonstration of this same truth being found in the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ wept over doomed Jerusalem, “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,” Lk 19:41.


32:3.  “Thus saith the Lord God; I will therefore spread out my net over thee with a company of many people; and they shall bring thee up in my net.”


As a fisherman casts his net to catch fish, i.e., to kill them, so metaphorically was God about to deal with the Egyptians, Babylon and her allies being the “many people” whom He would use as His instrument.


32:4.  “Then will I leave thee upon the land, I will cast thee forth upon the open field, and will cause all the fowls of the heaven to remain upon thee, and I will fill the beasts of the whole earth with thee.”


As fish, taken out of the water and left on the shore or thrown on an open field, would die, so was God going to have the Egyptians slain, the survivors being carried into foreign captivity, the fowls and beasts glutting themselves on their carcases, the fowls representing those who would rob them of their rich cultural heritage; and the beasts, those who would seize their literal wealth.


The filling of the beasts of the whole earth refers to the satisfaction the nations would derive from the destruction of Egypt which they had long envied and feared.


32:5.  “And I will lay thy flesh upon the mountains, and fill the valleys with thy height.”


Their flesh upon the mountains, probably refers to their dead bodies lying unburied on the mountains to which they would flee in their attempt to find refuge in other lands; while “height” in the present context means the worms feeding on the heaps of their rotting carcases lying in the valleys.


32:6.  “I will also water with thy blood the land wherein thou swimmest, even to the mountains; and the rivers shall be full of thee.”


This hyperbola emphasizes the terrible nation-wide slaughter  that would accompany Babylon’s incursion into Egypt.  Egyptian blood would flow like water.


32:7.  “And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light.”


32:8.  “All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord God.”


“... put thee out” refers to the snuffing out of their lives, not to their expulsion from the land.  Nor is it necessary to take the other descriptive terms literally, there being no historical evidence of any such phenomena at the time of Babylon’s invasion of the land.  The darkening of the heavens is metaphorically expressive of the anger of heaven against Egypt.


32:9.  “I will also vex the hearts of many people, when I shall bring thy destruction among the nations, into the countries which thou hast not known.”


News of Egypt’s destruction would cause international dismay even among people whom Egypt didn’t know.


32:10.  “Yea, I will make many people amazed at thee, and their kings shall be horribly afraid for thee, when I shall brandish my sword before them; and they shall tremble at every moment, every man for his own life, in the day of thy fall.”


“... amazed” is also translated aghast: appalled: stunned; and “horribly afraid,” terrified: shudder: appalled: panic-stricken.  The brandished sword is a metaphor for Babylon.


32:11.  “For thus saith the Lord God; The sword of the king of Babylon shall come upon thee.”


32:12.  “By the swords of the mighty will I cause thy multitude to fall, the terrible of the nations, all of them: and they shall spoil the pomp of Egypt, and all the multitude thereof shall be destroyed.”


The “mighty ... the terrible of the nations,” also described as “the most ruthless” were the Babylonians and their allies.  They would destroy Egypt’s pride and glory by cutting her army to pieces, slaughtering multitudes of civilians, and carrying the remainder off into captivity.


32:13.  “I will destroy also all the beasts thereof from beside the great waters; neither shall the foot of man trouble them any more, nor the hoofs of beasts trouble them.”


All the cattle that thrived in the lush pastures watered by the countless streams and canals of the Nile would be slaughtered, nor would those waters be roiled or muddied again by the feet of men or beasts: the cattle being slaughtered; and the people slain or carried away captive.


32:14.  “Then will I make their waters deep, and cause their rivers to run like oil, saith the Lord God.”


Many of the Nile’s side streams and canals were shallow, and made muddy by reason of the fact that the work of distributing the water entailed also the disturbance of the muddy bottoms.  With the people gone the rivers would eventually return to their natural smooth-flowing state.


32:15.  “When I shall make the land of Egypt desolate, and the country shall be destitute of that whereof it was full, when I shall smite all them that dwell therein, then shall they know that I am the Lord.”


Only when emptied of its human and animal population, and returned to its original desert state, would the few survivors learn that the God they had replaced with idols is the only God, and that man’s blessing is inseparably linked to obedience; misery and death being the concomitance of disobedience.  Egypt’s fate continues to declare the sad truth that when man refuses to know God as the Blesser of obedience, he must then through disobedience come to know Him as the God of holiness and inflexible righteous judgment Who must destroy the unrepentant rebel.


In that destruction of the Egypt of a bygone day, however, God bids us see the foreshadowing of the coming downfall of the present world system in the now immanent Great Tribulation.


32:16.  “This is the lamentation wherewith they shall lament her: the daughters of the nations shall lament her: they shall lament for her, even for Egypt, and for all her multitude, saith the Lord God.”


The nations would lament Egypt’s destruction, their women chanting dirges over the fall of the greatest and most glorious of all the nations, and with good cause: the well-being of all of them was inseparably linked with her.


32:17.  “It came to pass also in the twelfth year, in the fifteenth day of the month, that the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,”


32:18.  “Son of man, wail for the multitude of Egypt, and cast them down, even her, and the daughters of the famous nations, unto the nether parts of the earth, with them that go down into the pit.”


Though the month isn’t specified here the date is generally understood to have been March 17, 585 B.C.  The prophet was told to bewail the deaths of the multitudes of the Egyptians soon to be slain by the invading Babylonians.


“... cast them down” is not to be construed as implying power on Ezekiel’s part to consign the slain Egyptians to hell: it indicates rather his empathy with the One Who had that power, the omnipotent Jehovah. 


For comments on “the nether parts of the earth ... the pit” see 31:14.


32:19.  “Whom dost thou pass in beauty? go down, and be thou laid with the uncircumcised.”


The first part of this verse is also rendered, “Though you are incomparable in beauty....”  Egypt’s greatness couldn’t deliver her from the consequences of her pride and idolatrous contempt of God.  She was about to be consigned to hell, “with the uncircumcised” in the present context, being a synonym for a shameful death.  It is to be understood that nations do not enter hell as national entities: it is the unbelieving people who constitute them who go there.


32:20.  “They shall fall in the midst of them that are slain by the sword: she is delivered to the sword: draw her and all her multitudes.”


The Egyptians would die by the sword, God having delivered them up to that end, with the result that their souls would be drawn down to hell.


32:21.  “The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell with them that help him: they are gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword.”


From the depths of hell, earth’s former great men would speak to Egypt and her allies saying, “Come down, make your bed with all of us who have died shameful deaths, having been slain by the sword.”


32:22.  “Asshur is there and all her company: his graves are about him: all of them slain, fallen by the sword:”


Asshur is another name for Assyria, “her” referring to the nation; and “his” designating the king, “his graves round about him” meaning that in hell he is surrounded by the souls of those who had been his people, all of them being slain with the sword, and dying as unbelievers.


32:23.  “Whose graves are set in the sides of the pit, and her company is round about her grave: all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which caused terror in the land of the living.”


“... in the sides of the pit” is also translated “in the deepest part of the pit,” meaning that the souls of the slain Assyrians have been consigned to the deepest part of hell, the souls of her late soldiers lying in the midst of the rest of the dead Assyrian civilians, these soldiers having been once the terror of the other nations.


32:24.  “There is Elam and all her multitude round about her grave, all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which are gone down uncircumcised into the nether parts of the earth, which caused their terror in the land of the living; yet have they borne their shame with them that go down to the pit.”


Lying east of Babylon was Edom, a warlike nation mentioned in Gen 14, that had also been a terror to other nations.  It too had come to a shameful end, its people having also descended into hell, “her multitude round about her grave” referring to the souls of her former warriors now also in the pit with the souls of the rest of her citizens.


32:25.  “They have set her a bed in the midst of the slain with all her multitude: her graves are round about him: all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword: though their terror was caused in the land of the living, yet have they borne their shame with them that go down to the pit: he is put in the midst of them that be slain.”


She too was gone, the souls of her multitudes of people having descended into hell with “him,” i.e., her king.  They who had terrorized the nations now suffered the eternal terror and torment of hell, the “he ... in the midst of them” still having reference to her king.


32:26.  “There is Meshech, Tubal, and all her multitude: her graves are round about him: all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword, though they caused their terror in the land of the living.”


Meshech and Tubal were nations that had once occupied territory in the southeast of what is now Turkey.  They too had passed from the scene, their people dying the shameful death of unbelievers, their souls descending into hell, to suffer eternally, and in far more terrible degree, the terror they had inflicted upon the neighboring nations.


32:27.  “And they shall not lie with the mighty that are fallen of the uncircumcised, which are gone down to hell with their weapons of war: and they have laid their swords under their heads, but their iniquities shall be upon their bones, though they were the terror of the mighty in the land of the living.”


The “mighty” here are not righteous, for they are said to have died “uncircumcised,” i.e., they had died the shameful death of unbelievers.  On earth they had been given honorable burial as signified by the fact that their swords had been placed under their heads; but God’s treatment of them had been very different.  The men of earth had honored these dead by not separating them from their weapons at the time of burial; but God cast them down to hell still joined to their sins and to the concomitant eternal torment.  They who had terrorized others on earth would suffer the terror of God’s wrath eternally.


32:28.  “Yea, thou shalt be broken in the midst of the uncircumcised, and shalt lie with them that are slain with the sword.”


God would break them, causing them to die the shameful death of unbelievers.


32:29.  “There is Edom, her kings, and all her princes, which with their might are laid by them that were slain by the sword: they shall lie with the uncircumcised, and with them that go down to the pit.”


The Edomites and their rulers, in spite of all their might, had been slain, dying the shameful death of the unconverted, their souls descending into the terrible torment of hell.


32:30.  “There be the princes of the north, all of them, and all the Zidonians, which are gone down with the slain; with their terror they are ashamed of their might; and they lie uncircumcised with them that be slain by the sword, and bear their shame with them that go down to the pit.”


The princes of the north were the Phoenicians, and they with the Zidonians, had also gone down into hell in shame corresponding in measure to the terror they had caused others during their brief day of earthly power.  They too had died the shameful death of unbelievers, going down to the pit to endure eternal torment in that dreadful place.


32:31.  “Pharaoh shall see them, and shall be comforted over all his multitude, even Pharaoh and all his army slain by the sword, saith the Lord God.”


Pharaoh’s being comforted has to be understood in the context of relativity, for as noted already, there is no comfort in hell: it is a place of unending torment.


32:32.  “For I have caused my terror in the land of the living: and he shall be laid in the midst of the uncircumcised with them that are slain with the sword, even Pharaoh and all his multitude, saith the Lord God.”


While he lived Pharaoh had spread terror amongst the nations, and for that he would die a shameful death, being slain with the sword and consigned to hell to suffer eternal torment, the same dreadful doom as awaits every man who dies unrepentant.

[Ezekiel 33]


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