|@September 20, 2023||ESV (2016)||ESV Prophets Plan 2023|
- A Lament for Egypt
The chapter opens with a word coming to Ezekiel from the LORD to prophesy a lament against Egypt. This third oracle against Egypt is the only one without a date. The lament begins with a call to wail and that the “day is near” (Ezek. 30:30). This “day of Yahweh” imagery echoes Ezek. 7:10-27. It will be a “day of clouds” which was a common depiction of the Day of Yahweh motif (compare Joel 2:2; Zeph. 1:15).
In Ezek. 30:5, God identifies the nations referenced in Ezek. 30:3 as major allies and neighbors to Egypt. It will not only be Egypt to fall, but all those who support her. Migdol and Syene are identified; the former being the Canaanite word for “tower” or “fortress” and the proper name for several Egyptian military installations and the latter, Syene, as one of the main towns in southern Egypt. Their destruction, along with Egypt, will cause recognition of the one, true God (Ezek. 30:8).
In Ezek. 30:9-19, messengers will carry the news to “terrify the unsuspecting people of Cush” (Ezek. 30:9) to announce Egypt’s defeat. The news would cause panic in Cush because they, having sided with Egypt against Babylon, would now be vulnerable to attack. God would use Nebuchadnezzar along with other “most ruthless nations” as the means of judgment on Egypt (Ezek. 30:10-11). God will dry up the Nile River, straining irrigation and grain production to prepare the way for the invaders (Ezek. 30:12).
Ezek. 30:13-19 depicts the judgment on Egypt and its cities. God “will destroy the idols and put an end to the images in Memphis” (Ezek. 30:13). Pharaoh Hophra had a palace at Memphis, but it was also an important religious center with temples to many Egyptian gods. God names and declares judgment on Egypt’s cities along with centers of religious, political and military influence. All that they would come to know God as LORD (Ezek. 30:19).
The remaining verses (Ezek. 30:20-26) are of the downfall of Egypt which comes in two stages. First was Pharaoh’s arm being broken in Ezek. 30:20 which represented his defeat in the battle of Carchemish in 605 B.C. Second was Pharaoh’s other arm being broken when the Babylonians invaded Egypt and conquered it. Following the takeover, the Egyptians would be dispersed into neighboring nations (Ezek. 30:23; Ezek. 30:26). Through this, the Egyptians would come to know that God is LORD (Ezek. 30:26).
Egypt and her ally nations would now face God’s hand of judgment through Babylonian invasion. God had broken Pharaoh’s arms, symbolizing the removal of strength and ability to defend against foreign attack. The remaining Egyptians would be scattered into neighboring nations and, in the end, they would surrender to the knowledge that God is LORD of all.
That God would break Pharaoh’s arms seemed worthy of unpacking. There is a tendency in wider Christian thought that God is passive in His judgment; that He allows calamity but, because He is love, He cannot be ascribed as agent of its cause. However, the breaking of Pharaoh’s arms seems to paint a very different picture. God is very active in making Pharaoh defenseless. God not only brought judgment, He intentionally prevented its negation to ensure its full effect.
This can seem harsh, but not when we take the time to view it in its larger context. God is “big picture”. He is sovereign, perfect in all His ways and possesses full and eternal perspective. We are given a glimpse of this when His speaks repeatedly of His ultimate aim in judgment: that “they will know that I am the LORD”. Circumstances, good or bad, are all that our hearts would be drawn to Him; that He would be known and properly worshiped.
Scripture Journal Notes
Commentaries & Resources Used
- ESV Study Bible. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008)
- Faithlife Study Bible (Lexham Press, 2016)
- Believer’s Bible Commentary (Thomas Nelson, 2016)
- CSB Study Bible Notes (Holman Bible Publishers, 2017)
- Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (Guardian Press, 1976)
- The Bible: A Reader’s Guide (Sterling Publishing, 2011)
- The Infographic Bible (Zondervan, 2018)
- ESV Digital Scripture Journal (Crossway, 2019)