1 “The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,”
The section that follows, ending with v. 18, is exceptional as standing without a date.
It may be either:
to the latest years of Ezekiel’s work; or
inserted at a later date, so that we go back to the earlier word of the Lord
in Ibid. vs.1-16.
Many are in favor of the former view, chiefly on the ground that v.3 speaks of the
nearness of the coming judgment. That the day of the Lord should be “near” is,
however, too vague and relative a term to be decisive. On the whole, the question
must be left as one which we have no sufficient data for solving. The close
parallelism with ch.29. seems to me slightly in favor of the second view.
2 “Son of man, prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Howl ye,
Woe worth the day!” Howl ye. The words read like an echo of Isaiah 13:6, and
find a parallel also in Joel 1:11, 13; Zephaniah 1:7, 14. Woe worth
the day! It may be well to note that the familiar phrase is a survival of the
Anglo-Saxon verb weorthan (German werden), “to become,” so that its
exact meaning is “Woe be to the day”“
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.” The day of the Lord. Here, as
everywhere (see note on ch.13:5), the words stand for any time in which the
Divine judgments manifest themselves in the world’s history. Of it Ezekiel says,
following in the footsteps of Joel (Joel 2:2), that it shall be a day of
cloud, i.e. of darkness and trouble; a day of the heathen, i.e. a time in
which the heathen who had exulted in the punishment of
know that the Lord was their Judge also, that He had His “day” appointed
The Day of the Lord (vs. 1-3)
There is in this expression, which occurs in various parts of this book of
prophecy, a certain vagueness which is consistent with grandeur and
sublimity. The prophet’s own mind was evidently impressed with the fact
that, whilst every day is an occasion for the manifestation of the Divine
presence among men, there are days which are peculiarly the Lord’s,
because connected in an especial manner with the purposes of the Eternal
with regard to the sons of time.
Memorable are such days as those which witness a great king’s accession
to the throne, a great battle deciding the fortunes of nations, the passing of
a great measure affecting the welfare of millions, the sending forth of a
religious mission to a heathen community. But, whilst every day upon
which some grand deed is wrought, or some noble institution founded, is in
a sense a day of the Lord, there are days in which Divine providence
signally asserts or vindicates itself, in which the might of the Omnipotent is
convincingly displayed; and such days are emphatically designated by the
term employed in the text.
RECOMPENSE AND JUDGMENT. Judging by the language here
employed by the prophet, the day of the Lord he announces seems
especially of this character. “Howl ye! Woe worth the day!” are
expressions which surely betoken the coming of the Lord in vengeance —
“a day of clouds,” “the time of the heathen.”
Ø Long-deferred correction is now to be inflicted;
Ø Threatenings often repeated are now to be fulfilled.
Ø Forbearance is exhausted, and
the day of the Lord shall see Him arise to judgment.
The defeat and confusion of the adversaries is accompanied by the
deliverance and exaltation of the friends of God. When the day comes
which shall see the destruction of
rejoice in her liberty, with the shout, “Now is the day of salvation!” “Lift
up your heads, for the day of redemption draweth nigh!”
MISUNDERSTANDING AND DOUBT. The day of man is the day of
ignorance and of fear, and is little better than the night when compared
with the brightness which God’s presence brings. To Christians, the day of
the Lord is the day of their Savior’s birth and coming to this world of sin.
“The people which sat in darkness saw a great light.” (Isaiah 9:2) Then the
errors and hopelessness of long ages were rolled away, like mists before
the rising of the Sun of Righteousness, with healing in his wings.
The day of the Lord will manifest His glory and fulfill His purpose! The day of
the Lord has interest and significance for men; but the very term implies that its
central meaning is not human, but Divine. The fools who have said in the heart,
“There is no God!” the hypocrites and formalists, who have professed belief in
God, but to whom the meaning of such belief is limited to words; the defiant and
rebellious sinners, of whom it may justly be said, “God is not in all their
thoughts” (Psalm 10:4); all these are addressed with power, and are aroused from
their infidelity, when the day of the Lord breaks upon the world, and when the
Lord Himself draws near.
4 “And the sword shall come upon
Ethiopia, when the slain shall fall in Egypt, and they shall take
away her multitude, and her foundations shall be broken down.”
Great pain shall be in Ethiopia. The words point to the
extension of the invasion of
instance, and afterwards by other conquerors — to the upper valley of the
Smend, and others of things rather than persons, the multitude of
possessions. Hengstenberg renders “tumult” in the sense of the stir of a
crowded city. The foundations are probably to be taken figuratively of the
bases of the prosperity of
actual buildings (compare Psalm 11:3; 82:5).
Chub, and the men of the land that is in league, shall fall with them
by the sword.”
though inconsistently) the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Phut, which is
reproduced in the Revised Version. The Lydians, in like manner, stand for
Lud; but we have to remember, as before (ch.27:10), that they are
the African, and not the Asiatic, people of that name. In Jeremiah 46:9
two nations are named among the auxiliaries of
similarity of name may have led to the term being used also for the Lydian
Ionian forces enlisted by
seems more reason for including these in the mingled people that are next
mentioned. Chub, or Cub (Revised Version), is found here only, and has
consequently given occasion to many guesses Havernick connects it with
the Kufa, a district of Media, often named in Egyptian monuments;
with Cob, a city of
reading Nub, and identify it with
Lub, found in the Lubim of II Chronicles 16:8 and Nahum 3:9. On
the whole, there are no adequate data for the solution of the problem. The
men of the land that is in league. Here, again, we are in a region of many
land of my covenant”) take it of
covenant with Jehovah (Psalm 74:2, 20; Daniel 11:28; Acts 3:25).
Egyptian confederacy implied in ch.23:42.
unknown to us, but sufficiently designated by Ezekiel for his readers.
6 “Thus saith the LORD; They also that uphold
the pride of her
power shall come down: from the
shall they fall in it by the sword, saith the Lord GOD.” 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. 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.” They that uphold Egypt. The words include the allies named
v. 5; but also embrace the rulers, generals, perhaps the idols, of
itself. From the tower of Syene. As before, in ch. 29:10, “from
Migdol to Syene.”
Associated Calamities (vs. 4-6)
In the individual. The first mischief in
the invader; but this is quickly followed by other ills. After
Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion the “abundance” is taken away, and the
“foundations” are broken down.
Among communities of men.
nations also fall under the wide sweep of judgment. We are members one
of another, and when one member suffers all the members suffer. No
people can afford to ignore the ruin of their neighbors. Selfish indifference
is ultimately punished by a man’s being compelled to share the sad
consequences of the troubles of those whom he has neglected.
joined to the greater nation in suffering. He who walks in the way of
sinners will come to the end of sinners. There is no assurance against the
fatal consequences of wickedness that can be effected by means of
association. “Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be
unpunished” (Proverbs 11:21).
Phut and Lud are obscure, unimportant, and remote. Yet they share the
fate of better-known
own insignificance. No ferret is so keen as a man’s own sin when the time
comes for it to find him out.
These other nations were joined to great
alliance did not save then. On the contrary, the grandeur of
Nebuchadnezzar to their neighborhood. Had there been no rich and famous
Lud. We gain nothing by the power or prestige of influential connections
when we are called to judgment for our sins.
neighboring nations uphold
on the Delta to the granite-quarries of Syene far away to the south on the
borders of the Soudan — five hundred
miles — the ruin of great
extend; it will also spread to the people who support her policy and
contribute to her prosperity. He who makes others to sin is himself the
greatest of sinners. Fagin the trainer of child-thieves is himself a monstrous
thief, though he never steals a handkerchief with his own fingers. People
who encourage opium-eating, drunkenness, or profligacy, by supporting
the causes of those evils, are guilty of them. The mercenaries
share the fate of their wealthy mistress. There are too many mercenaries of
sin in the present day. FOR THE SAKE OF GAIN men will carry on a
business which they know is directly ministering to the ruin of their
fellowmen. They attempt to defend themselves with the excuse that they do
not force those whom they supply with the means of self-destruction to
avail themselves of it. This is true; but, on the other hand, they tempt the
miserable victims by affording facility for fatal indulgence. That is the sin
The Day of Desolation (vs. 1-3,7)
To what extent we are to take the prophet’s description of the “woe” that
ch.29:16) depend on our principle of biblical interpretation, together with our
reading of ancient history. For the purpose of religious edification it is enough
that we accept these words as a picture of the desolation to which a course of
guilt, whether national or individual, may be expected to lead.
chapter, a most graphic picture.
Ø Prosperity departs, and there is no more boast of its great
population (v. 10).
Ø Violent death lays numbers of its people low; the land is “filled with
the slain” (vs. 4, 11).
Ø Its hope, in the person of its young men, is slain (v. 17).
Ø Its beauty, its pride, in the person of its daughters, is removed (v. 18).
Ø Its physical resources are dried up (v. 12).
Ø Its natural leaders are lost to it (v. 13).
Ø Its religious institutions are broken up (Ibid.).
Ø Its allies and dependencies are dragged down with it to the ground
(vs. 5, 6); “its yokes are broken” (v. 18).
Ø Its people are stricken with dismay; instead of its ancient pride and
pomp (Ibid.), fearfulness fills the heart of its inhabitants (v. 13);
a cloud of dire misfortune throws the whole country into dark
shadow (vs. 3, 18). The final, comprehensive touch is in the language
of the text.
Desolation in the midst
of desolation. It does not appear that
ever presented so desperate a scene as this; and we may understand
o that God, for some sufficient reason, forbore to visit the land with
the last extremity of woe (see Jonah 3:4, 10); or
o that the language of the prophecy is to be taken as hyperbolical,
and thus interpreted. But we must also understand that:
o the ultimate issue of collective (national) iniquity is destruction
and desolation; witness the cities of the plain,
The “day” of sin and of defiance, of tyrannical power and guilty gratification may last
long, but its sun is sure to set in dark clouds, and when the morrow comes, as it will
come, there will be a day of dire and widespread desolation. “Woe worth the day!”
when it arrives.
Ø In what it is found. Spiritual desolation is experienced when all that is
really precious to the human soul is broken up and has departed.
o the good habits of devotion and of virtue, formed in childhood, have
become loosened and have given way;
o the soul has lost its faith in the providence, the nearness, the notice,
and perhaps even the being of God;
o the man has become separated, both in sympathy and in action,
from those with whom he once walked and worshipped;
o hope of future blessedness has left the heart bare of all expectancy
beyond the grave, and the future is NOTHING BUT A BLANK!
o life has lost all its sacredness, and therefore nearly all its worth. This
sad desolateness of sin culminates in:
§ the loss of all self-respect, and
§ the extension of the same spiritual waste to those who are
within range of its influence; when one is “desolate in the
midst of desolation.”
Ø How it may be averted. “None of them that trust in Him shall be
desolate,” says the psalmist (Psalm 35:22). The fear of God, walking in
the light of His truth, communion with Jesus Christ and association
with His friends and followers, the daily prayer for the restraining and
the prompting influences of the Spirit of God, — this will secure the soul
from loss and from decline. He who lives thus will not enter even the
outer shadow of this calamity.
Ø The way of deliverance. Men once thought that there was no way for a
human soul to ascend from the pit of spiritual ruin to the lofty levels of
holy service and sacred joy and immortal hope. We think thus no more
now that Jesus has spoken to us who has said, “I am the Way.”
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
The whole passage seems an echo of Isaiah 18:2. The ships are those that bear
tidings of the conquest of Lower
Egypt to the upper valley of the
The careless Ethiopians are so named as confiding in their remoteness from the
scene of action. They thought themselves safe, and were lulled into a false
security (compare Isaiah 32:9-11 and Zephaniah 2:15, for a like rendering of the
verb). As in the
so Ezekiel points to the memorable time when like tidings of the judgments that
The Careless Ethiopians (v. 9)
These people who were heedless of the coming danger that threatened them in
common with great
Ethiopians” are not rare specimens of an obscure class. We have not to go
belong is far from extinct even in this age of anxiety and energy. Note the
various forms which carelessness takes.
Ø In regard to danger. This was the condition of the easy-going
Ethiopians. They would not consider the approaching danger of the
Chaldean invasion. Men will not see risks to health till they suddenly
break down; then they discover them, perhaps, too late. Soul-danger
is ignored by thoughtless sinners. (I recommend Isaiah 1 – Spurgeon
Sermon – To the Thoughtless – this website – CY – 2014)
Ø In respect to guilt. The pilgrim felt the weight of his burden, but most of
the inhabitants of the City of
their sins. Many men sin recklessly. They add up the score of guilt without
Ø In reference to duty. Multitudes live as though they were only to be
expected to please themselves. The sacred word “duty” has no meaning
for them. They may be very anxious about their business and what will be
profitable, but they are quite careless as to what they ought to do.
Ø In connection with other men. Dives is careless as to the condition of
Lazarus. (Luke 16) The Church is too negligent of the state of the heathen
world. In great cities people think little of their next-door neighbors. It is
possible to starve in a land of plenty, and for no one to give heed till too late.
Ø In relation to God. He is our Father and Master, and it is our first duty
and our highest interest to regard His will. Yet many act as if He did not
exist. They care neither for His love nor for His wrath.
share in the great deluge of general calamities that is about to sweep over
the nations. Their carelessness does not protect them. Carelessness is evil
on many accounts.
Ø Because of its folly. This is more than childish. It is the stultification of
mind. Man is made in the image of God, a thinking being. To renounce
thought is to abdicate the throne of supremacy over the lower creation.
Ø Because of its negligence. This carelessness is willful. It springs from an
idle refusal to take the trouble of thinking, or from an insane infatuation
with superficial interests. It is our duty to consider our ways, to consider
the poor, and to remember our Creator. Negligence is sin. “To him
that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)
Ø Because of its danger. The danger is not in any degree lessened because
we decline to consider it. The recklessness of an engine-driver about red
lights does not annihilate obstructions on the line. The wages of sin will be
paid punctually and to the full, whether we expect the day of recompense
or never anticipate it.
Observe, in conclusion, that there is a way of being saved from care. This
is not to be found in carelessness, however. We can quench worldly care
with trust. Other anxieties may be softened and ultimately abolished when
we seriously set ourselves to seeking God’s favor and doing His will.
10 “Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will
also make the multitude of
to cease by the
hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of
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
By the hand of Nebuchadnezzar. Hitherto (on the assumption that ch. 29:17-21
stands by itself, and that we are still in the prophetic message of Ibid. vs.1-16)
the predictions have been general. Now Ezekiel, following in the footsteps of
Jeremiah (Jeremiah 46.), specifies the Chaldean king and his people, the terrible
of the nations (as in ch.28:7; 31:12, et al.), as those who were to execute the
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.”
I will make the rivers dry. The rivers are the Nile-branches of
the Delta, and their being dried up points, perhaps, literally to a failure in
inundation of the
like failure of all its sources of prosperity.
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
M’noph, the reek
the chief center of the worship of Phthah, whom the Greeks identified with
Hephaestos. Hence the special mention of the idols and images.
14 “And I will make Pathros desolate, and will set fire in Zoan, and
will execute judgments in No.” (For Pathros, see note on ch.29:14.)
Zoan — joined with Noph in Isaiah 19:11, mentioned in Numbers 13:22
the Delta of the
to “the abode of Ammen”), the sacred name of the Egyptian Thebes. The
Septuagint gives Diospolis; the
Vulgate, by a curious anachronism,
*Commentary on Numbers 13:22 – Now
near the mouth of the eastern branch of the
true that the Pharaoh of the exodus had his royal residence at Zoan, Moses may
have had access to the archives of the city, or he may have learned the date
of its foundation from the priests who gave him his Egyptian education.
That there was any real connection between the two places is extremely
problematical, nor is it possible to give any reason for the abrupt insertion
here of a fragment of history so minute and in itself so unimportant. There
is, however, no one but Moses to whom the statement can with any sort of
likelihood be traced.
15 “And I will pour my fury upon Sin, the strength of
cut off the
multitude of No. 16 And I will set fire in
great pain, and No shall be rent asunder, and Noph shall have distresses daily.”
Sin. The name signifies “mire,” like the Greek Pelusium (so the Vulgate), from
πήλος - paelos – clay - (Strabo, 17. p. 802). The modern name
Pheromi has the same meaning. The remains of an old fortress near the
town are still known as Tineh, the “clay” of Daniel 2:41. The fortress
stood on the eastern branch of the
position made it, in modern phrase, the “key” of
(ut supra) describe it as an obstacle to invaders from the East. Ezekiel, in
describing it as “the strength of
characteristics. The multitude of No; in the Hebrew, as in Jeremiah 46:25,
Hamon-No. Did the prophet, after the manner of Micah 1:10-14,
indulge in a play on the full name of the city as given in Nahum 3:8?
The Septuagint as before, gives Diospolis, and the Vulgate
shall have distresses daily. So the Vulgate, angustiae quotidianae.
Hitizig and Keil, however, take the words as “troubles in the day-time.”
The city should be attacked, not by night (Obadiah 1:5), but in open
day (compare “the spoiler at noonday” of Jeremiah 15:8). The Septuagint
omits the name of the city, and renders, “waters shall be poured out.” For
Sin the Septuagint here gives, following a different reading, “Syene.”
17 “The young men of Aven and of Pibeseth shall fall by the sword:
and these cities shall go into captivity.” The young men of Aven; the
“On” of Genesis 41:45, the “house of the sun” of Jeremiah 43:13, the
“a vain thing!” as in Hosea 4:15; 10:5) was perhaps chosen as a word of
scorn pointing to the idolatry of the city. Pibeseth; Septuagint; Bubastos.
The city situated on the
Ptolemy II. (Herod., 2:59). It derived its name from the cat-headed goddess
Pasht, and was the chief seat of the home which was named after it. It was
destroyed by the Persians (Diod. Sic., 15:51), but the name lingers in
Tebbastat, a heap of ruins about
seven hours journey from the
18 “At Tehaphnehes also the day shall be darkened, when I shall break
there the yokes of
in her: as for her, a cloud shall cover her, and her daughters shall
captivity. 19 Thus will I execute
shall know that I am the LORD.” At Tehaphnehes; the Tabu-panes of
Jeremiah 2:16; 44:1; 46:14; (where it appears as having a royal palace);
the Taphnae of the Septuagint; the Daphne of Herod., 2:30. It was another
frontier-fortress in the neighborhood of Pelusium, built by Psammetichus.
It may, perhaps, be represented by the modern Tel-ed-Defenne, about
twenty-seven miles southwest of Pelusium. The day shall be darkened.
The normal image for the departure of the sunshine of prosperity, as in v. 3
And ch.32:7 (compare Amos 5:20; 8:9; Isaiah 5:30; Jeremiah 13:16, etc.).
The yokes of Egypt. Commonly, as in ch.34:27; Leviticus 26:13; Jeremiah
27:2; 28:10, 12, the phrase would imply the deliverance of
yoke of oppression suffered at the hand of others. Here that sense is clearly
inappropriate. The Septuagint and Vulgate give “the scepters” of
which implies a different reading, and this is adopted in substance by
Ewald and Smend, the latter preferring rendering it by “supports” or “props,”
the “red” being used as a “staff” rather than as a “scepter” (compare ch.19:14;
Jeremiah 43:8; 48:17). The pomp of her strength. The phrase meets us again
in ch.33:28, and includes what we speak of as the parade of power, here
probably with a view to the foreign forces that garrisoned both Daphne and
Pelusium. The daughters may be literally the women of the city, who were to
Share the usual fate of their sex on the capture of a city; or as in ch.26:6, 8;
or probably as in ch.16:53, 55, for the villages and towns dependent on the
strong city. On the whole, looking to the mention of the “young men” in
v. 17, the literal meaning seems preferable.
The Lord’s Day in
The Lord’s day is the day in which God comes nearest to men and
manifests Himself. Whether He will come as our Friend or as our Foe
depends on our state of mind towards Him. He has not abandoned the race
of men. They are on trial, undergoing discipline. Now and again He comes
near, either in His radiant robes of grace or in solemn aspect as an impartial
Judge. Even when He approaches nations in the latter character, He gives
premonitions of His coming, and this is an act of grace. In all His doings
righteousness and love are sweetly blended.
stated, “I will also destroy the idols, and I will cause their images to cease”
(v. 13). Idolatry is not merely a system of error; it is a fount of immorality,
it is a seed-bed of moral corruption. In the realm of religion you cannot
separate theory from practice. Theories of atheism today become habits of
sensuality tomorrow. Where God is ignored, every vice will speedily
appear. (This is happening in
The depravities of
(Whoever thought that
wisest man to estimate the demerit of sin. No human jurist can place a
competent penalty against transgression of the Law of God. He alone who
created man and imposed law can determine adequate punishments. We
can leave God to do what is wise and right. Usually, the sky
transcendently bright; now that clear sky shall be covered with a cloud.
Ø A foreign sword shall invade the land. “It shall be the time of the
heathen” (v. 3). A sharp sword wielded by a fierce enemy was
ordained to mow down the people.
Ø Desolation was decreed. So great was the decimation to be, that
populous cities would be silent, and death-like desolation would prevail
throughout that once prosperous land. Like the deserts which envelop
Fire was to complete the overthrow. “I will set fire in
mansions and cottages, built of most combustible material, would be ready
food for flames; and, for lack of water, towns and villages would speedily
disappear. How vulnerable on every side was this renowned empire!
Ø Her very foundations would be rooted up. Under this language there is
portrayed, not the removal of material substructions of cities, but the
demolition of imperial and. national foundations. The throne should be
completely undermined; the government should pass into other hands.
Ø The overthrow should be coextensive with Egypt. No part was to be
excepted. Beginning at the first stronghold — the
devastation should sweep throughout the land. Flourishing cities are
mentioned by name as devoted to doom. One calamity shall befall one;
some other calamity is prepared for another. God calls to His service ten
God has announced beforehand what instrument He will employ. The main
leader in this great tragedy was Nebuchadnezzar King of
good reason prevailed with God why He should be selected. To be the tool
of a bad man is a great dishonor, but to do any service for our righteous
King is a substantial honor. Sometimes God has seen fit to employ material
forces to execute His vengeance, as in the cases of
Sometimes He has employed an angel, as when He discomfited Sennacherib
19:35-37), as when He smote the inhabitants of
the human instrument be not himself righteous, he shall also in his turn be
chastised. God gives to men rewards on earth to whom He is bound to deny
the possession of heaven.
the testimony of Jehovah. “Thus saith the Lord;” “I the Lord have spoken
it” (v. 12). Not even the actual overthrow of
certain than it was made by the word of Jehovah. His declarations are as
good as His performances. His words are deeds. As soon as He speaks the
event begins to evolve, although we only perceive the final stroke. Our
business, therefore, is simply to ascertain whether God has spoken; if He has,
we may conclude that the word will become fact. Between His word and its
fulfillment there is an iron link of necessity. IT MUST BE DONE!
men of the land that is in league, shall fall with them by the sword.” (v. 5)
Allies shall suffer along with the principal offenders. To prop up a rotten throne
is a crime. Judicious care is needed in the choice of friends, whether public or
private. By thoughtlessly identifying ourselves with bad men, we become
“partakers of their sins.” Such overwhelming judgment as this in
would strike terror into the hearts of neighbors. “In that day shall
messengers from me make the careless Ethiopians afraid.” (v. 9)
All who dwell in the vicinity shall be awed by the great catastrophe. If such
disaster overtook the Egyptians, might it not also overtake them? Had they
no sin to be chastised? If the Egyptians were unable to buy off, or resist, the
foe, what could they do in the day of visitation? Well may all wrongdoers
tremble! “When thy judgments are abroad in the earth, the inhabitants of
the world will learn righteousness.” (Isaiah 26:9)
know that I am the Lord.” In their death they shall be convinced of a truth
which they refused to acknowledge during life. In the crisis of the conflict
between Jehovah and the idols men shall learn on which side the real
strength lies. So is it still — when too late to reverse the course of life, too
late to change character — men discover that there is a God in the earth,
and that they must pass through the crucial process of judgment. Yet how
slow are the nations still to recognize and revere Jehovah! What patience
and forbearance doth our God show! Nevertheless, it is true — men shall
confess that Jehovah is Lord. Is it not wiser to learn the lesson forthwith?
JUDGMENT. “Howl ye! Woe worth the day!” (v. 2) It is an impressive
proof of the tender love of God that He employs all suitable means to warn
us of the gradual approach of doom. Of Him it is not true that the “gods
have feet of wool.” The noise of His chariot-wheels is heard in the distance.
He sends messengers of various kinds in advance, to prevent, if possible, the
threatened disaster. What gratitude ought to break forth from our hearts!
And with what awe should we hear the thunderous tread of His footsteps!
Verily, men are as the small dust of the balance compared with the majesty
of God. (Psalm 62:9) For the creature to contend with his Creator is folly
inexpressible! While yet the day of opportunity lingers, let counsels of
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,” In the eleventh year, etc. Assuming that the whole section,
ch. 29:17-30:19, were a later insertion, that which follows was
written in April, B.C. 586. Its contents show that it was written at or about
the time of the abortive attempt of Pharaoh-Hophra to come to the relief of
21 “Son of man, I have broken the arm of Pharaoh king of
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.” I have broken the arm. The metaphor
was in itself one of the most familiar (ch.17:9; 22:6; I Samuel 2:31; Jeremiah
48:25). What is characteristic in Ezekiel is the way in which he follows the
figure, so to speak, into its surgical details. A man with a broken arm might
be cured and fight again; but it was not to be so with Pharaoh. His arm was
not to be bound with a roller (the equivalent of the modern process of
putting it in “splints”). The Hebrew word for “roller” is not found
elsewhere, and Ezekiel’s use of it is one of the instances of his knowledge
of surgery. The corresponding verb is used by him of the bandages or
swaddling-clothes of infancy (ch.16:4).
22 “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against Pharaoh
was broken; and I will cause the sword to fall out of his hand.
23 And I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will
disperse them through the countries. 24 And I will strengthen the arms
of the king of
Pharaoh’s arms, and he shall groan before him with the groanings of a
deadly wounded man.” The strong, and that which was broken. The image is
pressed yet further. A warrior whose sword-arm was broken might go on
fighting with his left. Hophra might continue to struggle, though with
diminished strength. Ezekiel’s words shut out the hope of any such
struggle. The left arm also should be broken as the right had been. The
Chaldean king should wax stronger and stronger. The sword of
Nebuchadnezzar should be as truly “the sword of Jehovah,” as that of
Gideon had been (Judges 7:18). Figuratively, he should stand before
him groaning as a man wounded to the death. So in Jeremiah 43:9;
44:30; 46:26, we have allusions to an invasion of
Nebuchadnezzar, which was to end in his sitting on his throne in the
stronghold of Tahapanes.
25 “But I will strengthen the arms of the king of
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
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.” The imagery is slightly varied. The arms of the Egyptian
king are described, not as broken, but as feeble. They hang down by his
side instead of wielding the sword. I will scatter, etc. The prophet dwells
once more, repeating the very words of v. 23 and ch.29:12 with
all the emphasis of iteration, on the dispersion which was the almost
inevitable sequel of an Oriental conquest. There in the land of exile they
should see that they had been fighting against God; and so the prophet
ends the chapter with his ever-recurring formula, They shall know that I
am Jehovah (ch.28:26; 29:21).
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