Ezekiel 32 – Egypt, Monster of the Seas, Destined for Hell
A. Pharaoh and Egypt as a monster of the sea.
1. (1-2) Pharaoh like a lion or a monster of the sea.
And it came to pass in the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, on the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, take up a lamentation for Pharaoh king of Egypt, and say to him:
‘You are like a young lion among the nations,
And you are like a monster in the seas,
Bursting forth in your rivers,
Troubling the waters with your feet,
And fouling their rivers.’
a. In the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, on the first day of the month: This prophecy came more than a year after the fall of Jerusalem. This lamentation for Pharaoh king of Egypt was given after any hope Judah had in Egypt for help was passed.
i. This point of Jewish history, “They perhaps wondered whether God would be faithful to punish the heathen nations as he had declared. Conversely Egypt had seen the collapse of Jerusalem and Judah, and Egypt may have begun to gloat in pride over her own survival and power.” (Alexander)
b. You are like a monster in the seas: Pharaoh and his kingdom were mighty forces in the world, second only to Babylon – and Babylon had only recently subdued Egypt at the battle of Carchemish in 605 B.C. Egypt was still a great force with the ability to influence and trouble other nations.
i. Like a young lion among the nations…like a monster in the seas: “Here we have Pharaoh’s regard for himself as a lion, whereas he is no more than a crocodile stirring up mud and filth. So God will haul him out and throw him on land to be eaten by birds and beasts.” (Wright)
ii. Troubling the waters with your feet: “Pharaoh thrashed about in the water and made a big scene, but all he did was muddy the waters and create problems by disobeying the Lord.” (Wiersbe)
2. (3-8) God will slay and disgrace the sea monster representing Pharaoh.
“Thus says the Lord GOD:
‘I will therefore spread My net over you with a company of many people,
And they will draw you up in My net.
Then I will leave you on the land;
I will cast you out on the open fields,
And cause to settle on you all the birds of the heavens.
And with you I will fill the beasts of the whole earth.
I will lay your flesh on the mountains,
And fill the valleys with your carcass.
‘I will also water the land with the flow of your blood,
Even to the mountains;
And the riverbeds will be full of you.
When I put out your light,
I will cover the heavens, and make its stars dark;
I will cover the sun with a cloud,
And the moon shall not give her light.
All the bright lights of the heavens I will make dark over you,
And bring darkness upon your land,’
Says the Lord GOD.
a. I will therefore spread My net over you: Regarding Pharaoh as a great sea monster (Ezekiel 32:2), God promised to capture him in a great net and drag him to land (I will leave you on the land). There he would become food for both birds and beasts.
i. Spread My net over you: “With which both lions and crocodiles might be taken, and in which this lion and crocodile should certainly be taken; for God, whose hand never erreth, will spread the net.” (Poole)
ii. I will cast you out on the open fields: “It was literally fulfilled in the deserts of Libya, where the slain of Hophra’s army were left to be devoured by fowls and beasts. Metaphorically it is gathering a mixture of people, soldiers, like ravenous birds and beasts. from all parts to spoil Egypt.” (Poole)
b. I will also water the land with the flow of your blood: The idea is that the defeat and death of Pharaoh would be a good thing for the world. It would be like water for the land. This also reminds us of the first plague that came upon Egypt in Moses’ day (Exodus 7:19).
i. “The prophet has painted a disgusting if vivid picture of the earth drinking the excrement, blood, and other body fluids that are discharged when an animal is slain. One can scarcely imagine a more ignominious death.” (Block)
c. And bring darkness upon your land: This reminds us of the ninth of the plagues that came upon Egypt in Moses’ day, darkness for three days over the whole land (Exodus 10:21-29). God had judged Egypt before and would do it again. God exalted Himself over the idols of Egypt and would do it again.
i. When I put out your light: “The term kaba, which is used concretely of snuffing out a wick or a lamp, is occasionally used figuratively of death.” (Block)
ii. “It would be as if ‘a great darkness covered the land’ (Ezekiel 32:7-8), demonstrating that Egypt’s great sun gods were impotent to help.” (Alexander)
3. (9-10) Fear and astonishment among the nations at Pharaoh’s fall.
‘I will also trouble the hearts of many peoples, when I bring your destruction among the nations, into the countries which you have not known. Yes, I will make many peoples astonished at you, and their kings shall be horribly afraid of you when I brandish My sword before them; and they shall tremble every moment, every man for his own life, in the day of your fall.’
a. I will also trouble the hearts of many peoples: When God brought judgment to Pharaoh and Egypt many others would be troubled.
i. “The effect of this downfall would be widespread, bringing desolation to his own land, supplying booty to other lands, and making men everywhere tremble in the presence of the judgment of Jehovah.” (Morgan)
b. Their kings shall be horribly afraid of you: Many peoples and on-looking kings would be both astonished and afraid. They saw that if God’s judgment could come to mighty Egypt, it could also come to them.
4. (11-16) Judgment by the sword of Babylon.
“For thus says the Lord GOD: ‘The sword of the king of Babylon shall come upon you. By the swords of the mighty warriors, all of them the most terrible of the nations, I will cause your multitude to fall.
‘They shall plunder the pomp of Egypt,
And all its multitude shall be destroyed.
Also I will destroy all its animals
From beside its great waters;
The foot of man shall muddy them no more,
Nor shall the hooves of animals muddy them.
Then I will make their waters clear,
And make their rivers run like oil,’
Says the Lord GOD.
‘When I make the land of Egypt desolate,
And the country is destitute of all that once filled it,
When I strike all who dwell in it,
Then they shall know that I am the LORD.
‘This is the lamentation
With which they shall lament her;
The daughters of the nations shall lament her;
They shall lament for her, for Egypt,
And for all her multitude,’
Says the Lord GOD.”
a. The sword of the king of Babylon shall come upon you: Since the image of the sword usually stands for war, this was one more statement making it clear that God would bring judgment upon Egypt through war brought upon them by the king of Babylon. The Babylonians would plunder the pomp of Egypt and destroy a multitude.
i. Being a wealthy and mighty empire for so many centuries, Egypt had a lot of pomp to plunder.
ii. Plunder the pomp: “Break her strength, rob her treasures, sack her cities, captivate her people, and make the kingdom tributary, and so stain all her glory.” (Poole)
iii. Some skeptics argue that this was a false prophecy because there is little secular historical confirmation that the king of Babylon conquered Egypt. Feinberg answers these objections well: “As already stated, Egypt was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar. The silence of the Greek Herodotus is far from decisive in this matter, for he was unable to read the Egyptian sources and received his information through secondary sources. Furthermore, the Egyptians were adept at covering their disasters. For example, Herodotus did not even mention the important Battle of Carchemish. Some consider the prophecy as completely fulfilled.”
b. I will also destroy all its animals: War would also ravage the livestock of Egypt. The land and riverbanks would become desolate from either the foot of man or the hooves of animals.
i. “So great will be the slaughter and devastation that Egypt will be uninhabited by either man or beast.” (Taylor)
ii. All its animals: “Egypt, a most moist and fat country, was full of cattle.” (Trapp)
iii. Make their rivers run like oil: “With no people and animals available to work the land and draw the water, the streams and canals wouldn’t be muddied and the water would ‘run like oil’ with nothing to impede its flow.” (Wiersbe)
iv. Then they shall know that I am the LORD: “Now we learn Yahweh’s ultimate goal in humiliating Egypt: the universal acknowledgment of his person and his involvement in human affairs.” (Block)
c. They shall lament for her, for Egypt: Both a surviving remnant and those observing from other nations would lament in sorrow for the severe judgment brought upon Egypt.
i. This is the lamentation: “The funeral speech of this kingdom; for this, as a funeral oration, tells us what was their ancient glory, and what is now their miserable reproach and loss.” (Poole)
B. The seventh prophecy against Egypt.
1. (17-21) Egypt dragged down to the pit of the grave.
It came to pass also in the twelfth year, on the fifteenth day of the month, that the word of the LORD came to me, saying:
“Son of man, wail over the multitude of Egypt,
And cast them down to the depths of the earth,
Her and the daughters of the famous nations,
With those who go down to the Pit:
‘Whom do you surpass in beauty?
Go down, be placed with the uncircumcised.’
“They shall fall in the midst of those slain by the sword;
She is delivered to the sword,
Drawing her and all her multitudes.
The strong among the mighty
Shall speak to him out of the midst of hell
With those who help him:
‘They have gone down,
They lie with the uncircumcised, slain by the sword.’
a. In the twelfth year, on the fifteenth day of the month: This last of the seven prophecies against Egypt also happened in the twelfth year, the year after the fall of Jerusalem. Most agree that since no month is specifically mentioned, this happened the same month as the previous oracle (Ezekiel 32:1). This would be about two weeks later.
i. F.B. Meyer made a contemporary spiritual application of the idea of Ezekiel dating his words received from God: “We do well to observe special days in our diary of the years. The day of our conversion or consecration; the day of deliverance from overwhelming trouble; the day when He summoned us to some new duty; the day when Paradise shone around us with its golden sheen.”
b. Cast them down to the depths of the earth: As in Ezekiel 31:14-17, Egypt’s destiny was to go to sheol, to the pit, the depths of the earth. Though Egypt surpassed many in beauty, their destiny would be agony and disgrace, placed with the uncircumcised.
i. Wail over the multitude of Egypt: “Slain they were with the sword; but that was but a beginning of their sorrows, a trap door to eternal torment. Virgil, by a like figure, brings in Aeneas going down to hell, and there seeing Agamemnon, Dido, the Titans, Cyclopes, and other tyrants.” (Trapp)
ii. “Whatever excellence Egypt may have imagined herself to possess would be as nothing, for her body would be consigned to the grave as with all the rest.” (Feinberg)
iii. The depths of the earth: “Into hell, as that rich glutton in Luke 16:23, where our Saviour seemeth to allude to this place.” (Trapp)
iv. Whom do you surpass in beauty? “How little does it signify, whether a mummy be well embalmed, wrapped round with rich stuff, and beautifully painted on the outside, or not. Go down into the tombs, examine the niches, and see whether one dead carcass be preferable to another.” (Clarke)
v. With the uncircumcised:“Among profane and loathed carcasses; such the uncircumcised were in the opinion of the circumcised, and Herodotus in Euterpe saith the Egyptians were circumcised. However, in Scripture, a burial with the uncircumcised is a note of dishonour and contempt; thus for the king and princes.” (Poole)
c. The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell: In hell, Pharaoh and Egypt will be among many strong, many mighty. They will note the agony and disgrace of Egypt, to lie with the uncircumcised, slain by the sword.
i. The actual words of greeting are taunting and harsh, challenging Egypt’s self-esteem as the most delightful nation on earth.” (Block)
ii. Though this description is poetic and clouded by the Old Testament’s shadowy understanding of the life to come, we still learn here that the soul is conscious in Sheol (shall speak to him).
iii. “The inhabitants of Sheol are not asleep but fully conscious. They are aware of one another and their relative positions; they also know that their assignment was determined by their conduct during their tenure ‘in the land of the living.’” (Block)
2. (22-30) Egypt will join other nations in the pit of the grave.
“Assyria is there, and all her company,
With their graves all around her,
All of them slain, fallen by the sword.
Her graves are set in the recesses of the Pit,
And her company is all around her grave,
All of them slain, fallen by the sword,
Who caused terror in the land of the living.
“There is Elam and all her multitude,
All around her grave,
All of them slain, fallen by the sword,
Who have gone down uncircumcised to the lower parts of the earth,
Who caused their terror in the land of the living;
Now they bear their shame with those who go down to the Pit.
They have set her bed in the midst of the slain,
With all her multitude,
With her graves all around it,
All of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword;
Though their terror was caused
In the land of the living,
Yet they bear their shame
With those who go down to the Pit;
It was put in the midst of the slain.
“There are Meshech and Tubal and all their multitudes,
With all their graves around it,
All of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword,
Though they caused their terror in the land of the living.
They do not lie with the mighty
Who are fallen of the uncircumcised,
Who have gone down to hell with their weapons of war;
They have laid their swords under their heads,
But their iniquities will be on their bones,
Because of the terror of the mighty in the land of the living.
Yes, you shall be broken in the midst of the uncircumcised,
And lie with those slain by the sword.
“There is Edom,
Her kings and all her princes,
Who despite their might
Are laid beside those slain by the sword;
They shall lie with the uncircumcised,
And with those who go down to the Pit.
There are the princes of the north,
All of them, and all the Sidonians,
Who have gone down with the slain
In shame at the terror which they caused by their might;
They lie uncircumcised with those slain by the sword,
And bear their shame with those who go down to the Pit.
a. Assyria is there: In his poetry, Ezekiel pictured the strong among the mighty in hell (Ezekiel 32:21), each noticing Egypt under God’s judgment as she joined them in disgrace and damnation.
i. “Each empire, with its ruler, imagines that it has found the secret of immortality, but one follows another to death.” (Wright)
ii. “Some of those named had not yet disappeared from the pages of history, but their doom foretold of God was nonetheless sure and was viewed as having occurred.” (Feinberg)
iii. Assyria: “From early times the neo-Assyrian emperors gloated over their ruthless ferocity.” (Block)
b. Assyria is there… There is Elam… There are Meshech and Tubal… There is Edom… the princes of the north… all the Sidonians: Each of these mighty peoples would see Egypt join them in hell, coming to share their place with the slain, all in shame at the terror which they caused by their might. Egypt’s destiny was to share the disgrace and shame of other judged nations.
i. Meshech and Tubal: “Interpreters are not agreed on the identity of the people called Meshech and Tubal. Some regard them as remnants of the old Hittite people who were driven into the mountainous country in the eastern region of Asia Minor. Others identify them with the Scythians, seeing them as one people.” (Feinberg)
ii. “Meshech and Tubal experienced an even more humiliating fate for they had been even more ruthless. They were ‘the terror of the mighty in the land of the living.’ Therefore Meshech and Tubal rested with those who had been stripped of their weapons.” (Smith)
3. (31-32) The sword of judgment upon Egypt.
“Pharaoh will see them
And be comforted over all his multitude,
Pharaoh and all his army,
Slain by the sword,”
Says the Lord GOD.
“For I have caused My terror in the land of the living;
And he shall be placed in the midst of the uncircumcised
With those slain by the sword,
Pharaoh and all his multitude,”
Says the Lord GOD.
a. Pharaoh will see them and be comforted: Ezekiel ironically mentioned some small comfort that would come to Pharaoh on the day he entered hell. The comfort would come from knowing he was not the only one to suffer such shame and disgrace in judgment.
i. “This is the only consolation Pharaoh can find. He is in the company of every kind of fallen greatness.” (Wright)
ii. “Pharaoh also, who said he was a god, shall be found among the vulgar dead.” (Clarke)
iii. “The prophet’s declaration that ‘Pharaoh shall see them, and shall be comforted,’ is appalling, as it reveals that the only comfort that can come to him is the profound sense of the operation of infinite justice in the punishment of all, himself included, who have been guilty of the abominations which have issued in the judgment of Jehovah.” (Morgan)
b. For I have caused My terror in the land of the living: God closed His words of judgment to Egypt through Ezekiel with another solemn warning of the judgment, the terror, that He would surely bring.
i. “The oracle affirms that Yahweh is the Lord not only of individuals but also of history. The rise and fall of nations may appear attributable to charismatic and gifted leaders, but behind all international movements one must acknowledge the supreme hand of Yahweh, who alone fixes the times and seasons of their lives, sets the limits to their conduct, determines the nature of their downfall, appoints the agents of judgment, and in the process accomplishes his goal: the universal recognition of his power and his person.” (Block)