The prophet directs his oracle against Pharaoh, but in reality the pharaoh represents all of the people. Pharaoh’s audacious claim that he created the Nile stands in clear contradiction to the fact that Israel’s God created the heavens and the earth. So God becomes his enemy, fishes the great river monster out of the river—the lifeline of Egypt—and leaves his body as food for the animals and birds of the desert. The “monster” could refer either to the Nile crocodile—a symbol of the Pharaoh’s power—or the mythical creature of chaos who opposes God but is ultimately defeated by Him. The other fishes clinging to his scales appear to represent all those who depend on Pharaoh, including the Egyptian people and those foolish enough to align with them.
17 In the 27th year, on the 1st day of the 1st month, the word of the Eternal came to me.
Eternal One: 18 Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, has exhausted his army with the long siege of Tyre. His soldiers’ bodies are spent, their heads bald and shoulders rubbed raw, yet they have made little progress. The king and his army have not been rewarded for all of their hard work against Tyre.
19 Therefore, the Eternal Lord says:
Eternal One: Look, I am going to hand the land of Egypt over to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. He will take away her wealth—her goods and her population—by force and pay his army with the treasures he acquires there.