29 In the 10th year, on the 12th day of the 10th month, the word of the Eternal came to me with a message about Egypt.
Eternal One: 2 Son of man, face Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and preach against him and against all of Egypt! 3 Tell him this is what I, the Eternal Lord, have to say:
Look, I am against you,
Pharaoh king of Egypt.
You are like a great river monster,
snaking through the streams in the Nile,
declaring, “I own the Nile. I made it, and it is mine.”
4 But I will set a hook in your jaws
and make the fish of the Nile cling to your scales.
I will haul you in out of your waterways,
with all the fish clinging to your scales.
5 Then I will take you and leave you out in the desert,
you and all the fish of your waters.
You’ll collapse in the wide open space,
but no one will bother to collect your remains
Or bury you with your ancestors.
You’ll be food for wild beasts of the earth and birds in the sky.
6 Then all who live in Egypt will know that I am the Eternal One.
You have been nothing more than a staff made of wobbly reeds to the people of Israel.
7 When they took hold of you, looking for support,
you splintered and tore their hands.
When they leaned on you, you snapped in two,
and they wrenched their backs because of you.[a]
8 So this is what I, the Eternal Lord, have to say: “Look, I will march an army against you! It’s coming to slaughter your people and your animals. 9 I am going to make the land of Egypt a lonely wasteland; then they will know that I am the Eternal One.”
Because of your arrogant utterance, “I own the Nile. I made it, and it is mine,” 10 I oppose you and your streams. I will turn the land of Egypt into a lonely wasteland from Migdol to Aswan,[b] all the way to Ethiopia.[c] 11-12 No people or animals will pass through there. Not a single person will live there for 40 years. I will turn the land of Egypt into a wasteland, a tragedy among tragedies, the most devastating of devastations! Any cities still standing after the war will lie in ruins for 40 years. I will scatter the Egyptians to the wind and divide them among the nations.
13 After 40 years have passed, I am going to gather the Egyptians from the nations where I scattered them. 14 I will restore their fortunes and lead them back to the land of Pathros, the land of their ancestors. There, Egypt will begin again, but this time as an insignificant kingdom.
According to Egyptian legends, their people originate in southern Egypt near Pathros. Ezekiel is apparently aware of these stories and indicates God will give Egypt a new start.
15 She will be the weakest of any kingdom, never gaining power and never again ruling over other nations. 16 The people of Israel will never again turn to Egypt in a time of crisis because Egypt’s fate will be a reminder of her sins—when Israel chose to trust a pagan nation instead of Me. Then My people will know that I am the Eternal Lord.
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. 20 I have given him Egypt’s land as his reward to compensate him for all the work he has done for Me.
21 When that day comes, I will make a horn grow for the people of Israel so that they will be confident that My deliverance is near. Then I will open your mouth so that they will realize you have been speaking for Me all along. Then they will know that I am the Eternal One.