This explains the foregoing prediction, which was figurative, and looks something further. Here is a prophecy,
I. Of the ruin of Egypt. The threatening of this is very full and particular; and the sin for which this ruin shall be brought upon them is their pride, Ezek. 29:9. They said, The river is mine and I have made it; therefore their land shall spue them out. 1. God is against them, both against the king and against the people, against thee and against thy rivers. Waters signify people and multitudes, Rev. 17:15. 2. Multitudes of them shall be cut off by the sword of war, a sword which God will bring upon them to destroy both man and beast, the sword of civil war. 3. The country shall be depopulated. The land of Egypt shall be desolate and waste (Ezek. 29:9), the country not cultivated, the cities not inhabited. The wealth of both was their pride, and that God will take away. It shall be utterly waste (wastes of waste, so the margin reads it), and desolate (Ezek. 29:10); neither men nor beasts shall pass through it, nor shall it be inhabited (Ezek. 29:11); it shall be desolate in the midst of the countries that are so, Ezek. 29:12. This was the effect not so much of those wars spoken of before, which were made by them, but of the war which the king of Babylon made upon them. It shall be desolate from one end of the land to the other, from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia. The sin of pride is enough to ruin a whole nation. 4. The people shall be dispersed and scattered among the nations (Ezek. 29:12), so that those who thought the balance of power was in their hand should now become a contemptible people. Such a fall does a haughty spirit go before.
II. Of the restoration of Egypt after awhile, Ezek. 29:13. Egypt shall lie desolate forty years (Ezek. 29:12) and then I will bring again the captivity of Egypt, Ezek. 29:14. Some date the forty years from Nebuchadnezzar’s destroying Egypt, others from the desolation of Egypt some time before; however, they end about the first year of Cyrus, when the seventy years’ captivity of Judah ended, or soon after. Then this prediction was accomplished, 1. That God will gather the Egyptians out of all the countries into which they were dispersed, and make them to return to the land of their habitation, and give them a settlement there again, Ezek. 29:14. Note, Though God will find out a way to humble the proud, yet he will not contend for ever, no, not with them in this world. 2. That yet they shall not make a figure again as they have done. Egypt shall be a kingdom again, but it shall be the basest of the kingdoms (Ezek. 29:15); it shall have but little wealth and power, and shall not extend its conquests as formerly; it shall be the tail of the nations, and not the head. It is a mercy that it shall become a kingdom again, but, to humble it, it shall be a despicable kingdom; it shall be a long time before it recover any thing like its ancient lustre. For two reasons it shall be thus mortified:—(1.) That it may not domineer over its neighbours, that it may not exalt itself above the nations, nor rule over the nations, as it has done, but that it may know what it is to be low and despised. Note, Those who abuse their power will justly be stripped of it; and God, as King of nations, will find out a way to maintain the injured rights and liberties, not only of his own, but of other nations. (2.) That it may not deceive the people of God (Ezek. 29:16): It shall no more be the confidence of the house of Israel; they shall no more be in temptation to trust in it as they have done, which is a sin that brings their iniquity to remembrance, that is, provokes God to punish them not for that only, but for all their other sins. Or it puts them in mind of their idolatries to return to them, when they look to the idolaters, to repose a confidence in them. Note, The creatures we confide in are often therefore ruined, because there is no other way effectually to cure us of our confidence in them. Rather than Israel shall be ensnared again, the whole land of Egypt shall be laid waste. He that once gave Egypt for their ransom (Isa. 43:3) will now give Egypt for their cure; and it shall be destroyed rather than Israel shall not in this particular be reformed. God, not only in justice, but in wisdom and goodness to us, breaks those creature-stays which we lean too much upon, and makes them to be no more, that they may be no more our confidence.