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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 1–19
Verses 1–19

The prophecy of the destruction of Egypt is here very full and particular, as well as, in the general, very frightful. What can protect a provoking people when the righteous God comes forth to contend with them?

I. It shall be a very lamentable destruction, and such as shall occasion great sorrow (Ezek. 30:2, 3): “Howl you; you may justly shriek now that it is coming, for you will be made to shriek and make hideous outcries when it comes. Cry out, Woe worth the day! or, Ah the day! alas because of the day! the terrible day! Woe and alas! For the day is near; the day we have so long dreaded, so long deserved. It is the day of the Lord, the day in which he will manifest himself as a God of vengeance. You have your day now, when you carry all before you, and trample on all about you, but God will have his day shortly, the day of the revelation of his righteous judgment,” Ps. 37:13. It will be a cloudy day, that is, dark and dismal, without the shining forth of any comfort; and it shall threaten a storm—fire, and brimstone, and a horrible tempest. It shall be the time of the heathen, of reckoning with the heathen for all their heathenish practices, that time which David spoke of when God would pour out his fury upon the heathen (Ps. 79:6), when they should sink, Ps. 9:15.

II. It shall be the destruction of Egypt, and of all the states and countries in confederacy with her and in her neighbourhood. 1. Egypt herself shall fall (Ezek. 30:4): The sword shall come upon Egypt, the sword of the Chaldeans, and it shall be a victorious sword, for the slain shall fall in Egypt, fall by it, fall before it. Isa. the country populous? They shall take away her multitude. Isa. it strong, and well-fixed? Her foundations shall be broken down, and then the fabric, though built ever so fine, ever so high, will fall of course. 2. Her neighbours and inmates shall fall with her. When the slain fall so thickly in Egypt great pain shall be in Ethiopia, both that in Africa, which is in the neighbourhood of Egypt on one side, and that in Asia, which is near to it on the other side. When their neighbour’s house was on fire they could not but apprehend their own in danger; nor were their fears groundless, for they shall all fall with them by the sword, Ezek. 30:5. Ethiopia and Libya (Cush and Phut, so the Hebrew names are, two of the sons of Ham who are mentioned, and Mizraim, that is, Egypt, between them, Gen. 10:6), and the Lydians (who were famous archers, and are spoken of as confederates with Egypt, Jer. 46:9), these shall fall with Egypt and Chub (the Chaldeans, the inhabitants of the inner Libya); these and others were the mingled people; there were those of all these and other countries who upon some account or other resided in Egypt, as did also the men of the land that is in league, some of the remains of the people of Israel and Judah, the children of the covenant, or league, as they are called (Acts 3:25), the children of the promise, Gal. 4:28. These sojourned in Egypt contrary to God’s command, and these shall fall with them. Note, Those that will take their lot with God’s enemies shall have their lot with them, yea, though they be in profession the men of the land that is in league with God.

III. All that pretend to support the sinking interests of Egypt shall come down under her, shall come down with her (Ezek. 30:6): Those that uphold Egypt shall fall, and then Egypt must fall of course. See the justice of God; Egypt pretended to uphold Jerusalem when that was tottering, but proved a deceitful reed; and now those that pretended to uphold Egypt shall prove no better. Those that deceive others are commonly paid in their own coin; they are themselves deceived. 1. Does Egypt think herself upheld by the absolute authority and dominion of her king? The pride of her power shall come down, Ezek. 30:6. The power of the king of Egypt was his pride; but that shall be broken, and humbled. 2. Isa. the multitude of her people her support? These shall fall by the sword, even from the tower of Syene, which is in the utmost corner of the land, from that side of it by which the enemy shall enter. Both the countries and the cities, the husbandmen and the merchants, shall be desolate, Ezek. 30:7; as before, Ezek. 29:12. Even the multitude of Egypt shall be made to cease, Ezek. 30:10. That populous country shall be depopulated. The land shall be even filled with the slain, Ezek. 30:11. 3. Isa. the river Nile her support, and are the several channels of it a defence to her? “I will make the rivers dry (Ezek. 30:12), so that those natural fortifications which were thought impregnable, because impassable, shall stand them in no stead.” 4. Are her idols a support to her? They shall be destroyed; those imaginary upholders shall appear more than ever to be imaginary, for so images are when they pretend to be deliverers and strongholds (Ezek. 30:13): I will cause their images to cease out of Noph. 5. Isa. her royal family her support? There shall be no more a prince in the land of Egypt; the royal family shall be extirpated and extinguished, which had continued so long. 6. Isa. her courage her support, and does she think to uphold herself by the bravery of her men of war, who have now of late been inured to service? That shall fail: I will put a fear in the land of Egypt. 7. Isa. the rising generation her support? is she upheld by her children, and does she think herself happy because she has her quiver full of them? Alas! the young men shall fall by the sword (Ezek. 30:17) and the daughters shall go into captivity (Ezek. 30:18), and so she shall be robbed of all her hopes.

IV. God shall inflict these desolating judgments on Egypt (Ezek. 30:8): They shall know that I am the Lord, and greater than all gods, than all their gods, when I have set a fire in Egypt. The fire that consumes nations is of God’s kindling; and, when he sets fire to a people, all their helpers shall be destroyed. Those that go about to quench the fire shall themselves be devoured by it; for who can stand before him when he is angry? When he pours out his fury upon a place, when he sets fire to it (Ezek. 30:15, 16), neither its strength nor its multitude can stand it in any stead.

V. The king of Babylon and his army shall be employed as instruments of this destruction: The multitude of Egypt shall be made to cease and be quite cut off by the hand of the king of Babylon, Ezek. 30:10. Those that undertook to protect Israel from the king of Babylon shall not be able to protect themselves. It is said of the Chaldeans, who should destroy Egypt, 1. That they are strangers (Ezek. 30:12), who therefore shall show no compassion for old acquaintance-sake, but shall behave strangely towards them. 2. That they are the terrible of the nations (Ezek. 30:11), both in respect of force and in respect of fierceness; and, being terrible, they shall make terrible work. (3.) That they are the wicked, who will not be restrained by reason and conscience, the laws of nature or the laws of nations, for they are without law: I will sell the land into the hand of the wicked. They do violence unjustly, as they are wicked; yet, so far as they are instruments in God’s hand of executing his judgments, it is on his part justly done. Note, God often makes one wicked man a scourge to another; and even wicked men acquire a title to prey, jure belli—by the laws of war, for God sells it into their hands.

VI. No place in the land of Egypt shall be exempted from the fury of the Chaldean army, not the strongest, not the remotest: The sword shall go through the land. Various places are here named: Pathros, Zoan, and No (Ezek. 30:14), Sin and Noph (Ezek. 30:15, 16), Aven and Pi-beseth (Ezek. 30:17), and Tehaphnehes, Ezek. 30:18. These shall be made desolate, shall be fired, and God’s judgments shall be executed upon them, and his fury poured out upon them. Their strength and multitude shall be cut off; they shall have great pain, shall be rent asunder with fear, and shall have distresses daily. Their day shall be darkened; their honours, comforts, and hopes, shall be extinguished. Their yokes shall be broken, so that they shall no more oppress and tyrannize as they have done. The pomp of their strength shall cease, and a cloud shall cover them, a cloud so thick that through it they shall not see any hopes, nor shall their glory be seen, or shine further. And, lastly, the Ethiopians, who are at a distance from them, as well as those who are mingled with them, shall share in their pain and terror. God will by his providence spread the rumour, and the careless Ethiopians shall be made afraid, Ezek. 30:9. Note, God can strike a terror upon those that are most secure; fearfulness shall, when he pleases, surprise the most presumptuous hypocrites.

The close of this prediction leaves, 1. The land of Egypt mortified: Thus will I execute judgments on Egypt, Ezek. 30:19. The destruction of Egypt is the executing of judgments, which intimates not only that it is done justly, for its sins, but that it is done regularly and legally, by a judicial sentence. All the executions God does are according to his judgments. 2. The God of Israel herein glorified: They shall know that I am the Lord. The Egyptians shall be made to know it and the people of God shall be made to know it better. The Lord is known by the judgments which he executes.