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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 20–26
Verses 20–26

This short prophecy of the weakening of the power of Egypt was delivered about the time that the army of the Egyptians, which attempted to raise the siege of Jerusalem, was frustrated in its enterprises, and returned re infectâ—without accomplishing their purpose; whereupon the king of Babylon renewed the siege and carried his point. The kingdom of Egypt was very ancient, and had been for many ages considerable. That of Babylon had but lately arrived at its great pomp and power, being built upon the ruins of the kingdom of Assyria. Now it is with them as it is with families and states, some are growing up, others are declining and going back; one must increase and the others must of course decrease.

I. It is here foretold that the king of Egypt shall grow weaker and weaker. The extent of his territories shall be abridged, his wealth and power shall be diminished, and he shall become less able than ever to help either himself or his friend. 1. This was in part done already (Ezek. 30:21): I have broken the arm of Pharaoh, some time ago. One arm of that kingdom might well be reckoned broken when the king of Babylon routed the forces of Pharaoh-Necho at Carchemish (Jer. 46:2), and made himself master of all that pertained to Egypt from the river of Egypt to Euphrates, 2 Kgs. 24:7. Egypt had been long in gathering strength and extending its dominions, and therefore, that there may be a proportion observed in providence, it loses its strength slowly and by degrees. It was soon after the king of Egypt slew good king Josiah, and in the same reign, that its arm was thus broken, and it received that fatal blow which it never recovered. Before Egypt’s heart and neck were broken its arm was. God’s judgments come upon a people by steps, that they may meet him repenting. When the arm of Egypt is broken it shall not be bound up to be healed, for none can heal the wounds that God gives but he himself. Those whom he disarms, whom he disables, cannot again hold the sword. 2. This was to be done again. One arm was broken before, and something was done towards the setting of it, towards the healing of the deadly wound that was given to the beast. But now (Ezek. 30:22), I am against Pharaoh, and will break both his arms, both the strong and that which was broken and set again. Note, If less judgments do not prevail to humble and reform sinners, God will send greater. Now God will cause the sword to fall out of his hand, which he caught hold of as thinking himself strong enough to hold it. It is repeated (Ezek. 30:24), I will break Pharaoh’s arms. He had been a cruel oppressor to the people of God formerly, and of late the staff of a broken rod to them; and now God by breaking his arms reckons with him for both. God justly breaks that power which is abused either to put wrongs upon people or to put cheats upon them. But this is not all; (1.) The king of Egypt shall be dispirited when he finds himself in danger of the king of Babylon’s forces: he shall groan before him with the groaning of a deadly wounded man. Note, It is common for those that are most elated in their prosperity to be most dejected and disheartened in their adversity. Pharaoh, even before the sword touches him, shall groan as if he had received his death’s wound. (2.) The people of Egypt shall be dispersed (Ezek. 30:23, 26): I will scatter them among the nations. Other nations had mingled with them (Ezek. 30:5); now they shall be mingled with other nations, and seek shelter in them, and so be made to know that the Lord is righteous.

II. It is here foretold that the king of Babylon shall grow stronger and stronger, Ezek. 30:24, 25. Put strength into the king of Babylon’s arms, that he may be able to go through the service he is designed for. 2. That he will put a sword, his sword, into the king of Babylon’s hand, which signified his giving him a commission and furnishing him with arms for carrying on a war, particularly against Egypt. Note, As judges on the bench, like Pilate (John 19:11), so generals in the field, like Nebuchadnezzar, have no power but what is given them from above.