Ezekiel Chapter Twenty-nine
The desolation of Egypt. (1-16) Also a promise of mercy to Israel. (17-21)
Commentary on Ezekiel 29:1-16
(Read Ezekiel 29:1-16)
Worldly, carnal minds pride themselves in their property, forgetting that whatever we have, we received it from God, and should use it for God. Why, then, do we boast? Self is the great idol which all the world worships, in contempt of God and his sovereignty. God can force men out of that in which they are most secure and easy. Such a one, and all that cleave to him, shall perish together. Thus end men's pride, presumption, and carnal security. The Lord is against those who do harm to his people, and still more against those who lead them into sin. Egypt shall be a kingdom again, but it shall be the basest of the kingdoms; it shall have little wealth and power. History shows the complete fulfilment of this prophecy. God, not only in justice, but in wisdom and goodness to us, breaks the creature-stays on which we lean, that they may be no more our confidence.
Commentary on Ezekiel 29:17-21
(Read Ezekiel 29:17-21)
The besiegers of Tyre obtained little plunder. But when God employs ambitious or covetous men, he will recompense them according to the desires of their hearts; for every man shall have his reward. God had mercy in store for the house of Israel soon after. The history of nations best explains ancient prophecies. All events fulfil the Scriptures. Thus, in the deepest scenes of adversity, the Lord sows the seed of our future prosperity. Happy are those who desire his favour, grace, and image; they will delight in his service, and not covet any earthly recompence; and the blessings they have chosen shall be sure to them for ever.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Ezekiel》
 In the tenth year, in the tenth month, in the twelfth day of the month, the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
The tenth year — Of Jeconiah's captivity.
 Speak, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself.
The great dragon — The crocodile; our prophet, as well as Isaiah, compares the Egyptian king to that devouring serpent, or dragon.
That lieth — Not only at rest, but waiting for prey.
My river — My kingdom, power, riches, and forces, all the strength and glory of Egypt.
 But I will put hooks in thy jaws, and I will cause the fish of thy rivers to stick unto thy scales, and I will bring thee up out of the midst of thy rivers, and all the fish of thy rivers shall stick unto thy scales.
Put hooks — The Allegory is continued.
The fish — The people of Egypt.
To stick — To adhere to their king.
 And I will leave thee thrown into the wilderness, thee and all the fish of thy rivers: thou shalt fall upon the open fields; thou shalt not be brought together, nor gathered: I have given thee for meat to the beasts of the field and to the fowls of the heaven.
Leave thee — When thus brought out, I will leave thee.
The wilderness — The deserts of Libya and Syene.
All the fish — The whole army of the Egyptians.
The open fields — There was this king and his army ruined.
Gathered — These were not buried, but left in the wilderness, a prey to wild beasts, and birds.
 When they took hold of thee by thy hand, thou didst break, and rend all their shoulder: and when they leaned upon thee, thou brakest, and madest all their loins to be at a stand.
Rent — Didst them much mischief instead of benefiting them, as thou hast promised, Jeremiah 37:7.
 Behold, therefore I am against thee, and against thy rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia.
Syene — Boundary between Ethiopia and Egypt; that is, all Egypt from north-east to south-west.
 No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years.
Forty years — These forty years began about the thirtieth year of Jeconiah's captivity, and end with the seventieth year of the captivity, which was the first of Cyrus.
 And I will bring again the captivity of Egypt, and will cause them to return into the land of Pathros, into the land of their habitation; and they shall be there a base kingdom.
Pathros — The southern part of Egypt, in which was the famous city Thebae, known for its hundred gates.
Their habitation — The ancient habitation of their fathers.
A base — A low, tributary, dependent kingdom.
 It shall be the basest of the kingdoms; neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations: for I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule over the nations.
No more rule — Though in the times of the Ptolemeys, it was considerable, yet then, even then it did not rule the nations about her.
 And it shall be no more the confidence of the house of Israel, which bringeth their iniquity to remembrance, when they shall look after them: but they shall know that I am the Lord GOD.
Which — Which sinful reliance on the arm of flesh provoked God to call to mind their other iniquities.
When — When they forgot God, and respected Egypt.
They — The house of Israel.
 And it came to pass in the seven and twentieth year, in the first month, in the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
In the seven and twentieth year — Of Jeconiah's captivity, the year after the conquest of Tyre.
 Son of man, Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon caused his army to serve a great service against Tyrus: every head was made bald, and every shoulder was peeled: yet had he no wages, nor his army, for Tyrus, for the service that he had served against it:
Caused — The army, and commanders were weary of the siege, but the immovable resolution of the king kept them on.
A great service — It was service to the justice of God. It was great service both for hardness of work, heaviness of burdens, and length of the siege, thirteen years together.
Made bald — Through age, or sicknesses, or continued wearing of helmets.
Peeled — Galled with carrying burdens.
No wages — For though Tyre was very rich, when first besieged, much wealth was carried away during the siege, much spent and wasted in the siege, and what was left, preserved by articles of surrender.
 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will give the land of Egypt unto Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon; and he shall take her multitude, and take her spoil, and take her prey; and it shall be the wages for his army.
Her multitude — Common people, who shall be made captives, and servants or slaves.
Her prey — What she had before taken from others.
The wages — God will be behind-hand with none, who do any service for him; one way or other he will recompence them. None shall kindle a fire at his altar for nought.
 I have given him the land of Egypt for his labour wherewith he served against it, because they wrought for me, saith the Lord GOD.
They — The Babylonians.
For me — God's work was doing by them, tho' they thought nothing less.
 In that day will I cause the horn of the house of Israel to bud forth, and I will give thee the opening of the mouth in the midst of them; and they shall know that I am the LORD.
The horn — Jehoiakim, who was then advanced by Evil-Merodach.
The opening of the mouth — Thou shalt have liberty, to open thy mouth in comforting the good among them, and to give praise to God.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Ezekiel》
29 Chapter 29
I Will bring again the Captivity of Egypt.
God’s dealings with heathen nations
1. The goodness and mercy of God extend to heathens. He hath a care of them in their captivity, and after they have suffered His appointed time He will show kindness to them.
2. The afflictions of nations and persons may be long, yet not without end; they may suffer seven and seven years, yea, twenty, thirty, forty years together, which is a long time, and then see an end of their sufferings.
3. God sometimes deals more favourably with heathens than with His own people. “At the end of forty years will I gather the Egyptians,” but it was the end of seventy years before He gathered the Jews out of Babylon: His own people were thirty years, or near upon, longer under the Babylonish yoke than the Egyptians. There was just cause for this; God’s people had sinned worse than the heathens, and so provoked Him above them.
4. Nothing is too hard for God, or can hinder the fulfilling of His will. The Egyptians were scattered among the nations, here a family and there a family, and that forty years together; so mingled with the people of other countries that they had well nigh forgotten Egypt, and had so drunk in the manners and customs of the places where they lived that they were neutralised thereunto; they were so rooted among the nations that it seemed impossible to pluck them up, and plant them in their own countries; yet notwithstanding these things, saith God, “I will gather the Egyptians from the people whither they were scattered.” The Jews had lain longer n Babylon, and were like dry bones in the grave, without hope (Ezekiel 37:11); but God made good His word; He brought them out with a strong hand, breaking in pieces gates of brass, and cutting in sunder bars of iron.
5. It is the same hand, the same God, that drives men out of their countries and comforts, into deep and long afflictions abroad, and brings them back out of the same, to enjoy their countries and comforts. (W. Greenhill, M. A.)
Because they wrought for Me.
Service done for God rewarded
I. The disposal of states and nations is the work of Divine providence.
1. Do we examine this dispensation in reference to the authority of God? It is unquestionably His prerogative: He has a right to do what He will with His own.
2. Do we consider it in connection with the Divine power? Nothing is too hard for the Lord; no difficulties lie in His way.
3. Do we survey the relation it has to the righteousness of God? He is the moral governor of the universe, “who renders to every man according to their works.” Individuals can be rewarded or punished in another world; but communities are judged only in this.
4. Do we think of it in application to our own times? Unless we fix upon this principle we shall be in danger of debasing ourselves by joining in worldly parties and political rage; of feeling too much confidence in one class of men and too much fear of another; of prescribing the course of events, and suffering disappointment and mortification when our favourite measures are subverted.
II. Men may serve God really when they do not serve Him by design. Nebuchadrezzar is called the servant of God, as well as the Apostle Paul--but observe the difference between them; and, as God will derive glory from all His creatures, inquire which of these characters you are resembling. The former serves God, only from the influence of an overruling Providence--the latter, from the operation of Divine grace.
III. None can be losers by anything they do for God. Even services done for Him by worldly men obtain a temporal reward. The Egyptian females (Exodus 1:20-21). Jehu was a vain, ostentatious, wicked prince, but “the Lord said unto Jehu,” etc. (2 Kings 10:30). So here, “I have given Nebuchadrezzar the land of Egypt,” etc. This is indeed a poor recompense. It may appear splendid and important in the eye of the vain and the sensual, but the righteous are fax from envying it. Egypt was all the remuneration of Nebuchadrezzar--and what could it do for him? What is it to him now? Ye servants of the most high God, who know Him and love Him; He has provided some better thing for you. He who noticed the hardships endured by the poor soldiers before Tyre, when every head was bald and every shoulder peeled, will not suffer you to labour in vain: He sees your difficulties; considers the burdens under which you bend; He hears your groans, and your sighs--when without are fightings, and within are fears. Is it a vain thing to serve the Lord? You will find your reward in the very nature of your work; you will find it in the glow of pleasure which attends virtuous exertion; you will find it in the approving testimony of your own conscience; you will find it in the esteem of the wise and good; you will find it in the blessing of them that were ready to perish; you will find it in the applause of your Lord and Saviour--“Well done,” etc. (W. Jay.)
Service for God always rewarded
1. This passage affords us a striking view of and insight into some of the mysterious acts of God’s Providence. We behold how He can maintain His throne in the midst of the commotions of the universe; that no earthquake, throe, or agony in the terrestrial world can shake the foundations of its pillars or remove it from its steadfastness; and as the Governor of the world, we are struck with the harmony of all His actions, and the power whereby He extracts the good from every ill! If the sins of nations or individuals were always immediately followed with the punishment they merit, this world would not be a state of probation; obedience would not be voluntary, but forced; we should walk, not by faith, but by sight; we should not honour God by our confidence in His perfections and in the dispensations of His Providence. To destroy is easy, and discovers little perfection; it is the perfection of a tyrant. But the wisdom of God appears in making even the wrath of man to praise, and engaging that the remainder of that wrath He will restrain. This, then, is the plan upon which He acts in the government of the world, and hence He is called a wise Governor.
2. Behold an instance of the goodness and severity of God! Long did He spare that rebellious nation, the Jews; often did He warn them, sending His prophets to call them to a sense of their duty towards Him. But they steeled their hearts against conviction, and would none of His advice. At last He complains of them, they were like bullocks unaccustomed to the yoke; He fed them at His own stall; He gave them His easy yoke of duties, which ought to have been delightful, coming from so kind a hand; but, alas! they would not draw it in by gentle treatment; He goaded them by corrections; they kicked against the pricks, and ran back upon His chastisements; they were like a backsliding heifer! But behold the severity of God! The cup of their iniquity was full; Manasseh had greatly contributed to it; he had expressed a great quantity of the roots of bitterness into their portion, and his successors after him, with the exception of Josiah, added to it; till Zedekiah completed the measure and drew down on them wrath to the very uttermost.
3. Service of any kind done for God never goes unrewarded. None can be losers by anything they do for Him: in one way or other He will surely recompense them. He is independent of the creature; the cause can never be dependent on its effect; He could act both in the natural and moral world without human agency; and doubtless He would have done so had it been as agreeable to His wisdom as it was easy to His power. But where would be the reward of the faithful steward? In the moral world the power which He manifested on the day of Pentecost might be again exerted. But what room, then, for the work of faith, the labour of love, and the patience of hope? (J. Summerfield, M. A.)
──《The Biblical Illustrator》