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Verses 1-32

Two Lamentations for Pharaoh and Egypt

This chapter consists of two prophecies, both dated more than a year and a half after the capture of Jerusalem, and separated from each other by a fortnight. In the first Pharaoh is likened, no longer to a young lion, but to a foul river monster, which will be caught, cast on the mountains, and devoured by birds and beasts of prey. At the monster’s end the lights of heaven will be darkened, and the nations will be dismayed (Ezekiel 32:1-10). The allegory is explained to mean the desolation of Egypt by the king of Babylon (Ezekiel 32:11-16).

The second prophecy is a burial song over Pharaoh and his people (Ezekiel 32:17-32). They go down to the under-world, which is weirdly conceived as a vast land of graves, the occupants of which, however, retain their consciousness and their speech. Two regions are distinguished in it. Sheol or ’hell’ (Ezekiel 32:21, Ezekiel 32:27) is the abode of the ancient heroes who have received honourable burial, while ’the pit’ is a remoter region, reserved for the nations which have filled the earth with violence and terror, and whose people have died ingloriously in battle. Each of these nations has its own portion of ’the pit,’ where the graves of its people are grouped around a central grave, occupied by the king or the personified genius of the nation. Pharaoh and his people will have a place among these dishonoured nations, and will be comforted to find that they are not alone in their humiliation.

1. The twelfth year.. the twelfth month] February-March, 584 b.c., almost a year and seven months after the fall of Jerusalem.

2. Thou art like.. and thou art] RV ’thou wast likened.. yet art thou,’ a contrast between a noble and a base comparison. Whale] RV ’dragon’: probably a crocodile or a hippopotamus is meant.

3. People] RV ’peoples.’

6. With thy blood.. swimmest] probably ’the earth with the outflow of thy blood.’

7. Put.. out] RV ’extinguish.’ Pharaoh is represented as a heavenly luminary, at the extinction of which the other heavenly bodies veil their light. Some suppose that there is a special reference to the constellation of the Dragon.

14. Deep] RV ’clear.’ Clear and smooth rivers betoken an uninhabited land: see Ezekiel 32:13.

17. The month is not mentioned, but it may be assumed to be the same as in Ezekiel 32:1.

18. Cast them down] i.e. in the burial song. Even her, etc.] rather, ’thou and the daughters,’ etc., following up the thought of Ezekiel 32:16.

19. Uncircumcised] dishonourably buried: see on Ezekiel 28:10. The term is practically equivalent to ’slain by the sword’: so in Ezekiel 32:21, Ezekiel 32:24-25, Ezekiel 32:26, Ezekiel 32:29-30, Ezekiel 32:32.

20. Draw her] RV ’draw her away,’ to her burial-place in the under-world.

21. The strong among the mighty] the ancient heroes, referred to also in Ezekiel 32:27. Hell] Sheol, the place of the honoured dead: so in Ezekiel 32:27.

They are gone down, etc.] the taunt uttered by the heroes against the Egyptians and their allies.

22. Asshur] Assyria. His graves are about him] The central grave is that of the king, or of the embodied genius of the nation (’her grave,’ Ezekiel 32:23, etc.).

23. Sides] RV ’uttermost parts,’ a remoter region of the under-world than that assigned to the heroes.

24. Elam] a country E. of the Tigris, formerly a part of the Assyrian empire (Isaiah 22:6, where Elamite archers appear in Sennacherib’s army). In Jeremiah 49:34-39; Elam is an independent state, and is threatened with conquest by Nebuchadrezzar.

26. Meshech, Tubal] see on Ezekiel 27:18. These tribes may have taken part in the Scythian invasion: see Intro, and Ezekiel 38:2, Ezekiel 38:3.

27. The mighty of.. the uncircumcised] A very slight change in the original gives the much better sense of the LXX, ’the mighty, the Nephilim of old time.’ The violent nations would not be permitted to share the place of the heroes in the under-world. For the Nephilim see Genesis 6:4; Numbers 13:33 RV. Their iniquities shall be] rather, ’their shields are.’ The heroes were buried honourably with their weapons and armour.

29. Edom] see on Numbers 25:12.

30. Princes of the north.. Zidonians] the states of Syria and Phoenicia.

32. I have caused my terror] RV ’I have put his terror.’ Pharaoh in his violence had been unconsciously carrying out God’s purpose.

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