Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
Lamentations over the Ruin of Pharaoh and His People
The chapter contains two lamentations composed at different times: the first, in vv. 1-16, relating to the fall of Pharaoh, which rests upon the prophecy contained in Ezekiel 29:1-16 and Eze 30:20-26; the second, in vv. 17-32, in which the prophecy concerning the casting down of this imperial power into hell (Eze 31:14-17) is worked out in elegiac form.
Lamentation over the King of Egypt
Pharaoh, a sea-monster, is drawn by the nations out of his waters with the net of God, and cast out upon the earth. His flesh is given to the birds and beasts of prey to devour, and the earth is saturated with his blood (Eze 32:2-6). At his destruction the lights of heaven lose their brightness, and all the nations will be amazed thereat (Eze 32:7-10). The king of Babel will come upon Egypt, will destroy both man and beast, and will make the land a desert (Eze 32:11-16). - The date given in Eze 32:1 - "In the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, on the first of the month, the word of Jehovah came to me, saying" - agrees entirely with the relation in which the substance of the ode itself stands to the prophecies belonging to the tenth and eleventh years in Ezekiel 29:1-16 and Eze 30:20-26; whereas the different date found in the Septuagint cannot come into consideration for a moment.
The destruction of Pharoah. - Eze 32:2. Son of man, raise a lamentation over Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and say to him, Thou wast compared to a young lion among the nations, and yet wast like a dragon in the sea; thou didst break forth in thy streams, and didst trouble the waters with thy feet, and didst tread their streams. Eze 32:3. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Therefore will I spread out my net over thee in the midst of many nations, that they may draw thee up in my yarn; Eze 32:4. And will cast thee upon the land, hurl thee upon the surface of the field, and will cause all the birds of the heaven to settle upon thee, and the beasts of the whole earth to satisfy themselves with thee. Eze 32:5. Thy flesh will I put upon the mountains, and fill the valleys with thy funeral heap. Eze 32:6. I will saturate the earth with thine outflow of thy blood even to the mountains, and the low places shall become full of thee. - This lamentation begins, like others, with a picture of the glory of the fallen king. Hitzig objects to the ordinary explanation of the words כּפיר גּוים נדמיתה, λέοντι ἐθνῶν ὡμοιώθης (lxx), leoni gentium assimilatus es (Vulg.), on the ground that the frequently recurring נדמה would only have this meaning in the present passage, and that נמשׁל, which would then be synonymous, is construed in three other ways, but not with the nominative. For these reasons he adopts the rendering, "lion of the nations, thou belongest to death." But it would be contrary to the analogy of all the קינות to commence the lamentation with such a threat; and Hitzig's objections to the ordinary rendering of the words will not bear examination. The circumstance that the Niphal נדמה is only met with here in the sense of ὁμοιοῦσθαι, proves nothing; for דּמה has this meaning in the Kal, Piel, and Hithpael, and the construction of the Niphal with the accusative (not nominative, as Hitzig says) may be derived without difficulty from the construction of the synonymous נמשׁל with כ. But what is decisive in favour of this rendering is the fact that the following clause is connected by means of the adversative ואתּה (but thou), which shows that the comparison of Pharaoh to a תּנּים forms an antithesis to the clause in which he is compared to a young lion. If נדמית 'כּפיר ג contained a declaration of destruction, not only would this antithesis be lost, but the words addressed to it as a lion of the nations would float in the air and be used without any intelligible meaning. The lion is a figurative representation of a powerful and victorious ruler; and כּפיר גּוים is really equivalent to אל גּוים in Eze 31:11.
Pharaoh was regarded as a mighty conqueror of the nations, "though he was rather to be compared to the crocodile, which stirs up the streams, the fresh waters, and life-giving springs of the nations most perniciously with mouth and feet, and renders turbid all that is pure" (Ewald). תּנּים, as in Eze 29:3. Ewald and Hitzig have taken offence at the words תּגח בּנהרתיך, "thou didst break forth in thy streams," and alter בּנהרתיך retla d into בּנחרתיך, with thy nostrils (Job 41:12); but they have not considered that תּגח would be quite out of place with such an alteration, as גּיח in both the Kal and Hiphil (Jdg 20:33) has only the intransitive meaning to break out. The thought is simply this: the crocodile lies in the sea, then breaks occasionally forth in its streams, and makes the waters and their streams turbid with its feet. Therefore shall Pharaoh also end like such a monster (Eze 32:3-6). The guilt of Pharaoh did not consist in the fact that he had assumed the position of a ruler among the nations (Kliefoth); but in his polluting the water-streams, stirring up and disturbing the life-giving streams of the nations. God will take him in His net by a gathering of nations, and cause him to be drawn out of his element upon the dry land, where he shall become food to the birds and beasts of prey (cf. Eze 29:4-5; Eze 31:12-13). The words 'בּקהל עמּים ר are not to be understood as referring to the nations, as spectators of the event (Hvernick); but ב denotes the instrument, or medium employed, here the persons by whom God causes the net to be thrown, as is evident from the והעלוּך which follows. According to the parallelismus membrorum, the ἁπ. λεγ. רמוּת can only refer to the carcase of the beast, although the source from which this meaning of the word is derived has not yet been traced. There is no worth to be attached to the reading rimowt in some of the codices, as רמּה does not yield a suitable meaning either in the sense of reptile, or in that of putrefaction or decomposed bodies, which has been attributed to it from the Arabic. Under these circumstances we adhere to the derivation from רוּם, to be high, according to which רמוּת may signify a height or a heap, which the context defines as a funeral-pile. צפה, strictly speaking, a participle from צוּף, to flow, that which flows out, the outflow (Hitzig), is not to be taken in connection with ארץ, but is a second object to השׁקיתי; and the appended word מדּמך indicates the source whence the flowing takes place, and of what the outflow consists. אל ההרים, to the mountains, i.e., up to the top of the mountains. The thought in these verses is probably simply this, that the fall of Pharaoh would bring destruction upon the whole of the land of Egypt, and that many nations would derive advantage from his fall.
His overthrow fills the whole world with mourning and terror. - Eze 32:7. When I extinguish thee, I will cover the sky and darken its stars; I will cover the sun with cloud, and the moon will not cause its light to shine. Eze 32:8. All the shining lights in the sky do I darken because of thee, and I bring darkness over thy land, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Eze 32:9. And I will trouble the heart of many nations when I bring out thine overthrow among the nations into lands which thou knowest not, Eze 32:10. And I will make many nations amazed at thee, and their kings shall shudder at thee when I brandish my sword before their face; and they shall tremble every moment, every one for his life on the day of his fall. - The thought of Eze 32:7 and Eze 32:8 is not exhausted by the paraphrase, "when thou art extinguished, all light will be extinguished, so far as Egypt is concerned," accompanied with the remark, that the darkness consequent thereupon is a figurative representation of utterly hopeless circumstances (Schmieder). The thought on which the figure rests is that of the day of the Lord, the day of God's judgment, on which the lights of heaven lose their brightness (cf. Eze 30:3 and Joe 2:10, etc.). This day bursts upon Egypt with the fall of Pharaoh, and on it the shining stars of heaven are darkened, so that the land of Pharaoh becomes dark. Egypt is a world-power represented by Pharaoh, which collapses with his fall. But the overthrow of this world-power is an omen and prelude of the overthrow of every ungodly world-power on the day of the last judgment, when the present heaven and the present earth will perish in the judgment-fire. Compare the remarks to be found in the commentary on Joe 3:4 upon the connection between the phenomena of the heavens and great catastrophes on earth. The contents of both verses may be fully explained from the biblical idea of the day of the Lord and the accompanying phenomena; and for the explanation of בּכבּותך, there is no necessity to assume, as Dereser and Hitzig have done, that the sea-dragon of Egypt is presented here under the constellation of a dragon; for there is no connection between the comparison of Egypt to a tannim or sea-dragon, in Eze 32:2 and Eze 29:3 (=רהב, Isa 51:9), and the constellation of the dragon (see the comm. on Isa 51:9 and Isa 30:7). In בּכבּותך Pharaoh is no doubt regarded as a star of the first magnitude in the sky; but in this conception Ezekiel rests upon Isa 14:12, where the king of Babylon is designated as a bright morning-star. That this passage was in the prophet's mind, is evident at once from the fact that Eze 32:7 coincides almost verbatim with Isa 13:10. - The extinction and obscuration of the stars are not merely a figurative representation of the mourning occasioned by the fall of Pharaoh; still less can Eze 32:9 and Eze 32:10 be taken as an interpretation in literal phraseology of the figurative words in Eze 32:7 and Eze 32:8. For Eze 32:9 and Eze 32:10 do not relate to the mourning of the nations, but to anxiety and terror into which they are plunged by God through the fall of Pharaoh and his might. הכעיס , to afflict the heart, does not mean to make it sorrowful, but to fill it with anxiety, to deprive it of its peace and cheerfulness. "When I bring thy fall among the nations" is equivalent to "spread the report of thy fall." Consequently there is no need for either the arbitrary alteration of שׁברך into שׂברך, which Ewald proposes, with the imaginary rendering announcement or report; nor for the marvellous assumption of Hvernick, that שׁברך describes the prisoners scattered among the heathen as the ruins of the ancient glory of Egypt, in support of which he adduces the rendering of the lxx αἰχμαλωσίαν σου, which is founded upon the change of שׁברך into שׁביך. For Eze 32:10 compare Eze 27:35. עופף, to cause to fly, to brandish. The sword is brandished before their face when it falls time after time upon their brother the king of Egypt, whereby they are thrown into alarm for their own lives. לרגעים, by moments = every moment (see the comm. on Isa 27:3).
The judgment upon Egypt will be executed by the king of Babylon. - Eze 32:11. For thus saith the Lord Jehovah, The sword of the king of Babylon will come upon thee. Eze 32:12. By swords of heroes will I cause thy tumult to fall, violent ones of the nations are they all, and will lay waste the pride of Egypt, and all its tumult will be destroyed. Eze 32:13. And I will cut off all its cattle from the great waters, that no foot of man may disturb them any more, nor any hoof of cattle disturb them. Eze 32:14. Then will I cause their waters to settle and their streams to flow like oil, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, Eze 32:15. When I make the land of Egypt a desert, and the land is made desolate of its fulness, because I smite all the inhabitants therein, and they shall know that I am Jehovah. Eze 32:16. A lamentatoin (mournful ode) is this, and they will sing it mournfully; the daughters of the nations will sing it mournfully, over Egypt and over all its tumult will they sing it mournfully, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - In this concluding strophe the figurative announcement of the preceding one is summed up briefly in literal terms; and toward the close (Eze 32:14) there is a slight intimation of a better future. The destruction of the proud might of Egypt will be effected through the king of Babylon and his brave and violent hosts. עריצי גּוים, as in Eze 31:12 (see the comm. on Eze 28:7). המון in Eze 32:12 and Eze 32:13 must not be restricted to the multitude of people. It signifies tumult, and embraces everything in Egypt by which noise and confusion were made (as in Eze 31:2 and Eze 31:18); although the idea of a multitude of people undoubtedly predominates in the use of המון in Eze 32:12. גּאון , the pride of Egypt, is not that of which Egypt is proud, but whatever is proud or exalts itself in Egypt. The utter devastation of Egypt includes the destruction of the cattle, i.e., of the numerous herds which fed on the grassy banks of the Nile and were driven to the Nile to drink (cf. Gen 47:6; Gen 41:2.; Exo 9:3); and this is therefore specially mentioned in Eze 32:13, with an allusion to the consequence thereof, namely, that the waters of the Nile would not be disturbed any more either by the foot of man or hoof of beast (compare Eze 32:13 with Eze 29:11). The disturbing of the water is mentioned with evident reference to Eze 32:2, where Pharaoh is depicted as a sea-monster, which disturbs the streams of water. The disturbance of the water is therefore a figurative representation of the wild driving of the imperial power of Egypt, by which the life-giving streams of the nations were stirred up.
Eze 32:14. Then will God cause the waters of Egypt to sink. Hitzig and Kliefoth understand this as signifying the diminution of the abundance of water in the Nile, which had previously overflowed the land and rendered it fertile, but for which there was no further purpose now. According to this explanation, the words would contain a continued picture of the devastation of the land. But this is evidently a mistake, for the simple reason that it is irreconcilable with the אז, by which the thought is introduced. אז, tunc, is more precisely defined by 'בּתתּי וגו in Eze 32:15 as the time when the devastation has taken place; whereas Kliefoth takes the 15th verse, in opposition both to the words and the usage of the language, as the sequel to Eze 32:14, or in other words, regards בּתתּי as synonymous with ונתתּי. The verse contains a promise, as most of the commentators, led by the Chaldee and Jerome, have correctly assumed.
(Note: The explanation of Jerome is the following: "Then will purest waters, which had been disturbed by the sway of the dragon, be restored not by another, but by the Lord Himself; so that their streams flow like oil, and are the nutriment of true light.")
השׁקיע, to make the water sink, might no doubt signify in itself a diminution of the abundance of water. But if we consider the context, in which reference is made to the disturbance of the water through its being trodden with the feet (Eze 32:13), השׁקיע can only signify to settle, i.e., to become clear through the sinking to the bottom of the slime which had been stirred up (cf. Eze 34:18). The correctness of this explanation is confirmed by the parallel clause, to make their streams flow with oil. To understand this as signifying the slow and gentle flow of the diminished water, would introduce a figure of which there is no trace in Hebrew. Oil is used throughout the Scriptures as a figurative representation of the divine blessing, or the power of the divine Spirit. כּשׁמן, like oil, according to Hebrew phraseology, is equivalent to "like rivers of oil." And oil-rivers are not rivers which flow quietly like oil, but rivers which contain oil instead of water (cf. Job 29:6), and are symbolical of the rich blessing of God (cf. Deu 32:13). The figure is a very appropriate one for Egypt, as the land is indebted to the Nile for all its fertility. Whereas its water had been stirred up and rendered turbid by Pharaoh; after the fall of Pharaoh the Lord will cause the waters of the stream, which pours its blessings upon the land, to purify themselves, and will make its streams flow with oil. The clarified water and flowing oil are figures of the life-giving power of the word and Spirit of God. But this blessing will not flow to Egypt till its natural power is destroyed. Ewald has therefore given the following as the precise meaning of Eze 32:14 : "The Messianic times will then for the first time dawn on Egypt, when the waters no more become devastating and turbid, that is to say, through the true knowledge to which the chastisement leads." Eze 32:16 "rounds off the passage by turning back to Eze 32:2" (Hitzig). The daughters of the nations are mentioned as the singers, because mourning for the dead was for the most part the business of women (cf. Jer 9:16). The words do not contain a summons to the daughters of the nations to sing the lamentation, but the declaration that they will do it, in which the thought is implied that the predicted devastation of Egypt will certainly occur.
Funeral-Dirge for the Destruction of the Might of Egypt
This second lamentation or mourning ode, according to the heading in Eze 32:17, belongs to the same year as the preceding, and to the 15th of the month, no doubt the 12th month; in which case it was composed only fourteen days after the first. The statement of the month is omitted here, as in Eze 26:1; and the omission is, no doubt, to be attributed to a copyist in this instance also. In the ode, which Ewald aptly describes as a "dull, heavy lamentation," we have six regular strophes, preserving the uniform and monotonous character of the lamentations for the dead, in which the thought is worked out, that Egypt, like other great nations, is cast down to the nether world. The whole of it is simply an elegiac expansion of the closing thought of the previous chapter (Ezekiel 31).
Introduction and first strophe. - Eze 32:18. Son of man, lament over the tumult of Egypt, and hurl it down, her, like the daughters of glorious nations, into the nether world, to those who go into the pit! Eze 32:19. Whom dost thou surpass in loveliness? Go down and lay thyself with the uncircumcised. Eze 32:20. Among those slain with the sword will they fall; the sword is handed, draw her down and all her tumult. Eze 32:21. The strong ones of the heroes say of it out of the midst of hell with its helpers: they are gone down, they lie there, the uncircumcised, slain with the sword. - נהה, utter a lamentation, and והורדהוּ, thrust it (the tumult of Egypt) down, are co-ordinate. With the lamentation, or by means thereof, is Ezekiel to thrust down the tumult of Egypt into hell. The lamentation is God's word; and as such it has the power to accomplish what it utters. אותהּ is not intended as a repetition of the suffix ־הוּ, but resumes the principal idea contained in the object already named, viz., מצרים, Egypt, i.e., its population. אותהּ and the daughters of glorious nations are co-ordinate. בּנות, as in the expression, daughter of Tyre, daughter Babel, denotes the population of powerful heathen nations. The גּוים אדּרם can only be the nations enumerated in Eze 32:22, Eze 32:24., which, according to these verses, are already in Sheol, not about to be thrust down, but thrust down already. Consequently the copula ו before בּנות is to be taken in the sense of a comparison, as in Sa1 12:15 (cf. Ewald, 340b). All these glorious nations have also been hurled down by the word of God; and Egypt is to be associated with them. By thus placing Egypt on a level with all the fallen nations, the enumeration of which fills the middle strophes of the ode, the lamentation over Egypt is extended into a funeral-dirge on the fall of all the heathen powers of the world. For ארץ תּחתּיּות and יורדי , compare Ezekiel 276:20. The ode itself commences in Eze 32:19, by giving prominence to the glory of the falling kingdom. But this prominence consists in the brief inquiry ממּי נעמתּ, before whom art thou lovely? i.e., art thou more lovely than any one else? The words are addressed either to המון מצרים (Eze 32:18), or what is more probable, to Pharaoh with all his tumult (cf. Eze 32:32), i.e., to the world-power, Egypt, as embodied in the person of Pharaoh; and the meaning of the question is the following: - Thou, Egypt, art indeed lovely; but thou art not better or more lovely than other mighty heathen nations; therefore thou canst not expect any better fate than to go down into Sheol, and there lie with the uncircumcised. ערלים, as in Eze 31:18. This is carried out still further in Eze 32:20, and the ground thereof assigned. The subject to יפּלוּ is the Egyptians, or Pharaoh and his tumult. They fall in the midst of those pierced with the sword. The sword is already handed to the executor of the judgment, the king of Babel (Eze 31:11). Their destruction is so certain, that the words are addressed to the bearers of the sword: "Draw Egypt and all its tumult down into Sheol" (משׁכוּ is imperative for משׁכוּ in Exo 12:21), and, according to Eze 32:21, the heathen already in Sheol are speaking of his destruction. ידבּרוּ לו is rendered by many, "there speak to him, address him, greet him," with an allusion to Isa 14:9., where the king of Babel, when descending into Sheol, is greeted with malicious pleasure by the kings already there. But however obvious the fact may be that Ezekiel has this passage in mind, there is no address in the verse before us as in Isa 14:10, but simply a statement concerning the Egyptians, made in the third person. Moreover, את־עזריו could hardly be made to harmonize with ידבּרוּ לו, if לו signified ad eum. For it is not allowable to connect עת־עזריו (taken in the sense of along with their helpers) with אלי גבּורים as a noun in apposition, for the simple reason that the two are separated by מתּוך שׁאול. Consequently את־עזריו can only belong to ידבּרוּ: they talk (of him) with his helpers. עזריו, his (Pharaoh's) helpers are his allies, who have already gone down before him into hell (cf. Eze 30:8). The singular suffix, which has offended Hitzig, is quite in order as corresponding to לו. The words, "they have gone down, lie there," etc., point once more to the fact that the same fate has happened to the Egyptians as to all the rest of the rulers and nations of the world whom God has judged. For אלי גבּורים, strong ones of the heroes, compare the comm. on Eze 31:11. שׁאול, hell = the nether world, the gathering-place of the dead; not the place of punishment for the damned. חללי without the article is a predicate, and not in apposition to הערלים. On the application of this epithet to the Egyptians, Kliefoth has correctly observed that "the question whether the Egyptians received circumcision is one that has no bearing upon this passage; for in the sense in which Ezekiel understands circumcision, the Egyptians were uncircumcised, even if they were accustomed to circumcise their flesh."
In the four following strophes (Eze 32:22-30) a series of heathen nations is enumerated, whom the Egyptian finds already in hell, and with whom he will share the same fate. There are six of these - namely, Asshur, Elam, Meshech-Tubal, Edom, the princes of the north, and Sidon. The six are divisible into two classes - three great and remote world-powers, and three smaller neighbouring nations. In this no regard is paid to the time of destruction. With the empire of Asshur, which had already fallen, there are associated Elam and Meshech-Tubal, two nations, which only rose to the rank of world-powers in the more immediate and more remote future; and among the neighbouring nations, the Sidonians and princes of the north, i.e., The Syrian kings, are grouped with Edom, although the Sidonians had long ago given up their supremacy to Tyre, and the Aramean kings, who had once so grievously oppressed the kingdom of Israel, had already been swallowed up in the Assyrian and Chaldean empire. It may, indeed, be said that "in any case, at the time when Ezekiel prophesied, princes enough had already descended into Sheol both of the Assyrians and Elamites, etc., to welcome the Egyptians as soon as they came" (Kliefoth); but with the same justice may it also be said that many of the rulers and countrymen of Egypt had also descended into Sheol already, at the time when Pharaoh, reigning in Ezekiel's day, was to share the same fate. It is evident, therefore, that "any such reflection upon chronological relations is out of place in connection with our text, the intention of which is merely to furnish an exemplification" (Kliefoth), and that Ezekiel looks upon Egypt more in the light of a world-power, discerning in its fall the overthrow of all the heathen power of the world, and predicting it under the prophetic picture, that Pharaoh and his tumult are expected and welcomed by the princes and nations that have already descended into Sheol, as coming to share their fate with them.
Second strophe. - Eze 32:22. There is Asshur and all its multitude, round about it their graves, all of them slain, fallen by the sword Eze 32:23. Whose graves are made in the deepest pit, and its multitude is round about its grave; all slain, fallen by the sword, who spread terror in the land of the living. - The enumeration commences with Asshur, the world-power, which had already been overthrown by the Chaldeans. It is important to notice here, that אשּׁוּר, like עילם in Eze 32:24, and משׁך in Eze 32:26, is construed as a feminine, as המונהּ which follows in every case plainly shows. It is obvious, therefore, that the predominant idea is not that of the king or people, but that of the kingdom or world-power. It is true that in the suffixes attached to סביבותיו קברתיו in Eze 32:22, and סביבותיו in Eze 32:25 and Eze 32:26, the masculine alternates with the feminine, and Hitzig therefore proposes to erase these words; but the alternation may be very simply explained, on the ground that the ideas of the kingdom and its king are not kept strictly separate, but that the words oscillate from one idea to the other. It is affirmed of Asshur, that as a world-power it lies in Sheol, and the gravers of its countrymen are round about the graves of its ruler. They all lie there as those who have fallen by the sword, i.e., who have been swept away by a judgment of God. To this is added in Eze 32:23 the declaration that the graves of Asshur lie in the utmost sides, i.e., the utmost or deepest extremity of Sheol; whereas so long as this power together with its people was in the land of the living, i.e., so long as they ruled on earth, they spread terror all around them by their violent deeds. From the loftiest height of earthly might and greatness, they are hurled down to the lowest hell. The higher on earth, the deeper in the nether world. Hvernick has entirely misunderstood the words "round about Asshur are its graves" (Eze 32:22), and "its multitude is round about its grave" (the grave of this world-power), when he finds therein the thought that the graves and corpses are to be regarded as separated, so that the dead are waiting near their graves in deepest sorrow, looking for the honour of burial, but looking in vain. There is not a word of this in the text, but simply that the graves of the people lie round about the grave of their ruler.
Third strophe. - Eze 32:24. There is Elam, and all its multitude round about its grave; all of them slain, fallen by the sword, who went down uncircumcised into the nether world, who spread terror before them in the land of the living, and bear their shame with those who went into the pit. Eze 32:25. In the midst of the slain have they made it a bed with all its multitude, round about it are their graves; all of them uncircumcised, pierced with the sword; because terror was spread before them in the land of the living, they bear their shame with those who have gone into the pit. In the midst of slain ones is he laid. - Asshur is followed by עילם, Elam, the warlike people of Elymais, i.e., Susiana, the modern Chusistan, whose archers served in the Assyrian army (Isa 22:6), and which is mentioned along with the Medes as one of the conquerors of Babylon (Isa 21:2), whereas Jeremiah prophesied its destruction at the commencement of Zedekiah's reign (Jer 49:34.). Ezekiel says just the same of Elam as he has already said of Asshur, and almost in the same words. The only difference is, that his description is more copious, and that he expresses more distinctly the thought of shameful destruction which is implied in the fact of lying in Sheol among the slain, and repeats it a second time, and that he also sets the bearing of shame into Sheol in contrast with the terror which Elam had spread around it during its life on earth. נשׂא , as in Eze 16:52. The ב in בּכל־המונהּ is either the "with of association," or the fact of being in the midst of a crowd. להּ refers to עילם; and נתנוּ has an indefinite subject, "they gave" = there was given. משׁכּב, the resting-place of the dead, as in Ch2 16:14. The last clause in Eze 32:25 is an emphatic repetition of the leading thought: he (Elam) is brought or laid in the midst of the slain.
Fourth strophe. - Eze 32:26. There is Meshech-Tubal and all its multitude, its graves round about it; all of them uncircumcised, slain in with the sword, because they spread terror before them in the land of the living. Eze 32:27. They lie not with the fallen heroes of uncircumcised men, who went down into hell with their weapons of war, whose swords they laid under their heads; their iniquities have come upon their bones, because they were a terror of the heroes in the land of the living. Eze 32:28. Thou also wilt be dashed to pieces among uncircumcised men, and lie with those slain with the sword. - משׁך and תּבל, the Moschi and Tibareni of the Greeks (see the comm. on Eze 27:13), are joined together ἀσυνδετῶς here as one people or heathen power; and Ewald, Hitzig, and others suppose that the reference is to the Scythians, who invaded the land in the time of Josiah, and the majority of whom had miserably perished not very long before (Herod. i. 106). But apart from the fact that the prophets of the Old Testament make no allusion to any invasion of Palestine by the Scythians (see Minor Prophets, vol. ii. p. 124, Eng. transl.), this view is founded entirely upon the erroneous supposition that in this funeral-dirge Ezekiel mentions only such peoples as had sustained great defeats a longer or shorter time before. Meshech-Tubal comes into consideration here, as in Ezekiel 38, as a northern power, which is overcome in its conflict with the kingdom of God, and is prophetically exhibited by the prophet as having already fallen under the judgment of death. In Eze 32:26 Ezekiel makes the same announcement as he has already made concerning Asshur in Eze 32:22, Eze 32:23, and with regard to Elam in Eze 32:24, Eze 32:25. But the announcement in Eze 32:27 is obscure. Rosenmller, Ewald, Hvernick, and others, regard this verse as a question (ולא in the sense of הלא): "and should they not lie with (rest with) other fallen heroes of the uncircumcised, who...?" i.e., they do lie with them, and could not possibly expect a better fate. But although the interrogation is merely indicated by the tone where the language is excited, and therefore ולא might stand for הלא, as in Exo 8:22, there is not the slightest indication of such excitement in the description given here as could render this assumption a probable one. On the contrary, ולא at the commencement of the sentence suggests the supposition that an antithesis is intended to the preceding verse. And the probability of this conjecture is heightened by the allusion made to heroes, who have descended into the nether world with their weapons of war; inasmuch as, at all events, something is therein affirmed which does not apply to all the heroes who have gone down into hell. The custom of placing the weapons of fallen heroes along with them in the grave is attested by Diod. Sic. xviii. 26; Arrian, i. 5; Virgil, Ane. vi. 233 (cf. Dougtaei Analectt. ss. i. pp. 281, 282); and, according to the ideas prevailing in ancient times, it was a mark of great respect to the dead. But the last place in which we should expect to meet with any allusion to the payment of such honour to the dead would be in connection with Meshech and Tubal, those wild hordes of the north, who were only known to Israel by hearsay. We therefore follow the Vulgate, the Rabbins, and many of the earlier commentators, and regard the verse before us as containing a declaration that the slain of Meshech-Tubal would not receive the honour of resting in the nether world along with those fallen heroes whose weapons were buried with them in the grave, because they fell with honour.
(Note: C. a Lapide has already given the true meaning: "He compares them, therefore, not with the righteous, but with the heathen, who, although uncircumcised, had met with a glorious death, i.e., they will be more wretched than these; for the latter went down to the shades with glory, but they with ignominy, as if conquered and slain.")
כּלי מלחמה, instruments of war, weapons, as in Deu 1:41. The text leaves it uncertain who they were who had been buried with such honours. The Seventy have confounded מערלים with מעולם, and rendered ,נפלים τῶν πεπτωκότων ἀπ ̓αἰῶνος possibly thinking of the gibborim of Gen 6:4. Dathe and Hitzig propose to alter the text to this; and even Hvernick imagines that the prophet may possibly have had such passages as Gen 6:4 and Gen 10:9. floating before his mind. But there is not sufficient ground to warrant an alteration of the text; and if Ezekiel had had Gen 6:4 in his mind, he would no doubt have written הגבּורים. The clause ותּהי עונותם is regarded by the more recent commentators as a continuation of the preceding 'ויּתּנוּ וגו, which is a very natural conclusion, if we simply take notice of the construction. But if we consider the sense of the words, this combination can hardly be sustained. The words, "and so were their iniquities upon their bones" (or they came upon them), can well be understood as an explanation of the reason for their descending into Sheol with their weapons, and lying upon their swords. We must therefore regard ותּהי עונותם as a continuation of ישׁכּבוּ, so that their not resting with those who were buried with their weapons of war furnishes the proof that their guilt lay upon their bones. The words, therefore, have no other meaning than the phrase ישׂאוּ כלמּתם in Eze 32:24 and Eze 32:30. Sin comes upon the bones when the punishment consequent upon it falls upon the bones of the sinner. In the last clause we connect גבּורים with חתּית, terror of the heroes, i.e., terrible even to heroes on account of their savage and cruel nature. In Eze 32:28 we cannot take אתּה as referring to Meshech-Tubal, as many of the commentators propose. A direct address to that people would be at variance with the whole plan of the ode. Moreover, the declaration contained in the verse would contradict what precedes. As Meshech-Tubal is already lying in Sheol among the slain, according to Eze 32:26, the announcement cannot be made to it for the first time here, that it is to be dashed in pieces and laid with those who are slain with the sword. It is the Egyptian who is addressed, and he is told that this fate will also fall upon him. And through this announcement, occurring in the midst of the list of peoples that have already gone down to Sheol, the design of that list is once more called to mind.
Fifth strophe. - Eze 32:29. There are Edom, its kings and all its princes, who in spite of their bravery are associated with those that are pierced with the sword; they lie with the uncircumcised and with those that have gone down into the pit. Eze 32:30. There are princes of the north, all of them, and all the Sidonians who have gone down to the slain, been put to shame in spite of the dread of them because of their bravery; they lie there as uncircumcised, and bear their shame with those who have gone into the pit. - In this strophe Ezekiel groups together the rest of the heathen nations in the neighbourhood of Israel; and in doing so, he changes the שׁם of the preceding list for שׁמּה, thither. This might be taken prophetically: thither will they come, "to these they also belong" (Hvernick), only such nations being mentioned here as are still awaiting their destruction. But, in the first place, the perfects אשׁר נתנוּ, אשׁר ירדוּ, in Eze 32:29, Eze 32:30, do not favour this explanation, inasmuch as they are used as preterites in Eze 32:22, Eze 32:24, Eze 32:25, Eze 32:26, Eze 32:27; and, secondly, even in the previous strophes, not only are such peoples mentioned as have already perished, but some, like Elam and Meshech-Tubal, which did not rise into historical importance, or exert any influence upon the development of the kingdom of God till after Ezekiel's time, whereas the Edomites and Sidonians were already approaching destruction. We therefore regard שׁמּה as simply a variation of expression in the sense of "thither have they come," without discovering any allusion to the future. - In the case of Edom, kings and נשׂיאים, i.e., tribe-princes, are mentioned. The allusion is to the 'alluphim or phylarchs, literally chiliarchs, the heads of the leading families (Gen 36:15.), in whose hands the government of the people lay, inasmuch as the kings were elective, and were probably chosen by the phylarchs (see the comm. on Gen 36:31.). בּגבוּרתם, in, or with their bravery, i.e., in spite of it. There is something remarkable in the allusion to princes of the north (נסיכי, lit., persons enfeoffed, vassal-princes; see the comm. on Jos 13:21 and Mic 5:4) in connection with the Sidonians, and after Meshech-Tubal the representative of the northern nations. The association with the Sidonians renders the conjecture a very natural one, that allusion is made to the north of Palestine, and more especially to the Aram of Scripture, with its many separate states and princes (Hvernick); although Jer 25:26, "the kings of the north, both far and near," does not furnish a conclusive proof of this. So much, at any rate, is certain, that the princes of the north are not to be identified with the Sidonians. For, as Kliefoth has correctly observed, "there are six heathen nations mentioned, viz., Asshur, Elam, Meshech-Tubal, Edom, the princes of the north, and Sidon; and if we add Egypt to the list, we shall have seven, which would be thoroughly adapted, as it was eminently intended, to depict the fate of universal heathenism." A principle is also clearly discernible in the mode in which they are grouped. Asshur, Elam, and Meshech-Tubal represent the greater and more distant world-powers; Edom the princes of the north, and Sidon the neighbouring nations of Israel on both south and north. בּחתּיתם מגּבוּרתם, literally, in dread of them, (which proceeded) from their bravery, i.e., which their bravery inspired. 'ויּשׂאוּ וגו, as in Eze 32:24.
Sixth and last strophe. - Eze 32:31. Pharaoh will see them, and comfort himself over all his multitude. Pharaoh and all his army are slain with the sword, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Eze 32:32. For I caused him to spread terror in the land of the living, therefore is he laid in the midst of uncircumcised, those slain with the sword. Pharaoh and all his multitude, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - In these verses the application to Egypt follows. Pharaoh will see in the nether world all the greater and smaller heathen nations with their rulers; and when he sees them all given up to the judgment of death, he will comfort himself over the fate which has fallen upon himself and his army, as he will perceive that he could not expect any better lot than that of the other rulers of the world. נחם על, to comfort oneself, as in Eze 31:16 and Eze 14:22. Hitzig's assertion, that נחם never signifies to comfort oneself, is incorrect (see the comm. on Eze 14:22). נתתּי את־חתּיתו, I have given terror of him, i.e., I have made him an instrument of terror. The Keri חתּיתי arose from a misunderstanding. The Chetib is confirmed by Eze 32:24 and Eze 32:26. In Eze 32:32 the ode is brought to a close by returning even in expression to Eze 32:19 and Eze 32:20.
If, now, we close with a review of the whole of the contents of the words of God directed against Egypt, in all of them is the destruction of the might of Pharaoh and Egypt as a world-power foretold. And this prophecy has been completely fulfilled. As Kliefoth has most truly observed, "one only needs to enter the pyramids of Egypt and its catacombs to see that the glory of the Pharaohs has gone down into Sheol. And it is equally certain that this destruction of the glory of ancient Egypt dates from the times of the Babylonio-Persian empire. Moreover, this destruction was so thorough, that even to the New Egypt of the Ptolemies the character of the Old Egypt was a perfect enigma, a thing forgotten and incomprehensible." But if Ezekiel repeatedly speaks of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon as executing this judgment upon Egypt, we must bear in mind that here, as in the case of Tyre (see the comm. on Ezekiel 28:1-19), Ezekiel regards Nebuchadnezzar as the instrument of the righteous punishment of God in general, and discerns in what he accomplishes the sum of all that in the course of ages has been gradually fulfilling itself in history. At the same time, it is equally certain that this view of the prophet would have no foundation in truth unless Nebuchadnezzar really did conquer Egypt and lay it waste, and the might and glory of this ancient empire were so shattered thereby, that it never could recover its former greatness, but even after the turning of its captivity, i.e., after its recovery from the deadly wounds which the imperial monarchy of Babylonia and afterwards of Persia inflicted upon it, still remained a lowly kingdom, which could "no more rule over the nations" (Eze 29:13-16). Volney, however, in his Recherch. nouv. sur l'hist. anc. (III pp. 151ff.), and Hitzig (Ezekiel p. 231), dispute the conquest and devastation of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, because the Greek historians, with Herodotus (ii. 161ff.) at their head, make no allusion whatever to an invasion of Egypt; and their statements are even opposed to such an occurrence. But the silence of Greek historians, especially of Herodotus, is a most "miserable" argument. The same historians do not say a word about the defeat of Necho by Nebuchadnezzar at Carchemish; and yet even Hitzig accepts this as an indisputable fact. Herodotus and his successors derived their accounts of Egypt from the communications of Egyptian priests, who suppressed everything that was humiliating to the pride of Egypt, and endeavoured to cover it up with their accounts of glorious deeds which the Pharaohs had performed. But Hitzig has by no means proved that the statements of the Greeks are at variance with the assumption of a Chaldean invasion of Egypt, whilst he has simply rejected but not refuted the attempts of Perizonius, Vitringa, Hvernick, and others, to reconcile the biblical narrative of the conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar with the accounts given by Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, and other Greeks, concerning the mighty feats of Necho, and his being slain by Amasis. The remark that, in the description given by Herodotus, Amasis appears as an independent king by the side of Cambyses, only less powerful than the Persian monarch, proves nothing more, even assuming the correctness of the fact, than that Amasis had made Egypt once more independent of Babylonia on the sudden overthrow of the Chaldean monarchy.
The conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, after the attitude which Pharaoh Necho assumed towards the Babylonian empire, and even attempted to maintain in the time of Zedekiah by sending an army to the relief of Jerusalem when besieged by the Chaldeans, is not only extremely probable in itself, but confirmed by testimony outside the Bible. Even if no great importance can be attached to the notice of Megasthenes, handed down by Strabo (xv. 1. 6) and Josephus (c. Ap. i. 20): "he says that he (Nebuchadnezzar) conquered the greater part of Libya and Iberia;" Josephus not only quotes from Berosus (l.c. i. 19) to the effect that "the Babylonian got possession of Egypt, Syria, Phoenicia, Arabia," but, on the ground of such statements, relates the complete fulfilment of the prophecies of Scripture, saying, in Antt. x. 9. 7, with reference to Nebuchadnezzar, "he fell upon Egypt to conquer it. And the reigning king he slew; and having appointed another in his place, made those Jews prisoners who had hitherto resided there, and led them into Babylon." And even if Josephus does not give his authority in this case, the assertion that he gathered this from the prophecies of Jeremiah is untrue; because, immediately before the words we have quoted, he says that what Jeremiah had prophesied (Jer 43:10 and Jer 44) had thus come to pass; making a distinction, therefore, between prophecy and history. And suspicion is not to be cast upon this testimony by such objections as that Josephus does not mention the name of the Egyptian king, or state precisely the time when Egypt was conquered, but merely affirms in general terms that it was after the war with the Ammonites and Moabites.