1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy, and say, Thus says the Lord God:
“Wail, ‘Alas for the day!’
3 For the day is near,
the day of the Lord is near;
it will be a day of clouds,
a time of doom for the nations.
4 A sword shall come upon Egypt,
and anguish shall be in Cush,
when the slain fall in Egypt,
and her wealth is carried away,
and her foundations are torn down.
5 Cush, and Put, and Lud, and all Arabia, and Libya, and the people of the land that is in league, shall fall with them by the sword.
6 “Thus says the Lord:
Those who support Egypt shall fall,
and her proud might shall come down;
from Migdol to Syene
they shall fall within her by the sword,
declares the Lord God.
7 And they shall be desolated in the midst of desolated countries,
and their cities shall be in the midst of cities that are laid waste.
8 Then they will know that I am the Lord,
when I have set fire to Egypt,
and all her helpers are broken.
9 “On that day messengers shall go out from me in ships to terrify the unsuspecting people of Cush, and anguish shall come upon them on the day of Egypt’s doom; for, behold, it comes!
10 “Thus says the Lord God:
“I will put an end to the wealth of Egypt,
by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.
11 He and his people with him, the most ruthless of nations,
shall be brought in to destroy the land,
and they shall draw their swords against Egypt
and fill the land with the slain.
12 And I will dry up the Nile
and will sell the land into the hand of evildoers;
I will bring desolation upon the land and everything in it,
by the hand of foreigners;
I am the Lord; I have spoken.
13 “Thus says the Lord God:
“I will destroy the idols
and put an end to the images in Memphis;
there shall no longer be a prince from the land of Egypt;
so I will put fear in the land of Egypt.
14 I will make Pathros a desolation
and will set fire to Zoan
and will execute judgments on Thebes.
15 And I will pour out my wrath on Pelusium,
the stronghold of Egypt,
and cut off the multitude of Thebes.
16 And I will set fire to Egypt;
Pelusium shall be in great agony;
Thebes shall be breached,
and Memphis shall face enemies by day.
17 The young men of On and of Pi-beseth shall fall by the sword,
and the women shall go into captivity.
18 At Tehaphnehes the day shall be dark,
when I break there the yoke bars of Egypt,
and her proud might shall come to an end in her;
she shall be covered by a cloud,
and her daughters shall go into captivity.
19 Thus I will execute judgments on Egypt.
Then they will know that I am the Lord.” – Ezekiel 30:1-19 ESV
Here we have yet another oracle pronouncing Egypt’s “death” at the hands of the Babylonians. This divinely ordained prophecy describes it as “the day of Egypt’s doom” (Ezekiel 30:9 ESV), and Ezekiel is to announce that “the day of the Lord is near” (Ezekiel 30:3 ESV). The content of his message is not to be taken as conjecture or a remote possibility but as an undeniable fact. This event will be the sovereign work of God Almighty. Egypt’s doom will be God’s doing.
Four separate times, the oracle states, “Thus says the Lord God…” (vs 2, 6, 10, 13). This repetitive feature is intended to give Ezekiel’s message divine authority. These are not the words of a man but the promises of God. Yahweh is decreeing the fate of Egypt and her allies, making the outcome of the oracle a foregone conclusion. It will all take place just as God has spoken.
God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? – Numbers 23:19 ESV
This “day of the Lord” will be devastating in its impact and broad in scope. Not only will the Egyptians suffer the judgment of God, but their neighbors and allies will feel the full weight of God’s wrath.
Cush, and Put, and Lud, and all Arabia, and Libya, and the people of the land that is in league, shall fall with them by the sword. – Ezekiel 30:5 ESV
All of these nations had direct ties to Egypt through trade or conquest. They had allied themselves to the Egyptian Empire and, therefore, were considered to be complicit in Egypt’s guilt. Cush refers to the African nation of Ethiopia, which shared Egypt’s southern border. The reference to Arabia has been debated because it can mean the Arabic region but can also be translated as “the mixed multitude.” There are those who believe it refers to the various ethnic groups who settled in the region and who served as mercenaries in the Egyptian army. It may also include the Jews who had fled to Egypt in an effort to escape the Babylonian invasion.
But God announces that any nation or individual who allies themselves with Egypt in any way or for any reason will share Egypt’s fate.
“For this is what the Lord says:
All of Egypt’s allies will fall,
and the pride of her power will end.” – Ezekiel 30:6 NLT
For many of these nations, Egypt had become their savior. As the Babylonians continued their seemingly unstoppable conquest of the known world, the Egyptians stood as a last-chance hope against Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of global domination. They were the only other superpower capable of stemming the Babylonian tide and preserving the status quo. But God warns that Egypt will prove woefully inept in its role as savior.
“…they will be slaughtered by the sword,
says the Sovereign Lord.
Egypt will be desolate,
surrounded by desolate nations,
and its cities will be in ruins,
surrounded by other ruined cities…” – Ezekiel 30:6-7 NLT
God describes the slow but steady march of the Babylonian troops as they march through the cities of Egypt, leaving a path of destruction in their wake. The mighty Egyptian army will be no match for Nebuchadnezzar’s forces. Ships will sail down the Red Sea carrying news of Egypt’s fall to the people of Ethiopia, and God declares that “Great panic will come upon them on that day of Egypt’s certain destruction” (Ezekiel 30:9 NLT). The nations of the region will fall like dominoes. One after the other, their cities will be invaded, their people captured, and their hopes destroyed by God’s servant, Nebuchadnezzar.
“For this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
By the power of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon,
I will destroy the hordes of Egypt.
He and his armies—the most ruthless of all—
will be sent to demolish the land.” – Ezekiel 30:10-11 NLT
God makes it clear that Nebuchadnezzar will be acting as His agent of judgment. It will be God who brings about the destruction of the nations. He will be the one who sends the Babylonians to demolish the land and its inhabitants. And God predicts a catastrophic outcome to the Babylonian invasion. Cities will be leveled, the land will be completely destroyed, and the fabled Nile will dry up. The bodies of the victims will be everywhere, polluting the land and the water. It will be a scene of cataclysmic destruction and no part of Egypt will go unscathed from God’s wrath.
Pathros, Zoan, Thebes, Pelusium, Memphis, On, Pi-beseth, and Tehaphnehes – all of these cities would suffer the same fate. From north to south, from Upper Egypt to lower Egypt, the destruction will be widespread and indiscriminate. And not only will the people of Egypt suffer, but their plethora of gods will be humiliated and exposed as frauds.
“This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
I will smash the idols of Egypt
and the images at Memphis.” – Ezeziel 30:13 NLT
It has been estimated that the Egyptians worshiped as many as 1200 different gods, from Osiris, the god of the underworld, and his wife, Isis, to Ra the sun god. But God announces that He will smash all these false gods and have their idols removed from the land. They will provide no defense against the Babylonian advance and no hope of deflecting God’s judgment.
And even Pharaoh, the god-king, will be of no help against Nebuchadnezzar and his army. When God’s divine judgment is complete, Pharaoh’s dynasty will come to an end, and foreigners will rule over the nation for the foreseeable future. The destruction will be complete. God vows to “break the proud strength of Egypt” (Ezekiel 30:18 NLT). Its cities will fall, its leaders will be replaced, the young men will die in battle, and the women will be taken as slaves. And God assures them that, when the dust settles, they will all know that He is Lord. With their nation destroyed and their gods exposed as frauds, the people of Egypt will have to face the undeniable truth that Yahweh alone is God.
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.