Was Ezekiel’s prophecy of Egypt fulfilled (Ezekiel 29:12)?

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By BibleAsk Team


Ezekiel’s Prophecy Concerning Egypt

Ezekiel’s prophecy concerning Egypt, particularly in Ezekiel 29:12, is one of the many prophecies found in his book, a major prophet in the Old Testament. Understanding its context, historical background, and fulfillment requires an analysis of various factors. Let’s look into this prophecy, its historical context, fulfillment, and its relevance today.

Context and Historical Background

Before analyzing this prophecy in detail, it’s crucial to understand the historical context in which it was given. The prophet prophesied during the time of the Babylonian exile, around the sixth century BCE. The nation of Judah had been conquered by the Babylonians, and many of its people, including the prophet himself, were taken into captivity. The prophet’s ministry spans several decades, during which he delivers messages of judgment, restoration, and hope to both the exiles and the surrounding nations.

Ezekiel 29:12

Let’s examine the following passage:

“In the tenth year, in the tenth month, on the twelfth day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, set your face against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and prophesy against him, and against all Egypt. Speak, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: ‘Behold, I am against you, O Pharaoh king of Egypt, O great monster who lies in the midst of his rivers, Who has said, ‘My River is my own; I have made it for myself.’ But I will put hooks in your jaws, And cause the fish of your rivers to stick to your scales; I will bring you up out of the midst of your rivers, And all the fish in your rivers will stick to your scales. I will leave you in the wilderness, You and all the fish of your rivers; You shall fall on the open field; You shall not be picked up or gathered. I have given you as food to the beasts of the field And to the birds of the heavens.”

“Then all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the Lord, Because they have been a staff of reed to the house of Israel. When they took hold of you with the hand, You broke and tore all their shoulders; When they leaned on you, You broke and made all their backs quiver.’ Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Surely I will bring a sword upon you and cut off from you man and beast. And the land of Egypt shall become desolate and waste; then they will know that I am the Lord, because he said, ‘The River is mine, and I have made it.’ Indeed, therefore, I am against you and against your rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from Migdol to Syene, as far as the border of Ethiopia.'”

Analysis of the Prophecy

This prophecy contains several elements worth noting:

  1. Judgment on Pharaoh and his land: The prophecy begins with a declaration of judgment against Pharaoh, his land, and the nation as a whole. The prophet portrays Pharaoh as a “great monster” (verse 3), emphasizing his pride and arrogance. The imagery of hooks in Pharaoh’s jaws and fish sticking to his scales symbolizes his capture and humiliation by a foreign power, likely Babylon.
  2. Desolation of that land: The prophecy foretells the desolation of pharaoh’s land, with the land becoming desolate and waste. The extent of this desolation is emphasized, stretching from Migdol to Syene (modern-day Aswan) and encompassing the entire nation, including its borders with Ethiopia.
  3. Purpose of Judgment: The purpose of God’s judgment on this nation is twofold: to demonstrate His sovereignty and power. Through the humiliation and desolation of this and, God intends to show His authority over all nations and vindicate His people, who had suffered at the hands of this nation in the past.

Fulfillment

From the Bible record, we can only assume it happened shortly after the prophet said Nebuchadnezzar was given Egypt as compensation for his attack on Tyre. And secular chronology agrees. An ancient clay tablet now residing in the British Museum, known as the Nebuchadnezzar Inscription, talks about Nebuchadnezzar’s action against Egypt in his 37th year. That would be two years after the prophet said Pharaoh’s land would be given to Babylon by Jehovah.

The prophet makes his prophecy in 590 BCE, and Nebuchadnezzar’s 37th year is two years later in 588 BCE when he attacks Egypt. We can assume the Nebuchadnezzar Inscription is correct on this point, because it agrees with our Biblical chronology. So, Egypt’s 40-year desolation begins in that year.

If we count 40 years, we come to the year 548 BCE as the end of Egypt’s desolation, when Jehovah would “bring back the captive group of the Egyptians” for them to become a “lowly kingdom.” Secular chronology also records that the last Babylonian King Nabonidus held an alliance against the Persians with Amasis II, the King of Egypt, in addition to the Lydian Empire. So, far from being a competing world power, Egypt is now a “lowly Kingdom” just as the Bible predicted.

Conclusion and Relevance

In conclusion, Ezekiel’s prophecy of Egypt presents a vivid depiction of divine judgment against a proud and oppressive nation. It serves as a testament to God’s sovereignty and justice over all nations. It reminds believers of the consequences of pride and disobedience, as well as the ultimate vindication of God’s people.

Moreover, this prophecy underscores the broader themes of divine judgment and redemption found throughout Scripture. It serves as a warning to individuals and nations alike to heed God’s word and turn from sin. Furthermore, it highlights the importance of acknowledging God’s sovereignty and submitting to His will in all aspects of life.

Ultimately, Ezekiel’s prophecy of Egypt, like all Scripture, is relevant for believers today as it points to the faithfulness and righteousness of God. It encourages believers to fully trust in God’s promises, remain steadfast in obedience to His commands, and find hope in His redemptive purposes for His people.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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