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    Oracles Against the Nations
Lament Over Pharaoh and Egypt Lamentation for Pharaoh and Egypt Lament Over Pharaoh The King of Egypt Is Compared to a Crocodile The Crocodile
32:1-2 32:1-10 32:1-16 32:1-8 32:1-8
(2b-8) (2b) (2b-16)   (2b)
(3-5)     (3-8)
      32:9-10 32:9-14
32:11-16 32:11-16   32:11-16  
(12c-15) (12c-15)      
  (16)     32:16
  Egypt and Others Consigned to the Pit Egypt in the Underworld The World of the Dead Pharaoh Goes Down to Sheol
32:17-21 32:17-21 32:17-21 32:17-19 32:17-21
  (18-19) (18-19)    
(19)     (19)  
  (20-21)   32:20-21  
32:22-23 32:22-23
32:22-23 32:22-23
32:24-25 32:24-25 32:24-25 32:24-25 32:24-25
32:26-28 32:26-28 32:26-28 32:26-27 32:26-28
32:29 32:29-30 32:29 32:29 32:29
32:30   32:30 32:30 32:30
32:31-32 32:31-32 32:31-32 32:31 32:31-32

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Bible Interpretation Seminar")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

  1. First paragraph
  2. Second paragraph
  3. Third paragraph, etc.


 1In the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, on the first of the month, the word of the Lord came to me saying, 2"Son of man, take up a lamentation over Pharaoh king of Egypt and say to him,
 'You compared yourself to a young lion of the nations,
 Yet you are like the monster in the seas;
 And you burst forth in your rivers
 And muddied the waters with your feet
 And fouled their rivers.'"

32:1 See note at Ezek. 29:1. This date would be about one year after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.

32:2 The four-chapter litany of judgment against Egypt continues (i.e., chapters 29-32).

▣ "take up a lamentation" A lamentation denoted a well known form of poetic meter ( BDB 884, cf. Ezek. 2:10; 19:1,14 [twice]; 26:17; 27:2,32; 28:12; 32:16; Jer. 9:10,20). This chapter, like 19:1; 27:2; 28:12, starts with a command for a funeral dirge ("take up," BDB 669, KB 724, Qal IMPERATIVE, cf. Jer. 7:29). Isaiah 14:4 has the same VERB in Qal PERFECT, but with "taunt" or "proverb" (BDB 605).

▣ "You compared yourself to a young lion of the nations" Again this is a reference to Pharaoh's pride and arrogance (cf. Ezek. 29:3; 30:6; 31:2-9,10; 32:12). He was not a lion, but a water creature.

Special Topic: Lions in the OT

NASB, NKJV, REB, Peshitta   "like the monster"
NRSV, JPSOA   "like a dragon"
TEV, NJB   "like a crocodile"
LXX   "like a serpent"

See note at Ezek. 29:3. This may be an allusion to Canaanite mythology where Ba'al defeats Yam, or Babylonian mythology where Marduk defeats Tiamat. The OT alluded to these myths without acknowledging their reality (e.g., Isa. 27:1).

The UBS Text Project, p. 105, gives "crocodile" an "A" rating

Special Topic: The Serpent

Special Topic: Leviathan

Special Topic: The Great Red Dragon

 3Thus says the Lord God,
 "Now I will spread My net over you
 With a company of many peoples,
 And they shall lift you up in My net.
 4I will leave you on the land;
 I will cast you on the open field.
 And I will cause all the birds of the heavens to dwell on you,
 And I will satisfy the beasts of the whole earth with you.
 5I will lay your flesh on the mountains
 And fill the valleys with your refuse.
 6I will also make the land drink the discharge of your blood
 As far as the mountains,
 And the ravines will be full of you.
 7And when I extinguish you,
 I will cover the heavens and darken their stars;
 I will cover the sun with a cloud
 And the moon will not give its light.
 8All the shining lights in the heavens
 I will darken over you
 And will set darkness on your land,"
 Declares the Lord God.
 9"I will also trouble the hearts of many peoples when I bring your destruction among the nations, into lands which you have not known. 10I will make many peoples appalled at you, and their kings will be horribly afraid of you when I brandish My sword before them; and they will tremble every moment, every man for his own life, on the day of your fall."

32:3-7 The language of ANE cursing is dramatic hyperbole. It is difficult for literalistic westerners to understand this genre. A good brief chapter, "How does the language of destruction and blessing work?" in D. Brent Sandy, Plowshares and Pruning Hooks: Rethinking the Language of Biblical Prophecy and Apocalyptic, pp. 75-102, has been helpful to me. I hope you will read it.

Another book in this same area of a genre-related approach to biblical interpretation is G. B. Caird, The Language and Imagery of the Bible.

32:3 In Ezek. 29:4 YHWH uses a hook, here a net (cf. Ezek. 12:13; 17:20). This is also described in mythological terms in Ps. 74:13-14.

32:4 This same ignominious fate (i.e., unburied and eaten by animals) is described in Ezek. 29:5.

NASB "refuse"
NKJV "carcass"
Peshitta "dust"
TEV, JPSOA "rotting corpse"
NJB "corruption"
REB "worms that fed on it"
LXX "blood"

The REB assumes that the MT's "with your height," רמות (BDB 928, KB 1242) should be רממ (BDB 942, KB 1244 I, "be wormy," cf. Exod. 16:20). Some see a parallel to Isa. 14:11 to "maggots" רמה (BDB 942, KB 1241, see NET Bible).

NASB, NKJV, NRSV   "flowing blood"
LXX   "dung"
NEB   "discharge"
JPSOA   "oozing blood"
TEV, NJB, REB, Peshitta   "blood"

The MT has two NOUNS.

  1. with your out flow ‒ BDB 847 (see NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 833)
  2. blood ‒ BDB 196

The first NOUN is found only here in all the OT.

32:7-8 As the Genesis creation account (Genesis 1) depreciates the astral deities of Babylon, these verses depreciate the astral deities of Egypt. The darkness shows YHWH's power over Ra, the sun god.

  1. "make dark," BDB 871, KB 1072 (Hiphil found only in Ezekiel, 3 times, cf. Ezek. 31:15)
    1. Hiphil PERFECT with waw, Ezek. 32:7
    2. Hiphil IMPERFECT, Ezek. 32:8
  2. "darkness," BDB 365 (cf. Gen. 1:2; Exod. 10:22; Amos 5:18,20)

32:9-10 This is a common theme in these chapters (cf. Ezek. 32:16,19; 27:29-36; 28:19). YHWH's judgment on prideful Tyre and Egypt (possibly Assyria, 31:3) was meant to send a message to the nations (i.e., they will know that I am the Lord, e.g., Ezek. 32:15; 29:9; 33:29; 35:3,4,9,14).

NASB, NKJV, TEB, NJB, NET "bring your destruction"
NRSV, LXX "carry you captive"
REB "bring your broken army"
JPSOA "bring your shattered remnants"
Peshitta "bring the news of your destruction"

The UBS Text Project, p. 106, gives the MT's "destruction" a "C" rating (considerable doubt).

  1. MT ‒ שׁבר, BDB 991, #4
  2. LXX ‒ שׁבי, BDB 985, #3

It suggests the translation similar to the Peshitta

32:10 "shall be horribly afraid" This is the NOUN and VERB (Qal IMPERFECT) of the same root (BDB 972, KB 1343, cf. Ezek. 27:35; Jer. 2:12), which denotes the hair standing up in fear.

▣ "they shall tremble" This term (BDB 353, KB 350, Qal PERFECT with waw) denotes fear in YHWH"s coming and present judgment (cf. Ezek. 26:16,18; 30:9).

 11For thus says the Lord God, "The sword of the king of Babylon will come upon you. 12By the swords of the mighty ones I will cause your hordes to fall; all of them are tyrants of the nations,
 And they will devastate the pride of Egypt,
 And all its hordes will be destroyed.
 13I will also destroy all its cattle from beside many waters;
 And the foot of man will not muddy them anymore
 And the hoofs of beasts will not muddy them.
 14Then I will make their waters settle
 And will cause their rivers to run like oil,"
 Declares the Lord God.
 15"When I make the land of Egypt a desolation,
 And the land is destitute of that which filled it,
 When I smite all those who live in it,
 Then they shall know that I am the Lord.
 16This is a lamentation and they shall chant it. The daughters of the nations shall chant it. Over Egypt and over all her hordes they shall chant it," declares the Lord God.

32:11 Nebuchadnezzar II was YHWH's instrument of judgment (cf. Ezek. 21:19), as Assyria had been (cf. Isa. 10:5) and Cyrus II will be (cf. Isa. 44:28; 45:7).

32:13 This could be another way of depreciating the gods of Egypt, as were the ten plagues in the Exodus.

32:14 The waters of Egypt will be undisturbed (clear and settled) by any animal or human. No one will be left alive. This metaphor for total destruction is found only here.

32:16 The professional wailers and mourners (BDB 884, 1096 three times) would be from all the nations.

  1. those who were helped and protected by Egypt (Ezek. 32:18)
  2. those who were cruelly treated by Egypt

▣ "daughters of. . ." See full notes at Jer. 46:11 and Amos 5:2.

 17In the twelfth year, on the fifteenth of the month, the word of the Lord came to me saying, 18"Son of man, wail for the hordes of Egypt and bring it down, her and the daughters of the powerful nations, to the nether world, with those who go down to the pit;
 19 'Whom do you surpass in beauty?
 Go down and make your bed with the uncircumcised.'
 20They shall fall in the midst of those who are slain by the sword. She is given over to the sword; they have drawn her and all her hordes away. 21The strong among the mighty ones shall speak of him and his helpers from the midst of Sheol, 'They have gone down, they lie still, the uncircumcised, slain by the sword.'"

32:18-19 These verses contain four commands, two to Ezekiel, two to Egypt.

  1. wail, BDB 624, KB 675, Qal IMPERATIVE, Ezek. 32:18
  2. bring it down, BDB 432, KB 434, Hiphil IMPERATIVE, Ezek. 32:18
  3. go down, BDB 432, KB 434, Qal IMPERATIVE, Ezek. 32:19
  4. make your bed, BDB 1011, KB 1486, Hophal IMPERATIVE, Ezek. 32:19

32:19 "with the uncircumcised" See note at Ezek. 28:10. This is a recurrent curse (cf. Ezek. 28:10; 31:18; 32:19, 21,24,29,30; Jer. 9:25-26).

 22"Assyria is there and all her company; her graves are round about her. All of them are slain, fallen by the sword, 23whose graves are set in the remotest parts of the pit and her company is round about her grave. All of them are slain, fallen by the sword, who spread terror in the land of the living.

32:22-30 This is a series of related paragraphs/strophes that list the dead in Sheol who greet new arrivals.

  1. Assyria ‒ Ezek. 32:22-23
  2. Elam ‒ Ezek. 32:24-25
  3. Anatolia ‒ Ezek. 32:26-28
  4. Edom ‒ Ezek. 32:29
  5. Syrians and Aramenians ‒ Ezek. 32:30
  6. Egypt ‒ Ezek. 32:31-32

In many ways this is similar to the imagery of Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. The dead rejoice when the powerful join them in Sheol.

32:23 "whose graves are set in the remotest parts of the pit" This is an idiom for the worst (cf. Isa. 14:15) or lowest places in the netherworld. They were slain in this world and humiliated in the next (cf. Ezek. 32:27, 32)!

Note the list of humiliated nations.

  1. Egypt, Ezek. 32:17-21,31
  2. Assyria, Ezek. 32:22-23
  3. Elam, Ezek. 32:24-25
  4. Meshech, Tubal (Anatolia), Ezek. 32:26-28
  5. Edom, Ezek. 32:29
  6. Princes of the north (i.e., Syrians or Armenians) and Sidon, Ezek. 32:30

Special Topic: Where Are the Dead?

 24"Elam is there and all her hordes around her grave; all of them slain, fallen by the sword, who went down uncircumcised to the lower parts of the earth, who instilled their terror in the land of the living and bore their disgrace with those who went down to the pit. 25They have made a bed for her among the slain with all her hordes. Her graves are around it, they are all uncircumcised, slain by the sword (although their terror was instilled in the land of the living), and they bore their disgrace with those who go down to the pit; they were put in the midst of the slain."

 26"Meshech, Tubal and all their hordes are there; their graves surround them. All of them were slain by the sword uncircumcised, though they instilled their terror in the land of the living. 27Nor do they lie beside the fallen heroes of the uncircumcised, who went down to Sheol with their weapons of war and whose swords were laid under their heads; but the punishment for their iniquity rested on their bones, though the terror of these heroes was once in the land of the living. 28But in the midst of the uncircumcised you will be broken and lie with those slain by the sword."

NASB, NKJV, Peshitta, REB, JPSOA   "uncircumcised" (מצרלים)
LXX, NRSV, TEV, NJB   "long ago" (מעולם)

The phrases are spelled similarly in Hebrew. The second fits the context best (NET) because these people were part of the uncircumcised and the term is repeated in Ezek. 32:28. The UBS Text Project, p. 112, gives the LXX version a "C" rating (considerable doubt).

NASB, NKJV, JPSOA, LXX, Peshitta  "their iniquity rested on their bones"
NRSV, TEV  "whose shields are upon their bones"
NJB  "their shields put under their bones"
REB  "their shields over their bones"

These men of Meshech, Tubal are honored even in death, but not so for the Egyptians!

The UBS Text Project, p. 113, gives "their iniquity" an "A" rating. However, many translations emend it to "shields."

  1. better parallel to "weapons of war"
  2. similar spelling of "iniquity" (BDB 730, KB 800) and "shields" (KB 1037 II)

 29"There also is Edom, its kings and all its princes, who for all their might are laid with those slain by the sword; they will lie with the uncircumcised and with those who go down to the pit.

 30"There also are the chiefs of the north, all of them, and all the Sidonians, who in spite of the terror resulting from their might, in shame went down with the slain. So they lay down uncircumcised with those slain by the sword and bore their disgrace with those who go down to the pit.

 31"These Pharaoh will see, and he will be comforted for all his hordes slain by the sword, even Pharaoh and all his army," declares the Lord God. 32"Though I instilled a terror of him in the land of the living, yet he will be made to lie down among the uncircumcised along with those slain by the sword, even Pharaoh and all his hordes," declares the Lord God.


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