Ezekiel 29:11 MEANING

Ezekiel 29:11
(11) Neither shall it be inhabited forty years.--In Ezekiel 29:9-12 a state of desolation is predicted for Egypt, which, if understood in the literal sense of the words, has certainly never been fulfilled. In Ezekiel 29:9 it is said that it "shall be desolate and waste," and this is repeated with emphasis in Ezekiel 29:10; while in Ezekiel 29:11 it is declared that neither foot of man nor foot of beast shall pass through it. There is also a difficulty in regard to the time of "forty years," mentioned in Ezekiel 29:11-13. No such definite period can be made out from history. The two difficulties go together, and the former is explained by the latter. It has already been seen in Ezekiel 4:6 that the prophet represents the calamity of Judah in the historic terms of their former suffering in the wilderness, without thereby intending either any specific time or any precise repetition of the same troubles they had then experienced. He does the same thing here in regard to Egypt. The people are to pass into a condition like that of the Israelites in the wilderness, in which they were to endure the judgment of God upon their sins. This is expressed, after the manner of Ezekiel, in strong concrete terms, the literal fulfilment of which was neither intended nor expected.

Verse 11. - Neither shall it be inhabited forty years. It need hardly be said that history reveals no such period of devastation. Nor, indeed, would anything but the most prosaic literalism justify us in looking for it. We are dealing with the language of a poet-prophet, which is naturally that of hyperbole, and so the "forty years" stand, as, perhaps, elsewhere (Judges 3:11; Judges 5:31, etc.), for a period of undefined duration, and the picture of a land on which no man or beast sets foot for that of a time of desolation, and consequent cessation of all the customary traffic along the Nile. Such a period, there is reason to believe, did follow on the conquests of Nebuchadnezzar. It is implied in Vers. 17-21, which carry us to a date seventeen years later than that of the verse with which we are now dealing; and also in Jeremiah 43:10-12. Josephus ('Contra Apion,' 1:20) speaks of Nebuchadnezzar as having invaded Libya. The reign of Amasis, which followed on the deposition of Hophra, was one of general prosperity as regards commerce and culture, but Egypt ceased to be one of the great world-powers after the time of Nebuchadnezzar and fell easily into the hands of the Persians under Cambyses. It is noticeable that Ezekiel does not, like Isaiah (Isaiah 19:18-25), connect the future of Egypt with any Messianic expectations.

29:1-16 Worldly, carnal minds pride themselves in their property, forgetting that whatever we have, we received it from God, and should use it for God. Why, then, do we boast? Self is the great idol which all the world worships, in contempt of God and his sovereignty. God can force men out of that in which they are most secure and easy. Such a one, and all that cleave to him, shall perish together. Thus end men's pride, presumption, and carnal security. The Lord is against those who do harm to his people, and still more against those who lead them into sin. Egypt shall be a kingdom again, but it shall be the basest of the kingdoms; it shall have little wealth and power. History shows the complete fulfilment of this prophecy. God, not only in justice, but in wisdom and goodness to us, breaks the creature-stays on which we lean, that they may be no more our confidence.No foot of man shall pass through it,.... This must be understood not strictly, but with some limitation; it cannot be thought that Egypt was so depopulated as that there should not be a single passenger in it; but that there should be few inhabitants in it, or that there should be scarce any that should come into it for traffic; it should not be frequented as it had been at least there should be very few that travelled in it, in comparison of what had:

no foot of beast shall pass through it: no droves of sheep and oxen, and such like useful cattle, only beasts of prey should dwell in it:

neither shall it be inhabited forty years: afterwards, Ezekiel 29:17, a prophecy is given out concerning the destruction of it by Nebuchadnezzar, which was in the twenty seventh year, that is, of Jeconiah's captivity; now allowing three years for the fulfilment of that prophecy, or forty years, a round number put for forty three years, they will end about the time that Cyrus conquered Babylon, at which time the seventy years' captivity of the Jews ended; and very likely the captivity of the Egyptians also. The Jews pretend to give a reason why Egypt lay waste just forty years, because the famine, signified in Pharaoh's dream, was to have lasted, as they make it out, forty two years; whereas, according to them, it continued only two years; and, instead of the other forty years of famine, Egypt must be forty years uninhabited: this is mentioned both by Jarchi and Kimchi.

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