Ezekiel 29:4 MEANING

Ezekiel 29:4
(4) Hooks in thy jaws.--An allusion to the ancient way of taking and destroying the crocodile, otherwise invulnerable to their arms.

Fish of thy rivers shall stick unto thy scales.--As the crocodile, the lord of the Nile, represents the royal power of Egypt, so the fish represent the people dependent upon him. Pharaoh is not to fall alone, but shall drag his people with him into a common ruin.

Verses 4, 5. - I will put hooks in thy jaws. So Herodotus (2. 70) describes the way in which the Egyptians caught the crocodile by baiting a large hook with swine's flesh. Jomard ('Description de l'Egypt,' 1:27) gives a similar account (comp. also Job 41:1, 2, though there the capture seems represented as an almost impossible achievement; probably the process had become more familiar since the date of that book). The fish that stick to the scales of the crocodile are, of course, in the interpretation of the parable, either the Egyptian army itself or the nations that had thrown themselves into alliance with Egypt, and the destruction of the two together in the wilderness points to some great overthrow of the Egyptian army and its auxiliaries, probably to that of the expedition against Cyrene (Herod., 2:161) which led to the revolt of Amasis, and which would take the wilderness west of the Nile on its line of march. The beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven (we note the recurrence of the old Homeric phrase, as in 'Iliad,' 1:4, 5) should devour the carcasses of the slain, the corpses of the fallen and prostrate nation.

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.But I will put hooks in thy jaws,.... The allusion is to fishhooks, which are taken by fishes with the bait into their mouths, and stick in their jaws, by which they are drawn out of the river, and taken. The king of Egypt being before compared to a fish, these hooks design some powerful princes and armies, which should be the ruin of Pharaoh; one of them, according to Junius and Grotius, was Amasis, at the head of the Cyreneans and Greeks; and another was Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; see Job 41:1,

and I will cause the fish of thy rivers to stick unto thy scales; the people of his kingdom, especially his soldiers, generals, princes, and great men, to cleave to him, follow him, and go out with him in his expedition against Amasis. The Targum is,

"I will kill the princes of thy strength with thy mighty ones:''

and I will bring thee up out of the midst of thy rivers: alluding to the crocodile, to which he is compared, which sometimes comes out of the river, and goes on dry land. The king of Egypt was brought out of his kingdom by the following means: Amasis, with the Cyreneans and Greeks, having seized upon Lybia, and drove the king of it from thence, he applied to Pharaoh for help, who gathered a large army of Egyptians, and led them out into the fields of Cyrene, where they were defeated by Amasis, and almost all perished, and the king saved himself by flight; upon which the Egyptians mutinied and rebelled against him, and Amasis became their king:

and all the fish of thy rivers shall stick unto thy scales; the common people of Egypt; for the above numerous army consisted only of Egyptians, whom he gathered from all parts, drained his rivers of them, and almost exhausted his country hereby; he had indeed in an army, after this battle with Amasis, thirty thousand auxiliaries, Carians and Ionians; but these were not the fish of his rivers. The Targum is,

"I will make thy kingdom to cease from thee, and all the princes of thy strength with thy mighty ones shall be killed;''

with which the history agrees. The allusion to the crocodile is here very just and pertinent, which is a fish full of scales. Monsieur Thevenot (a), who saw many of them, says, that

"the body of this fish is large, and all of a size; the back is covered with high scales, like the heads of nails in a court gate, of a greenish colour, and so hard that they are proof against a halberd; and it has a long tail covered with scales like the body;''

and another traveller says (b) they have scales on their back musket proof, and therefore must be wounded in the belly; but another traveller (c) says, this is a vulgar report that a musket shot will not pierce the skins of the crocodiles, for upon trial it is found false; yet all writers, ancient and modern, allow it to have very firm scales on its back, which render it capable of bearing the heaviest strokes, and to be in a measure impenetrable and invincible; so Herodotus (d) says, it has a skin full of scales, on the back infrangible; or, as Pliny (e) expresses it, invincible against all blows and strokes it may be stricken with; and so says Aristotle (f), with which Aelian (g) agrees, who says that the crocodile has by nature a back and tail impenetrable; for it is covered with scales, as if it was armed as one might say, not unlike to hard shells.

(a) Travels, par. 1. B. 2. c. 72. p. 245. (b) Mandelsloe in Harris's Voyages, &c. vol. 1. p. 759. (c) Tavernier in ib. p. 835. (d) Euterpe, sive l. 2. c. 63. (e) Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 25. (f) Hist. Animal: l. 2. c. 10. (g) De Animal. l. 10. c. 24.

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