Ezekiel 29 has the prophet warning against looking to Egypt as the source of resources to resist the enemy. At the time Ezekiel delivered this prophecy against Egypt, Jerusalem was besieged by the Babylonian armies. The Judean king Zedekiah depended upon Egyptian aid to rebel against Babylon, but Ezekiel knows that to depend on Egypt is to invite defeat. By his condemnation of Egypt in this message, he shows how unacceptable any Judean-Egyptian alliance is in God’s sight. God says “I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, The great monster that lies in the midst of his rivers”.
God’s intent for Egypt is the same for all people – to know that He is God. “Then all the inhabitants of Egypt will know that I am the Lord”. He’s going to take them through a host of events that will remind them yet again that they are not in charge. You’d think the ten plagues would have done that, but people tend to have a very short memory and unless we communicate that from one generation to the next, it is quickly lost. That’s why God talks about the need for us to tell our kids about Him and pass on the truth.
Egypt is painted as a monster who thought he owned the Nile. God says that is not the case and drags it out of the river leaving it to lie in the fields, where it will become food for the animals. Egypt will fall to foreign powers. But the illustration goes further. “I will turn the fortunes of Egypt and make them return to the land of Pathros, to the land of their origin, and there they will be a lowly kingdom”. Egypt proved to be not a walking stick but a reed, which broke and brought injury to the person who depended on it. Because of the way it has treated Judah, Egypt will be punished. For its pride also it will be punished, and its land will be left desolate.
But wait, there’s more bad news coming for Egypt. “Behold, I will give the land of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. And he will carry off her wealth and capture her spoil and seize her plunder; and it will be wages for his army”. Babylon took thirteen years of hard work to conquer Tyre, and this left the Babylonian soldiers worn out. To make matters worse, they did not gain the profit they expected from the conquered city, because the people of Tyre had apparently shipped out much of their wealth during the thirteen years of siege. The money was gone. Therefore, God will reward the Babylonians with a victory over Egypt. This will compensate them for what they missed out on at Tyre. They had been ‘hired’ by God to carry out his judgment, and He is making sure they receive fitting ‘wages’ for their efforts.