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Ezekiel 29:13-15 KJV [13] Yet thus saith the Lord God ; At the end of forty years will I gather the Egyptians from the people whither they were scattered: [14] And I will bring again the captivity of Egypt, and will cause them to return into the land of Pathros, into the land of their habitation; and they shall be there a base kingdom. [15] It shall be the basest of the kingdoms; neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations: for I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule over the nations.

Above are verses from Ezekiel 29. He’s prophesying the destruction and desolation of Egypt apparently by Nebuchadnezzar 2nd. In the prophecy Ezekiel states that the Egyptians will be carried away and the land will be desolate for forty years. After this period they’ll return but will be henceforth a lowly kingdom.

I can be convinced of the forty year captivity period to a point. Nebuchadnezzar was known to carry away and enslave citizens of places he’d conquered. And the period between his unsuccessful invasion of Egypt and Cyrus the Great’s edict to release those of whom had been enslaved by the Babylonians was roughly 40 years. However, what seems obviously wrong about this prophecy is the aftermath of the 40 years and return of the Egyptian captives: the kingdom of Egypt forever becoming a “base kingdom”. Egypt as a “kingdom” was never a lowly kingdom afterwards and it did rule over other nations, particularly the Ptolemaic Empire.

One might say “This prophecy concerns the Egyptian people, whereas the Ptolemaic Empire was Greek.” However Ezekiel says Egypt will become a lowly kingdom not ‘nation’ or ‘people’, clearly meaning, I presume, the country. It seems to me that this part of the prophecy completely fails.

Others then might suggest that this whole prophecy is one yet to be fulfilled but I personally see no indication of that in the text. With the frequent mentioning of Nebuchadnezzar it seems clear to me personally that chapter 29 refers to his unsuccessful invasion of Egypt.

Can anyone who is familiar with this prophecy shed some more light on it. I’m assuming there is something I have missed.

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    There is nothing stated or substantiated in your question that warrants the question to be worded as it is. You have not proved that it can be described as such.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 31 at 12:32
  • I think this question has enough detail to show OP's interpretation of the prophecy as "failed", which then needs to be refuted (see my answer). Aug 31 at 13:46
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    Possible duplicate.
    – Lucian
    Aug 31 at 18:41
  • Are you referring to the fact that (most) Egyptians, unlike (most) Jews, were not expulsed from their own territory as a result of the war, or that the period of decline during and after said occupation did not last for ever, but only for a considerably long while, or are you having difficulty with identifying the roughly four decades period mentioned in the text, etc. ?
    – Lucian
    Aug 31 at 20:14
  • @Lucian It's the" lowly" kingdom part of the prophecy that fails because according to OP's interpretation the manner that Egypt recovered from 40 year Babylon wasn't lowly at all, but rebounded as the Ptolemaic kingdom which was influential outside Egypt, even over Israel too. That's why your suggested duplicate is another question. Aug 31 at 21:53
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What you have missed is conceiving Egypt as maintaining a substantial continuity as a kingdom beyond the last native ruler of Egypt (Nectanebo II). But that's not what happened. Although around 525 BC Egypt recovered from the Babylonian rule and later attempted to regain her independence from the new overlord Persian Empire, Egypt ultimately failed. In 343 BC starting with the 31st Dynasty Egypt was completely subject to the Persian Empire occupation as a satrapy / province with no more independent ruler coming from the ancient Egyptian blood, but Persian ruler. When Persia in turn was defeated by Alexander the Great, in 305 BC Egypt become the Ptolemaic Kingdom where the succession of Pharaohs were Macedonian Greek.

  • Wikipedia article on the Late Period of Ancient Egypt and the 30th Dynasty of Egypt shows that the ancient Egyptian dynasty ended with the defeat of Nectanebo II in 343 BC:

    This is the final native dynasty of ancient Egypt; after the deposition of Nectanebo II, Egypt fell under foreign domination.

  • An article about Nectanebo II also characterized him as "the last ancient Egyptian Native King".

Given the way Egypt was described within the whole Old Testament, especially how God with his strong arm single handedly defeated the most powerful nation on earth to deliver the enslaved Hebrew to the promised land, and how centuries later Israelites betrayed God by trying to get help from Egypt instead of beseeching Him, we can surmise that the "kingdom" Ezekiel was referring to in Eze 29:15 must have some connection with the Egypt that Israel was delivered from. And that connection was blood succession of Pharaohs, similar to how Jesus had a blood succession from Adam down to Abraham, Jacob, David, and one of the last kings of Judah (Jehoiachin).

Therefore I think it's natural to interpret Eze 29:15 ("It shall be the most lowly of the kingdoms, and never again exalt itself above the nations. And I will make them so small that they will never again rule over the nations.") as referring to the period between 525 BC (when Egypt was delivered from Babylon but was still subject to the Persian empire) to 343 BC (the end of rule of native Egyptian Pharaoh, Nectanebo II). This is the period where native Egyptian Pharaohs had to mount rebellions to re-assert Egypt's independence from the Persian Empire between the 27th and the 30th Dynasty, consistent with Ezekiel's characterization of Egypt as "small" and "lowly".

What follow are more supporting interpretation from the ESV Study Bible.

On Eze 29:10-11:

The desolation of Egypt, which lasts forty years, strikes at the assumption that the annual inundations of the Nile that supported Egypt guaranteed its perpetual well-being. The location of Migdol is unknown, but together with Syene (Aswan) it bounds Egypt north and south. Cush is the region roughly corresponding to modern Ethiopia. Most interpreters think this “forty years” does not refer to any specific period of time but is a symbolic number showing the parallel to the wandering of Israel in the wilderness for 40 years, or just symbolizing the completeness of God’s judgment. Some interpreters have taken it to refer to the period when Egypt was under Babylonian rule from 568 to 525 B.C. (see note on v. 19).

On Eze 29:14-15:

Ancient Egyptian tradition located its national origins in the region of the Upper Nile where Pathros is located. The reference suggests that Ezekiel was well informed of Egyptian lore. Jewish mercenaries had been in the region for many years. Judean refugees fled there with Jeremiah (Jer. 44:15). they will never again rule over the nations. Egypt never rebuilt the empire it once had.

On Eze 29:19:

I will give the land of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. This prophecy was given in 571 B.C. (see note on vv. 17–21), and Nebuchadnezzar conquered Egypt in 568 (this is described in detail in Jeremiah 43–44 and also recorded in Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 10.180–182). Egypt was subsequently subject to Persian rule (beginning in 525 B.C.), was conquered by Alexander the Great and made part of his empire in 332, and was conquered by the Romans and became part of the Roman Empire in 31.

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  • GreatfulDisciple thank you for your answer but again, you’re simply saying that Ezekiel is referring to the Egyptian natives and not the realm of Egypt. The Hebrew word for “kingdom” that Ezekiel uses is מַמְלָכָה or “mamlekah” which literally is translated as “kingdom” or “realm” i.e a ruling territory. In v15 the word also is singular i.e “IT will be a base kingdom”, greatly implying Ezekiel is referring to the actual territory rather than people
    – user329957
    Sep 4 at 11:09
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The following is from John Gill's Exposition of the Bible:

Verse 13. Yet thus saith the Lord God, at the end of forty years,.... Reckoning from its devastation by Nebuchadnezzar to the taking of Babylon by Cyrus:

will I gather the Egyptians from the people whither they were scattered; from Babylon, and other places; Cyrus very probably being stirred up by the Lord to proclaim liberty to the Egyptians, as he did to the Jews, to return to their own land; and at the same time restored Amasis to the quiet possession of his kingdom, who must be still alive; since, according to Diodorus Siculus {w}, he reigned fifty five years; though, according to Herodotus {x}, he reigned but forty four years.

{w} Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 62. Ed. Rhodoman. {x} Thalia, sive l. 3. c. 10.

Verse 14. And I will bring again the captivity of Egypt,.... For what is done by men, under the direction and influence of divine Providence, is said to be done by the Lord, as this was, though by the means of Cyrus:

and will cause them to return into the land of Pathros; which was a part of the land of Egypt; perhaps so called from Pathrusim, the son of Mizraim, from whom Egypt had its name, Genesis 10:14. Bochart takes it to be Thebais, a principal country in Egypt:

into the land of their habitation; or nativity, where they were born, and where they before dwelt:

and they shall be there a base kingdom; as it is at this day more especially, to which it has been gradually reduced, having passed into various hands, and come under the power and dominion of different states: whatever might be the case and circumstances of it under Cyrus, Cambyses his son entered into it, made sad devastation in it, and an entire conquest of it; and though it revolted under Darius Hystaspes, it was subdued again, and brought into a worse state than before by Xerxes: it revolted again in the reign of Darius Nothus, and was at last by Ochus totally subdued; and from that time the Egyptians never had a king of their own nation to reign over them. Along with the Persian empire it came into the hands of Alexander without any opposition; and, after his death, fell to the share of Ptolemy, one of his captains; and, though some of the first kings of that name were of considerable note and power, yet Egypt made a poor figure under the reigns of several of them. When the Roman empire obtained, it became a province of that, and continued so for six or seven hundred years; and then it fell into the hands of the Saracens, when it sunk into ignorance and superstition, the Mahometan religion being established in it, with whom it continued until about the year of Christ 1250; when the Mamalucks, or Turkish and Carcassian slaves, rose up against their sovereigns, the sultans of Egypt, and usurped the government, in whose hands it was until the year 1517; when Selim the ninth, emperor of the Turks, conquered the Mamalucks, and put an end to their government, and annexed it to the Ottoman empire; of which it is a province to this day {x}, being governed by a Turkish basha, with twenty four begs or princes under him, who are raised, from being servants, to the administration of public affairs; and so it is become a base kingdom indeed, if to be called one {y}.

{x} Written about 1730. Editor. {y} See all this at large, with the proofs of it, in Dr. Newton's Dissertations on Prophecies, from p. 382. to 394.

Verse 15. And it shall be the basest of the kingdoms,.... That belonged to the Persian monarchy, or to the Macedonian empire, being more kept under than the rest, lest it should regain its former strength and glory; though it became more famous in the times of some of the Ptolemies, yet never recovered its former greatness; and is now exceeding base indeed, as appears from the preceding note:

neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations; so as to conquer them, and make them tributary to it, as it had done:

for I will demolish them, that they shall no more rule over the nations; for though they made war upon other nations in the time of the Lagidae, yet they did not subdue them, and annex them to their kingdom, being much weakened both as to men and money.

Pathros becomes but one kingdom of the land of Egypt and a picture of long, slow, steady decline is painted as the prophesy declares, "for I will diminish them that they shall no more rule over the nations."

Additionally, the Hebrew which the KJV renders as "bring again" indicates a turning back of the captivity but not necessarily to it's original starting point.

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  • Ive enjoyed some John Gill reading before, a lot. But I just cant read the bible and get the eternal hell thing from some of the statements though. Also just makes no sense. Seems completely goofy and arbitrary and weird. But again, it’s the text; a collection of verses that imply annihilation is a formidable thing to read. Makes election more plausible too
    – Al Brown
    Sep 3 at 18:01

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