New Defender's Study Bible Notes
29:1 the tenth year. See note on Ezekiel 20:1. Seven distinct prophecies against Egypt are noted in these next four chapters as follows: Ezekiel 29:1,17; 30:1,20; 31:1; 32:1,17.
29:2 Egypt. The last of Israel’s neighbors to be the object of God’s prophecies through Ezekiel was her ancient enemy, Egypt, once the world’s greatest nation, but now in rapid decline. She is called a “great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers” (Ezekiel 29:3), comparing her to a monstrous dinosaur proud of her river kingdom, but soon to be devastated.
29:11 through it. By Ezekiel’s time, Egypt had lost her ancient glory. Jeremiah had rebuked Judah’s kings for trusting the Egyptians to save them from Nebuchadnezzar. Instead of defending Israel, they suffered a crushing defeat by the Babylonians. Many scattered into Arabia, many were carried as captives to Babylon, and mighty Egypt became almost desolate from Syene to Ethiopia (Ezekiel 29:10)—that is, from the northern reaches of the Nile to the southern.
29:11 forty years. No forty-year period of such complete desolation in Egypt has been confirmed, although this was the length of time between Nebuchadnezzar’s defeat of Pharaoh and Egypt’s later deliverance when Cyrus and the Persians conquered Babylon. Very little is known for certain about the Egyptian history of this period, but it is known that the Egyptian monarchs, like other monarchs of antiquity, commonly boasted inordinately of the victories and passed over their defeats as lightly as possible. That is, even if the prophecies in these verses were fulfilled literally, Egyptian historians may not have acknowledged it for reasons of national pride. We can be confident that, when and if Egypt’s true and full history is ever discovered, these prophecies will be found to have been fulfilled as written.
One alternate possibility is that a forty-year period of complete desolation is still future, in the early years of the coming kingdom age. The desolations of the tribulation period may leave certain areas completely uninhabitable for a time, as the lands are gradually being healed and fruitful again.
29:15 basest of the kingdoms. Egypt was never doomed to extinction, as were such nations as Edom, Ammon, Phoenicia, and others. It was prophesied, however, to be “the basest of the kingdoms” from then on, never to rise again to its former greatness. After Babylonia, Egypt was under the heel of Persia, then Greece, then Rome. Later the Arabs spread the religion of Islam over Egypt and the native Egyptians eventually became an ethnic minority in their own country. In more recent times, Egypt was a part of the British Empire, receiving its independence only in 1922. As an Arab nation, it has occasionally tried to assume leadership over the Arab world, but has been unsuccessful. It has continued to be “the basest of the kingdoms,” just as Ezekiel predicted over twenty-five centuries ago.
29:17 seven and twentieth year. The prophecy of Ezekiel 29:17-21 was given seventeen years after the prophecy of Ezekiel 29:1-16. It was even given sixteen years after the prophecies of Ezekiel 30:20–31:17 and fifteen years after those of Ezekiel 32. Its interjection out of chronological order at this point was presumably made—possibly by Ezekiel himself—after all the prophecies against Egypt and her confederates had been given, possibly to show more effectively the divine connection between the prophecies against Tyre (Ezekiel 26–28) and those against Egypt (Ezekiel 29–32).