Ezekiel 30 – A Lament for Egypt & Exile and Genocide in the Ancient Near East

Now I understand why the Jew is the only nationality that had been here since Adam and Eve.

I still want to look into their religious beliefs, but before I do that…

Ezekiel 30
A Lament for Egypt

1 The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,

The third oracle against Egypt.  No date is given, but it was probably between January and April of 587 B.C.  Compare 29:1 with 30:20.  Jerusalem was under siege at this time.

The first kingdom known to have existed in Ethiopia was the kingdom of D’mt in Tigray, with its capital at Yeha, where a Sabaean style temple was built around 700 B.C. It rose to power around the 10th century B.C.

2 Son of man, prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Howl ye, Woe worth the day!

3 For the day is near, even the day of the LORD is near, a cloudy day; it shall be the time of the heathen.

4 And the sword shall come upon Egypt, and great pain shall be in Ethiopia, when the slain shall fall in Egypt, and they shall take away her multitude, and her foundations shall be broken down.

5 Ethiopia, and Libya, and Lydia, and all the mingled people, and Chub, and the men of the land that is in league, shall fall with them by the sword.

“Ethiopia” – Cush.

“Libya” – Hebrew Phut, in North Africa.

“Lydia’ – “Lud,” forth listed son of Shem (one of Noah’s sons); not in Asia Minor, but descendants of Shem somewhere in northern Africa.

The ruins of ancient Sardis, capital of the kingdom of Lydia in western Turkey. It was once presided over by Croesus, celebrated as the creator of the first coined money, and the richest man in the world.

“Chub” – obscure, but probably from North Africa in league with others listed here.

“Men of the land” – or “covenant men,” apparently Jews living in Egypt.

6 Thus saith the LORD; They also that uphold Egypt shall fall; and the pride of her power shall come down: from the tower of Syene shall they fall in it by the sword, saith the Lord GOD.

7 And they shall be desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate, and her cities shall be in the midst of the cities that are wasted.

8 And they shall know that I am the LORD, when I have set a fire in Egypt, and when all her helpers shall be destroyed.

9 In that day shall messengers go forth from me in ships to make the careless Ethiopians afraid, and great pain shall come upon them, as in the day of Egypt: for, lo, it cometh.

10 Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also make the multitude of Egypt to cease by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.

11 He and his people with him, the terrible of the nations, shall be brought to destroy the land: and they shall draw their swords against Egypt, and fill the land with the slain.

12 And I will make the rivers dry, and sell the land into the hand of the wicked: and I will make the land waste, and all that is therein, by the hand of strangers: I the LORD have spoken it.

13 Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also destroy the idols, and I will cause their images to cease out of Noph; and there shall be no more a prince of the land of Egypt: and I will put a fear in the land of Egypt.

Pyramids and ruins at Noph, Egypt

“Noph” – another name for Memphis.  Located 15 miles south of Cairo, Memphis was a former capital of Egypt and one of her largest cities.  The list of towns reveals no discernible pattern but is a literary device used to underscore the scope of the destruction.

14 And I will make Pathros desolate, and will set fire in Zoan, and will execute judgments in No.

“Zoan” – a city in northeast Egypt in the delta region, also called Raamses, Avaris and Tanis.

“No” – Thebes, the capital of Upper Egypt; present-day Luxor and Karnak.

15 And I will pour my fury upon Sin, the strength of Egypt; and I will cut off the multitude of No.

“Sin” – a fortress in the eastern delta region of the Nile.

16 And I will set fire in Egypt: Sin shall have great pain, and No shall be rent asunder, and Noph shall have distresses daily.

17 The young men of Aven and of Pi-beseth shall fall by the sword: and these cities shall go into captivity.

Left – right: The “second” pyramid of Khafra, the Sphinx of Djedef-ra, and the pyramid of Khufu.
To the right are the funerary temples that once met canals coming from the Nile.

It is believed that Khufu’s son, Djedef-ra built the Sphinx, and Djedef-ra’s son Khafra built the second pyramid, which is directly behind it. The third pyramid on the plateau, that of Khafre’s son Menkaura, was covered in granite, which was a more expensive and harder-to-find material. Although the pyramid may appear less impressive due to its smaller size, the granite coating would have made a statement of wealth equal to that of the pyramids built by Menkaura’s father and great-grandfather.

“Aven” – Heliopolis (“city of the sun”), the Greek name for On, located six miles northeast of Cairo.

“Phi-beseth” – Bubastis, at one time the capital of Lower (northern) Egypt; located 40 miles northeast of Cairo.

18 At Tehaphnehes also the day shall be darkened, when I shall break there the yokes of Egypt: and the pomp of her strength shall cease in her: as for her, a cloud shall cover her, and her daughters shall go into captivity.

“Tehaphnehes” – Tahpanhes, in extreme northeast Egypt.  Johanan son of Kareah and his men fled there after the murder of Gedaliah.

19 Thus will I execute judgments in Egypt: and they shall know that I am the LORD.

20 And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the first month, in the seventh day of the month, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

The forth oracle against Egypt.

“Eleventh year…first month…seventh day of the month” – April 29, 587 B.C.; the eighth day in Ezekiel.

21 Son of man, I have broken the arm of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and, lo, it shall not be bound up to be healed, to put a roller to bind it, to make it strong to hold the sword.

“I have broken the arm of Pharaoh” – refers to pharaoh-hophra’s defeat by Nebuchadnezzar the previous year.

22 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and will break his arms, the strong, and that which was broken; and I will cause the sword to fall out of his hand.

Cairo’s Ancient Northern Walls

23 And I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse them through the countries.

24 And I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, and put my sword in his hand: but I will break Pharaoh’s arms, and he shall groan before him with the groanings of a deadly wounded man.

25 But I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, and the arms of Pharaoh shall fall down; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall put my sword into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall stretch it out upon the land of Egypt.

26 And I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and disperse them among the countries; and they shall know that I am the LORD.

Exile and Genocide
in the Ancient Near East

Sargon II, Assyrian king, reigned 722 – 705 B.C.
Became the ruler of the Assyrian Empire in 722 B.C. after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family. In his inscriptions, he styles himself as a new man, rarely referring to his predecessors.

However he took the name Sharru-kinu (“true king”), after Sargon of Akkad — who had founded the first Semitic Empire in the region some 16 centuries earlier. Sargon is the Biblical form of the name.

For something to qualify as genocide, it has to be a deliberate, calculated decision by a particular ethnic or religious group, leader, or a government to exterminate, or otherwise destroy, a specific group of people for religious, cultural, racial, or political reasons.  This can be done either through direct action (murder) or through indirect means (deportation or starvation).  

The Holocaust, The Stalinist Era in the USSR, the Rwanda Masacre, and others were not the first incidents of genocide.

Although nations in the ancient Near East were almost continuously at war – and many of these wars had no long-term effects – sometimes a nation or city did suffer a calamitous defeat.  Such a conquest could lead to the near eradication of the defeated people.

The scenario often began with the destruction of a conquered city, including the razing of its walls.  This was followed by a looting of the palace or local seat of government affairs. 

The religions artifacts of the defeated city were typically carried off and its temple demolished.  The deportation of the survivors into exile then began. 

In some cases only royalty, government officials and well-educated members of society were initially deported.  If the conquered territory remained rebellious additional mass deportations of the general populace were undertaken.

Sometimes the conquering power would resettle the area with outsiders in order to ensure that the cultural heritage of the conquered territory was effectively eliminated.

Historical annals demonstrate that Assyrian kings attempted to deal with unruly populations through massive deportations.  When a rebellious city was defeated, its nobility, skilled workers and soldiers were resettled closer to the Assyrian heartland, where they could be more easily controlled.

The remaining population was less likely to have the military and economic means to revolt again.  The practice of deportation became increasingly popular among later kings. 

Sennacherib’s Prism
Sennacherib was the son of Sargon II, whom he succeeded on the throne of Assyria.

This is a picture of an artifact called Sennacherib’s Prism. It has the important records and events of the Assyrian king Sennacherib carved into it’s six sides. It is a very important evidence of the accuracy of the Bible because, not only does it confirm the existence of the Biblical figure Sennacherib, but it also mentions Hezekiah, a king of Judah at the time.

Sargon II (the king most likely responsible for the deportation of the Israelites in 721 B.C.) counted over 239,000 deportees.

While Sennacherib (who unsuccessfully besieged Jerusalem in 701 B.C.)  listed over 469,000 exiles during his reign.

Exiles were often treated with extreme cruelty.  Assyria reliefs depict long lines of captives being led away bound and naked.  Sometimes, captives fared well and were able to rise to positions of authority, such as Daniel, Nehemiah, and Esther, but they had faith in God.

Personal names in Assyrian inscription indicate that some Israelites did rise to leadership positions within the Assyrian administration.

At times deliberate genocide was carried out.  Information concerning genocide in the ancient world is somewhat limited, but the Bible testifies to two basic forms:

Paranoid Infanticide – the mass murder of infants due to suspicious fear (e.g. Ex 1).

Ethnic Targeting – the singling out of a race of people for annihilation (e.g., Est 3).

…I want to know why Tyrus finally fell?