New International Version (NIV)
A Prophecy Against Egypt
Judgment on Pharaoh
29 In the tenth year, in the tenth month on the twelfth day, the word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, set your face against Pharaoh king of Egypt and prophesy against him and against all Egypt. 3 Speak to him and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“‘I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt,
you great monster lying among your streams.
You say, “The Nile belongs to me;
I made it for myself.”
4 But I will put hooks in your jaws
and make the fish of your streams stick to your scales.
I will pull you out from among your streams,
with all the fish sticking to your scales.
5 I will leave you in the desert,
you and all the fish of your streams.
You will fall on the open field
and not be gathered or picked up.
I will give you as food
to the beasts of the earth and the birds of the sky.
6 Then all who live in Egypt will know that I am the Lord.
“‘You have been a staff of reed for the people of Israel. 7 When they grasped you with their hands, you splintered and you tore open their shoulders; when they leaned on you, you broke and their backs were wrenched.[a]
8 “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will bring a sword against you and kill both man and beast. 9 Egypt will become a desolate wasteland. Then they will know that I am the Lord.
“‘Because you said, “The Nile is mine; I made it, ” 10 therefore I am against you and against your streams, and I will make the land of Egypt a ruin and a desolate waste from Migdol to Aswan, as far as the border of Cush.[b] 11 The foot of neither man nor beast will pass through it; no one will live there for forty years. 12 I will make the land of Egypt desolateamong devastated lands, and her cities will lie desolate forty years among ruined cities. And I will disperse the Egyptians among the nations and scatter them through the countries.
13 “‘Yet this is what the Sovereign Lord says: At the end of forty years I will gather the Egyptians from the nations where they were scattered. 14 I will bring them back from captivity and return them to Upper Egypt, the land of their ancestry. There they will be a lowly kingdom. 15 It will be the lowliest of kingdoms and will never again exalt itself above the other nations. I will make it so weak that it will never again rule over the nations. 16 Egypt will no longer be a source of confidencefor the people of Israel but will be a reminderof their sin in turning to her for help.Then they will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.’”Footnotes:
- Ezekiel 29:7 Syriac (see also Septuagint and Vulgate); Hebrew and you caused their backs to stand
- Ezekiel 29:10 That is, the upper Nile region
KING JAMES VERSION
10 Behold, therefore I am against thee, and against thy rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia.
11 No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years.
This passage is interesting for a number of reasons. First of all, the prophecy has not come true. Egypt has never been uninhabited, especially not for 40 years. There are several ways apologists get around this. Some claim that the prophecy has yet to be fulfilled. Christians making this claim do not realize that this makes any prophecy that does not include an exact date as unfalsifiable.
Others claim that it was not all of Egypt, but only a certain portion of Egypt or other countries (Elephatine, Cush, Ethiopia, etc). They use confusion about verse 10. Notice the extreme differences in the NIV and KJV about the locations listed in verse 10. The NIV says “from Migdol to Aswan, as far as the border of Cush”. The KJV says “from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia”. There are 3 different locations in the NIV (Migdol, Aswan, and Cush) and two different locations in the KJV (Syene and Ethiopia). What is going on here?
Syene is the ancient name for Aswan. Cush and Ethiopia are essentially the same thing. But what about Migdol? Migdol is a term that can mean tower (from its size or height), an elevated stage (a rostrum or pulpit), or a raised bed (within a river). So is Migdol a town or a tower? Migdol has been translated both ways. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, the text should read “from Magdolon [the northern frontier city of Egypt] to Syene [the southern boundary].” So I will go with the Jewish Encyclopedia that this refers to the northern frontier to southern boundary of Egypt. Verse 2 also says that this prophecy is against all Egypt, not just part of it. But there has never been any part of Egypt that has been uninhabited by people and animals for 40 years.
Apologies for this passage are all over the place, and are evolving. The recent events in Egypt are supposedly fulfilling this prophecy now (http://twelvebooks.wordpress.com/category/ezekiel-29/page/2/, http://prophecyupdateradio.blogspot.com/2011/02/ezekiel-predicts-40-years-of-egyptian.html, http://www.biblecodedigest.com/page.php?PageID=767, http://www.prophecydepot.net/2011/ezekiel-predicts-40-years-of-egyptian-deportation/).
I will make a prophecy. 100 years from now there will be Christians claiming that world events are fulfilling biblical prophecies and that the return of Jesus is imminent. I believe that my prophecy has a better chance of coming true than the prophecy in Ezekiel 29.