Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Eleventh. Hebrew, “twelfth.” Septuagint, “first of the twelfth month of the twelfth year.” There are other variations in the versions. St. Jerome reads the first in Hebrew, as Theodoret does, who says that it and the Syriac have the twelfth year: which is true, if we neglect the points. (Calmet) — The prophets do not observe the order of times. What is here delivered, was sooner fulfilled; or Tyre and Sodom lay nearer than Egypt. (Worthington) — The three next chapters regard that country.
Ver. 2. Pharao, Ephree, Jeremias xliv 30. He came to assist Sedecias; but the Chaldeans raised the siege, went to meet him, an defeated his army. After they had subdued the neighbouring nations, Tyre, &c., they fell upon Egypt. (The year of the world 3433.) (Calmet)
Ver. 3. Dragon. Hebrew tannin, (Haydock) whence thunnus may be derived, means any water monster, and seems here put for the crocodile, (Calmet) which Pharao signifies. (Grotius) — It was the symbol of Egypt, (Calmet) and adored by the people, Jeremias xv. 2. — Rivers; the different branches of the Nile, and the canals. — Myself. I owe my power to no other. (Calmet) — “Apries is said to think that no god could deprive him of the kingdom, so well he seemed to have established it.” (Herodotus ii. 169.) — So the ancient Pharao said; I know not the Lord, Exodus v. 2. He boasts of having conducted the waters of the Nile through the land, ver. 9. (Menochius) — This river was honoured as the greatest of the gods. (Heliod. 9.) —
Terra suis contenta bonis non indiga mercis
Aut Jovis; in solo tanta est fiducia Nilo. (Lucan viii.)
Ver. 4. Bridle. The Tentyrians jump upon the crocodile’s back, give it a club to bite at, which they seize with both hands, and bring it to the shore. (Pliny, [Natural History?] viii. 25.) — Others throw a hook baited with swine’s flesh, and holding the rope on the shore, make a little pig squeak, which draws the attention of the crocodile; and, as it comes for its prey, it swallows the hook, and its eyes being filled with dust is easily slain. (Herodotus ii. 70.) — Apries sent an army against Cyrene, which being defeated as it was thought by the king’s fault, many of the Egyptians revolted. He sent Amasis to reduce them, but they gave him the crown. (Herodotus ii. 161. and iv. 159.) — Nabuchodonsor taking advantage of these disturbances, and perhaps invited by Amasis, entered Egypt, drove Apries into Higher Egypt, slew many of the inhabitants, and Jews, &c., and left Amasis to govern the wretched remains of that kingdom. (Usher, the year of the world 3430.) The Scripture, however, seems to say that Pharao was slain; (Jeremias xliii., &c.; Calmet) which Ctesias assures us was done by Amasis, though Herodotus (ii. 169.) says he was killed by the people, and buried with his fathers. This latter circumstance is not very probable: but the historian followed the account of the priests, who would mention what was most honourable for the nation. He seems to have been left unburied, ver. 5. Scales. The people depended on the king and shared his fate. (Calmet)
Ver. 6. Israel, tempting them to rebel. (St. Jerome) — He promised more than he was able or strove to perform, though he made a show of giving aid.
Ver. 7. Loins. They fell upon thee, and thou didst wound (Calmet) or “dissolve” their loins. (Haydock)
Ver. 10. Tower; or rather (Calmet) Hebrew and Septuagint, “from Magdol to Syene.” (Haydock) — This was on the frontiers of Ethiopia, below the cataracts. (Pliny, [Natural History?] v. 9.)
Ver. 11. Years, till the third of Cyrus, who gave liberty to all the captives at the beginning of his reign, ver. 13. (Calmet) — Amasis reigned forty-four years in Lower Egypt, (Herodotus iii. 10.) over the few whom Nabuchodonosor spared.
Ver. 14. Low. The Jews were not more tempted to apply to them for aid. (Calmet) — Amasis strove to shake off the yoke: but Cambyses came and slew many. Psammenites killed himself; (Herodotus iii. 9.) or was taken to Susa, and the country laid waste. (Ctesias) — Egypt has almost ever since been subject to foreign princes, (Haydock) Persians, Greeks, Romans, Saracens, Mamelukes, and Turks. The trade of Egypt, by caravans, was in a manner destroyed for forty years by Nabuchodonosor, whose victories Megesthenes and Berosus attest 300 years before Christ. (Watson)
Ver. 17. Year: fifteen (Calmet) or seventeen years after the preceding prophecy, (ver. 1.; Worthington) but on the same subject.
Ver. 18. Peeled, with carrying machines of war and burdens for thirteen years. — No reward worth the labour. The new city surrendered upon terms, (Calmet) or the citizens shipped off their most valuable goods, and retired to Carthage, &c. God gives a temporal reward for moral virtues, (St. Jerome) even to infidels. (Worthington) — Thus he rewarded the ancient Romans, and the midwives. (St. Augustine, City of God v. 12.; and St. Thomas Aquinas, [Summa Theologiae] i. 2. q. 114. a. 10.) — They had no intention of pleasing God, (Calmet) or of directing their labours for his service. (Haydock)
Ver. 21. Horn: Zorobabel; (St. Jerome) Jechonias, who was honoured by Evilmerodac; (Tirinus) or Daniel and Mardochai, with all the nation. — Month. Thou shalt speak boldly, and they will give credit to thee henceforward. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The king of Egypt shall be overthrown, and his kingdom wasted. It shall be given to Nabuchodonosor, for his service against Tyre.
1 In *the tenth year, the tenth month, the eleventh day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me, saying:
2 Son of man, set thy face against Pharao, king of Egypt: and thou shalt prophesy of him, and of all Egypt:
3 Speak, and say: Thus saith the Lord God: Behold I come against thee, Pharao, king of Egypt, thou great dragon that liest in the midst of thy rivers, and sayest: The river is mine, and I made myself.
4 But I will put a bridle in thy jaws: and I will cause the fish of thy rivers to stick to thy scales: and I will draw thee out of the midst of thy rivers, and all thy fish shall stick to thy scales.
5 And I will cast thee forth into the desert, and all the fish of thy river: thou shalt fall upon the face of the earth; thou shalt not be taken up nor gathered together: I have given thee for meat to the beasts of the earth, and to the fowls of the air.
6 And all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the Lord: *because thou hast been a staff of a reed to the house of Israel.
7 When they took hold of thee with the hand, thou didst break and rent all their shoulders; and when they leaned upon thee, thou brokest and weakenedst all their loins.
8 Therefore, thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I will bring the sword upon thee: and cut off man and beast out of thee.
9 And the land of Egypt shall become a desert and a wilderness: and they shall know that I am the Lord: because thou hast said: The river is mine, and I made it.
10 Therefore, behold I come against thee and thy rivers: and I will make the land of Egypt utterly desolate, and wasted by the sword, from the tower of Syene even to the borders of Ethiopia.
11 The foot of man shall not pass through it, neither shall the foot of beasts go through it; nor shall it be inhabited during forty years.
12 And I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the lands that are desolate, and the cities thereof in the midst of the cities that are destroyed, and they shall be desolate for forty years: and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse them through the countries.
13 For thus saith the Lord God: At the end of forty years, I will gather the Egyptians from the people among whom they had been scattered.
14 And I will bring back the captivity of Egypt, and will place them in the land of Phatures, in the land of their nativity, and they shall be there a low kingdom:
15 It shall be the lowest among other kingdoms, and it shall no more be exalted over the nations; and I will diminish them, that they shall rule no more over the nations.
16 And they shall be no more a confidence to the house of Israel, teaching iniquity, that they may flee, and follow them: and they shall know that I am the Lord God.
17 And it came to pass in the seven and twentieth year, *in the first month, in the first of the month: that the word of the Lord came to me, saying:
18 Son of man, Nabuchodonosor, king of Babylon, hath made his army to undergo hard service against Tyre: every head was made bald, and every shoulder was peeled: and there hath been no reward given him, nor his army for Tyre, for the service that he rendered me against it.
19 Therefore, thus saith the Lord God: Behold I will set Nabuchodonosor, the king of Babylon, in the land of Egypt: *and he shall take her multitude, and take the booty thereof for a prey, and rifle the spoils thereof: and it shall be wages for his army,
20 And for the service that he hath done me against it: I have given him the land of Egypt, because he hath laboured for me, saith the Lord God.
21 In that day a horn shall bud forth to the house of Israel, and I will give thee an open mouth in the midst of them: and they shall know that I am the Lord.
1: Year of the World 3415, Year before Christ 589.
6: Isaias xxxvi. 6.
17: Year of the World 3432, Year before Christ 572.
19: Jeremias xlvi. 2.