Ezekiel 32

The Word Made Fresh

1On the first day of the twelfth month in the twelfth year, this word of the LORD came to me: 2“Son of man, lament over Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and tell him:

“You think you’re a lion among the nations,
but instead, you are more like a dragon in the seas.
You thrash around in your streams                  
and use your feet to stir up and dirty the water.
3So,” the LORD says, “in a gathering of many nations
I will throw my net over you and drag you away.
4I will fling you into an open field and throw you on the ground.
I will make the birds of the air settle on you,
and the wild animals of the earth will gorge themselves on you.
5I will throw your flesh over the mountains,
and fill the valleys with your dead carcass.
6I will flood the land with your blood up to the mountains,
and the streams will be filled with it.
7When I wipe you out I will put a shade over the sky
and darken the stars.
I will cover the sun with a cloud
and block out the light of the moon.
8I will darken all the stars in the sky above you,
and drench your land in darkness, says the LORD God.
9I will make the hearts of many nations troubled,
and I will carry you as prisoners into the nations,
even to countries you have never heard of.
10I will see to it that many peoples are appalled at you.
Their rulers will shudder to think of you,
and when I wield my sword in their sight
they will tremble constantly, each one afraid for his life
on the day you are conquered.
11The LORD God says,
The sword of the king of Babylon will come against you.
12I will make your people fall by the swords of strong warriors,
each of them a terror among the nations.
They will bring the pride of Egypt to ruin,
and its entire population will perish.
13I will kill all its livestock beside the wide rivers,
and no human march will come upon them anymore,
nor shall cattle hoofs trample them.
14Then I will clean their waters to make them clear,
and order their streams to run like oil, says the LORD God.
15When I render Egypt completely desolate
and their land is cleared of everything of value,
and when I strike down everyone who lives there,
then they will know that I am the LORD.
16This is a lamentation; it should be chanted
by the women of the nation.
They shall chant it in the hearing of all the people of Egypt,”
says the LORD God.

17On the fifteenth day of the first month of the twelfth year, the word of the LORD came to me:

18“Son of man, wail over the people of Egypt.
Send them down along with the daughters of great nations
to the underworld with those who have died.
19Do you think you are more beautiful than they?
Go on down! Be laid to rest with the uncircumcised crowd.”

20They will fall along with the others who are killed by the sword, for Egypt has been given to the sword to carry it away along with all its people. 21The mighty rulers and their servants will speak of them in Sheol, saying, “They have come down here. The uncircumcised lie still, killed by the sword.”

22Assyria is here with all its company. Their graves are all around, all of them killed by the sword. 23Their graves have been dug in the center of the Pit, surrounded by those who terrorized in the land of the living and were killed by the sword.

24Elam is there. All its people are gathered around in the graves, killed by the sword. They went into the lower world killed by the sword, for they spread terror in the land of the living, and thus they will bear their shame with all those who go down to the Pit. 25They have turned Elam into a bed of carcasses, with their graves all around it, all of them uncircumcised, all of them killed by the sword. People across the land of the living were terrified of them, and thus they will bear their shame along with the others who go down to the Pit, placed among those who were slain.

26Meshech and Tubal are there with their multitudes, all uncircumcised, killed by the sword, their graves all around them. They spread terror among the living. 27Other fallen soldiers of long ago are there, gone down to Sheol with their weapons. Swords lay under their heads, and shields upon their bones. They spread terror in the land of the living. 28All of you will be broken, and will lie among the uncircumcised, beside the others who were killed by the sword.

29The kings and royal families of Edom are there. In spite of their strength, they are laid among those killed by the sword, and lie among the uncircumcised along with others who go down to the Pit.

30Royals from the north are all there. All the Sidonians and others who have gone down in shame with the other slain because of the terror they caused by their might. They, too, lie uncircumcised with the others killed by the sword, and bear their shame with all those who go down to the Pit.

31“When Pharaoh sees them he will be consoled for all the multitudes among Pharaoh and his army who were killed by the sword,” says the LORD God. “He terrorized the land of the living, and so will be buried beside the uncircumcised who were killed by the sword,” says the LORD God.


1-16: Nine months have passed. We come now to the lamentation over Pharaoh, king of Egypt. The description of the subject is a regular opening feature in a lament, where the subject of the lament is usually praised, but in this case, Egypt is denigrated as an alligator that has fouled its own rivers and streams. Most of the lament describes what God is going to do to Egypt. Considering the previous laments, we are hardly surprised by what is said regarding Egypt’s fate.

17-32: The funeral song for Egypt is curiously placed nearly a year prior to the lament in the previous verses. The dirge draws a picture of the hordes of Egyptians descending into the great Pit, also called Sheol, the abode of the dead, to join the company of all the others God has deposed through the sword of Nebuchadnezzar: there are Assyria, Elam, Meshech, Tubal, Edom, the “princes of the north” (Tyre?), and Sidon. Pharaoh is curiously consoled by the presence of all these other “uncircumcised” (not part of the covenant with God) nations.


Ezekiel was convinced that God would deal roughly with the nations that had at one time or another been Israel’s enemy. The phrase “killed by the sword” appears a dozen times in the last twelve verses of the chapter. The proof of prophetic pronouncements could be authenticated, of course, only by what actually happened. Except for Egypt, none of the nations called out in these declarations exist anymore, and Egypt is no longer anything close to being a world power.