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©Bonnie LaBelle

Chapter 32:1-16 (ESV)

Posted on March 16, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 32:1-16 (ESV) - In the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, raise a lamentation over Pharaoh king of Egypt and say to him:

“You consider yourself a lion of the nations,
    but you are like a dragon in the seas;
you burst forth in your rivers,
    trouble the waters with your feet,
    and foul their rivers.
Thus says the Lord God:
    I will throw my net over you
    with a host of many peoples,
    and they will haul you up in my dragnet.
And I will cast you on the ground;
    on the open field I will fling you,
and will cause all the birds of the heavens to settle on you,
    and I will gorge the beasts of the whole earth with you.
I will strew your flesh upon the mountains
    and fill the valleys with your carcass.
I will drench the land even to the mountains
    with your flowing blood,
    and the ravines will be full of you.
When I blot you out, I will cover the heavens
    and make their stars dark;
I will cover the sun with a cloud,
    and the moon shall not give its light.
All the bright lights of heaven
    will I make dark over you,
    and put darkness on your land,
declares the Lord God.

“I will trouble the hearts of many peoples, when I bring your destruction among the nations, into the countries that you have not known. I will make many peoples appalled at you, and the hair of their kings shall bristle with horror because of you, when I brandish my sword before them. They shall tremble every moment, every one for his own life, on the day of your downfall.

“For thus says the Lord God: The sword of the king of Babylon shall come upon you. I will cause your multitude to fall by the swords of mighty ones, all of them most ruthless of nations.

“They shall bring to ruin the pride of Egypt,
    and all its multitude shall perish.
I will destroy all its beasts
    from beside many waters;
and no foot of man shall trouble them anymore,
    nor shall the hoofs of beasts trouble them.
Then I will make their waters clear,
    and cause their rivers to run like oil,
declares the Lord God.
When I make the land of Egypt desolate,
    and when the land is desolate of all that fills it,
when I strike down all who dwell in it,
    then they will know that I am the Lord.

This is a lamentation that shall be chanted; the daughters of the nations shall chant it; over Egypt, and over all her multitude, shall they chant it, declares the Lord God.”

Question to consider: Why does God compare the Egyptians to a sea dragon rather than a lion?

Today’s lamentation over Pharaoh and Egypt came nearly a year after God’s last word against them and a year and a half after the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon. Of course, rather than actually lamenting the destruction of Egypt, the Lord appears to mock Pharaoh’s inflated ego. Rather than being a majestic lion, terrifying the nations, he was more like a sea snake that traveled up a river and fouled its waters, and they would get hauled up in God’s dragnet by the surrounding nations.

The language in this lament is apocalyptic in nature, talking about drenching the land up to the mountains in their blood and scattering their carcasses all over the land. While the language may be symbolic and even hyperbolic in nature, it served to reinforce the certainty of their destruction. The Lord goes on to describe the darkening of the sun, moon, and stars. Jesus used similar language in reference to the ultimate destruction of Jerusalem. Although the nations used astrologers to try and predict events by the sun, moon, and stars, they also used the heavenly bodies to describe their political and religious structures. I tend to think of Joseph’s dream in Genesis 37:9, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” In Joseph’s dream the sun represented his father, Jacob, and the moon represented his mother, Rachel (or Rachel's handmaid since Rachel was now dead), and the stars represented his 11 brothers.

If we think of this lamentation in a similar fashion, the Lord was letting them know that their gods could not save them from the judgment that was coming, and that people they didn’t even know would bristle with horror when God raised his sword, Babylon, against them.

Again, God used wordplay here in referring to the people as the “pride” of Egypt which would be brought to ruin, for God had already mocked the idea that they considered themselves a lion. The daughters chanting would be a reference to the professional mourners which would lament the downfall of Egypt throughout the nations.


Dear heavenly Father, we thank You for being steadfast in Your word and sovereignly working out Your salvation and justice in the world. May all of this reinforce the hope we have in Christ Jesus to be able to stand before You in righteousness rather than shame. Amen.