The Inner Ring - Part 3 of 4 - Egypt "My Nile Is My Own …"
Updated: May 3, 2019
The country of Egypt is conspicuously absent from both the “Gog and Magog” and Psalm 83 prophecies. However, there are a number of prophecies still future that do specifically identify Egypt and its fate. In fact, it is possible that Egypt will be destroyed by a nuclear weapon.
The current relationship between Egypt and Israel can best be described as complicated. Since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, Egypt has attacked Israel and also been an occasional ally. At the beginning of 2019, the climate between the two could be described as “cool”. The Muslim Brotherhood, which strongly supports the Palestinians, has an increasing voice in Egyptian government. As with all of Israel’s Muslim allies, the situation can turn on a dime.
Ezekiel 29 – 32 contains a lengthy prophecy concerning the fate of Egypt. It is destined to be destroyed and the survivors dispersed. It will be a fearsome event that will stun the entire world:
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. -- Ezekiel 32:9-10
God will destroy Egypt and other enemies of Israel to send a message, stated repeatedly throughout the chapters in Ezekiel:
Then all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the Lord. (29:6)
Then they will know that I am the Lord. (29:9b)
Then they will know that I am the Lord. (30:19b)
… to show that “I am the Lord” (32:15)
Why Egypt is Destroyed
- Because Egypt has treated Israel with contempt:
They (Israel) shall dwell securely, when I execute judgments upon all their neighbors who have treated them with contempt. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.” – Ezekiel 28:26b (ESV)
- Because Egypt is (and has been) an unreliable ally. Israel cannot depend on them:
Because you have been a staff of reed to the house of Israel, when they grasped you with the hand, you broke and tore all their shoulders; and when they leaned on you, you broke and made all their loins to shake. – Ezekiel 29:6-7 (ESV)
- Because Egypt has been arrogant. The Pharaoh (or leader) boasts about control of the Nile:
“My Nile is my own; I made it for myself” – Ezekiel 29:3b (ESV)
In 1970, the Aswan High Dam was completed on the Nile River with the help of the USSR. This allowed Egypt to control the annual flooding of the river, provide a back-up supply of water for irrigation and provided hydro-electric power for the entire country. This was a huge boost to the economy of the country. It is interesting to note that it has only been in the last 50 years that Egypt could believe and boast - “My Nile is my own; I made it for myself”.
When Egypt will be Destroyed
- The destruction occurs when Israel is gathered back into the land and dwells securely (Ezek. 28:25-26)
Israel was gathered back into the land in 1948. Egypt has never been completely destroyed in recorded history. This destruction is still future.
How Egypt will be Destroyed
- Egypt will be destroyed by the sword. It is not a natural calamity:
Therefore thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will bring a sword upon you, and will cut off from you man and beast, and the land of Egypt shall be a desolation and a waste. Then they will know that I am the Lord. – Ezekiel 29:8-9 (ESV)
The destruction sounds very much like a nuclear strike:
- The country is described as an utter waste and completely desolate (29:12).
- The area will be uninhabitable for 40 years. No man or beast will set foot there. (29:11).
- The destruction will come with fire (30:8,16).
- The Nile will be dried up and the day will be dark and covered by a cloud (30:12 & 18).
Egypt is considered very vulnerable to nuclear strike. One well placed warhead could wipe out the entire country. If an enemy were to hit the Aswan Dam in exactly the right place, the resulting wave from Lake Nasser would sweep the entire length of the country, carrying with it all the waste and nuclear fallout. Since most of Egypt’s population is concentrated on the banks of the Nile, it would then become uninhabitable.
No foot of man shall pass through it, and no foot of beast shall pass through it; it shall be uninhabited forty years. And I will make the land of Egypt a desolation in the midst of desolated countries, and her cities shall be a desolation forty years among cities that are laid waste. I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and disperse them through the countries. -- Ezekiel 29:11-12 (ESV)
If this were to happen in the near future, Egypt would be uninhabited for the entire seven-year Tribulation period and far into the Millennial Kingdom of Christ. (This is a one thousand year period that occurs after the seven year tribulation). It appears that the people living under Christ’s Millennial Kingdom will be cleaning up the mess.
Who Will Destroy Egypt?
- Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon
Many times, in these chapters, the one responsible for the destruction of Egypt is described as Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. (29:19 is just one example). Critics of the Bible like to point out that Nebuchadnezzar died over 2500 years ago. He never conquered Egypt. This is used as proof that the Bible is inaccurate and unreliable.
But when it comes to Bible prophecy, it is important to remember that people and places are often referred to by the names used at the time the prophet lived. The Bible also uses “types”, or describes people as forerunners of a future equivalent. In other words, Nebuchadnezzar was a forerunner of a future ruler of Babylon.
The identification of the future kingdom of Babylon is a complicated topic and not one that can be fully addressed here. But Revelation 17 and 18 describe this future kingdom as a mystery. Some things in Bible prophecy are not meant to be revealed until the time of fulfillment is close.
One last interesting detail concerning the destruction of Egypt involves a tower. The King James Version describes it:
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. -- Ezekiel 29:10 (KJV)
Other versions of the Bible have a slightly different translation of the last half of this verse. They say that the destruction will be “from Migdol to Syene as far as the border of Cush”. (ESV)
The interpretation of this verse turns on the words “Migdol” and “tower”. The comparisons of the two versions show agreement on everything else. Cush is just an ancient name for Ethiopia. Syene is an ancient name for the modern city of Aswan (where the dam is located). Both versions agree that the southern boundary of the destruction will be the border of Ethiopia. Both agree that it will involve the city of Syene. But the KJV seems to refer to a tower located at the city of Syene, while the ESV seems to refer to a place named “Migdol”.
The name Migdol is the Hebrew word for tower. It was also the ancient name of a fortified place in northern Egypt. It is easy to see why this verse is difficult to interpret. It could be referring to an actual tower or landmark located at Syene, or it could be referring to the fortress of Migdol which was located at the north end of the land of Egypt.
Interestingly, there is a tower at Syene, but it has only been in existence since 1971. After the completion of the Aswan Dam, Egypt and Russia commemorated the event with the construction of the Lotus Tower or “The Egyptian Russian Friendship Monument”. This monument is a modernistic representation of a five pedaled lotus flower and is over 200 feet tall.
So which Bible version has the correct interpretation? It turns out that both are correct. The destruction of Egypt will cover the entire country from the border of Ethiopia to the delta of the Nile near ancient Migdol. The tower at Syene, which is located at the Aswan Dam, will be the epicenter. The prophet Ezekiel may have predicted a tower at Syene that didn’t exist until 1971. If this is the tower referred to in this passage, the prophecy could not be fulfilled until after it was built.
- In the satellite photo of Egypt accompanying this post, note that the Aswan High Dam is located near the bottom, or south end of the country. The Nile River flows from south to north. The northern end empties into the Mediterranean Sea. The bulk of the population is located along the banks of the Nile. The green areas of the map show the most heavily inhabited areas. Imagine the blast wave and flood from a strike on the Aswan Dam rushing from south to north.
- If a nuclear weapon were to strike Egypt, the Sinai desert would provide a natural barrier to protect Israel.
- There is a great deal of speculation among Bible prophecy experts about the identity of the “woman who rides the beast” in Revelation 17 and 18: “And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth's abominations.” And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. -- Revelation 17: 5-6
This woman called “Babylon the great” is probably what is referred to in the Ezekiel prophecies concerning the destruction of Egypt. “She” is symbolic of a world system and religion that will dominate future events. This future power will be initially embraced by the leaders of the world but will eventually be overthrown in favor of the Anti-Christ. The seat of “her” power will be a great city 17:18. The 18th chapter describes the fall of this city of Babylon.
- The prophet Daniel was instructed by God in Daniel 12:4: “But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” This is another example of how certain prophecies about the end times are not meant to be revealed until they are about to be fulfilled.