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And it came to pass in the seven-and-twentieth year, in the first month, in the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came unto Ezekiel saying, Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon caused his army to serve a great service against Tyrus: every head was made bald, and every shoulder was peeled; yet had he no wages, nor his army, for Tyrus, for the service that he had served against it :
Therefore thus saith the LORD God, Behold, I will give the land of Egypt unto Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he shall take her multitude, and take her spoil and take her prey; and it shall be the wages
I have given him the land of Egypt for his labour wherewith he served against it, because they wrought for me, saith the LORD God.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
By this prophecy, which was revealed to Ezekiel during the siege of Tyre, we may learn, that Nebuchadnezzar (though he knew it not) was the servant of the LORD, in respect to the destruction of the different nations. They were presumptuous sinners, therefore objects of Divine wrath : he was ambitious, therefore a fit instrument of their chastisement. These predictions were remarkably fulfilled.
Immediately after the siege of Tyre, the king of Babylon, taking advantage of the intestine divisions in Egypt, marched with his army thither, over-ran the whole land, and made miserable devastation; slew multitudes of its inhabitants, and reduced the country to such a ruinous state, that it did not recover for forty years afterwards. Nebuchadnezzar having loaded himself and his army with the rich spoils of this nation,
and brought it into subjection to him, came to terms with Amasis, who had revolted from Pharaoh-Hophra, and usurped the throne; and, having confirmed him in the kingdom as his deputy, returned to Babylon.
During this ravage of the land of Egypt, most of the Jews, who had fled thither after the murder of Gedaliah fell into the hands of the Babylonians: many of them they slew, others they took prisoners; the few that escaped saved themselves by fleeing out of Egypt into different countries. After Nebuchadnezzar was gone out of Egypt Pharaoh-Hophra, collecting together an army of foreigners, marched against Amasis, and gave him battle; in which, being vanquished and taken prisoner, he was carried to his own palace in the city of Sais, and there strangled. By these events were completed all the prophecies of Jeremiah and Ezekiel concerning this king and his people, particularly that of Jeremiah respecting his death. It is said of this prince by a heathen writer, that, in the pride of his heart, he vaunted that it was not in the power of God Himself to dispossess him of his kingdom; which agrees with what Ezekiel charged him with, his saying, that the river was his, &c.
Egypt continued in subjection to the Babylonian yoke till that empire fell: and it has been a base and mean nation ever since; for in the
space of more than two thousand years Egypt has produced nothing great, either in learning, wisdom, or exploit. It has been a tributary kingdom, without a prince of its own, but always subject to slaves or foreigners. The Egyptians are possessed with a notion, that it is decreed by fate that slaves must always rule, and the natives be subject. From whence could such an idea first proceed, but from the promulgation of this prophecy, and its wonderful completion ?
There are many other predictions concerning Egypt, among the writings of the prophets, but the examination of them would detain us too long from the history.
Nebuchadnezzar, being now at rest from all his wars, and in full peace at home, applied himself to the finishing of his buildings at Babylon. He increased the magnificence of the city to such a degree, that it became one of the wonders of the world.
For a long succession of years Nebuchadnezzar experienced scarcely any thing but success and exaltation, Prosperity had the effect it usually has on irreligious minds; for he became proud and arrogant to the greatest degree: but the LORD, knowing that he was not incorrigibly wicked, sent afflictions to teach him (and the world by his example) how mean and abject the highest monarch is, in comparison of the SUPREME BEING.
The following Section contains Nebuchadnezzar's own account of the exemplary judgment that was inflicted on him, which is preserved among the prophe. cies of Daniel.
DANIEL INTERPRETS NEBUCHADNEZZAR'S DREAM.
From Daniel, Chap. iv, NebucHADNEZZAr the king, unto all people, na. tions, and languages, that dwell in all the earth, Peace be multiplied unto you.
I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God had wrought toward me.
How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.
I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and VOL. IV.
Aourishing Nourishing in my palace: I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed, and the visions of my head, troubled me.
Therefore, made I a decree, to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known unto me the interpretation of the dream.
Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the sooth-sayers :: and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof.
But at the last Daniel came in before me (whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my God, and in whom is the spririt of the holy gods), and before him I told the dream, saying, O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof.
Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed ; I saw, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great.
The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth.
The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.
I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and behold, a watcher, and an holy one came down from heaven.
He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit; let all the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches.
Nevertheless, leave the stump of his roots in the cartlı, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field, and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth.
Let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given unto him, and let seven times pass over him.
This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know, that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.
This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen: now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation there. of, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation : but thou art able, for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee.
Then Daniel (whose name was Belteshazzar) was astonished for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him: the king spake and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies. The tree that thou sawest,
grew, strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth; whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their ha. bitation :
It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth.