Ezekiel 29:1-21 is a prophecy against Egypt, v.2. There will be prophecies against Pharaoh and Egypt in chapters 29-32.
Egypt the Great Dragon
v.3 against thee, Pharaoh, the great dragon in the rivers, 31:4-5. Pharaoh is the great dragon in the sea, compared with Leviathan, Is 27:1, and the devil Rev 12:7-9. Leviathan is fully described in Job 41. Pharaoh said, My river is mine own, I have made it for myself. In this he exalted himself. Compare Sennacherib’s boast before God in 2 Ki 19:23-25.
v.4 I’ll put hooks in thy jaws, and cause fish of thy rivers to stick to thy scales, and bring thee up out of thy rivers. The fish stuck to his scales are Egypt’s allies, Ezek 30:5.
v.5 I’ll leave thee thrown into the wilderness, thee and all the fish. Thou shalt fall upon the open fields. You’ll not brought together or gathered. You’ll be meat for the beasts of field and fowls of the air. In Ezek 32:2-6 he’s likened to lion and whale. And when he is cast into the open field, he’s in the mountains and in the valleys. The picture here is the multitude of men scattered in the open field like Jer 25:33; they won’t be buried.
Prophecy against Egypt the Staff of Reed to Israel
v.6 all inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the Lord, because they have been a staff of reed to the house of Israel. A reed is too weak to be a staff.
v.7 in this prophecy against Egypt, Israel took hold of thee by the hand, thou broke, and they rent their shoulder (torn shoulder). Thou brakest and made their loins to be at a stand. The loins are gird up to prepare for action, 1 Ki 18:46. “To be at a stand” means to stop on account of some difficulty; hence, to be perplexed, to hesitate on what to do. Thus, loins at a stand means Israel was going with Egypt’s help and then suddenly had to stop because they didn’t know what to do next when Egypt failed.
Egypt Made Desolate and Waste
v.8 therefore I will bring the sword upon thee and cut off man and beast out of thee (war).
v.9 the land of Egypt shall be desolate and waste; and they shall know that I am the Lord, because he said the river is mine, and I have made it.
v.10 against thee and thy rivers. I will make Egypt utterly waste and desolate from the tower of Syene unto the border of Ethiopia. The tower of Syene is, in Hebrew, Seveneh (marginal note), which is in the North. Ethiopia is South. So, this is from north to south. In Israel they would say from Dan to Beersheba.
v.11 no foot of man or beast shall pass through it. It shall be desolate 40 years. This did not take place in history. Therefore, the fulfillment of this prophecy will be in the future. Compare Ezek 32:2-10, which is at the Second Advent of Jesus.
v.12 Egypt will be desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate. Her cities will be desolate 40 years. God will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and disperse them through the countries.
Prophecy against Egypt the Basest Kingdom
v.13 at the end of 40 years, God will gather the Egyptians from the people where they were scattered.
v.14 He will bring again the captivity of Egypt, and cause them to return to the land of Pathros, the land of their habitation. They shall be a base kingdom.
v.15 They will be the basest of the kingdoms, neither shalt she exalt herself any more above the nations. God will diminish them and they shall no more rule over the nations. They ruled over the Jews in Exodus, attacked Rehoboam, killed Josiah when fighting the Assyrians by Euphrates, 2 Chr 35:20-24, 2 Ki 23:29-30, and put down Jehoahaz and made Jehoiakim king, 2 Chr 36:1-4.
v.16 They shall no more be the confidence of the house of Israel, which bringeth their iniquity to remembrance, when they shall look after them. To “look after” is equivalent to seek. Israel has sought, and will seek again, help from Egypt against her enemies. Sennacherib accused Israel of looking to Egypt, 2 Ki 18:21, and then they looked to Egypt when Nebuchadnezzar attacked, Jer 37:5-10. But Nebuchadnezzar went all the way to the river of Egypt, 2 Ki 24:7. Then after Gedaliah, all the remaining Jews went down to Egypt, Jer 41:16-17, and subsequently Nebuchadnezzar conquered Egypt, Jer 43:5-13.
“Shall look after them” first occurred before v.17-20. But as we near the Tribulation and Second Advent, Israel will again seek help from Egypt (they’re doing it right now), which will fail them yet again like they did against the Chaldeans. This is what “bringeth their iniquity to remembrance (v.6-7), when they shall look after them” means. Finally, after the Second Advent and 40 years of desolation, they will no longer seek help from Egypt and they shall know that I am the Lord.
Egypt the Spoil and Prey for Nebuchadnezzar
v.17 About 17 years after this first prophecy came the word of the Lord.
v.18 Nebuchadnezzar caused his army to serve against Tyrus, Ezek 26-27. Every head was made bald, every shoulder was peeled (to strip by tearing off the skin). When a land is peeled it is stripped, plundered, and pillaged. Yet Nebuchadnezzar had no wages, nor his army, for the service against Tyrus. There was not enough spoil to satisfy his troops.
v.19 ThereforeGod gave the land of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar, and he took her multitude and her spoil and took her prey. It was the wages for his army.
v.20 God gave him Egypt because they wrought for the Lord.
v.21 In that day I will cause the horn of Israel to bud forth, as in Ps 132:13-18, and I will give thee the opening of the mouth in the midst of them; and they shall know that I am the Lord. That is, when Israel comes to prominence in the millennial reign of Jesus, Ezekiel will be there and he will speak.