In the March, 2011 edition of this magazine, we wrote about the current crisis in Egypt. In this context, we mentioned a graphic prophecy in Ezekiel 29 and 30 that summons up the dark vision of Egypt’s future destruction by a great flood, possibly caused by the destruction of the Aswan High Dam by a nuclear device. The article evoked a number of reactions, including the observation that this prophecy has already been fulfilled in the era of Nebuchadnezzar, around 572 B.C. In view of this ongoing discussion, Ezekiel’s important prophecy seems worthy of a closer look.
It must be emphasized that Egypt is now in crisis, and has been, since early February, when street riots arose in response to an earlier riot in Tunisia. Their target of the Egyptian revolt was the overthrow of the 30-year-long despotic regime of Hosni Mubarak. On February 12th, under demands from America and other Western powers, he resigned, turning control over to the Egyptian Army. Since that time, there has been continuous pressure to create an Islamic state, controlled by religious leaders.
Radical Islam, in the form of the Muslim Brotherhood, has worked behind the scenes throughout this upheaval. Systematically insinuating itself into the halls of power, it is preparing to make Egypt a militant Muslim state. There are also continuing reports of weakening in the military junta now in control there. In short, experts say that there will be a growing struggle for power, which seems destined to end up in the hands of radical Islam.
In the weeks that have followed the uprising, Israelis have been in a state of high alert, since Mubarak’s fall caused the cessation of a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel that had been in place since March 31st of 1979 – over thirty years! During that time, though ruled by repressive and despotic leadership, Egypt at least guaranteed Israel some stability on its southern flank. In a sense, Israel relied upon Egypt’s support. Now, that protection is lost.
To drive the point home, the leaders of two terrorist groups dedicated to the destruction of Israel met in Cairo on May 4th. At a convocation there, Fatah and Hamas signed a truce, agreeing to combine their forces against Israel. Fatah President Mahmoud Abbas declared that Palestinians had, “turned forever the black page of division. Hamas is part of the Palestinian people. Israel must choose between settlements and peace.”
It is now agreed that the thought of any future peace talks between Israel and these groups is impossible. From now on, the radical Muslims will attempt to establish a Palestinian state by force. Egypt, under its weakened military leadership, was complicit in this perfidy.
A Staff of Reed
The Egyptian prophecy mentioned above directly addresses these developments. In it, Ezekiel states that because of its failure to support Israel, Egypt will at some future point, be grievously judged. That judgment will turn it into a wasteland. This is clearly stated in the opening words of the following prophecy:
“And all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the LORD, because they have been a staff of reed to the house of Israel.
“When they took hold of thee by thy hand, thou didst break, and rend all their shoulder: and when they leaned upon thee, thou brakest, and madest all their loins to be at a stand.
“Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will bring a sword upon thee, and cut off man and beast out of thee.
“And the land of Egypt shall be desolate and waste; and they shall know that I am the LORD: because he hath said, The river is mine, and I have made 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.
“No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years.
“And I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate, and her cities among the cities that are laid waste shall be desolate forty years: and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse them through the countries” (Ezek. 29:6-12)
The Dragon’s River
Egypt has now joined the legions of Islamic terrorists bent upon the annihilation of Israel. In the days ahead, such militancy will spread like wildfire, finally arriving at a critical mass, at which time the Brotherhood will believe that it has come to a historic moment. Then, they will launch their invasion.
Many object to interpreting the above passage in Ezekiel 29 as being an end-time prophecy. They object, saying that the context of this chapter is in the past, during the days of the Babylonian captivity. In fact, it may be partially interpreted in this way. But the very nature of Ezekiel’s words places the final outcome of the Syene prophecy in the last days. Egypt has never been desolate and uninhabited for any 40-year period, as described above.
As we have believed for years, this prophecy must be contemporary in nature, because when Ezekiel first wrote it, there was no “tower of Syene.” In fact, it didn’t even come into existence until 1967, as the Aswan High Dam, spanning the Nile at the location of the first cataract, Egypt’s southern border. The proper noun “Syene,” from the Hebrew S’veneh [vbux], means “opening,” or “key.” This name is said to be the ancient designation for the opening to Egypt, when one approaches from the south, or Ethiopia.
From several sources, it is quite easy to confirm that the biblical Syene is really Aswan. One of these is the Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament, first published in 1866. It affirms the connection, from the Greek Septuagint: “[, Syene, in the inscriptions according to Brugsch [was] the most southerly border town of Egypt in the direction of Cush, i.e. Ethiopia, on the eastern bank of the Nile, some ruins of which are still to be seen in the modern Assuan (Aswan) …” (Vol. 9, Ezekiel 29-48, p. 8).
When Keil and Delitzsch wrote their commentary in 1866, there was no tower at Aswan. When Ezekiel wrote his prophecy around 570 B.C., there was no tower. In fact, until the huge hydroelectric project was completed by the Russians and Egyptians in 1967, there was no tower at Aswan. Now, this dam is the most towering feature of the area, and it is doomed to be wiped out at some point between now and the Tribulation.
Thus, this location is identical to the modern place name “Aswan,” now the site of a huge dam. Using Russian technology, the Egyptians completed the dam, effectively placing themselves in the position of being able to say, “The river is mine, and I have made it.”
“Son of man, set thy face against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and prophesy against him, and against all Egypt:
“Speak, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself.
“But I will put hooks in thy jaws, and I will cause the fish of thy rivers to stick unto thy scales, and I will bring thee up out of the midst of thy rivers, and all the fish of thy rivers shall stick unto thy scales.
“And I will leave thee thrown into the wilderness, thee and all the fish of thy rivers: thou shalt fall upon the open fields; thou shalt not be brought together, nor gathered: I have given thee for meat to the beasts of the field and to the fowls of the heaven” (Ezek. 29:2-5).
The prophecy, at first glance, seems generically directed toward “Pharaoh, king of Egypt.” But upon further examination, its real target is, “… the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers.” In Ezekiel 28, the chapter that immediately precedes this one, Satan, as the “anointed cherub,” is shown as defeated. This prophecy in chapter 29, then, may be taken as an extension of that preceding prophecy.
Here, the fish of the Nile figuratively stick to the dragon’s scales, as all are hurled from the river onto its banks to rot and dry in the sun. The Nile, which annually flooded with clocklike predictability, has ceased its flooding since the construction of the High Dam at Aswan. The only way it could flood as catastrophically as described would be to destroy the dam.
Interestingly, the huge dam is so massive that experts have pronounced it indestructible … except through the use of nuclear force. This fact alone makes it more than clear that this is a latter-day prophecy.
Israel’s Expert Assessment
In 2002, Israeli Knesset member (MK) Avigdor Lieberman, admittedly a man given to controversial statements, announced that Israel could defeat an invading Egypt by bombing the Aswan High Dam. He knew that this would require the use of nuclear force, since many experts have testified that the dam is too massive to fall to ordinary explosives. Lieberman, who served as Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister, and as Minister both of Foreign Affairs and Strategic Affairs, had obviously been briefed upon military alternatives. It appears that he wanted to give Egypt something to think about.
Nor was he alone in his opinion. MK Yigal Allon had publicly made the same statement during the early 1980s. A Labor Party representative, he too, had served as a government minister for seven years. These men were saying what others knew, but refused to speak about openly.
They were simply stating the obvious. If Israel’s existence were threatened by an Egyptian invasion, drastic measures would be brought into play, The Aswan Dam holds back the enormous Lake Nasser, 340 miles long and 22 miles wide at its widest. If the dam were breached by a nuclear blast, radioactive waters would cover Egypt from one end to the other.
Satellite photos reveal a staggering truth about Egypt. Virtually its entire population lives in close proximity to the Nile River, from Aswan all the way down to Cairo and the Mediterranean Sea. Night photos show the Nile as a narrow river of light that fans out at the Nile Delta. Egypt may be the only country on earth so vulnerable to total destruction.
The following verses link the Tribulation Period (Day of the Lord) and the coming of this dire event. Also, notice again that the “tower of Syene” is mentioned:
“The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
“Son of man, prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Howl ye, Woe worth the day
“For the day is near, even the day of the LORD is near, a cloudy day; it shall be the time of the heathen.
“And the sword shall come upon Egypt, and great pain shall be in Ethiopia, when the slain shall fall in Egypt, and they shall take away her multitude, and her foundations shall be broken down.
“Ethiopia, and Libya, and Lydia, and all the mingled people, and Chub, and the men of the land that is in league, shall fall with them by the sword.
“Thus saith the LORD; They also that uphold Egypt shall fall; and the pride of her power shall come down: from the tower of Syene shall they fall in it by the sword, saith the Lord GOD” (Ezek. 30:1-6).
As we have often said, this would explain why Egypt is prophesied to be uninhabitable for a future period of forty years. This also explains why Egypt is missing in the prophesied attack on Israel by the allied forces of Gog, in Ezekiel 38.
Clean-up of the radioactive debris would be a staggering task. This massive project seems to extend into the early years of the Millennium. But somehow, it will be accomplished in the years following the Tribulation, probably supervised by the Lord and His followers.