As the prophecies against the nations comes to a close, the Lord focuses on Egypt.
Egypt had long been a perceived haven for God’s people. Abraham had gone there during a famine and had nearly lost Sarah in the process. Jacob and his family had gone there as well and his descendants had become slaves for four hundred years until the Exodus. Though God forbade Israel to ever return to Egypt after the Exodus, Israel persistently regarded her neighbor to the south as an ally and turned to Egypt often for political help rather than seek the help of the Lord.
What follows in chapters 29-32 are seven oracles against Egypt. All but one are dated.
29:1-16 – Winter of 588-587 BC, a few months before Jerusalem is besieged by the Babylonians.
29:17-21 – Spring of 571 BC, after Nebuchadnezzar’s ill-fated siege of Tyre.
30:1-19 – undated
30:20-26 – Spring of 587 BC
31:1-18 – Summer of 587 BC.
32:1-16 – Spring of 585 BC – After the fall of Jerusalem.
32:17-32 – Sometime in 586-585 BC.
Egypt’s enemies lay to her north. In fact, all the armies that would threaten Egypt would come from the north through Israel. That’s why Israel was so important to Egypt: she acted as a buffer state to Egypt’s enemies.
Egypt is condemned in chapter 29 for two reasons: First, she was arrogant. Refusing to acknowledge the God of heaven, she considered herself to be the master of her own fate. Indeed, in a way, she was: refusing to recognize the sovereignty of the God of heaven, her fate of destruction was assured.
Second, Egypt was a false friend. Her friendliness was present only when, and to the degree, that it served her own interests.
Whether on an individual or a national level, when this valueless system is present, God’s judgment will be close behind.