Ezekiel 32:17-32: The Demise of Pharaoh

Ezekiel 32:17-32 is an interesting passage because it mentions some of the nations that are expected to have a role during the end times. For instance, Ezekiel 32:26-28 references Meshech and Tubal, who are mentioned in Ezekiel 38 and Ezekiel 39:

“(26) There is Meshech, Tubal, and all her multitude: her graves are round about him: all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword, though they caused their terror in the land of the living. (27) And they shall not lie with the mighty that are fallen of the uncircumcised, which are gone down to hell with their weapons of war: and they have laid their swords under their heads, but their iniquities shall be upon their bones, though they were the terror of the mighty in the land of the living. (28) Yea, thou shalt be broken in the midst of the uncircumcised, and shalt lie with them that are slain with the sword.” (Ezekiel 32:26-38)

Bible prophecy commentators do not often discuss Ezekiel 32:17-32, and because of this I feel the need to address it. I provide my thoughts on this interesting passage in this article.

The Fall of Egypt

Ezekiel is instructed to wail for Egypt because Egypt and its military have fallen by the sword:

“(17) It came to pass also in the twelfth year, in the fifteenth day of the month, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, (18) Son of man, wail for the multitude of Egypt, and cast them down, even her, and the daughters of the famous nations, unto the nether parts of the earth, with them that go down into the pit. (19) Whom dost thou pass in beauty? go down, and be thou laid with the uncircumcised. (20) They shall fall in the midst of them that are slain by the sword: she is delivered to the sword: draw her and all her multitudes.” (Ezekiel 32:17-20)

Verse 21 focuses on “him”, who shall be greeted when he enters hell (Hebrew “Sheol”) by an array of nations, leaders, and warriors [possibly giants depending how you interpret “mighty” (Hebrew: gibbor) in verse 21]. The “him” referenced in verse 21 is revealed to be Pharaoh in Ezekiel 32:31.

The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell with them that help him: they are gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword.” (Ezekiel 32:21)

“(31) Pharaoh shall see them, and shall be comforted over all his multitude, even Pharaoh and all his army slain by the sword, saith the Lord GOD.: (32) For I have caused my terror in the land of the living: and he shall be laid in the midst of the uncircumcised with them that are slain with the sword, even Pharaoh and all his multitude, saith the Lord GOD.” (Ezekiel 32:31-32)

Many of those mentioned by Ezekiel share a commonality: they caused terror in the land of the living, which is a term meaning the living world. The following nations, leaders, and warriors will greet Pharaoh upon his arrival:

Assyria

“(22) Asshur is there and all her company: his graves are about him: all of them slain, fallen by the sword: (23) Whose graves are set in the sides of the pit, and her company is round about her grave: all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which caused terror in the land of the living.” (Ezekiel 32:22-23)

Elam

“(24) There is Elam and all her multitude round about her grave, all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which are gone down uncircumcised into the nether parts of the earth, which caused their terror in the land of the living; yet have they borne their shame with them that go down to the pit. (25) They have set her a bed in the midst of the slain with all her multitude: her graves are round about him: all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword: though their terror was caused in the land of the living, yet have they borne their shame with them that go down to the pit: he is put in the midst of them that be slain.” (Ezekiel 32:24-25)

Meshech & Tubal

“(26) There is Meshech, Tubal, and all her multitude: her graves are round about him: all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword, though they caused their terror in the land of the living. (27) And they shall not lie with the mighty that are fallen of the uncircumcised, which are gone down to hell with their weapons of war: and they have laid their swords under their heads, but their iniquities shall be upon their bones, though they were the terror of the mighty in the land of the living. (28) Yea, thou shalt be broken in the midst of the uncircumcised, and shalt lie with them that are slain with the sword.” (Ezekiel 32:26-38)

Edom

“There is Edom, her kings, and all her princes, which with their might are laid by them that were slain by the sword: they shall lie with the uncircumcised, and with them that go down to the pit.” (Ezekiel 32:29)

Princes of the North & the Zidonians

“There be the princes of the north, all of them, and all the Zidonians, which are gone down with the slain; with their terror they are ashamed of their might; and they lie uncircumcised with them that be slain by the sword, and bear their shame with them that go down to the pit.” (Ezekiel 32:30)

Fulfillment When?

Although Ezekiel 32:17 onwards mentions nations like Meshech and Tubal, I believe the passage’s fulfillment was in the past. The main reason I believe Ezekiel 32:17 onwards has been fulfilled is that the passage suggests that the demise of Pharaoh will come after the demise of the nations listed.

Recall that the nations will greet Pharaoh when he arrives in Sheol, including Meshech and Tubal. I do not see Egypt surviving longer than nations like Meshech and Tubal during the end times because Egypt will be one of the primary targets of the Antichrist, who will devastate the country:

“(42) He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. (43) But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.” (Daniel 11:42-43)

Another reason why I believe Ezekiel 32:17-32 has been fulfilled is the context surrounding the prophecy. Ezekiel chapter 29 through chapter 32 mostly focuses on the downfall of Pharaoh: from promise to bring down Pharaoh to Pharaoh’s demise.

  • Ezekiel 29:19-20 contains God’s promise that He will give Nebuchadnezzar the land of Egypt.
  • Ezekiel 30:10-26 predicts the defeat of Pharaoh and his forces by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.
  • Ezekiel 31 compares the fall of Pharaoh to the fall of the Assyrian.
  • Ezekiel 32 describes the fall of Pharaoh, Egypt, and the Pharaoh’s arrival in Sheol.

I view Ezekiel 32:17-32 as the ending portion of a narrative describing the fall of Pharaoh by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar. I believe this viewpoint makes more sense than to view the passage as something pertaining to the future because this viewpoint fits the context surrounding the prophecy.

A third reason why I believe Ezekiel 32:17-32 has been fulfilled is that Ezekiel 32:18-19 asks Egypt: “Whom dost thou pass in beauty”?

“(18) Son of man, wail for the multitude of Egypt, and cast them down, even her, and the daughters of the famous nations, unto the nether parts of the earth, with them that go down into the pit. (19) Whom dost thou pass in beauty? go down, and be thou laid with the uncircumcised.” (Ezekiel 32:18-19)

The question implies that Egypt was a glorious country prior to its downfall.

  • I do not believe Egypt will be a glorious country prior to its fall during the end times. However, Ezekiel 31 compares Pharaoh to the Assyrian at the height of his power, so we can deduce that Pharaoh’s Egypt was a glorious country prior to its downfall to Nebuchadnezzar.

Another Thing to Consider

I don’t believe that the description of the nations in Sheol necessarily means that the prophecy has to take place following an end times slaughter of nations. The reason is that there’s an instance in Jeremiah 49 where the Lord discussed how He’d defeat a nation that would be in a position to greet Pharaoh upon his arrival in Sheol and then how He’d restore that nation at a future time. More specifically, the Lord mentioned in Jeremiah 49:39 that He will “bring again the captivity” of Elam in the “latter days” after discussing how He would defeat Elam in Jeremiah 49:35-38:

“(35) Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will break the bow of Elam, the chief of their might. (36) And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven, and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come. (37) For I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies, and before them that seek their life: and I will bring evil upon them, even my fierce anger, saith the LORD; and I will send the sword after them, till I have consumed them: (38) And I will set my throne in Elam, and will destroy from thence the king and the princes, saith the LORD. (39) But it shall come to pass in the latter days, that I will bring again the captivity of Elam, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 49:35-39)

The case of Elam opens up the possibility that some of the nations that greeted Pharaoh could recover after their defeat by Nebuchadnezzar.

Summarizing Ezekiel 32:17-32

To summarize, Ezekiel 32:17-32 does not appear to be a passage that pertains to the end times. My viewpoint on Ezekiel 32:17-32 is formed on the assumption that Egypt will fall before Meshech and Tubal during the end times, the assumption that Egypt will not be a glorious country during the end times, and on the belief that much of Ezekiel 29 to Ezekiel 32 is a narrative about the fall of Pharaoh.

Feel free to comment if you think my viewpoint on Ezekiel 32:17-32 is incorrect and/or if you think the prophecy will be fulfilled in the future. If you want to learn about the timing of Ezekiel 38 and Ezekiel 39, click this link for an article about the topic: Is the Ezekiel 38 War on Israel Imminent?

Do You Want to Study Bible Prophecy? Get My Free eBook!

Join my mailing list, and as a special welcome gift, I’ll send you my eBook guide to studying Bible prophecy. You’ll also get my latest articles and updates delivered to your inbox.

Your privacy is valued. For more information, please read the Privacy Policy.

Prophecy Proof Insights Guide to Studying Bible Prophecy
Share This Post
Wayne Croley
Wayne Croley

Hi! I’ve studied and written about Bible prophecy since I was a teenager. My goal is to make Bible prophecy easy for you to understand while avoiding the sensationalism seen elsewhere. I am the author of Prophecy Proof Insights on the End Times, a comprehensive book about the end times. I hold an M.B.A. and degrees in Managerial Economics and Political Science.