Egypt in the Bible

The Israelites’ miraculous exodus from Egypt is well known. But what about Egypt’s future? What does the Bible say will yet happen to Egypt in prophecy?

The nation of Egypt, officially known today as the Arab Republic of Egypt, was at various times in antiquities the greatest political and military power of its age. The many spectacular monuments of Egypt attest to its past power and glory. The biblical story of the Exodus also tells how God miraculously freed His people from what was then the most powerful nation of its time.

The history of Egypt in the Bible goes back much further in time. After the waters of the Noachian Flood subsided, the three sons of Noah (Shem, Ham and Japheth) began to populate the earth. Ham had four sons, and the name of his second son was Mizraim (Genesis 10:6). He became the father and the beginner of Egypt following the Flood.

Throughout the Old Testament, the name Egypt is a translation of the Hebrew word Mizraim. Egypt was also known as the Land of Ham because tradition says Ham followed his son into Egypt. The English name Egypt comes from the ancient Greek name Aigyptos.

It is Egypt’s history recorded in the books of Genesis and Exodus that is remembered by most people who are familiar with the Bible. What many are not aware of is that God did not finish dealing with the Egyptians over three millenniums ago. Through His prophets, God has given important prophecies of what will happen to Egypt and what Egypt will do prior to the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Egypt to become a minor nation

Near the end of the period of the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah (700-600 B.C.), the southern kingdom of Judah turned to Egypt for protection from the threatening power of the Assyrian Empire. God inspired the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel to warn Judah to not put their trust in Egypt, but to put their trust in the Lord who brought their forefathers out of Egypt.

The Egyptians were soon to be conquered by the Assyrians (Isaiah 20:3-4) and then again later by the Babylonians. Through the prophet Ezekiel, God said, “I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations” (Ezekiel 29:12). Egypt would be uninhabited and scattered for 40 years; but following the 40 years of captivity by the Babylonians, God said He would “bring back the captives of Egypt and cause them to return” to Egypt (Ezekiel 29:13-14). Many native Egyptians, though, would still remain scattered among the various nations (Ezekiel 30:23, 26).

After this time of punishment, Egypt would become “a lowly kingdom,” and “the lowliest of kingdoms; it shall never again exalt itself above the nations, for I will diminish them so that they will not rule over the nations anymore” (Ezekiel 29:14-15). This has been the state of Egypt from the sixth century B.C. until the 20th century. Egypt has been mostly occupied by foreign powers and individuals.

Egypt in the Bible: the ancient king of the South

Daniel 11 details a long prophecy of conflict between “the king of the South” and “the king of the North.” The first four verses explain how the Greek Empire ruled by Alexander the Great would be divided four ways after Alexander’s untimely death at the age of 32. After he died, this prophecy did indeed come to pass. His empire was eventually divided four ways by four of his generals.

The king of the South began with the Greek general, Ptolemy I Soter, who controlled Egypt from Cyrene to Nubia. He assumed the title of pharaoh, and his territory was called the Ptolemaic Kingdom.

The king of the North, Seleucus I Nicator, formerly an officer under Ptolemy I Soter, gained control of the area from the eastern Mediterranean to Babylon and Persia. His area of jurisdiction was called the Seleucid Empire.

The king of the South and the king of the North (and their descendants) fought numerous wars, which eventually resulted in the invasion of Judah and Jerusalem by the king of the North. Around 168 B.C. the first “abomination of desolation” was set up in Jerusalem by the king of the North (Daniel 11:31). For further explanation, see “Abomination of Desolation: What Is It?

Egypt did not rule over other countries; but under Hellenistic (Greek) rule, Egypt was strong enough to fight off invasions by the king of the North. Egyptians were not in control of their country at that time. They served the descendants of Ptolemy I for almost 300 years until the rising Roman Empire overran them in 30 B.C.

The long prophecy of Daniel 11 is mostly fulfilled prophecy, or history, today. But in the last part of the chapter, the prophecy leaps forward over 2,000 years to the end times before the second coming of Christ.

Egypt, part of the end-time king of the South?

Let’s now consider what is prophesied to take place “at the time of the end” (Daniel 11:40). The verse continues, “The king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through.”

At the “time of the end,” the king of the North is the revival of the fourth great kingdom described by Daniel in chapters 2 and 7. For further explanation, see “Middle East Conflict” and “What Is Babylon?

Many times prophecies in the Bible have a dual meaning and fulfillment. There is the first part that has been fulfilled before the first coming of Christ, and there is the second part that is to be fulfilled prior to the second coming of Christ.

We see in Daniel 11 that the first fulfillment of the king of the South came out of Egypt and is now history. Verse 42 shows that Egypt will also be involved with the second fulfillment of the king of the South.

The prophecy indicates that the king of the South will make a fatal mistake. The prophecy in Daniel 11:40 says the king of the North will “overwhelm” and destroy the king of the South. After entering the “Glorious Land” (Israel), Daniel 11 goes on to say, the king of the North “shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels” (Daniel 11:41-43).

Egypt will once again become a subjugated and occupied nation during the end times.

The prophet Isaiah speaks of this: “‘And the Egyptians I will give into the hand of a cruel master, and a fierce king will rule over them,’ says the Lord, the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 19:4). The time of this prophecy is when the waters of the Nile “will be wasted and dried up” and when “the rivers will turn foul; and the brooks of defense will be emptied and dried up” (Isaiah 19:5-6).

These prophecies take place during the end time (Revelation 6:16-17; 8:10-11). Such a time and event as described by Isaiah has not occurred in Egyptian history. To learn more about this future troublous time, see “Wrath of God.”

The prophet Ezekiel also speaks of this time: “For the day is near, even the day of the Lord is near; it will be a day of clouds, the time of the Gentiles. The sword shall come upon Egypt, and great anguish shall be in Ethiopia, when the slain fall in Egypt, and they take away her wealth, and her foundations are broken down” (Ezekiel 30:3-4).

Egypt in the Bible after Christ returns

The prophet Isaiah gives an interesting prophecy of God’s mercy when a people cry out to Him for deliverance. He says, “For they will cry to the LORD because of the oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Mighty One [Christ], and He will deliver them” (Isaiah 19:20).

When Christ establishes His earthly rule, apparently, not all Egyptians will immediately turn to God after being delivered. The prophet Zechariah says, “If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the LORD strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles” (Zechariah 14:18-19).

When the Egyptians, like all of us today, heed God’s warning and loving chastisement, then God will be kind and merciful. Isaiah went on to say, “And the LORD will strike Egypt, He will strike and heal it; they will return to the LORD, and He will be entreated by them and heal them” (Isaiah 19:22). Apparently, it will be a number of years after Christ returns before this is fulfilled.

Finally, there is coming a very remarkable change for Egyptians when they turn completely to Jesus Christ and become converted. Through Isaiah, God predicts a time when He will say, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance” (Isaiah 19:25).

So, despite all of Egypt’s idolatrous history and resistance to the one true God, the day will come when God will say, “Blessed is Egypt My people.”

Read more about the time of peace that will come to Egypt and the whole world after Christ’s return in the section on the “Kingdom of God.”

About the Author

Jim Haeffele

Jim Haeffele

Jim Haeffele is a church pastor in the Church of God, a Worldwide Association. He currently pastors congregations in Fort Myers, Miami and West Palm Beach, Florida. He has served in the ministry of the Church of God for over 46 years. During those years he and his wife, Lois, have served congregations from Portland, Oregon, where he grew up, to Utah, Ohio, North Carolina, and now Florida.

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