Does Ezekiel chapter 29 contain failed prophecies?

Questions about God, the Bible and the Christian culture 

Question: How was Ezekiel 29:11 fulfilled? When was Egypt ever uninhabited and no foot of man passed through it? I do believe God is Truth and all His prophecies either have been or will be fulfilled, but how can I defend the accusation that this is a failed prophecy?

Answer: The best answer I’ve found for this query comes from Dr. John Oakes of Evidence for Christianity. His work on this concise and compelling, so I won’t add to it. I’ll paste the text below as my answer to this query, and I’ll give you a link so you may visit his website.

Question:

If the Bible is correct then why did the prophecy in Ezekiel 29:17-20 fail?   We know that Ezekiel made this prophecy in about 571 BC, and Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion of Egypt in 568 BC failed?   Nebuchadnezzar was supposed to conquer Egypt according to those verses – “Behold, I will GIVE the land of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and he shall carry off its wealth and despoil it and plunder it; and it shall be the wages for his army.” (ESV)

Answer:

The expedition of Nebuchadnezzar did not fail. We do not know a lot about his campaign in Egypt. Below is a quote about information found in Babylonian records:

Following the pacification of Tyre, Nebuchadnezzar turned again to Egypt. A clay tablet,[7] now in the British Museum, states: “In the 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of the country of Babylon, he went to Mitzraim (Egypt) to wage war. Amasis, king of Egypt, collected [his army], and marched and spread abroad.” Having completed the subjugation of Phoenicia, and a campaign against Egypt, Nebuchadnezzar set himself to rebuild and adorn the city of Babylon, and constructed canals, aqueducts, temples and reservoirs.

What we know from Babylonian records is that Nebuchadnezzar went on a campaign into Egypt in 568 BC. Presumably, the purpose of the campaign was not to conquer all of Egypt, but to harass the country and to take booty. The prophecy of Ezekiel did not say that he would conquer Egypt, but that he would “despoil” it and take home plunder from the campaign. If that was the purpose (as described in Ezekiel 29:17-20), then it was successful. We know that Nebuchadnezzar fought the campaign and apparently he was not defeated in battle. The fact that we do not know exactly where he campaigned and that we do not have a detailed account of what wealth he brought back with him to Babylon certainly does not mean that the campaign failed. From the very scant evidence we have, we can conclude that most likely the campaign had success in that he harassed the Egyptians and took much booty with him which he used to do further building in his beloved Babylon. I am not sure why you believe that this campaign failed, unless you incorrectly interpret the prophecy to be a prediction of Babylon actually conquering Egypt, which it is not.

John Oakes

https://evidenceforchristianity.org/how-do-you-explain-the-fact-that-the-prophecy-in-ezekiel-2917-20-about-nebuchadnezzar-and-egypt-was-not-fulfilled/

I have answered a similar question but in broader terms. So, if you’d like to examine some of the overarching concerns to this type of question, click here.

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