I came upon your page while researching some Old Testament Biblical prophecies. I have a couple questions about two of them if you have the time. I’ve read two responses of yours to the Ezekiel prophecy regarding Nebuchadnezzar and Egypt, and found them very enlightening. However, in neither of your responses did I see the prophecy that “No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years” addressed. Egypt being sacked and scattered is one thing, but I don’t see how it could be said that there was never a foot stepped in Egypt for that time period. The other question I have is about Isaiah, whom you cite as prophesying 200 years before Cyrus. I tried to research that on my own, and found the general times given as something like 60-100 years before Cyrus, but I’m not sure. Even at 60 years, his prediction was amazing, so this isn’t an argument or a nitpick. I’m just interested in the source for 200 years, or how you came to that exact number.
I’m reading a lot on your site and learning much. I must confess, I am an atheist, but some experiences I’ve had have shook me up a bit. I’ve been trying to read everything I can about some of the prophecies I always believed failed, and finding myself surprised at how badly many of them have been misinterpreted, and fear that I have been guilty of “digging up dirt,” as you put it, and failing to properly research it. That is something I plan to rectify.
In Ezekiel 29:11 God is using hyperbole to describe the massive devastation that came upon Babylon when they are attached by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar in 568 BC. This is apocalyptic literature which uses much imagery which we cannot take fully literally. In 29:3 Pharaoh is described as “a great monster lying among your streams.” In v. 4 he describes fish “sticking to your scales” when Pharaoh clearly does not literally have scales. Pharaoh is also described as “a staff of a reed.” in v. 6. This, too, is not literal. The message of this prophecy is that Egypt has opposed God and his people and judgment is coming on them in the form of a devastation brought about by the Babylonians. The hyberbole and metaphor used here does not obscure the fact that Nebuchadnezzar did indeed devastate Egypt in a campaign in 568 BC. By the way, he did not actually conquer Egypt. He merely spread great devastation in Egypt. It was not until the time of Cambysses the Persian that Egypt was actually conquered by an outside power.
As for the time of Isaiah versus Cyrus, Isaiah prophesied during the time of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah (Isaiah 1:1). Uzziah reigned from about 783-742 BC (plus or minus as much as two years on both dates, and also with a regency before that time). Hezekiah ruled from about 729-697 BC, with the earlier years being a co-regency. We know that Isaiah ruled well into the reign of Hezekiah, but we do not know exact years. Therefore, Isaiah prophesied between roughly 745-700 BC (assuming that his prophetic career began near the end of Uzziah’s reign, which is the consensus), with plus or minus five years or so on either end. Cyrus conquered Babylon in either 539 or 538 BC. This is the time during which Cyrus strongly impacted Judah. This is when he issued the decree to which Isaiah 45 seems to be prophesying. Therefore, to say that the time from when Isaiah prophesied to the time Cyrus did what is prophesied in Isaiah 45 was 200 years is perhaps rounding up a bit, but it is not an unreasonable approximation. It certainly is not exact. If I were to be more cautious, perhaps I should have said somewhere between 160 and 210 years. There is nothing that I know of in Isaiah 45 which tells us when in his prophetic career it was delivered, which is why this range is truly quite large. The number you found, 60-100 years is definitely not correct.
If I can be of any help in your research, do not hesitate to ask. I make corrections to posts fairly often when mistakes are pointed out. I do want to be accurate and am totally open to being corrected. You seem to me to be a remarkably humble person. I really appreciate this.