PART I: Bible Prophecy Fulfilled Throughout History

or Download

The prophets of the Bible made countless predictions for many nations—great and small, well known and obscure. In this section, we will outline what biblical prophets had to say about the respective futures of four of the greatest powers of the pre-Rome ancient world: Egypt, the Phoenicians, Assyria, and Babylon. Each in its turn was the most powerful nation or empire of its time.


Historians generally treat Egypt as the earliest of the great world empires. But those studying its dynastic history often overlook the fact that Egypt was seldom a single, unified nation-state. Rather, “Egypt” was usually a federation of autonomous city-states located along the Nile River.1 The two that generally dominated were Thebes and Memphis—each in turn being seen as the “capital” or most powerful of the city-states. Other city-states whose dynasties are included in Egypt’s king-lists were Heracleopolis, Elephantine, Abydos, Thinis, and Bubastis. Many Egyptologists also overlook the fact that often more than one of these dynasties ruled at the same time in their respective city-state territories—resulting frequently in dynasties whose time-spans overlapped.

The history of Egypt is typically seen as stretching back thousands of years further than it actually does. Historian Jack Finnegan explains: “In the arrangement of these and other Egyptian materials within a framework of consecutive dynasties, all modern historians are dependent upon an ancient predecessor. This was an Egyptian priest named Manetho…. Berosus of Babylon was practically a contemporary, and the two became rivals in the proclamation of the greatness and antiquity of their respective lands.”2 To put it bluntly, Manetho knowingly portrayed the overlapping dynasties of multiple Egyptian city-states as if they all had been consecutive, so as to make Egypt seem much more ancient than it ever was.

It is important that we understand this fact, because we can otherwise be deceived into thinking the Bible is in error on chronology, when in fact it is accurate. Egypt is nowhere near 10,000 years old; it is not even 5,000 years old. With the king lists correctly understood as overlapping dynasties, numerous modern historians have revised their estimated date for the First Dynasty—downward from 8,400 BC to about 2,750 BC. This corrected view better harmonizes with the biblical accounts.

In many cases, Bible prophecies regarding Egypt deal with individual city-states—the main two being Thebes (identified by its ancient name of No-Amon) and Memphis (identified as Pa-noaph). Passages in the King James Version (KJV) refer to No-Amon simply as No, and to Pa-noaph simply as Noph. Thebes and Memphis were names later applied to these cities by the Greeks after the conquest of Egypt in 330 BC by Alexander the Great. Even the name “Egypt” itself is of Greek derivation; the original name of the people was Mizraim.

There are several predictions in the Bible about each of the two primary Egyptian “capital” cities, Thebes and Memphis, as well as predictions about the whole land of Egypt.

Thebes (No)

 Prophecy—In Ezekiel 30, God is quoted as declaring that He will “execute judgments in No” (verse 14), “cut off the multitude of No” (verse 15), and that “No shall be torn asunder” (verse 16). Ezekiel was writing in the 580s BC after having been taken captive, along with the Jews, to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar—whose dynasty was later overthrown by the Persians in 539.

Fulfillment—In 525 BC, Cambyses, king of Persia, “captured Thebes and poured out upon its devoted head the wrath of his insane ferocity. Its majestic temples were consumed with fire; and the power of the victorious host was bent to overthrow, or mar, its colossal statues…. It ceased to be Egypt’s chief city. The capital was removed in turn to Memphis, Sais, and Alexandria…. Yet, notwithstanding its long decline, when the second stroke fell, in the first century preceding the Christian era, Thebes was even then one of the wealthiest cities in the land. The blow was dealt by one of Egypt’s own princes, Ptolemy Lathyrus, the grandfather of Cleopatra, about the year 89 BC…. It was almost entirely leveled to the ground, and the words of the fourteenth and fifteenth verses [of Ezekiel 30] found a complete fulfillment.”3

Memphis (Noph)

Prophecy—The prophet Jeremiah makes the earliest prediction about Memphis in the closing years of the nation of Judah, before Nebuchadnezzar first took many Jews into captivity to Babylon. In Jeremiah 46:19, he says that “Noph shall be waste and desolate without inhabitant.” Ezekiel, a few years later, quotes God as saying, “I will also destroy the idols, and I will cause their images to cease out of Noph” (Ezek. 30:13).

Fulfillment—“And now what of to-day? So completely has the doom been accomplished that a century ago [before 1925] the site of Memphis was a matter of dispute. Later investigations have settled the question, but they have also verified the truth of the [Bible’s] prediction … [that] the idols and the images and the temples—the city and all it contained have passed away.”4

The Land of Egypt

Of the land of Egypt itself, there are a number of prophecies in the Bible that, in some cases, have taken centuries to be fulfilled; in fact, some are still being fulfilled to this very day.

Prophecy—In the 580s BC, the prophet Ezekiel wrote of Egypt: “It shall be [become] the lowest of the kingdoms, and shall no more exalt itself above the nations. For I will make them so few, that they shall no more rule over the nations” (Ezek. 29:15). Thus, Egypt’s days of imperial power were to come to an end. In addition, Ezekiel predicted that “there shall no more be a prince of the land of Egypt; and I will put a fear in the land of Egypt” (Ezek. 30:13).

Fulfillment—These long-term prophecies—that Egypt would deteriorate into a base and weak nation, and that no native Egyptian would ever rule the land again—have taken centuries to be fulfilled. Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon conquered Egypt soon after conquering Jerusalem. After about forty years, the Persians conquered the city of Babylon, and the Babylonian empire, including Egypt, passed into Persian hands. Two centuries later, in 330 BC, Alexander the Great conquered Egypt. This gave the land nominal independence under the Greek dynasty of the Ptolemies, which ended with the death of queen Cleopatra—killed along with Mark Antony by Octavian (nephew of Julius Caesar) in a battle for the rulership of Rome.

Throughout this time, Egypt had remained a somewhat prosperous nation and an important player in international politics. But it now became a mere province of the Roman Empire, and the region served as the “granary” of the empire for centuries. Importantly, Egypt had been ruled by foreigners since Nebuchadnezzar.

In 638 AD, the forces of the new Islamic Arab empire conquered Egypt after a long siege of the capital, Alexandria. Since then, the country has been mostly occupied and ruled by people of Arab descent.

Author John Urquhart asks, “Have the last twelve and a half centuries proved or disproved the Scripture? Here is the answer: There has been, as was predicted, a constant decline. From the time of the Babylonian invasion there was no revival of Egypt’s greatness and preeminence among the nations…. In the Egypt of the Pharaohs, of the Persian dominion, of the Ptolemies, of the Roman Empire, [and] of the Mohammedans, we see a gradual but continuous descent. After the Arab conquest the degeneration proceeded with rapid strides, till Egypt has become what it is today [1925]…. Along that pathway of the past, everything that made the Egyptians what they were [historically] has been wholly lost.”5

Among the predictions about the physical deterioration of Egypt’s land and resources, Ezekiel quotes God as saying, “And I will make the rivers dry…” (Ezek. 30:12). Earlier, Isaiah had written: “And the waters from the sea will dry up, and the river shall be parched and dry. And rivers shall be fouled; the streams of Egypt will languish and dry up; the reed and the rush shall wither…. The fishermen also shall mourn, and all who drop a hook into the Nile shall wail, and those who spread nets upon the waters shall languish” (Isa. 19:5-6, 8).

Urquhart continues: “The rivers have been made dry, and instead of flowing in their ancient course have become stinking pools and marshes. What had formerly ministered to health and pleasure was changed into a danger and an offence. For there can be no doubt that what is shown here in the vivid picture of prophecy was a condition through which they actually passed…. Having once been very productive and a main source of revenue as well as sustenance, the fisheries are now scarcely of any moment….”6

  1. C. McCoan also points out that the Nile today has only two branches left in the delta that are at all navigable—the Rosetta and the Damietta. “The five other courses of the river have long ago silted up….”7 McCoan tells us that according to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, the two that are still navigable are the “work of man” (McCoan does not cite exactly where in Herodotus’ Histories we find these words).

All of the natural branches of the Nile Delta that existed in Isaiah’s time are today dried up—or are, at best, marshy swamplands! The only two branches that can be navigated today originated as channels dug by man. “Even these are accessible only to small to medium-sized vessels.”8

Regarding Isaiah’s prophecy that the “fishers shall mourn,” “Herodotus says that a certain number of the poorer Egyptians ‘lived almost entirely on fish.’ It was so abundant that it was necessarily cheap. The Nile produced several kinds which were easily caught; and in Lake Moeris the abundance of fish was such that the Pharaohs are said to have derived from the sale a revenue of above 94,000 [English pounds] a year…. The fishermen of Egypt formed a numerous class, and the salting and drying of fish furnished occupation to a large number of persons.”9

But has Isaiah’s prophecy of the decline of fishing in Egypt been fulfilled? “In the decline of Egypt the fish-pools and their conduits were neglected and ruined, and the fishers lamented, mourned and languished.”10

These fulfilled prophecies regarding Egypt are only a sampling—many more could be documented. But even these are sufficient to cause us to ask, Is this just coincidence or lucky guesses? Or is this fulfilled prophecy?

But wait. We’ve only begun to document prophecies made in the Bible about ancient great powers—and their fulfillments down through history.