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An Oracle concerning Egypt


An oracle concerning Egypt.


See, the L ord is riding on a swift cloud

and comes to Egypt;

the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence,

and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them.


I will stir up Egyptians against Egyptians,

and they will fight, one against the other,

neighbor against neighbor,

city against city, kingdom against kingdom;


the spirit of the Egyptians within them will be emptied out,

and I will confound their plans;

they will consult the idols and the spirits of the dead

and the ghosts and the familiar spirits;


I will deliver the Egyptians

into the hand of a hard master;

a fierce king will rule over them,

says the Sovereign, the L ord of hosts.



The waters of the Nile will be dried up,

and the river will be parched and dry;


its canals will become foul,

and the branches of Egypt’s Nile will diminish and dry up,

reeds and rushes will rot away.


There will be bare places by the Nile,

on the brink of the Nile;

and all that is sown by the Nile will dry up,

be driven away, and be no more.


Those who fish will mourn;

all who cast hooks in the Nile will lament,

and those who spread nets on the water will languish.


The workers in flax will be in despair,

and the carders and those at the loom will grow pale.


Its weavers will be dismayed,

and all who work for wages will be grieved.



The princes of Zoan are utterly foolish;

the wise counselors of Pharaoh give stupid counsel.

How can you say to Pharaoh,

“I am one of the sages,

a descendant of ancient kings”?


Where now are your sages?

Let them tell you and make known

what the L ord of hosts has planned against Egypt.


The princes of Zoan have become fools,

and the princes of Memphis are deluded;

those who are the cornerstones of its tribes

have led Egypt astray.


The L ord has poured into them

a spirit of confusion;

and they have made Egypt stagger in all its doings

as a drunkard staggers around in vomit.


Neither head nor tail, palm branch or reed,

will be able to do anything for Egypt.


16 On that day the Egyptians will be like women, and tremble with fear before the hand that the L ord of hosts raises against them. 17And the land of Judah will become a terror to the Egyptians; everyone to whom it is mentioned will fear because of the plan that the L ord of hosts is planning against them.

Egypt, Assyria, and Israel Blessed

18 On that day there will be five cities in the land of Egypt that speak the language of Canaan and swear allegiance to the L ord of hosts. One of these will be called the City of the Sun.

19 On that day there will be an altar to the L ord in the center of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the L ord at its border. 20It will be a sign and a witness to the L ord of hosts in the land of Egypt; when they cry to the L ord because of oppressors, he will send them a savior, and will defend and deliver them. 21The L ord will make himself known to the Egyptians; and the Egyptians will know the L ord on that day, and will worship with sacrifice and burnt offering, and they will make vows to the L ord and perform them. 22The L ord will strike Egypt, striking and healing; they will return to the L ord, and he will listen to their supplications and heal them.

23 On that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians.

24 On that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, 25whom the L ord of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my heritage.”


l. The burden of Egypt. The Prophet here prophesies against Egypt, because it was a kind of refuge to the Jews, whenever they saw any danger approaching them; for when they had forsaken God, to whom they ought to have had recourse, they thought that they had no help left to them but in the Egyptians. It was therefore necessary that that kingdom should be overthrown, that its wealth or its forces might no longer deceive the Jews; for so long as Egypt was prosperous, the Jews thought that, on account of its being exceedingly populous and highly fortified, they were far removed from danger, and therefore despised God, or at least paid scarcely any regard to his promises. This led to evil consequences in two respects; first, because when they ought to have relied on God alone, they were puffed up with that vain confidence in Egypt; and secondly, because whenever the Lord punished them, they defended themselves against his chastisements by the power of the Egyptians, as if by human resources they could make void his judgments, when they ought to have been turned to God altogether. On this subject Isaiah speaks more fully in a later portion of this book. (Isaiah 30:2.)

Behold, the Lord rideth on a swift cloud. This mode of expression is found also in other passages of Scripture, but in a general form. (Psalm 104:3.) The Prophet applies it to this prediction, because the Egyptians thought that they were so well fortified on all sides, that there was no way by which God could approach them. He therefore ridicules their foolish confidence, and exhibits the exalted power of God, when he rideth on a swift cloud, by which he will easily make a descent upon them, and neither walls nor bulwarks shall hinder his progress. Again, because in addition to earthly aid the Jews were likewise bewitched by a false religion, on this ground also the Prophet ridicules their madness, because God will dash to the ground all the assistance which they expected to obtain from idols. I pass by the foolish notion which many have entertained, as to the idols which Christ overthrew in Egypt, when he was carried thither in infancy; for it does not deserve a refutation. (Matthew 2:14.) This passage has been perverted to prove it, and to prove many conjectures of the same kind. But the Prophet’s meaning is totally different; for he speaks of the defeat of the Egyptians by the Assyrians, and shews that it ought to be ascribed to God, and not, as irreligious men commonly do, to fortune. He shews it to be a judgment of God, by whose hand all things are governed.

And the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence. He declares that the idols shall fall; that is, that they shall be of no avail to the Egyptians, though they rely on their assistance, and think that they are under their protection. No nation ever was so much addicted to superstitions; for they worshipped cats, and oxen, and crocodiles, and even onions, and plants of every sort, and there was nothing to which they did not ascribe some kind of divinity. He means that the power of all those false gods, whom the Egyptians had taken for their protectors, will be overthrown. Having declared that the Egyptians rely in vain on their superstitions, he likewise casts down the pride which they cherished as to their earthly resources.

And the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of her. By the word heart he means the courage which sometimes fails even the bravest men, so that they do not attempt any action, even when their strength and forces are abundant, and in this manner he declares that they will be at war with God, who will melt their hearts within them, before they are called to contend with their enemies. Not only does he threaten that they will be terrified, but he likewise adds in the midst of the whole kingdom, where they had an exceedingly safe and peaceful dwelling, because they were far removed from every attack. It was the duty of all believers to consider this, when war was waged against the Egyptians; and we also ought to behold the same thing exemplified in all revolutions of kingdoms, which proceed solely from the hand of God. If the heart melts, if the strength fails, in men who are usually brave, and who had formerly displayed great courage, this ought to be ascribed to the vengeance of God.

2. And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians. Here he describes more particularly the calamity which the Lord had determined to bring on Egypt. By the expression, I will set, he means the internal struggles, in which those who ought to be mutual defenders cut down one another; and no evil can be more destructive than this to a state or a people. It was of importance also to convince the Jews that God, in whose hands are the hearts of men, (Proverbs 21:1,) could by his unseen influence inflame the Jews to mutual animosities, that they might slay each other, though they were victorious over foreign enemies. Hence we learn that nations never rise in a seditious manner, unless the Lord set them against each other, as when one brings forward gladiators to the place of combat. He inflames their minds for battle, and prompts them to slay each other by mutual wounds; and therefore, as we ought to reckon it an evidence of God’s favor, when friendship is cherished among citizens, so we ought to ascribe it to his vengeance, when they rage against and slay and injure one another.

And they shall fight every one against his brother. For the sake of heightening the picture, he adds what was still more monstrous, that those who were related to them by blood would take up arms to destroy each other; for if men are worse than beasts when, forgetting their common nature, they engage in battle, how much more shocking is it to nature that brethren or allies should fight with each other! But the more monstrous it is, the more ought we to acknowledge the judgment of God and his terrible vengeance.

City against city, and kingdom against kingdom. Isaiah appears to advance by degrees; for he mentions, first, a brother; secondly, a neighbor; thirdly, cities; and, fourthly, kingdoms By kingdoms he means provinces, into which Egypt was divided, which the Greeks called νομοἰ, the term by which the Greek translators have rendered it in this passage. 2626     Καὶ νομὸς ἐπὶ νομόν. The reader will observe the distinction between the paroxytone νόμος, a law, and the oxytone νομός, a field or a dwelling; for it is the latter that is employed by Herodotus to denote a district or province. Herod. 2:164. — Ed.
    FT284 “And the spirit of Egypt shall fail. Heb. shall be emptied.” — Eng. Ver.

    FT285 “And the Egyptians will I give over, or, shut up.” — Eng. Ver. “And I will shut up Egypt in the hand of cruel lords.” — Stock.

    FT286 “A fierce king.” — Eng. Ver.

    FT287 See vol. 1 p. 266

    FT288Embanked canals. Rivi aggerum, as the Vulgate has it. The canals by which the waters of the Nile were distributed were fortified by mounds or banks. מצור, (mātzōr,) which word Rosenmüller vainly endeavors to shew to be another name for Egypt or Mizraim.” — Stock.

    FT289 See vol. 1 p. 492

    FT290 “And ashamed (disappointed or confounded) are the workers of combed (or hatchelled) flax, and the weavers of white (stuffs.) The older writers supposed the class of persons here described to be the manufacturers of nets for fishing, and took הורי, (hōrai,) in the sense of perforated open work or net-work. The moderns understand the verse as having reference to the working of flax and manufacture of linen. Knobel supposes הורי, (hōrai,) to mean cotton, as being white by nature, and before it is wrought. Some of the older writers identified שריקות, (sĕrīkōth,) with sericum, the Latin word for silk. Calvin supposes an allusion in the last clause to the diaphanous garments of luxurious women.” — Professor Alexander.

    FT291 Our author is puzzled about this word. In his version he follows the old rendering, “all that make a net,” but his marginal reading is “all that make gain,” and to the latter he adheres in his commentary. Bishops Lowth and Stock render it, “all that make a gain,” and Professor Alexander, “all laborers for hire.” — Ed.

    FT292 קרם, (kĕdĕm,) has two meanings, “antiquity” and “the east;” and accordingly Bishop Stock renders this clause, “the son of the kings of the east,” adding the following note: — “Kings of the east. A synonyme for wise men, μάγοι ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν, the quarter of the world where the arts of divination originated, and to whose sovereigns Egyptian sages pretended kindred. Hence the magi, that came to worship Christ, are often denominated the three kings.” — Ed.

    FT293 “Zoan, the Tanis of the Greeks, was one of the most ancient cities of Lower Egypt, (Numbers 13:22,) and a royal residence. The name is of Egyptian origin, and signifies low situation. Noph is the Memphis of the Greek geographers, called Moph, (Hosea 9:6.) It was one of the chief cities of ancient Egypt, the royal seat of Psammetichus.” — Alexander.

    FT294 “The stay (Heb., corners) of the tribes thereof.” — Eng. Ver.

    FT295 Instead of פנת, (pinnăth,) the construct singular, Grotius, Lowth, and others, prefer the conjectural reading, פנות (pinnōth,) corners. But Rosenmüller removes the difficulty of the Syntax by remarking, that פנה, (pinnāh,) a collective noun, and agreeably to the frequent usage of the Hebrew tongue, fitly agrees with a plural verb; and he quotes 2 Samuel 19:41, as a parallel instance. — Ed.

    FT296 Professor Alexander prefers the literal rendering, “from before the shaking of the hand,” and thus explains the passage: “מפני, (mippĕnē,) may be rendered, on account of, which idea is certainly included, but the true force of the original expression is best retained by a literal translation. תנופת יד, (tĕnūphăth yăd,) is not the act of beckoning for the enemy, but that of threatening or preparing to strike. The reference is not to the slaughter of Sennacherib’s army, but more generally to the indications of Divine displeasure.”

    FT297 The only passage which occurs to my remembrance as likely to be in the author’s eye is, “And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb and a bye-word, among all the nations whither the Lord shall lead thee.” (Deuteronomy 28:37.) — Ed.

    FT298 Heliopolis is a Greek word, and signifies “the city of the sun.” It is the name of a famous city of Lower Egypt, in which there was a temple dedicated to the sun. — Ed.

    FT299Pillar.” — Eng. Ver.

    FT300 The name “Philomētor,” which means “loving his mother,” was ironically given to him on account of his known hatred of his mother Cleopatra. — Ed

    FT301Sous ceste pedagogie de la Loy.”

    FT302Les signes et sacramens.”

    FT303 Of one clause in this verse, rendered by our translators “and a great one,” Calvin takes no notice. Rosenmüller considers רב (rāb) to be the participle Kal of רוב, (rūb,) and assigns to Cocceius the honor of having discovered that the punctuation, which the Masoretic annotators have set aside, in the parallel passage of Deuteronomy, as a peculiarity for which they could not account, was the key to the true interpretation. Almost all the commentators, Cocceius excepted, render רב (rāb) “a great one,” some of them supposing that Ptolemy the Great, the son of Lagus, and others that Alexander the Great, was meant. But Cocceius was the first to perceive that the signification “Great” does not agree with the context, and has justly remarked that the word רב (rāb) with a Kametz, ought not to be confounded with רב (rāb,) with a Pathach, but that its meaning should be sought from the verb רוב (rūb) or ריב (rīb,) “to contend, to argue, to defend one’s cause in a court of justice;” and he quotes a parallel passage, in which Moses, while he blesses Judah, speaking of God, says, ידיו רב לו (yādaiv rāb lō) “his hands shall be his protector.” (Deuteronomy 33:7.) See Robertson’s Clavis Pentateuchi, p. 561. The ancients appear to have taken a similar view. The Septuagint renders it thus. Καὶ ἀποστελεῖ αὐτοῖς ἄνθρωπον ὃς σώσει αὐτοὺς, κρίνων σώσει αὐτούς. The Chaldee and Syriac render it, “a deliverer and a judge,” and Jerome’s rendering is, propuqnatorem, “a defender or champion”. Rosenmüller Scholia. “A Savior and a vindicator”. Lowth. “An advocate”. Stock. “The explanation of רב, (rab) as a participle,” says Professor Alexander, “is found in all the ancient versions, and is adopted by most modern writers.” — Ed.

    FT304 The words of the Apostle are, “How shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?” But Calvin’s remark, which immediately follows, vindicates the appropriateness, though not the verbal accuracy, of the quotation. — Ed.

    FT305La doctrine de salut;” “The doctrine of salvation.”

    FT306Ce sera un preparatif pour les amener à repentance;” — “It will be a preparation to lead them to repentance.”

    FT307Pourvenu que notre repentance ne soit hypocritique;” — “Provided that our repentance be not hypocritical.”

    FT308D’où viennent les chastimens, si non de nos pechez? S’ils sont pardonnez, aussi le sont les chastimens meritez a cause d’iceux.“ — “Whence come chastisements but from our sins? If they are remitted, so are also the chastisements deserved on account of them.”

    FT309 See vol. 1 p. 101

    FT310 This is the Author’s version. See p. 48

    FT311 The particle אתth) does not decide the question, for it may either be the sign of the accusative case, or a preposition signifying with. Professor Alexander adopts the latter view, and argues powerfully in favor of the rendering, “they shall serve God,” in which he concurs with Lowth, “And the Egyptian shall worship with the Assyrian,” and with Stock, “And Egypt shall serve [God] with Assyria.” — Ed.

    FT312De la crainte de Dieu,” — “from the fear of God.”

    FT313 “Jacob is the lot (Heb. cord) of his inheritance.” — Eng. Ver.

    FT314 “The meaning obviously is,” says Professor Alexander, “that Israel should be one of three, or a party to a triple union.” By an analagous idiom of the Greek language, Peter calls Noah ὄγδοον, “the eighth,” that is, “one of eight persons.” (2 Peter 2:5.) From classical writers other instances might be given, such as εἰς οἰκίαν δωδέκατος “he went to his house the twelfth,” or, “one of twelve,” that is, “along with eleven other persons.” — Ed.

    FT315 “Whom the Lord of hosts shall bless.” — Eng. Ver.

    FT316 Our Author perhaps refers to his expository remarks on Ephesians 2:10, Isaiah 17:7, Isaiah 64:7, See p. 26

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