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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Isaiah 19

 

 

Verse 1

Isaiah 19:1 The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.

Ver. 1. The burden of Egypt.] See Isaiah 13:1.

Behold the Lord rideth.] Heb., Riding - sc., as a judge, or general of an army.

Upon a swift cloud,] i.e., Speedily, suddenly, and irresistibly. Clouds are rarely seen in Egypt, where it raineth not; but in Ezekiel 30:18 we read of a cloud that should cover Egypt. By "swift cloud" here some understand the Virgin Mary; others our Saviour’s body, or human nature. And they further tell us, that as soon as the child Jesus was brought into Egypt, down fell all the idols there, as Dagon did before the ark. (a) This they ground upon the following words: -

And the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence.] Whereby I conceive is only meant that their gods should not be able to help them, and should therefore lose their authority, be discredited and decried.

And the heart of Egypt shall melt.] As it did, first when Sennacherib, and then when Nebuchadnezzar came against it.


Verse 2

Isaiah 19:2 And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, [and] kingdom against kingdom.

Ver. 2. And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians.] Commiscebo Egyptios inter se, I will embroil them in a civil war. This happened, saith Junius, under King Psammeticus, after the death of Sethon, about the end of Hezekiah’s reign, or the beginning of Manasseh’s, while Isaiah was yet alive. (a)

And kingdom against kingdom.] Or, Rectory against rectory; for as here in the heptarchy, so there the land was divided into many provinces or jurisdictions, even sixty-six, saith Ortelius.


Verse 3

Isaiah 19:3 And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards.

Ver. 3. And the spirit of Egypt shall fail.] Fail and falter; their wits shall not serve them, but be drained and emptied, as the Hebrew word here signifieth. By spirit, here understand their wisdom, learning, and sharpness, for the which they were famous among, and frequented by other nations. Moses was skilled in their learning. [Acts 7:23] Pythagoras, Plato, Solon, Anaxagoras, and other philosophers got much by them. Mercurius Trismegist saith of Egypt, that it was the image of heaven, and the temple of the whole world. By spirit here, some understand their familiar spirits. (a) See Leviticus 19:31.

And they shall seek to the idols.] Whereof they had great store (so that they were derided by other idolaters), but their chief deity was Latona, saith Herodotus.

And to the charmers.] Who have their name in Hebrew from their low or slow speaking.


Verse 4

Isaiah 19:4 And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts.

Ver. 4. And the Egyptians will I give over.] Heb., Shut up - sc., as fishes in a pond.

Into the hand of a cruel lord.] Heb., Lords - viz., those twelve tyrants that reigned after Sethon, and were put down by Psammeticus, one of their own number, who afterwards reigned alone and with rigour. (a)

And a fierce king,] viz., Psammeticus, the father of that Pharaohnecho who slew Josiah. [2 Kings 23:29] This fierce king reigned fifty-four years, and by his harshness caused 200,000 of his men of war to leave him, and to go into Ethiopia.


Verse 5

Isaiah 19:5 And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up.

Ver. 5. And the waters shall fail from the sea,] i.e., Their sea traffic shall be taken from them, to their very great loss. Historians testify, that by frequent navigation out of the Bay of Arabia into India and Trogloditiae, the revenue of Egypt was so increased, that Auletes, the father of Cleopatra, received thence yearly twelve thousand and five hundred talents.

And the river shall be wasted and dried up,] i.e., The river Nile, which watereth Egypt and maketh it fruitful. See Deuteronomy 11:9-10, Ezekiel 29:3; Ezekiel 29:9.

Creditur Aegyptus caruisse iuvantibus arva

Imbribus, atque annis sicca fuisse novem. ”

- Ovid. Art., lib. i.


Verse 6

Isaiah 19:6 And they shall turn the rivers far away; [and] the brooks of defence shall be emptied and dried up: the reeds and flags shall wither.

Ver. 6. And they shall turn the rivers far away.] The Assyrians shall, or some of their own fond and vainglorious princes shall drain the river Nile at several passages and in several places, to the impairing of the river and the impeaching of the state. (a)

The reeds and flags shall wither.] These were of great use there; for of flags they made their barks and boats, mats also, wheels, baskets, &c.; of reeds they made their sails, ropes, paper, and a kind of juice serving them for food, (b) &c. As therefore the palm tree is to the Indians a cornucopia, yielding many commodities, so are reeds and flags to the Egyptians.


Verse 7

Isaiah 19:7 The paper reeds by the brooks, by the mouth of the brooks, and every thing sown by the brooks, shall wither, be driven away, and be no [more].

Ver. 7. The paper reeds by the brooks,] i.e., By the streams of Nile; for where this river arriveth not, is nothing but a whitish sand, bearing no grass but two little weeds called suhit and gazul, which, burnt to ashes, maketh the finest crystal glasses.

And everything sown by the brooks.] As far as Nile overflows is a black mould, so fruitful as they do but throw in the seed and have four rich harvests in less than four months.


Verse 8

Isaiah 19:8 The fishers also shall mourn, and all they that cast angle into the brooks shall lament, and they that spread nets upon the waters shall languish.

Ver. 8. The fishers also shall mourn.] Because their trade decayeth, or they take pains to no purpose. [Isaiah 19:10]


Verse 9

Isaiah 19:9 Moreover they that work in fine flax, and they that weave networks, shall be confounded.

Ver. 9. They that work in fine flax shall be confounded,] sc., For want of materials, such as were wont to be sown by the brooks [Isaiah 19:7 1 Kings 10:28 Proverbs 7:16 Ezekiel 27:7] (Plin., lib. ix. cap. 1).

They that weave networks.] Or rather whiteworks (a) - that is, white garments made of the fine flax of Egypt. These were much worn by nobles. [Proverbs 7:16 Daniel 7:9] Whence also in Hebrew they have their name. {1 Kings 21:8 Nehemiah 2:16 Ecclesiastes 10:17, &c.}


Verse 10

Isaiah 19:10 And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof, all that make sluices [and] ponds for fish.

Ver. 10. And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof.] Heb., In the foundations, as Psalms 11:3. Purposes are the foundation of practices, but are oft disappointed.

And ponds for fish.] Heb., Ponds of fowl, stagna voluptaria (Tremellius), standing pools of desire. In Hebrew, the word used elsewhere for a pond or fish pool signifieth a blessing also. (a)


Verse 11

Isaiah 19:11 Surely the princes of Zoan [are] fools, the counsel of the wise counsellors of Pharaoh is become brutish: how say ye unto Pharaoh, I [am] the son of the wise, the son of ancient kings?

Ver. 11. Surely the princes of Zoan are fools.] Otherwise they would never have so ill-advised their king so to drain the river, for his pleasure, to the public detriment. Zoan was an ancient city in Egypt. [Numbers 13:22] The Septuagint and Vulgate versions call it Tunis. Here it was that Moses did all his wonders. [Psalms 78:12 Exodus 7:8-9] Here Pharaoh’s princes "took counsel, but not of God; and covered with a covering, but not of his Spirit, that they might add sin to sin." [Isaiah 30:1]

The counsel of the wise counsellors is become brutish.] Such as was that of Machiavel, (a) the Florentine secretary, who proposeth Caesar Borgia, notwithstanding all his villanies, as the only example for a prince to imitate.

How say ye unto Pharaoh?] How can ye for shame say so of yourselves? Or quomodo dictatis Pharaoni? How can ye dictate or put such words as these into your king’s mouth? What gross flattery is this?

I am the son of the wise.] Or, A son of "wise ones; as if wisdom were proper to you, and hereditary. The Egyptians cracked much of their wisdom, yet more of their antiquity, as if they were long before other people, yea, before the moon - as the Arcadians also boasted - and that their philosophy was very ancient. (b)


Verse 12

Isaiah 19:12 Where [are] they? where [are] thy wise [men]? and let them tell thee now, and let them know what the LORD of hosts hath purposed upon Egypt.

Ver. 12. Where are they? where are thy wise men?] q.d., Vile latens virtus: if they have that wisdom they pretend to, let them predict thy calamities and help to prevent them. Mihi hominun prudentia similis videtur talparum labori non sine dexteritate sub terra fodientium, sed ad lumen solis caecutientium, (a) The world’s wizards are like children, always standing on their heads and shaking their heels against heaven.


Verse 13

Isaiah 19:13 The princes of Zoan are become fools, the princes of Noph are deceived; they have also seduced Egypt, [even they that are] the stay of the tribes thereof.

Ver. 13. The princes of Zoan are become fools.] Wilful fools; this they are told twice over, because hardly persuaded to it. See Isaiah 19:11.

The princes of Noph.] Called also Moph, [Hosea 9:6] and therehence Memphis, now Grand Cairo, famous once for the pyramids and monuments of the Egyptian kings.

Even they that are the stay of the tribes thereof.] Heb., The corners (a) of the tribes or rectories - that is, either the king and chieftains, as some sense it; or, as others, all the inhabitants of the country, from one corner thereof unto another. How these wise men of Egypt deceived others is not expressed; but probably they did it by approving and cherishing the superstition, impiety, and carnal security of the princes and people.


Verse 14

Isaiah 19:14 The LORD hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof: and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken [man] staggereth in his vomit.

Ver. 14. The Lord hath mingled a perverse spirit.] Or, Given them to drink a spirit of giddiness. Heb., A spirit of extreme perversities; he hath stupified, and as it were intoxicated them with the "efficacy of error."

And they have caused Egypt to err in every work.] Psammeticus their king was twenty-eight years in besieging Azotus ere he could take it; and other things went on with them accordingly. (a)


Verse 15

Isaiah 19:15 Neither shall there be [any] work for Egypt, which the head or tail, branch or rush, may do.

Ver. 15. Neither shall there be any work.] See on Isaiah 19:14.


Verse 16

Isaiah 19:16 In that day shall Egypt be like unto women: and it shall be afraid and fear because of the shaking of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which he shaketh over it.

Ver. 16. In that day shall Egypt be like unto women.] Feeble and faint-hearted, nihil mascule aut fortiter facturi, sed mulieribus meticulosiores. See Proverbs 28:1. {See Trapp on "Proverbs 28:1"}

Because of the shaking of the hand of the Lord.] When as yet he threateneth only; how much more when he striketh in good earnest? See Isaiah 30:32.


Verse 17

Isaiah 19:17 And the land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt, every one that maketh mention thereof shall be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the LORD of hosts, which he hath determined against it.

Ver. 17. And the land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt.] For how should Egypt hope to speed better than Judea had done? How Sethon, King of Egypt, was put to his trumps, as we say, when Sennacherib invaded Egypt, imploring the aid of his god Vulcan, whose priest he was, see Herodotus, lib. ii.


Verse 18

Isaiah 19:18 In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the LORD of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction.

Ver. 18. In that day.] When the gospel shall be there preached, whether by Mark the evangelist or others, as Clement, Origen, Didymus.

Five cities.] A considerable number of Egyptians.

Speak the language of Canaan.] Called the Jews’ language, [Isaiah 36:11; Isaiah 36:13] the Hebrew tongue, wherein were written the lively oracles of God. This language, therefore, the elect Egyptians shall learn, and labour for that "pure lip," [Zephaniah 3:9] to "speak as the oracles of God"; [1 Peter 4:11] "wholesome words"; [2 Timothy 1:13] "right words"; [Job 6:25] "words of wisdom"; [Proverbs 1:6] "of truth and soberness"; [Acts 26:25] to be examples to others, not only in faith and conversation, but also "in words and communication." [1 Timothy 4:12]

And swear to the Lord of hosts.] Devote themselves to his fear and service, taking a corporal oath for that purpose as in baptism, (a) and other holy covenants, whereupon haply they might be enabled to speak with tongues, the holy tongue especially, as most necessary for Christians. Here then we have a description of a true Christian, not such as the Jesuits in their catechism give us, viz., A Christian is he who believeth whatsoever the church of Rome commandeth to be believed, swearing fealty to her.

One shall be called the city of destruction,] i.e., Nevertheless there shall be a few cities that shall despise Christian religion; and shall therefore be destroyed for neglecting so great salvation. It shall be easier for Sodom one day than for such. Others render the text Heliopolis, or the city of the sun, shall be accounted one, sc., of those five converted cities, and become consecrated to the Sun of righteousness. (b)


Verse 19

Isaiah 19:19 In that day shall there be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the LORD.

Ver. 19. In that day shall there be an altar to the Lord.] A spiritual altar for spiritual sacrifices. {as Isaiah 19:20 Hebrews 13:10} Onias, the Jewish priest, who hereupon went and built an altar at Heliopolis in Egypt, and sacrificed to God there, was as much mistaken as the Anabaptists of Germany were in their Munster, which they termed New Jerusalem, and acted accordingly, sending forth apostles, casting out orthodox ministers, &c.

And a pillar in the border thereof.] That is, saith one, the gospels and writings of the apostles, that pillar and ground of truth, or a public confession of the Christian, faith. [Romans 10:9] An allusion to Joshua 22:10; Joshua 22:25. See Zechariah 14:9; Zechariah 14:20-21.


Verse 20

Isaiah 19:20 And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry unto the LORD because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them.

Ver. 20. And it shall be for a sign and for a witness.] The doctrine of Christ’s death is a clear testimony of God’s great love and kindness to mankind. [Romans 5:8]

For they shall cry unto the Lord for their oppressors.] As the Israelites sometimes had done under the Egyptian servitude. [Exodus 3:9]

And he shall send them a Saviour.] Not Moses but Messias, that great Saviour; (a) for God had laid his people’s "help on one that is mighty." [Psalms 89:19] See Titus 2:13.


Verse 21

Isaiah 19:21 And the LORD shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the LORD in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the LORD, and perform [it].

Ver. 21. And the Lord shall be known to Egypt.] They shall both know the Lord Christ, and be known of him. {as Galatians 4:9} See Romans 10:20.

And shall do sacrifce and oblation.] Perform "reasonable service," [Romans 12:1] such as whereof they can render a reason. Not a Samaritan service, [John 4:22] or Athenian [Acts 17:23] - "Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship," &c. God will have no such blind sacrifices. [Malachi 1:8]

Yea, they shall vow a vow, &c.] That in baptism especially.


Verse 22

Isaiah 19:22 And the LORD shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal [it]: and they shall return [even] to the LORD, and he shall be intreated of them, and shall heal them.

Ver. 22. And the Lord shall smite Egypt.] That he may bring it into the bond of the covenant. [Ezekiel 20:37 Hebrews 12:9 Hosea 6:1]

He shall smite and heal it.] Heb., Smiting and healing. Una eademque manus, &c. Una gerit bellum monstrat manus altera pacem; as it was said of Charles V. Facit opus alienum ut faciat proprium [Isaiah 28:20]

And shall heal them.] Pardon their sins, heal their natures, and make up all breaches in their outward estates.


Verse 23

Isaiah 19:23 In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians.

Ver. 23. In that day there shall be an highway, &c.] All hostility shall cease, and a blessed unanimity be settled among Christ’s subjects of several nations; hereunto way was made by the Roman empire, reducing both these great countries into provinces.

And the Egyptians shall serve.] Serve the Lord "with one shoulder." {as Zephaniah 3:9}


Verse 24

Isaiah 19:24 In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, [even] a blessing in the midst of the land:

Ver. 24. In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt.] The posterity of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, shall concur in the communion of saints; the pale and partition wall being taken away.

Even a blessiing in the midst of the earth.] The saints are so. Absque stationibus non staret mundus. If it were not for them, the world would soon shatter and fall in pieces.


Verse 25

Isaiah 19:25 Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed [be] Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.

Ver. 25. Whom the Lord af hosts shall bless.] Or, For the Lord of hosts shall bless, and then he shall be blessed, (a) as Isaac said of Jacob. [Genesis 27:33]

Blessed be Egypt, my people.] A new title to Egypt, and no less honourable. Vide quantum profecerit Egyptus flagellis, saith Oecolampadius, here, i.e., see how Egypt hath got by her sufferings. See Isaiah 19:22. She who was not a people, but a rabble of rebels conspiring against heaven, is now owned and taken into covenant.

And Assyria, the work of my hands.] "For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works." [Ephesians 2:10]

And Israel mine inheritance.] This is, upon the matter, one and the same with the former; every regenerate person, whether Jew or Gentile, is all these three in conjunction. Oh the μυρωμακαριοτης, the heaped up happiness of all such! "Let Israel rejoice in him that made him; let the children of Zion be joyful in their king." [Psalms 149:2] "For the Lord her God in the midst of her is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over her with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over her with singing." [Zephaniah 3:17]

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 19:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/isaiah-19.html. 1865-1868.

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