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Isaiah Nineteen

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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.

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.

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.

familiar spirits. Even more than most of the other pagan nations around Israel, Egypt was involved in occult beliefs and practices (e.g., the magicians at the court of Pharaoh at the time of Moses). But such practices would utterly fail them in a time of God's judgment, as in any nation that becomes committed to such blasphemies.

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.

cruel lord. See Isaiah 20:4. The Egyptians at the time were dominated by Assyria, but then participated in a rebellion instigated by the rulers of Ashdod, in Philistia. As a result, many Egyptians were led in shame into captivity into Assyria. The “cruel lord” and “fierce king” was evidently Sargon. This prophecy may also have anticipated a future similar and greater defeat by Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar (see Ezekiel 29:19).

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

dried up. The troubles experienced by Egypt described in Isaiah 19:5-15 were sent as a judgment from God, associated with the Assyrian and later Babylonian invasions and captivities. See also Ezekiel 29-30. Although the secular histories of Egypt during these periods (from about 720 b.c. to about 570 b.c.) are sparse (the defeated Egyptians would be unlikely to record such events due to their national pride), there is good reason to believe that they were all fulfilled as written. It is known that the Nile flow following drought periods in its headwater region did diminish seriously on various occasions in the past.

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.

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.

paper reeds. Ancient Egypt was noted for its papyrus, produced from the reeds that grew abundantly along the Nile and its branches. These large rushes were used not only to produce paper, but also clothes, bedding, sails and other products. Yet not only did the waters of the Nile diminish in later centuries, and several of its branches dry up, but the abundant papyrus and lotus plants also eventually became all but extinct. The Egyptian government in modern times has tried to remedy some of this deterioration by controlling the flow of the Nile with its Aswan Dam, but this project has been fraught with problems and has proved largely unsuccessful.

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.

fishers also shall mourn. The Nile River in Biblical times abounded with commercial fishing. With the papyrus plants gone, the fish lost their breeding grounds, and today there are essentially no fish of commercial value in the Nile.

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

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

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?

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

a pillar. This altar and pillar have been interpreted by many to refer to the great pyramid. This pyramid is, indeed, a remarkable structure, exhibiting a high degree of technical knowledge. However, the pyramid was already old in Isaiah's day, and the prophecy indicates that the fulfillment was to be far in the future, probably referring to a structure not yet built.

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.

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.

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 entreated of them, and shall heal them.

to the Lord. Egypt's prophesied national turning to the Lord is still in the future. However, many of the original Egyptians, now known as Copts, did indeed become Christians, and a small Coptic church still exists today in the midst of the modern Arabic Egypt.

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.

Egypt to Assyria. This commercial and spiritual fellowship of Israel, Egypt, and Assyria can only be accomplished in the coming kingdom age. Egypt and Assyria (now Iraq and Syria) have always been enemies of Israel, and still are, but this will change in that day.

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:

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.