Isaiah 19:10
And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof, all that make sluices and ponds for fish.
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(10) And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof.—Better, the pillars thereof (i.e., the props and columns of the state) shall be broken in pieces, and all those who work for wages (i.e., the great masses of the people) shall be troubled in mind. The word translated “purposes,” occurs in the sense here given in Psalm 11:3, and is there translated “foundations.” (Compare the like figure in Ezekiel 30:4; Galatians 2:9.)

19:1-17 God shall come into Egypt with his judgments. He will raise up the causes of their destruction from among themselves. When ungodly men escape danger, they are apt to think themselves secure; but evil pursues sinners, and will speedily overtake them, except they repent. The Egyptians will be given over into the hand of one who shall rule them with rigour, as was shortly after fulfilled. The Egyptians were renowned for wisdom and science; yet the Lord would give them up to their own perverse schemes, and to quarrel, till their land would be brought by their contests to become an object of contempt and pity. He renders sinners afraid of those whom they have despised and oppressed; and the Lord of hosts will make the workers of iniquity a terror to themselves, and to each other; and every object around a terror to them.And they shall be broken - There has been a great variety of opinion in regard to the interpretation of this verse, and much difficulty in the construction of the Hebrew words. The Vulgate renders it, 'And its wet places shall fail; all who make ponds to take fish.' The Septuagint, 'And all who make beer (ζύθον zuthon) shall lament, and shall afflict their souls.' This ζύθον zuthon was a sort of malt liquor made of fruits by fermentation, and was used in Egypt in the place of wine, since the grape did not flourish there. Jerome on this place says, that this was much used also in Dalmatia and Pannonia, and was commonly called "Sabaium." The Chaldee renders this, 'And the place where they weave cloth shall be trodden down, and the place where they make fish ponds, and where they collect waters, each one for his own life.' This variety of reading arises chiefly from the different modes of "pointing" the Hebrew words.

The word rendered 'broken' (מדכאים medâkâ'iym) means "trodden down," from דכא dâkâ' "to tread, or trample down," and agrees in the Hebrew with the word rendered 'purposes - the proposes shall be trodden down.' The word 'purposes' (שׁתתיה shâtoteyhâ) is found only in the plural, and is translated in Psalm 11:3, 'foundations,' from שׁית shiyth, "foundation or pillar." According to this, it would mean that all "the pillars or foundations, that is, probably all the "nobles" of Egypt, would be trodden down. But this does not well suit the connection. Others derive it from שׁתה shâtâh, "to drink;" and suppose that it means that which is prepared for drink shall be trodden down or destroyed. Others suppose that it is derived from שׁתה shâtâh, "to weave," and that it refers to the places where they wove the cloth, that is, their looms; or to the places where they made their nets. And others suppose that it is not the "places" where they wove which are intended, but the "weavers themselves." Forerius supposes it to be derived from שׁתת shâthath, "to place, lay," and that it refers to the "banks or dykes" that were made to retain the waters in the canals, and that these would be trodden down. This, it seems to me, is the most probable interpretation, as it suits the connection, and agrees with the derivation of the word. But the meaning cannot be certainly ascertained.

All that make sluices - There has been quite as great a variety in the intepretation of this passage as in the former. The word rendered 'sluices' (שׂכר s'eker), our translators understand in the sense of places where the water would be retained for fish ponds - made by artificial banks confining the waters that overflow from the Nile. This sense they have given to the word, as if it were derived from סכר sâkar, "to shut up, to enclose." The Septuagint reads it as if it meant the Hebrew שׁכר shêkār, or strong drink; and so also the Syriac renders it - as if from שׁכר shēkâr, "to drink." There is no doubt that by a difference of pointing it may have this signification. But the most probable interpretation, perhaps, is that which derives it from שׂכר s'âkar, "to hire," and means that they made those places for reward, or for gain. They thus tolled for hire; and the prophet says, that they who thus made enclosures for fish in order to make a livelihood, would be trodden down - that is, they would fail of their purposes.

Ponds for fish - The word rendered 'fish' (נפשׁ nephesh), denotes properly any living thing ("see the margin"), but if the usual interpretation is given of this verse, it is evident that fish are intended. The description, therefore, in this entire passage, from verse fifth to verse tenth, is designed to denote the calamities which would come upon Egypt from the failure of the waters of the Nile; and the slightest knowledge of the importance of the Nile to that country will show that all these calamities would follow from such a failure.

10. in the purposes—rather, "the foundations," that is, "the nobles shall be broken" or brought low: so Isa 3:1; Ps 11:3; compare Isa 19:13, "The princes—the stay of the tribes. The Arabs call a prince "a pillar of the people" [Maurer]. "Their weaving-frames" [Horsley]. "Dykes" [Barnes].

all that make sluices, &c.—"makers of dams," made to confine the waters which overflow from the Nile in artificial fish-ponds [Horsley]. "Makers of gain," that is, the common people who have to earn their livelihood, as opposed to the "nobles" previously [Maurer].

Thereof, i.e. of Egypt, or of the Egyptians. They shall lose their ends and hopes; for the fishes in them shall die for want of water. And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof,.... Meaning either the persons that work in flax, or in making nets; who shall be disappointed in their views, expectations, and designs, in bringing them to a good market, since there will be no buyers. The word for "purposes" signifies foundations, as in Psalm 11:3 and may design dams and banks, that are made to keep in the water, which shall be broken down, and be of no service to answer the end; but Kimchi observes, that the word in the Talmudic language signifies "nets", as it does (n); and this seems to be most agreeable to the context; and then the words may be rendered, "and its nets shall be broken" (o); shall lie and rot for want of use:

all that make sluices and ponds for fish; or, "all that make an enclosure of ponds of soul" (p); or for delight and pleasure; that is, not only such shall be broken in their purposes, ashamed and confounded, and be dispirited, mourn and lament, whose business and employment it is to catch fish, or make nets for that end, and get their livelihood thereby; but even such who enclose a confluence of water, and make fishponds in their fields and gardens for their pleasure, will be disappointed; for their waters there will be dried up, and the fish die, as well as in the common rivers. The Septuagint version renders it, "and all they that make zythum shall grieve"; "zythum" was a sort of malt liquor of the ancients; and the word for "sluices" is of affinity with a word that is often used for strong drink; and so the Syriac version here,

"and all they shall be humbled that make strong drink, for the drink of the soul;''

or for men to drink for pleasure.

(n) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 124. 2. Bava Kama, fol. 117. 1.((o) "Et erunt retia ejus contrita", Pagninus, Montanus. (p) "omnes facientes clausuram stagnorum animae", Montanus.

And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof, all that make sluices and ponds for fish.
10. Translate as R.V. And her pillars shall be broken in pieces, all they that work for hire shall be grieved in soul. The expressions, however, are very obscure, and the sense is doubtful. The word for “pillars” is found in Psalm 11:3 (“foundations”), but it is disputed whether the capitalists or the labourers are here regarded as the foundations of society. In the second clause A.V. follows Jewish authority in keeping up the reference to fishing (cf. “networks” in the previous verse), but its “sluces and ponds for fish” is altogether wrong. LXX. errs in the opposite direction by dragging in the liquor trade (“manufacturers of strong drink” [shçkâr] instead of “workers for hire” [seker]).Verse 10. - And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof; rather, and the foundations thereof shall be broken, or crushed to pieces (Kay). The rich and noble, the foundations of the fabric of society, seem to be meant. All that make sluices, etc. Translate, all that work for hire (comp. Proverbs 11:18) shall be grieved in soul. The meaning is that all classes, from the highest to the lowest, shall suffer affliction (so Lowth, Gesenius, Knobel, Kay, Cheyne). "And I spur Egypt against Egypt: and they go to war, every one with his brother, and every one with his neighbour; city against city, kingdom against kingdom. And the spirit of Egypt is emptied out within it: and I swallow up its ready counsel; and they go to the idols to inquire, and to the mutterers, and to the oracle-spirits, and to the soothsayers. And I shut up Egypt in the hand of a hard rule; and a fierce king will reign over them, saith the Lord, Jehovah of hosts." Civil war will rage in Egypt (on sicsēc, see at Isaiah 9:10). The people once so shrewd are now at their wits' end; their spirit is quite poured out נבקה, with the reduplication removed, for נבקּה, according to Ges. 68, Anm. 11 - as, for example, in Genesis 11:7; Ezekiel 41:7), so that there is nothing left of either intelligence or resolution. Then (and this is also part of the judgment) they turn for help, in counsel and action, where no help is to be found, viz., to their "nothings" of gods, and the manifold demoniacal arts, of which Egypt could boast of being the primary seat. On the names of the practisers of the black art, see Isaiah 8:19; 'ittim, the mutterers, is from 'âtat, to squeak (used of a camel-saddle, especially when new), or to rumble (used of an empty stomach): see Lane's Lexicon. But all this is of no avail: Jehovah gives them up (סכּר, syn. הסגּיר, συγκλείειν to be ruled over by a hard-hearted and cruel king. The prophecy does not relate to a foreign conqueror, so as to lead us to think of Sargon (Knobel) or Cambyses (Luzzatto), but to a native despot. In comparing the prophecy with the fulfilment, we must bear in mind that Isaiah 19:2 relates to the national revolution which broke out in Sais, and resulted in the overthrow of the Ethiopian rule, and to the federal dodekarchy to which the rising of the nation led. "Kingdom against kingdom:" this exactly suits those twelve small kingdoms into which Egypt was split up after the overthrow of the Ethiopian dynasty in the year 695, until Psammetichus, the dodekarch of Sais, succeeded in the year 670 in comprehending these twelve states once more under a single monarchy. This very Psammetichus (and the royal house of Psammetichus generally) is the hard ruler, the reckless despot. He succeeded in gaining the battle at Momemphis, by which he established himself in the monarchy, through having first of all strengthened himself with mercenary troops from Ionia, Caria, and Greece. From his time downwards, the true Egyptian character was destroyed by the admixture of foreign elements;

(Note: See Leo, Universalgesch. i. 152, and what Brugsch says in his Histoire d'Egypte, i. 250, with regard to the brusques changements that Egypt endured under Psammetichus.)

and this occasioned the emigration of a large portion of the military caste to Meroe. The Egyptian nation very soon came to feel how oppressive this new dynasty was, when Necho (616-597), the son and successor of Psammetichus, renewed the project of Ramses-Miamun, to construct a Suez canal, and tore away 120,000 of the natives of the land from their homes, sending them to wear out their lives in forced labour of the most wearisome kind. A revolt on the part of the native troops, who had been sent against the rising Cyrene, and driven back into the desert, led to the overthrow of Hophra, the grandson of Necho (570), and put an end to the hateful government of the family of Psammetichus.

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