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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria.—The prophet’s horizon at once brightens and expands. Palestine was in his time the battle-field of the two great empires. The armies of one of the great powers crossed it both before and after, as in the case of Shishak, Zerah, Tirhakah, Necho, Sargon, Sennacherib, Nebuchadnezzar, on their march against the other. The prophet looks forward to a time when the long-standing discord should cease (Assyria, or the power which succeeded her, gaining for a time the suzerainty), and both should be joined with Israel, as in “a three-fold cord, not easily broken.” Like other bright ideals of the future, it yet waits for its complete fulfilment. The nearest historical approximation to it is, perhaps, found in the Persian monarchy, including, as it did, the territory of Assyria, of Israel, and of Egypt, and acknowledging, through the proclamations of Cyrus, Jehovah as the God of heaven (Ezra 1:2). May we connect this prediction with Isaiah’s distinctly defined anticipation of the part which Persia was to play in the drama of the world’s history as an iconoclastic and monotheistic power, and so with the dominant idea of Isaiah 40-66?

Isaiah 19:23-25. In that day, &c. — Here the prophet proceeds to show the effect of this benefit of divine grace toward the Egyptians, namely, their spiritual alliance with the Assyrians and Israelites, with a great abundance of the divine blessings. There shall be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria — A happy correspondence and intercourse settled. And the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, &c. — They who were implacable enemies one to another, and both to the church of God, shall now be reconciled and united together in the service of God, and love to his church. In that day shall Israel be the third — The third party in that sacred league, whereby all of them oblige themselves to serve God. With Egypt and with Assyria — These are named, because they were the most obstinate enemies to God’s church, but they are here put for all the Gentiles. Even a blessing — That is, Israel shall be a blessing. This is peculiar to Israel, who is not only a third party, but is the most eminent of the three, as being the fountain by which the blessing is conveyed to the other two; because Christ was to be born of them, and the gospel-church and ordinances were first established among them, and from them derived to the Gentiles. In the midst of the land — Or, of those lands, namely, Egypt and Assyria, between which Israel lay: or, in the midst of the earth, as כקרב הארצ, more properly means: which may be added, to imply that God’s blessing should be conveyed from and by Israel, not only to the Egyptians and Assyrians, but to all the nations of the earth, in the midst of which the land of Israel might well be said to be. Whom the Lord of hosts shall bless — That is, which people, Israel, Egypt, and Assyria; of whom he speaks as of one people, because they were all to be united into one church. Blessed be Egypt my people — This title, and those which follow, that were peculiar to the people of Israel, should now be given to these and all other nations. 19:18-25 The words, In that day, do not always refer to the passage just before. At a time which was to come, the Egyptians shall speak the holy language, the Scripture language; not only understand it, but use it. Converting grace, by changing the heart, changes the language; for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. So many Jews shall come to Egypt, that they shall soon fill five cities. Where the sun was worshipped, a place infamous for idolatry, even there shall be a wonderful reformation. Christ, the great Altar, who sanctifies every gift, shall be owned, and the gospel sacrifices of prayer and praise shall be offered up. Let the broken-hearted and afflicted, whom the Lord has wounded, and thus taught to return to, and call upon him, take courage; for He will heal their souls, and turn their sorrowing supplications into joyful praises. The Gentile nations shall not only unite with each other in the gospel fold under Christ, the great Shepherd, but they shall all be united with the Jews. They shall be owned together by him; they shall all share in one and the same blessing. Meeting at the same throne of grace, and serving with each other in the same business of religion, should end all disputes, and unite the hearts of believers to each other in holy love.There shall be a highway - A communication; that is, there shall be an alliance between Egypt and Assyria, as constituting parts of one empire, and as united in the service of the true God. The same figure of a "highway" is found in Isaiah 11:16 (see the note on that place). The truth was, that Alexander, by his conquests, subjected Assyria and Egypt, and they constituted parts of his empire, and were united under him. It was true, also, that there were large numbers of Jews in both these countries, and that they were united in the service of the true God. They worshipped him in those countries; and they met at Jerusalem at the great feasts, and thus Judah, Assyria, and Egypt, were united in his worship.

And the Assyrian shall come into Egypt - There shall be free and uninterrupted contact between the two nations, as parts of the same empire.

And the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians - In the same armies; under the same leader. This was the case under Alexander the Great. Or the word 'serve' may mean that they would serve God unitedly. So Lowth and Noyes render it.

23. highway—free communication, resting on the highest basis, the common faith of both (Isa 19:18; Isa 11:16). Assyria and Egypt were joined under Alexander as parts of his empire: Jews and proselytes from both met at the feasts of Jerusalem. A type of gospel times to come.

serve with—serve Jehovah with the Assyrians. So "serve" is used absolutely (Job 36:11).

The Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria; they who were implacable enemies one to another, and both to the church and people of God, shall now be reconciled and united together in the service of God, and love to his church.

Shall serve, to wit, the Lord, who is easily understood from Isaiah 19:21,25. In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria,.... It signifies that there should be peace between them, all hostilities should cease, free trade and commerce with each other should be opened, and nothing should hinder communion with one another; which some think had some show of accomplishment in the times of Psammiticus; but it chiefly refers to Gospel times, and to the Christian communion between one nation and another, that receive the Gospel, though before implacable enemies, as the Egyptians and Assyrians were:

and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria: which is expressive of entire concord and harmony between them, such as was among the first Christians:

and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians; that is, the Lord, as Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret it; they shall both serve the Lord with one shoulder and consent, unite in prayer to the Lord, in hearing the word, and attending on other ordinances. Some render it, "the Egyptians shall serve the Assyrians" (g); not as being their lords and masters in a servile way, but by love, as saints do or should serve one another, doing all kind offices of love to each other; see Galatians 5:13.

(g) "et serviet Aegyptius Assyrio", Cocceius; "et servient Aegyptii ipsi Assur", Montanus.

In that day shall there be a highway from {y} Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians.

(y) By these two nations, which were then chief enemies of the Church, he shows that the Gentiles and the Jews would be joined together in one faith and religion, and would all be one fold under Christ their shepherd.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23. a highway] leading of course through Palestine. The ancient enmity between the two empires is laid aside in consequence of their common acceptance of the religion of Jehovah. Egypt shall serve (Jehovah) with Assyria.

23–25. The incorporation of Egypt and Assyria in the kingdom of God. On the hypothesis that the prophecy is post-exilic “Assyria” will here denote the power to whom the reversion of the ancient Assyrian Empire had fallen. See on ch. Isaiah 11:11.Verses 23-25. - UNION BETWEEN EGYPT, ASSYRIA, AND ISRAEL. Assyria's conversion to God will follow or accompany that of Egypt. The two will be joined with Israel in an intimate connection, Israel acting as the intermediary. There will be uninterrupted communication, common worship, and the common blessing of God extending over the three. Verse 23. - Shall there be a highway. The phraseology resembles that of Isaiah 11:16; but the purpose is different. Then the "highway" was to facilitate the return of the Israelites to their own land. Now the object is perfectly free communication between the three peoples. The Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians. "Shall serve" means "shall worship" (see ver. 21). The "Assyrians" represent the inhabitants of the Mesopotamian regions generally. As, from the time of Alexander, Hebrew influence extended itself largely over Egypt, so, even from an earlier date, it began to be felt in the Mesopotamian countries. The transplantation of the ten tribes, or a considerable portion of them, into Upper Mesopotamia and Media, was the commencement of a diffusion of Hebrew ideas through those regions. The captivity of Judah still further impressed these ideas on the native races. Great numbers of Jews did not return from the Captivity, but remained in the countries and cities to which they had been trans ported, particularly in Babylon (Josephus, 'Ant. Jud.,' 11:1). The policy of the Seleucid princes was to establish Jewish colonies in all their great cities. In the time between Alexander and the birth of our Lord, the Hebrew community was re cognized as composed of three great sections - the Palestinian, the Egyptian, and the Syro-Babylonian. Constant communication was maintained between the three branches. Ecclesiastical regulations, framed at Jerusalem, were transmitted to Alexandria and Babylon, while collections made in all parts of Egypt and Mesopotamia for the temple service were annually carried to the Palestinian capital by trusty persons. It is thus quite reasonable to regard as an "initial stage in the fulfillment of this prophecy" the state of things existing at this period (Kay). The more complete fulfillment was doubtless after Pentecost, when Christianity was preached and established in Egypt and Libya on the one hand, in Parthia, and Media, and Elam, and Mesopotamia on the other (Acts 2:9, 10). The result of all these plagues, which were coming upon Egypt, would be fear of Jehovah and of the people of Jehovah. "In that day will the Egyptians become like women, and tremble and be alarmed at the swinging of the hand of Jehovah of hosts, which He sets in motion against it. And the land of Judah becomes a shuddering for Egypt; as often as they mention this against Egypt, it is alarmed, because of the decree of Jehovah of hosts, that He suspendeth over it." The swinging (tenuphâh) of the hand (Isaiah 30:32) points back to the foregoing judgments, which have fallen upon Egypt blow after blow. These humiliations make the Egyptians as soft and timid as women (tert. compar., not as in Isaiah 13:7-8; Isaiah 21:3-4). And the sacred soil of Judah ('adâmâh, as in Isaiah 14:1-2; Isaiah 32:13), which Egypt has so often made the scene of war, throws them into giddiness, into agitation at the sight of terrors, whenever it is mentioned (אשׁר כּל, cf., 1 Samuel 2:13, lit., "whoever," equivalent to "as often as any one," Ewald, 337, 3, f; חגּא is written according to the Aramaean form, with Aleph for He, like זרא) in Numbers 11:20, קרחא in Ezekiel 37:31, compare כּלּא, Ezekiel 36:5, and similar in form to חפה in Isaiah 4:5).

The author of the plagues is well known to them, their faith in the idols is shaken, and the desire arises in their heart to avert fresh plagues by presents to Jehovah.

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