|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:1-6 Israel gave rewards to their idols, in the offerings presented to them. It is common for those who are niggardly in religion, to be prodigal upon their lusts. Those are reckoned as idolaters, who love a reward in the corn-floor better than a reward in the favour of God and in eternal life. They are full of the joy of harvest, and have no disposition to mourn for sin. When we make the world, and the things of it, our idol and our portion, it is just with God to show us our folly, and correct us. None may expect to dwell in the Lord's land, who will not be subject to the Lord's laws, or be influenced by his love. When we enjoy the means of grace, we ought to consider what we shall do, if they should be taken from us. While the pleasures of communion with God are out of the reach of change, the pleasant places purchased with silver, or in which men deposit silver, are liable to be laid in ruins. No famine is so dreadful as that of the soul.
Verse 6. - For, lo, they are gone because of destruction: Egypt shall gather them up, Memphis shall bury them. Their future exile was seen in prophetic vision; and in consequence and because of its certainty he speaks of it as having already taken place. The destruction is the desolation and wasting of their native land, because of which, or away from which and leaving it behind, they are gone. The land of their banishment was the land of their bondage. There, far from the land of their birth, they were doomed to die and to be gathered together for a common burial. Memphis was the ancient capital of Lower Egypt; its situation was on the western bank of the Nile, and south of Old Cairo. There its ruins are still seen, with extensive burial-grounds, while amid those ruins is the village of Mitrahenni. Kimchi identifies Moph with Noph. The pleasant places for their silver, nettles shall possess them: thorns shall be in their tabernacles. The literal rendering of the first clause is,
(1) their cherished delight of silver. By this some understand
(a) silver idols;
(b) others, valuables in silver;
(c) the Jewish commentators, the houses of the precious treasures of their silver - so Rashi; "Their precious buildings where their silver treasures were" - so Kimchi;
(d) Jerome understands their mansions and all the ornaments of their mansions purchased by silver; Keil also has, "houses ornamented and filled with the precious metals." This explanation is pretty generally accepted, and appears to us to deserve the preference. Their former homes, so pleasant and so richly decorated, were so utterly desolate and deserted that thorns and thistles overspread them. But
(2) the sentence is differently translated and explained by Rosenmüller and some others; thus: "Moph (Memphis) will bury them out of desire for their silver." This violent divulsion destroys the parallelism of the second hemistich, besides ignoring the athnach. The LXX., again
(3) puzzled by the word maehmad, mistook it for a proper name: "Therefore, behold, they go forth from the trouble of Egypt, and Hemphis shall receive them, and Machmas (Μάχμας) shall bury them." Giving a decided preference to
(1) (d), we have a thrilling picture of distress. First comes the destruction of their native city; having looked their last look on the ruins where once stood their home, they have set forth - a miserable band of pilgrims - to the land of the stranger, and that stranger their conqueror and oppressor; they have reached the place of exile, there to find, not a home, but a grave, and not a single grave for each, according to the Jews' mode of sepulture to the present day, but a common place of burial into which they are huddled together, Egypt gathering them and Memphis burying them; while in the land that gave them birth, their once happy homesteads, richly decorated and expensively adorned, are left utterly desolate - a heritage for thorns and thistles.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For, lo, they are gone, because of destruction,.... That is, many of the people of Israel were gone out of their own land to others, particularly to Egypt, because of the destruction that was coming upon them, and to avoid it; because of the Assyrian army which invaded their land, and besieged Samaria, and threatened them with entire destruction; and upon which a famine ensued, and which is thought by Kimchi to be here particularly meant;
Egypt shall gather them up: being dead; for they shall die there, perhaps by the pestilence, and never return to their own country, as they flattered themselves; and they shall make preparations for their funeral:
Memphis shall bury them; or they shall be buried there; which was a principal city in Egypt, here called Moph, in Isaiah 19:13, Noph. It was the metropolis of upper Egypt, and the seat of the Egyptian kings. In it, as Plutarch says (t), was the sepulchre of Osiris; and some say its name so signifies. Near to it were the famous pyramids, as Strabo (u) says, supposed to be built for the sepulchre of them. Herodotus (w) places these pyramids at Memphis, and says there were three of them; the largest had several subterraneous chambers in it; the next in size had none; the smallest was covered with Ethiopic marble. Strabo, in the place referred to, speaks of many pyramids near it, of which three were very remarkable, and expressly says they were the burying places of the kings. Diodorus (x) agrees with these, as to the number of them, but places them fifteen miles from Memphis. Pliny (y) places them between Memphis and the Delta, six miles from Memphis; pretty near to which is Strabo's account, who in the above place says, they stood forty furlongs, or five miles, from the city. Near it was the lake of Charon or Acherusia, over which he ferried dead bodies from Memphis to the pyramids, or to the plains of the mummies, the Elysian fields. Now since this was so famous for the burying places of kings, there may be an allusion to it in this expression. Here also were buried their deities, the Apis or ox when it died;
the pleasant places for their silver, nettles shall possess them; such beautiful edifices as were made for the repositories or treasure houses for their silver; or were built or purchased at great expense of silver; or were decorated with it; now should lie in ruins, and be like a waste, desert, and desolate place, all overrun with nettles, and uninhabited:
briers shall be in their tabernacles; their dwelling houses, which being demolished, briers shall grow upon the ground where they stood, and overspread it; another token of desolation. The Targum interprets it of living creatures, beasts of prey, that should dwell there; wild cats particularly.
(t) De Iside & Osir. p. 359. (u) Geograph. l. 17. p. 555. (w) Euterpe, sive l. 2. c. 8. 126, 127. (x) Bibliothec. l. 1. p 57. (y) Nat. Hist. l. 36. c. 12.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. because of destruction—to escape from the devastation of their country.
Egypt shall gather them up—that is, into its sepulchres (Jer 8:2; Eze 29:5). Instead of returning to Palestine, they should die in Egypt.
Memphis—famed as a necropolis.
the pleasant places for their silver—that is, their desired treasuries for their money. Or, "whatever precious thing they have of silver" [Maurer].
nettles—the sign of desolation (Isa 34:13).
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