|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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.
Verse 5 - The waters shall fail from the sea. By "the sea" it is generally allowed that the Nile must be meant, as in Isaiah 18:2 and Nahum 3:8. The failure might be caused by deficient rains in Abyssinia and Equatorial Africa, producing an insufficient inundation. It might be aggravated by the neglect of dykes and canals, which would be the natural consequence of civil disorders (see Canon Cook's 'Inscription of Piankhi,' p. 14). Wasted and dried up; rather, parched and dried up. Allowance must be made for Oriental hyperbole. The meaning is only that there shall be a great deficiency in the water supply. Such a deficiency has often been the cause of terrible famines in Egypt.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the waters shall fail from the sea,.... Which Kimchi understands figuratively of the destruction of the Egyptians by the king of Assyria, compared to the drying up of the waters of the Nile; and others think that the failure of their trade by sea is meant, which brought great revenues into the kingdom: but, by what follows, it seems best to take the words in a literal sense, of the waters of the river Nile, which being dried up, as in the next clause, could not empty themselves into the sea, as they used, and therefore very properly may be said to fail from it; nay, the Nile itself may be called a sea, it being so large a confluence of water:
and the river shall be wasted and dried up; that is, the river Nile, which was not only very useful for their trade and navigation, but the fruitfulness of the country depended upon it; for the want of rain, in the land of Egypt, was supplied by the overflow of this river, at certain times, which brought and left such a slime upon the earth, as made it exceeding fertile; now the drying up of this river was either occasioned by some great drought, which God in judgment sent; or by the practices of some of their princes with this river, by which it was greatly impaired, and its usefulness diminished.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. the sea—the Nile. Physical calamities, it is observed in history, often accompany political convulsions (Eze 30:12). The Nile shall "fail" to rise to its wonted height, the result of which will be barrenness and famine. Its "waters" at the time of the overflow resemble "a sea" [Pliny, Natural History, 85.11]; and it is still called El-Bahr," "the sea," by the Egyptians (Isa 18:2; Jer 51:36). A public record is kept at Cairo of the daily rise of the water at the proper time of overflow, namely, August: if it rises to a less height than twelve cubits, it will not overflow the land, and famine must be the result. So, also, when it rises higher than sixteen; for the waters are not drained off in time sufficient to sow the seed.
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