|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 7. - The paper reeds by the brooks, etc.; rather, the meadows on the river, along the banks of the river, and every seed-plot by the river. The banks of the Nile were partly grass-land (Genesis 41:2, 18), partly cultivated in grain or vegetables (Herod., 2:14), in either case producing the most luxuriant crops. All, however, depended on the inundation, and if that failed, or so far as it failed, the results predicted by the prophet would happen.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The paper reeds by the brooks, by the mouth of the brooks,.... Not at the fountain or origin of the Nile and its streams, but by the sides thereof; on the banks of which grew a reed or rush, called by the Greeks "papyrus" and "biblus"; from whence come the words "paper" and "bible", or book, of which paper was anciently made; even as early as the times of Isaiah, and so, many hundreds of years before the times of Alexander the great, to which some fix the era of making it.
"According to Pliny (d), its root is of the thickness of a man's arm, and ten cubits long; from this arise a great number of triangular stalks, six or seven cubits high, each thick enough to be easily spanned. Its leaves are long, like those of the bulrush; its flowers stamineous, ranged in clusters at the extremities of the stalks; its roots woody and knotty, like those of rushes; and its taste and smell near akin to those of the cyprus.----The manner of making the Egyptian paper was this: they began with lopping off the two extremes of the "papyrus", viz. the head and root, as of no use in this manufacture; the remaining stem they slit lengthwise, into equal parts; and from each of these they stripped the thin scaly coats, or pellicles, whereof it was composed, with a point of a penknife (or needle, as some); the innermost of these pellicles were looked on as the best, and those nearest the rind or bark the worst; they were kept apart accordingly, and constituted different sorts of paper. As the pellicles were taken off, they extended them on a table; then two or more of them were laid over each other transversely, so as that their fibres made right angles; in this state they were glued together by the muddy waters of the Nilus. These being next pressed to get out the water, then dried, and lastly flatted and smoothed, by beating them with a mallet, constituted paper; which they sometimes polished further, by rubbing it with a hemisphere of glass, or the like. There were paper manufactures in divers cities of Egypt; but the greatest and most celebrated was that at Alexandria, where, according to Varro's account, paper was first made. The trade and consumption of this commodity were in reality incredible. Vopiscus relates, that the tyrant Firmus, who rebelled in Egypt, publicly declared he would maintain an army only, "papyro et glutine", with paper and glue (e).''
So that the withering and drying up of these paper reeds, here threatened, must be a great calamity upon the nation. And, besides paper, of this rush or reed were made sails, ropes, and other naval rigging, as also mats, blankets, clothes, and even ships were made of the stalk of the papyrus; and the Egyptian priests wore shoes made of it (f). It may be observed, that paper was made of the pellicles or little skins stripped off of the inside of the stem of the papyrus; which shows with what propriety the word (g) for paper reeds is here used, which comes from a root which signifies to strip or make bare, and from which also is derived a word which signifies a skin.
And everything sown by the brooks shall wither, be driven away, and be no more; all sorts of fruitful plants, and grain of every kind, hemp and flax, after mentioned, and which are opposed to reeds and rushes, which grew of themselves; and if these which were sown by the sides of brooks and rivers withered and came to nothing, then much more what was sown at a greater distance.
(d) Nat Hist. l. 13. c. 11. (e) Chambers's Cyclopaedia, in the word "Paper". (f) Herodot, Euterpe, sive l. 2. c. 37. (g) "ad" "nudari, inde" "pellis".
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
7. paper-reeds—rather, pastures, literally, "places naked" of wood, and famed for rich herbage, on the banks of the Nile [Gesenius]. Compare Ge 13:10; De 11:10. Horsley translates, "nakedness upon the river," descriptive of the appearance of a river when its bottom is bare and its banks stripped of verdure by long drought: so Vulgate.
the brooks—the river.
mouth—rather, "the source" [Vulgate]. "Even close to the river's side vegetation shall be so withered as to be scattered in the shape of powder by the wind" (English Version, "driven away") [Horsley].
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