|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:14-19 Is Israel a servant? No, they are the seed of Abraham. We may apply this spiritually: Is the soul of man a slave? No, it is not; but has sold its own liberty, and enslaved itself to divers lusts and passions. The Assyrian princes, like lions, prevailed against Israel. People from Egypt destroyed their glory and strength. They brought these calamities on themselves by departing from the Lord. The use and application of this is, Repent of thy sin, that thy correction may not be thy ruin. What has a Christian to do in the ways of forbidden pleasure or vain sinful mirth, or with the pursuits of covetousness and ambition?
Verse 18. - What hast thou to do in the way of Egypt? rather, with the way to Egypt. Isaiah (Isaiah 30:2-5; Isaiah 31:1) and Hosea (Hosea 7:11, 16) had already inveighed against an Egyptian alliance. The name given by Manasseh to his sen and successor (Amen) suggests that at one period in his reign an Egyptian policy was in the ascendant, which coincides with the tradition preserved in 2 Chronicles 33:11, of an Assyrian captivity of Manasseh. Jehoiakim at a later period was a vassal of Egypt (2 Kings 23:31, 35). To drink the waters; taking up the idea of the second clause of ver. 13. Sihor, or Shihor, occurs again in Isaiah 23:3, as a name of the Nile. It properly means, not so much "the black" as "the dark grey" (connected with shakhar, the morning grey), from the color of the water. Rosenmüller's contrast between the muddy waters of foreign streams and the "fountain of living waters" is uncalled for; besides, the Nile water has always been held in high esteem. The Septuagint has Γηών, i.e. Gihon, also a name of-the Nile according to Ecclus. 24:27. The way of - rather, to - Assyria. It is true that Assyria was, to say the least, powerless to interfere for good or for evil, when these words were written. But in ver. 5 the prophet has already warned us that his complaints are partly retrospective. It would seem that the Assyrian party from time to time gained the upper hand over the Egyptian in the councils of the State. Or perhaps the prophet may refer to the Quixotic fidelity to Assyria of Josiah (see below on ver. 36). The river; i.e. the Euphrates, "the great river" (Genesis 15:18). Babylonia it should be remembered, was in nominal subjection to Assyria; the Euphrates was the boundary between Syria and Palestine on the one hand, and Assyria - here the Assyrio-Babylonian region - on the other.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt,.... By worshipping of idols, in imitation of them; or by sending ambassadors thither for help, when they had their Lord, their God, so nigh, had they not forsaken him; nor had Josiah any business to go out against Pharaohnecho, 2 Chronicles 35:21 and, contrary to the express word of God by the Prophet Jeremy, did the Jews which remained in Judea go into Egypt, Jeremiah 42:19.
To drink the waters of Sihor? which is the river Nile, as Jarchi interprets it. The Septuagint and Arabic versions render it "the waters of Geon", or "Gihon": and this also is the same with the Nile, as Josephus (k) affirms, who says,
"Geon, which runs through Egypt, is the same which the Greeks call Nile.''
So Jerom (l) from Eusebius,
"Geon is a river, which with the Egyptians is called Nile.''
The Vulgate Latin version renders it, "troubled water"; and such were the waters of the Nile, which had its name of Sihor from the blackness of it; and hence, by the Greeks (m), was called Melas; and by the Latines (n), Melo. Hence, as Braunius (o) observes, it was represented by a black stone, as other rivers by a white one; for which reason the black colour was very grateful to the Egyptians; and for the same reason Osiris, which is the very Nile itself, was reckoned black; and the ox Apis they worshipped was a black one, at least part of it, and was covered with black linen cloth; and its priests were also clothed in black, hence called Chemarim, Hosea 10:5.
Or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria; to go after their idolatrous practices, or to send to them for help; for this was the usual method of the Jews; when the Assyrians oppressed them, then they sent to Egypt for help; and when the Egyptians were upon them, then they applied to the Assyrians; and in both cases acted wrong, for they ought to have sought the Lord their God only:
to drink the waters of the river? of the river Euphrates. The sense is, that they preferred the waters of the Nile and of Euphrates, or the gods of the Egyptians and Assyrians, or the help of these people, before the Lord, the fountain of living waters, and his worship and powerful help. The Targum paraphrases this last clause thus,
"why do ye make covenant with the Assyrian, to carry you captive beyond the river Euphrates?''
(k) Antiqu. l. 1. c. 1. sect. 3.((l) De locis Hebraicis, fol. 91. H. (m) Eustathius in Dionys. (n) Servius in Virgil. Georg. l. 4. p. 343. & in Aeneid. l. 1. p. 541. (o) Selecta Sacr. l. 4. c. 9. p. 492, & l. 5. Exercit. 4. sect. 8. p. 700, 701.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
18. now—used in a reasoning sense, not of time.
the way of Egypt—What hast thou to do with the way, that is, with going down to Egypt; or what … with going to Assyria?
drink … waters—that is, to seek reinvigorating aid from them; so Jer 2:13, 36; compare "waters," meaning numerous forces (Isa 8:7).
Sihor—that is, the black river, in Greek, Melas ("black"), the Nile: so called from the black deposit or soil it leaves after the inundation (Isa 23:3). The Septuagint identifies it with Gihon, one of the rivers of Paradise.
the river—Euphrates, called by pre-eminence, the river; figurative for the Assyrian power. In 625 B.C., the seventeenth year of Josiah, and the fourth of Jeremiah's office, the kingdom of Assyria fell before Babylon, therefore Assyria is here put for Babylon its successor: so in 2Ki 23:29; La 5:6. There was doubtless a league between Judea and Assyria (that is, Babylon), which caused Josiah to march against Pharaoh-necho of Egypt when that king went against Babylon: the evil consequences of this league are foretold in this verse and Jer 2:36.
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