|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
46:13-28 Those who encroached on others, shall now be themselves encroached on. Egypt is now like a very fair heifer, not accustomed to the yoke of subjection; but destruction comes out of the north: the Chaldeans shall come. Comfort and peace are spoken to the Israel of God, designed to encourage them when the judgments of God were abroad among the nations. He will be with them, and only correct them in measure; and will not punish them with everlasting destruction from his presence.
Verse 22. - The voice thereof shall go like a serpent; rather, her voice is like (the sound of) a serpent gliding away. Egypt (like Jerusalem, in Isaiah 29:4) is imagined as a maiden (comp. ver. 19) seated on the ground, and faintly sighing; and her feeble voice is likened to the rustling sound of a serpent in motion. Come against her with axes. A sudden change of figure. Egypt, or, more strictly, Egypt's grandeur - its rich and complex national life, its splendid cities, its powerful army, all combined in one, is now compared to a forest (comp. Jeremiah 21:14; Jeremiah 22:6, 7; Isaiah 2:13; Isaiah 10:18, 19, 33, 34). It seems far fetched to suppose, with Graf and Dr. Payne Smith, that the comparison of the Chaldean warriors to wood cutters arose from their being armed with axes. It is probably true that the Israelites did not use the battle axe, but the axe is merely an accident of the description. It is the forest which suggests the mention of the axe, not the axe that of the forest, and forests were familiar enough to the Israelites.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The voice thereof shall go like a serpent,.... That is, the voice of Egypt, before compared to a heifer, when in its glory; but now it shall not bellow like a heifer in fat pasture, bat hiss like a serpent, when drove out of its hole, and pursued; signifying, that their voice should be low and submissive, and should not speak one big or murmuring word to their conquerors. The voice of the serpent is, by Aristotle (m) said to be small and weak; so Aelianus (n). Though Jarchi, Kimchi, and Abarbinel, understand it of the voice of serpents heard afar off; and so it may respect the dreadful lamentation the Egyptians should make, when they should see the Chaldeans come upon them to destroy them; just as serpents in woods make a horrible noise, when they are set on fire, or are cut down, to which there is an allusion in some following clauses. The Targum seems to interpret this of the Chaldean army thus,
"the voice of the clashing of their arms as serpents creeping;''
and of them the following words are certainly meant:
for they shall march with an army; the Targum adds, against you; the meaning is, that the Chaldeans should come with a great army, and march against the Egyptians with great strength, force, and fury:
and come against her with axes, as hewers of wood; with battle axes, as if they came to cut down trees; nor would they spare the Egyptians any more than such hewers do the trees; nor would they be able any more to resist them than trees can resist hewers of wood.
(m) Hist. Animal. l. 4. c. 9. (n) De Animal. l. 15. c. 13.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
22. The cry of Egypt when invaded shall be like the hissing of a serpent roused by the woodcutters from its lair. No longer shall she loudly roar like a heifer, but with a low murmur of fear, as a serpent hissing.
with axes—the Scythian mode of armor. The Chaldeans shall come with such confidence as if not about to have to fight with soldiers, but merely to cut down trees offering no resistance.
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