Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Ch. 19 An oracle on Egypt
It is recognised by all commentators that this difficult chapter consists of two dissimilar parts, although it is doubtful whether the second division commences with Isaiah 19:16 or Isaiah 19:18. For convenience, we may adopt the arrangement of Delitzsch, who regards Isaiah 19:16 f. as the connecting link between the two contrasted pictures of Egypt’s future; the prospect of judgment in Isaiah 19:1-15 and the remoter prospect of conversion and prosperity in Isaiah 19:18-25. The prophecy may then be analysed as follows:—
i. Isaiah 19:1-15. The judgment on Egypt, conceived as executed by Jehovah in person, who, “riding on a swift cloud,” suddenly makes His presence felt in the Nile-valley. In three equal strophes the prophet rapidly sketches the consequences of this visitation on the political, religious, and industrial condition of the country.
(1) Isaiah 19:1-4. The first effect is the collapse of the Egyptian religion, which is poetically represented by the trembling of the idols at the approach of the God of Israel (1). The foundation of the national self-confidence being thus dissolved there ensues a state of anarchy and civil war, aggravated by an utter absence of sound political guidance, which is vainly sought by the aid of sorcery and magical arts (2, 3). The issue of this state of things is the establishment of a cruel military despotism (4).
(2) Isaiah 19:5-10. A series of physical and social calamities is next described: the drying-up of the Nile (the source of all the material prosperity of Egypt), the failure of agriculture and the paralysis of the other industries for which the land was famous (fishing and weaving).
(3) Isaiah 19:11-15. The third strophe depicts the failure of the boasted traditional wisdom of Egypt (11–13), with the result that the infatuated nation reels like a drunkard under its accumulated misfortunes (14, 15).
ii. Isaiah 19:16-17. The Egyptians recognise Jehovah as the author of their calamities, and so great is the moral impression produced that the mere mention of the land of Judah fills their hearts with craven terror. It might seem at first sight that these verses are the continuation of the previous strophe. But the change of style, from poetry to prose, leads us to expect a new departure. And in truth, as Delitzsch has pointed out, the abject fear here spoken of marks the beginning of their conversion to the worship of the true God. Hence the two verses form the natural transition to the description of that spiritual change, which follows in
iii. Isaiah 19:18-25. The passage consists of a succession of concrete predictions indicating the marvellous change which is to take place in the religious attitude of Egypt and its relations to Israel.
(1) Isaiah 19:18. Five Egyptian cities (one of which is named) shall adopt the “language of Canaan.” (The exact significance of this perplexing verse must be reserved for discussion in the notes below.)
(2) Isaiah 19:19-22. The establishment of the worship of Jehovah in the land of Egypt will be symbolised by the erection of an altar in its midst and a pillar on its border; these are also tokens that Jehovah has taken the Egyptians under His protection (19, 20). By manifold experiences of chastisement and deliverance the knowledge of the true God shall be extended and deepened in Egypt, as it had been in Israel in the past (21, 22).
(3) Isaiah 19:23-25. A third symbol is a “highway” between Egypt and Assyria—a synonym for peaceful intercourse between Israel’s powerful neighbours on the East and West (23). Both are admitted to a footing of equality with Israel in the new kingdom of God, and the three states form a ‘Triple Alliance’ which is a channel of blessing to mankind at large (24, 25).
The first section (Isaiah 19:1-15), which few critics have refused to recognise as Isaiah’s, exhibits an intimate acquaintance with the internal affairs of the Egyptian Empire. But the historical allusions are too vague to enable us to assign a definite date to the prophecy, allowing, indeed, as Dillmann observes, a range of nearly 150 years. The most natural supposition is that Isaiah has in view an Assyrian conquest of Egypt, and that the oracle belongs to a time when delusive expectations of Egyptian support were entertained in Judah. On this assumption, we might find a suitable date for the prediction, (1) about 720, when Sargon defeated the king of Egypt at Raphia, or (2) in 711, when the similar announcement of ch. 20 was issued, or (3) about 702, when the Jewish politicians were eagerly courting an alliance with Egypt. Between these dates it seems impossible to make a final choice. In either case the “hard lord” of Isaiah 19:4 would be the Assyrian conqueror, but it is not necessary to suppose that the prophet had any particular king in view. As a matter of fact the subjugation of Egypt was first effected by Esarhaddon in 672, and this would have to be regarded as the historical fulfilment of the prophecy. Some critics, however, abandoning the reference to an Assyrian invasion, have identified the “hard lord” with an Ethiopian sovereign (Pianchi, whose date appears to be much too early, or Tirhakah), others with a Persian conqueror (Cambyses, Xerxes, or even Artaxerxes Ochus), and others with a native despot (? Psammetichus, c. 645).
It is difficult to resist the impression that Isaiah 19:16-25 (whether written by Isaiah or not) form an appendix composed later than the rest of the chapter. The difference in form has already been referred to, and still more remarkable is the change of outlook and general tone. In particular, the promise of a “saviour” in Isaiah 19:20, although not perhaps inconsistent with the threat of a “hard lord” Isaiah 19:4, emphasises the contrast between the two sections in a manner which makes it little likely that the two were written together. Objections to Isaiah’s authorship are based partly on the style and language, partly on the sympathetic tone of the references to Egypt (and Assyria), but chiefly on the circumstantial character of the predictions in 18–25. The cogency of the last argument depends greatly on the interpretation given to Isaiah 19:18-19. If this be a specific reference to Jewish Colonies in Egypt and the Jewish Temple in Leontopolis (erected about 160 b.c.), it must be admitted that such minute descriptions of far distant events are not in accordance with Isaiah’s ideal anticipations of the future. Hence the tendency of expositors who maintain the genuineness of the passage is to explain away the literal sense of the expressions, and to regard them as conveying a general prophecy of the diffusion of the true religion in Egypt. It may be doubted if the attempt is successful; and on the whole there appears to be a balance of probability in favour of the opinion that the appendix is post-exilic. If it be really the work of Isaiah himself, it is most intelligible in the evening of his life, when his mind was less occupied with current events, and more with the glorious future of the kingdom of God which lay on the horizon of his prophetic vision.
The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.1. On the superscription, see on ch. Isaiah 13:1.
rideth upon a swift cloud] The same representation in Psalm 18:10; Psalm 104:3. It is based on the ancient conception of the thunder-storm as the emblem of Jehovah’s presence.
the idols] the “non-entities” as in ch. Isaiah 2:8, &c.
shall be moved at his presence] shall quake (ch. Isaiah 6:4, Isaiah 7:2) before him.
1–4. The dissolution of the Egyptian nationality by the judicial intervention of Jehovah.
And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom.2. Jehovah speaks. The description of anarchy and civil war recalls ch. Isaiah 3:5, Isaiah 9:18 ff.
I will set … Egyptians] Lit. I will stir up (see ch. Isaiah 9:11) Egypt against Egypt—the general expression for civil discord which is explained in the remainder of the verse. kingdom against kingdom] LXX. νομὸς ἐπὶ νομόν—a correct translation drawn from the translator’s local knowledge of Egypt. The numerous nomes or cantons were but loosely federated, and dissensions and local jealousies were always apt to break out when the central government was paralysed.
And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards.3. the spirit of Egypt shall fail] lit. be poured out, cf. Jeremiah 19:7. “Spirit” is here used of intellectual power, as “heart” in Isaiah 19:1 denotes courage.
I will destroy] or “swallow up,” “annihilate,” but see on ch. Isaiah 3:12. In their desperation the Egyptians betake themselves to incantations, a sign in Isaiah’s view of hopeless intellectual embarrassment; ch. Isaiah 8:19. The word rendered charmers means “mutterers” (of magical spells). For the other expressions employed, see ch. Isaiah 8:19.
And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts.4. R.V. And I will give over (lit. “shut up”) the Egyptians into the hand of a cruel (“hard”) lord (in Hebr. plur. of majesty), &c. The words suggest a foreign ruler and are quite applicable to any Assyrian monarch likely to undertake the conquest of Egypt. Esarhaddon in 672 and again Asshurbanipal in 662 ravaged the country as far as Thebes; the Empire was broken up into twenty petty principalities, and all attempts at revolt were sternly suppressed until 645, when Psammetichus, one of the native princes, succeeded in shaking off the Assyrian yoke and uniting Egypt under his own sway.
the Lord, the Lord of hosts] here, as always, in confirmation of a threat. See on Isaiah 1:24.
And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up.5. It has been supposed by some that there is a causal connexion between the judgments here threatened and the political calamities described in the first strophe. The loss of a stable and beneficent central administration in Egypt is immediately felt by the peasantry through the neglect of the vast system of artificial irrigation which is essential to the maintenance of the fertility of the soil. It is manifest, however, that the expressions here point to something far more serious than this, viz. a drying up of the Nile by the direct exercise of Jehovah’s power. Cf. Ezekiel 30:12 and Job 14:11 (where the latter part of this verse is reproduced).
the sea] Cf. Isaiah 18:2. “Nili aqua mari similis est” (Pliny). At the time of the annual inundation the Nile has far more the appearance of an inland sea than of a stream; hence it is still called by the Arabs Elbaḥr (the sea).
5–10. The material and industrial ruin of Egypt.
And they shall turn the rivers far away; and the brooks of defence shall be emptied and dried up: the reeds and flags shall wither.6. The verse reads: And the streams shall stink, the canals of Egypt shall become feeble and dry up, &c. The word for “stink” is an anomalous form in Hebr. That rendered in A.V. “defence” is a rare name for Egypt (Maçôr, cf. Assyr. Muṣur, Arab. Miṣr), found also in ch. Isaiah 37:25; 2 Kings 19:24; Micah 7:12. “Canals” (A.V. “brooks”) is literally “Niles” (cf. Isaiah 7:18).
The paper reeds by the brooks, by the mouth of the brooks, and every thing sown by the brooks, shall wither, be driven away, and be no more.7. The paper reeds by the brooks, by the mouth of the brooks] Usually rendered as in R.V., “The meadows by the Nile, by the brink of the Nile.” The word for “meadows,” which does not occur again, is supposed to mean literally “bare place,” hardly a suitable designation! A safer translation would be, Bare places are on the Nile, on the (very) brink of the Nile. The LXX. has an entirely different text, which might suggest: “Bare is all verdure on the brink of the Nile.”
every thing sown] A unique term. Perhaps “seed-field,” but note the verb “driven away” which follows. “Seed-field of the Nile” might mean the alluvial deposit produced by the inundation, which is the source of Egypt’s fertility.
The fishers also shall mourn, and all they that cast angle into the brooks shall lament, and they that spread nets upon the waters shall languish.8. Fishing, one of the staple industries of Egypt, is first mentioned, as that most immediately affected (cf. Exodus 7:21). The two methods referred to, angling and net-fishing, are both depicted on the monuments.
that cast angle into the brooks] R.V. Nile.
Moreover they that work in fine flax, and they that weave networks, shall be confounded.9. Textile manufactures, linen and cotton, flourished greatly in ancient Egypt. fine flax] combed flax (R.V.). For networks read white-stuffs, probably cotton.
And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof, all that make sluices and ponds for fish.10. Translate as R.V. And her pillars shall be broken in pieces, all they that work for hire shall be grieved in soul. The expressions, however, are very obscure, and the sense is doubtful. The word for “pillars” is found in Psalm 11:3 (“foundations”), but it is disputed whether the capitalists or the labourers are here regarded as the foundations of society. In the second clause A.V. follows Jewish authority in keeping up the reference to fishing (cf. “networks” in the previous verse), but its “sluces and ponds for fish” is altogether wrong. LXX. errs in the opposite direction by dragging in the liquor trade (“manufacturers of strong drink” [shçkâr] instead of “workers for hire” [seker]).
Surely the princes of Zoan are fools, the counsel of the wise counsellers of Pharaoh is become brutish: how say ye unto Pharaoh, I am the son of the wise, the son of ancient kings?11. Surely … fools] Mere fools are the princes of Zoan. Zoan (Tanis, between the two most easterly mouths of the Nile), an ancient city (Numbers 13:22), had played an important part in Egyptian history. Formerly the seat of the Hyksos kings, it had subsequently given its name to two native dynasties (21st and 23rd). Partly because of its proximity to Canaan it is frequently mentioned in the O.T. as representing Egypt. The next clause runs literally: the wisest counsellors of Pharaoh—stupid counsel (sc. is theirs)!
how say ye unto Pharaoh …] The wisdom of Egypt was the hereditary possession of the priestly caste to which the early dynasties belonged. The counsellors are here introduced boasting of the purity of their descent from these kings and sages of the olden time. Read (in both cases) a son.
11–15. The stultification of Pharaoh’s advisers.
Where are they? where are thy wise men? and let them tell thee now, and let them know what the LORD of hosts hath purposed upon Egypt.12. The Pharaoh is now addressed in turn. Where are they, pray, thy wise men? In face of this problem they are nowhere; they cannot “know,” far less “tell,” the purpose of Jehovah towards Egypt.
The princes of Zoan are become fools, the princes of Noph are deceived; they have also seduced Egypt, even they that are the stay of the tribes thereof.13. are become fools] Better are befooled—“stultified.” Noph is Memphis, the capital of Lower Egypt, and an ancient seat of Egyptian religion and learning. An older form of the Hebrew name is apparently Moph (Hosea 9:6); both forms are perhaps contracted from Mnoph (hieroglyphic Mennofer). The city was situated in the southern corner of the Delta, near Cairo, which was largely built from its ruins.
even they that are the stay of the tribes thereof] Render the corner-stone of her tribes, i.e. her ruling caste. For the metaphor, cf. Jdg 20:2; 1 Samuel 14:38; Zechariah 10:4. The “tribes” may be either the castes or the nomes (cantons).
The LORD hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof: and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit.14. Their intellectual confusion is caused by “a spirit” from Jehovah (but not personified as in 1 Kings 22:21 f.) a perverse spirit] Better a spirit of perverseness (R.V.). Cf. “spirit of deep slumber,” ch. Isaiah 29:10.
err … staggereth] The same verb should be used in both places—“wander” or “stray.” The strong figure has a parallel in ch. Isaiah 28:7. Cf. Job 12:25.
Neither shall there be any work for Egypt, which the head or tail, branch or rush, may do.15. No concerted action is possible, and every proposal that is brought forward falls to the ground.
head and tail, palm-branch and rush, exactly as in ch. Isaiah 9:14.
In that day shall Egypt be like unto women: and it shall be afraid and fear because of the shaking of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which he shaketh over it.16. like unto women] timid and faint-hearted (Nahum 3:13).
be afraid] Better, tremble, as R.V. the shaking (or “swinging”) of the hand … which he shaketh] i.e. the repeated blows with which he smites them, cf. Isaiah 30:32, Isaiah 10:32, Isaiah 11:15.
16, 17. The terror of Jehovah on the Egyptians. There is an allusion to the effect of the plagues in the time of the Exodus. See Exodus 10:7; Exodus 11:3; Exodus 12:33; Exodus 12:36. Then, as in this prophecy, the people of God became an object of fear to their enemies, through the strokes of Jehovah’s hand.
And the land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt, every one that maketh mention thereof shall be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the LORD of hosts, which he hath determined against it.17. By association of ideas the fear of Jehovah becomes fear of the land which is His dwelling-place. The verse is intelligible only in this connexion.
every one that maketh … himself] Either “every (Egyptian) to whom one mentions it, shall fear,” or “whenever any one mentions it to him (Egypt) he shall fear.”
the counsel of the Lord of hosts] see Isaiah 19:11.
In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the LORD of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction.18. The verse may mean either (1) that an indefinite, but small, number of Egyptian cities shall be converted to the worship of Jehovah and adopt Hebrew as at least their sacred language; or (2) that at a certain epoch there shall be five (and no more) Jewish colonies in Egypt maintaining their national language and religion. On the former view “five” is a round number (as in ch. Isaiah 30:17; Genesis 43:34; Leviticus 26:8; 1 Samuel 17:40; 1 Samuel 21:3; 2 Kings 7:13), and the verse is a prophecy of the first beginnings of the conversion of Egypt—a “day of small things.” This interpretation, although grammatically defensible, is not natural. No parallel can be found in Isaiah’s writings to the anticipation of a gradual dissemination of the true religion by sporadic conversions. He always treats the nations as units, and it is very questionable if the idea of a religious schism within the Egyptian nationality could have presented itself to him or his contemporaries as a desirable thing, or a realisation of the Messianic hope. If we adopt the second view the prophecy must have been written at a time when the prospect of Hebrew-speaking Jewish communes in Egypt was a natural expression of the anticipation that the influence of the Jewish religion would extend to that country. This was not the case at the very late date maintained by some critics (b.c. 160). By that time the Egyptian Jews had so completely abandoned their native tongue that a Greek translation of the Scriptures had become necessary for their use. This part of the prophecy is more intelligible at a considerably earlier period, before the universal solvent of the Greek language had begun to leaven the varied nationalities of the old world.—It is of course impossible to identify the “five cities.” Hitzig has attempted it by the help of Jeremiah 44:1, adding to the three towns there mentioned, Heliopolis and Leontopolis (see below).
one shall be called, The city of destruction] The exegesis of this clause is complicated by a diversity of text. (α) The received text has ‘îr hahereṣ, which in Hebrew can only mean “the city of Destruction.” The insurmountable objection to this reading is that it is inconsistent with the favourable general sense of the verse; for the translation “city of [the] destruction of idolatry, &c.” is quite unwarranted. Some, however, explain the word by haris, an Arabic epithet of the lion, rendering, “city of the Lion,” i.e. Leontopolis, where the Jewish Temple was built. This might be intelligible as a correction of the reading to be next mentioned; hardly as an independent text. Moreover, the Greek translator of Isaiah knew nothing of it, but followed an entirely different reading (γ below). (β) Another reading, found in some Hebrew MSS. and followed by the Vulg., is ‘îr haḥeres, “city of the Sun,” i.e. Heliopolis. This gives a good sense. Heliopolis, the biblical On (Genesis 41:50, &c.), might be especially mentioned because of its great importance in the religion of Egypt, as it is (under the name “house of the Sun”) in Jeremiah 43:13. (γ) The LXX. reads “city of Righteousness” (‘îr haççedeq). This reading, in itself the least probable of the three, is defended by some commentators as most in accordance with Isaiah’s use of names as descriptive of the essential quality of the objects (cf. Isaiah 1:26, Isaiah 4:3, Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:6). So here “city of righteousness” is regarded not as the proper name of any one city, but an epithet applicable to any of the five. On the whole, the suggestion of Cheyne seems as plausible as any, that the original form was ḥereṣ, and the reference was to Heliopolis; that this was altered by the Egyptian Jews to çedeq and by those of Palestine to hereṣ (destruction), the motive in both cases being to establish a reference (in the first case favourable, in the second unfavourable) to the temple at Leontopolis. The latter variant, however, might be due to accident.
[The Jewish Temple in Egypt was erected about 160 with the sanction of Ptolemy Philometor and his consort by Onias IV., the legitimate heir of the high-priesthood at Jerusalem. (Josephus, Ant. xiii. 3, 1 f.; Bell. Jud. vii. 10, 2 f.) It was a brilliant conception on the part of the priest, but was probably not dictated by very lofty motives. Having been ousted from his rights by the intrigues of the apostate party in Judæa, he sought by this means to retain the state and emoluments of a great ecclesiastical dignitary. His enterprise cannot have been regarded with friendly eyes by the patriotic party in Jerusalem, and afterwards when the new Temple began to divert the stream of Jewish liberality from Jerusalem, their antipathy increased. The temple was built, after the model of that at Jerusalem, on the ruins of an Egyptian temple of the lion-headed goddess Bast (hence the name Leontopolis) in the Heliopolitan nome.]
In that day shall there be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the LORD.19. It was to this verse, according to Josephus (and not to Isaiah 19:18), that Onias appealed in support of the legitimacy of his project. The statement is perfectly intelligible; it had never occurred to any one to think of Leontopolis in connexion with Isaiah 19:18; on the other hand, the promise of Isaiah 19:19 was warrant enough.
an altar to the Lord] evidently intended for sacrificial offerings, not a mere memorial (see Isaiah 19:21). The writer thus transcends the limits of the Mosaic legislation, which recognised but one altar of Jehovah. Some explain the prediction in a symbolical sense, of the spiritual worship of Jehovah maintained by the Jews and their proselytes. But this is hardly justifiable.
a pillar at the border thereof] The word maçççbâ usually denotes the sacred stones which stood by the idolatrous shrines of Canaan and whose destruction is enjoined in the Law (Deuteronomy 16:22; Exodus 23:24, &c.). From its use here it has been inferred that the prophecy dates from a time anterior to the promulgation of the Deuteronomic Code in the reign of Josiah. But it is doubtful if even in the age of Isaiah the maçççbâ in this sense could have had positive value as an adjunct of Jehovah’s worship. The word is probably used in the general sense of a memorial pillar, and may have been suggested by the huge monoliths which were so characteristic of Egyptian civilisation. This one stands on the frontier of Egypt, as a sign to every one entering the country that Jehovah is known there.
And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry unto the LORD because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them.20. for a sign and for a witness unto the Lord of hosts] i.e. a reminder that He has a people in Egypt, and that by their presence the land is consecrated to Him.
The process of conversion in this and the following verses is finely conceived. First, the name of Jehovah is made known by the religious observances of the Jewish colonists and proselytes; then, in a time of trouble, the Egyptians turn to Him instead of to their false gods, and learn to know Him through His answer to their prayers (20, 21); finally this experience of Jehovah is deepened and purified by a discipline similar to that to which Israel was subjected in the time of the Judges (22).
the oppressors] Omit the art.; the reference is quite general.
a saviour] See Jdg 3:9; Jdg 3:15; 2 Kings 13:5.
a great one] Better: a champion. A special allusion to Ptolemy Soter, or to the Jewish generals who served under Ptolemy Philometor is not called for.
And the LORD shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the LORD in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the LORD, and perform it.21. shall be known] Rather: shall make himself known, as R.V. marg.
sacrifice and oblation] animal and vegetable offerings, see on Isaiah 1:11; Isaiah 1:13.
And the LORD shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the LORD, and he shall be intreated of them, and shall heal them.22. he shall smite and heal it] lit. “with a smiting and a healing,” i.e. He will smite only in order to heal (Hosea 6:1). be intreated] hear their supplications (Niph. tolerativum).
In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians.23. a highway] leading of course through Palestine. The ancient enmity between the two empires is laid aside in consequence of their common acceptance of the religion of Jehovah. Egypt shall serve (Jehovah) with Assyria.
23–25. The incorporation of Egypt and Assyria in the kingdom of God. On the hypothesis that the prophecy is post-exilic “Assyria” will here denote the power to whom the reversion of the ancient Assyrian Empire had fallen. See on ch. Isaiah 11:11.
In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land:24. shall Israel be the third]—member of the Messianic League. For land read earth as R.V.
Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.25. whom the Lord of hosts shall bless] R.V. for that the Lord of hosts hath blessed him (Israel). A better sense than either is given by the LXX. “(the earth;) which Jehovah … hath blessed.” But the masculine suffix is opposed to this.
my people and the work of my hands are titles elsewhere confined to Israel, but here accorded to Egypt and Assyria, the still dearer epithet mine inheritance being reserved for Israel,—as it were the ancestral estate of the one true God.