Darby's Bible Synopsis
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.
The following commentary covers Chapters 19 through 23.
In chapters 19 and 20 Egypt shall be smitten in that day; but Jehovah will heal it. Egypt, Assyria, and Israel shall together be blessed of Jehovah. Chapter 20 teaches us that it will be Assyria that leads Egypt captive (compare Daniel 11 at the end). It will be observed here, that, in general, from chapter 13 to 17 there is deliverance. The sceptre of the wicked is broken (Isaiah 14:5). The throne of David will be established in mercy (Isaiah 16:5). The Assyrian is destroyed -the Philistines subdued-Zion founded by Jehovah-Damascus reduced. The latter event introduces the evils of the last days. Only, as we have remarked, the gathering of the nations is for their destruction (Micah 4:11-13). Chapter 18, resuming the subject of chapter 17, shews us Israel as they are to be in their land in the last days-oppressed by the Gentiles, but in result brought back to God.
The chapters following 18 do not, like the previous ones, tell of Israel's deliverance. but of the invasion and overrunning of the nations before mentioned-the overflowing scourge. Egypt is overrun as well as Ethiopia, in which Israel had trusted. Babylon is overcome-Dumah and Kedar destroyed-Jerusalem is ravaged-Tyre falls. In short it is a universal overthrow, the central scene of which is the land of Canaan, but in which the whole world is included (Isaiah 24:4). Even the powers of heaven are overturned, as well as the kings of the earth upon the earth, giving place to the establishment of Zion, the mountain of Jehovah, as the centre of power and blessing, the power of the serpent, the dragon that is in the sea, being annihilated.
After this outline attention must be given to some details. It will be observed that Babylon and Jerusalem fall (chaps. 21, 22), one after the other, Jerusalem the last. Now it is quite evident that this connection of events is yet future. That which is said of Babylon and Jerusalem may have found its occasion in the capture of Babylon by Cyrus, and partly in the condition of Jerusalem when threatened by Sennacherib. But there was neither the connection nor the order of events noted in this prophecy. But Babylon is named in a manner that gives no clue whatever to its condition. The "desert of the sea" is a singular term to describe a city. But a dreadful invasion is before the prophet's eyes, and Babylon falls. It comes like a whirlwind of the south, and the power of Babylon is at an end-we are not told in what manner. Jerusalem, the valley of vision, is ravaged. The Persians and the Medes, who were the invaders of the preceding chapter re-appear here as attacking Jerusalem. There is no fighting outside; but, the city being taken, its inhabitants are bound or slain within it. Besides the prophetic revelations, this chapter contains also moral instruction of the deepest importance In the first place all the wisdom of man is insufficient to ward off evil, if not accompanied by the power of God. When the city of God is in question, this wisdom, exercised in forgetfulness of the God who built and founded the city of His holiness, is an unpardonable sin (Isaiah 22:11). Again, that which is related here was, historically speaking, done by Hezekiah, of whom it is said he prospered in all his works. Outward blessing attended his labours; but, at the same time, the condition of the people, even with respect to these labours, was such that God could not pardon it. This is often the case: outward faith in doing the work of God, blessed by Him, corruption as to state of heart in the thing, which God will assuredly judge, and forgetfulness of God Himself and of their belonging to Him. This is when the people of God lean upon human means. We see also here one who held a settled office, according to man, in the government of the house of David, set aside with shame, and one chosen of God taking his place all glory being given to him (a remarkable prefiguration of the setting aside of the false Christ, and the establishment of the true, in the last days). This prophecy gives room to suppose that the nations will attack Jerusalem when the Babylon of history is a desert. That which is Babylon in those days shall fall. Nevertheless Jerusalem, the object of the prophecies, shall be taken, its government changed; the usurper must yield his place to the chosen One of God.
The burden of Tyre shews us all the pride of human glory stained, and all the honourable of the earth brought into contempt. The occasion is the capture of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar, but the prophecy goes farther-even to the days when her merchandise shall be holiness to Jehovah (chap. 23).
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.
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.
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.
And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up.
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.
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.
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.
Moreover they that work in fine flax, and they that weave networks, shall be confounded.
And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof, all that make sluices and ponds for fish.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Neither shall there be any work for Egypt, which the head or tail, branch or rush, may do.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land:
Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.