Isaiah 18:7
In that time shall the present be brought to the LORD of hosts of a people scattered and peeled, and from a people terrible from their beginning till now; a nation meted out and trodden under foot, whose land the rivers have spoiled, to the place of the name of the LORD of hosts, the mount Zion.
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(7) In that time shall the present be brought . . .—Not “of the people,” but a people, as being themselves the present. The prophet foresees, as one result of the defeat of the Assyrian armies, that the nation, which he again describes instead of naming, will offer themselves to the service of Jehovah. So taken the words have an interesting parallel in Psalm 68:31, “Ethiopia stretches out her hands unto God,” or in the mention of Ethiopia in Psalm 87:3, as among the nations whose children are to be enrolled among the citizens of Zion. Messengers who may have justified Isaiah’s words were probably found among the envoys mentioned in 2Chronicles 32:23. Here, again, the words have been referred as before, to Israel.

Isaiah 18:7. In that time — After the execution of this signal judgment; shall the present be brought unto the Lord, &c. — Here the prophet foretels that Egypt, being delivered from the oppression of the Assyrian, and avenged, by the hand of God, of the wrongs which she had suffered, should return thanks for the wonderful deliverance, both of herself and of the Jews, from this most powerful adversary. “The Egyptians,” it must be observed, “were in alliance with the kingdom of Judah, and were fellow- sufferers with the Jews, under the invasion of the common enemy Sennacherib; and so were very nearly interested in the great and miraculous deliverance of that kingdom, by the destruction of the Assyrian army. Upon which wonderful event it is said, (2 Chronicles 32:23,) that many brought gifts unto Jehovah, to Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah; so that he was magnified of all nations from thenceforth. And it is not to be doubted, that among these the Egyptians distinguished themselves in their acknowledgments on this occasion.” These offerings, then made from Egypt and other nations, were a prelude of a more perfect conversion of the Gentiles to the God of Israel; and there is nothing more certain than that God, after the remarkable overthrow of Sennacherib, was like the clear heat after rain, and like dew in the time of harvest, to the people of Israel. See Bishop Lowth and Vitringa. 18:1-7 God's care for his people; and the increase of the church. - This chapter is one of the most obscure in Scripture, though more of it probably was understood by those for whose use it was first intended, than by us now. Swift messengers are sent by water to a nation marked by Providence, and measured out, trodden under foot. God's people are trampled on; but whoever thinks to swallow them up, finds they are cast down, yet not deserted, not destroyed. All the dwellers on earth must watch the motions of the Divine Providence, and wait upon the directions of the Divine will. God gives assurance to his prophet, and by him to be given to his people. Zion is his rest for ever, and he will look after it. He will suit to their case the comforts and refreshments he provides for them; they will be acceptable, because seasonable. He will reckon with his and their enemies; and as God's people are protected at all seasons of the year, so their enemies are exposed at all seasons. A tribute of praise should be brought to God from all this. What is offered to God, must be offered in the way he has appointed; and we may expect him to meet us where he records his name. Thus shall the nations of the earth be convinced that Jehovah is the God, and Israel is his people, and shall unite in presenting spiritual sacrifices to his glory. Happy are those who take warning by his judgment on others, and hasten to join him and his people. Whatever land or people may be intended, we are here taught not to think that God takes no care of his church, and has no respect to the affairs of men, because he permits the wicked to triumph for a season. He has wise reasons for so doing, which we cannot now understand, but which will appear at the great day of his coming, when he will bring every work into judgment, and reward every man according to his works.In that time - When shall thus be disconcerted, and their armies be overthrown.

Shall the present be brought... - The word 'present' (שׁי shay) denotes a gift, and is found only in the phrase 'to bring gifts,' or 'presents' Psalm 68:30; Psalm 76:11. It means here evidently a tribute, or an offering to Yahweh as the only true God; and possibly may mean that the people would be converted to him, and embrace the true religion.

Of a people ... - From a people. The description which follows is the same precisely as in Isaiah 18:2. Numerous repetitions of this kind will be recollected by the classic reader in the "Iliad."

To the place of the name ... - The place where Yahweh is worshipped, that is, Jerusalem (compare the notes at Isaiah 1:8-9). We have no means of knowing with certainty when or how this prophecy was fulfilled. That the Jewish religion spread into Upper Egypt, and that the Christian religion was afterward established there, there can be no doubt. The Jews were scattered into nearly every nation, and probably many of this people became proselytes, and went with them to Jerusalem to worship (see Acts 2:10; Acts 8:27). 'The Abyssinian annals represent the country as converted to Judaism several centuries before the Christian era; and it certainly retains many appearances bearing the stamp of that faith. In the fourth century, the nation was converted to Christianity by the efforts of Frumentius, an Egyptian, who raised himself to high favor at court. Abyssinia remained impenetrable to the arms or the creed of the followers of Mahomet, and, affording shelter to the refugees from Egypt and Arabia, it became more decidedly Christian.' 'The Abyssinians profess the same form of Christianity with the Copts of Egypt, and even own the supremacy of the patriarch at Cairo. They combine with their Christian profession many Judaical observances, such as circumcision, abstinence from meats, and the observance of Saturday as well as Sunday as a Sabbath.' ("Encyc. of Geography," vol. ii. pp. 585, 588.) in these facts - in the prevalence of the true religion there in former periods, the prophecy may be regarded as having been in part fulfilled. Still, as is the case with a large portion of the prophecies of Isaiah, we must regard this as having reference to a period of greater light and truth than has yet existed there; and as destined to receive a more complete fulfillment when all lands shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord.

7. present … people scattered and peeled—For the right rendering, see on [715]Isa 18:2. The repetition of epithets enhances the honor paid to Jehovah by so mighty a nation. The Ethiopians, wonder-struck at such an interposition of Jehovah in behalf of His people, shall send gifts to Jerusalem in His honor (Isa 16:1; Ps 68:31; 72:10). Thus translate: "a present … from a people." Or translate, as English Version; "the present" will mean "the people" of Ethiopia converted to God (Ro 15:16). Horsley takes the people converted to Jehovah, as the Jews in the latter days.

place of the name—where Jehovah peculiarly manifests His glory; Ac 2:10 and 8:27 show how worshippers came up to Jerusalem from Egypt" and "Ethiopia." Frumentius, an Egyptian, in the fourth century, converted Abyssinia to Christianity; and a Christian church, under an abuna or bishop, still flourishes there. The full accomplishment is probably still future.

In that day; which is to be taken largely and indefinitely, as it is frequently in the prophets, as we have already seen, and shall more fully see hereafter. At or after that time, when the judgment threatened in the foregoing verses shall be fully and completely executed, whereby that people will be awakened to repentance.

A people; the people of whom I am speaking shall present and offer themselves and their sacrifices unto the true God. He speaks of their conversion to God and Christ by the preaching of the gospel; the accomplishment of which promise is recorded in the histories of the church. In that time shall the present be brought unto the Lord of hosts,.... Not exactly at the time when this destruction should be, but some time after, even in Gospel times; for to them this part of the prophecy refers:

of a people scattered and peeled; this explains what the present is, that shall be brought to the Lord; it is a people, and therefore not the spoils of Sennacherib's army, as some interpret it; nor yet the people of the Jews, that shall be brought by the Gentiles out of all nations in the latter day, as an offering to the Lord, as Aben Ezra and Kimchi; see Isaiah 11:11 (p); but the Ethiopians or Egyptians, described Isaiah 18:2 as here, who, being converted, shall stretch out their hands to God, submit unto him, and present themselves soul and body as an acceptable sacrifice unto him; when these prophecies in Psalm 68:31 shall be fulfilled, and which began to be in the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch, Acts 8:27 and of which there were other instances in the times of the apostles, and in following ages:

and from a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; that is, some of the people, not all of them; the same people are designed as before, only this Hebraism is used, to show a distinction among them:

a nation meted out, and trodden under foot, whose land the rivers have spoiled; these descriptive characters, with those in the preceding clauses, are retained, to show that the same people are here meant as in Isaiah 18:2 and to magnify the riches of God's grace, in the conversion of a people to whom such characters belonged; which show that it was not owing to themselves, or any deserts of theirs, but to the free favour and good will of God:

to the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, the mount Zion; hither the present was to be brought, and here the persons to present themselves to the Lord, even in the mount Zion, the church of God; where the name of the Lord is named and called upon, his word is preached, his ordinances are administered, and where he dwells, and grants his presence.

(p) So Manasseh ben Israel, Spes. Israelis, sect. 17. p. 57.

In that time shall the {k} present be brought to the LORD of hosts of a people scattered and stripped, and from a people terrible from their beginning to this time; a nation measured by line and trodden under foot, whose land the rivers have spoiled, to the place of the name of the LORD of hosts, the mount Zion.

(k) Meaning that God will pity his Church, and receive that little remnant as an offering to himself.

7. Ethiopia shall then pay homage to Jehovah at Mount Zion, the earthly seat of His sovereignty.

For the present read a present. The word is rare, occurring again only in Psalm 68:29; Psalm 76:11, in both passages coupled with the same poetic word as is here used for “brought.”

of a people] Read from as in the next clause. The idea meant to be conveyed by the E.V. might be justified by an appeal to ch. Isaiah 45:14, but it is far more likely that the preposition has been accidentally omitted in the Hebr. text.

the place of the name of Lord] See 1 Kings 8:17; Deuteronomy 12:5; Deuteronomy 12:11.

For other anticipations of the conversion of Ethiopia, cf. ch. Isaiah 45:14; Zephaniah 3:10; Psalm 68:31; Psalm 87:4.Verse 7. - In that time shall the present be brought; rather, a present. It would not be at all improbable that Tirkakah should, after the destruction of Sennacherib's army, send a gift to the temple of the Jews, either as a recognition of the miracle as wrought by Jehovah, or simply as a thank offering. Necho sent the armor in which he had fought at Megiddo to the temple of Apollo at Branchidae, near Miletus, as a thank offering (Herod., 2:159). We have, however, no historical record of Tirkakah's present as sent. Of a people; rather, from a people (compare the next clause, which supplies the ellipse of the preposition). (For the rest of the verse, see notes on ver. 2.)

The prophecy commences with hoi, which never signifies heus, but always vae (woe). Here, however, it differs from Isaiah 17:12, and is an expression of compassion (cf., Isaiah 55:1; Zechariah 2:10) rather than of anger; for the fact that the mighty Ethiopia is oppressed by the still mightier Asshur, is a humiliation which Jehovah has prepared for the former. Isaiah 18:1, Isaiah 18:2: "Woe to the land of the whirring of wings, which is beyond the rivers of Cush, that sends ambassadors into the sea and in boats of papyrus over the face of the waters." The land of Cush commences, according to Ezekiel 29:10 (cf., Isaiah 30:6), where Upper Egypt ends. The Sevēneh (Aswân), mentioned by Ezekiel, is the boundary-point at which the Nile enters Mizraim proper, and which is still a depot for goods coming from the south down the Nile. The naharē-Cush (rivers of Cush) are chiefly those that surround the Cushite Seba (Genesis 10:7). This is the name given to the present Sennr, the Meroitic island which is enclosed between the White and Blue Nile (the Astapos of Ptolemy, or the present Bahr el-Abyad, and the Astaboras of Ptolemy, or the present Bahr el-Azrak). According to the latest researches, more especially those of Speke, the White Nile, which takes its rise in the Lake of Nyanza, is the chief source of the Nile. The latter, and the Blue Nile, whose confluence (makran) with it takes place in lat. 15 25, are fed by many larger or smaller tributary streams (as well as mountain torrents); the Blue Nile even more than the Nile proper. And this abundance of water in the land to the south of Sevēnēh, and still farther south beyond Seba (or Mero), might very well have been known to the prophet as a general fact. The land "beyond the rivers of Cush" is the land bounded by the sources of the Nile, i.e., (including Ethiopia itself in the stricter sense of the word) the south land under Ethiopian rule that lay still deeper in the heart of the country, the land of its African auxiliary tribes, whose names (which probably include the later Nubians and Abyssinians), as given in 2 Chronicles 12:3; Nahum 3:9; Ezekiel 30:5; Jeremiah 46:9, suppose a minuteness of information which has not yet been attained by modern research. To this Ethiopia, which is designated by its farthest limits (compare Zephaniah 3:10, where Wolff, in his book of Judith, erroneously supposes Media to be intended as the Asiatic Cush), the prophets give the strange name of eretz tziltzal cenâp. This has been interpreted as meaning "the land of the wings of an army with clashing arms" by Gesenius and others; but cenâphaim does not occur in this sense, like 'agappim in Ezekiel. Others render it "the land of the noise of waves" (Umbreit); but cenâphaim cannot be used of waters except in such a connection as Isaiah 8:8. Moreover, tziltzal is not a fitting onomatopoetic word either for the clashing of arms or the noise of waves. Others, again, render it "the land of the double shadow" (Grotius, Vitringa, Knobel, and others); but, however appropriate this epithet might be to Ethiopia as a tropical land, it is very hazardous to take the word in a sense which is not sustained by the usage of the language; and the same objection may be brought against Luzzatto's "land of the far-shadowing defence." Shelling has also suggested another objection - namely, that the shadow thrown even in tropical lands is not a double one, falling northwards and southwards at the same time, and therefore that it cannot be figuratively described as double-winged. Tziltzal cenâphaim is the buzzing of the wings of insects, with which Egypt and Ethiopia swarmed on account of the climate and the abundance of water: צלצל, constr. צלצל, tinnitus, stridor, a primary meaning from which the other three meanings of the word-cymbal, harpoon (a whirring dart), and grasshopper

(Note: Schrring supposes tziltzal to be the scarabaeus sacer (Linn.); but it would be much more natural, if any particular animal is intended, to think of the tzaltzalya, as it is called in the language of the Gallas, the tzetze in the Betschuana language, the most dreaded diptera of the interior of Africa, a species of glossina which attacks all the larger mammalia (though not men). Vid., Hartmann, Naturgeschichtlich-medic. Skizze der Nillnder, Abth. i. p. 205.)

- are derived. In Isaiah 7:18 the forces of Egypt are called "the fly from the end of the rivers of Egypt." Here Egypt and Ethiopia are called the land of the whirring of wings, inasmuch as the prophet had in his mind, under the designation of swarms of insects, the motley swarms of different people included in this great kingdom that were so fabulously strange to an Asiatic. Within this great kingdom messengers were now passing to and fro upon its great waters in boats of papyrus (on gōme, Copt. ‛gōme, Talm. gâmi, see at Job 8:11), Greek βαρίδες παπύριναι (βαρίς, from the Egyptian bari, bali, a barque). In such vessels as these, and with Egyptian tackle, they went as far as the remote island of Taprobane. The boats were made to clap together (pilcatiles), so as to be carried past the cataracts (Parthey on Plutarch. de Iside, pp. 198-9). And it is to these messengers in their paper boats that the appeal of the prophet is addressed.

He sends them home; and what they are to say to their own people is generalized into an announcement to the whole earth. "Go, swift messengers, to the people stretched out and polished, to the terrible people far away on the other side, to the nation of command upon command and treading down, whose land rivers cut through. All ye possessors of the globe and inhabitants of the earth, when a banner rises on the mountains, look ye; and when they blow the trumpets, hearken!" We learn from what follows to what it is that the attention of Ethiopia and all the nations of the earth is directed: it is the destruction of Asshur by Jehovah. They are to attend, when they observe the two signals, the banner and the trumpet-blast; these are decisive moments. Because Jehovah was about to deliver the world from the conquering might of Assyria, against which the Ethiopian kingdom was now summoning all the means of self-defence, the prophet sends the messengers home. Their own people, to which he sends them home, are elaborately described. They are memusshâk, stretched out, i.e., very tall (lxx ἔθνος μετέωρον), just as the Sabaeans are said to have been in Isaiah 45:14. They are also mōrât equals memorât (Ges. 52, Anm. 6), smoothed, politus, i.e., either not disfigured by an ugly growth of hair, or else, without any reference to depilation, but rather with reference to the bronze colour of their skin, smooth and shining with healthy freshness. The description which Herodotus gives of the Ethiopians, μέγιστοι καὶ κάλλιστοι ἀνθρώπων πάντων (iii. 20), quite answers to these first two predicates. They are still further described, with reference to the wide extent of their kingdom, which reached to the remotest south, as "the terrible nation והלאה מן־הוּא," i.e., from this point, where the prophet meets with the messengers, farther and farther off (compare 1 Samuel 20:21-22, but not 1 Samuel 18:9, where the expression has a chronological meaning, which would be less suitable here, where everything is so pictorial, and which is also to be rejected, because מן־הוּא cannot be equivalent to הוּא מאשׁר; cf., Nahum 2:9). We may see from Isaiah 28:10, Isaiah 28:13, what kâv (kăv, with connecting accusatives and before makkeph), a measuring or levelling line, signifies, when used by the prophet with the reduplication which he employs here: it is a people of "command upon command," - that is to say, a commanding nation; (according to Ewald, Knobel, and others, kâv is equivalent to the Arabic kūwe, strength, a nation of double or gigantic strength.) "A people of treading down" (sc., of others; mebūsah is a second genitive to goi), i.e., one which subdues and tramples down wherever it appears. These are all distinctive predicates - a nation of imposing grandeur, a ruling and conquering nation. The last predicate extols its fertile land. בּזא we take not in the sense of diripere, or as equivalent to bâzaz, like מאס, to melt, equivalent to mâsas, but in the sense of findere, i.e., as equivalent to בזע, like גּמא, to sip equals גּמע. For it is no praise to say that a land is scoured out, or washed away, by rivers. Bttcher, who is wrong in describing this chapter as "perhaps the most difficult in the whole of the Old Testament," very aptly compares with it the expression used by Herodotus (ii. 108), κατετμήθη ἡ Αἴγυπτος. But why this strange elaboration instead of the simple name? There is a divine irony in the fact that a nation so great and glorious, and (though not without reason, considering its natural gifts) so full of self-consciousness, should be thrown into such violent agitation in the prospect of the danger that threatened it, and should be making such strenuous exertions to avert that danger, when Jehovah the God of Israel was about to destroy the threatening power itself in a night, and consequently all the care and trouble of Ethiopia were utterly needless.

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