Isaiah 19:13
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.
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(13) The princes of Noph.—Probably, as in the LXX., Noph is the same as Memphis. The name has been derived (1) from Ma-m-pthah (“the house of Pthah,” an Egyptian deity of the Hephæstos, or Yulcan type); or (2), and more correctly, from Men-nepher (“place of the good”). This also was, as in Hosea 9:6 (where we have the form Moph), one of the chief royal cities of Lower Egypt, and the seat of the Ethiopian dynasty then ruling.

Even they that are the stay of the tribes thereof.—Better, the corner-stone of the castes. The word is the same as the “corner” of Zechariah 10:4, the “chief” of Judges 20:2; 1Samuel 14:38, and describes the position of superiority among the Egyptian castes claimed by the priest-rulers of Zoan and Noph.

19:1-17 God shall come into Egypt with his judgments. He will raise up the causes of their destruction from among themselves. When ungodly men escape danger, they are apt to think themselves secure; but evil pursues sinners, and will speedily overtake them, except they repent. The Egyptians will be given over into the hand of one who shall rule them with rigour, as was shortly after fulfilled. The Egyptians were renowned for wisdom and science; yet the Lord would give them up to their own perverse schemes, and to quarrel, till their land would be brought by their contests to become an object of contempt and pity. He renders sinners afraid of those whom they have despised and oppressed; and the Lord of hosts will make the workers of iniquity a terror to themselves, and to each other; and every object around a terror to them.The princes of Zoan - (the note at Isaiah 19:11). This "repetition" is intensive and emphatic, and shows the deep conviction of the prophet of their folly. The design is to show that "all" the counselors on which the Egyptians depended were fools.

The princes of Noph - The Vulgate, the Septuagint, and the Chaldee, render this 'Memphis,' and there is no doubt that this is the city intended. The name Memphis may have easily arisen from Noph. It was written also "Moph," and hence, Memphis. It is called "Menouf" by the Copts and Arabians. According to Plutarch, the name Memphis means "the port of the good." The situation of Memphis has been a subject of considerable dispute, and has afforded matter for long and laborious investigation. Sicard and Shaw fix its site at Djezeh or Ghizeh, opposite to old Cairo. Pococke, D'Anville, Niebuhr, and other writers and travelers, place Memphis more in the direction of Mitraheny, about fifteen miles further south, on the banks of the Nile, at the entrance of the plain of the mummies, at the north of which the pyramids are placed. It was the residence of the ancient kings of Egypt until the time of the Ptolemies, who commonly resided at Alexandria. Memphis retained its splendor until it was conquered by the Arabians, about 641 a.d. At the supposed site of Memphis south of Ghizeh, there are large mounds of rubbish, a colossal statue sunk in the ground, and a few fragments of granite, which remain to test the existence of this renowned capital. In Strabo's time, although partly in ruins, it was yet a populous city, second only to Alexandria. The total disappearance of the ancient edifices of Memphis is easily accounted for by the circumstance, that the materials were employed for the building of adjacent cities. Fostal rose out of the ruins, and when that city was again deserted, these ruins migrated again to the more modern Cairo (see Robinson's "Bib. Researches," vol. i. p. 40).

They have also seduced Egypt - That is, they have by their counsels caused it to err, and have led it into its present embarrassment.

The stay ... - Hebrew, פנה pinnâh - the "corner; that is, those who should have been the support. So the word is used to denote the head or leader of a people in Judges 20:2, Judges 20:14; 1 Samuel 14:38; Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 28:16; Zechariah 10:4.

13. Noph—called also Moph; Greek, Memphis (Ho 9:6); on the western bank of the Nile, capital of Lower Egypt, second only to Thebes in all Egypt: residence of the kings, until the Ptolemies removed to Alexandria; the word means the "port of the good" [Plutarch]. The military caste probably ruled in it: "they also are deceived," in fancying their country secure from Assyrian invasion.

stay of … tribes—rather, "corner-stone of her castes" [Maurer], that is, the princes, the two ruling castes, the priests and the warriors: image from a building which rests mainly on its corner-stones (see on [718]Isa 19:10; Isa 28:16; Ps 118:22; Nu 24:17, Margin; Jud 20:2; 1Sa 14:28, Margin; Zec 10:4).

Noph; another chief city, and one of the king’s seats, so called also Jeremiah 2:16 44:1; called also Moph in the Hebrew text, Hosea 9:6; and by other and later authors, Memphis.

Even they that are the stay, Heb. even the corner, or the corner-stone, which is the chief support of the building. Whereby he may design either,

1. The king; or,

2. Some eminent statesman of that age, upon, whose counsels both king and people depended; or

3. Their chief counsellors, the, singular number being then put collectively, as it is in many other places. The tribes of the provinces, which he calls by a title borrowed from the Hebrews, in whose language he spake and wrote this prophecy.

The princes of Zoan are become fools,.... Or infatuated, in their counsels to Pharaoh, and by giving heed to the magicians and diviners; See Gill on Isaiah 19:11,

the princes of Noph are deceived; called Moph, in Hosea 9:6 where our translation renders it Memphis; and so do the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions here; the Arabic version has it Menphis; the Syriac version Mophis; and the Targum Mephes; the city of Memphis is no doubt intended, which was the chief of the first of the nomes or provinces of Egypt, from whence it was called Memphites: it was the metropolis of upper Egypt, and the seat of their kings and princes; it was built by their first king Menes (t), or Mizraim, and had in it the famous temple of Vulcan; it continues to this day, and goes by the name of Alkair, or Grand Cairo:

they have also seduced Egypt; the princes of the above places, being deceived themselves by the diviners and astrologers, deceived the common people that inhabited the nomes and provinces where they dwelt; it being usual with such to follow their superiors in principle and practice:

even they that are the stay of the tribes thereof; or, "who are the corner of its tribes" (u); meaning the nomes or provinces of Egypt, especially the Tanitic and Memphitic nomes, whose provinces are mentioned; these are called tribes by the prophet, in the language of the Jews, which land were divided into tribes, as the land of Egypt was divided into nomes; and about this time it was divided into twelve kingdoms, as Israel was into twelve tribes: now, the princes of these tribes and kingdoms, who should have been as cornerstones, to which civil magistrates are compared, see Psalm 118:22 the stay and support of the people, and should have kept them right, these led them wrong, into mistakes and errors.

(t) Ib. (Herodot. l. 2.) c. 99. (u) "angulus vel tribuum ejus"; so some in Vatablus.

The princes of Zoan are become fools, the princes of {l} Noph are deceived; they have also seduced Egypt, even they that are the {m} support of its tribes.

(l) Or Memphis, Alexandria, and now called the great Cairo.

(m) The principal upholders of it are the main cause of their destruction.

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).

Verse 13. - The princes of Noph. There are no grounds for changing "Noph" into "Moph." "Noph" is probably "Napata," known as "Nap" in the hieroglyphic inscriptions - the original capital of the Ethiopian kings, and, when Memphis had become their capital, still probably regarded as the second city of the empire. The "princes of Noph" would be Tirhakah's counselors. They have also, etc. Translate, Even they have led Egypt astray, who are the corner-stone of her tribes. Strictly speaking, there were no "tribes" in Egypt, much less "castes," but only classes, marked out by strong lines of demarcation the one from the other. Herodotus gives seven of them (2. 164) - priests, soldiers, herdsmen, swineherds, tradesmen, interpreters, and boatmen. But there were several others also, e.g., agricultural laborers, fishermen, artisans, official employee, etc. Isaiah 19:13The prophet now dwells upon the punishment which falls upon the pillars of the land, and describes it in Isaiah 19:11-13 : "The princes of Zoan become mere fools, the wise counsellors of Pharaoh; readiness in counsel is stupefied. How can ye say to Pharaoh, I am a son of wise men, a son of kings of the olden time? Where are they then, thy wise men? Let them announce to thee, and know what Jehovah of hosts hath determined concerning Egypt. The princes of Zoan have become fools, the princes of Memphis are deceived; and they have led Egypt astray who are the corner-stone of its castes." The two constructives יעצי חכמי do not stand in a subordinate relation, but in a co-ordinate one (see at Psalm 78:9 and Job 20:17; compare also 2 Kings 17:13, Keri), viz., "the wise men, counsellors of Pharaoh,"

(Note: Pharaoh does not mean "the king" (equivalent to the Coptic π-ουρο), but according to Brugsch, "great house" (Upper Egyptian perâa, Lower Egyptian pher-âo; vid., aus dem Orient, i. 36). Lauth refers in confirmation of this to Horapollo, i. 62, ὄφις καὶ οἶκος μέγας ἐν μέσω αὐτοῦ σημαίνει βασιλέα, and explains this Coptic name for a king from that of the Οὐραῖος (βασιλίσκος) upon the head of the king, which was a specifically regal sign.)

so that the second noun is the explanatory permutative of the first. Zoan is the Tanis of primeval times (Numbers 13:22), which was situated on one of the arms through which the Nile flows into the sea (viz., the ostium Taniticum), and was the home from which two dynasties sprang. Noph (per aphaer. equals Menoph, contracted into Moph in Hosea 9:6) is Memphis, probably the seat of the Pharaohs in the time of Joseph, and raised by Psammetichus into the metropolis of the whole kingdom. The village of Mitrahenni still stands upon its ruins, with the Serapeum to the north-west.

(Note: What the lexicons say with reference to Zoan and Noph needs rectifying. Zoan (old Egyptian Zane, with the hieroglyphic of striding legs, Copt. 'Gane) points back to the radical idea of pelli or fugere; and according to the latest researches, to which the Turin papyrus No. 112 has led, it is the same as Αὔαρις (Ἄβαρις), which is said to mean the house of flight (Ha-uare), and was the seat of government under the Hykshōs. But Memphis is not equivalent to Ma-m-ptah, as Champollion assumed (although this city is unquestionably sometimes called Ha-ka-ptah, house of the essential being of Ptah); it is rather equivalent to Men-nefer (with the hieroglyphic of the pyramids), place of the good (see Brugsch, Histoire d'Egypte, i. 17). In the later language it is called pa-nuf or ma-nuf, which has the same meaning (Copt. nufi, good). Hence Moph is the contraction of the name commencing with ma, and Noph the abbreviation of the name commencing with ma or pa by the rejection of the local prefix; for we cannot for a moment think of Nup, which is the second district of Upper Egypt (Brugsch, Geogr. i. 66). Noph is undoubtedly Memphis.)

Consequently princes of Zoan and Memphis are princes of the chief cities of the land, and of the supposed primeval pedigree; probably priest-princes, since the wisdom of the Egyptian priest was of world-wide renown (Herod. ii. 77, 260), and the oldest kings of Egypt sprang from the priestly caste. Even in the time of Hezekiah, when the military caste had long become the ruling one, the priests once more succeeded in raising one of their own number, namely Sethos, to the throne of Sais. These magnates of Egypt, with their wisdom, would be turned into fools by the history of Egypt of the immediate future; and (this is the meaning of the sarcastic "how can ye say") they would no longer trust themselves to boast of their hereditary priestly wisdom, or their royal descent, when giving counsel to Pharaoh. They were the corner-stone of the shebâtim, i.e., of the castes of Egypt (not of the districts or provinces, νομοί); but instead of supporting and defending their people, it is now very evident that they only led them astray. התעוּ, as the Masora on Isaiah 19:15 observes, has no Vav cop.

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