Isaiah 19:14
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.
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(14) The Lord hath mingled a perverse spirit.—Better, hath poured a spirit of giddiness. As in 1Kings 22:22; 1Samuel 16:14, the infatuation of the Egyptian rulers is thought of as a judicial blindness. Prostrate or vacillating amid the wrecks of frustrated hopes and plans, they are as the drunkard staggering in his foulness. (Comp. Isaiah 29:9.)

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 Lord hath mingled - The word מסך mâsak, "to mingle," is used commonly to denote the act of mixing spices with wine to make it more intoxicating Proverbs 9:2, Proverbs 9:5; Isaiah 5:22. Here it means that Yahweh has poured out into the midst of them a spirit of giddiness; that is, has produced consternation among them. National commotions and calamities are often thus traced to the overruling providence of God (see the note at Isaiah 19:2; compare Isaiah 10:5-6).

A perverse spirit - Hebrew, 'A spirit of perverseness.' The word rendered 'perverse' is derived from עוה ‛âvâh, "to be crooked or perverted." Here it means, that their counsels were unwise, land such as tended to error and ruin.

To err as a drunken man ... - This is a very striking figure. The whole nation was reeling to and fro, and unsettled in their counsels, as a man is who is so intoxicated as to reel and to vomit. Nothing could more strikingly express, first, the "fact" of their perverted counsels and plans, and secondly, God's deep abhorrence of the course which they were pursuing.

14. err in every work thereof—referring to the anarchy arising from their internal feuds. Horsley translates, "with respect to all His (God's) work"; they misinterpreted God's dealings at every step. "Mingled" contains the same image as "drunken"; as one mixes spices with wine to make it intoxicating (Isa 5:22; Pr 9:2, 5), so Jehovah has poured among them a spirit of giddiness, so that they are as helpless as a "drunken man." Hath mingled; or, hath poured out or given them to drink as appears from their drunkenness, expressed in the end of the verse; which also suits with the Scripture phrase whereby a cup signifies God’s judgments, as Isaiah 51:17,21 22 Jer 25:15.

A perverse spirit, Heb. a spirit of perversities or crookednesses; or, as the LXX. and Chaldee render it, of error or delusion; a disposition of mind very apt to mistake, and to mislead them into foolish and crooked counsels and courses; which God could easily effect, partly by laying occasions of stumbling in their way, and partly by withdrawing or darkening that wisdom which he had infused, by which alone men can discern their way.

In every work thereof; in all their designs and undertakings.

Staggereth in his vomit; when he is so excessively drunk, that he reels to and fro, and vomits up his drink.

The Lord hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof,.... A spirit of error, as the Targum, Septuagint, and Arabic versions; or of giddiness, as the Vulgate Latin: this he mingled in a cup for them, and poured it out, and gave them it to drink; and an intoxicating cup it was, such as men are made drunk with; to which the allusion is, as the last clause of the verse shows; so that the infatuation and want of wisdom in their counsels were from the Lord; who, because of the vain boasts of their wisdom in righteous judgment, gave them up to judicial blindness, stupidity, and folly:

and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof; both in religious and civil affairs, leading them into superstition and idolatry, to which they were of old inclined and addicted, and forming such schemes and projects, and putting them upon such works, as were very detrimental to the nation. Some think this refers to the twelve tyrants, who disagreeing among themselves, being actuated by a perverse spirit, greatly distracted the people; though rather it may refer to the times of Necho, and to his project in cutting a canal for the bringing of the Nile to the Red sea before mentioned, in which he lost several thousands of men without accomplishing it; and of his predecessor, in besieging Ashdod twenty nine years ere he took it (w):

as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit; who is so very drunk, that his head is quite giddy, and cannot walk upright, but staggers as he goes, and vomits as he staggers, and falls down, and is rolled in it, as the Targum; just like such a man were the princes and governors of the Egyptian provinces.

(w) Herodot. l. 2. c. 157, 158.

The LORD hath mingled a {n} perverse spirit in the midst of it: and they have caused Egypt to err in every work of it, as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit.

(n) For the spirit of wisdom he has made them drunken and giddy with the spirit of error.

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.

Verse 14. - The Lord hath mingled a perverse spirit, etc. "Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?" (Amos 3:6). To bring Egypt into so distracted a state, the hand of God had been necessary. He had introduced into the nation "a spirit of perverseness." Those in whom this spirit was had then "led Egypt astray in all her doings." They had made her "like a drunken man," who "staggers" along his path, and slips in "his own vomit." Long-continued success and prosperity produces often a sort of intoxication in a nation. Isaiah 19:14In Isaiah 19:14 and Isaiah 19:15 this state of confusion is more minutely described: "Jehovah hath poured a spirit of giddiness into the heart of Egypt, so that they have led Egypt astray in all its doing, as a drunken man wandereth about in his vomit. And there does not occur of Egypt any work, which worked, of head and tail, palm-branch and rush." The spirit which God pours out (as it also said elsewhere) is not only a spirit of salvation, but also a spirit of judgment. The judicial, penal result which He produces is here called עועים, which is formed from עועו (root עו, to curve), and is either contracted from עועוים, or points back to a supposed singular עועה (vid., Ewald, 158, b). The suffix in b'kribâh points to Egypt. The divine spirit of judgment makes use of the imaginary wisdom of the priestly caste, and thereby plunges the people, as it were, into the giddiness of intoxication. The prophet employs the hiphil התעה to denote the carefully considered actions of the leaders of the nation, and the niphal נתעה to denote the constrained actions of a drunken man, who has lost all self-control. The nation has been so perverted by false counsels and hopes, that it lies there like a drunken man in his own vomit, and gropes and rolls about, without being able to find any way of escape. "No work that worked," i.e., that averted trouble (עשׂה is as emphatic as in Daniel 8:24), was successfully carried out by any one, either by the leaders of the nation or by the common people and their flatterers, either by the upper classes or by the mob.
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