Isaiah 19:16 Commentaries: In that day the Egyptians will become like women, and they will tremble and be in dread because of the waving of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which He is going to wave over them.
Isaiah 19:16
In that day shall Egypt be like to women: and it shall be afraid and fear because of the shaking of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which he shakes over it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) In that day shall Egypt be like unto “women.—This image of panic, terror, and weakness has been natural in the poetry of all countries (comp. Homer, “Achæan women, not Achæan men”), and appears in its strongest form in Jeremiah 48:41. In such a state, even the land of Judah, once so despised, shall become a source of terror.

Isaiah 19:16-17. In that day shall Egypt be like unto women — Feeble and fearful, as it follows. The cowardice and effeminacy of the people in general, joined with their fear and trepidation, are here set forth as a second cause of their calamity; and the reason of this, among other things, is drawn from a sense of the divine judgment. They shall be like women, and fear, because of the shaking of the hand of the Lord, &c. — Because they shall perceive that they do not fight with men only, but with the Lord of hosts, who now lifts up his hand against them, as he did against their forefathers. The land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt — That is, the calamities brought on the land of Judah by the Assyrians and Chaldeans. When the Egyptians shall hear of the ravages and desolations made in Judah, by the army of Sennacherib, and shall afterward be informed of its overthrow by Nebuchadnezzar, they shall be dreadfully afraid of suffering the same calamities themselves, considering both their near neighbourhood to Judah, and their strict alliance therewith. Indeed Judah was their bulwark against the Assyrians and Babylonians, and when this bulwark was removed they had just cause to fear. “The threatening hand of God,” says Bishop Lowth, “will be held out, and shaken over Egypt, from the side of Judea; through which the Assyrians will march to invade it.” Every one that makes mention thereof, &c. — Poole thinks their fear of mentioning Judah’s name might proceed partly from a sense of their guilt and misconduct toward Judah, and an apprehension that the God of Judah was calling them to an account for it. Perhaps, also, as the next clause seems to imply, they might have heard of the prophecies uttered in Judah concerning these very calamities coming upon them.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.In that day shall Egypt be like unto women - Timid; fearful; alarmed. The Hebrews often, by this comparison, express great fear and consternation Jeremiah 51:30; Nahum 3:13.

Because of the shaking of the hand - The shaking of the hand is an indication of threatening or punishment (note, Isaiah 10:32; Isaiah 11:15).

16. like … women—timid and helpless (Jer 51:30; Na 3:13).

shaking of … hand—His judgments by means of the invaders (Isa 10:5, 32; 11:15).

Like unto women; feeble and fearful, as it follows.

Because of the shaking of the hand of the Lord of hosts; because they shall perceive that they do not fight with men only, but with the Lord of hosts, who now lifts up his hand against them, as he did against their forefathers, Exodus 14, the very remembrance whereof is very terrible to them. In that day shall Egypt be like unto women,.... Weak and feeble, as the Targum; fearful and timorous, even their military force; and devoid of wisdom, even their princes and nobles:

and it shall be afraid and fear because of the shaking of the hand of the Lord of hosts, which he shaketh over it: which the Lord may be said to do, when he lifts up his rod, and holds it over a people, and threatens them with ruin and destruction; perhaps this may refer to what was done in Judea by Sennacherib's army, which was an intimation to the Egyptians that their turn was next; and if the shaking of the Lord's hand over a people is so terrible, what must the weight of it be? Some think there is an allusion to Moses's shaking his rod over the Red sea when the Egyptians were drowned, in which the hand or power of the Lord was so visibly seen, and which now might be called to mind. Ben Melech observes, that when one man calls to another, he waves his hand to him to come to him; so here it is as if the Lord waved with his hand to the enemy to come and fight against Egypt, which caused fear and dread.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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.Verse 16. - In that day; or, at that time; i.e. when the Assyrian invasion comes. Shall Egypt be like unto women (comp. Jeremiah 51:30). So Xerxes said of his fighting men at Salamis: "My men have become women" (Herod., 8:88). Because of the shaking of the hand of the Lord (comp. Isaiah 11:15 and Isaiah 30:32). The Egyptians would scarcely recognize Jehovah as the Author of their calamities, but it would none the less be his hand which punished them. The prophet then proceeds to foretell another misfortune which was coming upon Egypt: the Nile dries up, and with this the fertility of the land disappears. "And the waters will dry up from the sea, and the river is parched and dried. And the arms of the river spread a stench; the channels of Matzor become shallow and parched: reed and rush shrivel up. The meadows by the Nile, on the border of the Nile, and every corn-field of the Nile, dries up, is scattered, and disappears. And the fishermen groan, and all who throw draw-nets into the Nile lament, and they that spread out the net upon the face of the waters languish away. And the workers of fine combed flax are confounded, and the weavers of cotton fabrics. And the pillars of the land are ground to powder; all that work for wages are troubled in mind." In Isaiah 19:5 the Nile is called yâm (a sea), just as Homer calls it Oceanus, which, as Diodorus observes, was the name given by the natives to the river (Egypt. oham). The White Nile is called bahr el-abyad (the White Sea), the Blue Nile bahr el-azrak, and the combined waters bahr eṅNil, or, in the language of the Besharn, as here in Isaiah, yām. And in the account of the creation, in Genesis 1, yammim is the collective name for great seas and rivers. But the Nile itself is more like an inland sea than a river, from the point at which the great bodies of water brought down by the Blue Nile and the White Nile, which rises a few weeks later, flow together; partly on account of its great breadth, and partly also because of its remaining stagnant throughout the dry season. It is not till the tropical rains commence that the swelling river begins to flow more rapidly, and the yâm becomes a nâhâr. But when, as is here threatened, the Nile sea and Nile river in Upper Egypt sink together and dry up (nisshethu, niphal either of shâthath equals nâshattu, to set, to grow shallow; or more probably from nâshath, to dry up, since Isaiah 41:17 and Jeremiah 51:30 warrant the assumption that there was such a verb), the mouths (or arms) of the Nile (nehâr), which flow through the Delta, and the many canals (ye'orim), by which the benefits of the overflow are conveyed to the Nile valley, are turned into stinking puddles (האזניחוּ, a hiphil, half substantive half verbal, unparalleled elsewhere,

(Note: It is not unparalleled as a hiph. denom. (compare הצהיר, oil, יצהר, to press, Job 24:11, Talm. התליע, to become worm-eaten, and many others of a similar kind); and as a mixed form (possibly a mixture of two readings, as Gesenius and Bttcher suppose, though it is not necessarily so), the language admitted of much that was strange, more especially in the vulgar tongue, which found its way here and there into written composition.)

signifying to spread a stench; possibly it may have been used in the place of הזניח, from אזנח or אזנח, stinking, to which a different application was given in ordinary use). In all probability it is not without intention that Isaiah uses the expression Mâtzor, inasmuch as he distinguishes Mâzort from Pathros (Isaiah 11:11), i.e., Lower from Upper Egypt (Egyp. sa-het, the low land, and sa-res, the higher land), the two together being Mitzrayim. And ye'orim (by the side of nehâroth) we are warranted in regarding as the name given of the Nile canals. The canal system in Egypt and the system of irrigation are older than the invasion of the Hyksos (vid., Lepsius, in Herzog's Cyclopaedia). On the other hand, ye'ōr in Isaiah 19:7 (where it is written three times plene, as it is also in Isaiah 19:8) is the Egyptian name of the Nile generally (yaro).

(Note: From the fact that aur in old Egyptian means the Nile, we may explain the Φρουορῶ ἤτοι Νεῖλος, with which the Laterculus of Eratosthenes closes.)

It is repeated emphatically three times, like Mitzrayim in Isaiah 19:1. Parallel to mizra‛, but yet different from it, is ערות, from ערה, to be naked or bare, which signifies, like many derivatives of the synonymous word in Arabic, either open spaces, or as here, grassy tracts by the water-side, i.e., meadows. Even the meadows, which lie close to the water-side (pi equals ora, as in Psalm 133:2, not ostium), and all the fields, become so parched, that they blow away like ashes.

Then the three leading sources from which Egypt derived its maintenance all fail: - viz. the fishing; the linen manufacture, which supplied dresses for the priests and bandages for mummies; and the cotton manufacture, by which all who were not priests were supplied with clothes. The Egyptian fishery was very important. In the Berlin Museum there is an Egyptian micmoreth with lead attached. The mode of working the flax by means of serikâh, pectinatio (compare סרוק, wool-combs, Kelim, 12, 2), is shown on the monuments. In the Berlin Museum there are also Egyptian combs of this description with which the flax was carded. The productions of the Egyptian looms were celebrated in antiquity: chōrây, lit., white cloth (singularet. with the old termination ay), is the general name for cotton fabrics, or the different kinds of byssus that were woven there (compare the βυσσίνων ὀθονίων of the Rosetta inscription). All the castes, from the highest to the lowest, are not thrown into agonies of despair. The shâthōth (an epithet that was probably suggested by the thought of shethi, a warp, Syr. 'ashti, to weave, through the natural association of ideas), i.e., the "pillars" of the land (with a suffix relating to Mitzrayim, see at Isaiah 3:8, and construed as a masculine as at Psalm 11:3), were the highest castes, who were the direct supporters of the state edifice; and שׂכר עשׂי cannot mean the citizens engaged in trade, i.e., the middle classes, but such of the people as hired themselves to the employers of labour, and therefore lived upon wages and not upon their own property (שׂכר is used here as in Proverbs 11:18, and not as equivalent to סכר, the dammers-up of the water for the purpose of catching the fish, like סכרין, Kelim, 23, 5).

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