Isaiah 19:17 Commentaries: The land of Judah will become a terror to Egypt; everyone to whom it is mentioned will be in dread of it, because of the purpose of the LORD of hosts which He is purposing against them.
Isaiah 19:17
And the land of Judah shall be a terror to Egypt, every one that makes mention thereof shall be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the LORD of hosts, which he has determined against it.
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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.And the land of Judah - The fear and consternation of Egypt shall be increased when they learn what events are occurring there, and what Yahweh has purposed in regard to it.

Shall be a terror - This cannot be understood to mean that they were in danger from an invasion by the Jews, for at that time they were not at war, and Judah had no power to overrun Egypt. Jarchi and Kimchi suppose that the passage means that the Egyptians would hear what had occurred to the army of Sennacherib on its overthrow, and that they would be alarmed as if a similar fate was about to come upon them. But the more probable interpretation is that which refers it to the "invasion" of Judah by Sennacherib. The Egyptians would know of that. Indeed, the leading design of Sennacherib was to invade Egypt, and Judah and Jerusalem were to be destroyed only "in the way" to Egypt. And when the Egyptians heard of the great preparations of Sennacherib, and of his advance upon Judah (see Isaiah 10:28-31), and knew that his design was to invade them, 'the land of Judah' would be 'a terror,' because they apprehended that he would make a rapid descent upon them. Vitringa, however, supposes that the sense is, that the Egyptians in their calamities would remember the prophecies of Jeremiah and others, of which they had heard, respecting their punishment; that they would remember that the prophecies respecting Judah had been fulfilled, and that thus Judah would be a terror to them "because" those predictions had come out of Judah. This is plausible, and it may be the correct explanation.

Which he hath determined against it - Either against Judah, or Egypt. The Hebrew will bear either. It may mean that they were alarmed at the counsel which had been formed by Yahweh against Judah, and which was apparently about to be executed by the invasion of Sennacherib, and that thus they feared an invasion themselves, or that they learned that a purpose of destruction was formed by Yahweh against themselves, and that Judah became thus an object of terror, because the prophecies which were spoken there were certain of being fulfilled. The latter is the interpretation given by Vitringa, and perhaps is the moss probable.

17. Judah … terror unto Egypt—not by itself: but at this time Hezekiah was the active subordinate ally of Assyria in its invasion of Egypt under Sargon. Similarly to the alliance of Judah with Assyria here is 2Ki 23:29, where Josiah takes the field against Pharaoh-nechoh of Egypt, probably as ally of Assyria against Egypt [G. V. Smith]. Vitringa explains it that Egypt in its calamities would remember that prophets of Judah had foretold them, and so Judah would be "a terror unto Egypt."

thereof—of Judah.


The land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt; either,

1. Because of Judah’s calamities and desolations; for Judah was their bulwark against the Assyrians and Babylonians; and when this bulwark was removed, the Egyptians, their neighbours and confederates, had just cause to fear. Or,

2. Because of their manifold both former and later injuries against Judah, for which they now apprehend that God is calling them to an account; which interpretation seems to be favoured by the following words; for their fear of mentioning Judah’s name seems to have proceeded partly from the sense of their guilt and miscarriages towards Judah, and partly from their apprehensions and experience of the irresistible power and justice of the God of Judah, whom they had provoked, and who was now marching to plead his own and Judah’s cause against them. Compare Jeremiah 23:34, &c.

Which he hath determined; because God is now about to execute his appointed judgment.

Against it; against Egypt. And the land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt,.... Not by reason of war breaking out between them, they being in strict alliance with each other at this time; but on account of what they should hear had befallen the land of Judea, and the cities of it, by the invasion of Sennacherib's army, which had taken and laid them waste; the tidings of which being brought them a panic would seize them, fearing that they should next fall a sacrifice to them, because of their alliance with them, and nearness to them, there being only the land of the Philistines between them and Egypt; and Judea being invaded and overrun, the way was open for the Assyrian army into their country; and besides they might reflect, that if the judgments of God fell so heavy on his own people, what might they not expect? and the rather, as they had been the means of drawing them into idolatry, which had provoked the Lord to come out against them; as well as at the remembrance of the injuries they had formerly done them. Jarchi and Kimchi understand this of the fall and ruin of Sennacherib's army, at the siege of Jerusalem, the rumour of which reaching, Egypt would fill them with terror; or as fearing that the hand of the Lord, which was seen in that affair, would be next lifted up against them; which sense is not probable; the former is best. The word used for terror signifies "dancing", such as is not through joy, but fear, see Psalm 107:27,

everyone that maketh mention thereof; or calls to mind, or thinks of it, or speaks of it to others, what was done in the land of Judea by the Assyrian army:

shall be afraid in himself; that this will be their case quickly in Egypt:

because of the counsel of the Lord of hosts, which he hath determined against it; or "upon it", or "concerning it" (x); meaning either Judea, which was known by the prophets he sent unto it; or Egypt, who might conclude this from what happened to a neighbouring nation.

(x) , Sept.; "supra eum", V. L.; "super eum", Pagninus, Montanus.

And the land of Judah shall be a terror {p} to Egypt, every one that maketh mention of it shall be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the LORD of hosts, which he hath determined against it.

(p) Considering that through their opportunity the Jews did not make God their defence but put their trust in them, and were therefore now punished, they will fear least the same light on them.

17. By association of ideas the fear of Jehovah becomes fear of the land which is His dwelling-place. The verse is intelligible only in this connexion.

every one that maketh … himself] Either “every (Egyptian) to whom one mentions it, shall fear,” or “whenever any one mentions it to him (Egypt) he shall fear.”

the counsel of the Lord of hosts] see Isaiah 19:11.Verse 17. - The land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt. In Manasseh's reign Judaea became subject to Assyria (2 Chronicles 33:11; G. Smith, 'Eponym Canon,' p. 139, 1. 13), and had to take part in the hostile expeditions, which both Esarhaddon and his son, Asshurbanipal, conducted against Egypt. Egypt had to keep her eye on Judaea continually, to see when danger was approaching her. If is not likely that Isaiah's prophecies caused the "terror" here spoken cf. Every one that maketh mention thereof shall be afraid; rather, when any one maketh mention thereof, they shall turn to him in fear. The very mention of Judaea by any one shall cause fear, because they will expect to hear that an expedition has started, or is about to start, from that country. Because of the counsel of the Lord of hosts. This is how Isaiah views the Assyrian attacks on Egypt, not how the Egyptians viewed them. The fear felt by the Egyptians was not a religious fear. They simply dreaded the Assyrian armies, and Judaea as the country from which the expeditions seemed to issue. The 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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