Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Whom the Lord of hosts shall bless . . .—In this tripartite holy alliance Israel is to retain the spiritual supremacy. Egypt, once alien, becomes the people of the Lord. (Comp. Hosea 1:9-10.) Assyria is recognised as the instrument which He has made to do His work (comp. Isaiah 10:15; Isaiah 37:26); but Israel has the proud pre-eminence of being His “inheritance.”
Assyria the work of my hands - This is synonymous with the expression 'my people.' It means that the arrangements by which the true religion would be established among them, were the work of God. Conversion to God is everywhere in the Scriptures spoken of as his work, or creation; see Ephesians 2:10 : 'For we are his workmanship; created in Christ Jesus unto good works' (compare 2 Corinthians 5:17; Psalm 100:3).
Israel mine inheritance - The land and people which is especially my own - a name not unfrequently given to Israel. For a learned examination of the various hypotheses in regard to the fulfillment of this prophecy, see Vitringa. He himself applies it to the times succeeding Alexander the Great. Alexander he regards as the 'saviour' mentioned in Isaiah 19:20; and the establishment of the true religion referred to by the prophet as that which would take place under the Ptolemies. Vitringa has proved - what indeed is known to all who have the slightest knowledge of history that there were large numbers of Jews under the Ptolemies in Egypt, and that multitudes became proselytes to the Jewish faith.
my people—the peculiar designation of Israel, the elect people, here applied to Egypt to express its entire admission to religious privileges (Ro 9:24-26; 1Pe 2:9, 10).
work of my hands—spiritually (Ho 2:23; Eph 2:10).Whom the Lord of hosts shall bless; whom, i.e. which people, to wit, Israel, Egypt, and Assyria, expressed both in the foregoing verse, and in the following clause of this verse; of whom he speaks as of one people, in the singular number, because they are all united into one body and church. Or, For or because (as this particle is taken, 1 Samuel 15:15, and elsewhere) the Lord of hosts shall bless him or them. So this is added as a reason why he said Israel should be a blessing to them all. My people: this title, and those which follow, that were peculiar to the people of Israel, shall now be given to these and all other nations of the world.
saying, blessed be Egypt my people; as they must needs be blessed who are the Lord's covenant people; for he being their covenant God, his blessing is upon them, even life for evermore; they are blessed with all the blessings of the covenant, even all the spiritual blessings which are in Christ; they are secure of his love, and may depend upon his power and protection; they are happy here, and will be so hereafter:
and Assyria the work of my hands; not as creatures only, but new creatures, having the good work of grace wrought in their hearts, of which God is the author; and therefore are called his workmanship, Ephesians 2:10 and who must be blessed, because, by this work of grace upon them, they appear to be the chosen of God, and precious, to be his children, and dear unto him, whom he will not forsake, and who are formed for himself, and for heaven, and happiness:
and Israel mine inheritance; chosen by him to be so, and given to Christ as such; and who must be happy, because, as they are the Lord's inheritance, portion, and peculiar treasure, so he has provided an inheritance for them, incorruptible, undefiled, which fades not away, reserved in the heavens. The Targum interprets all this of Israel, thus,
"blessed be my people, whom I brought out of Egypt; and because they sinned before me, I carried them captive into Assyria; and when they are turned, they are called my people, and mine inheritance, Israel.''Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)25. whom the Lord of hosts shall bless] R.V. for that the Lord of hosts hath blessed him (Israel). A better sense than either is given by the LXX. “(the earth;) which Jehovah … hath blessed.” But the masculine suffix is opposed to this.
my people and the work of my hands are titles elsewhere confined to Israel, but here accorded to Egypt and Assyria, the still dearer epithet mine inheritance being reserved for Israel,—as it were the ancestral estate of the one true God.Verse 25. - Whom the Lord of hosts bless; rather, forasmuch as the Lord of hosts hath blessed him. "Him" must be understood collectively, of the threefold Israel, spread through the three countries, which all partake of the blessing. The three countries are able to be a blessing to the world at large, because God's blessing rests upon them. Egypt my people. Egypt's great work in Jewish times, by which she became a blessing to the world, was her translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, commanded by Egyptian kings, and executed at Alexandria, the Egyptian capital. Neo-Platonism certainly owed much to this source. Stoicism probably something. Assyria the work of my hands. Assyria did no such work as Egypt. Neither the Targum of Onkelos nor the Babylonian Talmud can be compared for a moment with the Septuagint. Still the Mesopotamian Jews were a blessing to their neighbors. They kept alive in the East the notion of one true and spiritual God; they elevated the tone of men's thoughts; they were a perpetual protest against idolatry, with all its horrors. They, no doubt, prepared the way for that acceptance of Christianity by large masses of the population in Syria, Mesopotamia, Babylonia, and even in Persia, of which we have evidence in the ecclesiastical history of the first seven centuries. Israel mine inheritance (comp. Isaiah 47:6; Isaiah 63:17).
Jeremiah 43:13), which were standing there on the spot where Ra was worshipped. "In that day there stands an altar consecrated to Jehovah in the midst of the land of Egypt, and an obelisk near the border of the land consecrated to Jehovah. And a sign and a witness for Jehovah of hosts is this in the land of Egypt: when they cry to Jehovah for oppressors, He will send them a helper and champion, and deliver them." This is the passage of Isaiah (not v. 18) to which Onias IV appealed, when he sought permission of Ptolemaeus Philometor to build a temple of Jehovah in Egypt. He built such a temple in the nomos of Heliopolis, 180 stadia (22 1/2 miles) to the north-east of Memphis (Josephus, Bell. vii. 10, 3), and on the foundation and soil of the ὀχύρωμα in Leontopolis, which was dedicated to Bubastis (Ant. xiii. 3, 1, 2).
(Note: We are acquainted with two cities called Leontopolis, viz., the capital of the nomos called by its name, which was situated between the Busiritic and the Tanitic nomoi; and a second between Herōōn-poils and Magdōlon (see Brugsch, Geogr. i. 262). The Leontopolis of Josephus, however, must have been another, or third. It may possibly have derived its name, as Lauth conjectures, from the fact that the goddess Bast (from which comes Boubastos, House of Bast) was called Pacht when regarded in her destructive character (Todtenbuch, 164, 12). The meaning of the name is "lioness," and, as her many statues show, she was represented with a lion's head. At the same time, the boundaries of the districts fluctuated, and the Heliopolitan Leontopolis of Josephus may have originally belonged to the Bubastic district.)
This temple, which was altogether unlike the temple of Jerusalem in its outward appearance, being built in the form of a castle, and which stood for more than two hundred years (from 160 b.c. to a.d. 71, when it was closed by command of Vespasian), was splendidly furnished and much frequented; but the recognition of it was strongly contested both in Palestine and Egypt. It was really situated "in the midst of the land of Egypt." But it is out of the question to seek in this temple for the fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah, from the simple fact that it was by Jews and for Jews that it was erected. And where, in that case, would the obelisk be, which, as Isaiah prophesies, was to stand on the border of Egypt, i.e., on the side towards the desert and Canaan? The altar was to be "a sign" ('oth) that there were worshippers of Jehovah in Egypt; and the obelisk a "witness" (‛ēd) that Jehovah had proved Himself, to Egypt's salvation, to be the God of the gods of Egypt. And now, if they who erected this place of worship and this monument cried to Jehovah, He would show Himself ready to help them; and they would no longer cry in vain, as they had formerly done to their own idols (Isaiah 19:3). Consequently it is the approaching conversion of the native Egyptians that is here spoken of. The fact that from the Grecian epoch Judaism became a power in Egypt, is certainly not unconnected with this. But we should be able to trace this connection more closely, if we had any information as to the extent to which Judaism had then spread among the natives, which we do know to have been by no means small. The therapeutae described by Philo, which were spread through all the nomoi of Egypt, were of a mixed Egypto-Jewish character (vid., Philo, Opp. ii. p. 474, ed. Mangey). It was a victory on the part of the religion of Jehovah, that Egypt was covered with Jewish synagogues and coenobia even in the age before Christ. And Alexandra was the place where the law of Jehovah was translated into Greek, and thus made accessible to the heathen world, and where the religion of Jehovah created for itself those forms of language and thought, under which it was to become, as Christianity, the religion of the world. And after the introduction of Christianity into the world, there were more than one mazzebah (obelisk) that were met with on the way from Palestine to Egypt, even by the end of the first century, and more than one mizbeach (altar) found in the heart of Egypt itself. The importance of Alexandria and of the monasticism and anachoretism of the peninsula of Sinai and also of Egypt, in connection with the history of the spread of Christianity, is very well known.
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