Isaiah 19:4
And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, said the Lord, the LORD of hosts.
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(4) Into the hand of a cruel lord.—The later history of Egypt presents so many pictures of oppressive government, that it is hard to say to which of them the picture thus drawn bears most resemblance. Sargon, or Esarhaddon, or Psammetichus, who became king of Egypt on the breaking up of the dodecarchy, or Nebuchadnezzar, or Cambyses, has, each in his turn, been identified as presenting the features of the “cruel lord.”

Isaiah 19:4. The Egyptians will I give into the hand of a cruel lord, &c. — This is the second calamity here threatened, and the most essential part of the prophecy; and “it may with great truth and propriety be understood of Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians, whose dominion was very grievous to the conquered nations: but with the greatest propriety and justice may be applied to the Persians, and especially to Cambyses and Ochus; one of whom put the yoke upon the neck of the Egyptians, and the other riveted it there, and who are both branded in history for cruel tyrants and monsters of men.” — Bishop Newton.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 Egyptians - The Egyptian nation; the entire people, though divided into factions and contending with each other.

Will I give over - Margin, 'Shut up.' The Hebrew word (סכר sākar) usually has the sense of shutting up, or closing. Here it means that these contentions would be "closed" or concluded by their being delivered to of a single master. The Septuagint renders it, Παραδώσω Paradōsō - 'I will surrender.'

Into the hands of a cruel lord - Hebrew, 'Lords of cruelty, or severity.' The word rendered 'lord,' meaning master, is in the Hebrew in the plural number (אדנים 'ădônı̂y). It is, however, generally supposed that it is pluralis excellentiae - denoting majesty and dignity, and applicable to a "single" monarch. The connection requires this, for the state here described would be different from that where "many" rule, and it seems to suppose that "one" should succeed to the many who had been contending. In the parallel member, also, a name in the singular number is used - 'a fierce king;' and as this evidently denotes the same, it follows that the word here is used to denote a single monarch. The plural form is often thus used in the Hebrew (see Psalm 7:10; Ezekiel 29:3; Hosea 12:1). God here claims jurisdiction over the nation, and says that "he" will do it - a most striking illustration of the power which he asserts over contending people to deliver them to whomsoever he will.

Dr. Newton supposes that this was Nebuchadnezzar, or more properly Cambyses, by whom Egypt was made subject to the authority of Persia, and who was eminently a cruel man, a madman. But the more probable interpretation is that which refers it to Psammetichus. twelve kings were in contention, of whom he was one. He called in the aid of the Arabians, the pirates of Caria and Iona (Herodot. ii. 152; see the Analysis of the chapter; Diod. i. 66). This was in the twentieth year of the reign of Manasseh. Psammetichus reigned fifty-four years and was succeeded by Nechus his son, called in Scripture Pharaoh-Necho, and often mentioned under that name. Psammetichus, during a considerable part of his reign, was engaged in wars with Assyria and Palestine. He is here called a 'cruel lord;' that is, an oppressive monarch, probably because he secured the kingdom by bringing in to his aid foreign mercenaries - robbers and pirates, and because his wars made his government oppressive and burdensome.

A fierce king - Hebrew, 'A king of strength' - a description particularly applicable to one who, like Psammetichus, had subdued eleven rivals, and who had obtained the kingdom by conquest.

4. cruel lord—"Sargon," in Hebrew it is lords; but plural is often used to express greatness, where, one alone is meant (Ge 39:2). The parallel word "king" (singular) proves it. Newton makes the general reference to be to Nebuchadnezzar, and a particular reference to Cambyses, son of Cyrus (who killed the Egyptian god, Apis), and Ochus, Persian conquerors of Egypt, noted for their "fierce cruelty." Gesenius refers it to Psammetichus, who had brought into Egypt Greek and other foreign mercenaries to subdue the other eleven princes of the dodecarchy. A fierce king; either,

1. The king of Assyria or Chaldea; or,

2. Those twelve petty kings, the singular number being put for the plural; or,

3. Psammetichus, who being at first one of those twelve kings, waged war with the rest, and subdued them, and conquered all the land of Egypt, and ruled it with rigour. And the Egyptians will I give over into the hands of a cruel lord,.... Not of Sennacherib king of Assyria, which way go many interpreters, both Christian and Jewish, as Aben Ezra, Jarchi, and Kimchi; nor of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, as in Jeremiah 46:25 but either of the twelve tyrants that rose up after the death of Sethon above mentioned; for the word is in the plural number, "lords", though the adjective rendered "cruel" is singular; or else Psammiticus, the father of Pharaohnecho, that slew Josiah; and who conquered the other eleven tyrants, and ruled alone, for the space of fifty four years, with great rigour; and the same is designed in the next clause:

and a fierce king shall rule over them; it is reported of Psammiticus, that he gave such offence to his subjects, that two hundred thousand of his soldiers left him, and went into Ethiopia (a). Vitringa interprets this of the Persian emperors, into whose hands Egypt fell, as Cambyses and Ochus; and who, according to historians, were very cruel princes. That there might be no doubt of the sure and certain accomplishment of this prophecy, it is added,

saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts; of the armies above and below; and who does what he pleases among the kings and kingdoms of the earth.

(a) See Raleigh's History of the World, B. 2. c. 27. sect. 3. p. 357.

And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts.
4. R.V. And I will give over (lit. “shut up”) the Egyptians into the hand of a cruel (“hard”) lord (in Hebr. plur. of majesty), &c. The words suggest a foreign ruler and are quite applicable to any Assyrian monarch likely to undertake the conquest of Egypt. Esarhaddon in 672 and again Asshurbanipal in 662 ravaged the country as far as Thebes; the Empire was broken up into twenty petty principalities, and all attempts at revolt were sternly suppressed until 645, when Psammetichus, one of the native princes, succeeded in shaking off the Assyrian yoke and uniting Egypt under his own sway.

the Lord, the Lord of hosts] here, as always, in confirmation of a threat. See on Isaiah 1:24.Verse 4. - The Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord. It has been observed above that Piankhi will not answer to this description. It will, however, well suit Esarhaddon. Esarhaddon, soon after his accession, cut off the heads of Abdi-Milkut, King of Sidon, and of Sanduarri, King of Kundi, and hung them round the necks of two of their chief officers (G. Smith, 'Eponym Canon,' pp. 137-139). In an expedition which he made into Arabia, he slew eight of the sovereigns, two of them being women ('Records of the Past,' vol. 3. pp. 106, 107). On conquering Egypt he treated it with extreme severity. Not only did he divide up the country into twenty governments, but he changed the names of the towns, and assigned to his twenty governors, as their main duty, that they were "to slay, plunder, and spoil" their subjects (G. Smith, 'History of Asshur-bani-pal,' p. 37, 1. 7; comp. p. 16, 1. 7). He certainly well deserved the appellations of "a cruel lord," "a fierce king." The prophet knows for certain that the messengers may be home and announce this act of Jehovah to their own people and to all the world. "For thus hath Jehovah spoken to me: I will be still, and will observe upon my throne during clear weather in sunshine, during a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest. For before the harvest, when the blossom falls off, and the fruit becomes the ripening grape: then will He cut off the branches with pruning-hooks; and the tendrils He removes, breaks off. They are left altogether to the birds of prey on the mountains, and to the cattle of the land; and the birds of prey summer thereon, and all the cattle of the land will winter thereon." The prophecy explains itself here, as is very frequently the case, especially with Isaiah; for the literal words of v. 6 show us unquestionably what it is that Jehovah will allow to develop itself so prosperously under favourable circumstances, and without any interposition on His part, until He suddenly and violently puts an end to the whole, must as it is approaching perfect maturity. It is the might of Assyria. Jehovah quietly looks on from the heavenly seat of His glorious presence, without disturbing the course of the thing intended. This quietness, however, is not negligence, but, as the hortative expressions show, a well-considered resolution. The two Caphs in v. 4 are not comparative, but indicate the time. He remains quiet whilst there is clear weather with sunshine (עלי indicating continuance, as in Jeremiah 8:18; 1 Samuel 14:32), and whilst there is a dew-cloud in the midst of that warmth, which is so favourable for the harvest, by causing the plants that have been thoroughly heated in the day and refreshed at night by the dew, to shoot up and ripen with rapidity and luxuriance. The plant thought of, as v. 5 clearly shows, is the vine. By liphnē kâtzir (before the harvest) we are either to understand the period just before the wheat-harvest, which coincides with the flowering of the grape; or, since Isaiah uses kâtzir for bâzri in Isaiah 16:9, the time at the close of the summer, immediately preceding the vintage. Here again the Caph indicates the time. When the blossoming is over, so that the flower fades away, and the fruit that has set becomes a ripening grape (boser, as in Job 15:33, not in the sense of labruscum, but of omphax; and gâmal, maturescere, as in Numbers 17:8, maturare), He cuts off the branches (zalzalilm, from zilzēl, to swing to and fro; compare the Arabic dâliye, a vine-branch, from dalâ, to hang long and loose) upon which the nearly ripened grapes are hanging, and removes or nips off

(Note: התז equals התז with a pausal sharpening of the tzere, which is lengthened by the tone, from tâzaz or tı̄z in post-biblical Hebrew, to knock off, knock to pieces, or weaken (compare tâshash). On this change of vowels in pause, see at Genesis 17:14; and compare Olshausen, 91, d. For an example of the post-biblical use of the word, vid., b. Sanhedrin 102a, "like two sticks hammattı̄zōth," i.e., one of which "hits the other in two" (hittiz, apparently from tūz, or tiz, like hinnı̄ach from nuach).)

the tendrils (netishoth, as in Jeremiah 5:10, from nâtash, to stretch far out; niphal, to twist about a long way, Isaiah 16:8, compare Jeremiah 48:32); an intentional asyndeton with a pictorial sound. The words of Jehovah concerning Himself have here passed imperceptibly into words of the prophet concerning Jehovah. The ripening grapes, as Isaiah 18:6 now explains, are the Assyrians, who were not far from the summit of their power; the fruit-branches that are cut off and nipped in pieces are their corpses, which are now through both summer and winter the food of swarms of summer birds, as well as of beasts of prey that remain the whole winter through. This is the act of divine judgment, to which the approaching exaltation of the banner, and the approaching blast of trumpets, is to call the attention of the people of Ethiopia.

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