That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)To strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh.—Literally, the fortress of Pharaoh, used as the symbol of his kingdom: This, then, was the course into which even Hezekiah had been led or driven, and it had been done without consulting Isaiah as the recognised prophet of Jehovah. For the “shadow of Egypt” see Note on Isaiah 18:1.Isaiah 30:4. The journey to Egypt from Palestine is always represented as going down Genesis 12:10; Genesis 42:3; Genesis 43:15; Numbers 20:15; Deuteronomy 10:22.
To strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh - To form an alliance with Pharaoh, that thus they might be able to repel the threatened invasion. Pharaoh was the general name of the kings of Egypt, in the same manner as Caesar was the common name of the emperors of Rome.
To trust in the shadow of Egypt - A 'shadow' (צל tsêl) is an emblem of protection and defense, as a shade is a protection from the burning rays of the sun (see the note at Isaiah 4:6).
Egypt—See on Isa 19:1; Isa 20:1.
Pharaoh—the generic name of the kings of Egypt, as Cæsar was at Rome. The word in Egyptian means "king" [Josephus, Antiquities, 8.6,2]. Phra, "the sun," was the hieroglyphic symbol and title of the king.
shadow—image from shelter against heat: protection (Ps 121:5, 6).That walk to go down into Egypt; that send ambassadors to Egypt for succour, as we read, Isaiah 30:4, which the Jews were forward to do upon all occasions, and did now upon the invasion of the king of Assyria, as is evident from Isaiah 20:5,6, and did the like against the king of Babylon, Jeremiah 37:7 Ezekiel 17:15.
Have not asked at my mouth; either by the priests or prophets, as they were to do in weighty cases; of which see Numbers 27:21 Joshua 9:14 1 Samuel 23:9,10 1 Kings 22:7 Jeremiah 21:2 42:2,20; or by studying my word, which plainly directs them to another course, and forbids them this practice.
In the shadow; in their power (as it is in the foregoing clause) and protection, which is oft signified by the shadow, as Judges 9:15 Psalm 17:8 91:1,4. 2 Kings 17:4. Jerom to the times of Jeremiah, to the history in his prophecy, Jeremiah 41:17 and others to Zedekiah. Kimchi thinks it respects the time of Ahaz, though there is no account, either in the books of Kings or Chronicles, of sending then to Egypt for help; or else to the times of Hezekiah himself; which latter is right, as appears from the insults of Rabshakeh, when Sennacherib's army was before Jerusalem, Isaiah 36:6,
and have not asked at my mouth: or as the Targum,
"the words of my prophets they have not asked;''
they did not inquire of the prophets of the Lord, whether they should go down or not:
to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh; by making an alliance with him, and receiving men and horses from him, to assist them against the Assyrians; this Pharaoh was he whom the Scriptures call So, 2 Kings 17:4 and by other writers, Sevechus and Sethon:
and to trust in the shadow of Egypt; the protection that would afford them, in which they placed their confidence, and thought themselves safe from their other enemy, by having so powerful an ally; but this was but a shadow, as are whatsoever men trust in short of the Lord himself, be they riches or righteousness, or any creature or creature enjoyment.That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)2. and have not asked at my mouth] “have not consulted my prophet” (for the expression cf. Joshua 9:14; Genesis 24:57).
to strengthen themselves … Egypt] Rather: to take refuge in the refuge of Pharaoh, and to hide in the shadow of Egypt.Verse 2. - That walk; or, are on their way (comp. Isaiah 31:1). Either the Jewish ambassadors have already started, or the anticipatory vision of the prophet sees them as if starting. In the history (2 Kings 18:13-37; Isaiah 36:1-22) it is not expressly said that Hezekiah made application to Egypt for aid; but the reproaches of Rabshakeh (2 Kings 18:21, 24) would be pointless if he had not done so. Have not asked at my mouth. As they ought to have done (see Numbers 27:21; Judges 1:1; Judges 20:18; 1 Samuel 23:2; 1 Kings 22:7, etc.). To strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh. It is very uncertain who is the "Pharaoh" here intended. The supreme power over Egypt was probably, at the time, in the hands of Tirkakah (2 Kings 19:9); but Lower Egypt seems to have been ruled by various princes, the chief of whom was Shabatok, and any one of these may have been regarded by Isaiah as a "Pharaoh." To trust in the shadow of Egypt. Trust in the "shadow of God" was an expression very familiar to the Jews (see Psalm 17:8; Psalm 36:7; Psalm 63:7; Psalm 91:1; Isaiah 25:4; Isaiah 32:2). To "trust in the shadow of Egypt" was to put Egypt in the place of God. Isaiah 29:17; probably a proverb transposed into a more literary style. What is now forest becomes ennobled into garden ground; and what is garden ground becomes in general estimation a forest (לכרמל, ליער, although we should rather expect ל, just as in Isaiah 32:15). These emblems are explained in Isaiah 29:18. The people that are now blind and deaf, so far as the word of Jehovah is concerned, are changed into a people with open ears and seeing eyes. Scripture words, like those which the prophet now holds before the people so unsuccessfully, are heard by those who have been deaf. The unfettered sight of those who have been blind pierces through the hitherto surrounding darkness. The heirs of the new future thus transformed are the anâvı̄m ("meek") and the 'ebhyōnı̄m ("poor"). אדם (the antithesis of אנשׁהים, e.g., Isaiah 29:13) heightens the representation of lowliness; the combination is a superlative one, as in הצאן צעירי, Jeremiah 49:20, and הצאן עניי in Zechariah 11:7 (cf., חיות פריץ in Isaiah 35:9): needy men who present a glaring contrast to, and stand out from, the general body of men. Such men will obtain ever increasing joy in Jehovah (yâsaph as in Isaiah 37:31). Such a people of God would take the place of the oppressors (cf., Isaiah 28:12) and scoffers (cf., Isaiah 28:14, Isaiah 28:22), and those who thought evil (shâqad, invigilare, sedulo agere), i.e., the wretched planners, who made a חטא of every one who did not enter into their plans (i.e., who called him a chōtē'; cf., Deuteronomy 24:4; Ecclesiastes 5:5), and went to law with the man who openly opposed them in the gate (Amos 5:10; yeqōshūn, possibly the perf. kal, cf., Jeremiah 50:24; according to the syntax, however, it is the fut. kal of qūsh equals yâqōsh: see at Isaiah 26:16; Ges. 44, Anm. 4), and thrust away the righteous, i.e., forced him away from his just rights (Isaiah 10:2), by tōhū, i.e., accusations and pretences of the utmost worthlessness; for these would all have been swept away. This is the true explanation of the last clause, as given in the Targum, and not "into the desert and desolation," as Knobel and Luzzatto suppose; for with Isaiah tōhū is the synonym for all such words as signify nothingness, groundlessness, and fraud. The prophet no doubt had in his mind, at the time that he uttered these words, the conduct of the people towards himself and his fellow-prophets, and such as were like-minded with them. The charge brought against him of being a conspirator, or a traitor to his country, was a tōhū of this kind. All these conspirators and persecutors Jehovah would clear entirely away.
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