Isaiah 30:7
For the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose: therefore have I cried concerning this, Their strength is to sit still.
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(7) Concerning this.—Better, it, or her—i.e., Egypt.

Their strength is to sit still.—The Authorised version fairly gives the meaning: “Their boasted strength will be found absolute inaction.” but the words, as Isaiah wrote or spoke them, had a more epigrammatic point—“Rahab, they are sitting still.” He uses the poetical name for Egypt which we find in Isaiah 51:9; Job 26:12; Psalm 87:4; Psalm 89:10, and which conveyed the idea of haughty and inflated arrogance. “Rahab sitting still” was one of those mots which stamp themselves upon a nation’s memory, just as in modern times the Bourbons have been characterised as “learning nothing, forgetting nothing,” or Bismarck’s policy as one of “blood and iron.” It was, so to speak, almost a political caricature.

30:1-7 It was often the fault and folly of the Jews, that when troubled by their neighbours on one side, they sought for succour from others, instead of looking up to God. Nor can we avoid the dreadful consequences of adding sin to sin, but by making the righteousness of Christ our refuge, and seeking for the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. Men have always been prone to lean to their own understandings, but this will end in their shame and misery. They would not trust in God. They took much pains to gain the Egyptians. The riches so spent turned to a bad account. See what dangers men run into who forsake God to follow their carnal confidences. The Creator is the Rock of ages, the creature a broken reed; we cannot expect too little from man, or too much from God. Our strength is to sit still, in humble dependence upon God and his goodness, and quiet submission to his will.For the Egyptians shall help in vain - That is, if they enter into the alliance, they shall not be able to defend you from the invader. The other member of the sentence would seem to imply that they would make promises of aid, and would even boast of being able to deliver them, but that they would fail in their promises.

Therefore have I cried - Therefore have I the prophet cried, that is, I do call her so.

Concerning this - Concerning this country; that is, Egypt. Some have understood this as referring to Jerusalem, but the connection requires us to understand it of Egypt.

Their strength is to sit still - This is evidently designed to be an expressive appellation of Egypt. The word rendered here, without much propriety, 'strength' (רהב râhab) is a proper name of Egypt, and is several times applied to it; Isaiah 51:9 :

Art thou not it that hath cut Rahab

And wounded the dragon?

In this passage there can be no doubt that it refers to Egypt. So in Psalm 87:4; Psalm 89:10 (see the margin). Why it was given to Egypt is unknown, and can only be conjectured. Bochart ("Geog. Sacra," i. 4. 24) supposes that it is derived from the word ῥιβι ribi, which singifies "a pear," and that it was given to the Delta or Lower Egypt on account of its form, as somewhat resembling a pear. But there is not clear evidence that such was the meaning of the word, and there is no reason why we should forsake the usual sense of the Hebrew word. The verb רהב râhab means to urge, press on, attack Proverbs 6:3; to be highspirited, fierce, full of courage; to behave proudly Isaiah 3:5; and has, in most instances, a relation to pride, to arrogance, to boasting Job 9:13; Psalm 40:4. The noun "Rahab" indicates ferocity, haughtiness, boasting, insolence; and the name was doubtless given to Egypt on account of its insolence and pride. It is used here because Egypt would be full of self-confidence, and would boast that she could aid the suppliant Jews, and deliver them from the threatened invasion. The phrase rendered 'to sit still,' is a part of the name which the prophet gave to her. Though she boasted, yet would she sit still; she would be inefficient, and would do nothing; and the whole name, therefore, may be rendered, 'I call her, the blusterer that sitteth still;' that is, 'they are courageous in talking; cowards in acting.' (Taylor)

7. "Egypt is vanity, and to no purpose will they help" [G. V. Smith].

strength—Hebrew, Rabah, a designation for Egypt (Isa 51:9; Ps 87:4), implying her haughty fierceness; translate, "Therefore I call her Arrogance that sitteth still." She who boasted of the help she would give, when it came to the test, sat still (Isa 36:6). English Version agrees with Isa 30:15; Isa 7:4.

Concerning this; concerning this counsel or practice. Or, to her; to Jerusalem or Judah.

Their strength is to sit still; it is safer and better for them to sit quietly at home, seeking to me for help. He seems industriously to use an ambiguous word, Rahab, which signifies both strength, as Job 9:13 Psalm 90:10, and Egypt, as Psalm 87:4 Isaiah 51:9, so called from its singular strength; to intimate that if they did not go to Rahab, Rahab, or what they expected from Rahab or Egypt, which was powerful succour, should come to them.

For the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose,.... Not sending help in time, or such as did no service; though they made a show of help, and attempted to help them, or seemed to do so, yet failed to do it:

therefore have I cried; proclaimed or published, either the Lord by the prophet, or the prophet in the name of the Lord, which is much the same:

concerning this, Their strength is to sit still; either concerning this embassy, that it would have been better for the ambassadors to have spared all their toil, and labour, and strength, in going down to Egypt, and have remained quiet and easy in their own country: or, "I cried, or called, to this (i)", this city of Jerusalem, and the inhabitants of it, and declared to them, that it was best for them quietly to trust in the Lord, and depend upon his protection, and sit still in Jerusalem, and not attempt to flee from thence to Egypt for safety, and they should see the salvation of God, as in Exodus 14:13 to which some think there is an allusion; not but that they might be busy, and employ themselves in preparing for their defence, by providing themselves with arms, and repairing their fortification; but it was not right to go out of the city, and seek a foreign aid or safety. The word for "strength" is "Rahab", one of the names of Egypt, Psalm 87:4 and so the sense may be, their "Rahab", their "Egypt", or what they expect from thence, namely, protection and safety, is to sit still, and abide quietly at Jerusalem. Jarchi refers this to Egypt, "I have called to this", to Egypt, they are of a proud spirit, the people cease, and are proud without cause; or according to another exposition he gives, their pride ceaseth, or it is fit it should. De Dieu interprets it also of Egypt; and so does Gussetius (k), but in a different manner, thus, the Egyptians are strength as to rest, they will strongly rest, while Israel strongly hopes they will help them.

(i) "vocavi ad hanc", Montanus; "ad istam clamo", Castalio. (k) Comment. Ebr. p. 829.

For the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose: therefore have I cried {e} concerning this, Their strength {f} is to sit still.

(e) That is, to Jerusalem.

(f) And not to come to and fro to seek help.

7. For the Egyptians … purpose] Render And as for Egypt—their help is vain and empty. Cf. Isaiah 30:3; Isaiah 30:5.

have I cried concerning this] Better, have I called her (R.V.).

Their strength is to sit still] R.V. Rahab that sitteth still, lit. “Rahab, they are a sitting still,” or “Rahab are they, a sitting still.” The sentence is almost hopelessly obscure. “Rahab” is the name of a mythological monster, a sea-dragon (ch. Isaiah 51:9; Job 9:13; Job 26:12), which became a symbol of Egypt (Psalm 87:4; Psalm 89:10), although that use may be based on this verse. Etymologically it signifies “insolent arrogance” (the root occurs in ch. Isaiah 3:5); and probably all three senses are combined in this instance. The general sense may be, “This proud boastful monster—its proper name is ‘Inaction’.”

Verse 7. - Therefore have I cried concerning this. Their strength is to sit still. No modern critic accepts this interpretation. Most translate, "Wherefore I name it" (i.e. Egypt) "Rahab, that sits still;" or "Arrogance, that 'sits still." Rahab, "pride" or 'arrogance," would seem to have been an old name for Egypt (Job 26:12; Psalm 87:4; Psalm 89:10; Isaiah 51:9), not one given at this time by Isaiah. What he means to say is, "Proud as thou art, thou doest nothing to maintain thy pride, but art content with sitting still." This he "cries" or "proclaims" concerning Egypt, as the most important thing for other nations to know about her. Isaiah 30:7The prophet's address is hardly commenced, however, when a heading is introduced of the very same kind as we have already met with several times in the cycle of prophecies against the heathen nations. Gesenius, Hitzig, Umbreit, and Knobel, rid themselves of it by pronouncing it a gloss founded upon a misunderstanding. But nothing is more genuine in the whole book of Isaiah than the words massâ' bahămōth negebh . The heading is emblematical, like the four headings in chapters 21, 22. And the massâ' embraces Isaiah 30:6, Isaiah 30:7. Then follows the command to write it on a table by itself. The heading is an integral part of the smaller whole. Isaiah breaks off his address to communicate an oracle relating to the Egyptian treaty, which Jehovah has specially commanded him to hand down to posterity. The same interruption would take place if we expunged the heading; for in any case it was Isaiah 30:6, Isaiah 30:7 that he was to write upon a table. This is not an address to the people, but the preliminary text, the application of which is determined afterwards. The prophet communicates in the form of a citation what has been revealed to him by God, and then states what God has commanded him to do with it. We therefore enclose Isaiah 30:6, Isaiah 30:7 in inverted commas as a quotation, and render the short passage, which is written in the tone of chapter 21, as follows: "Oracle concerning the water-oxen of the south: Through a land of distress and confinement, whence the lioness and lion, adders and flying dragons; they carry their possessions on the shoulders of asses' foals, and their treasures on the humps of camels, to a nation that profits nothing. And Egypt, worthlessly and hollowly will they help; therefore I call this Egypt, Great-mouth that sits still." The "water-ox of the south" is the Nile-horse; and this is the emblem of Egypt, the land of the south (in Daniel and Zechariah Babylonia is "the land of the north"). Bahămōth is the construct of behēmōth (Job 40), which is a Hebraized from of an Egyptian word, p-ehe-mau (though the word itself has not yet been met with), i.e., the ox of the water, or possibly p-ehe-mau-t (with the feminine article at the close, though in hesmut, another name for a female animal, mut equals t. mau signifies "the mother:" see at Job 40:15). The animal referred to is the hippopotamus, which is called bomarino in Italian, Arab. the Nile-horse or water-pig. The emblem of Egypt in other passages of the Old Testament is tannin, the water-snake, or leviathan, the crocodile. In Psalm 78:31 this is called chayyath qâneh, "the beast of the reed," though Hengstenberg supposes that the Nile-horse is intended there. This cannot be maintained, however; but in the passage before us this emblem is chosen, just because the fat, swine-like, fleshy colossus, whose belly nearly touches the ground as it walks, is a fitting image of Egypt, a land so boastful and so eager to make itself thick and broad, and yet so slow to exert itself in the interest of others, and so unwilling to move from the spot. This is also implied in the name rahabh-hēm-shâb. Rahab is a name applied to Egypt in other passages also (Isaiah 51:9; Psalm 87:4; Psalm 89:11), and that in the senses attested by the lxx at Job 26:12 (cf., Isaiah 9:13), viz., κῆτος, a sea-monster, monstrum marinum. Here the name has the meaning common in other passages, viz., violence, domineering pride, boasting (ἀλαζονεία, as one translator renders it). הם is a term of comparison, as in Genesis 14:2-3, etc.; the plural refers to the people called rahabh. Hence the meaning is either, "The bragging people, they are sit-still;" or, "Boast-house, they are idlers." To this deceitful land the ambassadors of Judah were going with rich resources (chăyâlı̄m, opes) on the shoulder of asses' foals, and on the hump (dabbesheth, from dâbhash, according to Luzzatto related to gâbhash, to be hilly) of camels, without shrinking from the difficulties and dangers of the road through the desert, where lions and snakes spring out now here and now there (מהם, neuter, as in Zephaniah 2:7, comp. Isaiah 38:16; see also Deuteronomy 8:15; Numbers 21:6). Through this very desert, through which God had led their fathers when He redeemed them out of the bondage of Egypt, they were now marching to purchase the friendship of Egypt, though really, whatever might be the pretext which they offered, it was only to deceive themselves; for the vainglorious land would never keep the promises that it made.
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