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. The plan which, according to Isaiah 29:15, was already projected and prepared in the deepest secrecy, is now much further advanced. The negotiations by means of ambassadors have already been commenced; but the prophet condemns what he can no longer prevent. "Woe to the stubborn children, saith Jehovah, to drive plans, and not by my impulse, and to plait alliance, and not according to my Spirit, to heap sin upon sin: that go away to travel down to Egypt, without having asked my mouth, to fly to Pharaoh's shelter, and to conceal themselves under the shadow of Egypt. And Pharaoh's shelter becomes a shame to them, and the concealment under the shadow of Egypt a disgrace. For Judah's princes have appeared in Zoan, and his ambassadors arrive in Hanes. They will all have to be ashamed of a people useless to them, that brings no help and no use, but shame, and also reproach." Sōrerı̄m is followed by infinitives with Lamed (cf., Isaiah 5:22; Isaiah 3:8): who are bent upon it in their obstinacy. Massēkhâh designates the alliance as a plait (massēkheth). According to Cappellus and others, it designates it as formed with a libation (σπονδη, from σπένδεσθαι); but the former is certainly the more correct view, inasmuch as massēkhâh (from nâsakh, fundere) signifies a cast, and hence it is more natural here to take nâsakh as equivalent to sâkhakh, plectere (Jerome: ordiremini telam). The context leaves no doubt as to the meaning of the adverbial expressions ולא־מנּי and ולא־רוּחי, viz., without its having proceeded from me, and without my Spirit being there. "Sin upon sin:" inasmuch as they carry out further and further to perfect realization the thought which was already a sinful one in itself. The prophet now follows for himself the ambassadors, who are already on the road to the country of the Nile valley. He sees them arrive in Zoan, and watches them as they proceed thence into Hanes. He foresees and foretells what a disgraceful opening of their eyes will attend the reward of this untheocratical beginning. On lâ‛ōz b', see at Isaiah 10:31 : ‛ōz is the infinitive constr. of ‛ūz; mâ‛ōz, on the contrary, is a derivative of ‛âzaz, to be strong. The suffixes of שׂריו (his princes) and מלאכיו (his ambassadors) are supposed by Hitzig, Ewald, and Knobel, who take a different view of what is said, to refer to the princes and ambassadors of Pharaoh. But this is by no means warranted on the ground that the prophet cannot so immediately transfer to Zoan and Hanes the ambassadors of Judah, who were still on their journey according to Isaiah 30:2. The prophet's vision overleaps the existing stage of the desire for this alliance; he sees the great men of his nation already suing for the favour of Egypt, first of all in Zoan, and then still further in Hanes, and at once foretells the shameful termination of this self-desecration of the people of Jehovah. The lxx give for יגיעוּ חנּס, μάτην κοπιάσουσιν, i.e., ייגעוּ סהנּם, and Knobel approves this reading; but it is a misunderstanding, which only happens to have fallen out a little better this time than the rendering ὡς Δαυίδ given for כּדּוּר in Isaiah 29:3. If chinnâm had been the original reading, it would hardly have entered any one's mind to change it into chânēs. The latter was the name of a city on an island of the Nile in Central Egypt, the later Heracleopolis (Eg. Hnēs; Ehnēs), the Anysis of Herodotus (ii. 137). On Zoan, see at Isaiah 19:11. At that time the Tanitic dynasty was reigning, the dynasty preceding the Ethiopian. Tanis and Anysis were the two capitals. הבאישׁ ( equals היבשׁ equals ( ה, a metaplastic hiphil of יבשׁ equals בּושׁ, a different word from יבשׁ) is incorrectly pointed for הבאישׁ, like ריאשׁנה (keri) for ראישׁנה in Joshua 21:10. הבאישׁ signifies elsewhere, "to make stinking" (to calumniate, Proverbs 13:5), or "to come into ill odour" (1 Samuel 27:12); here, however, it means to be put to shame (בּאשׁ equals בּושׁ).
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