Isaiah 18:2
Parallel Verses
New International Version
which sends envoys by sea in papyrus boats over the water. Go, swift messengers, to a people tall and smooth-skinned, to a people feared far and wide, an aggressive nation of strange speech, whose land is divided by rivers.

King James Bible
That sendeth ambassadors by the sea, even in vessels of bulrushes upon the waters, saying, Go, ye swift messengers, to a nation scattered and peeled, to a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden down, whose land the rivers have spoiled!

Darby Bible Translation
that sendest ambassadors over the sea, and in vessels of papyrus upon the waters, [saying,] Go, swift messengers, to a nation scattered and ravaged, to a people terrible from their existence and thenceforth; to a nation of continued waiting and of treading down, whose land the rivers have spoiled!

World English Bible
that sends ambassadors by the sea, even in vessels of papyrus on the waters, saying, "Go, you swift messengers, to a nation tall and smooth, to a people awesome from their beginning onward, a nation that measures out and treads down, whose land the rivers divide!"

Young's Literal Translation
That is sending by sea ambassadors, Even with implements of reed on the face of the waters, -- Go, ye light messengers, Unto a nation drawn out and peeled, Unto a people fearful from its beginning and onwards, A nation meeting out by line, and treading down, Whose land floods have spoiled.

Isaiah 18:2 Parallel
Commentary
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

In vessels of bulrushes "In vessels of papyrus" - This circumstance agrees perfectly well with Egypt. It is well known that the Egyptians commonly used on the Nile a light sort of ships, or boats, made of the reed papyrus. Ex ipso quidem papyro navigia texunt. Pliny, 42:11.

Conseritur bibula Memphitis cymba papyro.

Lucan, 4:136.

Go, ye swift messengers - To this nation before mentioned, who, by the Nile, and by their numerous canals, have the means of spreading the report in the most expeditious manner through the whole country: go, ye swift messengers, and carry this notice of God's designs in regard to them. By the swift messengers are meant, not any particular persons specially appointed to this office, but any of the usual conveyers of news whatsoever, travelers, merchants, and the like, the instruments and agents of common fame. These are ordered to publish this declaration made by the prophet throughout Egypt, and to all the world; and to excite their attention to the promised visible interposition of God.

Scattered "Stretched out in length" - Egypt, that is, the fruitful part, exclusive of the deserts on each side, is one long vale, through the middle of which runs the Nile, bounded on each side to the east and west by a chain of mountains seven hundred and fifty miles in length; in breadth from one to two or three days' journey: even at the widest part of the Delta, from Pelusium to Alexandria, not above two hundred and fifty miles broad. Egmont and Hayman, and Pococke.

Peeled "Smoothed" - Either relating to the practice of the Egyptian priests, who made their bodies smooth by shaving off their hair, (see Herod. 2:37); or rather to their country's being made smooth, perfectly plain and level, by the overflowing of the Nile.

Meted out "Meted out by line" - It is generally referred to the frequent necessity of having recourse to mensuration in Egypt, in order to determine the boundaries after the inundations of the Nile; to which even the origin of the science of geometry is by some ascribed. Strabo, lib. 17 sub init.

Trodden down - Supposed to allude to a peculiar method of tillage in use among the Egyptians. Both Herodotus, (lib. ii.), and Diodorus, (lib. i.), say that when the Nile had retired within its banks, and the ground became somewhat dry, they sowed their land, and then sent in their cattle, (their hogs, says the former), to tread in the seed; and without any farther care expected the harvest.

The rivers have spoiled "The rivers have nourished" - The word בזאו bazeu is generally taken to be an irregular form for בזזו bazezu, "have spoiled," as four MSS. have it in this place; and so most of the Versions, both ancient and modern, understand it. On which Schultens, Gram. Hebrews p. 491, has the following re; mark:"Ne minimam quidem speciem veri habet בזאו bazau, Esai. Isaiah 18:2, elatum pro בזזו bazazu, deripiunt. Haec esset anomalia, cui nihil simile in toto linguae ambitu. In talibus nil finire, vel fateri ex mera agi conjectura, tutius justiusque. Radicem בזא baza olim extare potuisse, quis neget? Si cognatum quid sectandum erat, ad בזה bazah, contemsit, potius decurrendum fuisset; ut בזאו bazeu, pro בזו bazu, sit enuntiatum, vel בזיו baziv. Digna phrasis, flumina contemmunt terram, i.e., inundant." "בזא baza, Arab. extulit se superbius, item subjecit sibi: unde praet. pl. בזאו bazeu, subjecerunt sibi, i.e., inundarunt." - Simonis' Lexic. Heb.

A learned friend has suggested to me another explanation of the word. בזא baza, Syr., and ביזא beiza, Chald., signifies uber, "a dug," mamma, "a breast;" agreeably to which the verb signifies to nourish. This would perfectly well suit with the Nile: whereas nothing can be more discordant than the idea of spoiling and plundering; for to the inundation of the Nile Egypt owed every thing; the fertility of the soil, and the very soil itself. Besides, the overflowing of the Nile came on by gentle degrees, covering with out laying waste the country: "Mira aeque natura fluminis, quod cum caeteri omnes abluant terras et eviscerent, Nilus tanto caeteris major adeo nihil exedit, nec abradit, ut contra adjiciat vires; minimumque in eo sit, quod solum temperet. Illato enim limo arenas saturat ac jungit; debetque illi Aegyptus non tantum fertilitatem terrarum, sed ipsas." - Seneca, Nat. Quaest., 4:2. I take the liberty, therefore, which Schultens seems to think allowable in this place, of hazarding a conjectural interpretation. It is a fact that the Ganges changes its course, and overruns and lays barren whole districts, from which it was a few years back several miles distant. Such changes do not nourish but spoil the ground.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

sendeth

Isaiah 30:2-4 That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh...

Ezekiel 30:9 In that day shall messengers go forth from me in ships to make the careless Ethiopians afraid, and great pain shall come on them...

vessels. It is well known that the Egyptians commonly used on the Nile a light sort of ships or boats made of the papyrus. See note on Ex.

Isaiah 2:3 And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob...

to a notion

Isaiah 18:7 In that time shall the present be brought to the LORD of hosts of a people scattered and peeled...

scattered and peeled. or, outspread and polished. Or, as Bp. Lowth renders, 'stretched out in length and smoothed.' Egypt, which is situated between

24 degrees and

32 degrees north lat. and

30 degrees and

33 degrees E. long., being bounded on the south by Ethiopia, on the north by the Mediterranean, on the east by the mountains of Arabia, and on the west by those of Lybia, is one long vale,

750 miles in length, (through the middle of which runs the Nile,) in breadth from one to two or three day's journey, and even at the widest part of the Delta, from Pelusium to Alexandria, not above

250 miles broad.

to a people

Genesis 10:8,9 And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth...

2 Chronicles 12:2-4 And it came to pass, that in the fifth year of king Rehoboam Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem...

2 Chronicles 14:9 And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots...

2 Chronicles 16:8 Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because you did rely on the LORD...

Heb. Meted out and trodden down. or, that meteth out and treadeth down. Heb. of line, line, and treading under foot. This is an allusion to the frequent necessity of having recourse to mensuration in Egypt, in order to determine their boundaries, after the inundation of the Nile had smoothed their land and effaced their landmarks; and to their method of throwing seed upon the mud, when the waters had subsided, and treading it in by turning their cattle into the fields.

have spoiled. or, despise

Isaiah 19:5-7 And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up...

Library
The Christians' Call to the Gypies. --Isa. xviii. 7
The Christians' Call to the Gypies.--Isa. xviii. 7. Christians. Gypsies. Christians. Gypsies. Christians and Gypsies. Strangers, whence came ye to the West; Are ye the offspring of the sun, That from his rising to his rest, Through every clime he shines on, run? So bright of eye, so dark of hue, Surely your sire hath look'd on you. Of higher lineage than the sun, (But where our birthplace none can show,) His track in heaven, on earth we run, From where the waves of Ganges flow, Or Nile's mysterious
James Montgomery—Sacred Poems and Hymns

Cross References
Luke 10:19
I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.

Genesis 10:8
Cush was the father of Nimrod, who became a mighty warrior on the earth.

Genesis 10:9
He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; that is why it is said, "Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the LORD."

Exodus 2:3
But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile.

2 Chronicles 12:2
Because they had been unfaithful to the LORD, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem in the fifth year of King Rehoboam.

2 Chronicles 14:9
Zerah the Cushite marched out against them with an army of thousands upon thousands and three hundred chariots, and came as far as Mareshah.

2 Chronicles 16:8
Were not the Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen? Yet when you relied on the LORD, he delivered them into your hand.

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