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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 19

Wesley's Explanatory NotesWesley's Notes

Verse 1

The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.

Rideth — As a general in the head of his army.

A swift cloud — This phrase shews that the judgment should come speedily, unexpectedly, and unavoidably.

Shall be moved — So far shall they be from helping the Egyptians, that they shall tremble for themselves.

Verse 2

And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom.

I will set — Egypt was now one kingdom, but not many years after this time it was divided into twelve kingdoms, between whom there were many and cruel wars.

Verse 3

And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards.

The spirit — Their courage.

Verse 4

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.

A fierce king — 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.

Verse 5

And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up.

The waters — Which may be understood either, 1. Metaphorically, of the taking away of their dominion or commerce, etc. or rather, 2. Properly, as may be gathered from the following words. For as the river Nile, when it had a full stream, and free course, did pour forth a vast quantity of waters by its seven famous mouths into the sea, so when that was dried up, which is expressed in the next clause, those waters did truly and properly fail from the sea. So there is no need of understanding by sea either the river Nile, or the great lake of Maeris, which, after the manner of the Hebrews, might be so called.

The river — Nile: upon whose fulness and overflow both the safety and the wealth of the land depended; and therefore this was a very terrible judgment.

Dried up — Not totally, but in a very great measure.

Verse 6

And they shall turn the rivers far away; and the brooks of defence shall be emptied and dried up: the reeds and flags shall wither.

Rivers — The rivers (those rivulets by which the waters of Nile were distributed into several parts of the land) shall be turned far away, as they must needs be, when the river which fed them was dried up.

Brooks — The several branches of the river Nile, which were a great defence to Egypt.

Reeds — Which were useful to them for making their boats.

Whither — As they commonly do for want of water.

Verse 7

The paper reeds by the brooks, by the mouth of the brooks, and every thing sown by the brooks, shall wither, be driven away, and be no more.

Paper-reeds — These by a needle, or other fit instrument, were divided into thin and broad leaves, which being dried and fitted, were used at that time for writing; and consequently was a very good commodity.

By brooks — And much more what was sown in more dry and unfruitful places.

Verse 8

The fishers also shall mourn, and all they that cast angle into the brooks shall lament, and they that spread nets upon the waters shall languish.

Mourn — Because they could catch no fish; which was a great loss to the people, whose common diet this was.

Verse 9

Moreover they that work in fine flax, and they that weave networks, shall be confounded.

They — That make fine linen, which was one of their best commodities.

Verse 10

And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof, all that make sluices and ponds for fish.

Thereof — Of Egypt, or of the Egyptians. They shall lose their hopes; for the fishes in them shall die for want of water.

Verse 11

Surely the princes of Zoan are fools, the counsel of the wise counsellors of Pharaoh is become brutish: how say ye unto Pharaoh, I am the son of the wise, the son of ancient kings?

Zoan — The chief city, in which the king and court frequently resided.

How — Why do you put such foolish words into Pharaoh’s mouth? I am the son - Wisdom is heredity and natural to me.

Verse 13

The princes of Zoan are become fools, the princes of Noph are deceived; they have also seduced Egypt, even they that are the stay of the tribes thereof.

Noph — Another chief city, and one of the kings seats, called also Moph, and by latter authors, Memphis.

The stay — Their chief counsellors.

Tribes — Of the provinces, which he calls by a title borrowed from the Hebrews, in whose language he spake and wrote this prophecy.

Verse 14

The LORD hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof: and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit.

Mingled — Or, hath poured out or given them to drink.

To err — In all their designs and undertakings.

Staggereth — When he is so drunk, that he reels to and fro, and vomits up his drink.

Verse 15

Neither shall there be any work for Egypt, which the head or tail, branch or rush, may do.

Head, … — All people, both high and low, shall be at their wits end.

Verse 16

In that day shall Egypt be like unto women: and it shall be afraid and fear because of the shaking of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which he shaketh over it.

Women — Feeble and fearful.

Because — Because they shall perceive that they do not fight with men only, but with the Lord of hosts, who now lifts up his hand against them, as he did against their forefathers.

Verse 17

And the land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt, every one that maketh mention thereof shall be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the LORD of hosts, which he hath determined against it.

A terror — Because of their manifold injuries against Judah, for which they now apprehend God is calling them to account.

Determined — Because God is now about to execute his appointed judgments.

It — Against Egypt.

Verse 18

In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the LORD of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction.

In that day — After that time. In the times of the gospel.

Five — A considerable number of their chief cities: a certain number being put for an uncertain.

Speak — Profess the Jewish religion, agree with them in the same mind; which is fitly signified by speaking the same language.

Swear — This implies the dedication, and yielding up of a person or thing to the Lord, by a solemn vow, or covenant.

One — Not one of the five, but another city, the sixth city. As divers cities shall be converted and saved, so some other cities shall continue in their impenitency, and be destroyed.

Verse 19

In that day shall there be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the LORD.

An altar — The altar is put for the worship of God, as it is in many places both of the Old and New Testament. And nothing is more common in the prophets than to speak of gospel-worship in the phrases of the law.

Pillar — A monument of the true religion. Here also he alludes to the ancient custom of erecting pillars to God.

The border — As before, in the midst of it. The meaning is, There shall be evidences of their piety in all places.

Verse 20

And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry unto the LORD because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them.

It — The altar or pillar last mentioned.

A witness — To testify that they own the Lord for their God.

Cry — Being sorely distressed, they shall turn unto the true God.

A great one — A great or mighty Saviour, even Christ.

Verse 21

And the LORD shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the LORD in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the LORD, and perform it.

Shall sacrifice — Shall worship God spiritually; which yet is signified by typical phrases.

Verse 22

And the LORD shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the LORD, and he shall be intreated of them, and shall heal them.

Smite — God will afflict them and by those afflictions will convert and save them.

Verse 23

In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians.

Assyria — They who were implacable enemies one to another, and both to the church of God, shall now be reconciled and united together in the service of God, and love to his church.

Serve — The Lord.

Verse 24

In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land:

The third — The third party, in that sacred league, whereby all of them oblige themselves to serve God.

Egypt — These are named, because they were the most obstinate enemies to God’s church, but they are here put for all the Gentiles.

A blessing — This is peculiar to Israel, who is not only a third party, but is the most eminent of the three, as being the fountain, by which the blessing is conveyed to the other two; because Christ was to be born of them, and the gospel-church and ordinances were first established among them, and from them derived to the Gentiles.

The land — Or, of those lands, Egypt and Assyria, between which Israel lay.

Verse 25

Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.

Whom — That is, which people, Israel, Egypt, and Assyria; of whom he speaks as of one people, because they are all united into one church.

My people — This title, and those which follow, that were peculiar to the people of Israel, shall now be given to these and all other nations.

Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 19". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/wen/isaiah-19.html. 1765.
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