And the Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships,
&c.] Either into a state of hard bondage and slavery, like that their fathers were in, in Egypt; or rather, strictly and literally, should be brought into Egypt again, since it is said to be "with" or "in ships". This does not respect the going of those Jews into Egypt who were left in the land of Judea, after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar; for that was against the express command of God, ( Jeremiah 42:13-22 ) ( 43:4-7 ) . There were several movings of them into Egypt after that time; an Heathen historian F23 tells us, that not a few thousands of Jews went into Egypt and Phoenicia, because of the sedition in Syria after the death of Alexander; and where, it seems, in process of time, they became slaves: for we are told by Josephus F24, that 120,000 slaves were set free by Ptolemy Philadelphus; but what is chiefly respected here is their case in the times of the Romans, and by their means. Now when Jerusalem was taken by Titus, those above seventeen years of age were sent by him to the works, or mines, in Egypt, as the same historian relates F25; and after their last overthrow by Adrian many thousands were sold, and what could not be sold were transported into Egypt, and perished by "shipwreck", or famine, or were slaughtered by the people F26 whereby this prophecy was literally and exactly fulfilled, and which is owned by the Jews themselves. Manasseh Ben Israel F1 observes, that though Vespasian banished the Jews into various countries, Egypt is only mentioned by way of reproach, as if it had been said, ye shall go captives into the land from which ye went out triumphant:
by the way whereof I spake unto thee, thou shall see it no more again;
the Targum of Jonathan is,
``the Word of the Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again in ships;''even the same divine Word, the Son of God, that brought them out of it, and went before them in a pillar of cloud and fire, now provoked by their rejection of him, would lead them back again thither; the paraphrast adds,
``through the midst of the Red sea, in the path in which ye passed;''as if they were carried over into Egypt in ships, just in that part of the sea in which they had passed before; but that was an unknown and unseen path, after the waters were closed up, and never to be seen more, and which is here meant; for not Egypt, but the way in which they passed, was to be seen no more:
and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and for
bondwomen, and no man shall buy [you];
that is, there in Egypt they would be offered to sale, and so many would be sold until the market was glutted with them, and there would be no buyers. The Targum of Jonathan is,
``ye shall be sold there at first to your enemies, at a dear price, as artificers, and afterwards at a mean price as servants and handmaids, until ye become despised, and be brought to serve for nothing, and there be none to take you in.''Jarchi interprets it of they themselves being desirous, and seeking to be sold, to avoid cruelties and death; which agrees with the sense of the word, which may be rendered, "ye shall offer yourselves for sale"; but there will be no buyer, because their enemies will determine upon the slaughter and consumption of them; and to the same purpose Aben Ezra. There were such numbers of them to be sold both at Egypt and at Rome, that the sellers of them had but a poor market for them; and it seems not only because of their number, but the ill opinion had of them as servants. Hegesippus F2 says,
``there were many to be sold, but there were few buyers; for the Romans despised the Jews for service, nor were there Jews left to redeem their own.''It is said F3, that thirty were sold for a penny; a just retaliation to them, who had sold their Messiah for thirty pieces of silver.
F23 Hecataeus apud Joseph. contr. Apion, l. 1. sect. 22.
F24 Antiqu. l. 12. c. 2. sect. 1.
F25 De Bello Jud. l. 6. c. 9. sect. 2.
F26 Hieron. in Zech. ii. fol. 120. I.
F1 De Termino Vitae, l. 3. sect. 3. p. 131, 132.
F2 De excidio Urb. Hieros. l. 5. c. 47. p. 645.
F3 Ib. p. 680.