Behold, therefore, I am against thee, and against thy rivers,
&c.] Against the king of Egypt, and against his subjects, the many people he ruled over; as the Lord is against spiritual Egypt, and the head of it, and the antichristian states, signified by many waters, rivers, and fountains; see ( Revelation 11:8 ) ( Revelation 17:1 Revelation 17:15 ) ( 16:4 ) : and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate;
partly by a civil war, and partly by a foreign enemy; especially those parts of it which were the seat of war: from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia;
or the tower of Seveneh; according to Herodotus F9, Syene was a city of Thebais, where he was told were two mountains, which gave rise to the Nile. Pliny
F11 says it was six hundred twenty five miles from Alexandria; and it is by him, as well as Strabo F12, placed under the tropic of Cancer; who both say, in the summer solstice, at noon, no shadow is cast there; to which the poet Lucan F13 refers, It is now called Essuaen; which city, as Mr. Norden F14 says, who lately travelled in those parts, is situated on the eastern shore of the Nile; and he relates that there remain still some marks of the place where the ancient city stood; as to the rest, it is so covered with earth, that there is nothing but rubbish, from which, in some places, one would judge that there were formerly magnificent buildings here. The utter destruction of which, with the rest of Egypt prophesied of, appears to have been fulfilled. This place is famous for being the place of the banishment of Juvenal the poet, where he died, being eighty years of age. The tower of Syene, Jerom says, remained to his days, and was subject to the Roman government, where are the cataracts of the Nile; and to which place, from our sea, he says, the Nile is navigable: but, according to Pliny. F15, Syene itself was on the border of Ethiopia; and so say Pausanias F16 and Solinus F17: and, according to Seneca F18, it was the extreme part of Egypt. So Josephus
F19 says the south border of Egypt is Syene, which separates it from Ethiopia; and that between Pelusium (the entrance of Egypt) and Syene are two hundred and fifty miles. It lay between Egypt and Ethiopia, so that it might seem doubtful to which it belonged. It seems better therefore to take "Migdol", rendered a "tower", for the proper name of a place, as the Septuagint do; and such a place there was in Egypt, ( Jeremiah 44:1 ) ( 46:4 ) , a town on the Red sea, ( Exodus 14:2 ) , so that the one was on the border of Egypt on one side, and the other on the other: and the words may be rendered F20, "from Migdol to Syene, even to the border of Ethiopia"; from one end of it to the other: it denotes the utter desolation of the country, from one end to the other. Unless by Cush, rendered "Ethiopia", is meant Arabia, as it often is, and is thought by some to be intended here; which was on the northern border of Egypt, as Syene was, a city in Thebais, near to Ethiopia, on the southern border of it; so that this describes Egypt from south to north; but the former account seems best.
F9 Euterpe, sive l. 2. c. 28.
F11 Nat. Hist. l. 2. c. 73.
F12 Geograph. l. 2. p. 65, 78.
F13 "Umbras nusquan flectente", Syene. Pharsal. l. 2. v. 587.
F14 Travels in Egypt and Nubis, vol. 1. p. 143. vol. 2. p. 97, 103.
F15 Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 9.
F16 Arcadica, sive l. 8. p. 518.
F17 Polyhistor, c. 45.
F18 Apud Servium in Virgil. Aeneid. l. 6. p. 1011.
F19 De Bello Jud. l. 5. c. 10. sect. 5.
F20 See Prideaux's Connexion, part 1. B. 2. p. 93. So the words are rendered by Hillerus, Onomast. Sacr. p. 672. who observes, that Syene is now called by the Arabs "Asuan", from the Ethiopic word "Wasou", which signifies to terminate or finish, this being the border of Ethiopia.