He shall break also the images of Bethshemesh, that [is] in
the land of Egypt
Or, "of Heliopolis", as the Septuagint; the "city of the sun"; and so "Bethshemesh" here signifies the "house of the sun"; either it designs the temple of the sun, or the city where it was worshipped; as Heliopolis was famous for the worship of the sun, and for a magnificent temple in it, built for that purpose, and where abundance of persons resorted on that account, as Herodotus F12 observes; here were many images of the sun; and these now should be broke to pieces, when this city should become the city of destruction, as is foretold it should by Isaiah, ( Isaiah 19:18 ) ; where the Targum expressly calls it the city Bethshemesh, that is to be destroyed; (See Gill on Isaiah 19:18). This is the same city that was formerly called On, and had a priest in Joseph's time, ( Genesis 41:45 ) ; and the houses of the gods of the Egyptians shall he burn with fire;
which is repeated, that it might be taken notice of, and for the confirmation of it; though the words may be rendered, so as to remove the tautology, "and with the houses of the gods of the Egyptians shall he burn [it] with fire" F13; that is, Bethshemesh, or "the house of the sun", that shall not escape, being a principal temple. The gods they worshipped were Mnevis and Apis, which were oxen consecrated to the sun and moon F14. So says Porphyry F15, speaking of the Egyptians,
``they consecrate oxen to the sun and moon: that which is sacred to the sun at Heliopolis is called Mnevis, and is the greatest of them: it is very black, because much sun makes human bodies black; and the hairs of its tail, and of its whole body, contrary to other oxen, turn upwards, as the sun makes its course contrary to the pole; its testicles are the largest, because by the heat of the sun venereal desires are excited; hence the sun is said to make nature fruitful. To the moon they dedicate Taurus (or the bull), which they call Apis, and is blacker than others, bearing the signs of the sun and moon, because the light of the moon is from the sun; and the sign of the sun is the blackness of its body, and also the beetle that is under its tongue;''and these were the images and gods of Bethshemesh or Heliopolis, that were to be destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. Of his expedition into Egypt, whereby this prophecy was fulfilled, not only Josephus makes mention, but some Heathen writers gave plain hints of it. The Jewish historian says F16, that Nebuchadnezzar, five years after the destruction of Jerusalem, led his army into Coelesyria, and took it; and made war with the Ammonites and Moabites; and, having subdued these nations, made a push into Egypt, in order to destroy that, and slew the king of it: and Berosus says F17, that
``Nebuchadnezzar having settled his affairs in Egypt, and other countries; and having committed to his friends the captives of the Jews, Phoenicians, Syrians, and the nations about Egypt, went to Babylon:''and Megasthenes F18 relates, that
``he conquered the greatest part of Lybia (or Africa) and Iberia;''or, as it is elsewhere F19 expressed,
``he led his army into Lybia and Iberia; and, having subdued these, carried colonies of them to the right of Pontus.''
F12 Euterpe, sive l. 2. c. 59.
F13 So Schmidt.
F14 Vid. Aelian. de Animal. l. 11. c. 11.
F15 Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 3. c. 13. p. 117.
F16 Joseph. Antiqu. l. 10. c. 9. sect. 7.
F17 Apud Josph. Antiqu. ib. c. 11. sect 1. & contra Apion. l. 1. sect. 19. & Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 40. p. 455.
F18 Apud Joseph. Antiqu. ib. & contra Apion. l. 1. sect. 20.
F19 Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 41. p. 456.