And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come
To Jerusalem, the church of God; do not go thither to worship the Lord, attend his ordinances, and keep them in their purity; nor walk as becomes the people of God: by "the family of Egypt" are meant the Papists, so called for their tyranny, cruelty, and idolatry, ( Revelation 11:8 ) : that [have] no [rain];
have not the pure word of God, and the ordinances thereof, only the traditions of men; yea, the doctrines of devils, and lies in hypocrisy: the allusion is to the land of Egypt, which was watered, not so much by rain as by the overflowing of the river Nile: or it may be rendered, "and upon them there shall be no rain" F23; or that which is equivalent to it. So the Targum paraphrases it,
``the Nile shall not ascend unto them.''The sense is, as they are without the pure Gospel of Christ, they shall continue so, and be punished with, that sore judgment of a famine of hearing the word of the Lord. There shall be the plague, wherewith the Lord will smite the
heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles;
they shall have the same plague of want of water, a famine; for it is a vulgar mistake that there is no rain in Egypt; it rains indeed but seldom, and only in some places, but it does rain. Monsieur Thevenot
``it rains much at Alexandria, and Rosetta also; but at Cairo, which stands higher, it rains less; and yet (says he) I have seen it rain very hard every year, for two days together in the month of December.''And Mr. Fuller F25 says that Sir William Paston, a patron of his, and a well accomplished traveller, was
``an eye witness of much and violent rain at Grand Cairo, but such as presaged a great mortality, which ensued, not long after.''But it should be observed that this is only true of the lower part of Egypt, for in the upper parts it rains not, at least not very commonly: for Herodotus F26 reports that
``in the times of Psammenitus, the son of Amasis, king of Egypt, a very wonderful thing happened to the Egyptians; it rained at Thebes in Egypt, which it never had before, nor has ever since, as the Thebans say; for it never rains in the upper part of Egypt; but then it rained at Thebes in drops.''Yet Mr. Norden F1, a late traveller in those parts, says he
``experienced at Meschie (a city in his travels to upper Egypt) a very violent rain, accompanied with thunder, for the space of a whole hour;''though in the same place he says, at Feschna, and beyond, in the upper Egypt, the sky is always serene and clear. And in his travels from Cairo to Girge, capital of the upper Egypt, he relates, that at a certain place, as he went thither, they had little wind, and a great deal of rain F2. And in another place F3 he observes, at Menie (a place in upper Egypt) there was so thick a fog that we could perceive nothing at thirty paces distant: wherefore, since it does rain at times in some places, the same plague as before may be here meant; or want of provisions, as others, through a defect of rain; or the Nile not overflowing and watering the land, as Jarchi interprets it: but Kimchi gives another sense, and so Aben Ezra, which is, that instead of having no rain, which they need not and do not desire, they shall be smitten with the plague that the Lord will smite all the nations with that fight against Jerusalem, namely, their flesh shall consume away ( Zechariah 14:12 ) .
F23 (Mhyle alw) "super quos non [est imber]", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius; "et non super illos, scil. erit imber", Burkius.
F24 Travels, part 1. c. 72. p. 247.
F25 Pisgah-Sight, B. 4. c. 5. p. 80.
F26 Thalia, sive l. 3. c. 10.
F1 Travels in Egypt and Nubia, vol. 1. p. 140.
F2 Ib. vol. 2. p. 20.
F3 Ib. p. 209.