Isaiah 19

An Oracle against Egypt

1 An oracle against Egypt: Look, the Lord rides on a swift cloud and is coming to Egypt. Egypt's idols will tremble before Him, and Egypt's heart will melt within it.
2 I will provoke Egypt against Egypt; each will fight against his brother and each against his friend, city against city, kingdom against kingdom.
3 Egypt's spirit will be disturbed within it, and I will frustrate its plans. Then they will seek idols, ghosts, spirits of the dead, and spiritists.
4 I will deliver Egypt into the hands of harsh masters, and a strong king will rule it. [This is]*The bracketed text has been added for clarity. the declaration of the Lord God of Hosts.
5 The waters of the sea will dry up, and the river will be parched and dry.
6 The channels will stink; they will dwindle, and Egypt's canals will be parched. Reed and rush will die.[a]
7 The reeds by the Nile, by the mouth of the river, and all the cultivated areas of the Nile will wither, blow away, and vanish.
8 Then the fishermen will mourn. All those who cast hooks into the Nile will lament, and those who spread nets on the water will shrivel up.
9 Those who work with flax will be dismayed; the combers and weavers will turn pale.[b]
10 [Egypt's] weavers[c] will be dejected; all her wage earners will be demoralized.
11 The princes of Zoan are complete fools; Pharaoh's wisest advisers give stupid advice! How can you say to Pharaoh, "I am one[d] of the wise, a student of eastern[e] kings."
12 Where then are your wise men? Let them tell you and reveal what the Lord of Hosts has planned against Egypt.
13 The princes of Zoan have been fools; the princes of Memphis are deceived. Her tribal chieftains have led Egypt astray.
14 The Lord has mixed within her a spirit of confusion. [The leaders] have made Egypt stagger in all she does, as a drunkard staggers in his vomit.
15 No head or tail, palm or reed,[f] will be able to do anything for Egypt.

Egypt Will Know the Lord

16 On that day Egypt will be like women. She will tremble with fear because of the threatening hand of the Lord of Hosts when He raises it against her.
17 The land of Judah will terrify Egypt; whenever Judah is mentioned, Egypt will tremble because of what the Lord of Hosts has planned against it.
18 On that day five cities in the land of Egypt will speak the language of Canaan and swear loyalty to the Lord of Hosts. One of the cities will be called the City of the Sun.[g][h]
19 On that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the center of the land of Egypt and a pillar to the Lord near her border.
20 It will be a sign and witness to the Lord of Hosts in the land of Egypt. When they cry out to the Lord because of their oppressors, He will send them a savior and leader, and he will rescue them.
21 The Lord will make Himself known to Egypt, and Egypt will know the Lord on that day. They will offer sacrifices and offerings; they will make vows to the Lord and fulfill them.
22 The Lord will strike Egypt, striking and healing. Then they will return to the Lord and He will hear their prayers and heal them.
23 On that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. Assyria will go to Egypt, Egypt to Assyria, and Egypt will worship with Assyria.
24 On that day Israel will form a triple [alliance] with Egypt and Assyria-a blessing within the land.
25 The Lord of Hosts will bless them, saying, "Blessed be Egypt My people, Assyria My handiwork, and Israel My inheritance."

Isaiah 19 Commentary

Chapter 19

Judgments upon Egypt. (1-17) Its deliverance, and the conversion of the people. (18-25)

Verses 1-17 God shall come into Egypt with his judgments. He will raise up the causes of their destruction from among themselves. When ungodly men escape danger, they are apt to think themselves secure; but evil pursues sinners, and will speedily overtake them, except they repent. The Egyptians will be given over into the hand of one who shall rule them with rigour, as was shortly after fulfilled. The Egyptians were renowned for wisdom and science; yet the Lord would give them up to their own perverse schemes, and to quarrel, till their land would be brought by their contests to become an object of contempt and pity. He renders sinners afraid of those whom they have despised and oppressed; and the Lord of hosts will make the workers of iniquity a terror to themselves, and to each other; and every object around a terror to them.

Verses 18-25 The words, "In that day," do not always refer to the passage just before. At a time which was to come, the Egyptians shall speak the holy language, the Scripture language; not only understand it, but use it. Converting grace, by changing the heart, changes the language; for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. So many Jews shall come to Egypt, that they shall soon fill five cities. Where the sun was worshipped, a place infamous for idolatry, even there shall be a wonderful reformation. Christ, the great Altar, who sanctifies every gift, shall be owned, and the gospel sacrifices of prayer and praise shall be offered up. Let the broken-hearted and afflicted, whom the Lord has wounded, and thus taught to return to, and call upon him, take courage; for He will heal their souls, and turn their sorrowing supplications into joyful praises. The Gentile nations shall not only unite with each other in the gospel fold under Christ, the great Shepherd, but they shall all be united with the Jews. They shall be owned together by him; they shall all share in one and the same blessing. Meeting at the same throne of grace, and serving with each other in the same business of religion, should end all disputes, and unite the hearts of believers to each other in holy love.

Footnotes 8

  • [a]. Or wilt, or become black
  • [b]. DSS, Tg; MT reads weavers of white cloth
  • [c]. Or foundations
  • [d]. Lit a son
  • [e]. Lit a son of ancient
  • [f]. Isa 9:14-16
  • [g]. Some Hb mss, DSS, Sym, Tg, Vg, Arabic; other Hb mss read of Destruction; LXX reads of Righteousness
  • [h]. The ancient Egyptian city Heliopolis

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO ISAIAH 19

This chapter contains prophecies of various calamities that should come upon Egypt in a short time, and of the conversion of many of them to Christ in Gospel times. The calamities are many; the Lord's coming unto them, which their gods cannot prevent, nor stand before, nor save them, and at which the hearts of the Egyptians are dispirited, Isa 19:1 civil wars among themselves, Isa 19:2 want of counsel, which sends them to idols and wizards, but in vain, Isa 19:3 subjection to a cruel lord, Isa 19:4 drying up of their rivers and waters, so that the paper reeds wither, and fishes die; and hence no business for fishermen, nor for workers in flax, or weavers of nets, Isa 19:5-10,15 the stupidity of their princes and wise counsellors, given up by the Lord to a perverse spirit, so that they concerted wrong measures, and deceived the people, Isa 19:11-14 a general consternation among them, because of the hand and counsel of the Lord; and because of the Lord's people, the Jews, who were a terror to them, Isa 19:16,17 and then follows the prophecy of their conversion in later times, which is signified by their speaking the language of Canaan, and swearing to the Lord, Isa 19:18 by their erecting an altar, and a pillar to the Lord, which should be a sign and witness to him; and by their crying to him, and his sending them a Saviour, and a great one, Isa 19:19,20 by his being known unto them, by their offering sacrifice to him, and by his smiting and healing them Isa 19:21,22 and the chapter is concluded with a prophecy of that harmony, and agreement, and fellowship, that shall be between Jew and Gentile, between Egypt, Assyria, and Israel; and that the blessing of God should be upon them all, Isa 19:23-25.

Isaiah 19 Commentaries