Isaiah 19:2
And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom.
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(2) I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians . . .—The discord predicted was probably the natural consequence of the overthrow of the Ethiopian power by Sargon, the Assyrian king, in B.C. 720. Under Piankhi each nome, or district, had been governed by a chief, owning the suzerainty of the Ethiopian king, and these, when the restraint was removed, would naturally assert their independence. So Herodotus (ii. 147) relates that on the overthrow of Sabaco, the last of the Ethiopian dynasty, the unity of Egypt was broken up into a dodecarchy.

Isaiah 19:2-3. I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians — Two principal calamities to befall Egypt are foretold in this prophecy; the first of which is here described: civil wars should arise among them. They shall fight every one against his brother and neighbour — Whom he ought to love as himself. City against city, and kingdom against kingdom — “The LXX. read, νομος επι νομον, province against province, Egypt being divided into prefectures, or provinces. Vitringa and others apply this to the time of the twelve kings, the anarchy that preceded, and the civil wars that ensued, in which Psammitichus prevailed over the rest; but it may, perhaps, be more properly applied to what agrees better, in point of time, with other parts of the prophecy, the civil wars between Apries and Amasis, at the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion; and the civil wars a little before the country was finally subdued by Ochus. It is no wonder, that in such distractions and distresses as these, the Egyptians, being naturally a cowardly people, should be destitute of counsel, and that the spirit of Egypt should fail in the midst thereof, as the prophet foretels, (Isaiah 19:3,) and that, being also a very superstitious people, they should seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that had familiar spirits, and to the wizards. But their divination was all in vain,” God having determined that they should be subdued and oppressed by cruel lords and tyrants, as it follows.

19:1-17 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.And I will set - (סכסכתי sı̂ksaketı̂y). This word (from סכך sākak) means properly "to cover," to spread over, to hide, conceal, to protect. Another signification of the verb is, to weave, to intermingle. It may mean here, 'I will arm the Egyptians against each other' (Gesenius); or, as in our version, 'I will mingle, confound, or throw them into discord and strife.' The Septuagint renders it, Ἐπεγερθήσονται Epegerthēsontai - 'They shall be excited,' or, 'raised up.' Symmachus, Συμβαλῶ Sumbalō. Syriac and Chaldee, 'I will excite.' The sense is, that there would be discord and civil war, and this is traced to the agency or overruling providence of God - meaning that he would "permit and overrule" it. Compare the notes at Isaiah 45:7 : 'I make peace, and I create evil; I, Yahweh, do all these things;' Amos 3:6 : 'Shall there be evil in a city and Jehovah hath not done it?' The civil war here referred to was probably that which arose between the twelve kings in the time of the dodekarchy (see the Analysis to the chapter), and which resulted in the single dominion of Psammetichus. Dr. Newton ("On the Prophecies," xii.) supposes, however, that the prophet refers to the civil wars between Apries and Amasis at the time of the invasion by Nebuchadnezzar. But it agrees much better with the former discord than with this. The description which follows is that of anarchy or civil strife, where "many" parties are formed, and would naturally lead to the supposition that there were more than two engaged.

And kingdom against kingdom - Septuagint, Νόμος έπὶ νόμων Nomos epi nomōn - 'Nome against nomes.' Egypt was formerly divided into forty-two "nomes" or districts. The version by the Septuagint was made in Egypt, and the translators would naturally employ the terms which were in common use. Still the event referred to was probably not that of one "nome" contending against another, but a civil war in which one dynasty would be excited against another (Gesenius), or when there would be anarchy and strife among the different members of the dodekarchy. See the Analysis of the chapter.

2. set—stir up. Gesenius translates, "arm."

Egyptians against the Egyptians—Lower against Upper: and Saitic against both. (See Isa 3:10). Newton refers it to the civil wars between Apries and Amasis at the time of Nebuchadnezzar's invasion; also between Tachos, Nectanebus, and the Mendesians, just before Ochus subdued Egypt.

kingdom against kingdom—The Septuagint has "nome against nome"; Egypt was divided into forty-two nomes or districts.

I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians; I will raise civil wars among them.

Kingdom against kingdom; for although all Egypt was now one kingdom, and under one king, yet not many years after this time it was divided into twelve several kingdoms, between whom there were many and cruel wars, as is related by the historians of those times, and particularly by Herodotus and Diodorus.

And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians,.... Or mingle and confound them together; in which confusion they should fall upon and destroy one another, as the Midianites did: the phrase is expressive of rebellions and civil wars, as the following words explain it; and which show, that the calamities of Egypt should be brought upon them, not by means of a foreign invasion, but by internal quarrels, and other means, which the Lord would in judgment send among them:

and they shall fight everyone against his brother, and everyone against his neighbour; and destroy one another:

city against city; of which there were great numbers in Egypt; in the times of Amasis, it is said (s), there were twenty thousand:

and kingdom against kingdom; for though Egypt was but originally one kingdom, yet upon the death of Sethon, one of its kings, who had been a priest of Vulcan, there being no successor, twelve of the nobility started up, and set up themselves as kings, and divided the kingdom into twelve parts (t), and reigned in confederacy, for the space of fifteen years; when, falling out among themselves, they excluded Psammiticus, one of the twelve, from any share of government; who gathering an army together, fought with and conquered the other eleven, and seized the whole kingdom to himself, and who seems afterwards regarded in this prophecy; all this happened in the times of Manasseh king of Judah, and so in or quickly after Isaiah's time: though some understand this of the civil wars between Apries and Amasis, in the times of Nebuchadnezzar. The Septuagint version renders the phrase here, "nome against nome"; for the whole land of Egypt, by Sesostris, one of its kings, was divided into thirty six (u) nomes, districts, or provinces, whose names are given by Herodotus (w), Pliny (x), and others; for so the words of that version should be rendered, and not as they are by the Latin interpreter, and in the Arabic version, which follows it, "law upon law".

(s) Herodot. l. 2. c. 177. (t) Ib. c. 147. (u) There were ten of them in Thebais, the same number in Delta, and sixteen between them. (w) Euterpe, sive l. 2. c. 164, 165, 166. (x) Nat. Hist. I. 5. c. 9. Ptolem. Geograph. l. 4. c. 4. Strabo Geogr. l. 17. P. 541.

And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall {c} fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom.

(c) As he caused the Ammonites, Moabites and Idumeans to kill one another, when they came to destroy the Church of God, 2Ch 20:22, Isa 49:26.

2. Jehovah speaks. The description of anarchy and civil war recalls ch. Isaiah 3:5, Isaiah 9:18 ff.

I will set … Egyptians] Lit. I will stir up (see ch. Isaiah 9:11) Egypt against Egypt—the general expression for civil discord which is explained in the remainder of the verse. kingdom against kingdom] LXX. νομὸς ἐπὶ νομόν—a correct translation drawn from the translator’s local knowledge of Egypt. The numerous nomes or cantons were but loosely federated, and dissensions and local jealousies were always apt to break out when the central government was paralysed.

Verse 2. - I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians. The disintegration of Egypt commenced about B.C. 760-750, towards the close of the twenty-second dynasty. About B.C. 735 a struggle began between Plan-khi, King of Upper Egypt, and Tafnekhf, King of Sais and Memphis, in which the other princes took different sides. Ten or twelve years later there was a struggle between Bocchoris and Sabaeo. From this time onwards, until Psamatik I. reestablished the unity of Egypt (about B.C. 650), the country was always more or less divided, and on the occurrence of any crisis the princes were apt to make war one up, n another. Kingdom against kingdom. During the period of disintegration, the title of" king" was assumed by most of the potty princes, though they were little more than chiefs of cities (see 'Records of the Past,' vol. 2. p. 100; G. Smith, 'History of Asshur-bani-pal,' pp. 20-22). Isaiah 19:2"And I spur Egypt against Egypt: and they go to war, every one with his brother, and every one with his neighbour; city against city, kingdom against kingdom. And the spirit of Egypt is emptied out within it: and I swallow up its ready counsel; and they go to the idols to inquire, and to the mutterers, and to the oracle-spirits, and to the soothsayers. And I shut up Egypt in the hand of a hard rule; and a fierce king will reign over them, saith the Lord, Jehovah of hosts." Civil war will rage in Egypt (on sicsēc, see at Isaiah 9:10). The people once so shrewd are now at their wits' end; their spirit is quite poured out נבקה, with the reduplication removed, for נבקּה, according to Ges. 68, Anm. 11 - as, for example, in Genesis 11:7; Ezekiel 41:7), so that there is nothing left of either intelligence or resolution. Then (and this is also part of the judgment) they turn for help, in counsel and action, where no help is to be found, viz., to their "nothings" of gods, and the manifold demoniacal arts, of which Egypt could boast of being the primary seat. On the names of the practisers of the black art, see Isaiah 8:19; 'ittim, the mutterers, is from 'âtat, to squeak (used of a camel-saddle, especially when new), or to rumble (used of an empty stomach): see Lane's Lexicon. But all this is of no avail: Jehovah gives them up (סכּר, syn. הסגּיר, συγκλείειν to be ruled over by a hard-hearted and cruel king. The prophecy does not relate to a foreign conqueror, so as to lead us to think of Sargon (Knobel) or Cambyses (Luzzatto), but to a native despot. In comparing the prophecy with the fulfilment, we must bear in mind that Isaiah 19:2 relates to the national revolution which broke out in Sais, and resulted in the overthrow of the Ethiopian rule, and to the federal dodekarchy to which the rising of the nation led. "Kingdom against kingdom:" this exactly suits those twelve small kingdoms into which Egypt was split up after the overthrow of the Ethiopian dynasty in the year 695, until Psammetichus, the dodekarch of Sais, succeeded in the year 670 in comprehending these twelve states once more under a single monarchy. This very Psammetichus (and the royal house of Psammetichus generally) is the hard ruler, the reckless despot. He succeeded in gaining the battle at Momemphis, by which he established himself in the monarchy, through having first of all strengthened himself with mercenary troops from Ionia, Caria, and Greece. From his time downwards, the true Egyptian character was destroyed by the admixture of foreign elements;

(Note: See Leo, Universalgesch. i. 152, and what Brugsch says in his Histoire d'Egypte, i. 250, with regard to the brusques changements that Egypt endured under Psammetichus.)

and this occasioned the emigration of a large portion of the military caste to Meroe. The Egyptian nation very soon came to feel how oppressive this new dynasty was, when Necho (616-597), the son and successor of Psammetichus, renewed the project of Ramses-Miamun, to construct a Suez canal, and tore away 120,000 of the natives of the land from their homes, sending them to wear out their lives in forced labour of the most wearisome kind. A revolt on the part of the native troops, who had been sent against the rising Cyrene, and driven back into the desert, led to the overthrow of Hophra, the grandson of Necho (570), and put an end to the hateful government of the family of Psammetichus.

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