Isaiah 30:4
For his princes were at Zoan, and his ambassadors came to Hanes.
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(4) His princes were at Zoan . . .—Better, are, in the vivid use of the historic present of prophecy. Zoan, the Tanis of the Greeks, was one of the oldest of Egyptian cities. Hanes, identified with the Greek Heracleopolis, as lying in the delta of the Nile, would be among the first Egyptian cities which the embassy would reach.

30:1-7 It was often the fault and folly of the Jews, that when troubled by their neighbours on one side, they sought for succour from others, instead of looking up to God. Nor can we avoid the dreadful consequences of adding sin to sin, but by making the righteousness of Christ our refuge, and seeking for the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. Men have always been prone to lean to their own understandings, but this will end in their shame and misery. They would not trust in God. They took much pains to gain the Egyptians. The riches so spent turned to a bad account. See what dangers men run into who forsake God to follow their carnal confidences. The Creator is the Rock of ages, the creature a broken reed; we cannot expect too little from man, or too much from God. Our strength is to sit still, in humble dependence upon God and his goodness, and quiet submission to his will.For his princes - The sense of this verse seems to be this. The prophet is stating the fact that the Jews would be ashamed of their attempted alliance with Egypt. In this verse, and the following, he states the manner in which they would be made sensible of their folly in seeking this alliance. He therefore enumerates several circumstances in regard to the manner in which the alliance had been sought, and the disappointment that would follow after all their vain confidence. He therefore states Isaiah 30:4, that the Jews had employed persons of the highest respectability and honor, even princes, to secure the alliance; that they had gone to Egypt with much difficulty - through a land where lions, and vipers, and fiery serpents abounded; that they had at much hazard taken their treasures down to Egypt in order to secure the alliance Isaiah 30:5-6, and that after all, the Egyptians could not aid them. The phrase 'his princes,' refers to the princes of Judah, the ambassadors that the Jews sent forth, and the idea is, that they regarded the alliance as of so much importance that they had employed their most honorable men - even their princes - to secure it.

Were at Zoan - Had come to Zoan, or were there on the business of their embassy. On the situation of Zoan, see the notes at Isaiah 19:11, Isaiah 19:13. It was the residence of the kings in Lower Egypt, and would be the place to which the ambassadors would naturally resort to negotiate an alliance.

Came to Hanes - Respecting the situation of this place there has been much diversity of opinion among interpreters. The Chaldee renders it by the more full word "Tahpanhes;" and Grotius supposes that the word is contracted from Tahpanhes Jeremiah 43:7-8, and that the name was sometimes abbreviated and written חנס chânēs. Vitringa supposes that it was Anusis, situated in the Delta of the Nile, and the residence of the king of the same name. Herodotus (ii. 137) mentions a city of that name, Ἄνυσίς Anusis. Anusis was a king of Egypt before the irruption of the Ethiopians, and it was not uncommon for a king to give his own name to a city. Probably Anusis is the city intended here; and the sense is, that they had come to the royal residence for the purpose of negotiating an alliance. It is known that in the time of Jeremiah (588 years before Christ) "Tahpanhes" was the capital of the nation (see Jeremiah 43:9).

4. his—Judah's (compare Isa 9:21).

at Zoan—are already arrived there on their errand to Pharaoh (see Isa 19:11).

came to Hanes—are come there. West of the Nile, in central Egypt: Egyptian Hnes; the Greek Heracleopolis: perhaps the Anysis of Herodotus (2.137); according to Grotius, Tahpanhes contracted (Jer 43:7-9); the seat of a reigning prince at the time, as was Zoan, hence the Jewish ambassadors go to both.

His princes; the princes of Judah, either sent by the king, or by the appointment of their brethren.

Hanes; an eminent city of Egypt, called more largely Tahapanes, and Tahpanhes, Jeremiah 2:16 43:8.

For his princes were at Zoan,.... That is, the princes of the king of Judah, or of the people of Judah; though it can hardly be thought that princes should be sent ambassadors into Egypt, to enter into an alliance, or request help, without the knowledge, leave, and consent, and indeed order, of the king, under which character they went, as appears from the following clause:

and his ambassadors came to Hanes; these are the same with the princes, for such were sent on this embassy, both for the honour of the kingdom, and for the more easy obtaining of their end; the two places mentioned, to which they went, were two principal cities in Egypt, where probably the king of Egypt was, and his court kept, sometimes at one place, and sometimes at another. Zoan is the same with Tanis, the metropolis of one of the nomes or provinces of Egypt, called from it the Tanitic nome; and so the Targum here renders it, "Tanes": and the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions, "Tanis"; See Gill on Isaiah 19:11. The Jews (g) say there is not a more excellent place in all Egypt than Zoan, because kings were brought up in it, as it is here said, "his princes were at Zoan"; the other, here called "Hanes", is the same with Tahapanes in Jeremiah 2:16 and Tahpanhes, Jeremiah 43:7 and so the Targum here calls it; it is thought to be the same with Daphnae Pelusiae; here Pharaoh had a house or palace; see Jeremiah 43:9 and this is the reason of the ambassadors going thither.

(g) T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 112. 1. & Sota, fol. 34. 2.

For his {c} princes were at Zoan, and his ambassadors came to Hanes.

(c) The chief of Israel went into Egypt as an ambassador to seek help and abode at these cities.

4, 5. On Zoan, see on ch. Isaiah 19:11. Hanes is identified with Heracleopolis magna (Egyptian Hnes, still called Ahnâs), situated to the south of Memphis on an island in the Nile. Zoan and Hanes thus mark the extreme limits of Lower Egypt, which was at this time ruled by a number of petty potentates, amongst whom the prince of Sais held a kind of primacy and assumed the title of Pharaoh (Isaiah 30:2 f.). If the “princes” and “ambassadors” are those of Judah, the meaning would be that the embassy would visit all the little courts of the Delta from North to South and meet with a discouraging reception. There are two objections to this interpretation, (1) Judah has not been mentioned in the preceding context and (2) Isaiah’s contention appears to be, not that the Judæan overtures would be coldly received, but that the Egyptians would be ready enough to promise but slack in performance. It is more natural to suppose that the “his” refers to Pharaoh, in which case Isaiah 30:4 must be read as the protasis to Isaiah 30:5, the sense being “Great as the extent of the Pharaoh’s sphere of influence may be, yet nothing but shame will come to those who trust in his help.” Render thus: (4) For though his (Pharaoh’s) princes are in Zoan and his messengers reach to Hanes, (5) Yet all come to shame through a people of no profit to them, that brings no help and no profit but shame and also reproach.

The reading “come to shame” is that of the Massoretic punctuation (Qĕrê). The consonantal text (Kĕthîb) has a much harsher word—“become stinking.” The perfect is that of experience.

Verse 4. - His princes were at Zoan. "Zoan" is undoubtedly Tanis, which is now "San," a heap of ruins in the Delta, where some interesting remains of the shepherd-kings have been discovered. It was a favorite capital of the monarchs of the nineteenth dynasty, and seems to have been the scene of the struggle between Moses and the Pharaoh of the Exodus (Psalm 78:12, 43). It then declined, but is said to have been the birthplace of the first king of the twenty-first dynasty. In the Ethiopian period it rose once more to some importance, and was at one time the capital of a principality (see G. Smith's 'Asshur-bani-pal,' pp. 21, 26, 32). The "princes" here spoken of are probably Hezekiah's ambassadors. His ambassadors came to Hanes. "Hanes" has been generally identified with the modern Esnes, a village between Memphis and Thebes, which is thought to mark the site of Hera-cleopolis Magna. But it has been well remarked that the Jewish envoys would scarcely have proceeded so far. Mr. R.S. Peele suggests, instead of Esnes, Tahpenes, or Daphnae ('Dict. of the Bible,' vol. 1. p. 753); but that name is somewhat remote from Hanes. Perhaps it would be best to acknowledge that "Hanes" cannot at present be identified. It was probably not very far from Tanis. Isaiah 30:4The plan which, according to Isaiah 29:15, was already projected and prepared in the deepest secrecy, is now much further advanced. The negotiations by means of ambassadors have already been commenced; but the prophet condemns what he can no longer prevent. "Woe to the stubborn children, saith Jehovah, to drive plans, and not by my impulse, and to plait alliance, and not according to my Spirit, to heap sin upon sin: that go away to travel down to Egypt, without having asked my mouth, to fly to Pharaoh's shelter, and to conceal themselves under the shadow of Egypt. And Pharaoh's shelter becomes a shame to them, and the concealment under the shadow of Egypt a disgrace. For Judah's princes have appeared in Zoan, and his ambassadors arrive in Hanes. They will all have to be ashamed of a people useless to them, that brings no help and no use, but shame, and also reproach." Sōrerı̄m is followed by infinitives with Lamed (cf., Isaiah 5:22; Isaiah 3:8): who are bent upon it in their obstinacy. Massēkhâh designates the alliance as a plait (massēkheth). According to Cappellus and others, it designates it as formed with a libation (σπονδη, from σπένδεσθαι); but the former is certainly the more correct view, inasmuch as massēkhâh (from nâsakh, fundere) signifies a cast, and hence it is more natural here to take nâsakh as equivalent to sâkhakh, plectere (Jerome: ordiremini telam). The context leaves no doubt as to the meaning of the adverbial expressions ולא־מנּי and ולא־רוּחי, viz., without its having proceeded from me, and without my Spirit being there. "Sin upon sin:" inasmuch as they carry out further and further to perfect realization the thought which was already a sinful one in itself. The prophet now follows for himself the ambassadors, who are already on the road to the country of the Nile valley. He sees them arrive in Zoan, and watches them as they proceed thence into Hanes. He foresees and foretells what a disgraceful opening of their eyes will attend the reward of this untheocratical beginning. On lâ‛ōz b', see at Isaiah 10:31 : ‛ōz is the infinitive constr. of ‛ūz; mâ‛ōz, on the contrary, is a derivative of ‛âzaz, to be strong. The suffixes of שׂריו (his princes) and מלאכיו (his ambassadors) are supposed by Hitzig, Ewald, and Knobel, who take a different view of what is said, to refer to the princes and ambassadors of Pharaoh. But this is by no means warranted on the ground that the prophet cannot so immediately transfer to Zoan and Hanes the ambassadors of Judah, who were still on their journey according to Isaiah 30:2. The prophet's vision overleaps the existing stage of the desire for this alliance; he sees the great men of his nation already suing for the favour of Egypt, first of all in Zoan, and then still further in Hanes, and at once foretells the shameful termination of this self-desecration of the people of Jehovah. The lxx give for יגיעוּ חנּס, μάτην κοπιάσουσιν, i.e., ייגעוּ סהנּם, and Knobel approves this reading; but it is a misunderstanding, which only happens to have fallen out a little better this time than the rendering ὡς Δαυίδ given for כּדּוּר in Isaiah 29:3. If chinnâm had been the original reading, it would hardly have entered any one's mind to change it into chânēs. The latter was the name of a city on an island of the Nile in Central Egypt, the later Heracleopolis (Eg. Hnēs; Ehnēs), the Anysis of Herodotus (ii. 137). On Zoan, see at Isaiah 19:11. At that time the Tanitic dynasty was reigning, the dynasty preceding the Ethiopian. Tanis and Anysis were the two capitals. הבאישׁ ( equals היבשׁ equals ( ה, a metaplastic hiphil of יבשׁ equals בּושׁ, a different word from יבשׁ) is incorrectly pointed for הבאישׁ, like ריאשׁנה (keri) for ראישׁנה in Joshua 21:10. הבאישׁ signifies elsewhere, "to make stinking" (to calumniate, Proverbs 13:5), or "to come into ill odour" (1 Samuel 27:12); here, however, it means to be put to shame (בּאשׁ equals בּושׁ).
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