Isaiah 19
Pulpit Commentary
The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.
Verses 1-17. - THE BURDEN OF EGYPT. It has been doubted whether this prophecy refers to the conquest of Egypt by Piankhi, as related in the monument which he set up at Napata, or to that by Esarhaddon, of which we gain our knowledge from the inscriptions of his son, Asshur-bani-pal. In the former case, we must suppose it written as early as B.C. 735; in the latter, its date might be as late as B.C. 690. The division of Egypt, "kingdom against kingdom," is a circumstance rather in favor of the earlier date; but the "cruel lord," and the mention of the "princes of Zoan and Noph," are decisive for the later. Piankhi is anything rather than a "cruel lord," being particularly mild and clement; Napata (Noph) is under him, and cannot be said to have been "deceived" or to have "seduced Egypt;" and Zoan plays no part in the history of the period. Esarhaddon, on the contrary, was decidedly a "cruel" prince, and treated Egypt with great severity, splitting it up into a number of governments. Zoan was one of the leading cities of the time, and Noph was the leading power on the Egyptian side, the head of the patriotic party which resisted the Assyrian monarch, but to no purpose. We may, therefore, regard this prophecy as one of Isaiah's latest, placed where it is merely on account of its head-tug - the compiler having placed all the "burdens" against foreign countries together. Verse 1. - The Lord rideth upon a swift cloud. Natural imagery to express the rapidity of Divine visitations (comp. Psalm 104:3). God, being about to visit Egypt with a judgment of extreme severity, is represented as entering the land in person (so in Isaiah 13:5). The idols of Egypt shall be moved. Neither Piankhi nor any other Ethiopian conqueror made war on the Egyptian idols; but the Assyrians were always bent on humbling the gods of the hostile countries (see above, Isaiah 10:10; and comp. Isaiah 36:18-20). We have no detailed account of Esarhaddon's campaign; but we find Asshur-bani-pal's first victory over Tirhakah immediately followed by the presentation to him in his camp of Egyptian deities (G. Smith, 'History of Asshur-bani-pal,' p. 20, 1. 1), i.e. of their images. These were probably taken to Nineveh, or else destroyed. At a later date, the same monarch deprived an Egyptian temple of two of its sacred obelisks (ibid., p. 54, 11. 4, 5). The heart of Egypt shall molt (coup. Isaiah 13:7; Psalm 22:14).
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.
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).
And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards.
Verse 3. - They shall seek to the idols. The Egyptians believed that their gods gave them oracles. Menephthah claims to have been warned by Phthah, the god of Memphis, not to take the field in person against the Libyans when they invaded the Delta, but to leave the task of contending with them to his generals (Brugsch, 'History of Egypt,' vol. 2. p. 119). Herodotus speaks of there being several well-known oracular shrines in Egypt, the most trustworthy being that of Maut, at the city which he calls Buto (2. 152; comp. Isaiah 111). The charmers... them that have familiar spirits... wizards. Classes of men corresponding to the "magicians" and "wise men" of earlier times (Genesis 41:8). (On the large place which magic occupied in the thoughts of the Egyptians, see 'Pulpit Commentary' on Exodus 7:11.) There was no diminution of the confidence reposed in them as time went on; and some remains of their practices seem to survive to the present day.
And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts.
Verse 4. - The Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord. It has been observed above that Piankhi will not answer to this description. It will, however, well suit Esarhaddon. Esarhaddon, soon after his accession, cut off the heads of Abdi-Milkut, King of Sidon, and of Sanduarri, King of Kundi, and hung them round the necks of two of their chief officers (G. Smith, 'Eponym Canon,' pp. 137-139). In an expedition which he made into Arabia, he slew eight of the sovereigns, two of them being women ('Records of the Past,' vol. 3. pp. 106, 107). On conquering Egypt he treated it with extreme severity. Not only did he divide up the country into twenty governments, but he changed the names of the towns, and assigned to his twenty governors, as their main duty, that they were "to slay, plunder, and spoil" their subjects (G. Smith, 'History of Asshur-bani-pal,' p. 37, 1. 7; comp. p. 16, 1. 7). He certainly well deserved the appellations of "a cruel lord," "a fierce king."
And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up.
Verse 5 - The waters shall fail from the sea. By "the sea" it is generally allowed that the Nile must be meant, as in Isaiah 18:2 and Nahum 3:8. The failure might be caused by deficient rains in Abyssinia and Equatorial Africa, producing an insufficient inundation. It might be aggravated by the neglect of dykes and canals, which would be the natural consequence of civil disorders (see Canon Cook's 'Inscription of Piankhi,' p. 14). Wasted and dried up; rather, parched and dried up. Allowance must be made for Oriental hyperbole. The meaning is only that there shall be a great deficiency in the water supply. Such a deficiency has often been the cause of terrible famines in Egypt.
And they shall turn the rivers far away; and the brooks of defence shall be emptied and dried up: the reeds and flags shall wither.
Verse 6. - And they shall turn the rivers far away; rather, and the rivers shall stagnate (Cheyne). Probably the canals are intended, as in Exodus 7:19 (see 'Pulpit Commentary,' ad loc.). The brooks of defense shall be emptied. Some render this "brooks of Egypt," regarding matsor as here used for "Mitsraim;" but our translation is more forcible, and may well stand. The "brooks of defense" are those which had hitherto formed the moats round walled cities (comp. Isaiah 37:25; Nahum 3:8). The reeds and flags shall wither. Reeds, flags, rushes, and water-plants of all kinds abound in the backwaters of the Nile, and the numerous ponds and marshes connected with its overflow (see the 'Pulpit Commentary' on Exodus 2:3, p. 24). These forms of vegetation would be the first to wither on the occurrence of a deficient inundation.
The paper reeds by the brooks, by the mouth of the brooks, and every thing sown by the brooks, shall wither, be driven away, and be no more.
Verse 7. - The paper reeds by the brooks, etc.; rather, the meadows on the river, along the banks of the river, and every seed-plot by the river. The banks of the Nile were partly grass-land (Genesis 41:2, 18), partly cultivated in grain or vegetables (Herod., 2:14), in either case producing the most luxuriant crops. All, however, depended on the inundation, and if that failed, or so far as it failed, the results predicted by the prophet would happen.
The fishers also shall mourn, and all they that cast angle into the brooks shall lament, and they that spread nets upon the waters shall languish.
Verse 8. - The fishers also shall mourn. The fisherman's trade was extensively practiced in ancient Egypt, and anything which interfered with it would necessarily be regarded as a great calamity. A large class supported itself by the capture and sale of fish fresh or salted. The Nile produced great abundance of fish, both in its main stream and in its canals and backwaters. Lake Moeris also provided an extensive supply (Herod., 2:149). All they that east angle into the brooks; rather, into the river. Fishing with a hook was practiced in Egypt, though not very widely, except as an amusement by the rich. Actual hooks have been found, not very different from modern ones (Rawlinson, 'History of Ancient Egypt,' vol. 1. p. 506), and representations of angling occur in some of the tombs. Sometimes a line only is used, sometimes a rod and line (see Rawlinson, 'Herodotus,' vol. 2. pp. 101, 103, 2nd edit.). They that spread nets. Nets were very much more widely employed than lines and hooks. Ordinarily a dragnet was used; but sometimes small fry were taken in the shallows by means of a double-handled landing-net (ibid., p. 108, note 2).
Moreover they that work in fine flax, and they that weave networks, shall be confounded.
Verse 9. - They that work in fine flax. Linen of great fineness and delicacy was woven in Egypt, for the priests' dresses, for mummy-cloths, and for corselets. Solomon imported "linen yarn" from his Egyptian neighbors (1 Kings 10:28), and the Phoenicians a linen fabric for their sails' (Ezekiel 27:7). In the general decline of Egyptian prosperity, caused by the circumstances of the time, the manufacturers of linen would suffer. They that weave networks; rather, they that weave while clothes. Cotton fabrics are probably intended. Shall be confounded; literally, shall blush, or be ashamed.
And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof, all that make sluices and ponds for fish.
Verse 10. - And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof; rather, and the foundations thereof shall be broken, or crushed to pieces (Kay). The rich and noble, the foundations of the fabric of society, seem to be meant. All that make sluices, etc. Translate, all that work for hire (comp. Proverbs 11:18) shall be grieved in soul. The meaning is that all classes, from the highest to the lowest, shall suffer affliction (so Lowth, Gesenius, Knobel, Kay, Cheyne).
Surely the princes of Zoan are fools, the counsel of the wise counsellers of Pharaoh is become brutish: how say ye unto Pharaoh, I am the son of the wise, the son of ancient kings?
Verse 11. - Surely the princes of Zoan are fools. Zoan, or Tanis, which had been an insignificant city since the time of the shepherd-kings, came to the front once more at the time of the struggle between Egypt and Assyria. Esarhaddon made it the head of one of the petty kingdoms into which he divided Egypt (G. Smith, 'History of Asshur-bani-pal,' p. 21, 1. 2). Early in the reign of his son it revolted, in conjunction with Sais and Mendes, but was ere long reduced to subjection by the Assyrians. Its king, Petu-bastes, was taken to Nineveh, and there probably put to death. Its "princes" were, no doubt, among those who counseled resistance to Assyria. The counsel of the wise, etc.; literally, as for the wise coun-sellers of Pharaoh, their counsel is become senseless. Two classes of advisers seem to be intended - nobles, supposed to be qualified by birth; and "wise men," qualified by study and education. Both would now be found equally incapable. Pharaoh. Probably Tirhakah is intended. It is possible that he was really suzerain of Egypt at the time of Sennacherib's invasion, when Shabatek was nominally king. It is certain that, after the death of Shabatok (about B.C. 698), he was recognized as sovereign both of Ethiopia and of Egypt, and ruled over both countries. Esarhaddon found him still occupying this position in B.C. 673, when he made his Egyptian expedition. Tirhakah's capital at this time was Memphis. How say ye, etc.? With what face can you boast of your descent, or of your learning, when you are unable to give any sound advice?
Where are they? where are thy wise men? and let them tell thee now, and let them know what the LORD of hosts hath purposed upon Egypt.
Verse 12. - Where are they? where, etc.? rather, Where, then, are thy wise men? If thou hast any, let them come forward and predict the coming course of events, what Jehovah has determined to do (compare similar challenges in the later chapters of the book, Isaiah 41:21-23; Isaiah 43:9; Isaiah 48:14, etc.).
The princes of Zoan are become fools, the princes of Noph are deceived; they have also seduced Egypt, even they that are the stay of the tribes thereof.
Verse 13. - The princes of Noph. There are no grounds for changing "Noph" into "Moph." "Noph" is probably "Napata," known as "Nap" in the hieroglyphic inscriptions - the original capital of the Ethiopian kings, and, when Memphis had become their capital, still probably regarded as the second city of the empire. The "princes of Noph" would be Tirhakah's counselors. They have also, etc. Translate, Even they have led Egypt astray, who are the corner-stone of her tribes. Strictly speaking, there were no "tribes" in Egypt, much less "castes," but only classes, marked out by strong lines of demarcation the one from the other. Herodotus gives seven of them (2. 164) - priests, soldiers, herdsmen, swineherds, tradesmen, interpreters, and boatmen. But there were several others also, e.g., agricultural laborers, fishermen, artisans, official employee, etc.
The LORD hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof: and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit.
Verse 14. - The Lord hath mingled a perverse spirit, etc. "Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?" (Amos 3:6). To bring Egypt into so distracted a state, the hand of God had been necessary. He had introduced into the nation "a spirit of perverseness." Those in whom this spirit was had then "led Egypt astray in all her doings." They had made her "like a drunken man," who "staggers" along his path, and slips in "his own vomit." Long-continued success and prosperity produces often a sort of intoxication in a nation.
Neither shall there be any work for Egypt, which the head or tail, branch or rush, may do.
Verse 15. - Neither shall there be, etc. Translate, And there shall be for Egypt no work in which both the head and the tail, both the palm branch and the rush, may (conjointly) work. The general spirit of perverseness shall prevent all union of high with low, rich with poor.
In that day shall Egypt be like unto women: and it shall be afraid and fear because of the shaking of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which he shaketh over it.
Verse 16. - In that day; or, at that time; i.e. when the Assyrian invasion comes. Shall Egypt be like unto women (comp. Jeremiah 51:30). So Xerxes said of his fighting men at Salamis: "My men have become women" (Herod., 8:88). Because of the shaking of the hand of the Lord (comp. Isaiah 11:15 and Isaiah 30:32). The Egyptians would scarcely recognize Jehovah as the Author of their calamities, but it would none the less be his hand which punished them.
And the land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt, every one that maketh mention thereof shall be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the LORD of hosts, which he hath determined against it.
Verse 17. - The land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt. In Manasseh's reign Judaea became subject to Assyria (2 Chronicles 33:11; G. Smith, 'Eponym Canon,' p. 139, 1. 13), and had to take part in the hostile expeditions, which both Esarhaddon and his son, Asshurbanipal, conducted against Egypt. Egypt had to keep her eye on Judaea continually, to see when danger was approaching her. If is not likely that Isaiah's prophecies caused the "terror" here spoken cf. Every one that maketh mention thereof shall be afraid; rather, when any one maketh mention thereof, they shall turn to him in fear. The very mention of Judaea by any one shall cause fear, because they will expect to hear that an expedition has started, or is about to start, from that country. Because of the counsel of the Lord of hosts. This is how Isaiah views the Assyrian attacks on Egypt, not how the Egyptians viewed them. The fear felt by the Egyptians was not a religious fear. They simply dreaded the Assyrian armies, and Judaea as the country from which the expeditions seemed to issue.
In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the LORD of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction.
Verses 18-22. - THE TURNING OF EGYPT TO JEHOVAH. The chastisement of the Egyptians shall be followed, after a while, by a great change. Influences from Canaan shall penetrate Egypt (ver. 18), an altar shall be raised in her midst to Jehovah (ver. 19), and she herself shall cry to him for succor (ver. 20) and be delivered (ver. 20). Egypt shall even become a part of Jehovah's kingdom, shall "know him," and serve him with sacrifice and oblation (ver. 21), and perform her vows to Jehovah, and have her supplications heard by him, and be converted and healed (ver. 22). Verse 18. - In that day. Not really the day of vengeance, but that which, in the prophet's mind, is most closely connected with it - the day of restitution - whereof he has spoken perpetually (Isaiah 1:25-27; Isaiah 2:2-4; Isaiah 4:2-6; Isaiah 6:13, etc.). The two are parts of one scheme of things, and belong in the prophet's mind to one time. Shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan. It is quite true, as Mr. Cheyne remarks, that the Eastern Delta was from a very early date continually more and more Semitized by an influx of settlers from Palestine, and that Egyptian literature bears strong marks of this linguistic influence. But this is scarcely what the prophet intends to speak about. He is not interested in philology. What he means is that there will be an appreciable influx into Egypt of Palestinian ideas, thoughts, and sentiments. "Five" is probably used as a "round" number. The first manifest fulfillment of the prophecy was at the foundation of Alexandria, when the Jews were encouraged to become settlers by the concession of important privileges (Josephus, 'Contr. Ap.,' 2:4), and where they ultimately became the predominant element in the population, amounting, according to Philo ('In Flaec.,' § 6), to nearly a million souls. The next great Palestinian influx was under Ptolemy YI. (Philometor), when Onias fled from Palestine with a number of his partisans, and obtained permission to erect a Jewish temple near Heliopelis. The site of this temple is probably marked by the ruins at Tel-el-Yahoudeh ('Quarterly Statement' of Palest. Expl. Fund for July, 1880, pp. 137-139). It seems to have been a center to a number of Jewish communities in the neighborhood. In this double way Jehovah became known to Egypt before Christianity. A Christian Church was early established in Alexandria, possibly by St. Mark. Swear to the Lord of hosts; i.e. "swear fidelity to him." One shall be called, The city of destruction. Some manuscripts read 'Ir-ha-Kheres, "City of the Sun," for 'Ir-ha-heres, "City of Destruction," in which case the reference would be plainly to Heliopelis, which was in the immediate neighborhood of Tel-el-Yahoudeh, and which in the Ptolemaic period may well have fallen under Jewish influence. Even if 'Ir-ha-heres stand as the true reading, the name may still have been given with allusion to Heliopolis, the prophet intending to say, "That city which was known as the City of the Sun-God shall become known as the City of Destruction of the Sun-God and of idolatrous worship generally." That Heliopolis did actually fall under Jewish influence in the Ptolemaic period appears from a remarkable passage of Polyhistor, who says of the Exodus and the passage of the Red Sea, "The Memphites say that Moses, being well acquainted with the district, watched the ebb of the tide, and so led the people across the dry bed of the sea; but they of Heliopolis affirm that the king, at the head of a vast force, and having the sacred animals also with him, pursued after the Jews, because they were carrying away with them the riches which they had borrowed from the Egyptians. Then, "they say," the voice of God commanded Moses to smite the sea with his rod, and divide it; and Moses, when he heard, touched the water with it, and so the sea parted asunder, and the host marched through on dry ground." Such an account of the Exodus would scarcely have been given by Egyptians unless they were three parts Hebraized.
In that day shall there be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the LORD.
Verse 19. - There shall be an altar to the Lord. An altar to the Lord was undoubtedly erected by Onias in the temple which he obtained leave to build from Ptolemy Philometor. Josephus says that he persuaded Ptolemy by showing him this passage of Isaiah ('Ant. Jud.,' 13:3; 'Bell. Jud.,' 7:10). And a pillar at the border thereof. It is not clear that any "pillar" was ever actually erected. The erection of pillars for religious purposes was forbidden by the Law (Deuteronomy 16:22). But this would be a pillar of witness (Genesis 31:52), and would mark that the land was Jehovah's. Dr. Kay suggests that "the Jewish synagogue first, and afterwards the Christian Church at Alexandria, standing like a lofty obelisk, with the name of Jehovah inscribed upon it, at the entrance of Egypt," sufficiently fulfilled the prophecy.
And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry unto the LORD because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them.
Verse 20. - It shall be for a sign. The outward tokens of Jehovah-worship shall witness to God that he has in Egypt now a covenant people, and he will deal with them accordingly. He shall send them a savior, and a great one. This does not seem to point to any earthly deliverer, but to the Savior from the worst of all oppressors, sin and Satan, whom they will need equally with the rest of his people.
And the LORD shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the LORD in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the LORD, and perform it.
Verse 21. - The Lord shall be known; rather, shall make himself known, as in Ezekiel 20:5, 9; by answering prayer, by spiritual influences, and the like. The Egyptians shall know the Lord (comp. Jeremiah 31:34, "They shall all know me from the least of them unto the greatest"). And shall do sacrifice and oblation; rather, shall serve with sacrifice and oblation. The bulk of the Jews settled in Egypt, together with their Egyptian proselytes, went up year by year to worship Jehovah at Jerusalem, and make offerings to him there (see Zechariah 14:16-19). Christian Egypt worshipped God with sacrifice and oblation in the same sense as the rest of the Church (Malachi 1:11).
And the LORD shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the LORD, and he shall be intreated of them, and shall heal them.
Verse 22. - And Jehovah shall smite Egypt, smiting and healing; i.e. Jehovah shall indeed "smite Egypt," as already prophesied (vers. 1-16), but it shall be with a merciful object, in order, after smiting, to "heal." His smiting shall induce them to "return" to him, and when they return he will forgive and save (comp. Zephaniah 3:8, 9; Jeremiah 12:14-16). Egypt was a Christian country from the third century to the seventh; and the Coptic Church (though very corrupt) still remains, knowing Jehovah, and offering the holy oblation of the Christian altar continually.
In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians.
Verses 23-25. - UNION BETWEEN EGYPT, ASSYRIA, AND ISRAEL. Assyria's conversion to God will follow or accompany that of Egypt. The two will be joined with Israel in an intimate connection, Israel acting as the intermediary. There will be uninterrupted communication, common worship, and the common blessing of God extending over the three. Verse 23. - Shall there be a highway. The phraseology resembles that of Isaiah 11:16; but the purpose is different. Then the "highway" was to facilitate the return of the Israelites to their own land. Now the object is perfectly free communication between the three peoples. The Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians. "Shall serve" means "shall worship" (see ver. 21). The "Assyrians" represent the inhabitants of the Mesopotamian regions generally. As, from the time of Alexander, Hebrew influence extended itself largely over Egypt, so, even from an earlier date, it began to be felt in the Mesopotamian countries. The transplantation of the ten tribes, or a considerable portion of them, into Upper Mesopotamia and Media, was the commencement of a diffusion of Hebrew ideas through those regions. The captivity of Judah still further impressed these ideas on the native races. Great numbers of Jews did not return from the Captivity, but remained in the countries and cities to which they had been trans ported, particularly in Babylon (Josephus, 'Ant. Jud.,' 11:1). The policy of the Seleucid princes was to establish Jewish colonies in all their great cities. In the time between Alexander and the birth of our Lord, the Hebrew community was re cognized as composed of three great sections - the Palestinian, the Egyptian, and the Syro-Babylonian. Constant communication was maintained between the three branches. Ecclesiastical regulations, framed at Jerusalem, were transmitted to Alexandria and Babylon, while collections made in all parts of Egypt and Mesopotamia for the temple service were annually carried to the Palestinian capital by trusty persons. It is thus quite reasonable to regard as an "initial stage in the fulfillment of this prophecy" the state of things existing at this period (Kay). The more complete fulfillment was doubtless after Pentecost, when Christianity was preached and established in Egypt and Libya on the one hand, in Parthia, and Media, and Elam, and Mesopotamia on the other (Acts 2:9, 10).
In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land:
Verse 24. - In that day shall Israel be the third; rather, a third. Not third in rank, for ver. 25 shows that she would retain a pre-eminence, but the common intermediary, brining the other two together. A blessing in the midst of the land; rather, in the midst of the earth. Judaean monotheism, upheld by God's people in Palestine, Egypt, and Mesopotamia, would be a blessing, not only to those three countries, but to the world at large. So, and still more, would Christianity.
Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.
Verse 25. - Whom the Lord of hosts bless; rather, forasmuch as the Lord of hosts hath blessed him. "Him" must be understood collectively, of the threefold Israel, spread through the three countries, which all partake of the blessing. The three countries are able to be a blessing to the world at large, because God's blessing rests upon them. Egypt my people. Egypt's great work in Jewish times, by which she became a blessing to the world, was her translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, commanded by Egyptian kings, and executed at Alexandria, the Egyptian capital. Neo-Platonism certainly owed much to this source. Stoicism probably something. Assyria the work of my hands. Assyria did no such work as Egypt. Neither the Targum of Onkelos nor the Babylonian Talmud can be compared for a moment with the Septuagint. Still the Mesopotamian Jews were a blessing to their neighbors. They kept alive in the East the notion of one true and spiritual God; they elevated the tone of men's thoughts; they were a perpetual protest against idolatry, with all its horrors. They, no doubt, prepared the way for that acceptance of Christianity by large masses of the population in Syria, Mesopotamia, Babylonia, and even in Persia, of which we have evidence in the ecclesiastical history of the first seven centuries. Israel mine inheritance (comp. Isaiah 47:6; Isaiah 63:17).

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