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Thus does the prophet foretel the smiting of Egypt. But straightway afterwards he speaks of its healing. Five cities would escape, for one that would be destroyed, for
one that would be called " The city of destruction.” And their deliverance would arise from their acknowledging the true God. Nay, there would even “ be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord,” that is to say, besides the altar, there would be a monumental stone, according to the custom of the country, as a memorial of their homage and devotion. They would cry to the true God,“ because of the oppressors,” because of the cruel lord,” and the “fierce king,” previously mentioned. Ver. 4. And the Lord would send them a mighty deliverer, and would be known to them in mercy as well as in judgment, and would heal them as well as smite them. And Egypt, and Assyria, and Israel, would then be all closely connected; they would be united in the bonds of religious communion, joint partakers of one and the same blessing of the Lord.
This is one of those prophecies, of which there is more than one fulfilment, or of which we may more properly say that the fulfilment is progressive. It is known from history, that under the Persian empire the Egyptians were very sorely oppressed; and that when the Grecians became their masters they experienced a very great relief. During the latter period, there was a free intercourse between the Egyptians and the inhabitants of Judea; and a very large number of Jews were settled in the land of Egypt, see Jer. 44. 1, for whose use a temple was built, in which temple the sacrifices appointed in the law were offered, by Onias, the lawful high Priest, who had been unjustly deprived of his office at Jerusalem. In Egypt too the Scriptures of the Old Testament were translated into the Greek language, the language then of most extensive use, the earliest translation into any language, the version commonly referred to by the writers of the New Testament, and which even now greatly helps in the interpretation of the Old. Owing to these circumstances, Egypt was largely prepared for receiving the glad tidings of the Gospel, and did receive them gladly, and continued for some time to hold fast that blessed truth, which is able to make all nations one with each other, and one with the Israel of God. And miserably as that country has since fallen away, and awfully as it has been given up to a superstition most remote from Christianity, a time we may well believe is yet to come, when all the prophecies relating to the conversion of the Gentiles shall be further fulfilled, and when it shall be more abundantly true than ever heretofore, that Israel shall be “the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land : whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.” The captivity of many Egyptians and Ethiopians foretold. i In the year that Tartan came 4 So shall the king of Assyria unto Ashdod, (when Sargon lead away the Egyptians prithe king of Assyria sent him,) soners, and the Ethiopians capand fought against Ashdod, and tives, young and old, naked and took it ;
barefoot, even with their but2 At the same time spake the tocks uncovered, to the shame Lord by Isaiah the son of of Egypt. Amoz, saying, Go and loose 5 And they shall be afraid and the sackcloth from off thy loins, ashamed of Ethiopia their exand put off thy shoe from thy pectation, and of Egypt their foot. And he did so, walking glory. naked and barefoot.
6 And the inhabitant of this 3 And the Lord said, Like isle shall say in that day, Beas my servant Isaiah hath walked hold, such is our expectation, naked and barefoot three years whither we flee for help to be for a sign and wonder upon delivered from the king of AsEgypt and upon Ethiopia; syria : and how shall we escape ?
LECTURE 1122. Of trusting in God and not in the world. We read of Tartan as one of the officers, whom Sennacherib sent with a great host against Jerusalem, in the days of Hezekiah. See 2 Kings 18. 17. Hence some have supposed, that Sennacherib was the same with “ Sargon,” here mentioned as “king of Assyria ;" whilst others consider, that Sargon was a distinct person, who occupied the throne of Assyria for a short period between Shalmanezer and Sennacherib. In either case we may observe, that the date of the delivery of this prophecy is here fixed by reference to a fact, which could not fail to be well known at the time when the prophetic words were spoken. And this doubtless is the intent of the date being thus recorded. For this is one of the chief things which help to impress on us the miraculous nature of prophetic inspiration; namely, our knowing that the prophetic words were certainly spoken, or written, before the thing foretold took place. When this point is clearly made out, and when the event tallies with the words, then, especially if the thing be beyond the reach of man's sagacity to guess, we are constrained, whether we will or not, to admit, that the words must have been from God.
Comparing this prophecy with others, and with what we know of the history of the times, we may suppose that Tartan, who was sent by Sargon to take Ashdod, did not succeed in taking it until the commencement of the reign of Sennacherib; about the time when the new king of Assyria came up against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them.” 2 Kings 18. 13. On that occasion a large sum of gold and silver was paid by Hezekiah
to Sennacherib; in consequence of which he desisted for some time from his intended attack upon Jerusalem. During the interval we may consider that he invaded Egypt, and took captive many of the Egyptians, and of their allies the Ethiopians, as here foretold; baving first, by Tartan's means secured Ashdod, a place of great strength, which lay in his way. On his return from Egypt, to renew his attack upon Jerusalem, we find him thus reproaching Hezekiah, by the mouth of Rabshakeh, “Now, behold, thou trustest in the staff of this bruised reed, even upon Egypt.” 2 Kings 18. 21. This looks as if he had lately been discomfiting the Egyptians. Further we find in the book of Nahum a prophecy of the taking of one of the chief cities of Egypt, which we may well believe to have been fulfilled during this particnlar invasion. See Nahum, 3. 8—10. And perhaps it is in reference to the losses sustained on this occasion, that the Ethiopians are described in another prophecy, which relates to nearly the same period, as a “nation scattered and peeled.” Ch. 18. 2.
But whether or no this be the true account of this doubtful period of history, it appears certain from the words of Rabshakeh, that Hezekiah and his subjects had been inclined to put their trust in the Egyptians. And hence we conclude, that it was in order to teach them not to lean on the arm of man for help, that Isaiah was directed, " in the year that Tartan came unto Ashdod," to perform this significant action, to strip himself of his sackeloth garment, and to take off his sandals from his feet, and to expose himself thus stripped, whensoever he went forth, during three whole years; “ for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia ;" for a token of the sure fulfilment of the word of the Lord, that so should “the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot.” Such indeed is the practical lesson inculcated in the concluding words of this chapter: “ And the inhabitant of this country” (see margin) “shall say in that day, Behold, such is our expectation, whither we flee for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria: and how shall we escape ?” Let this then be the lesson which we also here lay to heart, namely, that vain is the help of man; and more especially, that most vain is the help of those amongst mankind who are themselves aliens from God. The world, if we were to depend on it, would prove of no more avail to us, than Egypt and Ethiopia to Hezekiah. Let us therefore, being like him forewarned, seek like him for help in another and better quarter. Let us put our trust in the Lord our God; and so shall we escape.
If He be with us, who can be against And if we faithfully seek his face, has not He over and over again assured us, that He will give us all needful help?
The burdens of the desert of the sea, of Dumah, and of Arabia. i The burden of the desert chariot of men, with a couple of the sea.
As whirlwinds in of horsemen. And he answered the south pass through; so it and said, Babylon is fallen, is cometh from the desert, from a fallen; and all the graven imterrible land.
ages of her gods he hath broken 2 A grievous vision is declared unto the ground. unto me; the treacherous deal
10 O my threshing, and the er dealeth treacherously, and corn of my floor : that which the spoiler spoileth. Go up, o I have heard of the Lord of Elam : besiege, O Media; all hosts, the God of Israel, have the sighing thereof have I made I declared unto you. to cease.
1 The burden of Dumah. 3 Therefore are my loins filled He calleth to me out of Seir, with pain : pangs have taken Watchman, what of the night? hold upon me, as the pangs of a Watchman, what of the night? woman that travaileth: I was 12 The watchman said, The bowed down at the hearing of morning cometh, and also the it; I was dismayed at the see- night: if ye will enquire, ening of it.
quire ye: return, come. My heart panted, fearful- 13 The burden upon Arabia. ness affrighted me: the night In the forest in Arabia shall
ye of my pleasure hath he turned lodge, O ye travelling compainto fear unto me.
nies of Dedanim. 5 Prepare the table, watch in 14 The inhabitants of the land the watchtower, eat, drink : a- of Tema brought water to him rise, ye princes, and anoint the that was thirsty, they prevented shield.
with their bread him that fled. 6 For thus hath the LORD said 15 For they fled from the unto me, Go, set a watchman, swords, from the drawn sword, let him declare what he seeth. and from the bent bow, and
7 And he saw a chariot with a from the grievousness of war. couple of horsemen, a chariot of 16 For thus hath the LORD asses, and a chariot of camels; said unto me, Within a year, and he hearkened diligently according to the years
of with much heed :
hireling, and all the glory of 8 And he cried, A lion: My Kedar shall fail: lord, I stand continually upon
17 And the residue of the numthe watchtower in the daytime, ber of archers, the mighty men and I am set in my ward whole of the children of Kedar, shall nights :
be diminished: for the LORD 9 And, behold, here cometh a God of Israel hath spoken it.
LECTURE 1123. That no might nor glory of man can avail before God. “ The burden of the desert of the sea” relates to Babylon, so called, on account of the wide expanse of land and flood, in the midst of which it stood. Whilst yet this city was rising towards the height of power, the prophet here signifies, that it would hereafter be taken by stratagem, and spoiled; summoning Elam and Media to besiege it, that so it might no more make other nations sigh. He represents it as describing its woes and fears, and telling how the night of its festivity was turned into terror. We hear the orders given to prepare and to enjoy the feast, the watch being first set for security, but the feast soon interrupted by a summons to arise and prepare for battle. A watchman, charged to declare the prophetic truth, gives notice of troops approaching two and two, on horses, on asses, and on camels. And a voice is heard to proclaim aloud, “ Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground.” On which the prophet turns in his vision to God's people, who would then have been long captives in the devoted city, and addressing them as corn threshed by their afflictions, assures them, for their comfort, that he had God's warrant for all that he had said.
Next follows “ the burden of Dumah,” a place lying beyond Seir, on the borders of Arabia ; whence some one is heard to ask the prophetic watchman, “ What of the night?” probably as reproaching the people of the Lord for their long continued affliction in captivity. To wbich the watchman answers in the vision, “The morning cometh, and also the night;" the morning to God's people, the night to their enemies, a night in which the city of them that led them away captive shall be surprised and taken. “If ye will enquire, enquire ye;" ask in a right spirit, as really wishing to hear good tidings; such as these, that God has again called unto Him his people, saying, “Return, come. But they who thus reproach God's people have a burden of their own to hear. The wandering tribes of Arabia must take refuge in such thickets as their bare land affords, fleeing from “the grievousness of war,” and relieved in their distress with bread and water by the kindness of their neighbours. Their glory, the glory of never being conquered, which is even now the Arab’s pride, must fail for once, and the numbers of their warriors must be greatly diminished within one year's time; owing to some enemy, of whom neither the prophecy nor history gives us any information. Enough it was for God's people to know beforehand, that their proud neighbours in Arabia, as well as their future oppressors in Babylon, must in God's good time be humbled. Enough it is for us to be assured, that neither the strength of the most mighty, nor the glory of the most renowned, can avail in upholding those, whom God has determined to lay low.