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of hosts, which he hath determined against it. 18. In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the religious confession of Canaan, and swear to the Lord of hosts : one shall be called the city of Heres *. 19. In that day there shall be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord. 20. 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. 21. And the Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day, and shall minister sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the Lord, and perform it. 22. 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. 23. In that daý there shall be a high-way 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. 24. In that day shall Israel be third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land. 25. Whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.
I am inclined to consider these three chapters as forming jointly a single prophecy, and as containing only a more full and ample account of the matters foretold in the former part of the preceding prophecyt. The order observed in both is nearly the same; and both equally harmonize with the collateral prediction of Daniel in closely connecting the fate of Egypt with the restoration of Judah.
The prophecy now under consideration commences with matter not indeed immediately relating to the prin
* The city of Heres.] Heres or Ares was an oriental name of the Sun. · The city of Heres accordingly was called by the Greeks Heliopolis. See my Dissert. on the Cabiri. Vol. i. p. 104. + Isaiah xi. 10-16.
# Dan. xi. 41, 42, 43, 45. xii. 1,
cipal subject of it, yet affording an opportunity of a sufficiently easy digression. “The burden of Damascus, open. ed at the beginning of the 17th chapter, naturally brings the prophet to speak of the subversion of the kingdom of Israel, in those days in alliance with the Syrians : and to be overthrown by the same enemy at the same time. The prediction of the subversion of the kingdom of Israel leads the prophet to warn the Jewish people in general of the judgments which await them, with manifest allusion in the 11th verse, as Casaubon has observed, to the final dispersion of the nation by the Romans. And the allusion to this final dispersion leads, as it almost always does, to a prediction of the final restoration. This is delivered generally in the 12th, 13th, and 14th verses of the 17th chapter*."
In foretelling the dispersion of the Jews, and its various concomitant circumstances, Isaiah is wonderfully particular. He declares, that they should be cut down and car. ried away from the country of their fathers, in the same manner as a husbandman reaps his corn and conveys it from the fields where it had grown; and yet that a few stragglers, the wreck of a once mighty people, should remain, like gleanings, in the land t-Great however as
* Bp. Horsley's Letter on Isaiah xviii. p. 100.
+ The figures here used by the prophet are peculiarly apposite. The Jerus should not only be cut down, as in the ordinary calamities of war; but the whole nation should be utterly taken away from their own land, as a reaper gathers the ears of corn. Yet, notwithstanding their general dispersion, a remnant should be left, strangers and pilgrims, in the land of their fathers, like the few grapes that remain at the gathering in of the vintage, or the few olive-berries that are overlooked in the season of making oil. As the pro. phecy was, such has been the event. " When the emperor Adrian had subdued the rebellious Jews, he published an edict, forbidding them upon pain of death to set foot in Jerusalem, or even to approach the country round about it. Tertullian and Jerome say, that they were prohibited from entering into Judèa. From that time to this their country hath been in the 'possession of foreign lords and masters, few of the Jews dwelling in it, and those only of a low servile condition. Benjamin of Tudela in Spain, a celebrated Jew of the 12th century, travelled into all parts to visit those of his own nation, and to learn an exact state of their affairs : and he hath reported, that Jerusalem was almost entirely abandoned by the Jews. He found there not above two hundred persons, who were for the most part dyers of wool, and who every year purchased the privilege of the monopoly of that trade. They lived all together under David's tower, and made there a very little figure. If Jeru. salem had so few Jews in it, the rest of the holy land was still more depopu. late. He found two of them in one city, twenty in another; most whereof were dyers. In other places there were more persons ; but in upper Galilee, where the nation was in the greatest repute after the ruin of Jerusalem, be
their sins and their calamities should be, during the whole time of their dispersion they at least should keep themselves from their former besetting crime, an infatuated attachment to the idolatrous vanities of the Gentiles *. Nevertheless their worship, though free from idolatry, should not be pleasing unto God. In consequence of, their forgetting the God of their salvation, and disregarding the rock of their strength, their strong cities should be forsaken ; there should be a great desolation in the land ; and they themselves, while strangers in foreign countries, should be given up to the folly of painfully accumulating riches and never deriving any benefit from them t.
Here “the prophet, by a sudden exclamation of surprize (ill rendered in our common English version Woe to), gives notice, that a new scene suddenly breaks upon him. He sees the armies of Antichrist rushing on in the full tide of conquest, and pouring like a deluge over the
found hardly any Jews at all. A very accurate and faithful traveller of our own nation (Sandys) who was himself also in the holy land, saith, that it is for the most part now inhabited by Moors and Arabians; those possessing the vallies, and these the mountains. Turks there be few; but many Greeks, with other Christians of all sects and nations, such as impute to the place an inherent holiness. Here be also some Jews : yet inherit they no part of the land, but in their own country do live as aliens.” Bp. Newton's Dissert. viii.
* It is almost superfluous to observe, that, during the whole period of their present dispersion, the Jews have been as remarkable for their detestation of idolatry, as they were heretofore notoriously prone to it. Although some of them may have been constrained by the tortures of the inquisition to worship the images of the Papists, force and the fear of death have alone compelled them to violate what they justly esteem the fundamental precept of the Law. Thus have prophecies, apparently contradictory to each other, been minutely fulfilled. Some declare, that the Jews should never, during their dispersion, relapse into idolatry ; others, that they should serve gods, the work of men's hands. Accordingly, they have never voluntarily and nationally become idolaters, since the destruction of their polity by the Romans ; although many individuals among them have been constrained by the Papists to bow down before the idols of the Latin church. Vide supra Commentary on Prophecy I. and infra on Prophecy XVII.
of The idea of the passage seems to be, that the Jews, in consequence of their rejecting the Messiah, should be judicially given up to the most sordid avarice. Ever labouring to accumulate riches in foreign lands; rising early in the morning, and late taking rest, and eating the bread of carefulness; they should still reap no harvest from their toil, but the day of their expected enjoyment should be a day of grief and heavy trouble. The various oppres. sions, which this sordid people (mnost unjustly no doubt) have suffered, are almost endless. “What frequent seizures have been made of their effects in almost all countries ! How often have they been fined and fleeced by almost all governments! How often have they been forced to redeem their lives with what is almost as dear as their lives, their treasure! Instances are
land of God's people *. He no sooner sees them, than he declares that God shall rebuke them; that they shall flee with precipitation and in dismay; and shall be chased, as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and as a rolling thing before the whirlwind t. Elated with this glorious scene the total rout of the apostate confederacy, he addresses his countrymen, in words of exultation and triumph: This is the portion of them that spoil us, and the lot of them that rob us .
“ Having thus, in general terms, predicted the final success and happiness of his nation, he proceeds, in the 18th chapter, to the description of visions, more parti. cularly declarative of the manner, and of the time, of their deliverance g.”
And first the vision of the armies of Antichrist, at the close of the 17th chapter, is succeeded by a vision of the people who are destined to take the lead in converting and restoring one great division of Judah. Isaiah beholds their fleets rapidly approaching from far distant regions to Palestine; and describes them as possessing a powerful navy, as sailing with ease and expedition to remote parts of the world, and as being faithful worshippers of God: in short, they appear to be some great maritime nation,
innumerable. We will only cite an historian of our own, who says that u Henry 11t. always polled the Jews at every low ebb of his fortunes. One Abraham, who was found delinquent, was forced to pay 700 marks for his redemption. Aaron, another Jew, protested that the king had taken from him at times, 30,000 marks of silver, besides 200 marks of gold, which he had presented to the queen. And in like manner he used many other of the
Fews. When they were banished in the reign of Edward I, their estates were confiscated, and immense sums thereby accrued to the crown.” Bp. Newton's Dissert. VII. * Isaiah xvii. 12.
+ Ver. 13. # Ver. 14. Bp. Lowth confines all the first part of this prophecy to the tak. ing of Damascus by Tiglath-Pileser, his overrunning a great part of Israel, and the conquest of that kingdom and the captivity of the people effected a few years after by Shalmaneser. Hence he is led to pronounce, that the three last verses of the 17th chapter have no relation to those which precede them, and have as little connection with what follows; but that they are to be referred solely to the invasion und overthrow of Sennacherib. But let only the first part of the prophecy be supposed to treat ultimately and indeed chiefly of the dipersion of the Jews by the Romans, and we shall immediately perceive the close connection of the whole. From the dispersion of the Yews, Isaiah rapidly passes to the overthrow of their last enemy Antichrist, and to their restoration by some great maritime power. In short, so far from these different predictions being wholly unconnected, they appear to me to be inseparably connected.
§ Bp. Horsley's Letter on Isaiah xvii. p. 100.
and a command
heard the people night be ex
that shall possess the empire of the sea at the time when the 1260 years shall expire, and when the Jews shall be. gin to return into their own land. To this distant nation the prophet calls aloud, and summons them to receive their high commission from the Lord.
Go, swift messengers, unto a nation long apparently forsaken by God; a nation dragged away from their own country, and plucked; a nation wonderful from their beginning hitherto ; a nation perpetually expecting their promised Messiah, and yet trampled under foot; a nation whose land the symbolical rivers of foreign invaders have for ages spoiled*.
“ We have now heard messengers summoned. We have heard a command given to them, tu go swiftly with the message. We have heard the people described, to whom the message was to be carried. It might be expected we should next hear the message given to the messengers in precise terms. But in prophecy, the curtain (if the expression may be allowed) is often suddenly dropped upon the action that is going on, before it is finished; and the subject is continued in a shifted scene, as it were, of vision. This I take to be a natural consequence of the manner, in which futurity was represented, in emblematical pictures, to the imagination of the prophet : and the breaks and transitions are more or less sudden, according to the natural turn of the writer's mind. In Isaiah, the transitions are remarkably sudden and bold; and yet this suddenness and boldness of transition is seldom, I think, if ever, in him a cause of obscurity. In the present instance, the scene of messengers, sent upon a message, is suddenly closed with this second verse, before the messengers set out, before even the message is given
*“ Go swift messengers : you, who by your skill in navigation and your extensive commerce and alliances, are so qualified to be carriers of a message to people in the remotest countries, go with God's message unto a nation dragged away, to the dispersed Jews; a nation dragged away from its proper seat, and plucked of its wealth and power ; a people wonderful from the beginning to this very time for the special providence, which has ever attended them and directed their fortunes; a nation still lingering in expectation of the Messiah, who so long since came and was rejected by them, and now is coming again in glory; a nation universally trampled under foot; whose land, rivers, armies of foreign invaders, the Assyrians, Babylonians, SyroMacedonians, Romans, Saracens, and Turks, have overrun and depopulated." Letter on Isaiah xviii.