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Ethiopia is charged to note God's judgments. 1 Woe to the land shadowing in the heat of harvest. with wings, which is beyond 5 For afore the harvest, when the rivers of Ethiopia : the bud is perfect, and the sour
2 That sendeth ambassadors by grape is ripening in the flower, the sea, even in vessels of bul- he shall both cut off the sprigs rushes upon the waters, saying, with pruning hooks, and take aGo, ye swift messengers, to way and cut down the branches. a nation scattered and peeled, 6 They shall be left together to a people terrible from their unto the fowls of the mounbeginning hitherto; a nation tains, and to the beasts of the meted out and trodden down, earth : and the fowls shall sumwhose land the rivers have mer upon them, and all the spoiled!
beasts of the earth shall winter 3 All ye inhabitants of the upon them. world, and dwellers on the earth, 7 In that time shall the presee ye, when he lifteth up an sent be brought unto the LORD ensign on the mountains; and of hosts of a people scattered when he bloweth a trumpet, and peeled, and from a people
terrible from their beginning 4 For so the Lord said unto hitherto; a nation meted out me, I will take my rest, and I and trodden under foot, whose will consider in my dwelling land the rivers have spoiled, to place like a clear heat upon the place of the name of the herbs, and like a cloud of dew LORD of hosts, the mount Zion.
LECTURE 1119. The present which all men ought to give to God. The country to which this obscure prophecy was most probably addressed, is Éthiopia in Africa, nearly the same with that which is now called Abyssinia; and which, in respect of the land of Israel, lay“ beyond the rivers of Ethiopia,” to the south of those rivers which were called by its name.
Thus much at least is certain, that Sennacherib, the monarch of Assyria, whose miraculous discomfiture is predicted at the close of the preceding chapter, was engaged in warfare at the same time with Tirhakah king of Ethiopia. See 2 Kings 19. 9. Egypt also appears to have been then in league with Hezekiah. See 2 Kings 18. 21. And it is known from other historic records, that Egypt, which lay between Jerusalem and Ethiopia, was about the same period in close connection with the latter country; having for its sovereign a prince of Ethiopian extraction. Finding therefore the doom of Sennacherib at the end of the chapter preceding this, and observing that “ The burden of Egypt,” ch. 19. 1, occupies the chapter following, we may deem it highly probable, that the subject of this chapter is a solemn message to the king of Ethiopia, bidding him note the great judgment which the Lord was about to inflict upon their common enemy, the king of Assyria.
Besides a wide difference of opinion as to the general subject of this prophecy, there is also much difficulty as to the right translation of many expressions in it, as will be seen in the margin of our bibles, where many different translations are suggested. And it has been thought that the first word translated “Woe,” is no more, in this place, than a term calling attention to the message about to be delivered. But Ethiopia might be doomed to woe hereafter, for its idolatry, though for the present in league with the people of the Lord. And the message might begin with warning, though it consisted of good tidings in the main. It is addressed to a land “shadowing with wings,” words which perhaps refer to the multitude of its winged insects. It is spoken of as sending ambassadors both “by the sea," that is, the Red Sea close at hand, and “in vessels of bulrushes upon the waters,” that is on its rivers, and especially on the upper portion of the Nile. This may mean that it carried on a great commerce both by river and by sea. It is described to the swift messengers, who are supposed to bear the prophets message, as “a people scattered and peeled," which expression may refer to its extensive territory, or, like other expressions in the same verse, may allude to circumstances now unknown. See Ezek. 30. 9. And it is told, nay, all the inhabitants of the world are told, to mark the interference of the arm of the Lord in behalf of his own chosen nation. All were to watch for the ensign which He would soon lift up upon his mountains. All were to listen for the trumpet which He soon would blow. For whilst the proud invader would defy his power, and rush on in full confidence of success, God would wait, as He had revealed to Isaiah, in calm and quiet rest, like the stillness of the midday heat, taking his own season to cut off
, and to cut down, and to take away, the pride and power of Sennacherib, and to make the multitude of his host a prey for the fowls of the mountains, and for the beasts of the earth.
Of the Ethiopians, thus invited to observe God's judgments, it is further here foretold, that they would bring “ the present unto the Lord of hosts.” They would be among those nations, of whom we read in the sacred history, that after this miraculous deliverance, “ many brought gifts unto the Lord to Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah king of Judah : so that he was magnified in the sight of all nations from thenceforth.” 2 Chron. 32.
And further, when we call to mind the fact that Abyssinia has long been a nation professing Christianity, though now separated from the rest of Christendom by the realms of unbelievers, we shall be inclined to think, that these words foreshew another offering, that "the present,” here spoken of, is that gift of themselves to God, through Christ, which they and we and all the “dwellers on the earth," owe to Him for his great salvation.
The burden of Egypt, of its princes and people. i The burden of Egypt. Be- driven away, and be no more. hold, the Lord rideth upon a
8 The fishers also shall mourn, swift cloud, and shall come into and all they that cast angle inEgypt: and the idols of Egypt to the brooks shall lament, and shall be moved at his presence, they that spread nets upon the and the heart of Egypt shall waters shall languish. melt in the midst of it.
9 Moreover they that work in 2 And I will set the Egyptians fine flax, and they that weave against the Egyptians: and they networks, shall be confounded. shall fight every one against his 10 And they shall be broken in brother, and every one against the purposes thereof, all that his neighbour; city against city, make sluices and ponds for fish. and kingdom against kingdom. 11 Surely the princes of Zoan
3 And the spirit of Egypt shall are fools, the counsel of the wise fail in the midst thereof; and counsellors of Pharaoh is beI will destroy the counsel there- come brutish: how say ye unto of: and they shall seek to the Pharaoh, I am the son of the idols, and to the charmers, and wise, the son of ancient kings? to them that have familiar spi- 12 Where are they? where rits, and to the wizards.
are thy wise men ? and let them 4 And the Egyptians will I tell thee now, and let them give over into the hand of a know what the Lord of hosts cruel lord; and a fierce king hath purposed upon Egypt. shall rule over them, saith the 13 T'he princes of Zoan are beLord, the Lord of hosts. come fools, the princes of Noph
5 And the waters shall fail are deceived; they have also sefrom the sea, and the river shall duced Egypt, even they that are be wasted and dried up. the stay of the tribes thereof.
6 And they shall turn the ri- 14 The Lord hath mingled vers far away; and the brooks a perverse spirit in the midst of defence shall be emptied and thereof: and they have caused dried up: the reeds and flags Egypt to err in every work shall wither.
thereof, as a drunken man stag7 The paper reeds by the gereth in his vomit. brooks, by the mouth of the 15 Neither shall there be any brooks, and every thing sown work for Egypt, which the head by the brooks, shall wither, be or tail, branch or rush, may do.
LECTURE 1120. The misery of having no useful employment. Amongst the great nations of antiquity, none were more nearly connected with the history of the Israelites than Egypt. How appropriate to the gross superstitions of that infatuated country is this account of the effect of the visitation of the Lord, “the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it!" " How awful, in a time of
public calamity, must be the state of that nation which has trusted in false gods, and finds them all unable to help ; which resorts to idols, and charmers, and wizards, and gets no relief or deliverance ! How deplorable, in like manner, in a case of private distress, is the desolation of heart and soul, which overtakes the unbelieving professor of a true religion! His religion may but if his heart be false, if his faith in the truth be no real conviction of things unseen, if his thoughts and affections be all the while devoted to the idols of this world of sense; how does his spirit fail within him in the day of visitation, when this world eludes his grasp, and he has no hold of hope upon another !
The writings of heathen historians attest the fulfilment of this prophecy, in several of these remarkable particulars. They tell us of a time when the sovereign authority in Egypt was divided amongst twelve kings, who soon fell into violent
contentions with each other. They record also the savage cruelties inflicted on the Egyptians by Persian monarchs in after times; one of whom in particular treated their idols with great indignity, and slew many of the priests and worshippers. To these calamities inflicted by man was to be added another, not particularly recorded in history, the failure of the waters of the Nile; which at a certain season of the year, spreads over all Egypt like a sea, and is the cause of its remarkable fertility. Hence all those whose trade and occupation were connected with the periodical overflowing of the river would be reduced to the utmost distress. The princes too of Egypt would be remarkable, as we know from history that they were, for a foolish vanity, and gross infatuation ; leading them to undertake the most gigantic works, for no other object, as it seems, than to astonish the beholders, and to signalize themselves. The monuments of their misdirected labour, which still remain, and of which the most learned are at a loss to divine the use, are a standing evidence of the “perverse spirit” to which Egypt was given up for its sins; and shew us, at the present time, how the rulers of that land of idols “caused Egypt to err in every work thereof." No wonder that God appointed for its fitting punishment, that there should not be any “work for Egypt,” for either the rulers or multitude, to do. An awful burden, to be an idle useless race. A fearful warning to the indolent, who do no work for the good of man or for the glory of God. Never may we be sentenced to this miserable condition of having no work that we may do. Whatever be our station of life, may it be ever our privilege, and pleasure, to have some useful employment, and therein to be “not slothful in business :" but “fervent in spirit; serving the Lord !” Rom. 12. 11.
The smiting and the healing of Egypt. 16 In that day shall Egypt be and a great one, and he shall like unto women: and it shall deliver them. be afraid and fear because of 21 And the LORD shall be the shaking of the hand of the known to Egypt, and the EgypLord of hosts, which he shak- tians shall know the Lord in eth over it.
that day, and shall do sacrifice 17 And the land of Judah shall and oblation ; yea, they shall be a terror unto Egypt, every vow a vow unto the Lord, and one that maketh mention there- perform it. of shall be afraid in himself, be- 22 And the LORD shall smite cause of the counsel of the LORD Egypt: he shall smite and heal of hosts, which he hath deter- it ; and they shall return even mined against it.
to the LORD, and he shall be 18 In that day shall five cities intreated of them, and shall heal in the land of Egypt speak the them. language of Canaan, and swear 23 In that day shall there be to the Lord of hosts; one shall a highway out of Egypt to Asbe called, The city of destruc- syria, and the Assyrian shall come tion.
into Egypt, and the Egyptian 19 In that day shall there be into Assyria, and the Egyptians an altar to the Lord in the shall serve with the Assyrians. midst of the land of Egypt, and 24 In that day shall Israel be a pillar at the border thereof to the third with Egypt and with the LORD.
Assyria, even a blessing in the 20 And it shall be for a sign midst of the land : and for a witness unto the Lord 25 Whom the LORD of hosts of hosts in the land of Egypt: shall bless, saying, Blessed be for they shall cry unto the Lord Egypt my people, and Assyria because of the oppressors, and the work of my hands, and Ishe shall send them a saviour, rael mine inheritance.
LECTURE 1121. The conversion of the Gentiles to the true faith. A disposition to be alarmed adds much to the sufferings of those who are in danger, and is here laid upon Egypt as part of its burden in the day of its visitation. The Egyptians would be afraid, " because of the shaking of the hand of the Lord of hosts,” because God would send terror into their hearts. And especially “ 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.” With the name of Judah there would be connected, in the minds of the Egyptians, a recollection of the mighty works which the God of Israel had wrought, and an apprehension of the judgments which they had provoked at his hands, by often tempting his people to transgress.