Isaiah 20:5
And they shall be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation, and of Egypt their glory.
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20:1-6 The invasion and conquest of Egypt and Ethiopia. - Isaiah was a sign to the people by his unusual dress, when he walked abroad. He commonly wore sackcloth as a prophet, to show himself mortified to the world. He was to loose this from his loins; to wear no upper garments, and to go barefooted. This sign was to signify, that the Egyptians and Ethiopians should be led away captives by the king of Assyria, thus stripped. The world will often deem believers foolish, when singular in obedience to God. But the Lord will support his servants under the most trying effects of their obedience; and what they are called upon to suffer for his sake, commonly is light, compared with what numbers groan under from year to year from sin. Those who make any creature their expectation and glory, and so put it in the place of God, will, sooner or later, be ashamed of it. But disappointment in creature-confidences, instead of driving us to despair, should drive us to God, and our expectation shall not be in vain. The same lesson is in force now; and where shall we look for aid in the hour of necessity, but to the Lord our Righteousness, throne of grace, and serving with each other in the same business of religion, should end all disputes, and unite the hearts of believers to each other in holy love.And they shall be afraid - The Jews, or the party or faction among the Jews, that were expecting aid from allied Ethiopia and Egypt. When they shall see them vanquished, they shall apprehend a similar danger to themselves; and they shall be ashamed that they ever confided in a people so little able to aid them, instead of trusting in the arm of God.

Egypt their glory - Their boast, as if Egypt was able to save them. The word rendered here 'glory' (תפארת tiph'ereth) means properly, "ornament, praise, honor;" and then it may mean the "object" of glory, or that in which people boast or confide. That is its sense here (compare Isaiah 10:12; Isaiah 13:19; Zechariah 12:7).

5. they—the Philistine allies of Egypt who trusted in it for help against Assyria. A warning to the party among the Jews, who, though Judah was then the subordinate ally of Assyria, were looking to Egypt as a preferable ally (Isa 30:7). Ethiopia was their "expectation"; for Palestine had not yet obtained, but hoped for alliance with it. Egypt was their "glory," that is, boast (Isa 13:19); for the alliance with it was completed. They; all they that shall trust to them, and glory in them, as appears from the following words; the pronoun they being put indefinitely here, as it is Isaiah 2:19, and elsewhere. But under this general expression the Israelites not only are comprehended, but seem to be principally intended, because to them this prophecy was delivered, and they were eminently guilty of this sin; of which see Isaiah 30:2 31:1. And they shall be afraid and ashamed,.... That is, those that trusted and depended upon the Egyptians and Ethiopians, particularly the Jews after mentioned, shall be "afraid" that it will be their turn next, that they also shall be taken and carried captive; and they shall be "ashamed" that they have put their trust and confidence in those nations, and not in the Lord:

of Ethiopia their expectation; from whom they expected assistance and protection, particularly when Tirhakah king of Ethiopia went out against the king of Assyria, that he would have been a match for him, and have overcome him, and so have freed them from such a powerful enemy:

and of Egypt their glory; who was their ally, and a very potent one, and in whom they gloried; but now should be ashamed, when both those people on whom they relied were carried captive.

And they shall be afraid and ashamed of {e} Cush their expectation, and of Egypt their {f} glory.

(e) In whose aid they trusted.

(f) Of whom they boasted and gloried.

5, 6. The effect which the sight of these miserable gangs of captives will produce on the inhabitants of Palestine. This is the real motive of the prophecy. Hezekiah probably took the warning.

they shall be afraid] R.V. better: dismayed. The subject is indefinite—“men.”Verse 5. - They shall be afraid and ashamed. Those who have resorted to Egypt and Ethiopia for aid shall be "ashamed" of their folly in doing so, and "afraid" of its consequences (see the last clause of ver. 6). Thus is the way prepared for the highest point of all, which the prophet foretells in Isaiah 19:24, Isaiah 19:25 : "In that day will Israel be the third part to Egypt and Asshur, a blessing in the midst of the earth, since Jehovah of hosts blesseth them thus: Blessed be thou, my people Egypt; and thou Asshur, the work of my hands; and thou Israel, mine inheritance." Israel is added to the covenant between Egypt and Asshur, so that it becomes a tripartite covenant in which Israel forms the "third part" (sheilshiyyâh, tertia pars, like ‛ası̄ryyâh, decima pars, in Isaiah 6:13). Israel has now reached the great end of its calling - to be a blessing in "the midst of the earth" (b'kereb hâ'âretz, in the whole circuit of the earth), all nations being here represented by Egypt and Assyria. Hitherto it had been only to the disadvantage of Israel to be situated between Egypt and Assyria. The history of the Ephraimitish kingdom, as well as that of Judah, clearly proves this. If Israel relied upon Egypt, it deceived itself, and was deceived; and if it relied on Assyria, it only became the slave of Assyria, and had Egypt for a foe. Thus Israel was in a most painful vise between the two great powers of the earth, the western and the eastern powers. But how will all this be altered now! Egypt and Assyria become one in Jehovah, and Israel the third in the covenant. Israel is lo longer the only nation of God, the creation of God, the heir of God; but all this applies to Egypt and Assyria now, as well as to Israel. To give full expression to this, Israel's three titles of honour are mixed together, and each of the three nations receives one of the choice names - nachali, "my inheritance," being reserved for Israel, as pointing back to its earliest history. This essential equalization of the heathen nations and Israel is no degradation to the latter. For although from this time forward there is to be no essential difference between the nations in their relation to God, it is still the God of Israel who obtains this universal recognition, and the nation of Israel that has become, according to the promise, the medium of blessing to the world.

Thus has the second half of the prophecy ascended step by step from salvation to salvation, as the first descended step by step from judgment to judgment. The culminating point in Isaiah 19:25 answers to the lowest point in Isaiah 19:15. Every step in the ascending half is indicated by the expression "in that day." Six times do we find this sign-post to the future within the limits of Isaiah 19:16-25. This expression is almost as characteristic of Isaiah as the corresponding expression, "Behold, the days come" (hinneh yâm bâ'im), is of Jeremiah (compare, for example, Isaiah 7:18-25). And it is more particularly in the promising or Messianic portions of the prophecy that it is so favourite an introduction (Isaiah 11:10-11; Isaiah 12:1; compare Zech). Nevertheless, the genuineness of Isaiah 19:16-25 has recently been called in question, more especially by Hitzig. Sometimes this passage has not been found fanatical enough to have emanated from Isaiah, i.e., too free from hatred towards the heathen; whereas, on the other hand, Knobel adduces evidence that the prophet was no fanatic at all. Sometimes it is too fanatical; in reply to which we observe, that there never was a prophet of God in the world who did not appear to a "sound human understanding" to be beside himself, since, even assuming that this human understanding be sound, it is only within the four sides of its own peculiar province that it is so. Again, in Isaiah 19:18, Isaiah 19:19, a prophecy has been discovered which is too special to be Isaiah's, in opposition to which Knobel proves that it is not so special as is supposed. But it is quite special enough; and this can never astonish any one who can discern in the prophecy a revelation of the future communicated by God, whereas in itself it neither proves nor disproves the authorship of Isaiah. So far as the other arguments adduced against the genuineness are concerned, they have been answered exhaustively by Caspari, in a paper which he contributed on the subject to the Lutherische Zeitschrift, 1841, 3. Hvernick, in his Introduction, has not been able to do anything better than appropriate the arguments adduced by Caspari. And we will not repeat for a third time what has been said twice already. The two halves of the prophecy are like the two wings of a bird. And it is only through its second half that the prophecy becomes the significant centre of the Ethiopic and Egyptian trilogy. For chapter 19 predicts the saving effect that will be produced upon Egypt by the destruction of Assyria. And Isaiah 19:23. announces what will become of Assyria. Assyria will also pass through judgment to salvation. This eschatological conclusion to chapter 19, in which Egypt and Assyria are raised above themselves into representatives of the two halves of the heathen world, is the golden clasp which connects chapters 19 and Isaiah 20:1-6. We now turn to this third portion of the trilogy, which bears the same relation to chapter 19 as Isaiah 16:13-14 to Isaiah 15-16:12.

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