English Standard Version
At that time tribute will be brought to the LORD of hosts from a people tall and smooth, from a people feared near and far, a nation mighty and conquering, whose land the rivers divide, to Mount Zion, the place of the name of the LORD of hosts.
King James Bible
In that time shall the present be brought unto the LORD of hosts of a people scattered and peeled, and from a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden under foot, whose land the rivers have spoiled, to the place of the name of the LORD of hosts, the mount Zion.
American Standard Version
In that time shall a present be brought unto Jehovah of hosts from a people tall and smooth, even from a people terrible from their beginning onward, a nation that meteth out and treadeth down, whose land the rivers divide, to the place of the name of Jehovah of hosts, the mount Zion.
At that time shall a present be brought to the Lord of hosts, from a people rent and torn in pieces: from a terrible people, after which there hath been no other: from a nation expecting, expecting and trodden under foot, whose land the rivers have spoiled, to the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, to mount Sion.
English Revised Version
In that time shall a present be brought unto the LORD of hosts of a people tall and smooth, and from a people terrible from their beginning onward; a nation that meteth out and treadeth down, whose land the rivers divide, to the place of the name of the LORD of hosts, the mount Zion.
Webster's Bible Translation
In that time shall the present be brought to the LORD of hosts of a people scattered and peeled, and from a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation measured by line and trodden under foot, whose land the rivers have spoiled, to the place of the name of the LORD of hosts, the mount Zion.
Isaiah 18:7 Parallel
CommentaryKeil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament
The prophecy commences with hoi, which never signifies heus, but always vae (woe). Here, however, it differs from Isaiah 17:12, and is an expression of compassion (cf., Isaiah 55:1; Zechariah 2:10) rather than of anger; for the fact that the mighty Ethiopia is oppressed by the still mightier Asshur, is a humiliation which Jehovah has prepared for the former. Isaiah 18:1, Isaiah 18:2: "Woe to the land of the whirring of wings, which is beyond the rivers of Cush, that sends ambassadors into the sea and in boats of papyrus over the face of the waters." The land of Cush commences, according to Ezekiel 29:10 (cf., Isaiah 30:6), where Upper Egypt ends. The Sevēneh (Aswân), mentioned by Ezekiel, is the boundary-point at which the Nile enters Mizraim proper, and which is still a depot for goods coming from the south down the Nile. The naharē-Cush (rivers of Cush) are chiefly those that surround the Cushite Seba (Genesis 10:7). This is the name given to the present Sennr, the Meroitic island which is enclosed between the White and Blue Nile (the Astapos of Ptolemy, or the present Bahr el-Abyad, and the Astaboras of Ptolemy, or the present Bahr el-Azrak). According to the latest researches, more especially those of Speke, the White Nile, which takes its rise in the Lake of Nyanza, is the chief source of the Nile. The latter, and the Blue Nile, whose confluence (makran) with it takes place in lat. 15 25, are fed by many larger or smaller tributary streams (as well as mountain torrents); the Blue Nile even more than the Nile proper. And this abundance of water in the land to the south of Sevēnēh, and still farther south beyond Seba (or Mero), might very well have been known to the prophet as a general fact. The land "beyond the rivers of Cush" is the land bounded by the sources of the Nile, i.e., (including Ethiopia itself in the stricter sense of the word) the south land under Ethiopian rule that lay still deeper in the heart of the country, the land of its African auxiliary tribes, whose names (which probably include the later Nubians and Abyssinians), as given in 2 Chronicles 12:3; Nahum 3:9; Ezekiel 30:5; Jeremiah 46:9, suppose a minuteness of information which has not yet been attained by modern research. To this Ethiopia, which is designated by its farthest limits (compare Zephaniah 3:10, where Wolff, in his book of Judith, erroneously supposes Media to be intended as the Asiatic Cush), the prophets give the strange name of eretz tziltzal cenâp. This has been interpreted as meaning "the land of the wings of an army with clashing arms" by Gesenius and others; but cenâphaim does not occur in this sense, like 'agappim in Ezekiel. Others render it "the land of the noise of waves" (Umbreit); but cenâphaim cannot be used of waters except in such a connection as Isaiah 8:8. Moreover, tziltzal is not a fitting onomatopoetic word either for the clashing of arms or the noise of waves. Others, again, render it "the land of the double shadow" (Grotius, Vitringa, Knobel, and others); but, however appropriate this epithet might be to Ethiopia as a tropical land, it is very hazardous to take the word in a sense which is not sustained by the usage of the language; and the same objection may be brought against Luzzatto's "land of the far-shadowing defence." Shelling has also suggested another objection - namely, that the shadow thrown even in tropical lands is not a double one, falling northwards and southwards at the same time, and therefore that it cannot be figuratively described as double-winged. Tziltzal cenâphaim is the buzzing of the wings of insects, with which Egypt and Ethiopia swarmed on account of the climate and the abundance of water: צלצל, constr. צלצל, tinnitus, stridor, a primary meaning from which the other three meanings of the word-cymbal, harpoon (a whirring dart), and grasshopper
(Note: Schrring supposes tziltzal to be the scarabaeus sacer (Linn.); but it would be much more natural, if any particular animal is intended, to think of the tzaltzalya, as it is called in the language of the Gallas, the tzetze in the Betschuana language, the most dreaded diptera of the interior of Africa, a species of glossina which attacks all the larger mammalia (though not men). Vid., Hartmann, Naturgeschichtlich-medic. Skizze der Nillnder, Abth. i. p. 205.)
- are derived. In Isaiah 7:18 the forces of Egypt are called "the fly from the end of the rivers of Egypt." Here Egypt and Ethiopia are called the land of the whirring of wings, inasmuch as the prophet had in his mind, under the designation of swarms of insects, the motley swarms of different people included in this great kingdom that were so fabulously strange to an Asiatic. Within this great kingdom messengers were now passing to and fro upon its great waters in boats of papyrus (on gōme, Copt. ‛gōme, Talm. gâmi, see at Job 8:11), Greek βαρίδες παπύριναι (βαρίς, from the Egyptian bari, bali, a barque). In such vessels as these, and with Egyptian tackle, they went as far as the remote island of Taprobane. The boats were made to clap together (pilcatiles), so as to be carried past the cataracts (Parthey on Plutarch. de Iside, pp. 198-9). And it is to these messengers in their paper boats that the appeal of the prophet is addressed.
He sends them home; and what they are to say to their own people is generalized into an announcement to the whole earth. "Go, swift messengers, to the people stretched out and polished, to the terrible people far away on the other side, to the nation of command upon command and treading down, whose land rivers cut through. All ye possessors of the globe and inhabitants of the earth, when a banner rises on the mountains, look ye; and when they blow the trumpets, hearken!" We learn from what follows to what it is that the attention of Ethiopia and all the nations of the earth is directed: it is the destruction of Asshur by Jehovah. They are to attend, when they observe the two signals, the banner and the trumpet-blast; these are decisive moments. Because Jehovah was about to deliver the world from the conquering might of Assyria, against which the Ethiopian kingdom was now summoning all the means of self-defence, the prophet sends the messengers home. Their own people, to which he sends them home, are elaborately described. They are memusshâk, stretched out, i.e., very tall (lxx ἔθνος μετέωρον), just as the Sabaeans are said to have been in Isaiah 45:14. They are also mōrât equals memorât (Ges. 52, Anm. 6), smoothed, politus, i.e., either not disfigured by an ugly growth of hair, or else, without any reference to depilation, but rather with reference to the bronze colour of their skin, smooth and shining with healthy freshness. The description which Herodotus gives of the Ethiopians, μέγιστοι καὶ κάλλιστοι ἀνθρώπων πάντων (iii. 20), quite answers to these first two predicates. They are still further described, with reference to the wide extent of their kingdom, which reached to the remotest south, as "the terrible nation והלאה מן־הוּא," i.e., from this point, where the prophet meets with the messengers, farther and farther off (compare 1 Samuel 20:21-22, but not 1 Samuel 18:9, where the expression has a chronological meaning, which would be less suitable here, where everything is so pictorial, and which is also to be rejected, because מן־הוּא cannot be equivalent to הוּא מאשׁר; cf., Nahum 2:9). We may see from Isaiah 28:10, Isaiah 28:13, what kâv (kăv, with connecting accusatives and before makkeph), a measuring or levelling line, signifies, when used by the prophet with the reduplication which he employs here: it is a people of "command upon command," - that is to say, a commanding nation; (according to Ewald, Knobel, and others, kâv is equivalent to the Arabic kūwe, strength, a nation of double or gigantic strength.) "A people of treading down" (sc., of others; mebūsah is a second genitive to goi), i.e., one which subdues and tramples down wherever it appears. These are all distinctive predicates - a nation of imposing grandeur, a ruling and conquering nation. The last predicate extols its fertile land. בּזא we take not in the sense of diripere, or as equivalent to bâzaz, like מאס, to melt, equivalent to mâsas, but in the sense of findere, i.e., as equivalent to בזע, like גּמא, to sip equals גּמע. For it is no praise to say that a land is scoured out, or washed away, by rivers. Bttcher, who is wrong in describing this chapter as "perhaps the most difficult in the whole of the Old Testament," very aptly compares with it the expression used by Herodotus (ii. 108), κατετμήθη ἡ Αἴγυπτος. But why this strange elaboration instead of the simple name? There is a divine irony in the fact that a nation so great and glorious, and (though not without reason, considering its natural gifts) so full of self-consciousness, should be thrown into such violent agitation in the prospect of the danger that threatened it, and should be making such strenuous exertions to avert that danger, when Jehovah the God of Israel was about to destroy the threatening power itself in a night, and consequently all the care and trouble of Ethiopia were utterly needless.
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scattered and peeled. or, outspread and polished
And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship
Because of your temple at Jerusalem kings shall bear gifts to you.
Nobles shall come from Egypt; Cush shall hasten to stretch out her hands to God.
which sends ambassadors by the sea, in vessels of papyrus on the waters! Go, you swift messengers, to a nation tall and smooth, to a people feared near and far, a nation mighty and conquering, whose land the rivers divide.
Thus says the LORD: "The wealth of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush, and the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over to you and be yours; they shall follow you; they shall come over in chains and bow down to you. They will plead with you, saying: 'Surely God is in you, and there is no other, no god besides him.'"
They are dreaded and fearsome; their justice and dignity go forth from themselves.
From beyond the rivers of Cush my worshipers, the daughter of my dispersed ones, shall bring my offering.
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