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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
Isaiah 19:18

In that day five cities in the land of Egypt will be speaking the language of Canaan and swearing allegiance to the Lord of hosts; one will be called the City of Destruction.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Egyptians;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Egypt;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Language;   Tirhakah;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Egypt;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Canaan, the Language of;   Destruction, City of;   Hebrew Language;   Heres;   Irha-Heres;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Hebrew Language;   Ir-Ha-Heres;   Jew;   Oath;   On (2);   Holman Bible Dictionary - City of the Sun;   Hebrew;   Heres;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Canaanites;   Ir-Ha-Heres;   Isaiah, Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Paul (2);   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Heres ;   On;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Borrow;   Outcasts;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Egypt;   On;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Astronomy;   City of Destruction;   Destruction, City of;   Dispersion, the;   Egypt;   Heres;   Ir-Ha-Heres;   Isaiah;   Languages of the Old Testament;   On (1);   Phoenicia;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Canaanites, the;   Egypt;   Hebrew Language;   Heres;   Jerome (Eusebius Hieronymus Sophronius);   Leontopolis;   Masorah;  

Clarke's Commentary

Verse Isaiah 19:18. The city of destruction - "The city of the sun"] עיר החרס ir hacheres. This passage is attended with much difficulty and obscurity. First, in regard to the true reading. It is well known that Onias applied it to his own views, either to procure from the king of Egypt permission to build his temple in the Hieropolitan Nome, or to gain credit and authority to it when built; from the notion which he industriously propagated, that Isaiah had in this place prophesied of the building of such a temple. He pretended that the very place where it should be built was expressly named by the prophet, עיר החרס ir hacheres, the city of the sun. This possibly may have been the original reading. The present text has עיר ההרס ir haheres, the city of destruction; which some suppose to have been introduced into the text by the Jews of Palestine afterwards, to express their detestation of the place, being much offended with this schismatical temple in Egypt. Some think the latter to have been the true reading, and that the prophet himself gave this turn to the name out of contempt, and to intimate the demolition of this Hieropolitan temple; which in effect was destroyed by Vespasian's orders, after that of Jerusalem, "Videtur propheta consulto scripsisse הרס heres, pro חרס cheres, ut alibi scribitur בית און beith aven pro בית אל beith El: איש בשת ish bosheth pro איש בעל ish baal, c. Vide Lowth in loc." - Secker. "It seems that the prophet designedly wrote הרס heres, destruction, for חרס cheres, the sun: as elsewhere בית און beith aven, the house of iniquity, is written for בית אל beith El, the house of God איש בשת ish bosheth for איש בעל ish baal," c. But on the supposition that עיר ההרס air haheres is the true reading, others understand it differently. The word הרס heres in Arabic signifies a lion and Conrad Ikenius has written a dissertation (Dissert. Philol. Theol. XVI.) to prove that the place here mentioned is not Heliopolis, as it is commonly supposed to be, but Leontopolis in the Heliopolitan Nome, as it is indeed called in the letter, whether real or pretended, of Onias to Ptolemy, which Josephus has inserted in his Jewish Antiquities, lib. xiii. c. 3. And I find that several persons of great learning and judgment think that Ikenius has proved the point beyond contradiction. See Christian. Muller. Satura Observ. Philolog. Michaelis Bibliotheque Oriental, Part v., p. 171. But, after ali, I believe that neither Onias, Heliopolis, nor Leontopolis has any thing to do with this subject. The application of this place of Isaiah to Onias's purpose seems to have been a mere invention, and in consequence of it there may perhaps have been some unfair management to accommodate the text to that purpose; which has been carried even farther than the Hebrew text; for the Greek version has here been either translated from a corrupted text, or wilfully mistranslated or corrupted, to serve the same cause. The place is there called πολις Ασεδεκ, the city of righteousness; a name apparently contrived by Onias's party to give credit to their temple, which was to rival that of Jerusalem. Upon the whole, the true reading of the Hebrew text in this place is very uncertain; fifteen MSS. and seven editions have חרס cheres, the city of Hacheres, or, of the sun. So likewise Symmachas, the Vulgate, Arabic, Septuagint, and Complutensian. On the other hand, Aquila, Theodotion, and the Syriac read הרס heres, destruction; the Chaldee paraphrase takes in both readings.

The reading of the text being so uncertain, no one can pretend to determine what the city was that is here mentioned by name; much less to determine what the four other cities were which the prophet does not name. I take the whole passage from the 18th verse to the end of the chapter, to contain a general intimation of the future propagation of the knowledge of the true God in Egypt and Syria, under the successors of Alexander; and, in consequence of this propagation, of the early reception of the Gospel in the same countries, when it should be published to the world. See more on this subject in Prideaux's Connect. An. 145; Dr. Owen's Inquiry into the present state of the Septuagint Version, p. 41; and Bryant's Observations on Ancient History, p. 124. - L.

Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Isaiah 19:18". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​acc/​isaiah-19.html. 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Egypt’s punishment and conversion (19:1-25)

At various times Judah was tempted to rely on Egypt for help against aggressors. Isaiah shows in this message how useless such reliance is. He pictures the day when God acts against Egypt, and sees that all Egypt’s magic and all her gods cannot save her. Civil war breaks out, followed by the harsh rule of a dictator (19:1-4).
Drought causes the Nile, Egypt’s only water supply, to dry up. This ruins the nation’s farming, fishing and cotton industries, and creates nationwide unemployment (5-10). Try as they may, the nation’s rulers and advisers cannot solve its problems, for those problems have been sent upon them by God (11-13). As a result the nation is reduced to helplessness. No one knows what to do (14-15).
Having been humbled, Egypt fears Judah. It also fears Judah’s almighty God, Yahweh (16-17). Judeans then migrate to Egypt and establish the worship of Yahweh in places where people had once worshipped heathen gods. God now treats the people of Egypt as previously he treated those of Israel and Judah. He delivers them from their oppressors, punishes them for their sins, and forgives them when they repent (18-22). People from Egypt, along with people from other former enemies of Israel-Judah, will have an equal part with the people of Israel-Judah in God’s universal kingdom (23-25).

Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Isaiah 19:18". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bbc/​isaiah-19.html. 2005.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

"In that day there shall be five cities in the land of Egypt that speak the language of Canaan, and swear to Jehovah of hosts; one shall be called the city of destruction."

"Five cities ..." This verse is considered very difficult, not only as to the identity of these cities, but as to the significance of only five being mentioned, and even as to what is meant by the language of Canaan!

"The reference to the five cities is not to be taken literally";[15] We understand it as meaning "only a few." One plausible meaning of the verse is that it refers to the establishment, through the Jews, of a foothold in Egypt, a kind of beach-head for monotheism, which would aid the spread of the gospel in ages to come. Rawlinson pointed out that this actually occurred after the conquest by Alexander the Great,[16] who established large numbers of Jews in Alexandria; and that this became a great stronghold of monotheism. The LXX version of the Hebrew scriptures was produced there; and the rendition of the Hebrew into the Greek might even be called a prerequisite to the gospel age. This version (LXX) proved to be a key in the evangelism of the world, God's first signal that the Greek language would be the language of inspiration in the New Testament. Significantly, this break-through occurred in Egypt. The translation of the Hebrew scriptures into Greek, which, after Alexander the Great, became the universal language of the whole world was indeed significant. (1) It `froze' all of the great prophecies pointing to the Messiah, so that they could never be altered; indeed the entire Old Testament was hardened into facts of history," known by the whole world and incapable of being changed. Present day critics cannot get around the witness of the Septuagint (LXX) any more than could the infidels of Jesus' day. The Septuagint (LXX) was translated about 250 B.C.

Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Isaiah 19:18". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bcc/​isaiah-19.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

In that day - The word ‘day’ is used in Scripture in a large signification, “as including the whole period under consideration,” or the whole time that is embraced in the scope of a prophecy. In this chapter it is used in this sense; and evidently means that the event here foretold would take place “somewhere” in the period that is embraced in the design of the prophecy. That is, the event recorded in this verse would occur in the series of events that the prophet saw respecting Egypt (see Isaiah 4:1). The sense is, that somewhere in the general time here designated Isaiah 19:4-17, the event here described would take place. There would be an extensive fear of Yahweh, and an extensive embracing of the true religion, in the land of Egypt.

Shall five cities - The number ‘five’ here is evidently used to denote an “indefinite” number, in the same way as ‘seven’ is often used in the Scriptures (see Leviticus 26:8). It means, that several cities in Egypt would use that language, one of which only is specified.

The language of Canaan - Margin, ‘Lip of Canaan.’ So the Hebrew; but the word often means ‘language.’ The language of Canaan evidently means the “Hebrew” language; and it is called ‘the language of Canaan’ either because it was spoken by the original inhabitants of the land of Canaan, or more probably because it was used by the Hebrews who occupied Canaan as the promised land; and then it will mean the language spoken in the land of Canaan. The phrase used here is employed probably to denote that they would be converted to the Jewish religion; or that the religion of the Jews would flourish there. A similar expression, to denote conversion to the true God, occurs in Zephaniah 3:9 : ‘For there I will turn to the people a pure language, that they may call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.’

And swear to the Lord of hosts - That is, they shall “devote” themselves to him; or they shall bind themselves to his service by solemn covenant; compare Deuteronomy 10:20; Isaiah 45:20, where conversion to God, and a purpose to serve him, is expressed in the same manner by “swearing” to him, that is, by solemnly devoting themselves to his service.

One shall be called - The name of one of them shall be, etc. Why “one” particularly is designated is not known.

The city of destruction - There has been a great variety of interpretation in regard to this expression. Margin, ‘Heres,’ or, ‘The sun.’ The Vulgate, ‘The city of the sun;’ evidently meaning Heliopolis. The Septuagint Ασεδέκ Asedik - ‘The city Asedek.’ The Chaldee, ‘The city of the house of the sun (שׁמשׁ בית bēyith shemesh), which is to be destroyed.’ The Syriac, ‘The city of Heres.’ The common reading of the Hebrew text is, ההרס עיר 'iyr haheres. This reading is found in most MS. editions and versions. The word הרס heres commonly means “destruction,” though it may also mean “deliverance;” and Gesenius supposes the name was to be given to it because it was to be a “delivered” city; that is, it would be the city to which ‘the saviour’ mentioned in Isaiah 19:20, would come, and which he would make his capital. Ikenius contends that the word ‘Heres’ is taken from the Arabic, and that the name is the same as Leontopolis - ‘The city of the lion,’ a city in Egypt. But besides other objections which may be made to this interpretation, the signification of “lion” is not given to the word in the Hebrew language.

The common reading is that which occurs in the text - the city of “Heres.” But another reading (החרס hacheres) is found in sixteen manuscripts, and has been copied in the Complutensian Polyglot. This word ( חרס cheres) properly means the “sun,” and the phrase means the city of the sun; that is, Heliopolis. Onias, who was disappointed in obtaining the high priesthood (149 b.c.) on the death of his uncle Menelaus, fled into Egypt, and ingratiated himself into the favor of Ptolemy Philometer and Cleopatra, and was advanced to the highest rank in the army and the court, and made use of his influence to obtain permission to build a temple in Egypt like that at Jerusalem, with a grant that he and his descendants should always have a right to officiate in it as high priests. In order to obtain this, he alleged that it would be for the interest of Egypt, by inducing many Jews to come and reside there, and that their going annually to Jerusalem to attend the great feasts would expose them to alienation from the Egyptians, to join the Syrian interest (“see” Prideaux’s “Connection,” under the year 149 b.c. Josephus expressly tells us (“Ant.” xiii. 3. 1-3), that in order to obtain this layout, he urged that it had been predicted by Isaiah six hundred years before, and that in consequence of this, Ptolemy granted him permission to build the temple, and that it was built at Leontopolis. It resembled that at Jerusalem, but was smaller and less splendid. It was within the Nomos or prefecture of Heliopolis, at the distance of twenty-four miles from Memphis. Onias pretended that the very place was foretold by Isaiah; and this would seem to suppose that the ancient reading was that of ‘the city of the sun.’ He urged this prediction in order to reconcile the Jews to the idea of another temple besides that at Jerusalem, because a temple erected in Egypt would be an object of disapprobation to the Jews in Palestine. Perhaps for the same reason the translation of Isaiah in the Septuagint renders this, Ἀσεδέκ Asedek - ‘The city of Asedek,’ as if the original were צדקה tsedâqâh - ‘The city of righteousness’ - that is, a city where righteousness dwells; or a city which was approved by God. But this is manifestly a corruption of the Hebrew text.

It may be proper to remark that the change in the Hebrew between the word rendered ‘destruction’ (הרס heres), and the word ‘sun’ (חרס cheres), is a change of a single letter where one might be easily mistaken for the other - the change of the Hebrew letter ה (h) into the Hebrew letter ח (ch). This might have occurred by the error of a transcriber, though the circumstances would lead us to think it not improbable that it “may” have been made designedly, but by whom is unknown. It “may” have been originally as Onias pretended and have been subsequently altered by the Jews to counteract the authority which he urged for building a temple in Egypt; but there is no certain evidence of it. The evidence from MSS. is greatly in favor of the reading as in our translation (הרס heres), and this may be rendered either ‘destruction,’ or more probably, according to Gesenius, ‘deliverance,’ so called from the “deliverance” that would be brought to it by the promised saviour Isaiah 19:20.

It may be added, that there is no evidence that Isaiah meant to designate the city where Onias built the temple, but merely to predict that many cities in Egypt would be converted, one of which would be the one here designated. Onias took “advantage” of this, and made an artful use of it, but it was manifestly not the design of Isaiah. Which is the true reading of the passage it is impossible now to determine; nor is it important. I think the most probable interpretation is that which supposes that Isaiah meant to refer to a city saved from destruction, as mentioned in Isaiah 19:20, and that he did not design to designate any particular city by name. The city of Heliopolis was situated on the Pelusian branch of the Nile, about five miles below the point of the ancient Delta. It was deserted in the time of Strabo; and this geographer mentions its mounds of ruin, but the houses were shown in which Eudoxus and Plato had studied.

The place was celebrated for its learning, and its temple dedicated to the sun. There are now no ruins of ancient buildings, unless the mounds can be regarded as such; the walls, however, can still be traced, and there is an entire obelisk still standing. This obelisk is of red granite, about seventy feet high, and from its great antiquity has excited much attention among the learned. In the neighboring villages there are many fragments which have been evidently transferred from this city. Dr. Robinson who visited it, says, that ‘the site about two hours N. N. E. from Cairo. The way thither passes along the edge of the desert, which is continually making encroachments, so soon as then ceases to be a supply of water for the surface of the ground. The site of Heliopolis is marked by low mounds, enclosing a space about three quarters of a mile in length, by half a mile in breadth, which was once occupied by houses, and partly by the celebrated temple of the sun. This area is now a plowed field, a garden of herbs; and the solitary obelisk which rises in the midst is the sole remnant of the splendor of the place. Near by it is a very old sycamore, its trunk straggling and gnarled, under which legendary tradition relates that the holy family once. rested.’ (“Bib. Researches,” vol. i. pp. 36, 37.) The illustration in the book, from the Pictorial Bible, will give an idea of the present appearance of Heliopolis.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Isaiah 19:18". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bnb/​isaiah-19.html. 1870.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

18.In that day there shall be five cities. After having threatened the Egyptians, and at the same time explained the reason of the divine judgment, he comforts them, and promises the mercy of God. He declares that they will be in part restored, and will regain a prosperous and flourishing condition; for he says that out of six cities five will be saved, and only one will perish. He had already foretold a frightful destruction to the whole kingdom, so that no one who examines the former prediction can think of anything else than a condition that is past remedy. He therefore promises that this restoration will be accomplished by the extraordinary kindness of God, so that it will be a kind of addition to the redemption of the Church, or a large measure of the grace of God, when the Redeemer shall be sent.

The manner of expression is somewhat obscure, but if we observe it carefully, there is no difficulty about the meaning; for the Prophet means that on1y the sixth part of the cities will be destroyed, and that the rest will be saved. The difficulty lies in the word ההרס, (hăhĕrĕs.) Some read it החרס, (hăchĕrĕs,) that is, of the sun, but they have mistaken the letter ה (he) for ח (cheth,) which resembles it. Those who explain it “of the sun,” think that the Prophet spoke of Heliopolis; (41) but this does not agree with the context; and he does not merely promise that five cities would be restored, (for how inconsiderable would such a restoration have been!) but generally, that five cities out of six would be saved. We know that the cities in Egypt were very numerous. I do not mention the fables of the ancients, and those who have assigned to them twenty thousand cities. But still, there must have been a vast number of cities in a country so highly celebrated, in a kingdom so flourishing and populous, with a climate so mild and temperate. Let us then suppose that there were a thousand cities in it, or somewhat more. He says that only the sixth part will perish, that the rest will be restored, so that but few will be destroyed. From what follows it is evident that this restoration must be understood to relate to the worship.

Speaking with the lip of Canaan. By the word lip he means the tongue, (συνεκδοχικῶς,) taking a part for the whole. He expresses their agreement with the people of God, and the faith by which they will make profession of the name of God; for by the tongue he metaphorically describes confession. Since there was but one language which acknowledged and professed the true God, that is, the language of that nation which inhabited the land of Canaan, it is evident that by such a language must be meant agreement in religion. It is customary enough to employ these modes of expression, “to speak the same language,” or, “to speak a different language,” when we intend to describe agreement or diversity of opinion. But at the same time it must be remembered that it is not every kind of agreement that is sufficient, as if men were to form a conspiracy about the worship which they preferred, but if they agree in the truth which was revealed to the fathers. He does not merely say that the Egyptians will speak the same language, but that they will speak the language of Canaan. They must have changed their language, and adopted that which God had sanctified; not that the dialect was more holy, but it is commended on account of its containing the doctrine of truth.

This ought to be carefully observed, that we may understand what is the true method of agreement. We must by all means seek harmony, but we must see on what conditions we obtain it; for we must not seek any middle course, as is done by those who overturn religion, and yet who wish to be regarded as peace-makers. Away with such fickle and changeful tongues! Let the truth itself be preserved, which cannot be contained but in the word. Whosoever shall determine to agree to it, let him talk with us, but away with every one who shall corrupt it, choose what language he may. Let us abide firmly by this. It will therefore be impossible for the Egyptians to speak the language of Canaan till they have first relinquished their own language, that is, till they have relinquished all superstitions. Some refer this to the age of Ptolemy, but it is absurd, and we may infer from what follows that the Prophet speaks of piety and of the true worship of God.

And swearing by Jehovah of hosts. First, employing a figure of speech in which a part is taken for the whole, he shews that their conversation will be holy, by exhibiting a single class of them, for in swearing they will make profession that they worship the true God. It may also be read, swearing to the Lord, or, by the Lord, for ל (lamed) often signifies by. If we read, “to the Lord,” the meaning will be, that they will promise obedience to him, and that by a solemn oath, as when any nation promises fidelity to its prince; as if he had said, “They will acknowledge the authority of God, and submit to his government.” But since another reading has been more generally approved, I willingly adopt it; for since one part of the worship of God is swearing, by taking a part for the whole, as I have said, it fitly describes the whole of the worship of God. Again, to “swear by the Lord” often means to testify that he is the true God. (Deuteronomy 6:13.) In a word, it denotes a perfect agreement with the Church of God.

Hence we ought to learn that outward confession is a necessary part of the true worship of God; for if any person wish to keep his faith shut up in his heart, he will have but a cold regard for it. (Romans 10:9.) True faith breaks out into confession, and kindles us to such a degree that we actually profess what we inwardly feel. “To me,” says the Lord in another passage, “every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear.” (Isaiah 45:23.) Accordingly, there ought to be an outward worship and outward profession wherever faith dwells. It ought also to be observed, that those things which belong to the worship of God ought not to be applied to any other purpose, and therefore it is a profanation of an oath if we swear by any other. It is written, “Thou shalt swear by my name.” (Deuteronomy 6:13.) Accordingly, he is insulted and robbed of his honor, if the name of saints, or of any creature, be employed in an oath. Let it likewise be observed with what solemnity oaths should be made; for if by swearing we profess to worship God, we ought never to engage in it but with fear and reverence.

One shall be called the city of desolation. When he devotes to destruction every sixth city, he means that all who are not converted to God, so as to worship him, perish without hope of salvation; for he contrasts the cities of Egypt which shall begin to acknowledge God with those which are destined to destruction. Where the worship of God is wanting, nothing but destruction can remain behind. הרס (hĕrĕs) denotes execration and curse, which is followed by ruin and eternal death.

(41) Bogus footnote

Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 19:18". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​cal/​isaiah-19.html. 1840-57.

Smith's Bible Commentary

Chapter 19

Now he turns to Egypt.

The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it. And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians ( Isaiah 19:1-2 ):

So God is speaking here of a civil war.

and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbor; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom ( Isaiah 19:2 ).

There's going to be civil turmoil and war within Egypt.

And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards. And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts ( Isaiah 19:3-4 ).

And then he begins to make some very interesting predictions.

The waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up. And they shall turn the rivers far away ( Isaiah 19:5-6 );

The word there is translated in one of the new versions, "And they shall dam the river far away."

and the brooks of defense shall be emptied and dried up: the reeds and flags shall wither. The paper reeds by the brooks, by the mouth of the brooks, and every thing sown by the brooks, shall wither, be driven away, and be no more. The fishers also shall mourn, and all they that cast their hook into the brooks shall lament, and they that spread their nets upon the waters shall languish. Moreover they that work in fine flax, and they that weave networks, shall be confounded. And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof, all that make the sluices and ponds for fish. Surely the princes of Zoan are fools, the counsel of the wise counselors of Pharaoh is become brutish: how say you of the Pharaoh, I am the son of the wise, the son of ancient kings? ( Isaiah 19:6-11 )

Now here is a prediction that the river shall be dammed far away. The Aswan Dam surely answers to this prediction. As early as 1970 they began to discover some of the ecological problems that were created by the building of the Aswan Dam. In a report made to the Congress and has become a part of the Congressional record, number S3448, in an ecology report the first thing that they drew the attention to was the smog in Los Angeles as an ecology disaster. But the second thing was the DDT problem that since has been resolved by laws. But then the third thing was Egypt, and here is what was said, "The Aswan Dam has slowed down the Nile. Six hundred miles downriver the sandbars have stopped building up on the delta. The Mediterranean is flooding the delta and one million fertile acres have disappeared under saltwater. Below the dam, snails carry the blood flukes of schistosomiasis. And thousands of men and women and children are going to die of this painful, cruel disease. The Nile no longer carries its nutrient-rich sediments out to sea, and the fish are disappearing and the fishing families are moving to the slums of Cairo and Alexandria. That source of food is disappearing. Also, oxygen from the loss of the greenery and water."

Now ten years later, as further studies are made concerning the ecological damage of the building of the Aswan Dam, the first thing, of course, that the prophet here does talk about is the saltwater intrusion into the delta, the rich delta farmland area. And this has continued. The idea of damming up the Aswan was, of course, to create a control of the water flow into the irrigation canals and so forth and hopefully to open up thousands of new agricultural acres by the irrigation projects. But they have discovered that through the saltwater intrusion and into the most fertile area of Egypt, into the delta, the Nile delta, through the saltwater intrusion, they have lost over twice the acreage, agriculture acreage as they were gaining. You see, it used to be at the flood tide as the Nile River would bring the silt and all into the Mediterranean, that it built up these silt dams against the Mediterranean creating this very fertile delta area much like we have down in El Centro and so forth, that fertile area that has been built up by the Colorado over the years.

Now with the Nile no longer flooding, they've lost the agricultural area by saltwater intrusion from the Mediterranean. First thing he predicted. But not only that, all the reeds and so forth that used to grow along the Nile were killed because there is a little snail that sort of feeds, eats at its roots, but it used to be carried away every year in the flood season. But now that there is no more flood season, these little snails have destroyed all of the reeds and everything that used to be along the Nile River. Even as Isaiah said.

Now in 1970 the fishing industry was beginning to disappear, it has now totally disappeared. It doesn't exist. They do not have any more fishing industry. There in the Mediterranean there used to be tremendous schools of fish that supplied Egypt with one of its greatest protein sources. Just an overabundant supply of fish, because they would feed on the rich nutrients that were carried by the Nile River on into the Mediterranean Sea. But now that there is no great flooding and the carrying of these nutrients in, the fish, they don't know what happened to them, if they just left and gone someplace else, or just disappeared. But there is no more fishing industry. It is amazing to me that 2700 years ago, God inspired the prophet Isaiah to not only prophesy the building of the Aswan Dam as they will turn away the river far away, but also to prophesy those ecological disasters that would be created by the damming of the Nile River. There has even been suggestions by the Egyptians that the Aswan Dam be blown up in order to seek to correct the ecological disasters that have resulted from its building.

It is interesting then that at the end of the prophecy he sort of takes off against those engineers and counselors that advised them to build the Aswan Dam. "The counselors of Zoan are fools, the counsel of the wise counselors of Pharaoh is become brutish. How can they say, 'I am wise, the son of the ancient kings'?"

Where are they? where are the wise men? and let them tell you now, and let them know what the LORD of hosts has purposed upon Egypt ( Isaiah 19:12 ).

Men are so wise. Now let them tell you. God has already told you what damages are going to happen. These men are so wise let them tell you what God has purposed.

The princes of Zoan are become fools, the princes of Noph are deceived; they have also seduced Egypt, even they that are the stay of the tribes thereof. The LORD hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof: and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken man who is staggering in his own vomit ( Isaiah 19:13-14 ).

What a graphic picture.

Neither shall there be any work for Egypt, which the head or tail, branch or rush, may do. In that day shall Egypt be like unto women: and it shall be afraid and fear because of the shaking of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which he shakes over it. And the land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt, every one that makes mention thereof shall be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the LORD of hosts, which he hath determined against it ( Isaiah 19:15-17 ).

And so interesting as we look at the situations today and see how clearly and concisely God has actually spoken of these things. "The land of Judah even again becoming a terror unto Egypt."

In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the LORD of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction. In that day shall there be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the LORD. 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. And the LORD shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the LORD in that day ( Isaiah 19:18-21 ),

"In that day," begins to go ahead into the future into the day of the Lord. When God is going to work, of course, in the coming of Jesus Christ throughout the world. But Egypt is going to become a religious center for the worshipping of the Lord. Right now, of course, Egypt is strongly Moslem. They have laws in Egypt against witnessing, proselytizing; it's a capital crime. If you seek to lead a Moslem to Jesus Christ in Egypt, you could be put to death. It's a capital offense to seek to convert a Moslem to another faith. But in that day, the Lord shall be known to Egypt. They'll know the Lord.

and they will do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the LORD, and perform it. And the LORD shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the LORD, and he shall be entreated of them, and shall heal them ( Isaiah 19:21-22 ).

Now Egypt will be smitten by the antichrist, actually, when he takes his forces and he starts a move towards Africa to conquer Africa. He will pass through Egypt. He'll get to the borders of Ethiopia, at which time tidings out of the north and the east will trouble him, for he will hear that the Chinese have been moving their armies westward. And he will turn in all of his fury to meet the invading armies of the east and of the north, the regrouped forces of Russia, and they will meet in a deadly conflict in the valley of Megiddo. So Egypt is going to suffer. They will be conquered by the forces of Europe as they begin their invasion of Africa. But it is an invasion that will never be completed, because as soon as Egypt is taken, as they start to move against Ethiopia, is when the news comes of the invading forces from the east and from the north at which time the antichrist will turn to meet them with the European forces. And thus the battle of Armageddon.

In that day ( Isaiah 19:24 )

The day of the Lord after He has healed them and established them, actually Assyria, which is modern-day Iraq, and Egypt will have a highway going between them passing through Israel. And the three nations will be joined together in a beautiful harmony and accord in the glorious day of the Lord.

it shall be that Israel shall be a 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 ( Isaiah 19:24-25 ).

And so God's glorious work in that day; that day when Jesus comes to establish God's kingdom. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Isaiah 19:18". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​csc/​isaiah-19.html. 2014.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

In that day, the populations of five Egyptian cities would speak Hebrew out of deference to the Jews and commitment to Yahweh. While five is not many, Isaiah evidently meant that as many as five (quite a few in view of Egypt’s previous massive idolatry), and perhaps more, would do so (cf. Genesis 11:1). One of these five would be called the City of Destruction (Heb. heres), perhaps because of the destruction that God would bring to Egypt. Another possibility is that "destruction" should read "sun" (Heb. heres with a het rather than a he). In this case the City of the Sun, On (Gr. Heliopolis), is in view. On was a center of the worship of the sun god in Egypt, so this may point to an end of idolatry there.

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 19:18". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​dcc/​isaiah-19.html. 2012.

Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt,.... Here opens a scene of mercy, a prophecy of good things to the Egyptians in future times; for this is not to be understood of the selfsame time, that the former calamities would come upon them; but of some time after that; and not of Egypt, spiritual or mystical, that is, Rome, or the antichristian jurisdiction, so called, Revelation 11:8 and of the five kingdoms that should revolt from it at the Reformation, as Cocceius thinks; who interprets the above prophecy of the antichristian state, and names the five kingdoms that should break off from it, and did; as Great Britain, the United States of Holland, Denmark and Norway, Swedeland, the people of Germany, and those near them, as Bohemia, Hungary, Transylvania, and Helvetia; but Egypt literally is here designed; and its five cities either intend just so many principal ones, as some think, namely, Memphis, Tanis, Alexandria, Bubastis, and Heliopolis; or rather it is a certain number for an uncertain; and to be understood either of many, as five out of six, since afterwards one is mentioned, as to be destroyed; or rather of a few, as five out of twenty thousand, for so many cities are said to have been in Egypt y; and so this number is used in Scripture for a few; see 1 Corinthians 14:19 and the prophecy respects the conversion of them, which some think was fulfilled in some little time after; either by some Jews fleeing to Egypt when Judea was invaded, and Jerusalem besieged by Sennacherib, who making known and professing the true religion there, were the means of converting many of the Egyptians; or, as the Jews z think, it had its accomplishment when Sennacherib's army was destroyed, and what remained of them, consisting of Egyptians and other people, were dismissed by Hezekiah, and being used kindly by him, embraced the true religion, and carried it with them into Egypt, and there professed and propagated it; but it seems most likely to refer to later times, the times of the Gospel, when it was carried and preached in Egypt by the Evangelist Mark, and others, to the conversion of them, which is expressed in the following words:

speak the language of Canaan; the Hebrew language, which continued from the time of the confusion in the posterity of Shem, and in the family of Heber, from whom Abraham descended; which was not the language of the old Canaanites, though that was pretty near it, but what the Jews now at this time spake, who dwelt in the land of Canaan: but though this language is here referred to, and might be learned, as it is where the Gospel comes, for the sake of understanding the Scriptures in the original; yet that is not principally meant, but the religion of the Christian and converted Jews; and the sense is, that the Egyptians, hearing and embracing the Gospel, should speak the pure language of it, and make the same profession of it, and with one heart and mouth with them glorify God, and confess the Lord Jesus: and when a sinner is converted, he speaks a different language than he did before; the language of Canaan is the language of repentance towards God, faith in Christ, love to them, and all the saints; it is self-abasing, Christ exalting, and free grace magnifying language; it is the language of prayer to God for mercies wanted, and of praise and thanksgiving for mercies received, and especially for Christ, and the blessings of grace in him; it is the language of experience, and what agrees with the word of God: and in common conversation it is different from others; not swearing, or lying, or filthiness, or foolish jesting, or frothy, vain, and idle talk, are this language; but what is savoury, and for the use of edifying:

and swear to the Lord of hosts; not by him, but to him, which sometimes is put for the whole of religious worship, Deuteronomy 6:13 and signifies a bowing, a submission, and subjection to him; compare

Isaiah 45:23 with Romans 14:11 it is swearing allegiance to him, owning him to be their Lord, King, and Lawgiver, and a resolution to obey him in all his commands and ordinances, see Psalms 119:106:

one shall be called the city of destruction; not one of the five cities before mentioned; because all such as believe with the heart unto righteousness, and with the mouth make confession agreeably to it, shall be saved; but the sense is, that one and all, and everyone of these cities, and all such persons in them as speak not the language of Canaan, who neither embrace the Gospel, nor become subject to Christ, shall be devoted to destruction: though there is a Keri and Cetib of these words; it is written "heres", destruction, but it is read "cheres", the sun; and there was a city in Egypt called Bethshemesh, the house of the sun, Jeremiah 43:13 and by the Greeks Heliopolis a; and by the Latins Solis Oppidum b; and so the Vulgate Latin version renders it, "and one shall be called the city of the sun"; that is, Heliopolis, where the sun was worshipped, and from whence it had its name; and so the words are a display of the grace of God, that in that city, which was the seat of idolatrous worship, there the sun of righteousness should arise, and there should be a number of persons in it that should profess his name. The Targum takes in both the writing and reading of this passage, and renders it,

"the city of Bethshemesh, which is to be destroyed, shall be called one of them.''

y Herodot. l. 2. c. 177. z T. Bab. Menachot fol. 109. 2. and 110. 1. Seder Olam Rabba, c. 23. p. 66. a Herodot. l. 1. c. 3. 7. 8. 9. 59. 63. b Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 9. and 6. 29.

Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 19:18". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​geb/​isaiah-19.html. 1999.

Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Promises to Egypt. B. C. 710.

      18 In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the LORD of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction.   19 In that day shall there 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 do 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 day shall there be a highway 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 the 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.

      Out of the thick and threatening clouds of the foregoing prophecy the sun of comfort here breaks forth, and it is the sun of righteousness. Still God has mercy in store for Egypt, and he will show it, not so much by reviving their trade and replenishing their river again as by bringing the true religion among them, calling them to, and accepting them in, the worship of the one only living and true God; and these blessings of grace were much more valuable than all the blessings of nature wherewith Egypt was enriched. We know not of any event in which this prophecy can be thought to have its full accomplishment short of the conversion of Egypt to the faith of Christ, by the preaching (as is supposed) of Mark the Evangelist, and the founding of many Christian churches there, which flourished for many ages. Many prophecies of this book point to the days of the Messiah; and why not this? It is no unusual thing to speak of gospel graces and ordinances in the language of the Old-Testament institutions. And, in these prophecies, those words, in that day, perhaps have not always a reference to what goes immediately before, but have a peculiar significancy pointing at that day which had been so long fixed, and so often spoken of, when the day-spring from on high should visit this dark world. Yet it is not improbable (which some conjecture) that this prophecy was in part fulfilled when those Jews who fled from their own country to take shelter in Egypt, when Sennacherib invaded their land, brought their religion along with them, and, being awakened to great seriousness by the troubles they were in, made an open and zealous profession of it there, and were instrumental to bring many of the Egyptians to embrace it, which was an earnest and specimen of the more plentiful harvest of souls that should be gathered in to God by the preaching of the gospel of Christ. Josephus indeed tells us that Onias the son of Onias the high priest, living an outlaw at Alexandria in Egypt, obtained leave of Ptolemy Philometer, then king, and Cleopatra his queen, to build a temple to the God of Israel, like that at Jerusalem, at Bubastis in Egypt, and pretended a warrant for doing it from this prophecy in Isaiah, that there shall be an altar to the Lord in the land of Egypt; and the service of God, Josephus affirms, continued in it about 333 years, when it was shut up by Paulinus soon after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans; see Antiq. 13.62-79, and Jewish War 7.426-436. But that temple was all along looked upon by the pious Jews as so great an irregularity, and an affront to the temple at Jerusalem, that we cannot suppose this prophecy to be fulfilled in it.

      Observe how the conversion of Egypt is here described.

      I. They shall speak the language of Canaan, the holy language, the scripture-language; they shall not only understand it, but use it (Isaiah 19:18; Isaiah 19:18); they shall introduce that language among them, and converse freely with the people of God, and not, as they used to do, by an interpreter,Genesis 42:23. Note, Converting grace, by changing the heart, changes the language; for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Five cities in Egypt shall speak this language; so many Jews shall come to reside in Egypt, and they shall so multiply there, that they shall soon replenish five cities, one of which shall be the city of Heres, or of the sun, Heliopolis, where the sun was worshipped, the most infamous of all the cities of Egypt for idolatry; even there shall be a wonderful reformation, they shall speak the language of Canaan. Or it may be taken thus, as we render it--That for every five cities that shall embrace religion there shall be one (a sixth part of the cities of Egypt) that shall reject it, and that shall be called a city of destruction, because it refuses the methods of salvation.

      II. They shall swear to the Lord of hosts, not only swear by him, giving him the honour of appealing to him, as all nations did to the gods they worshipped; but they shall by a solemn oath and vow devote themselves to his honour and bind themselves to his service. They shall swear to cleave to him with purpose of heart, and shall worship him, not occasionally, but constantly. They shall swear allegiance to him as their King, to Christ, to whom all judgment is committed.

      III. They shall set up the public worship of God in their land (Isaiah 19:19; Isaiah 19:19): There shall be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, an altar on which they shall do sacrifice and oblation (Isaiah 19:21; Isaiah 19:21); therefore it must be understood spiritually. Christ, the great altar, who sanctifies every gift, shall be owned there, and the gospel sacrifices of prayer and praise shall be offered up; for by the law of Moses there was to be no altar for sacrifice but that at Jerusalem. In Christ Jesus all distinction of nations is taken away; and a spiritual altar, a gospel church, in the midst of the land of Egypt, is as acceptable to God as one in the midst of the land of Israel; and spiritual sacrifices of faith and love, and a contrite heart, please the Lord better than an ox or bullock.

      IV. There shall be a face of religion upon the nation, and an open profession made of it, discernible to all who come among them. Not only in the heart of the country, but even in the borders of it, there shall be a pillar, or pillars, inscribed, To Jehovah, to his honour, as before there had been such pillars set up in honour of false gods. As soon as a stranger entered upon the borders of Egypt he might perceive what God they worshipped. Those that serve God must not be ashamed to own him, but be forward to do any thing that may be for a sign and for a witness to the Lord of hosts. Even in the land of Egypt he had some faithful worshippers, who boasted of their relation to him and made his name their strong tower, or bulwark, on their borders, with which their coasts were fortified against all assailants.

      V. Being in distress, they shall seek to God, and he shall be found of them; and this shall be a sign and a witness for the Lord of hosts that he is a God hearing prayer to all flesh that come to him,Isaiah 19:20; Isaiah 19:20. See Psalms 65:2. When they cry to God by reason of their oppressors, the cruel lords that shall rule over them (Isaiah 19:4; Isaiah 19:4) he shall be entreated of them (Isaiah 19:22; Isaiah 19:22); whereas he had told his people Israel, who had made it their own choice to have such a king, that they should cry to him by reason of their king, and he would not hear them,1 Samuel 8:18.

      VI. They shall have an interest in the great Redeemer. When they were under the oppression of cruel lords perhaps God sometimes raised them up mighty deliverers, as he did for Israel in the days of the judges; and by them, though he had smitten the land, he healed it again; and, upon their return to God in a way of duty, he returned to them in a way of mercy, and repaired the breaches of their tottering state. For repenting Egyptians shall find the same favour with God that repenting Ninevites did. But all these deliverances wrought for them, as those for Israel, were but figures of gospel salvation. Doubtless Jesus Christ is the Saviour and the great one here spoken of, whom God will send the glad tidings of to the Egyptians, and by whom he will deliver them out of the hands of their enemies, that they may serve him without fear,Luke 1:74; Luke 1:75. Jesus Christ delivered the Gentile nations from the service of dumb idols, and did himself both purchase and preach liberty to the captives.

      VII. The knowledge of God shall prevail among them, Isaiah 19:21; Isaiah 19:21. 1. They shall have the means of knowledge. For many ages in Judah only was God known, for there only were the lively oracles found; but now the Lord, and his name and will, shall be known to Egypt. Perhaps this may in part refer to the translation of the Old Testament out of Hebrew into Greek by the LXX., which was done at Alexandria in Egypt, by the command of Ptolemy king of Egypt; and it was the first time that the scriptures were translated into any other language. By the help of this (the Grecian monarchy having introduced their language into that country) the Lord was known to Egypt, and a happy omen and means it was of his being further known. 2. They shall have grace to improve those means. It is promised not only that the Lord shall be known to Egypt, but that the Egyptians shall know the Lord; they shall receive and entertain the light granted to them, and shall submit themselves to the power of it. The Lord is known to our nation, and yet I fear there are many of our nation that do not know the Lord. But the promise of the new covenant is that all shall know the Lord, from the least even to the greatest, which promise is sure to all the seed. The effect of this knowledge of God is that they shall vow a vow to the Lord and perform it. For those do not know God aright who either are not willing to come under binding obligations to the Lord or do not make good those obligations.

      VIII. They shall come into the communion of saints. Being joined to the Lord, they shall be added to the church, and be incorporated with all the saints. 1. All enmities shall be slain. Mortal feuds there had been between Egypt and Assyria; they often made war upon one another; but now there shall be a highway between Egypt and Assyria (Isaiah 19:23; Isaiah 19:23), a happy correspondence settled between he two nations; they shall trade with one another, and every thing that passes between them shall be friendly. The Egyptians shall serve (shall worship the true God) with the Assyrians; and therefore the Assyrians shall come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria. Note, It becomes those who have communion with the same God, through the same Mediator, to keep up an amicable correspondence with one another. The consideration of our meeting at the same throne of grace, and our serving with each other in the same business of religion, should put an end to all heats and animosities, and knit our hearts to each other in holy love. 2. The Gentile nations shall not only unite with each other in the gospel fold under Christ the great shepherd, but they shall all be united with the Jews. When Egypt and Assyria become partners in serving God Israel shall make a third with them (Isaiah 19:24; Isaiah 19:24); they shall become a three-fold cord, not easily broken. The ceremonial law, which had long been the partition-wall between Jews and Gentiles, shall be taken down, and then they shall become one sheep-fold under one shepherd. Thus united, they shall be a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the Lord of hosts shall bless,Isaiah 19:24; Isaiah 19:25. (1.) Israel shall be a blessing to them all, because of them, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, and they were the natural branches of the good olive, to whom did originally pertain its root and fatness, and the Gentiles were but grafted in among them,Romans 11:17. Israel lay between Egypt and Assyria, and was a blessing to them both by bringing them to meet in that word of the Lord which went forth from Jerusalem, and that church which was first set up in the land of Israel. Qui conveniunt in aliquo tertio inter se conveniunt--Those who meet in a third meet in each other. Israel is that third in whom Egypt and Assyria agree, and is therefore a blessing; for those are real and great blessings to their generation who are instrumental to unite those that have been at variance. (2.) They shall all be a blessing to the world: so the Christian church is, made up of Jews and Gentiles; it is the beauty, riches, and support of the world. (3.) They shall all be blessed of the Lord. [1.] They shall all be owned by him as his. Though Egypt was formerly a house of bondage to the people of God, and Assyria an unjust invader of them, all this shall now be forgiven and forgotten, and they shall be as welcome to God as Israel. They are all alike his people whom he takes under his protection. They are formed by him, for they are the work of his hands; not only as a people, but as his people. They are formed for him; for they are his inheritance, precious in his eyes, and dear to him, and from whom he has his rent of honour out of this lower world. [2.] They shall be owned together by him as jointly his, his in concert; they shall all share in one and the same blessing. Note, Those that are united in the love and blessing of God ought, for that reason, to be united to each other in charity.

Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Isaiah 19:18". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​mhm/​isaiah-19.html. 1706.

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

The Fruits of Grace


A Sermon

(No. 3515)

Published on Thursday, June 8th, 1916.

Delivered by


At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

On Lord's day Evening, January 21st, 1872.


"In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the Lord of hosts; one shall be called the city of destruction. In that day shall there be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord. And it all 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. And the Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the Lord, and perform it. 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. In that day shall there be a highway 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. In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even 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." Isaiah 19:18-25 .

This promise stands on record to be, fulfilled at some future day In those bright days for which some of us are looking, when the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth, so the waters cover the sea, then shall this word to Egypt be verified; yea, and God shall be glorified both by Egypt and Assyria, as well as in the land of Israel. This ought to be an encouragement to carry on missionary operations with great vigour. Here is a distinct promise for Assyria and for Egypt. Let not the missionary be afraid, even if for thousands of years to come there should be little apparent success to the preaching of the gospel. If the Lord should tarry another six thousand years, ay, sixty thousand years and he may we are still to go on working, and still to go on labouring, looking for his coming, and expecting it, but not relaxing our efforts because he pleases to delay it, for the Lord has sworn that all flesh shall know his glory, and you may depend upon it, there is no spot of earth that shall be left to be Satan's dominion. It shall be conquered for Christ, and in truth he shall "see of the travail of his soul, and he shall be satisfied." It is most encouraging to find Egypt mentioned. You find it in one of the Psalms, "Princes shall come out of Egypt, and they shall come out of Ethiopia." Now this I believe to be the litera1 meaning of the passage. You must understand that the prophecy was given to the people of Israel, and it was given to them, as it were, to children that were using types and figures. It speaks in their language. Hence it speaks of altars, and pillars, and oblations, all of which are to be understood now in the spiritual sense. The Church of God has come to her manhood, in which she has done with material altars and material oblations, seeing that she has Christ to be her only altar, her only priest, and prayer and praise to be the spiritual oblation which she shall bring. I understand the prophecy to be, in brief, just this. In the latter day, Egypt will be converted, and Assyria too, and wonders of grace will be performed in that land, and the people of the land shall with delight worship the Most High.

Having said this, I am now going to use the text for another purpose. Here is a wonderful display of the grace of God in this promise to Egypt. I see the very heart of God revealed. I see a display of what God will do, not to Egypt only, but to others also, and though we have much to say, we will try to open up, in as few particulars as we can make them, the display of grace which God gives among the sons of men. We begin thus:


It is promised to Egypt. Now Egypt was the nation which was the type of God's enemies. It was over Egypt that he triumphed at the Red Sea, when Pharaoh said, "Who is the Lord?" and we regard Egypt as always being typical of the enemies of God the peculiar and chief enemies. Yet the grace of God is to come to Egypt. And so will it come often to the worst enemies that God has. Saul of Tarsus, foaming at the mouth with rage against the Christ of God, was met and conquered by eternal love, and his heart was renewed, and he was made an apostle. And oftentimes since then, electing love has chosen those that were most furious against Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit has come upon them, and turned the lions into lambs, and made them lie down at the feet of the Saviour. Let us have hope for the worst of men, and let the worst of men have hope for themselves under the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Egyptians were a peculiarly debased people as to their idolatry. If you go into the British Museum you will still see the cats, the crocodiles, the scarlet ibis, which they were accustomed to worship. Besides that, it was one of the sarcasms of the Roman poets that the Egyptians worshipped gods which they grew in their own gardens. They had the sacred beetle, the sacred mouse, and I know not what. And yet, degraded as they were by idolatry, the grace of God was to come to them. And men may have gone far into superstition; they may have debased even their own intellect by what they have tried to believe, and forced themselves down into the very deeps of superstition, and yet, for all that, the grace of God can come to them and lift them up. And the Egyptian were degraded politically too, for we read in one passage of the prophets that Egypt shall be the basest of all nations; and yet, though the basest of nations in that respect, the grace of God shall coma to them. Oh! how wondrous is the sovereignty of God! The devil cannot dye a soul so scarlet in sin but what the blood of Christ can make it white as snow. Satan cannot drive a chosen sheep of Christ so far on the mountains of vanity, or into the deserts of sin, but what the great Shepherd of the sheep can find that sheep, and bring it back again. There is hope for the mart sunken. There is hope for those that grovel, and that sink in the mire The infinite compassion of God can reach them, and the eternal power of God can lift them up.

But there is one singular note in the text, that one of the cities in that land of Egypt (if I read the text aright) that was to be saved was called the City of Destruction. It had come to be named by that name, and yet, think of that, God looked upon it with mercy. Now there are in villages, and there are in towns, and certainly there are in London, men that have become so notorious for every sort of vice and sin that they are only known as the devil's own servants; and if anybody in the place were to speak of them, it would be with no question about the horrible condition of their minds and the state of their character. And yet in how many cases has the Lord been pleased to make such beings, new men in Christ Jesus! I have some in my mind's eye now, who have been to me a source of unutterable joy, whose characters were known, and certainly not admired. They were the dread of all with whom they dwelt. I remember one whose fist had many a time laid low his adversary, and whose oaths, and cursings, and songs at midnight often made the village tremble when he was filled with drink. But what a humble child he became when at last the gospel brought him down! How changed and how quiet was his manner when Jesus Christ had renewed his soul something like John Bunyan with his drink and his Sabbath breakings but what a saint was he when bowed at his Saviour's feet, he found his sins forgiven! We must not say, "Our children are hopeful, and God will save them, but we cannot expect him to look upon the fallen and degraded." Ah! if, is Pharisaism that would make us speak so. The gospel has found some of its brightest jewels in the lowest haunts of vice. Bear it, bear it into the caves of darkness, where the blackness seems to be palpable, and to hang like the glooms of death bear ye aloft the everlasting torch, which the divine Lord himself has kindled, and you shall discover by its light some precious blood redeemed ones, who shall be to the praise of the glory of his grace. "One shall be called the City of Destruction, but thus saith the Lord, I have delivered it, I will save it, for my name's sake."

Now this ought to be very encouraging to every hearer present, for where there is mercy proclaimed to the chief of sinners, there is encouragement to every form of sinner to come humbly to the heavenly Father, and plead the precious blood of Jesus, and obtain life and peace. God grant we may be led there for his name's sake! But now the second observation is that grace is displayed in our text from the fact that:


Note, too, that he adds this word, "A GREAT ONE, and he shall deliver them." Beloved friends, you know, all of you, what I have to say, but yet, though you know it, I know no story ever make score glad your spirit than the old, old story of the Saviour. He that has same to save us is Jesus, the Son of God; to save us from every stain of sin; to save us from our propensity to sin, from the power of our habits, and from the snares of Satan. He has come to save us from the death eternal, to save us from the wrath to come. God has sent us a Saviour. We could not have saved ourselves, but one has come who can. The text says that Saviour is a great one. Oh! I wanted a great Saviour. A little Saviour would not have answered my turn, for great sin wanted a great atonement, and my hard heart wanted great grace to soften it down. Now he that came to save us was God himself Jesus nothing less than God counting it not robbery to be equal with God. He is great in his nature, for as God he is infinite omnipotent. He is great also in what he has done. Look to him on the cross; it is the Son of God pouring out his life for sinners that they may live through his death. There most be great merit in such a sacrifice. I never dare believe in any limited merit in Christ. He who gave himself there upon the cross, being very God of very God, though certainly man there can be no limit set to the value of the atonement which he made. Oh! beloved, it is a great Saviour that God gives. And now that he has risen from the dead, he stands before God to plead for us, and it is no little plea no plea which might be put back or put off. With authority he pleads before his Father's throne, points to his own wounds, and the Father's heart always yields to the Son's intercession. You have a great Saviour, for he is a great pleader. And, besides that, all power is in his hands; the keys of death and hell are at his girdle, and the government shall be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God. Oh! what a Saviour we have! Dare we doubt him? When we cast ourselves upon him, is there not an end to all our fears, for Jesus is mighty to save,

And what a word that is in the text "a Saviour and a great one, and he shall deliver them"! God did not send Christ at a haphazard. Jesus did not come here to save those who might perchance be saved to make men salvable, but he will save all he came to save. Those on whom he fixed his eye of everlasting love, for whom the precious drops were shed these he will, by the power of his arm, pluck from the jaws of the lion, because, with the blood of his heart he had redeemed them. "He shall deliver them." Oh! you that trust in Jesus, lay this word home. May the Spirit of God lay it home to you. He shall deliver them from all temptation, from all trial, from all affliction, from death itself. "He shall deliver them."

Now put the two points together. We have mentioned that the grace of God comes to the greatest of sinners, and it brings to them a Saviour, and a great one, and I have laid open to you something of the heart of God in the greatness of his compassion. But we must pass on. Where the grace of God comes, it seems from the text that:


Turn to the 18th verse. "In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan" the spiritual meaning of which is that the grace of God shall make men speak that holy and pure language which is the mark of a child of God. O dear hearer, if the grace of God ever meets with you, your friends will know it every one by your conversation. That man could not speak without an oath; there will be no oath now. When he did speak, it was in a proud, boastful, hectoring way about himself. Ah! you will hardly know him to be the same man; for he will speak so humbly and so gently, and when he comes to speak about himself he will have the tears in his eyes to think of what he used to be, and what the grace of God has done for him now. Then his language would be lascivious and unclean at times, but now he desires not even to hear of such things, much less to mention them; for it is a shame for a Christian to speak of the things which are done by many in secret. The grace of God soon rinses out a man's mouth. His wife knows it; his children know it; his workfolk know it; and though some of them will think him a fool to speak after the way in which he now does though he does not imitate the language of Christians, and is not a cant, yet there is something about his very brogue and talk that might make men say, "Thou also west with Jesus of Nazareth, for thy speech betrayeth thee." Oh! would not it be a mercy if God would change the speech of some in London! Even our boys in the streets sometimes talk in a way that is enough to make your blood chill. Foul words are very common in our streets and elsewhere. O sovereign grace, come and visit these, and they shall speak no longer the language of Babylon and the language of Belial, but they shall speak the language of Canaan, for God shall give them a pure language. When you hear men that once could curse begin to pray, when those who were given to blasphemies begin to pray, and when, instead of hearing the noise of strife in the working-man's house, you hear the song of praise, then is fulfilled the saying that is written, "In that day shall five cities speak the language of Canaan. and swear to the Lord of Hosts." But I must pass on. Where the grace of God comes:


"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. "When a man is in sin he worships himself, or he serves his pleasure and Satan; but when the grace of God comes, the man begins at once to serve God, and becomes God's servant. I am sure I know houses now that have an altar to God in them the family altar where you would not have thought such a thing could ever have been. I know some, too, that will this very day give of their substance to God, who two or three years ago would have scorned the act. They would have said it was a waste of money altogether to give anything to the cause of the Most High. There are some teaching at the Sabbath school, and spending the day of rest in, perhaps, the hardest toil of the week, and doing it very cheerfully too, who once would have laughed to scorn any proposal that they should have done any such thing. But the Lord, when he gets men's hearts, and washes away their sins, takes them into his service, and males those who were most ready to serve Satan become most willing to serve him. Is not this true I appeal to many here present is it not your delight now to do all you can for the Lord Jesus Christ? Perhaps, however, while you say "Yes," you also add, "But I do not do half as much as I should, nor as I ought. "You feel precisely as I also felt and I must make the same confession as yourself. But, brothers and sisters, do not let it end in confession. Let us wake up and do more; for the love that saved us, the love that bought us at such a price, ought not to be recompensed so poorly as it has been. And let us pray for the grace of God, that we may ever have an altar in our own hearts, and be ourselves the sacrifice that our whole life may be a life of consecration to the living God. Oh! that our common dress might be as priestly vestment, and our ordinary meals as sacraments, and ourselves as priests unto the living God; our whole life a psalm, and our whole being a hallelujah to the Most High! Where the grace of God comes with power, it makes the worst of men become the boss, and the lowest of the low become true servants of the living God. "Can it be?" says one; "can I ever be a servant of God" Ah! yes: hark to the song of heaven! "We have washed our robes" then they needed washing "and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, Glory be to him who hath made us kings and priests unto our God."

The next display of divine grace in the text is to be seen in this, that where the grace of God comes:


We read in the 20th verse, "They shall cry unto the Lord because of oppressors." This is a kind of prayer that only God can teach us. You can easily learn to say a form of prayer, or to read one from a book, but a prayer that can fairly be called a cry is the fruit of grace. The cry is the natural expression of distress. There is no hypocrisy in a cry. When one is sore sick and ready to die, and cries out in anguish, it is the genuine expression of an oppressed spirit. And God always teaches his children to pray such prayers an those. And oh! how sweetly will saved souls pray next to the songs of angels, I think the prayers of new converts are among the sweetest things that ever reach our ears. When we have been a long time professors, we are very apt to get into a sort of stilted mode of talking to God in prayer, and men that have more gifts than graces will spend the time in words, words, words. But oh! how has my heart leaped when I have heard a cry, such as "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" when some soul, ready to burst with fear of the wrath to come, has cried out, "Jesus, Lord, have mercy upon me!" or when some heart that has just found Jesus has praised and magnified the exceeding mercy that has put away its sin. Christ can teach the blasphemer to pray; he can take the profane into his school, and teach them all to cry, and what all the clergy and ministry in the land could not do, namely, teach a man to pray one sincere prayer, God the Holy Ghost can do to the very offscouring and the scum of the universe, when once he comes to deal with them in the way of grace. Wonders of grace to God belong. He that teaches us to pray will teach us to praise him in heaven. The soul that lisps out its desires sincerely to God shall one day sing with cherubim and seraphim before the eternal throne. But I must hasten on. Where grace comes:


We learn this from the next verse, "And the Lord shall be known in Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day." It is a very serious evil with many hearers that they are altogether ignorant of the things of God; but it is delightful to observe how sweetly the Holy Spirit can teach. I have spoken lately with some whom God has called by his grace during the past few weeks, and I have been surprised that, although they had never been Bible readers, nor received any religious instruction in their youth, when the grace of God showed them their sin, he did it thoroughly, and when he showed them the Saviour, he did it in a wondrous way, so that when they came to read the Bible it was not difficult to them to understand it, nor to lay hold upon it with delight, and some have become well instructed in the things of the kingdom in a very short time indeed. There is no teacher like the Holy Spirit! "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord," and when he teaches they are taught indeed. What boots it to a man to know all earthly knowledge if he knows not his God? But where grace comes, the man is no longer a stranger to the Lord; he knows the Father, the Son, the Spirit. He must know the Father, for he has become a child. He must know the Son, for he is his only confidence. He must know the Spirit, for it is the Spirit that dwelleth in him, and hath renewed him. Oh! that God would be pleaded to-night to take some fresh scholars into his school! Don't say, "I am poor and illiterate." What matters that? With the Lord to teach you, you will make an apt scholar. We can only teach your ears; he can teach your hearts. We can only write the copy in a book, but he can write it on the fleshy tablets of your souls. Never despair of being instructed in the things of heaven. The Lord can graciously instruct you, and if he leads you to-night to receive the Saviour the great one he will begin the divine teaching which will end in your being complete in Christ, and your entering into his glory. I want you to notice a little more. Where the grace of God comes into a man's heart:


Read the 22nd verse. "The Lord shall smite Egypt" there is the trouble-"he shall smite" there is the trouble again-"and heal it " there is the mercy "and they shall return even to the Lord, and he shall be intreated of them, and shall heal them." An ungodly man when he is in trouble, has nothing whatever to sustain him, and no good comes out of the trouble. But get the heart renewed, and let the man receive the Saviour, and perhaps the greatest mercies he has are those which are blessings in disguise. I read a story the other day an incident which happened to a City Missionary. He was preaching one night out in Lincoln's Inn Fields, and there was a man an extremely aged man, who had lost his wife, and lived in a garret alone. He had scarcely a rag upon him and was nearly starved, and he was going out to commit suicide, but, moved by curiosity, he listened to the preaching of the gospel, and it saved his soul. It turned out that he had once been worth £100,000, and had been a distinguished merchant, but had lost his all in a foolish speculation, and had come down from the heights of riches to the lowest poverty, and at an extreme age he found Christ. The missionary found him friends who kept him with about enough to keep body and soul together a humble crust in a very lowly, solitary room but he used to say that now he had found the Lord; but he might never have found him if he had not lost all his wealth, and he looked upon it as the greatest blessing that had ever occurred to him, that he was brought to such beggary, that he was able and willing to stand in the street to listen to a sermon; for he said that in his riches he had despised the gospel, and had been altogether an atheist and an unbeliever but now, when brought to the lowest, Christ had found him, and he had more happiness with his cross than he had with his wealth. Oh! get the grace of God in your heart, and then broken limbs will be a bleeding. That long depression of trade that brought you oft low will appear a very different thing now. Your lot is very lowly now perhaps, and your toils severe, but God's grace will gild all these dark things in such a way that you shall even learn to glory in tribulation also, and bless the Lord that he did not leave you to be a stranger to him, but made you his child and, therefore, made you feel his rod for what son is there whom his father chasteneth not? Beloved, what a blessing it is to have the grace of God, seeing it turns adverse circumstances into true prosperity and makes our losses to be our lasting gains! One other reflection, and that is this concerning the grace of God:


Read the 23rd verse. "In that day there shall be a highway 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." Now the Egyptians and the Assyrians were enemies to one another; they were always fighting. There was a bloody feud and war between them century after century; but when the grace of God shall visit them both, there shall be no more fighting; the Egyptian shall go and visit the Assyrian, and the Assyrian shall visit the Egyptian. Have you never met with a case? Two brothers were at enmity, and would not speak to each other. One of them was saved by grace, and he thought, "Oh! if my brother John might be converted!" He wanted to fall into his brother's arms and make it all up, and be friends again. Meanwhile, brother John had heard the gospel somewhere else, and his soul had been saved, and he goes to find out the other brother, and all are reconciled, and the families that had been at a distance are knit together in love. Oh! the gospel soon breaks down barriers. I won't give a penny for your religion if you are at enmity with anybody if you can say of anyone of your kith and kin, "I will never speak to them again." Mind, in that day when you appear before God, how can you expect mercy? Well, now, genuine grace makes us forgive as we have been forgiven, and it establishes intercommunications between those who had long been enemies to one another. Should there happen to be in this place at this time any that have long been at variance, I believe that there is no way of establishing a lasting love between you like your both loving Jesus Christ. If you cannot meet anywhere else, you are sure to meet if you come to the cross. A common Saviour will hind you together. Bought with the same blood, and filled with the same divine life, you will become members of the same mystical body; you cannot help loving each other. Oh! that God would put an end in the world to all wars between nations, as well as all strifes between individuals. It won't come about by trade, nor yet be politics, nor by anything of man's devising; but if the gospel spreads, if God converts Egypt and converts Assyria, then Egypt will not desire war with Asia, nor Assyria with Egypt, but they shall be one in Christ Jesus the Lord. Wonders of grace! wonders of grace, that those that hated should love, and enemies should become friends. We will close with these last words. Where the grace of God comes:


You will find that affirmed in the last two verses. "They shall be a blessing in the midst of the land, and it shall be said, Blessed be Egypt, my people." The man that was accursed before, and was a curse, becomes blessed, and is a blessing. I will not enlarge upon it, but I will say this to you, the members of the church. It has delighted me to find the many earnest hearts there are here that are trying, to do good, some in one way, and some in another. I would in every case, if my encouragement were worth your having, give it you very heartily. But, beloved, if I do not know of it, and if no one knows of it but yourself and God, go on, go on. It is God's work to save souls, and you are workers together with him. Oh! this city wants you wants ten thousand earnest spirits. The lodging-houses want you; the alleys and the courts want you; the poor want you; the rich want you. If you have anything to say of the remedy which wisdom has prepared for the remedy of sins disease, the millions want it. They won't come to hear the gospel presaged, take it to their houses, carry it to their doors. If they reject a Saviour, let it not he for want of your hunting after them. Push it in their way. Sow beside all waters. In season and out of season teach ye the Word. Ye know not where God may bless you. But never be discouraged because of the badness of the neighbourhood, or the lowness of the character of the people. If Egypt shall be saved, have faith for this Egypt. If Assyria shall be saved, have confidence in God for those who are often worse than heathens, and you shall have your reward in that day when he of the pierced hand shall distribute crowns to those who faithfully serve him. Rewards, not of debt, but of grace, shall be given to the most obscure and unknown of you, who for his sake have sought to teach little children or to reclaim the adult who had fallen into sin. Take courage your work of faith and labour of love are not in vain in the Lord, and will do wonders yet to the praise of his grace. And as to you that are not saved. I have been saying great things of encouragement to you. I don't know who may take hold of them, but if there were one here who should reckon himself to be quite out of hope, it is to that man I spoke; and if there is a man here who says. "You don't mean me; you don't know my character," I will suppose it to be the worst character that was ever heard of I meant you. He is "able to save unto the uttermost than that come unto God by him." "All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men." Seek ye the Lord! Confess your sins to him. Weep out your confession with your head on your Father's bosom and say, "Forgive me, forgive me for thy Son's sake," and it shall be done unto you. God grant it may be done, even now: for his name's sake! Amen.

Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Isaiah 19:18". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​spe/​isaiah-19.html. 2011.
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