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11 The officials of Zoan are nothing but fools;[a]
Pharaoh’s wise advisers give stupid advice.
How dare you say to Pharaoh,
“I am one of the sages,
one well-versed in the writings of the ancient kings?”[b]
12 But where, oh where, are your wise men?[c]
Let them tell you, let them find out
what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has planned for Egypt.
13 The officials of Zoan are fools,
the officials of Memphis[d] are misled;
the rulers[e] of her tribes lead Egypt astray.

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  1. Isaiah 19:11 tn Or “certainly the officials of Zoan are fools.” אַךְ (’akh) can carry the sense, “only, nothing but,” or “certainly, surely.”
  2. Isaiah 19:11 tn Heb “A son of wise men am I, a son of ancient kings.” The term בֶּן (ben, “son of”) could refer to literal descent, but many understand the word, at least in the first line, in its idiomatic sense of “member [of a guild].” See HALOT 138 s.v. בֶּן and J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:371. If this is the case, then one can take the word in a figurative sense in the second line as well, the “son of ancient kings” being one devoted to their memory as preserved in their literature.
  3. Isaiah 19:12 tn Heb “Where are they? Where are your wise men?” The juxtaposition of the interrogative pronouns is emphatic. See HALOT 38 s.v. אֶי.
  4. Isaiah 19:13 tn Heb “Noph” (so KJV); most recent English versions substitute the more familiar “Memphis.”
  5. Isaiah 19:13 tn Heb “the cornerstone.” The singular form should be emended to a plural.