New English Translation
The Lord Will Judge Egypt
19 This is an oracle[a] about Egypt:
Look, the Lord rides on a swift-moving cloud
and approaches Egypt.
The idols of Egypt tremble before him;
the Egyptians lose their courage.[b]
2 “I will provoke civil strife in Egypt:[c]
brothers will fight with one another,
as will neighbors,
cities, and kingdoms.[d]
3 The Egyptians will panic,[e]
and I will confuse their strategy.[f]
They will seek guidance from the idols and from the spirits of the dead,
from the pits used to conjure up underworld spirits, and from the magicians.[g]
4 I will hand Egypt over to a harsh master;
a powerful king will rule over them,”
says the Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
5 The water of the sea will be dried up,
and the river will dry up and be empty.[h]
6 The canals[i] will stink;[j]
the streams of Egypt will trickle and then dry up;
the bulrushes and reeds will decay,
7 along with the plants by the mouth of the river.[k]
All the cultivated land near the river
will turn to dust and be blown away.[l]
8 The fishermen will mourn and lament;
all those who cast a fishhook into the river,
and those who spread out a net on the water’s surface will grieve.[m]
9 Those who make clothes from combed flax will be embarrassed;
those who weave will turn pale.[n]
10 Those who make cloth[o] will be demoralized;[p]
all the hired workers will be depressed.[q]
11 The officials of Zoan are nothing but fools;[r]
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?”[s]
12 But where, oh where, are your wise men?[t]
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[u] are misled;
the rulers[v] of her tribes lead Egypt astray.
14 The Lord has made them undiscerning;[w]
they lead Egypt astray in all she does,
so that she is like a drunk sliding around in his own vomit.[x]
15 Egypt will not be able to do a thing,
head or tail, shoots or stalk.[y]
16 At that time[z] the Egyptians[aa] will be like women.[ab] They will tremble and fear because the Lord of Heaven’s Armies brandishes his fist against them.[ac] 17 The land of Judah will humiliate Egypt. Everyone who hears about Judah will be afraid because of what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is planning to do to them.[ad]
18 At that time five cities[ae] in the land of Egypt will speak the language of Canaan and swear allegiance to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. One will be called the City of the Sun.[af] 19 At that time there will be an altar for the Lord in the middle of the land of Egypt, as well as a sacred pillar[ag] dedicated to the Lord at its border. 20 It[ah] will become a visual reminder in the land of Egypt of[ai] the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. When they cry out to the Lord because of oppressors, he will send them a deliverer and defender[aj] who will rescue them. 21 The Lord will reveal himself to the Egyptians, and they[ak] will acknowledge the Lord’s authority[al] at that time.[am] They will present sacrifices and offerings; they will make vows to the Lord and fulfill them. 22 The Lord will strike Egypt, striking and then healing them. They will turn to the Lord, and he will listen to their prayers[an] and heal them.
23 At that time there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will visit Egypt, and the Egyptians will visit Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together.[ao] 24 At that time Israel will be the third member of the group, along with Egypt and Assyria, and will be a recipient of blessing[ap] in the earth.[aq] 25 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies will pronounce a blessing over the earth, saying,[ar] “Blessed be my people, Egypt, and the work of my hands, Assyria, and my special possession,[as] Israel!”
- Isaiah 19:1 tn See note at Isa 13:1.
- Isaiah 19:1 tn Heb “and the heart of Egypt melts within it.”
- Isaiah 19:2 tn Heb I will provoke Egypt against Egypt” (NAB similar).
- Isaiah 19:2 tn Heb “and they will fight, a man against his brother, and a man against his neighbor, city against city, kingdom against kingdom.” Civil strife will extend all the way from the domestic level to the provincial arena.
- Isaiah 19:3 tn Heb “and the spirit of Egypt will be laid waste in its midst.”
- Isaiah 19:3 tn The verb בָּלַע (balaʿ, “confuse”) is a homonym of the more common בָּלַע (balaʿ, “swallow”); see HALOT 135 s.v. I בלע.
- Isaiah 19:3 tn Heb “they will inquire of the idols and of the spirits of the dead and of the ritual pits and of the magicians.” Hebrew אוֹב (ʾov, “ritual pit”) refers to a pit used by a magician to conjure up underworld spirits. See the note on “incantations” in 8:19.
- Isaiah 19:5 tn Heb “will dry up and be dry.” Two synonyms are joined for emphasis.
- Isaiah 19:6 tn Heb “rivers” (so KJV, ASV); NAB, CEV “streams”; TEV “channels.”
- Isaiah 19:6 tn The verb form appears as a Hiphil in the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa; the form in MT may be a so-called “mixed form,” reflecting the Hebrew Hiphil stem and the functionally corresponding Aramaic Aphel stem. See HALOT 276 s.v. I זנח.
- Isaiah 19:7 tn Heb “the plants by the river, by the mouth of the river.”
- Isaiah 19:7 tn Heb “will dry up, [being] scattered, and it will vanish.”
- Isaiah 19:8 tn Or perhaps, “will disappear”; cf. TEV “will be useless.”
- Isaiah 19:9 tn BDB 301 s.v. חוֹרִי suggests the meaning “white stuff” for חוֹרִי (khori); the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa has חָוֵרוּ (khaveru), probably a Qal perfect, third plural form of חוּר, (khur, “be white, pale”). See HALOT 299 s.v. I חור. The latter reading is assumed in the translation above.
- Isaiah 19:10 tn Some interpret שָׁתֹתֶיהָ (shatoteha) as “her foundations,” i.e., leaders, nobles. See BDB 1011 s.v. שָׁת. Others, on the basis of alleged cognates in Akkadian and Coptic, repoint the form שְׁתִיתֶיהָ (shetiteha) and translate “her weavers.” See J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:370.
- Isaiah 19:10 tn Heb “crushed.” Emotional distress is the focus of the context (see vv. 8-9, 10b).
- Isaiah 19:10 tn Heb “sad of soul”; cf. NIV, NLT “sick at heart.”
- Isaiah 19:11 tn Or “certainly the officials of Zoan are fools.” אַךְ (’akh) can carry the sense, “only, nothing but,” or “certainly, surely.”
- 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.
- 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.
- Isaiah 19:13 tn Heb “Noph” (so KJV); most recent English versions substitute the more familiar “Memphis.”
- Isaiah 19:13 tn Heb “the cornerstone.” The singular form should be emended to a plural.
- Isaiah 19:14 tn Heb “the Lord has mixed into her midst a spirit of blindness.”
- Isaiah 19:14 tn Heb “like the going astray of a drunkard in his vomit.”
- Isaiah 19:15 tn Heb “And there will not be for Egypt a deed, which head and tail, shoot and stalk, can do.” In 9:14-15 the phrase “head or tail” refers to leaders and prophets, respectively. This interpretation makes good sense in this context, where both leaders and advisers (probably including prophets and diviners) are mentioned (vv. 11-14). Here, as in 9:14, “shoots or stalk” picture a reed, which symbolizes the leadership of the nation in its entirety.
- Isaiah 19:16 tn Heb “in that day” (so KJV); likewise at the beginning of vv. 18 and 19.
- Isaiah 19:16 tn Heb “Egypt,” which stands by metonymy for the country’s inhabitants.
- Isaiah 19:16 sn As the rest of the verse indicates, the point of the simile is that the Egyptians will be relatively weak physically and will wilt in fear before the Lord’s onslaught.
- Isaiah 19:16 tn Heb “and he will tremble and be afraid because of the brandishing of the hand of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies [traditionally, “the Lord of hosts”], which he brandishes against him.” Since according to the imagery here the Lord’s “hand” is raised as a weapon against the Egyptians, the term “fist” has been used in the translation.
- Isaiah 19:17 tn Heb “and the land of Judah will become [a source of] shame to Egypt. Everyone to whom one mentions it [i.e., the land of Judah] will fear because of the plan of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies [traditionally, “the Lord of hosts”] which he is planning against him.”
- Isaiah 19:18 sn The significance of the number “five” in this context is uncertain. For a discussion of various proposals, see J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:376-77.
- Isaiah 19:18 tc The Hebrew text has עִיר הַהֶרֶס (ʿir haheres, “City of Destruction”; cf. NASB, NIV) but this does not fit the positive emphasis of vv. 18-22. The Qumran scroll 1QIsaa and some medieval Hebrew mss read עִיר הָחֶרֶס (ʿir hakheres, “City of the Sun,” i.e., Heliopolis). This reading also finds support from Symmachus’ Greek version, the Targum, and the Vulgate. See HALOT 257 s.v. חֶרֶס and HALOT 355 s.v. II חֶרֶס.
- Isaiah 19:19 tn This word is sometimes used of a sacred pillar associated with pagan worship, but here it is associated with the worship of the Lord.
- Isaiah 19:20 tn The masculine noun מִזְבֵּחַ (mizbeakh, “altar”) in v. 19 is probably the subject of the masculine singular verb הָיָה (hayah) rather than the feminine noun מַצֵּבָה (matsevah, “sacred pillar”), also in v. 19.
- Isaiah 19:20 tn Heb “a sign and a witness to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies [traditionally, “the Lord of hosts”] in the land of Egypt.”
- Isaiah 19:20 tn רָב (rav) is a substantival participle (from רִיב, riv) meaning “one who strives, contends.”
- Isaiah 19:21 tn Heb “Egypt.” For stylistic reasons, to avoid redundancy, the present translation uses the pronoun (“they”) here.
- Isaiah 19:21 tn Heb “will know the Lord.”
- Isaiah 19:21 tn Heb “in that day” (so KJV); likewise at the beginning of vv. 23 and 24.
- Isaiah 19:22 tn Heb “he will be entreated.” The Niphal has a tolerative sense here, “he will allow himself to be entreated.”
- Isaiah 19:23 tn The text could be translated, “and Egypt will serve Assyria” (cf. NAB), but subjugation of one nation to the other does not seem to be a theme in vv. 23-25. Rather the nations are viewed as equals before the Lord (v. 25). Therefore it is better to take אֶת (ʾet) in v. 23b as a preposition, “together with,” rather than the accusative sign. The names of the two countries are understood to refer by metonymy to their respective inhabitants.
- Isaiah 19:24 tn Heb “will be a blessing” (so NCV).
- Isaiah 19:24 tn Or “land” (KJV, NAB).
- Isaiah 19:25 tn Heb “which the Lord of Heaven’s Armies [traditionally, “the Lord of hosts”] will bless [it], saying.” The third masculine singular suffix on the form בֵּרֲכוֹ (berakho) should probably be emended to a third feminine singular suffix בֵּרֲכָהּ (berakhah), for its antecedent would appear to be the feminine noun אֶרֶץ (ʾerets, “earth”) at the end of v. 24.
- Isaiah 19:25 tn Or “my inheritance” (NAB, NASB, NIV).