Isaiah 19:1-13

Isa 19:1

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.


Egypt once held Israel as slaves in their land and it wasn’t until God performed the ten plagues that Pharaoh let them go.  Now once again Egypt will come under God’s condemnation.  The swift cloud means that he will come to perform judgment on Egypt very swiftly.  There is nothing written that this judgment would come by any foreign power but by the Lord himself.  The idols of Egypt had become a snare to Israel while they were there for many years.  This is why they made a golden calf in the desert which was the Egyptian bull god Apis.  Now some living animals were considered idols such as dogs and cats, and some of the idols were just the type which was fashioned by man’s hands.  The word “moved” can be understood as removed or scattered.  In the case of living animals, they would flee from the danger.  Then the heart of Egypt will melt which means that their army which was supposed to have all the strongest and bravest men would now melt like wax under a flame.  Now there would be a spirit of fear among the Egyptians.


Isa 19:2

And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom.


Just as God stirred up the armies of Moab, Edom, and Ammon who came against Jehoshaphat and caused them to fight against each other (2 Chronicles 20) now the Egyptians will face the same internal strife.  This happened in the 740s and 730s B.C. There will be like a civil war among them.  After this internal strife, Egypt was then divided into twelve provinces which reigned about 15 years and then went into war against each other.


Isa 19:3

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.


The spirit of Egypt which was once a unified strength will now become a fragmented and devastated place.  No matter what counsel is given by or to the Egyptians it will come to nothing being under the judgment of God.  Then the Egyptians will seek their false gods and idols and the charmers which are the false prognosticators.  They will also seek those who believe they are contacting the dead.  The familiar spirits are demons and not spirit guides of past Pharaohs or wise men of Egypt.  The wizards are the shamans who attempt to contact and manipulate the spirits for their benefit.


Let me just digress for a moment from Egypt to today.  There are TV programs like Ghost Hunters, Celebrity Ghost Stories and Paranormal Survivor.  These shows have people programmed into believing that ghosts are actually those of their departed loved ones.  The reality is that they are biblically called “familiar spirits” which are demons who are portraying themselves as those who have departed us.  They have knowledge of them, their voice, characteristics, and events in their lives.  Attempting to contact the occult and have dialogue with them should never be attempted or even sought.  They are demons who could kill you and they will deceive you.  No one should have anything to do with the occult especially seeking to contact them.


Isa 19:4

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.


Then just as the Egyptians were fierce in their cruelty of holding Israel in bondage, they too will now face the tyranny of some cruel leaders.  The Cushite Pharaoh Piankhi took control of all Egypt.  He ruled from 744-714 B.C.  Then after his reign he was succeeded by Shabako who was the third Cushite Pharaoh who reigned about 714-690 B.C.  In 671 B.C. Esarhaddon of Assyria conquered Egypt’s Delta to Memphis.  In 663 B.C. Ashurbanipal took Thebes, Egypt’s capital.  God kept giving them over to fierce rulers.

Isa 19:5

And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up.


The Nile River is probably one of the most famous rivers in the world and Egypt had depended upon it for its sustenance of the land to grow their crops.  Here the prophecy is that the Nile River will no longer be able to bring water to the land of Egypt instead it will be wasted which is decayed and it will dry up and no longer be a life-sustaining river.


Isa 19:6

And they shall turn the rivers far away; and the brooks of defence shall be emptied and dried up: the reeds and flags shall wither.


There were many streams, canals, and rivulets which were fed by the Nile River and now since they will be dried up, they will no longer bring water to the areas needed.  The brooks which also were a defense line for Egypt will now be dried up making it easy for any army to cross.  When the Nile overflowed, these brooks would be a natural deterrent.  The reeds and flags is speaking about the papyrus plants which were used for boats and for writing will wither away and be of no use.


Isa 19:7

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 paper reeds which grew on the sides of the brooks and within the brooks along with every useful plant such as hemp or flax and every other type of plant will be done away with.  In other words from the needed irrigation by the Nile to writing paper will be under God’s judgment.


Isa 19:8

The fishers also shall mourn, and all they that cast angle into the brooks shall lament, and they that spread nets upon the waters shall languish.


The Egyptians consumed a great amount of fish which was taken from the Nile and the canals which it fed.  In fact, the fishing trade was so lucrative that the profits from Lake Moeris amounted to about a talent of Silver a day.  A talent was about 57 Pounds.  At today’s prices of $26 an ounce, that would come out to $17,784 per day.  Then it mentions angle fishing which was with a hook and bait. Then the verse mentions nets which was a large “drag-net” that had floats on one end and weights on the other.


Isa 19:9

Moreover they that work in fine flax, and they that weave networks, shall be confounded.


The making of linen from flax was a huge industry in Egypt.  Even today many people buy only Egyptian cotton sheets for their beds.  They will be confounded which is mystified and confused because they will have no raw materials to work with which means this industry along with the fishing industry will suffer and many will be out of work.  The networks are those that weave white linens which were normally for the ruling class.


Isa 19:10

And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof, all that make sluices and ponds for fish.


These people who worked in the industries which were sourced in the Nile River will be broken which carries with it the meaning of “crushed or destroyed.”  A sluice is like an artificial passageway which has a door behind it and is used for the purpose of regulating the flow of water and whatever is swimming in it like fish.  In other words, even the day to day laborers will suffer when the Lord brings judgment to Egypt all the way up to the nobles.  There will be much business failures and unemployment.


Isa 19:11

Surely the princes of Zoan are fools, the counsel of the wise counsellers of Pharaoh is become brutish: how say ye unto Pharaoh, I am the son of the wise, the son of ancient kings?


Zoan was Tanis which was the capital of the Delta in Egypt and near it was one of the gates of the Nile called the Tanitic Gate.  The counselors of Pharaoh were thought to be the wisest men of Egypt but now they have become as fools and destructive to themselves.  They had told Pharaoh that they were very wise men because they have descended from the wise men of ancient times.  In fact, they claim to have records of their succession from ancient times back 10,000 years.


Isa 19:12

Where are they? where are thy wise men? and let them tell thee now, and let them know what the LORD of hosts hath purposed upon Egypt.


They all claim to have such great knowledge and wisdom so let them tell Pharaoh what has been determined in the counsels of Heaven to come upon Egypt.  Are they so wise that they can figure out the Lord’s plans for Egypt?  These wise men would have been involved in astrology or occultic magic to prognosticate and would not come up with any correct answers for Pharaoh.


Isa 19:13

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.


Not only were the princes of Zoan or Tanis fools, but also the princes of Noph, which was Memphis, were deceived and no doubt by their own counsel.  Whenever you seek the kingdom of Satan for counsel, you will only have confusion and deception.  That should be a warning to those who seek help by psychics which are empowered by the kingdom of Satan.  Since these deceivers have made false statements and predictions, the people of Egypt will normally follow what their leaders have stated and therefore with their false counsel have seduced Egypt.  The stay of the tribes would be those who were leaders in each of the twelve provinces which Egypt was divided into.  Two are mentioned in this verse.  They were actually called Nomes and not tribes which is what the prophet Isaiah calls them.