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Isaiah 19:12-15

Context

19:12 But where, oh where, are your wise men? 1 

Let them tell you, let them find out

what the Lord who commands armies has planned for Egypt.

19:13 The officials of Zoan are fools,

the officials of Memphis 2  are misled;

the rulers 3  of her tribes lead Egypt astray.

19:14 The Lord has made them undiscerning; 4 

they lead Egypt astray in all she does,

so that she is like a drunk sliding around in his own vomit. 5 

19:15 Egypt will not be able to do a thing,

head or tail, shoots and stalk. 6 

1 tn Heb “Where are they? Where are your wise men?” The juxtaposition of the interrogative pronouns is emphatic. See HALOT 38 s.v. אֶי.

2 tn Heb “Noph” (so KJV); most recent English versions substitute the more familiar “Memphis.”

3 tn Heb “the cornerstone.” The singular form should be emended to a plural.

4 tn Heb “the Lord has mixed into her midst a spirit of blindness.”

5 tn Heb “like the going astray of a drunkard in his vomit.”

6 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 and stalk” picture a reed, which symbolizes the leadership of the nation in its entirety.



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