19:1 Here is a message 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. 1
19:2 “I will provoke civil strife in Egypt, 2
brothers will fight with each other,
as will neighbors,
cities, and kingdoms. 3
19:3 The Egyptians will panic, 4
and I will confuse their strategy. 5
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. 6
19:4 I will hand Egypt over to a harsh master;
a powerful king will rule over them,”
says the sovereign master, 7 the Lord who commands armies.
19:5 The water of the sea will be dried up,
and the river will dry up and be empty. 8
19:6 The canals 9 will stink; 10
the streams of Egypt will trickle and then dry up;
the bulrushes and reeds will decay,
19:7 along with the plants by the mouth of the river. 11
All the cultivated land near the river
will turn to dust and be blown away. 12
19:8 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. 13
19:9 Those who make clothes from combed flax will be embarrassed;
those who weave will turn pale. 14
19:10 Those who make cloth 15 will be demoralized; 16
all the hired workers will be depressed. 17
19:11 The officials of Zoan are nothing but fools; 18
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?” 19
19:12 But where, oh where, are your wise men? 20
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 21 are misled;
the rulers 22 of her tribes lead Egypt astray.
19:14 The Lord has made them undiscerning; 23
they lead Egypt astray in all she does,
so that she is like a drunk sliding around in his own vomit. 24
19:15 Egypt will not be able to do a thing,
head or tail, shoots and stalk. 25
1 tn Heb “and the heart of Egypt melts within it.”
2 tn Heb I will provoke Egypt against Egypt” (NAB similar).
3 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.
4 tn Heb “and the spirit of Egypt will be laid waste in its midst.”
5 tn The verb בָּלַע (bala’, “confuse”) is a homonym of the more common בָּלַע (bala’, “swallow”); see HALOT 135 s.v. I בלע.
6 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 (’ov, “ritual pit”) refers to a pit used by a magician to conjure up underworld spirits. See the note on “incantations” in 8:19.
7 tn The Hebrew term translated “sovereign master” here is אֲדֹנָי (’adonay).
8 tn Heb “will dry up and be dry.” Two synonyms are joined for emphasis.
9 tn Heb “rivers” (so KJV, ASV); NAB, CEV “streams”; TEV “channels.”
10 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.
11 tn Heb “the plants by the river, by the mouth of the river.”
12 tn Heb “will dry up, [being] scattered, and it will vanish.”
13 tn Or perhaps, “will disappear”; cf. TEV “will be useless.”
14 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.
15 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 (shÿtiteha) and translate “her weavers.” See J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:370.
16 tn Heb “crushed.” Emotional distress is the focus of the context (see vv. 8-9, 10b).
17 tn Heb “sad of soul”; cf. NIV, NLT “sick at heart.”
18 tn Or “certainly the officials of Zoan are fools.” אַךְ (’akh) can carry the sense, “only, nothing but,” or “certainly, surely.”
19 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.
20 tn Heb “Where are they? Where are your wise men?” The juxtaposition of the interrogative pronouns is emphatic. See HALOT 38 s.v. אֶי.
21 tn Heb “Noph” (so KJV); most recent English versions substitute the more familiar “Memphis.”
22 tn Heb “the cornerstone.” The singular form should be emended to a plural.
23 tn Heb “the Lord has mixed into her midst a spirit of blindness.”
24 tn Heb “like the going astray of a drunkard in his vomit.”
25 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.