Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
isa 19:1Rideth - As a general in the head of his army. A swift cloud - This phrase shews that the judgment should come speedily, unexpectedly, and unavoidably. Shall be moved - So far shall they be from helping the Egyptians, that they shall tremble for themselves.
isa 19:2I will set - Egypt was now one kingdom, but not many years after this time it was divided into twelve kingdoms, between whom there were many and cruel wars.
isa 19:3The spirit - Their courage.
isa 19:4A fierce king - Psammetichus, who being at first one of those twelve kings, waged war with the rest, and subdued them, and conquered all the land of Egypt and ruled it with rigour.
isa 19:5The waters - Which may be understood either, Metaphorically, of the taking away of their dominion or commerce, &c. or rather, Properly, as may be gathered from the following words. For as the river Nile, when it had a full stream, and free course, did pour forth a vast quantity of waters by its seven famous mouths into the sea, so when that was dried up, which is expressed in the next clause, those waters did truly and properly fail from the sea. So there is no need of understanding by sea either the river Nile, or the great lake of Maeris, which, after the manner of the Hebrews, might be so called. The river - Nile: upon whose fulness and overflow both the safety and the wealth of the land depended; and therefore this was a very terrible judgment. Dried up - Not totally, but in a very great measure.
isa 19:6Rivers - The rivers (those rivulets by which the waters of Nile were distributed into several parts of the land) shall be turned far away, as they must needs be, when the river which fed them was dried up. Brooks - The several branches of the river Nile, which were a great defence to Egypt. Reeds - Which were useful to them for making their boats. Whither - As they commonly do for want of water.
isa 19:7Paper - reeds - These by a needle, or other fit instrument, were divided into thin and broad leaves, which being dried and fitted, were used at that time for writing; and consequently was a very good commodity. By brooks - And much more what was sown in more dry and unfruitful places.
isa 19:8Mourn - Because they could catch no fish; which was a great loss to the people, whose common diet this was.
isa 19:9They - That make fine linen, which was one of their best commodities.
isa 19:10Thereof - Of Egypt, or of the Egyptians. They shall lose their hopes; for the fishes in them shall die for want of water.
isa 19:11Zoan - The chief city, in which the king and court frequently resided. How - Why do you put such foolish words into Pharaoh's mouth? I am the son - Wisdom is heredity and natural to me.
isa 19:13Noph - Another chief city, and one of the kings seats, called also Moph, and by latter authors, Memphis. The stay - Their chief counsellors. Tribes - Of the provinces, which he calls by a title borrowed from the Hebrews, in whose language he spake and wrote this prophecy.
isa 19:14Mingled - Or, hath poured out or given them to drink. To err - In all their designs and undertakings. Staggereth - When he is so drunk, that he reels to and fro, and vomits up his drink.
isa 19:15Head, &c. - All people, both high and low, shall be at their wits end.
isa 19:16Women - Feeble and fearful. Because - Because they shall perceive that they do not fight with men only, but with the Lord of hosts, who now lifts up his hand against them, as he did against their forefathers.
isa 19:17A terror - Because of their manifold injuries against Judah, for which they now apprehend God is calling them to account. Determined - Because God is now about to execute his appointed judgments. It - Against Egypt.
isa 19:18In that day - After that time. In the times of the gospel. Five - A considerable number of their chief cities: a certain number being put for an uncertain. Speak - Profess the Jewish religion, agree with them in the same mind; which is fitly signified by speaking the same language. Swear - This implies the dedication, and yielding up of a person or thing to the Lord, by a solemn vow, or covenant. One - Not one of the five, but another city, the sixth city. As divers cities shall be converted and saved, so some other cities shall continue in their impenitency, and be destroyed.
isa 19:19An altar - The altar is put for the worship of God, as it is in many places both of the Old and New Testament. And nothing is more common in the prophets than to speak of gospel - worship in the phrases of the law. Pillar - A monument of the true religion. Here also he alludes to the ancient custom of erecting pillars to God. The border - As before, in the midst of it. The meaning is, There shall be evidences of their piety in all places.
isa 19:20It - The altar or pillar last mentioned. A witness - To testify that they own the Lord for their God. Cry - Being sorely distressed, they shall turn unto the true God. A great one - A great or mighty Saviour, even Christ.
isa 19:21Shall sacrifice - Shall worship God spiritually; which yet is signified by typical phrases.
isa 19:22Smite - God will afflict them and by those afflictions will convert and save them.
isa 19:23Assyria - They who were implacable enemies one to another, and both to the church of God, shall now be reconciled and united together in the service of God, and love to his church. Serve - The Lord.
isa 19:24The third - The third party, in that sacred league, whereby all of them oblige themselves to serve God. Egypt - These are named, because they were the most obstinate enemies to God's church, but they are here put for all the Gentiles. A blessing - This is peculiar to Israel, who is not only a third party, but is the most eminent of the three, as being the fountain, by which the blessing is conveyed to the other two; because Christ was to be born of them, and the gospel - church and ordinances were first established among them, and from them derived to the Gentiles. The land - Or, of those lands, Egypt and Assyria, between which Israel lay.
isa 19:25Whom - That is, which people, Israel, Egypt, and Assyria; of whom he speaks as of one people, because they are all united into one church. My people - This title, and those which follow, that were peculiar to the people of Israel, shall now be given to these and all other nations.