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Isaiah 19:3

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

They shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards - And thei schul asken their symulacres, and their debynouris, and their devyl clepers, and their devyl sacristers. - Old Bible. The import of the original words has already been given where they occur in the Pentateuch. See Deuteronomy 18:10, etc.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And the spirit of Egypt - (see Isaiah 19:1). They shall be exhausted with their long internal contentions and strifes; and seeing no prospect of deliverance, and anxious that the turmoils should end, they shall seek counsel and refuge in their gods and necromancers, but in vain.

Shall fail - (נבקה nâbeqâh ). Margin, ‹Be emptied.‘ The word means, literally, “to pour out, empty, depopulate.” Here it means that they would become disheartened and discouraged.

And I will destroy - Margin, as the Hebrew, ‹I will swallow up.‘ So the word is used in Psalm 107:27, ‹All their wisdom is destroyed‘ (Hebrew, ‹swallowed up. ‹)

And they shall seek to the idols - According to Herodotus (ii. 152), Psammetichus had consulted the oracle of Latona at Butos, and received for answer that the sea should avenge his cause by producing brazen men. Some time after, a body of Ionians and Carians were compelled by stress of weather to touch at Egypt, and landed there, clad in brass armor. Some Egyptians, alarmed at their appearance, came to Psammetichus, and described them as brazen men who had risen from the sea, and were plundering the country. He instantly supposed that this was the accomplishment of the oracle, and entered into an alliance with the strangers, and by their aid was enabled to obtain the victory over his foes. Compare the different accounts of Diodorus in the Analysis of this chapter. The whole history of Egypt shows how much they were accustomed to consult their idols (see Herodot. ii. 54ff, 82,83,139,152). Herodotus says (ii. 83), that the art of divination in Egypt was confined to certain of their deities. There were in that country the oracles of Hercules, of Apollo, of Mars, of Diana, and of Jupiter; but the oracle of Latona in Butos was held in greater veneration than any of the rest.

And to the charmers - (אטים 'ı̂ṭı̂ym ). This word occurs nowhere else. The root אטט 'âṭaṭ in Arabic, means “to mutter, to make a gentle noise;” and this word probably denotes conjurors, diviners (see the note at Isaiah 8:19). The Septuagint renders it, ‹Their idols.‘

And to them that have familiar spirits - (see the note at Isaiah 8:19). The Septuagint renders this, ‹Those who speak from the ground.‘

And to the wizards - Septuagint - Ἐγγαστριμύθους Engastrimuthous - ‹Ventriloquists.‘ The Hebrew word means a wise man, a soothsayer, a magician (ידענים yı̂dı̂‛onı̂ym from ידע yâda‛ “to know;” see Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:6; Deuteronomy 18:11). This fake science abounded in Egypt, and in most Oriental countries.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
God shall come into Egypt with his judgments. He will raise up the causes of their destruction from among themselves. When ungodly men escape danger, they are apt to think themselves secure; but evil pursues sinners, and will speedily overtake them, except they repent. The Egyptians will be given over into the hand of one who shall rule them with rigour, as was shortly after fulfilled. The Egyptians were renowned for wisdom and science; yet the Lord would give them up to their own perverse schemes, and to quarrel, till their land would be brought by their contests to become an object of contempt and pity. He renders sinners afraid of those whom they have despised and oppressed; and the Lord of hosts will make the workers of iniquity a terror to themselves, and to each other; and every object around a terror to them.
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