Isaiah 7:18
(18) The Lord shall hiss for the fly . . .--See for the phrase the Note on Isaiah 5:26. The legions of Egypt are represented by the flies that swarmed on the banks of the Nile (Exodus 8:24, and possibly Isaiah 18:1), those of Assyria by the bees of their forests and their hills (Deuteronomy 1:44; Psalm 118:12). The mention of Egypt indicates that some of the king's counsellors were then, as afterwards (Isaiah 18:2; Isaiah 31:1), planning an Egyptian alliance, as others were relying on that with Assyria. The prophet tells them that each is fraught with danger. No help and much evil would come from such plans. Consistent in his policy from first to last, the one counsel he gives is that men should practise righteousness, and wait upon the Lord.

The uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt.--The phrase points to the whole extent of the Delta of the Nile, probably to the whole Egyptian course of the Nile itself. Historically the prophecy found its fulfilment in the invasion of Pharaoh Necho in the reign of Josiah (2Kings 23:29), or, nearer Isaiah's time, in the movements of Tirhakah's arms (2Kings 19:9).

Verse 18. - The Lord shall hiss (see Isaiah 5:26, and note ad loc.). For the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt. The "fly of Egypt," like the "bee of Assyria," represents the military force of the nation, which God summons to take part in the coming affliction of Judaea. The prophetic glance may be extended over the entire period of Judah's decadence, and the "flies" summoned may include those which clustered about Neco at Megiddo, and carried off Jehoahaz from Jerusalem (2 Kings 23:29-34). There may be allusion also to Egyptian ravages in the reigns of Sargon, Sennacherib, and Esar-haddon. In any general review of the period we shall find it stated that, from the time of Sargon to that of Cyrus, Judaea was the battle-ground upon which the forces of Assyria (or Assyro-Babylonia) and Egypt contended for the empire of western Asia. The desolation of the land during this period was produced almost as much by the Egyptian "fly as by the Assyrian bee." The "rivers of Egypt" are the Nile, its branches, and perhaps the great canals by which its waters were distributed. The bee that is in the land of Assyria. The choice of the terms "bee" and "fly," to represent respectively the hosts of Assyria and Egypt, is not without significance. Egyptian armies were swarms, hastily levied, and very imperfectly disciplined. Assyrian were bodies of trained troops accustomed to war, and almost as well disciplined as the Romans.

7:17-25 Let those who will not believe the promises of God, expect to hear the alarms of his threatenings; for who can resist or escape his judgments? The Lord shall sweep all away; and whomsoever he employs in any service for him, he will pay. All speaks a sad change of the face of that pleasant land. But what melancholy change is there, which sin will not make with a people? Agriculture would cease. Sorrows of every kind will come upon all who neglect the great salvation. If we remain unfruitful under the means of grace, the Lord will say, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforth for ever.And it shall come to pass in that day,.... the time when those evil days before spoken of should take place:

that the Lord shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt; or flies, as the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions render it; the Egyptians, so called because their country abounded with flies; and because of the multitude of their armies, and the swiftness of their march; this seems to have had its accomplishment when Pharaohnechoh king of Egypt slew Josiah, put his son Jehoahaz, that reigned after him, in bands, placed Eliakim his brother in his stead, and made the land of Judah tributary to him, 2 Kings 23:29 though some think either the Edomites or Philistines, that bordered on Egypt, are meant; who in Ahaz's time invaded Judah, and brought it low, 2 Chronicles 28:17 or else the Ethiopians, that inhabited on the furthermost borders of Egypt, and the rivers of it; who either came up separately against Judah, or served under Nebuchadnezzar; see Isaiah 18:1,

and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria; the Assyrian army, so called because the country abounded with bees; and because of the number of their armies, their military order and discipline, and their hurtful and mischievous nature. The Targum paraphrases the whole thus,

"and it shall be at that time that the Lord shall call to a people, bands of armies, of mighty men, who are numerous as flies, and shall bring them from the ends of the land of Egypt; and to mighty armies, who are powerful as bees, and shall bring them from the uttermost parts of the land of Assyria:''

hissing or whistling for them denotes the ease with which this should be done, and with what swiftness and readiness those numerous and powerful armies should come; and the allusion is to the calling of bees out of their hives into the fields, and from thence into their hives again, by tinkling of brass, or by some musical sound, in one way or another.

Isaiah 7:17
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