THE ALTAR TO JEHOVAH IN THE LAND OF EGYPT (Isaiah 19:19)

Isaiah 19:19 In that day shall there be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord.

The fulfilment of this prophecy took place in 1B.C. and is recorded by Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews. xiii. 3:1—3; 6; Wars 7:10, 3; and Against Apion, 2:5:-  In consequence of wars between the Jews and the Syrians, ONIAS IV, the High Priest, fled to Alexandria; where, on account of his active sympathy with the cause of Egypt against Syria, he was welcomed by PTOLEMY PHILOMETOR, and rewarded by being made prince over the Jews in Egypt. 1 with the title of Ethnarch and Alabarch, Josephus says:-

THE JEWS WHICH DWELL IN THE LAND OF EGYPT.

Jeremiah 44:1 The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews which dwell in the land of Egypt, which dwell at Migdol, and at Tahpanhes, and at Noph, and in the country of Pathros, saying,

As the end of the kingdom of Judah drew near, many of the Jews were determined to go into Egypt; and this in spite of the warning given by Jehovah through Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 44we have the latest prophecy concerning those who had gone thither; which declared that they should not escape, but should be consumed there. (44. 27, &c). This prophecy must have been fulfilled concerning that generation; but their successors, or others that subsequently followed, continued there a little longer, until the time came for Egypt itself to fall into the hands of Babylon.

Recent discoveries of Papyri in the ruins of Elephantine (An island in the Nile, opposite Assouan), dating from the fifth century B.C., bear witness to two great facts:-

1.      That Jews were then dwelling there (In 424—405 B.C.).

2.      That they were observing the Feast of the Passover, “as it is written in the law of Moses”.

The importance of these Papyri lies in the fact that modern critics confidently assert and assume that the greater part of the Pentateuch was not written until after the Exile; and even then neither collectively as a whole, nor separately in its distinctive books. In Appendix 92 http://levendwater.org/companion/append92.html it is shown that all through the prophets (who lived at the time of the Kings in whose reigns they prophesied) there is a constant reference to the books of the Pentateuch, which conclusively proves that their contents were well known both to the prophets themselves, and those whom they addressed.

The Pentateuch, being full of legal expressions, technical ceremonial terms, and distinctive phraseology, affords abundant evidence of the above fact, and makes it easy to call continuous attention to it  in the notes of The Companion Bible.

However; there is further evidence found in the Papyri now discovered in the ruins of Elephantine in Upper Egypt.

They show that the Jews who dwelt there had a temple of their own and offered up sacrifices therein. That once, when this, their temple was destroyed by the Egyptians, they appealed to the Persian governor of Judah asking permission to restore it (Papyrus 1).

There is a list preserved, registering the contributions towards the upkeep of the temple (containing the names of many ladies).

But the most interesting and important of these Papyri is one dated in the year of 419 B.C., which is a Passover “announcement” of the approaching feast, such as were made from the earliest times to the present day. Containing a brief epitome of its laws and requirements.

 

Nehemiah 8:15 And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written.

 

This particular announcement shows that the following passages were well known.

 

Exodus 12:16 And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.

 

Leviticus 23: 7—8

7 In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.

8 But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.

 

Numbers 9:1—14

 

Deuteronomy16:6

01 And the Lord spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying,

02 Let the children of Israel also keep the Passover at his appointed season.

03 In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it.

04 And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, that they should keep the Passover.

05 And they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at even in the wilderness of Sinai: according to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel.

06 And there were certain men, who were defiled by the dead body of a man, that they could not keep the Passover on that day: and they came before Moses and before Aaron on that day:

07 And those men said unto him, We are defiled by the dead body of a man: wherefore are we kept back, that we may not offer an offering of the Lord in his appointed season among the children of Israel?

08 And Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear what the Lord will command concerning you.

09 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

10 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the Passover unto the Lord.

11 The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

12 They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the Passover they shall keep it.

13 But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the Passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he brought not the offering of the Lord in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin.

14 And if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the Passover unto the Lord; according to the ordinance of the Passover, and according to the manner thereof, so shall he do: ye shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger, and for him that was born in the land.

 

This Papyrus has been recently published by Professor Edward Sachau, of Berlin. Arrämische Papyrus und Ostraka ous einer jüdischen Militärekolonie zu Elephantine. Altorientalische Sprachdenkmäler des5. Jahrhunderts vor Chr, .mit 75 Lichtdrucktafalein. Liepzig 1911. A small edition (texts only) by Professor Ungnad, of Jena, is published also under the title of Arrämische Papyrus aus Elephantine.

Nearly 2400 years, since this announcement by Hannanjah to the Jews in Egypt, have gone by. Elephantine is now a heap of ruins. The colony of Jews has passed away (unless the “Falashas” of Abyssinia are their descendants), but the Jewish nation still exists, and continues to keep the Passover, a standing witness to their TRUTH of Holy Scripture.

 “Onias asked permission from Ptolemy and Cleopatra to build a temple in Egypt like that at Jerusalem, and to appoint for it priests and Levites of his own nation.” This he devised, relying chiefly on the prophet Isaiah, who, 600 years before, predicted that a temple must be built in Egypt by a Jew to the supreme God. He therefore wrote to Ptolemy and Cleopatra the following epistle:-

 

Having come with the Jews to Leonopolis of the Heliopolite district, and other abodes of my Nation, and finding that many had sacred rites, not as was due, and were thus hostile to each other, which has befallen the Egyptians also through the vanity of their religions, and disagreeing in their services, I found a most convenient place in the fore-mentioned stronghold, abounding with wood and sacred animals. I ask leave, then, clearing away an idol temple that has fallen down, to build a temple to the Supreme God that the Jews dwelling in Egypt, harmoniously coming together, may minister to thy benefit. For Isaiah the prophet has predicted this:

“There shall be an altar in Egypt to the Lord God” and he prophesied many other such things concerning the place.’

 The King and Queen replied:

‘We have read thy request asking leave to clear away the fallen temple in Leontopolis of the Heliopolite nome. (Nome may refer to: A country subdivision Nome (Egypt) an administrative division within ancient Egypt).We are surprised that a temple should be pleasing to God, settled in an impure place, and one full of sacred animals. But since thou sayest that Isaiah the prophet so long ago foretold it, we grant thee leave, if, according to the Law, we may not seem to have offended towards God.’” (Ant. xiii.6)

The place of this temple was the identical spot where many centuries before, Israel had light in their dwellings while the rest of Egypt was suffering from a plague of darkness. Here again was light in the darkness, which continued for more than 200 years (about 160 B.C. to A.D. 71), when it was closed by Vespasian.

The Jerusalem were opposed to, and jealous of this rival temple; and by changing two letters almost identical in form (ח = H (or CH) to ה= H) which turned “the city of the sun (cheres) into “the city of destruction” (heres). But the former reading is found in many codices, two early printed editions, and some early ancient versions, as well as in the margins of the A.V. and R.V. The Septuagint reading shows that the Hebrew MSS, from which that version was made, read ‘ir – ha – zedek = “the city of righteousness.”

The “five cities” of Isaiah 19:18 were probably Heliopolis (The city of the sun where this temple was built), Leontopolis, Daphne, Migdol, and Memphis.

 

The picture on the left shows the Sphinx which has the (undamaged) face of a woman (Virgo) and “the body of a lion. (Lion of Judah (Christ). Found in Memphis Egypt.

http://www.godsplan.org.uk/sphinx.htm

 

THE FORMULÆ OF PROPHETIC UTTERANCE.

It is clear that there was an appropriate and recognised style of prophetic address, and of the introduction to special prophetic utterances. By attending to this we shall read the prophetic books to an advantage that cannot be realised  by submitting, without thought, to the superficial guidance of chapter—beginning  and chapter—ending.

These will be found of little use in helping us to distinguish separate and distinct prophecies. 

In Jeremiah the formulæ are generally “The word of the Lord came”, “Thus saith the Lord”, or “The word that came”.

In Ezekiel, the call is to the prophet as “son of man”. = 1 Without the article. For the expression “THE SON OF MAN” belongs only to Him Who was “the second man”

http://www.godsplan.org.uk/firstandsecondadam.htm  “the Last Adam”, the successor or superseder of the “the first man Adam” to whom dominion in the earth is now committed.

Cp Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Psalm 8:1, 9.

1 O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set Thy glory above the heavens.

9 O Lord our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth!

 

Psalm 8:4—6

4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest Him?

5 For thou hast made Him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned Him with glory and honour.

6 Thou madest Him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; thou hast put all things under His feet:

 

Hebrews 2:8 “not yet”. Thou hast put all things in subjection under His feet. For in that He put all in subjection under Him, He left nothing that is not put under Him. But now we see not yet all things put under Him.

 

See Ap 98 http://levendwater.org/companion/append98.html

 

In the Minor (or Shorter) Prophets, it is “The Word of the LORD by”, “Hear the Word that the LORD hath spoken”, or “the burden of the Word of the LORD In ISAIAH, the prophetic utterances have two distinct forms.

·        As to Israel the chosen People, they open with exclamations, commands, or appeals, such as “Hear”  “Listen” “Awake”  “Ho” “Arise shine”, “Behold”; while in the case of surrounding nations it was a series of  “Burdens or Woes”; as well as to Ephraim (28), and to the rebellious sons who go down to Egypt, to the “Assyrian” , &c.

An illustrative example of the usefulness of noting these formulæ is furnished by Isaiah 34 & 35. Most Commentators make chapter 35 commence a new prophecy, and thus entirely obscure the great issue of the prophecy, which begins in Chapter 34:1with the Call:- “COME NEAR, YE NATIONS, to hear; and HEARKEN, ye peoples: let the earth HEAR” &c.

·        The call is to witness Jehovah’s JUDGEMENT ON EDOM (in chapter 34), which issues in the salvation of ISRAEL (in chapter 35).

Thus the prophecy is seen to have no break, but forms one complete and comprehensive whole, embracing these two great parts of one subject. In chapter 34 we have the desolation of Edom:

The Torah, Tanakh and New Testament thus describe the Edomites as descendants of Esau.http://www.christiansentry.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/edom_map.jpg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edom

Wild beasts celebrate the discomfiture of its inhabitants: then, in chapter 35, the wilderness and solitary place are seen to be glad; and, as it were, in sympathy with Divine judgement, the desert rejoices and blossoms as the rose.

 

Isaiah 35:1—2

1 The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.

2 It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.

 

In the result, chapter 35 shows that the People of Jehovah enjoy the inheritance of the Edomites. Not only are their enemies gone, but so are the wild beasts which were at once the evidences and tokens of their judgement. It will have become the way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it, no lion shall be there, but the redeemed shall walk there.

Isaiah 35:8—9

8 And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.

9 No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there:

 

But all the beauty of this wonderful transition is lost, when chapter 35 is made the beginning of a new and distinct prophecy; and, more than this, the difficulty is created by the Hebrew suffix “for them”; and this in the absence of any manuscript authority, and without giving in the margin even the slightest hint that they have entirely ignored the Hebrew Suffix in the verb susūm (i.e. the final “m”).

The two chapters (34 and 35) form a comprehensive message, a matter of world concern: For it combined an implied vindication (excuse) of the righteousness of God, and a confirmation of His promise to save His People Israel with an everlasting salvation.

A failure to recognise the formula of Isaiah’s prophetic utterances led, first, to a misapplication of the chapter, and then to an unjustifiable disregard of the pronominal suffix (resembling a pronoun). This typical case of confusion, resulting primarily from an unfortunate arrangement in chapter-division, suggests the great importance of care being exercised in in a correct individualising of the prophecies of the Holy Scripture.