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Isaiah’s prophesies about Cush, Egypt, Babylon, Edom, Arabia, and Shebna (Hezekiah’s official): Isaiah 18–23

In a series of devastating prophecies over several countries, starting with Cush, Isaiah prophesies difficult times for Egypt.

Isaiah 19:1-3 Look! The Lord is advancing against Egypt,
riding on a swift cloud.
The idols of Egypt tremble.
The hearts of the Egyptians melt with fear.
I will make Egyptian fight against Egyptian—
brother against brother,
neighbor against neighbor,
city against city,
province against province.
The Egyptians will lose heart,
and I will confuse their plans.
They will plead with their idols for wisdom
and call on spirits, mediums, and those who consult the spirits of the dead.

Politically, the outlook would be less-than promising:

Isaiah 19:4 I will hand Egypt over to a hard, cruel master.
A fierce king will rule them,

As if that weren’t enough, the Nile will dry up:

Isaiah 19:5-8 The waters of the Nile will fail to rise and flood the fields.
The riverbed will be parched and dry.
The canals of the Nile will dry up,
and the streams of Egypt will stink
with rotting reeds and rushes.
All the greenery along the riverbank
and all the crops along the river
will dry up and blow away.

It would be an environmental, social and economic disaster. Even Isaiah noted the implications for key industries of the day: fishing and the flax harvesters:

Isaiah 19:10 They will be in despair,
and all the workers will be sick at heart.


Could it happen? Well, yes. Modern-day Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam could well dry the Nile in Egypt.

Globally, it’s not a new concept. Australian’s will already be familiar with the drying up of the Murray-Darling river system from overallocation of water rights (and that was just a lack of coordination between states in the same nation); Americans will be familiar with the drying up of the Colorado for similar reasons. Egypt is now facing the same crisis, albeit with independent nations controlling their water supply.

The result is Egypt’s fall from being a regional power:

Isaiah 19:16-17 In that day the Egyptians will be as weak as women. They will cower in fear beneath the upraised fist of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Just to speak the name of Israel will terrorize them, for the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has laid out his plans against them.

But, Egypt will then turn to the Lord and the middle-east will be changed:

Isaiah 19:18 In that day five of Egypt’s cities will follow the Lord of Heaven’s Armies …

19-22 In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the heart of Egypt, …  the Egyptians will turn to the Lord, and he will listen to their pleas and heal them.

23 In that day Egypt and Assyria will be connected by a highway…

It’s always dangerous to ask when these things will happen.

For example: we can see the possibility for the Nile to dry up in the next few years, if Egypt allows the dam to be finished. The Egyptians have suffered under various governments. Egypt was once a Christian nation, centuries ago, before being overrun by Islam, but was there a highway from Syria through Israel to Egypt? And have the Egyptians ever been terrified of Israel outside the short-term defeat of a short war.

There’s nothing in there to say all the things prophesied will all happen at once, other than the repeated use of ‘in that day’. So we watch and wait.