Isaiah 19:19-20 Hebrew Altar in Egypt

In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD near its border.

At some point in the future there will be a structure of worship, an altar to the God of Israel in the middle of Egypt. That is an incredible statement. Imagine what would happen if one would go over to Egypt at this time in history (April 2011) and try to build an altar to some god other than Allah. I don’t think that would be well received or tolerated. Note the location of the altar, it will be in the middle of Egypt. The Hebrew word for midst is tavek. It means among or middle.

It would appear the pillar is a second and different structure than the altar based on grammar. It is placed on the border, which border?

Ancient Egypt was divided into Upper (area in southern Egypt) and Lower (area in the north) Egypt. The terminology upper and lower is based on the flow of the Nile. The Nile flows from upper elevations in the south to lower elevations in the north. The border between the two areas is roughly modern day Cairo or near Giza and the Great Pyramid. Generally, the pharaoh of Egypt was leader of both Upper and Lower regions.

The other possible border would be the one Israel and Egypt share.

There needs to be a point of comparison between the two nouns altar and pillar. Note that altar (mizbeach) is a masculine noun and pillar (matstsebah) is a feminine noun. The gender of the two nouns is an issue because of the pronoun that begins the next verse, “It”. In the Hebrew, “It” is a masculine pronoun. It would stand to reason that ties it to the masculine noun altar (mizbeach).

The altar is in the middle of Egypt. The pillar could be on the border of Israel/Egypt or the border of Upper and Lower Egypt.

It will become a sign and a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Champion, and He will deliver them.

The altar will be a signal to the LORD. So there is no confusion, the altar is in the middle of Egypt. Believing Egyptians will cry out to the God of Israel at that time. The idea of oppression is “being squeezed” in the Hebrew. God hears them and sends them One who will deliver and save. One who is exceedingly and abundantly great and strong. Guess who?

He is coming again…

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