Israel,my inheritance, Cush my people, Assyria my handiwork.
What do we understand by this scripture?
Israel,my inheritance, Cush my people, Assyria my handiwork.
Hello, Alexander @Alexander_Marozhe; If I understand your question correctly, you are asking how this particular verse should be interpreted. Cush is mentioned in Isaiah 18. However, it is Egypt, Assyria, and Israel that are blessed in Isaiah 19:25)
To briefly summarize:
Isaiah was a prophet during the time of the Assyrian aggression. There was great conflict between Egypt and Assyria. Israel had already gone into captivity in Assyria. (2 Ki. 17) Judah attempted to make an alliance with Egypt against Assyria (against the Lord’s command (2 Chron. 35). However, Egypt took control of Judah later. (2 Chron. 36. )
Then Babylon came into power, overcoming Assyria; Jerusalem fell and went into captivity to Babylon. (2 Chron. 36)
So, both Assyria and Egypt were involved against the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Regardless of the fact that God had to punish both Israel and Judah for their apostasy, it was out of love for them that He had to discipline them.
Regarding this passage: “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria, my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance” (Isaiah 19: 25).
Isaiah was prophesying of the ultimate day, still in the future, when Israel (reunited with Judah), Egypt, and Assyria will all worship together in Israel during the Millennial rule of Christ. At that time, both Egypt and Assyria will be blessed along with Israel. However, there were earlier fulfillments as well. I have copied two links from a commentary on chapters 18 and 19 that I hope you will find helpful.
In the previous chapter (Isaiah 18), Cush (Ethiopa) was also involved in the conflict with Assyria. They, too were prophesied against, but their ending will be the same as Egypt’s and Assyria’s in that they, too, will worship God in Israel.
Thank you for your response.
Could we examine the meaning of the words:
in context with the scripture.
@Alexander_Marozhe: That would be very interesting. May I get back to you tomorrow?
Hello, Alexander @Alexander_Marozhe. An interesting study, for sure. I hope I have some insight for you.
We’ll start with “Inheritance”:
As I was reading the Exodus story last night, Ex. 15: 17 stood out because it was so closely related to Isaiah 19:25.
"You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of your inheritance—
the place, Lord, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, Lord, your hands established."
So, Israel’s mountain of God’s inheritance is identified as the place God has made for His dwelling, or sanctuary. Biblical commentary identifies the mountain as Mt. Zion
"Thou shalt bring them in
Into the land of Canaan, which is often ascribed to the Lord, as well as his bringing them out of the land of Egypt,and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance ;
in the country which he chose for the inheritance of his people and himself; one part of which was very mountainous, called the hill country of Judea, and especially Jerusalem, round about which mountains were; and particular respect may be had to Mount Moriah and Zion…"
Also, Ps.78:54:-55 refers to Israel as God’s own inheritance:
"54 And so he brought them to the border of his holy land, to the hill country his right hand had taken.
55 He drove out nations before them and allotted their lands to them as an inheritance; he settled the tribes of Israel in their homes."
The use of the word “inheritance” can mean property, possession, or an inheritance–property given by a previous owner". In Isaiah 19, Ex.15, and Ps.78 the Hebrew word used is “nachalah”, or the latter definition of inheritance. While Israel is receiving Canaan as an inheritance from God, they are also considered a “heritage” of God.
"Canaan, the Inheritance of the Tribes of Israel. After the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, the land of Canaan was considered their inheritance:
Israel, Yahweh’s Heritage. At the same time, however, Israel is regarded as the heritage of Yahweh
The fact that Yahweh holds Israel as His heritage implies that He governs it, not through any intermediary, such as an angel…"
“Inheritance” also has a theological reference in terms of salvation. (Heb.1:14)
"Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?"
So, “inheritance” can be understood as property (Canaan) inherited by the Israelites; the Israelites, themselves as God’s heritage; and salvation.
Next, Egypt is referred to as “my people”.
When God made His promise to Abraham in Gen. 12:3, He promised that Abraham would have descendants as countless as the sand and stars. He often refers to them as “his treasured possession”. (Ex. 19:5). However, also in Gen.12, God says that through Abraham’s descendents ALL nations would be blessed. This was prophetic for the coming Messiah. Throughout the OT, only the Israelites were the favored people (although they always will be). But, in Hosea 2:23 we see that people who were not “my people” will be called “my people”:
"I will plant her for myself in the land;
I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.
"I will say to those called ‘Not my people, ‘You are my people’;
and they will say, ‘You are my God.’”
The Apostle Paul confirmed that this scripture was inclusive of the Gentile people.
(Ro.9: 24-26 and Ro.11:11-12)
Egypt’s harsh treatment of Israel after Joseph and through to the Babylonian captivity would certainly include them as “not my people”.
Yet, God is now saying that there will be a time coming when He will include Egypt as “my people”, along with all the other Gentile nations. (1Pet. 2:10)
Finally, Assyria as “my handiwork” or the “the work of my hands”.
As stated in my prior post, Assyria took the Northern Kingdom (Israel) into captivity because of their rejection of God and for following after idols, etc… So, in one respect, we can look at Assyria’s captivity of Israel as being the work of God’s hands because God brought it about. (Isaiah 7: 17-20; 8:4). They were instruments in God’s hands for punishment.
However, Assyria was severely punished for their cruelty. So, not only was the Assyrian captivity the work of God’s hands, so was their punishment.(Isaiah 30:31)
But, Israel’s children are also called “the work of my hands” (Is. 29:22-23). And all of creation is called “the work of my hands” (Isaiah 45:11-12).
So, “my handiwork” can be viewed as God creative activity, His forming of the nation Israel, and His activity in the affairs of men. While Assyria had once been an object of harsh punishment because of Israel, they will be viewed the same as Israel in the future.
There are so many references to all three of these terms used throughout Scripture. I’ve provided just a few to illustrate my points. I hope this has been helpful.
Thank you for the response, very insightful.
Let’s imagine a Father describing his children in the manner this scripture is written. One is described as the Father’s inheritance, the other as my people and the last is described as my handiwork.
Would you say these children are viewed as equals by their father?
Surely there is some form of ranking implied…some preference of one against the next.
Wouldn’t you agree?
If you agree,we would then want examine why.
This is what I was aiming at.
Hello, Alexander @Alexander_Marozhe. More penetrating and good questions. I think that in understanding the overall message of this verse, we have to see that Isaiah is predicting a time when even Israel’s enemies will be accepted and treated fairly during the millennial time. We’ll look at this more closely, though.
I’m not sure I agree with you regarding the ranking proposition that you put forth. However, it is true that Israel holds a special position in God’s eye for at least two reasons:
First, God, Himself, formed the nation of Israel when He made the covenant with Abraham (Gen. 12). All the other nations were the result of the spreading of the people groups after the Flood (know as the Table of Nations) (Gen. 10). So, Israel is considered God’s “firstborn son” (Ex.4:22) (not to be confused with Christ who is God’s only *begotten Son- John 3:16). In Zechariah 2:8, God calls Israel “the Apple of His Eye”.
Second, God formed Israel for the express purpose of being the channel, or nation, through which the world would be redeemed through Christ. Christ was to be born from the Hebrew nation, specifically, the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:9-10).
So, yes. Israel has a favored status among nations. But as to people-individuals-, it is not God’s nature to show favoritism, especially among those who have accepted His son. Galatians 3:26-29 tells us that, in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek (meaning Gentile). Regardless, God is not willing that any should perish, (2 Pet. 3:9) showing His universal love for all people. So, it is important to make the distinction between nations and people.
In Isaiah 19:25, God calls Egypt “His people”; Assyria “His handiwork”. I think He could have easily reversed the names because His emphasis was on the acceptance of these two symbolic nations representing the other nations in the millennial reign of Christ. In my opinion, I don’t think one name has any more value over the other. Both are valued, whether as “His people” or as “His creation” (as we looked at in our previous discussion).
I don’t know if you have children (I have one daughter and 2 granddaughters). Each of those three have different personalities, different gifting. I could easily give them nicknames that suit their personalities and who they are. But one name would not show a preferential treatment over the other. Of course, my daughter, is my only daughter and will receive her inheritance accordingly. Had I had other children, she would still be considered the firstborn with the accompanying rights and privileges. Of course, in the ancient cultures and some current cultures, it is the firstborn male that has the birthright. So it is with Israel.
As discussed previously and today, Israel will be God’s inheritance, Jerusalem, His seat of government. The Millennial Temple will be there and righteousness and justice will reign because Christ will be the King.
What we also need to look at is that we are talking about a future on this current earth as it is. Even during the Millennium, the earth will be the original. There will still be land that has to be tilled, courts cases to decide, etc. Yet, that reign will be administered and ruled righteously. There is coming a time, after the 1000 year reign of Christ, when the heavens and earth will be restored and refreshed through the purging affect of fire (Rev. 21). A “New Jerusalem”, or Holy City, will come down in all its splendor and glory. There will be no need for a temple there because Christ will be the temple. No need for sun or moon, because Christ’s glory will illuminate. At that time, the saints who have been given eternal life, will be with Christ forever. We will have different physical aspects, but we will all be in the likeness of Christ (1 Cor. 15). There will be no distinctions made then, whether nation or person.
If you can see this verse as representing a future, peaceful kingdom, I think you won’t need to be concerned with rankings. That will not be Christ’s concern. He will treat all equally and fairly during that time.
I don’t have any insight to bring into the discussion. Just dropped by to express my appreciation on the thoroughness of your responses. Whatever device you might be using to type in all these explanations, it is the time and effort you put into it that amazes me.
Praise the Lord for your heart!
Thank you very much for your informative response.
Still in the same vein,let’s consider the scripture that says “For Jacob I loved and Esau I hated”
Does that scripture not clearly show GOD’S
GOD clearly described the three nations ie Israel,Cush and Assyria in HIS infallible way which cannot be misconstrued as:
I think we need to extract meaning and find the difference. I think you have done justice to Israel.
Let’s take a close look at the two remaining nations Cush and Assyria.
Heard this quoted once, it applies to the Trinity, it might also apply here…
Seniority doesn’t necessarily mean priority.
Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.
For there is no respect of persons with God.
@Alexander_Marozhe Another in depth question. I will get back to you after the weekend, if you don’t mind.
Not at all.
I’m always glad to see the pursuit of clarity and truth in God’s word. I would also strongly caution that anytime we see a list that we cannot assume that Malachi 1:2-3 gives us license to imply order and ranking. This would risk an attempt to read an interpretation into the text (eisegesis), rather than out of the text.
The reading of this passage in its context of Isa. 19:16-25 shows a series of 5x “In that day…” statements. These detail YHWH’s intention (referenced in 19:12, 17) for the Kushite/Egyptian conflict, around the eighth and seventh centuries BC, around the time of the northern kingdom Israel’s fall, via Assyria as God’s instrument for their destruction. Judah still stood and could have later been a threat which could have conquered and united the region. However Judah could not stay aligned with God and these “in that day…” potential events do not come to pass. Judah’s destruction is then later foretold (ref. chapter 22).
As to the three statements, if Egypt had recognized YHWH alone as its God, they would be called God’s people, as God will recognize other nations that revere Him (Gen. 12:3, 18:18; Ps. 47:9-10; Hos. 2:23). Given the relevant history here, God had worked with Assyria as His tool, a “rod of anger” (Isa. 10:5), and in some potential future they could have also been known–like Israel–as God’s handiwork (Isa. 64:8). Israel of course is known as God’s inheritance (Deut. 32:9, Mic. 7:14). This does not mean they are greater, though they are not less. To add some sort of weighted hierarchy misses the greater point that all three titles are given to Israel, which then non-Jewish nations Egypt and Assyria would have been sharing in the same per His promises. But alas, this was not to be, and chapters 20-22 unfold. What then is the motivation or benefit to try and rank these ancient, conquered nations of the OT, who would not yield to God’s will in the end?
 John D. W. Watts, Isaiah 1-33, in Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 24, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, et al. (Grand Rapids: Thomas Nelson, 2004) 313.
 Ibid., 317.
Hello, Alexander @Alexander_Marozhe
It is very important not just to look at a verse at face value. We need to pry into Scripture to see why God made this statement in Malachi, and later, Paul in Romans 9. I apologize for this lengthy explanation, but the whole picture needs to be understood.
A little background is necessary. Jacob and Esau were twins born to Rebekah and Isaac. While Rebekah was carrying them, God told her she was carrying two nations, that the younger would serve the older (Gen.25:23). Although Paul references this in Romans 9 and includes the Malachi verse, God did not say at that time He loved Jacob and hated Esau. Jacob was the younger and the one through whom Jesus would be born. He was given the same promise as Abraham and his father Isaac (Gen. 28: 13-15) His name was later changed to Israel (Gen. 32:28). Esau was the older. He became the nation of Edom (Gen. 36).
The two boys were totally different personalities. Esau was a hunter with passions that he indulged, was disrespectful, and careless. In addition to his character, Esau married Canaanite women, against Isaac’s wishes. He later married the granddaughter of Ishmael, Isaac’s half-brother who was his rival. Jacob, while a schemer and a deceiver, respected his parents and had an underlying desire to know God (Gen. 32: 22-32). It was after his encounter with God that his name and character changed.
Esau came in hungry after hunting, disregarded his birthright so much that he allowed Jacob to trick him out of that birthright. Genesis 25:34 states that Esau despised his birthright, meaning it had no meaning to him. Jacob later deceived his father and stole Esau’s blessing as the firstborn. Then Esau hated Jacob so much he set out to kill him. So, Jacob fled to his grandfather, Abraham’s, country of origin and took a wife there. He lived there over 20 years.
The Lord instructed him to return, but he feared his brother. However, they did reconcile. Both were very prosperous, so decided to go separate ways to avoid conflicts with family and livestock. Esau chose a mountainous area in the dessert area of Seir, a land they thought was very well protected from enemies.
Jacob returned to Canaan and later went into Egypt because of the severe famine.
Although Jacob and Esau had reconciled, Esau’s descendants hated Jacob. When God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, the first group of people to try to prevent their passage were the Amalekites (Ex.17: 8-15.) who were descendants of Esau.(Gen.36:12) After that battle, God told Moses that the Amalekites would be blotted out because they came against the Israelites who were under God’s protection. This is important because it plays into the rest of the story of Esau (Edom). Next, Edom refused to let Israel pass through its territory on their journeying in the wilderness toward Canaan. (Numbers 20:14-21). This is also highly important.
If you go to the Book of Obadiah, you will see the whole pronouncement of judgment on Edom, which included the Amalekites. God completely obliterated them for their pride, arrogance, hatred for the Lord, and what they did to Israel in their Exodus journey. There are so many other verses, but what I have highlighted, and the Book of Obadiah tell the main story.
Going back to Malachi 1:3, if you look at the Hebrew meaning of the word, it means just that, “hate”. So, many have mistakenly compared it with Jesus’ statement that to be a follower of Him one must hate their mother and father, etc. (Luke 14:26) In this case, Jesus is saying that by comparison, one’s love for Him must appear as hate for parents. The Greek word for hate in this case, means “by comparison”, or “a preference”.
Getting back to your question regarding ranking, you can see that ranking is also not an issue here when speaking of Isaiah 19:25 because God completely obliterated Esau (Edom). So, it no longer exists and can’t be ranked. It was Esau’s total disregard for his birthright that continued to influence his descendants into arrogance and pride, and their treatment of Israel that finally caused God to “hate” Edom to the point of extinction.
I hope this helps clarify your question.
Thank you very much for response and teaching.
My heart says we have spent enough time on the issue with much benefit.
Thank you all.