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30 January 2011

Blessed be Egypt, My People

Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, 
and Israel my heritage.”

Many are surprised to find these words on the lips of God recorded by the hand of Isaiah. This scandalously inclusive text is excluded from Christian and Jewish lectionaries.

As we listen to the cries of Egyptians for democratic freedoms and wonder what this means for balance of power in the Middle East, let us hear the words of God through the prophet of God again:

Isaiah 19:19 One day there will be an altar to the Holy One of Old in the center of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the Holy One at its border. 20 It will be a sign and a witness to the Commander of heaven's armies in the land of Egypt; when they cry to the Holy One because of oppressors, God will send them a savior, and will defend and deliver them. 21 The Holy One of Sinai will make Godself known to the Egyptians; and the Egyptians will know the Holy One on that day, and will worship with sacrifice and burnt offering, and they will make vows to the Holy One and perform them. 22 The Holy One will strike Egypt, striking and healing; they will return to the Holy One, and God will listen to their supplications and heal them.
Isaiah 19:23 One day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians.
Isaiah 19:24 One day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, 25 whom the Commander of heaven's armies has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my heritage.”

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