"ALTAR TO JEHOVAH
IN THE LAND OF EGYPT"
(Isaiah 19:19). This Is Appendix 81 From The Companion Bible.
The fulfillment of
this prophecy took place in 1
and is recorded by Josephus
(Antiquities xiii. 3.
6; Wars 7.
and Against Apion, 2.
In consequence of wars between the Jews and 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:—
"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 builded 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 Leontopolis 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.____________________________
¹ See longer note in the Text on page 1096 in The Companion Bible.
For Isaiah the prophet has predicted thus: "There shall be an altar in Egypt to the LORD God"; and he prophesied many other such things concerning the place.'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 Jews were opposed to, and jealous of, this rival temple; and, by changing two letters almost identical in form ( = H (or CH) to = H) 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 ancient versions, as well as in the margins of the Authorized Version and Revised Version. The Septuagint reading shows that the Hebrew Manuscripts 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.