City of Sun

SUN, CITY OF. This is a possible rendering of a phrase ’īr-ha-ḥeres in some MS sources for Isaiah 19:18, although MT and most prefer ’īr-ha-heres (a different h), city of destruction. It is possible that a pun is implied—what was then “city of the sun” was to be called “city of destruction.” The context is an “oracle concerning Egypt,” passing judgment on Egypt up to this point, and this is to be one of five cities there speaking Heb. and acknowledging the Lord of hosts. Associated with this prophecy is one (19:19ff.) of an altar and pillar in Egypt as God’s sign there, not only for punishment on Egypt but also for God’s revealing Himself to the Egyptians and their serving Him, a blessing alongside Assyria and Israel. Of Egyp. towns, one par excellence was “city of the sun”: Heliopolis (q.v.), Heb. On; the “destruction” could reflect the judgments expressed, and the overthrow of Egyp. paganism (cf. Jer 43:13 on Heliopolis). The scope in time of the prophecy cannot be fully delimited; Jewish settlements occurred in Egypt from before Pers. through Hel. times, while Christianity has brought knowledge of God anciently and modernly since.