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And the Lord shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea; and with his mighty wind shall he shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over dryshod. And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt. (Isaiah 11:15‭-‬16 KJV)

Does anyone know what the seven streams refer to? At first, I thought of the Nile because of the reference to Egypt but that can't be right because they cross it on their way from Assyria. Is this possible connected to Revelation 16:12?

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  • And probably your next question is where are that seven streams nowadays?
    – C.F.G
    Mar 18, 2022 at 9:52

2 Answers 2

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Those verses are referring to "like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt", as Isaiah himself tells the readers (verse 16.)

Further on, chapter 19:23-25, the astounding reversal among the nations is further stated. Instead of Israel having been captive in Assyria (prior to which she was captive in Egypt), Israel is now:

"the third with Egypt and with Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians, both peoples being called by God 'my people... and the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance'."

This is symbolic of how Psalm 87 would be fulfilled, with Gentiles being counted as "Zion-born" even though they never were, literally, born in Zion. Spiritually, the new birth applies to Gentiles as well as to Jews. That is how both Gentiles and Jews come to be called "my people" with the advent of the New Covenant in Christ's shed blood.

However, if you are looking for some literal fulfilment in the spiritual aspects of Isaiah's prophecy, you will look in vain. There are not literally seven streams - the number seven is symbolic of heavenly perfection. It is a complete number. Streams of living water come from all those who are filled with the Holy Spirit, be they Jews or Gentiles (John 7:38). In the heavenly New Jerusalem, "the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of [the Lamb]" (Rev.21:24) with one river of water of life coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb (Rev.22:1). All who are thirsty are invited to drink from this one source of living water, freely (Rev.22:17).

There is great danger in seeking to apply all such prophecies of Isaiah to a literal nation of Israel restored to a tiny tract of land at some time in the future. That leads to all sorts of difficulties, such as trying to make the literal dimensions of the heavenly New Jerusalem fit into that literal, earthly, tract of land.

You specifically asked if the scripture you mention is connected to Revelation 16:12. In light of my answer, I would say "No, this symbolic river Euphrates speaks of spiritual events leading directly to the battle of Armageddon, where demons gather the nations together."

"What is Isaiah 11:15 referring to?" you ask. In the first instance, it had direct fulfilment in God restoring a remnant of Israel to the literal land of Israel, but at the start of that chapter it foretells a future coming of "a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots." Then it gives a prophecy fulfilled in Christ, on earth (John 3:26-36). From the time of Christ's ascension back to heaven, to receive the Kingdom, up till this very day, Isaiah's prophecy is having its symbolic fulfilment in believing people of all nations being given streams of living water by the indwelling Holy Spirit. There will be a culmination after the Day of Judgment and Resurrection as per Revelation chapters 21 & 22.

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The prophecy of Isa 11:15, 16 contains several elements that require interpretation, and that interpretation depends upon the prophetic scheme one adopts. I will attempt to set these out in a table for clarity.

Before doing that, let me point out the obvious counter-point here. The Jews returning from Babylon will be divinely facilitated in their return over the river Euphrates just as the original Israelites were divinely assisted out of Egypt by drying the gulf of Suez. See V16 as quoted below.

Now for the broad outline of the several possible interpretations of this Isa 11:10-16.

Element Literal Christian Futurist
General idea Return of Jews from Babylon Gathering of Gentiles to the Christian Church Future gathering of literal Jews by a future descendant of David
Root of Jesse Zerubbabel Jesus Christ Future king of Jews
Tongue of the sea of Egypt Gulf of Suez as when the Israelites were freed from Egypt Gulf of Suez is the metaphor for the miracles God does to bring the gentiles to the Christian church Gulf of Suez
The River Literal Euphrates that had to be crossed by returning Jews metaphoric Euphrates as in Rev 16:12 Literal Euphrates that will be crossed by Jews returning to the land of Israel
Seven Streams A metaphor for how easily the returning Jews crossed the Euphrates from Babylon under royal protection A metaphor for the miracles God does to enable many people to join the Christian community The literal Euphrates will be broken into seven small streams

Summary: (V16)

There will be a highway for the remnant of His people who remain from Assyria, as there was for Israel when they came up from the land of Egypt.

Now, let me reveal my bias here. Since the people of Ammon, Moab and Edom (V14) no longer exist, the Futurist interpretation cannot be literal. Therefore, we are left with either:

  • the Literal return of the Jews under Zerubbabel, or
  • the anticipation of the Jesus establishing His international Christian community and these elements understood metaphorically. Isa 56:6, 7, Matt 21:38, 43, 1 Peter 2:9, 10, Rom 9:6, 25, 26, etc.

I see no difficulty in assuming that this passage can be understood literally and then using it as a kind of historical metaphor of the the ultimate root of Jesse which the NT confirms and interprets as Jesus Himself: Rom 15:10 quotes Isa 11:10 and applies it to Messiah.

Therefore, I think this is the safest interpretation - a future prophecy of Messiah based on a historical event.

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