The burden concerning Egypt. Behold, the LORD rides upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall tremble at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.
Read Chapter 19
Ambrose of Milan
Hear that the flesh of the Lord was a shadow: “Behold, the Lord is seated on a light cloud and will come to Egypt.” David also said, “Protect me under the shadow of your wings.” The shadow was emptied, therefore, for us whom the sun of iniquity had consumed. For we saw Christ in a shadow when the faith was first arising. Now that he illuminates the entire world, we nevertheless still see him through the shadow of his body, which is the church, not yet face to face, for our bodily eyes are incapable of beholding the brilliance of his divinity. And this shadow daily protects all the earth. An imprisonment, therefore, was advantageous: “God imprisoned all things in unbelief, that he might have mercy on all.” - "Exposition of Psalm 118 19.6"
It is relevant to recall that holy Isaiah uttered a particular prophecy concerning Egypt: “And the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt within them” and the rest.
In the same class with these prophets were those who rejoiced because they knew he had come whom they had been expecting. Such were Simeon and Anna, who recognized Jesus when he was born, and Elizabeth, who, in the Spirit, realized that he had been conceived, and Peter, who, by revelation of the Father, affirmed, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.” - "City of God 8.23"
But if the entire world is divided against itself with respect to faith in Christ, each home contains both infidels and believers. A good war is waged, therefore, to disrupt an evil peace. Isaiah also announced prophetically under the figure of Egypt: “Behold, the Lord will ascend upon a light cloud and will come to Egypt, and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence and the hearts of the Egyptians will melt within them, and I will cause Egyptians to attack Egyptians.” Clearly this refers to a struggle between proponents of the faith and its enemies. - "Exposition of the Gospel of Luke 4.12.51"
The blessed Virgin, being purely human, was unable to receive bodily all the plenitude of divinity. But the power of the Most High overshadowed her, that is, her body received the incorporeal light of divinity. The prophet comments on this beautifully: “Behold, the Lord will ascend upon on a light cloud and will come to Egypt,” which is to say, Behold, the coeternal Word of God the Father, the light from light who was born before the ages, will receive at the end of the age a flesh and soul not burdened with any sin, and he will enter the world from a virginal womb, like a bridegroom from his chamber. Therefore, what will be born will be called holy, the Son of God. In distinction from our holiness, Jesus alone is said to be born holy. - "Exposition of the Gospel of Luke 1.1.35"
Such brief downpours are rightly compared with the shallow, inflated boasting of secular teaching which often seems to pour forth an endless, deep river of eloquence and broad learning but soon dries up entirely, as though it had never existed at all, where the sun of justice and the summer of evangelical radiance shine. The Lord himself laments this state of affairs through the prophet: “They abandoned me, the fountain of living water, and dug for themselves broken cisterns which cannot hold water.” Isaiah also says, “Behold, the Lord will ascend upon a light cloud and will come to Egypt,” and again, “The water of the sea will dry up and the river will be desolate and arid.” “A well of living waters,” he said, “which flows from Lebanon,” that is, from the church, whose life is both clear and deep. For Lebanon, which means “clarity,” fills its camps with saving streams of wisdom for its subjects, as though they were an audience, like the Lord promises in the Gospel: “Whoever believes i...
The psalmist spoke of this solemnity [when he said], “God has ascended with a shout of jubilation, and the Lord with the sound of the trumpet.” He ascended with a shout of jubilation, since he sought heaven as the disciples rejoiced in the glory of his being lifted up. He ascended with the sound of the trumpet, since he went up to the throne of his heavenly kingdom as the angels heralded his return to judge the living and the dead.
How God, who is present always and everywhere and does not change from place to place, ascended, the same [inspired writer] declares elsewhere, saying, “He who makes a cloud his stairway and walks upon the wings of the winds.” He calls the substance of human weakness with which “the sun of righteousness” clothed himself, that [the sight of him] might be borne by human beings, a cloud. Hence Isaiah says, “Behold, the Lord will ascend upon a swift cloud and will enter Egypt, and the idols of Egypt will be shaken before his face.” The Lord ascended upon a swift...
To make himself visible, the “sun of justice” assumed a human body like a cloud, according to which it was said, “Behold, the Lord will come upon a light cloud.” What is the cloud upon which the Lord, the sun of justice, was predicted to arrive if not the cloud of the human body, through which the appearance of his divine radiance was shielded? But just as the sun is less visible to us when covered by a cloud, even though its nature remains unchanged, so also the Son of God did not cease to retain the glory of his divinity when he covered his radiance with the cloud of a human body. The Gospel said that “his face shone like the sun and his clothing was made as white as snow” to show the power of his divine radiance, through which even his clothing was made white like snow. “And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared and spoke with them,” it continues. The Lord had already promised the glory of this vision long ago to the same Moses, saying, “You will see my back [posteriora mea].” He used “...
But Isaiah announced the Lord’s future trip to Egypt some time ago when he said, “Behold, the Lord will be seated upon a light cloud and will come to Egypt.” By this saying, the mystery of the Lord’s incarnation is clearly shown. For because the Lord himself, “dawning from on high,” is called “the sun of justice,” it is not without merit that he was foretold to be coming “upon a light cloud,” that is, in a holy body which no sin was able to weigh down. It was under the veil of this corporeal cloud that he concealed the light of his majesty. - "Tractate on Matthew 6.1"
I suppose that the reason why it is foretold that the Lord would come to Egypt is this: The Egyptians are said to have been the first to practice the errors of polytheism.… And Holy Scripture witnesses that they were the enemies of God’s people from the very beginning, for it is written that their ancient king confessed that he did not know the Lord, when he said, “I do not know the Lord, and I will not let Israel go.” So, then, it is because Scripture wishes to show the great marvel of the divine power of Christ that it foretells his going to Egypt, in predicting that the Egyptians will undergo an extraordinary conversion, when it goes on to say, “And the Egyptians shall know the Lord, who before knew him not, and shall pray to the Lord,” and so on.… Here it is predicted of Egypt and its people that they will not acknowledge idols any more but will acknowledge the Lord revealed by the Jewish prophets. Now if we cannot see this actually fulfilled before our eyes, we must not say that t...
Now one can consider that the prophecy has not been fulfilled if the following are true: if the Egyptians in our own time cannot be seen to have abandoned the gods of their fathers and calling on the God of the prophets; throughout every town and city in the country of Egypt there are not altars built to the God that previously only the Hebrews acknowledged; the idols have not been shaken.… How can we deny that the prophecies of ages past have been fulfilled? They promised beforehand that the Lord would not come to Egypt in an incorporeal manner but on a light cloud, or better “on a thick light,” which is the meaning of the Hebrew word. This figuratively speaks of his incarnation. The prophecy continues by calling him a human being who is the Savior, saying, “And he shall send to them a man who is a savior.” The Hebrew here is, “And he shall send to them a savior who will save them.” This clear demonstration leads me to conclude that there is no doubt of the time of the promise of the ...
This prophecy says that the one who is begotten after the God and Lord of all things, meaning the Word of God, will come into Egypt, and not undercover or invisibly or without a body but riding on a light cloud, or better “on thick light.” This is the meaning of the Hebrew word. Let the Hebrew children tell us when after the time of Isaiah the Lord visited Egypt, and which Lord it was. The God over all is one. Let them tell us how he is said to ride on “thick light” and to come to any particular place on the earth. Let them interpret “thick light” and explain why the Lord is not said to visit Egypt without it. Let them also say when the prophecy that the Egyptian idols made with hands would be shaken and Egyptians would fight Egyptians by the coming of the Lord is to have been fulfilled. - "Proof of the Gospel 6.20"
Egypt. Many refer this to the coming of Christ, (Calmet) at whose presence the idols fell down, and many saints adorned the country. (Worthington)
But the prophet may also literally refer to the wars of the Assyrians against Egypt. Sabacon having retired, after reigning fifty years, Anysis, and afterwards the priest of Seth on, succeeded to the throne. The latter was attacked by Sennacherib. After his death, twelve kingdoms were formed, but Psammitichus reunited them, and had Nechao for his successor. (Herodotus ii. 141, 158.)
Behold. The prophet speaks fourteen years before the attack of Sennacherib.
Cloud. Psalm xvii. 11. Some Fathers explain it of the blessed Virgin . (Calmet)
Moved. Plundered by the Assyrians. (Menochius)
Under Egypt he meant the world, and under things made with hands its idolatry, and under the shaking its subversion and dissolution. And the Lord, the Word, he represented as upon a light cloud, referring to that most pure tabernacle, in which setting up His throne, our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to shake error.
Behold, the Lord has entered the Egypt of this world on a soft cloud, the Virgin. “He led them with a cloud by day.” Beautifully said, by day, for the cloud was never in darkness but always in light. “And all night with a glow of fire.” “For you darkness itself is not dark, and night shines as the day.” “And all night with a glow of fire.” “The Lord our God is a consuming fire.” A consuming fire. The psalmist did not say what the fire is consuming; he left that to our intelligence. - "Homilies on the Psalms 11 (Psalm 77)"
“The Lord is riding on a swift cloud on his way to Egypt.” Appreciate what that means: the Lord comes, the Lord and Savior, into the Egypt in which we live; the Lord comes into the land of darkness where Pharaoh is. But he does not come save riding on a swift cloud. Now what is this swift cloud? I think it is holy Mary with child of no human seed. This swift cloud has come into the world and brought with it the Creator of the world. What does Isaiah say? “The Lord will enter into Egypt upon a swift cloud; and the idols of Egypt shall be shattered.” The Lord has come, and the false gods of Egypt tremble violently, crash together and are destroyed. This is the cloud that in Alexandria destroyed Sarapis; no general did it, no mortal man, but this cloud that came into Alexandria. - "Homilies on the Psalms 24 (Psalm 96)"
We must think of that swift cloud as befitting either the body of the Savior, because his body was light, not weighted down by any sin; or certainly holy Mary, who was heavy with child by no human seed. Behold the Lord has entered the Egypt of this world on a swift cloud, the Virgin. - "Homilies on the Psalms 11 (Psalm 77)"
Appreciate what that means: The Lord comes, the Lord and Savior, into the Egypt in which we live; the Lord comes into the land of darkness where Pharaoh is. But he does not come save riding on a swift cloud. Now what is this swift cloud? I think it is holy Mary with child of no human seed. This swift cloud has come into the world and brought with it the Creator of the world. What does Isaiah say? “The Lord will enter into Egypt upon a swift cloud; and the idols of Egypt shall be shattered.” The Lord has come, and the false gods of Egypt tremble violently, crash together and are destroyed. - "Homilies on the Psalms 24 (Psalm 96)"
That it was Jesus himself [at the ascension] they knew from the fact that he had been conversing with them (for had they seen only from a distance, they could not have recognized him by sight), but that he is taken up into heaven the angels themselves inform them. Observe how it is ordered, that not all is done by the Spirit, but the eyes also do their part. But why did “a cloud receive him”? This too was a sure sign that he went up to heaven. Not fire, as in the case of Elijah, nor fiery chariot, but “a cloud received him”; which was a symbol of heaven, as the prophet says, “Who makes the clouds his chariot”; it is of the Father himself that this is said. Therefore he says, “on a cloud”; in the symbol, he would say, of the divine power, for no other power is seen to appear on a cloud. For hear again what another prophet says: “The Lord sits upon a light cloud.” - "Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles 2"
[At the Mount of Transfiguration] the Father uttered a voice out of the cloud. Why out of the cloud? Because this is how God appears. For a “cloud and darkness are around him.” “He sits on a light cloud,” and “He makes clouds his chariot.” “A cloud received him out of their sight.” “As the Son of Man coming in the clouds.”
His voice comes from a cloud so that they might believe that the voice proceeds from God. - "Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew 56.5"