Isa 23:1-18. Prophecy
historian, notices a siege of Tyre by Shalmaneser, about the time of
the siege of Samaria. Sidon, Acco, and Old Tyre, on the mainland, were
soon reduced; but New Tyre, on an island half a mile from the shore,
held out for five years. Sargon probably finished the siege.
Sennacherib does not, however, mention it among the cities which the
Assyrian kings conquered (thirty-sixth and thirty-seventh chapters).
The expression, "Chaldeans" (Isa 23:13), may imply reference to its siege under
Nebuchadnezzar, which lasted thirteen years. Alexander the Great
destroyed New Tyre after a seven months' siege.
1. Tyre—Hebrew, Tsur, that is,
ships of Tarshish—ships of Tyre
returning from their voyage to Tarshish, or Tartessus in Spain, with
which the Phœnicians had much commerce (Eze 27:12-25). "Ships of Tarshish" is a phrase
also used of large and distant-voyaging merchant vessels (Isa
2:16; 1Ki 10:22; Ps 48:7).
no house—namely, left; such was the
case as to Old Tyre, after Nebuchadnezzar's siege.
no entering—There is no house
to enter (Isa 24:10)
[G. V. Smith]. Or, Tyre is so laid
waste, that there is no possibility of entering the harbor
[Barnes]; which is appropriate to the
Chittim—Cyprus, of which the cities,
including Citium in the south (whence came "Chittim"), were
mostly Phœnician (Eze 27:6).
The ships from Tarshish on their way to Tyre learn the tidings ("it is
revealed to them") of the downfall of Tyre. At a later period Chittim
denoted the islands and coasts of the Mediterranean (Da 11:30).
2. Be still—"struck dumb with awe."
Addressed to those already in the country, eye-witnesses of its ruin
2:10); or, in contrast to the
busy din of commerce once heard in Tyre; now all is hushed and
isle—strictly applicable to New Tyre:
in the sense coast, to the mainland city, Old Tyre (compare
Isa 23:6; Isa 20:6).
Zidon—of which Tyre was a colony,
planted when Zidon was conquered by the Philistines of Ascalon. Zidon
means a "fishing station"; this was its beginning.
replenished—with wealth and an
industrious population (Eze 27:3, 8, 23). Here "Zidon," as the oldest city of
Phœnicia, includes all the Phœnician towns on the strip of
"coast." Thus, Eth-baal, king of Tyre [Josephus, Antiquities, 8.3,2], is called king
of the Sidonians (1Ki 16:31);
and on coins Tyre is called the metropolis of the Sidonians.
3. great waters—the wide waters of the
seed—"grain," or crop, as in 1Sa
8:15; Job 39:12.
applied to the Nile, as the Egyptian Jeor, and the Greek
Melas, to express the "dark, turbid" colors given to its waters by
the fertilizing soil which it deposits at its yearly overflow (Jer 2:18).
harvest of the river—the growth of the
Delta; the produce due to the overflow of the Nile: Egypt was the great
granary of corn in the ancient world (Ge 41:1-57; 42:1-38;
her revenue—Tyrian vessels carried
Egyptian produce obtained in exchange for wine, oil, glass, &c.,
into various lands, and so made large profits.
mart—(Eze 27:3). No city was more favorably situated
4. Zidon—called on, as being the parent
country of Tyre (Isa 23:12),
and here equivalent to Phœnicia in general, to feel the shame (as
it was esteemed in the East) of being now as childless as if she never
had any. "I (no more now) travail, nor bring forth," &c. "Strength
of the sea," that is, stronghold, namely, New Tyre, on a rock (as
"Tyre" means) surrounded by the sea (Eze 26:4, 14-17; so Venice was called "Bride of the
5. As, &c.—rather, "When the
report (shall reach) the people of Egypt, they shall be sorely pained
at the report concerning Tyre" (namely, its overthrow). So Jerome, "When the Egyptians shall hear that so
powerful a neighboring nation has been destroyed, they must know their
own end is near" [Lowth, &c.].
6. Pass … over—Escape from Tyre to
your colonies as Tarshish (compare Isa 23:12). The Tyrians fled to Carthage and
elsewhere, both at the siege under Nebuchadnezzar and that under
7. Is this silent ruin all that is left
of your once joyous city (Isa 23:12)?
antiquity—The Tyrian priests boasted
in Herodotus' time that their city had
already existed 2300 years: an exaggeration, but still implying that it
was ancient even then.
her own feet—walking on foot as
captives to an enemy's land.
8. Who—answered in Isa 23:9, "The Lord of hosts."
crowning—crown-giving; that is, the
city from which dependent kingdoms had arisen, as Tartessus in Spain,
Citium in Cyprus, and Carthage in Africa (Eze 27:33).
who were famed for commerce (compare Ho 12:7, Margin).
9. Whoever be the instruments in overthrowing
haughty sinners, God, who has all hosts at His command, is the First
Cause (Isa 10:5-7).
stain—rather, "to profane"; as in
31:14, the Sabbath,
and other objects of religious reverence; so here, "the pride of all
glory" may refer to the Tyrian temple of Hercules, the oldest in the
world, according to Arrian (Isa 2:16); the prophet of the true God would
naturally single out for notice the idol of Tyre [G. V. Smith]. It may, however, be a general
proposition; the destruction of Tyre will exhibit to all how God mars
the luster of whatever is haughty (Isa 2:11).
10. a river—Hebrew, "the river,"
daughter of Tarshish—Tyre and its
inhabitants (Isa 1:8),
about henceforth, owing to the ruin of Tyre, to become inhabitants of
its colony, Tartessus: they would pour forth from Tyre, as
waters flow on when the barriers are removed [Lowth]. Rather, Tarshish, or Tartessus and its
inhabitants, as the phrase usually means: they had been kept in hard
bondage, working in silver and lead mines near Tarshish, by the parent
26:17): but now "the bond of
restraint" (for so "strength," Margin, "girdle," that is, bond,
Ps 2:3, ought to be translated) is
removed, since Tyre is no more.
kingdoms—the Phœnician cities and
the merchant city—rather,
Canaan, meaning the north of it, namely, Phœnicia. On their
coins, they call their country Canaan.
rejoice—riotously (Isa 23:7).
oppressed—"deflowered"; laying aside
the figure "taken by storm"; the Arabs compare a city never taken to an
undefiled virgin (compare Na 3:5,
daughter of Zidon—Tyre: or else, sons
of Zidon, that is, the whole land and people of Phœnicia (see on
Isa 23:2) [Maurer].
Chittim—Citium in Cyprus (Isa 23:1).
there also … no rest—Thy
colonies, having been harshly treated by thee, will now repay thee in
kind (see on Isa 23:10). But Vitringa refers it to the calamities which befell
the Tyrians in their settlements subsequently, namely, Sicily, Corcyra,
Carthage, and Spain, all flowing from the original curse of Noah
against the posterity of Canaan (Ge 9:25-27).
13. Behold—Calling attention to the
fact, so humiliating to Tyre, that a people of yesterday, like the
Chaldees, should destroy the most ancient of cities, Tyre.
was not—had no existence as a
recognized nation; the Chaldees were previously but a rude, predatory
Assyrian founded it—The Chaldees
("them that dwell in the wilderness") lived a nomadic life in the
mountains of Armenia originally (Arphaxad, in Ge 10:22, refers to such a region of Assyria near
Armenia), north and east of Assyria proper. Some may have settled in
Mesopotamia and Babylonia very early and given origin to the
astrologers called Chaldees in later times. But most of the
people had been transferred only a little before the time of this
prophecy from their original seats in the north to Mesopotamia, and
soon afterwards to South Babylonia. "Founded it," means "assigned
it (the land) to them who had (heretofore) dwelt in the
wilderness" as a permanent settlement (so in Ps 104:8) [Maurer]. It was the Assyrian policy to infuse into
their own population of the plain the fresh blood of hardy
mountaineers, for the sake of recruiting their armies. Ultimately the
Chaldees, by their powerful priest-caste, gained the supremacy and
established the later or Chaldean empire. Horsley refers it to Tyre, founded by an Assyrian
towers thereof—namely, of Babylon,
whose towers, Herodotus says, were "set
up" by the Assyrians [Barnes]. Rather,
"The Chaldees set up their siege-towers" against Tyre,
made for the attack of high walls, from which the besiegers hurled
missiles, as depicted in the Assyrian sculptures [G. V. Smith].
raised up—rather, "They lay
bare," namely, the foundations of "her (Tyre's) palaces,"
that is, utterly overthrew them (Ps 137:7).
14. strength—stronghold (compare Eze
15. forgotten—Having lost its former
renown, Tyre shall be in obscurity.
seventy years—(so Jer 25:11,
days of one king—that is, a dynasty.
The Babylonian monarchy lasted properly but seventy years. From the
first year of Nebuchadnezzar to the taking of Babylon, by Cyrus, was
seventy years; then the subjected nations would be restored to liberty.
Tyre was taken in the middle of that period, but it is classed in
common with the rest, some conquered sooner and others later, all,
however, alike to be delivered at the end of the period. So "king" is
used for dynasty (Da 7:17; 8:20): Nebuchadnezzar, his son Evil-merodach,
and his grandson, Belshazzar, formed the whole dynasty (Jer
25:11, 12; 27:7; 29:10).
shall Tyre sing as … harlot—It
shall be to Tyre as the song of the harlot, namely, a harlot that has
been forgotten, but who attracts notice again by her song. Large marts
of commerce are often compared to harlots seeking many lovers, that is,
they court merchants of all nations, and admit any one for the sake of
gain (Na 3:4; Re 18:3). Covetousness is closely akin to
idolatry and licentiousness, as the connection (Eph 5:5; Col
3:5) proves (compare Isa 2:6-8,
16. Same figure [Isa 23:15] to express that Tyre would again
prosper and attract commercial intercourse of nations to her, and be
the same joyous, self-indulging city as before.
17. visit—not in wrath, but mercy.
hire—image from a harlot: her
gains by commerce. After the Babylonian dynasty was ended, Tyre
was rebuilt; also, again, after the destruction under Alexander.
18. merchandise … holiness—Her
traffic and gains shall at last (long after the restoration mentioned
23:17) be consecrated to
Jehovah. Jesus Christ visited the neighborhood of Tyre (Mt 15:21); Paul found disciples there (Ac 21:3-6); it early became a Christian
bishopric, but the full evangelization of that whole race, as of the
Ethiopians (Isa 18:1-7), of the Egyptians and Assyrians (Isa
19:1-25), is yet to come
not treasured—but freely expended in
them that dwell before the Lord—the
ministers of religion. But Horsley
translates, "them that sit before Jehovah" as
durable clothing—Changes of raiment
constituted much of the wealth of former days.