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23. Prophecy About Tyre

The burden of Tyre. Howl, ye ships of Tarshish; for it is laid waste, so that there is no house, no entering in: from the land of Chittim it is revealed to them. 2Be still, ye inhabitants of the isle; thou whom the merchants of Zidon, that pass over the sea, have replenished. 3And by great waters the seed of Sihor, the harvest of the river, is her revenue; and she is a mart of nations. 4Be thou ashamed, O Zidon: for the sea hath spoken, even the strength of the sea, saying, I travail not, nor bring forth children, neither do I nourish up young men, nor bring up virgins. 5As at the report concerning Egypt, so shall they be sorely pained at the report of Tyre. 6Pass ye over to Tarshish; howl, ye inhabitants of the isle. 7 Is this your joyous city, whose antiquity is of ancient days? her own feet shall carry her afar off to sojourn. 8Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honourable of the earth? 9The Lord of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth. 10Pass through thy land as a river, O daughter of Tarshish: there is no more strength. 11He stretched out his hand over the sea, he shook the kingdoms: the Lord hath given a commandment against the merchant city, to destroy the strong holds thereof. 12And he said, Thou shalt no more rejoice, O thou oppressed virgin, daughter of Zidon: arise, pass over to Chittim; there also shalt thou have no rest. 13Behold the land of the Chaldeans; this people was not, til the Assyrian founded it for them that dwell in the wilderness: they set up the towers thereof, they raised up the palaces thereof; and he brought it to ruin. 14Howl, ye ships of Tarshish: for your strength is laid waste. 15And it shall come to pass in that day, that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years, according to the days of one king: after the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing as an harlot. 16Take an harp, go about the city, thou harlot that hast been forgotten; make sweet melody, sing many songs, that thou mayest be remembered.

17And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the Lord will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth. 18And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord: it shall not be treasured nor laid up; for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the Lord, to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing.

4. Be thou ashamed, O Sidon; for the sea hath spoken. This verse is added for the purpose of heightening the picture. We have explained the reason why he speaks particularly of Sidon. He calls Tyre, by way of eminence, (κατ ᾿ ἐξοχὴν,) the sea, as if she reigned alone in the midst of the sea.

I have not travailed. These words are immediately added, and belong (μιμητικῶς) to a fictitious address put into the mouth of Tyre, in which the Prophet wittily taunts the inhabitants of Tyre, who boasted of her colonies; for she “brought forth” other illustrious cities. “In ancient times,” says Pliny, “she was famous for the cities which she built, Leptis, Utica, and that rival of the Roman empire, Carthage, which aspired to govern the whole world, besides Cadiz, which was built beyond the limits of the world. Her whole superiority now consists of scarlet and purple.” (Plin. Hist. Nat., lib. v. c. 19.) Thus, Isaiah represents Tyre as bewailing her ancient glory, because she has ceased to be a mother, and because it is of no avail to her that she has brought forth so many children, and founded so many cities; for at an early period Carthage sent regularly every year a present to Tyre, for the purpose of doing homage to her as the mother. In this manner Tyre appeared to hold a higher rank than all other cities, since even Carthage, though a rival of the Roman empire, was in some respect subject to Tyre: but the Lord stripped her of all her ornaments in a moment, so that she bewailed her bereavement, as if she had never brought up any children.

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