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Bible Commentaries

Trapp's Complete Commentary

Isaiah 23

Verse 1

Isa 23:1 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.

Ver. 1. The burden of Tyre. ] Heb., Tsor, whence came Tyre. It was the chief city of Phoenicia, the chief market of the East, a very microcosm or epitome of the whole world, for its wealth and wickedness. It was not far from Judea - our Saviour Mat 15:21 went from Galilee into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon - in whose misery she made herself merry, Eze 26:2 and is therefore here threatened with utter destruction.

Howl, ye ships of Tarshish, ] i.e., Of Tartessus, in Spain, or of Tarsus, in Cilicia, St Paul’s country, or of the main ocean.

For it is laid waste, ] viz., By Nebuchadnezzar, and afterwards by Alexander the Great, who of an island made it part of the continent, and then razed it to the ground. a

So that there is no house. ] Or thus: So that there is no house, nor coming in for those from Chittim, is made known to them.

a Plin., lib. v. cap. 19.

Verse 2

Isa 23:2 Be still, ye inhabitants of the isle; thou whom the merchants of Zidon, that pass over the sea, have replenished.

Ver. 2. Be still, ye inhabitants of the isle. ] A nundinatorio strepitu quiescite, et plorate, Be quiet, and mourn.

Verse 3

Isa 23:3 And by great waters the seed of Sihor, the harvest of the river, [is] her revenue; and she is a mart of nations.

Ver. 3. And by great waters the seed of Sihor, ] i.e., Of Nile, by the overflowing whereof Egypt is made exceeding fertile, being styled the "granary of the world." Tyre was much enriched by its store thereto transported through the midland sea, called here great waters.

Verse 4

Isa 23:4 Be 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.

Ver. 4. Be ashamed, O Zidon, ] sc., Of Tyre, thy daughter and confederate.

For the sea hath spoken, even the strength of the sea. ] Or, The seaport. By the sea and seaport we are to understand Tyre, who sat in the sea, as now Venice doth, and sovereigned it.

I travail not, nor bring forth children. ] I send forth no colonies, as sometimes I have done. Pliny saith of Tyre, Olim partu clara urbibus genitis, Lepti, Utica, Carthagine, etiam Gadibus extra orbem conditis. a But now it was past that time of day with her.

a Plin., lib. v. cap. 19.

Verse 5

Isa 23:5 As at the report concerning Egypt, [so] shall they be sorely pained at the report of Tyre.

Ver. 5. As at the report concerning Egypt, ] i.e, Concerning their overthrow once at the Red Sea. Exo 15:14 They are also shortly to be overrun by Nebuchadnezzar, to whom God hath promised Egypt, as his pay for his pains taken in taking Tyre.

Verse 6

Isa 23:6 Pass ye over to Tarshish; howl, ye inhabitants of the isle.

Ver. 6. Pass ye over to Tarshish. ] Tyrii migrate coloni, be packing any whither, and make any shift to save your lives, Ultra Sauromatas fugite hinc, &c. To Carthage many of them went, say some; and the Septuagint; for ships of Tarshish Isa 23:1 have ships of Carthage.

Verse 7

Isaiah 23:7 [Is] this your joyous [city], whose antiquity [is] of ancient days? her own feet shall carry her afar off to sojourn.

Ver. 7. Is this your joyous city? ] q.d., So ye were wont to hold her, and to boast of her; but now it is somewhat otherwise. Cities die as well as men, a saith one. They also have their times and their turns, their rise and their ruin. Hic immoremur parum et pedem figamus oportet. Let this be duly considered, and an "abiding city" sought. Heb 12:14 The wicked may revel in this world, the godly only rejoice.

Whose antiquity is of ancient days. ] Palaetyre, or the old town especially: and this was a piece of her silly glory;

Urbs fur ills Tyros priscis quae condita saeclis,

Innumerosque suo repetens ab Agenore soles,

Aeternos demens spe praesumebat honores. ”

a ’ Lποθνησκουσι και αι πολεις ωσπες οι ανθρωποι .

Verse 8

Isa 23:8 Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning [city], whose merchants [are] princes, whose traffickers [are] the honourable of the earth?

Ver. 8. The crowning city. ] Heb., The crowning or crowned: a city of kings, a as Cyneas once said of Rome, This is a style better befitting heaven and the crowned saints there.

Whose merchants are princes. ] Little kings, as we say. So they are at Venice; so the Hogens Moghens of the Netherlands.

a Vidi civitatem regum. See the state of kings.

Verse 9

Isa 23:9 The LORD of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory, [and] to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth.

Ver. 9. The Lord of hosts hath purposed it. ] Here the prophet sets forth both who had decreed the downfall of this famous and flourishing city; and why? See Ezekiel 27:5-7 .

To stain the pride of all glory. ] Ut faedet fastum omnis gloriae; to bring down the height of all haughtiness. This hath God Almighty decreed, and it shall stand. "Let us, therefore, have grace, whereby we may serve him with reverence and godly fear." Heb 12:28

Verse 10

Isa 23:10 Pass through thy land as a river, O daughter of Tarshish: [there is] no more strength.

Ver. 10. Pass through the land as a river, ] i.e., Hastily: a Abi praeceps, pack up and begone with all speed, be there never so many of you here at Tyre.

There is no more strength. ] Heb., Girdle - that is, soldiery, or shipping, or sea to encompass it. Oecolampadius sets this sense upon the words, Non est ei cingulum reliquum, There is not so much as a girdle or such like lowly commodity left in Tyre, she had been so plundered.

a Indefinenter et cito. - Jun.

Verse 11

Isa 23:11 He 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.

Ver. 11. He stretched out his hand. ] That "mighty hand" of his, 1Pe 5:6 wherewith he spanneth the heavens, Isa 48:13 brought the Red Sea upon the Egyptians, Exo 14:26 and still shaketh the wicked out of the earth, as by a canvas. Job 38:13

He shook the kingdoms. ] Shook and shattered them - viz., by Nebuchadnezzar; the kingdom of Tyre especially, to the terror of others. Eze 26:15

The Lord. ] "That man of war." Exo 15:3 "Mighty in battle." Psa 24:8

Hath given a commandment. ] Bidding his forces fall on.

Against the merchant city. ] Heb., Against, or concerning, Canaan; so he calleth Tyre the posterity of the old Canaanites, and a place of great merchandise. See Hosea 12:7 .

Verse 12

Isa 23:12 And 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.

Ver. 12. Thou shalt no more rejoice. ] Heb., Exult, revel.

O thou oppressed. ] Or, Ravished damsel, daughter of Zidon, hactenus intacta vi hostili, never till now subdued.

Arise, pass. ] Asyndeton, q.d., Haste, haste.

Over to Chittim. ] To Cyprus, Greece, Italy.

There also shalt thou have no rest. ] Safety or shelter. Cain’s curse was upon them; the visible vengeance of God followed them close at heels. See Deuteronomy 28:65-66 .

Verse 13

Isa 23:13 Behold the land of the Chaldeans; this people was not, [till] 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.

Ver. 13. Behold the land of the Chaldeans, ] q.d., The Chaldees were once no such considerable people, but lay hid under the grandeur of the Assyrian monarchy, which did set them up. Howbeit in time the Assyrians at length were devoured by the Chaldees, Nineveh by Babylon; Filia devoravit matrem, as the proverb is. And why may not the like be done to Tyre? Others make this to be the prophet’s speech to the Chaldees, Behold, O land of the Chaldees! This people, of Tyre, was not, however they boast of their antiquity, till the Assyrians, those monarchs of the world, founded it, Ut esset statio carinis, to be a fit place for shipping, or for barbarians. See 2 Kings 17:24 . Down with it, therefore; bring it to vastity. a

a Calvin.

Verse 14

Isa 23:14 Howl, ye ships of Tarshish: for your strength is laid waste.

Ver. 14. Howl, ye ships of Tarshish. ] He concludeth this prophecy of Tyre’s downfall as he began. Isa 23:1 The inhabitants of Tarshish, or Tarsus in Cilicia, were great ship masters; they sent a navy of a hundred ships to Xerxes when he went against Greece.

Verse 15

Isa 23:15 And 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.

Ver. 15. Tyre shall be forgotten, ] i.e., Laid aside by God, as if not at all minded in her misery: slighted also and unfrequented by men, as a withered harlot.

Seventy years. ] So long as the Jews, whom they jeered, were held captives in Babylon.

According to the days of one king, ] i.e., The duration of the Babylonish monarchy, under Nebuchadnezzar, his son, and his son’s son. Jer 27:7

Shall Tyre sing as an harlot. ] Ut meretrix, i.e., Mercatrix. Harlots fallen into some foul disease are abandoned; but recovering thereof, they seek, by singing and other allurements, to regain their paramours; so should Tyre deal by her old customers, being, as was once said of Helena after her return from Troy, ηη παλαι γυνη , no changeling, but as good as ever.

Verse 16

Isa 23:16 Take an harp, go about the city, thou harlot that hast been forgotten; make sweet melody, sing many songs, that thou mayest be remembered.

Ver. 16. Take an harp. ] In bidding her do so, he foretelleth that she shall do so - sc., ad ingenium suum redire, fall to her former practices.

Make sweet melody, &c. ] The Tyrians were much addicted to music. Ezekiel 26:13 ; Eze 28:13

Verse 17

Isa 23:17 And 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.

Ver. 17. The Lord will visit Tyre. ] Bad though she be, he will graciously visit her, both by suffering her to grow rich again, as here, and by converting some of them to the faith of Christ. Isa 23:18 See it fulfilled, Acts 21:3-5 . Eusebius also telleth of many made martyrs there.

Verse 18

Isa 23:18 And 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.

Ver. 18. It shall not be treasured. ] Being once converted, they shall leave heaping and hoarding wealth, and find other use for it - viz., to feed and clothe God’s ministers and poor people freely and largely.

And for durable clothing. ] The Vulgate hath it Vestientur ad vetustatem.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 23". Trapp's Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.