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Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit Commentaries

Isaiah 23

Verses 1-18


Isaiah 23:1-14

THE BURDEN OF TYRE. We hero reach the last of the "burdens"—the concluding chapter of the series of denunciatory prophecies which commenced with Isaiah 13:1-22. It is an elegy "in three stanzas, or strophes" (Cheyne)—the first extending from Isaiah 13:1 to Isaiah 13:5; the second, thence to Isaiah 13:9; and the third from Isaiah 13:10 to Isaiah 13:14. An undertone of sadness, and even of commiseration, prevails throughout it, the prophet viewing Tyre as a fellow-sufferer with Israel, persecuted and oppressed by the fame enemy, Assyria, which was everywhere pushing her conquests, and had recently extended her dominion even over Babylon (Isaiah 13:13). This last allusion fixes the date of the prophecy to a time subsequent to B.C. 710, when the Assyrian monarch, Sargon, first conquered the country, and took the title of king.

Isaiah 23:1

Howl (comp. Isaiah 13:6, 31). The expression is common in the prophets (see Jeremiah 4:8; Jeremiah 25:34, etc.: Ezekiel 21:12; Ezekiel 30:2; Joel 1:5, Joel 1:11, Joel 1:13; Zephaniah 1:11; Zechariah 11:2, etc.). Ye ships of Tarshish. "Ships of Tarshish" are first mentioned in connection with the trade carried on by Solomon. Apparently, the term there designates a certain class of ship rather than those engaged in a particular trade. Here, however, Phoenician ships, actually engaged in the trade with Tartessus, may be intended. Tartessus was a very ancient Phoenician settlement in the south of Spain, beyond the Pillars of Hercules, and was the center of a most important and lucrative commerce. In the present passage the returning fleet of merchantmen is addressed, and told that the harbour to which they are hastening is closed, the city desolate. From the land of Chittim. "Chittim" here, as in Genesis 10:4, and elsewhere generally, is probably Cyprus, whose most ancient capital was called by the Greeks Kitten (see Joseph, 'Ant. Jud,' 1.6, § 1). The name "Chittim" is not improbably a variant of "Khittim," "the Hittites," who may have been the first to colonize the island. A fleet from the Western Mediterranean would naturally touch at Cyprus on its way to Tyro, and would there learn the calamity.

Isaiah 23:2

Be still; rather, be silent, as in the margin. It would be idle to complain or lament. Ye inhabitants of the isle. Tyro was situated on a small isle, which Alexander joined to the mainland by means of a mole (Arrian, 'Exp. Alex.,' 2.23). It is uncertain, however, whether this isle is meant here, or the strip of Phoenician coast, since the Hebrew 'i has both meanings. Thou whom the merchants of Zidon … have replenished. During the flourishing period of Tyro, Zidon, though it had generally kings of its own, played a secondary part to Tyre, and for the most part acquiesced in Tyrian supremacy. Its best sailors served in the Tyrian fleet (Ezekiel 27:8), and its merchants were content to enrich the recognized "chief city."

Isaiah 23:3

By great waters; rather, on great waters; i.e. on the waters of the Mediterranean (cf. Psalms 107:23; Ezekiel 27:26). The Egyptian vessels conveyed the corn intended for exportation to the ports at the mouths of the Nile, where it was transhipped aboard Phoenician craft, which carried it on the open sea to the countries needing it. We never hear of the Egyptians disputing the trade of the Mediterranean with the Phoenicians and the Greeks, though they certainly had trading-vessels at times on the waters of the Red Sea. The seed of Sihor; i.e. the corn of the Nile valley. "Si-her," or rather "Shihor," is the only proper name by which the Nile is designated in the Hebrew Scriptures. It means "the dark," "the turbid," and may be compared with the modern "Bahr-el-azrak," used of the Eastern or Abyssinian Nile, and with the term" Nilus" itself, if that signifies "the dark blue stream." It occurs, as the name of the Nile, only in Joshua 13:3; 1 Chronicles 13:5; Jeremiah 2:18; and the present place. Is her revenue; i.e. "produces a portion of her annual income." And she is a man of nations (so Gesenius and Ewald). Delitzsch and Mr. Cheyne translate, "It is the gain of the nations," referring "it' to the corn which the Tyrians exported.

Isaiah 23:4

Be thou ashamed, O Zidon. Zidon, the most ancient and venerable of the Phoenician cities (Genesis 10:15; Joshua 11:8; Joshua 19:28; Judges 18:7; Justin, Judges 18:3, etc.), is called upon to feel shame because Tyre is captured. The ruin of the metropolitan city would be felt as a disgrace by all the lesser towns, and by Zidon especially. The sea … even the strength of the sea; rather, the stronghold of the sea; i.e. Tyre herself. Tyre declares that she is childless, has neither son nor daughter, is as if she had never travailed nor brought forth children. I travail not, etc.; rather, I have not travailed, nor brought forth, nor nourished up, etc. My children being dead or taken from me, it is as if I had never borne them.

Isaiah 23:5

As at the report concerning Egypt; rather, when the rumor shall reach Egypt. They shall be sorely pained. The Egyptians bore no great affection towards any foreign nation. They were a people whose charity began and ended at home. But the fall of Tyre was always a shock to them, and was felt to portend evil to themselves. The Asiatic power which was strong enough to capture the island-fortress would be a formidable enemy to Egypt itself, and might be expected at no distant date to attempt the conquest of the Nile valley.

Isaiah 23:6

Pass ye over to Tarshish. The advice was good, and may, perhaps, have been followed to some extent. When Sennacherib attacked Elulaeus of Sidon, that monarch fled across the sea, probably to Cyprus. When Alexander finally ruined Tyre, a part of the population made its escape on shipboard to Carthage (Arrian,' Exp. Alex.,' 2.24, § 8). An escape of the kind is represented in the Assyrian sculptures (Layard, 'Monuments of Nineveh,' first series, pl. 7l).

Isaiah 23:7

Is this your joyous city? literally, your joyous one; i.e. Can this wretched heap of ruins be the rich and joyous Tyre? Whose antiquity is of ancient days. Though regarded as less ancient than Zidon (Justin, 18.3), Tyro nevertheless claimed a very remote antiquity. Herodotus was told that its temple of Hercules (Melkarth) had been built two thousand three hundred years previously (Herod; 2.44). Q. Curtius makes the city to have been founded by Agenor, the father of Cadmus, who was supposed to have lived three hundred years before the Trojan War ('Vit. Alex.,' 4.4). It must be noted, however, on the other hand, that there is no mention at all of Tyro in Homer, and none in Scripture until the time of Joshua (Joshua 19:29), about B.C. 1300. Her own feet shall carry her afar off to sojourn (so Lowth, Rosenmüller, Gesenius, Ewald, Kay). Others render the passage, "whose feet were wont to carry her afar off to sojourn." In the one case the coming flight and exile, in the other the past commercial enterprise of the city, is pointed at.

Isaiah 23:8

Who hath taken this counsel? Who can have conceived the thought of destroying a city at once so powerful and so conducive to the advantage of other states? The answer is given in the next verse. The crowning city; i.e. "the dispenser of crowns." Either to the governors of her colonies, or perhaps to the other cities of Phoenicia Proper. It is not quite clear whether the kings of those cities needed the sanction of Tyro to confirm them on their thrones, or not. The Hebrew word used must certainly be rendered "crowning," and not "crowned." Whose merchants are princes. Not actually sovereigns, but the chief men in the state under the king. Traffickers; literally, Canaanites. But the ethnic name seems to have early acquired the secondary meaning of "traders" (see Proverbs 31:24; Job 41:6).

Isaiah 23:9

The Lord of hosts hath purposed it; rather, hath counseled it. The word is the same as that used in the opening clause of Isaiah 23:8. God has conceived the thought of destroying Tyre, for the reasons which the prophet proceeds to specify:

1. To stain the pride of all glory; or, of all beauty. Not that "glory" or "beauty" are displeasing to him, or provoke his envy, as the heathen thought (Herod; 7.10, § 4) but that those who "pride" themselves on their glory and beauty offend him.

2. To bring into contempt all the honorable of the earth; i.e. to render contemptible those whom the world honors, though they do not deserve honor.

Isaiah 23:10

Pass through thy laud as a river; rather, overflow thy land, as the Nile. Shake off all restraint; that is, give thy desires free vent—be no longer cramped and confined by the restrictions of the metro-polls. Tartessus is addressed, as the leading colony, and perhaps the one most oppressed; and in her person all the colonies are called on to shake themselves free of the mother city. There is no more strength; rather, there is no more a girdle; i.e. there is nothing that need restrain yon—the power of Tyre is gone!

Isaiah 23:11

He stretched out his hand over the sea, By "he" we must understand "Jehovah" (see Isaiah 23:9). God has smitten Tyro—the great maritime power—destroyed its dominion, and set its subject cities free. He shook the kingdoms; i.e. not only Tyre, but the other cities of the Phoenician coast, each of which had its own king. Against the merchant city; rather, against Canaan. Phoenicia is called "Canaan," as England is often called "Britain." So the "SyroPhoenician woman" of Mark 7:26 is "a woman of Canaan" in Matthew 15:22.

Isaiah 23:12

He said. Jehovah continues his threatenings. The oppressed virgin, daughter of Sidon—or rather, the oppressed virgin-daughter of Sidon—may he either. Tyre, which, according to some, was built by fugitives from Zidon, or Phoenicia generally, of which Zidon, as the "firstborn" (Genesis 10:15), was a sort of mother. Pass over to Chittim (comp. Isaiah 23:6). Chittim (Cyprus) was a nearer refuge than Tarshish, and far more easily reached; but, on the other hand, it was much less safe. Sargon and Esarhaddon both of them exercised dominion over it; and when Abdi-Milkut, King of Sidon, fled there in the reign of the latter, the Assyrian monarch pursued him, caught him, and "cut off his head". Still, it was so often sought by princes flying from Phoenicia when attacked by Assyria, that cuneiform scholars call it "the usual refuge of the Phoenician kings". There also shalt thou have no rest. Cyprus submitted to Sargon, and again to Esarhaddon. It was included in the dominions of Asshur-bani-pal. After Nebuchadnezzar's conquest of Tyre, it was annexed by Egypt (Herod; 2.182), on the conquest of which country by Cambyses it became Persian. The Phoenicians had "no rest" there after Assyria had once found her way to the island.

Isaiah 23:13

Behold the land of the Chaldeans (comp. Isaiah 13:19; Isaiah 47:1, Isaiah 47:5; Isaiah 48:14, Isaiah 48:20). Like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Isaiah knows the people as Chahleans (Kasdim), the capital as Babylon. Kaldi, in the inscriptions, is a rare word, and the name of a not very important tribe. Yet Berosus uses the term to designate the whole nation. This people was not; rather, is not; i.e. "is no more a people"—"has ceased to exist." Sargon conquered Babylon in B.C. 710, and made himself king, ruling it, together with Assyria, until B.C. 705, when it rebelled and recovered its independence. Sennacherib reconquered it in B.C. 704, and again in B.C. 700, when he made his eldest son viceroy. Esarhaddon ruled over both countries, as did Asshur-bani-pal. Though later Babylon reasserted her independence, and became a great empire, yet Isaiah was justified, at almost any period of his life after B.C. 710, in speaking of her as non-existent. Till the Assyrian founded it for them that dwell in the wilderness. There is no "till" in the original. The clause is separate and independent, not connected grammatically with the preceding. Nor does it assert that the Assyrians "founded" Babylon for any one, but only that they "established" it, or "appointed" it to be a habitation for "the beasts of the desert" (comp. Isaiah 13:21; Isaiah 34:14; Jer 1:1-19 :39, etc.). The prophet views the Assyrians as intending to reduce Babylon to ruins, and leave it waste and uninhabited. The towers thereof; i.e. the siege-towers requisite for reducing so strong a city. They raised up; rather, they made bare (cf. Habakkuk 3:9). He brought it to ruin. "He" is "the Assyrian." The case of Babylon is adduced to increase the alarm of Tyro, by reminding the inhabitants of what the Assyrians had done to a town greater and stronger than their own. The allusion is probably to certain severities of Sargon's in B.C. 710, which, however, are rhetorically exaggerated. It was never the policy of the Assyrians to depopulate or destroy Babylon.

Isaiah 23:14

Howl, ye ships of Tarshish (comp. Isaiah 23:1). The ships that traded with Tarshish, not those belonging to Tarshish, are intended. Your strength is laid waste; rather, your stronghold; i.e. Tyre itself. The elegy ends as it began, with a statement of the bare fact. Alexander's destruction of the city was the final and complete fulfillment of the prophecy. The captures by Esarhaddou, by Asshur-bani-pal, and by Nebuchadnezzar, were anticipations of the final one, and partial fulfillments of the prophecy.

Isaiah 23:15-18

TYRE'S RESTORATION TO PROSPERITY AND CONVERSION TO JEHOVAH. After an interval, expressed by the symbolic number of" seventy years," Tyre is to rise from her ashes, and become once more a prosperous state, resuming her former occupation of a "merchant city," and once more making great gains, which she will devote to the service of Jehovah. St. Jerome thought that this prophecy had not been accomplished in his day. If so, it cannot be said to have been accomplished yet; unless, indeed, Tyre may be regarded as representing the commercial spirit, which. under Christianity, is not necessarily alien from religion, but shows itself sometimes altogether friendly to the Church, supplying ways and means for ten thousand philanthropic and praiseworthy enterprises (Isaiah 23:18).

Isaiah 23:15

Tyro shall be forgotten; i.e. "shall cease to occupy men's thoughts, as a factor in politics—shall pass out of their calculations, and count for nothing." Seventy years. "Forty years" and "seventy years" are the chief representatives in Scripture of an indefinite time. The week of creation seems to have given to seven its quasi-sacred character, which passed from the primary number to the corresponding decimal one. The sacred use of "seventy" appears first in the "seventy elders" who accompanied Moses to the covenant-feast on Sinai (Exodus 24:9). After this, "seventy 'talents are mentioned as the weight of the bronze offerings for the tabernacle (Exodus 38:29), and "seventy" shekels as the weight of the silver bowls offered by the heads of tribes when the tabernacle was set up (Numbers 7:13-85). The "indefinite" us, of "seventy" is most apparent in such expressions as that of Genesis 4:24, "If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, surely Lamech seventy and sevenfold;" and that of Matthew 18:22, "I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven." "Seventy" seems also to be indefinite in Exodus 15:27; Numbers 33:9; Judges 1:7; Judges 12:13; 2 Samuel 24:15; 1Ki 5:15 : 1 Chronicles 21:14, etc. It is absurd to count the "seventy years" of the present passage, as some do, from the accession of Nebuchadnezzar to the death of Nabonidus, for neither did Tyro begin to be forgotten in the first year of the one prince, nor did she immediately recover herself on the death of the other. According to the days of one king; or, like the days of one king. The period, whatever its length, should be to Type "like the days of one king;" i.e. unchanging, without hope. Oriental kings prided themselves on maintaining an unaltered policy (of. 2 Kings 25:27; Isaiah 14:17). Shall Tyre sing as an harlot; literally, it shall be to Tyre as [in] the song of the harlot. A particular song seems to be meant, part of which the prophet proceeds to quote in the next verse.

Isaiah 23:16

Take an harp. Harlots in the East, and indeed in the West also in ancient times (Her; 'Epist.,' 1.14, 1. 25), were expected to be musicians. The harp and the guitar were their usual instruments. Forgotten harlot. In addressing. Tyro as a "harlot," the prophet does not seem to mean more than that her aims were, or at any rate had been, selfish and worldly, such as sever between man and God. She had pursued wealth for the enjoyments that it brought her, not in order to make a good use of it. Hers had been the covetousness which is "idolatry" (Colossians 3:5).

Isaiah 23:17

The Lord will visit Tyre. In mercy, not in judgment (cf. Jeremiah 27:22; Jeremiah 29:10). She shall turn to her hire; i.e. "to her commerce," to her former mode of life. But with the difference noted in Isaiah 23:18.

Isaiah 23:18

Her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord. There is nothing intrinsically wrong or debasing in commerce. Rightly pursued, and engaged in with the view of devoting the profits made in it to good and pious ends, the commercial life may be as religious, and as acceptable to God as any other. The world has known many merchants who were Christians, in the highest sense of the word. Solomon in his best days was a merchant (1 Kings 9:27, 1 Kings 9:28; 1 Kings 10:22), but one who employed the wealth which he derived from commerce to the honor and glory of God. It shall not be treasured nor laid up. The merchants shall not lay it up in their own coffers, but expend it wisely and religiously. It shall be for them that dwell before the Lord; i.e. it shall be applied to religious uses—to the sustentation of ministers, the relief of the poor and necessitous among God's people, and other similar purposes. Such an employment of the gains made sanctifies commerce, and makes it a good and a blessed thing.


Isaiah 23:9

The fall of Tyre a warning against pride in the glories of civilization and art.

In destroying Tyre, God, we are told, "purposed to stain the pride of all glory." The word translated "glory" also signifies "beauty" (2 Samuel 1:19; Isaiah 4:2; Ezekiel 7:20); and the "glory" for which Tyro was renowned consisted, not in military reputation or governmental ability, but in wealth, commerce, and the production of beautiful objects, as garments, bowls, metal castings, and ether works of art. It was on the perfection to which she had brought the arts which aim at embodying the beautiful, that Tyre especially prided herself. Her boast was, "I am of perfect beauty" (Ezekiel 27:3). By her fate we are taught—

I. THAT THE CULT OF THE BEAUTIFUL HAS ITS ESPECIAL DANGERS TO OUR MORAL NATURE. Artistic work seems to emanate so entirely from a man himself, to be so purely his own absolute creation, that it naturally raises in him an admiration of himself and an exalted conception of his own powers. How shall he not be proud of faculties that enable him to produce works which send a thrill of delight through crowds, and are recognized as possessions for all time! Again, the beautiful is so charming, so attractive, that it is apt to seem sufficient for a man, and so to absorb all his attention, and shut out all thought of higher and nobler things. In our own time the cult is actually preached as a sufficient religion, and men are asked what more they can possibly desire than to feast the eye perpetually on beautiful objects—beautiful buildings, beautiful furniture, beautiful clothes, pictures, statues, statuettes, harmonious colors, delicate textures, soft and subdued light, graceful forms, pleasing contrasts. A weak and effeminate race is produced by such a training; the robuster virtues are uncared for; men become lapped in a luxurious sensualism, and need a warning voice, like that of the prophet, to wake them from their delightful dream to life's stern realities.

II. THAT THE EXCLUSIVE CULT OF THE BEAUTIFUL PROVOKES GOD'S ANGER AND JEALOUSY. Type is not accused of crimes. She is not a "bloody city," like Nineveh (Nab. Isaiah 3:1); she is not "full of lies and robbery." Her punishment does not come upon her "because of the violence" that is in her, nor for extreme arrogancy, nor for hypocrisy. Her sin seems to be in her luxury, in her softness, in her "perfect beauty" (Ezekiel 27:11). She is rich, she is comely, she has things of beauty all about her, and she is content. She wants no more. The beautiful and the enjoyable satisfy her. But God is angered thereby. He will not have even the beautiful, though it is a shadow of himself, shut him out from the first place in men's thoughts. He will vindicate his own honor. He will suffer no rival near his throne. If men are so wrapt up in anything as to forget him, he will remind them of himself by some terrible judgment, which can be ascribed to none but him (Isaiah 3:8-11).

Isaiah 23:17, Isaiah 23:18

The pursuit of wealth culpable or praiseworthy according to the object had in view.

To seek gain for gain's sake, either for the mere purpose of hoarding and accumulating, and so having the satisfaction of feeling that one is rich (Her; 'Sat.,' 1.1, 11. 66, 67), or to expend it on one's self in luxuries and enjoyments of various kinds, though perhaps beneficial to the community whereto a man belong, is injurious to his own moral character, and an offence to God. Covetousness, the apostle assures us (Colossians 3:5), is idolatry, and so is selfishness of every kind. Those who have their heart set on any other end except pleasing God, are idolaters, whatever the end may be. They let something, which is not God, absorb their thoughts, occupy their minds, engage their affections. They gradually and silently, perhaps even unconsciously, lose the sense of God's presence, of his providence, at last of his very existence. They become practical atheists. On the other hand, to seek. gain for the purpose of making a right use of it, to spend it in the service of God, either directly in church-building and endowing, or indirectly in ameliorating the condition of mankind at large or of any special class of men, is elevating to the moral character and pleasing in God's sight. Any occupation not in itself wrong is rendered honorable, and in a certain sense sanctified, by being pursued in this spirit. Better to be a "publican," like Zacchaeus, however discreditable the calling in the sight of man, if one-half of the gains made be devoted to feeding the poor, than to follow the most elevated calling and appropriate all the proceeds to one's self. "Gain" becomes "godliness" when the great wealth, which is the result of high qualities wisely employed, and blessed by God in such employment, is made an offering to him, in the person of his Church or of his poor.


Isaiah 23:1-18

The fall of Tyre.

I. THE ANCIENT FAME OF TYRO. Consecrated to Melkarth, the principal god of the city, the temple on the island, the supposed site of the ancient city, is said by Arrian to have been the most ancient within the memory of man. Ezekiel speaks of Tyre as "in the midst of the seas" (Ezekiel 27:25, Ezekiel 27:26). The Tyrians were closely connected with the Zidonians, those famous "hewers of timber" (1 Kings 5:6). And perhaps the Zidonians of Homer include the Tyrians. Besides their renown ha forest-craft, they were skilful workers in brass and copper. In Solomon's time there was close intercourse between Hebrews and Tyrians, the former exchanging their corn and oil for the cedar-wood and precious metals of the latter (1 Kings 9:11-14, 1 Kings 9:20-25; 1 Kings 10:22). The denunciation of the prophets against Tyre begin from the time when the Tyrians and the Phoenicians began to buy Hebrew captives and sell them-to the Greeks: "The children of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians that ye might remove them far from their bender (Joel 3:6; cf. Amos 1:9, Amos 1:10). A great commercial people, they planted Carthage, and became possessed of Cyprus. We find one Luliya (or Elulaeus) named in Josephus ('Ant.' 9.14. 2) as ruling over Tyre during this prosperous period; he seems to have been, in fact, king also of Zidon and suzerain of Phoenicia. He ned before Sennacherib to Cyprus ('Records of the Past,' 7.61). It is in the light of such relations—Phoenicia trembling before the advance of Assyria and warned by the fate of Babylonia—that we must read the prophecy or oracle.

II. THE RUMOR OF ILL. We see in this picture the trading-ships of the Phoenicians returning from their distant colonies in. Spain on the Baetis (or Guadalquivir)… Their last landing-place on the way home is Cyprus, the land of Chittim (or Citium). And here the news meets them that their harbor and their home is desolate. And a mighty howl arises from the fleet, while the dwellers on the Phoenician coast are dumb with grief. Egypt also is implicated in the fate of Tyre. In the description by Ezekiel of the wealth of Tyre, we read, "Fine linen with broidered work from Egypt was that which thou spreadest forth to be thy sail" (Ezekiel 27:7). So here the" seed of Sihor" (the Nile) is on the ocean-highway, their trade being car, led on for them by the Phoenicians. The Phoenician coast was the "barn for the corn of the Nile," and they distributed it to the nations. And now Phoenicia is addressed through Zidon, the ancient ancestral city. The city was thought of in antiquity as feminine—sometimes as a daughter, sometimes as a mother. So Tyrian coins bear the legend, "Of Tyre, mother of the Zidoniaes" The rocky stronghold of the sea speaks, and complains that she is like a barren woman; for the war has robbed her of her young men and maidens. In effect she says, "I am destroyed; my wealth and resources gone, my commerce annihilated, I cease to plant cities and colonies, and to nourish and foster them by my trade." Tyre, a daughter of the sea, is denied by her own mother. As Tyre was an outpost of Egypt against the Assyrians, she, too, is "sore pained" at the sad tidings.

III. THE LAMENTATION OVER TYRE. The prophet advises the people to migrate to their Spanish colonies; for the capital can no longer shelter them. From later times we have a picture of a scene similar to that now passing before his mind's eye. When Alexander the Great besieged Tyre they at first laughed at the king and the mound which he built, "as if he thought to vanquish Poseidon," god of the sea; afterwards, as it grew surprisingly, they sent their children, wives, and old people to Carthage" (Died; 17:41). And the LXX. says that they fled thither on this occasion.

1. Luxury and pride ashamed. The prophet looks in vision upon a heap of ruins; it is like the corpse of a once beautiful and proud woman. Once she was the "joyous city, that dwelt carelessly" (Zephaniah 2:15), and felt herself to be without a rival. She boasted of her antiquity. The Tyrians told Herodotus (in the fifth century B.C.) that their city had already been founded two thousand three hundred years (Zep 2:1-15 :44). Her traders, like those of Venice in the Middle Ages, had been reckoned the equals of princes and kings (Jeremiah 25:22). But greed, arrogance, oppressive conduct towards other nations, had brought her low.

2. The judgment of God. The hand of Jehovah must be traced and felt in all this. He brings the haughty low, that the meek and despised may be raised. Beauty, which has itself associations of sacredness to the imagination, is not beautiful when it gilds and glorifies infamy. Then Jehovah desecrates it, and. brings disgrace upon the grace and honor of the merely worldly great. "Whoever is the instrument, yet the overthrow of wicked, proud, and vicious cities and nations is to be traced to the God who rules in the empires and kingdoms of the earth; and he often selects the most distinguished and important cities and men to make them examples to others, and to show the ease with which he can bring all down to the earth." The dispersion of the people is strongly contrasted with their own belief in their rooted and immemorial origin in the soil of Phoenicia.

IV. EMANCIPATION OF THE TYRIAN COLONIES. Harshly treated, perhaps, they take the first opportunity of throwing off the yoke of the mother-city. Especially Tartessus is mentioned. She may now freely and unhindered overflow the land, even as, in the time of the inundation, Nile's waters overspread Egypt (Amos 8:8; Amos 9:5). There is no "girdle;" perhaps no bridle in the hand of Tyre any longer to restrain her colony's defiant independence. For all the kingdoms that border upon the sea, especially Phoenicia and Syria, have been convulsed with alarm, as Jehovah's hand was stretched out, and the order was given to destroy the strong places of Canaan. Then, under the favorite figure of the woman, the city appears no longer an inviolate maiden, but dishonored and defiled. Cyprus will afford no refuge for the fugitives, for she will be rejoicing at deliverance from the Phoenician yoke, and will not welcome them; or the "long arm" of the Assyrian will reach them there. No power, however well founded and far-extending, can endure against the fiat of the Almighty. It might seem impossible that a city so celebrated and so powerful, so well defended and fortified, and associated with many allies and confederates, should be destroyed and overturned; but "all that appears permanent in the worm stands or falls according to the will of God, and there is no need of the instruments of war for overturning the best fortified place, but the mere expression of the will of God is enough" (Calvin). Warning from the fate of the Kasdim. We know little about this people, who are, perhaps, used to denote Babylon in general, conquered by Sargon. This land has been turned into a desert and haunt of wild beasts. The battering-engines of the Assyrians have reduced their forts to ruin. All around denotes the impending ruin to Tyro.

V. THE RESTORATION OF TYRE. At the end of "seventy years," probably put for a long period, it appears that commerce will revive, "but only as the handmaid of religion." This is the main truth to be dwelt on, and the obscurity of the passage must be left to the exegetes. Recurring to the city under the image of the woman—now a ringing-woman—the prophet looks forward to the time when there will be the mirth of restored prosperity in the seats of Tyro. "When it begins again to make love to all the world, it will get rich again from the profit acquired by this worldly intercourse. Wealth will no longer be stored up and capitalized as formerly, but tributes and presents will be given to Israel, and thus help to sustain in abundance and clothe in stately dress the nation which dwelt before Jehovah, i.e. whose true dwelling-place was in the temple before the presence of God (Psalms 27:4; Psalms 84:5)" (Delitzsch). In Christian times there was a Church at Tyre, visited by St. Paul (Acts 21:3, Acts 21:4), and so its trade was connected with the spread of the gospel.


1. God mingles compassion with his chastisements of cities, peoples, and individuals. If so towards the wicked, how much more towards the children of his adoption and love! Restoration, revivals of prosperity, are from him who, as the proverb says, "never smites with both hands."

2. There is a selfish and corrupt and a true and generous spirit in trade. A time is contemplated when riches will be no longer absorbed by a few enormous capitalists, but be diffused for the common good. The narrow-minded in trade is the sign of the narrow heart; the best traders are those whom love to their kind has taught to unite personal interest with the general good. The accumulation of immense wealth can hardly be the object of a Christian ambition. Let us hasten, by prayer, by teaching, by example, the time when wealth shall not be treasured nor laid up—

"No more shall rest in mounded heaps,
But smit with freer light shall slowly melt;
In many streams to fatten lower lands,
And light shall spread, and man be liker man
Thro' all the season of the golden year."

3. Commerce and Christianity should go hand-in-hand. Our sailors and our merchants should be the best pioneers of the gospel, and our missionaries the most enlightened friends of commerce and civilization. So may our

"Happy sails …
Knit land to land, and blowing heavenward
With silks, and fruits, and spices, clear of toll,
Enrich the markets of the golden year."



Isaiah 23:3

The harvest of the river.

Egypt was the first of nations, and the masts of the vessels stood hike tall river-reeds by her banks. How expressive the words are! There is life where the river comes, life along the emerald banks to which the cattle come, and on the fields where the waters overflow.

I. ALL LANDS HAVE THEIR RIVERS. Think of the Tiber, the Tigris, the Thames, the Rhone, the Rhine, the Nile, the Niger. Cities rise on their banks which are, like Tyre, populous and prosperous. The harvest is vast indeed. Ships which are freighted with necessaries and luxuries, with the works of art, the spoils of the sea, and the produce of far-away lauds, all come up the river. What wonder that the river should become a type of the blessings of the gospel—that the prophet should tell us "living waters shall flow out of Jerusalem!"

II. THE HARVESTS ARE MANIFOLD. We are so accustomed to think of the golden sheaves of the corn-fields when we mention the rivers, that we are liable to forget how indebted we are to the broad estuaries which bear on their bosom the wealth of many nations. How manifold, too, are our harvests under the gospel! Where that comes philanthropy lives, and social purity flows, and justice is sacred in its rivers of righteousness, and salvation comes, delivering us from sensuality and sin. Harvests? Surely the Christian should notice how wide and vast the gospel waters are.

III. THEIR DRYING UP IS DEATH. We cannot live without rain and rivers. Cattle perish. Verdure withers. Man himself dies. No wealth can purchase what God gives so plentifully. "Hath the rain a Father?" Oh yes. Not a mere Creator, but a Father; for it is rich in evidences of his universal care and love. God gives "the former and the latter rain," and all through the ages the rivers flow into the sea. So God's truth remains! The living water flows, and the voice is still heard, "He, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters."—W.M.S.


Isaiah 23:1-15

Aspects of Divine judgment.


1. The duration of time is no guarantee against its coming; Tyre was a "joyous city, whose antiquity was of ancient days" (Isaiah 23:7), but judgment would fall upon her in God's chosen time. Both men and nations are apt to think that long continuance in comfort is a sufficient pledge that it will never be disturbed; duration begets a false sense of security. If men could only see things as they are, they would perceive that the true argument is exactly opposite to that in which they indulge; for the longer a man has been living in unvisited transgression, the longer has penalty been due, and the sooner may he confidently expect retribution to arrive.

2. Ordinary defenses are of no avail against it. The commerce and consequent wealth of Tyre (Isaiah 23:2, Isaiah 23:3), her replenishments, from Zidon, and her enrichments from Egypt would not save her; nor would the high station to which she had mounted, nor the social position of her sons; it was nothing to the righteous Lord that she was esteemed a "crowning city" (Isaiah 23:8), and that her merchants were princes. No defenses that we can raise will avert God's judgment when the hour is ripe for sentence to be executed. Wealth cannot buy off retribution, nor can rank interpose its influence to avert it; science cannot teach us how to elude it; and the arm of affection is impotent to shield us from its blow. There is no barrier man can raise which is not swept down in a moment when God arises to judgment.


1. It silences. (Isaiah 23:2.) It brings the curses, the clamors, the revilings, the slanderous accusations, the shameful innuendoes of ungodliness and of malignity to a disgraceful end. "God strikes a silence through them all."

2. It scatters, it dissolves. (Isaiah 23:6, Isaiah 23:7, Isaiah 23:10.) It sends the children of iniquity, of vice, of crime, to "the four corners of the earth;" it disperses them over sea and land. The bands of sin are broken up, and its guilty members are scattered far and wide.

3. It humiliates. (Isaiah 23:12.) The virgin-daughter of Zidon should be humbled; God's judgments bring to the dust of humiliation those who have held their head high and treated others with indignity.

4. It pursues. (Isaiah 23:12.) "There also shalt thou have no rest." The penalty of a man's sin finds him out whithersoever he may go to escape it. Jonah "flees from the presence of the Lord;" but whither shall a man flee from his presence, or from the blow of his chastisements? No change of, skies, of scenes, of society, of occupations, will shut out accusing recollections from the soul, or shield from the uncompleted corrections of the Divine hand. The serious and repeated violation of the "greater commandments" of God is attended with penalties which pursue the soul from place to place, and from period to period, in all the journey of our life.

5. It incapacitates. (Verse 4.) Tyre should lose her power to found colonies and to sustain cities; she would be reduced to helplessness and incapacity. This is the fate of those whom God's judgment overtakes. What they once did with pride and joy they can do no longer, though they put forth all their remaining powers; there is "no strength in their right hand." The energies of the mind, the vigor of the soul, the craft of the hand,—all is gone.

III. ITS REMOTE EFFECTS. When Tyre fell, the ships of Tarshish would have occasion to lament (verses 1, 14), Zidon would have to be ashamed of her daughter (verse 4), and Egypt would be sorely pained (verse 5). Far across sea and land, and a long way down the coming and departing years, reach the sad consequences of guilt. The wisest moralist cannot point to the place where these will not be found, nor the cleverest calculator tell the time when these will not he felt.

IV. ITS DIVINE MEANING. "The Lord of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory," etc. (verse 9). God sends punishment because it is due; because, in the exercise of his righteousness, sin must be marked with the signs of his deep displeasure; but he sends such penalties as he does send in order to compel his subjects to see and to feel that the glory of man can be scattered in a moment, and that over all his magnificence the shadow of death will be thrown whensoever the hand of Divine judgment is uplifted. God's visitations are man's opportunities; then may he learn and feel—as otherwise he never would—that his only wisdom is in instant abandonment of every evil way, and immediate return, in penitence and faith, to a forgiving and restoring Savior.—C.

Isaiah 23:18

Gain and devotion.

We are reminded that—

I. WE CANNOT DEVOTE TO GOD'S SERVICE ANYTHING WE HAVE NOT HONORABLY GAINED. It may be said that the text, taken with its context (see Isaiah 23:17), does not sustain this thought; that, indeed, it points in the opposite direction. But in addition to such explicit prohibitions as that in Deuteronomy 23:18, we have the whole strain and spirit of the Law of God. It is the glory of that Law that it so states, establishes, guards, enforces, emphasizes, the purity of the Divine Lawgiver that if any solitary passage like this one seems to sanction that which is inconsistent with it, we are quite sure that, either in its rendering or in our interpretation of it, there must be a mistake. Everything was done that could be done to separate the people of God from the impurities and iniquities into which other nations had fallen, and into the sanction of which they had pressed even their religious rites. We may be uncertain about many things in Scripture, but we are quite sure of this, that no smallest countenance is meant to be given in any single part of it to the devotion of ill-earned gain to the service of the holy God (see Acts 19:18, Acts 19:19). Not only such "hire" as seems to be hinted at here, bat all revenue that is obtained by unworthy, unprincipled, unconscientious means must be wholly unfit for an offering on the altar of God.

II. THAT WE HAVE NO RIGHT TO WITHHOLD FROM GOD'S SERVICE THE RESOURCES WE CAN CONTROL. They are not to be "treasured or laid up." To keep them back for use at some future time, to hold them in reserve for some possible emergency, is:

1. Disobedient. God plainly and repeatedly requires of us that we should put out our "talents" in his service and in that of our fellow-men; and all the resources we may have at our disposal of every kind are talents committed to our charge.

2. Distrustful. It indicates a lack of faith in the readiness of God to provide for our returning wants, and to meet our necessities as they arise.

3. Selfish and unsympathizing. It is the action of one who has no heart to feel the strong and pressing claims of ignorance, sorrow, and degradation on our pity and our help.

4. Wasteful.


1. All our possessions are to be gained, held, and used religiously; they are to be "holiness to the Lord."

2. Much of what we have at our disposal should be spent in the furtherance of philanthropy: in the cause of education; in the restoration of the sick and suffering; in the reclamation of the fallen; in the help and rehabilitation of the unfortunate, etc.

3. Some of our "means" we should apply specially to the maintenance of Christian worship and of the Christian ministry. It is, indeed, possible to give handsomely toward the erection of sacred structures, and, in so doing, to be ministering to our own importance; men may be magnifying themselves when they propose and pretend to be honoring God. But, on the other hand, we render true, acceptable, and lasting service when we give freely—and in such a way as to encourage similar generosity in others—towards the worship of God, towards the publication of redeeming truth at home or abroad, towards the support of those who employ all their time and expend all their strength in the noble work of saving men and training them for the kingdom of heaven.—C.


Isaiah 23:1

The mission of Tyre, the commercial.

This is the aspect under which Tyre is best known and remembered. Dean Stanley gives a brief but characteristically suggestive description of it. "The massive remains of the ancient walls of Arvad, nearly surrounding the island of the modern Ruad, give some notion of the defenses of Tyre. The limited size of the island led, both in Tyre and Arvad, to arrangements which must have rendered them a striking exception to most Oriental and to most ancient cities. For the sake of economizing the narrow space, the houses of both were built up, fearless of earthquakes, to the height of many stories, recalling, says Strabo, the aspect of the gigantic mansions of the Augustan Rome. With this lofty mass of edifices towering on its sea-girt rock, Tyre might well be thought a fit type of the ancient queen of commerce; and the prophet naturally spoke of her as a floating palace, as a ship moored by the long strand,' in the midst of the seas,' with her 'masts of cedar,' her 'sails of fine linen, blue and purple,' her 'mariners, rowers, and pilots.'" The practical point to keep in view is that commercial nations are always in peril of getting to merely use other nations, and so to neglect their responsibilities to them. To this danger commercial England is now exposed. Very much of the talk of the day goes on the assumption that the whole world was made for the sake of England. We are being constantly reminded of our individuality, and of the precise mission of the individual; we may be profitably reminded that there is an individuality of nations, and that each nation has its separate mission and responsibility. Dr. Arnold illustrates this when he says, "There are three peoples of God's election—Rome, Athens, and Jerusalem; two for things temporal, and one for things eternal. Yet even in things eternal they were allowed to minister. Greek cultivation and Roman polity prepared men for Christianity." "God appears to have communicated all religious knowledge to mankind through the Jewish people, and all intellectual civilization through the Greeks." As a distinctively commercial city, we may observe—

I. THE MISSION OF TYRE IN CIVILIZATION. The refinement of human society comes about by the operation of the laws of association and emulation, just as does the refinement of the individual and the family. It is by seeing the things others possess, and the ways others take, that we are incited to personal, family, and social improvements. Families that shut themselves up from society keep their boorish manners. Nations isolated by natural situation civilize very slowly. Exactly what happens to the young men through Continental travel happens to a nation when it reaches out to other lands the hand of commerce. In neither case is the result wholly good, but a large share of goodness is in it, because intellectual growth and moral advancement always go along with the material advantages of civilization.

II. THE MISSION OF TYRE IN THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE RACE. The scattering of the nations over the earth; the development of special race-types; the separations made by antagonistic interests and aggrandizing individuals, all tend to the destruction of the sense of mutual brotherhood. And just this commercial nations revive, by bringing plainly to view how the prosperity of one nation depends on the prosperity of another, and how the well-being of the whole race-family can alone be secured by universal freedom, peace, and kindly helpfulness. Tennyson reminds of this in the lines—

"Knit land to land, and blowing heavenward …
Enrich the markets of the golden year."

III. ITS MISSION IN THE DEMAND OF HUMANITY FOR WORK. It is singular that man's idea of bliss should have become "idleness." The end set before a man in this life is that he shall no longer have need for work. Yet work is man's good—the Divine idea in his creation; the Divine agency for his culture; and the inexpressibly sad thing to say about any man, here or yonder, is that he does not work. And commerce, by constantly creating new demands and enriching our stores of raw material, makes work. All hindrances to commerce, such as taxation and war, injure the nations by putting limitations on work. Universal peace would mean a healthy activity throughout the world. Every man using his ability in the service of his fellow, and getting, as his return, the service of his fellow to him. But there are evils attending the spread of commerce. Especially such as follow the undue share of wealth possessed by individuals. Shelley speaks of it thus—

"Commerce has set the mark of selfishness,
The signet of its all-enslaving power,
Upon a shining ore, and called it gold;
Before whose image bow the vulgar great,
The vainly rich, the miserable proud,
The mob of peasants, nobles, priests, and kings,
And with blind feelings reverence the power
That grinds them to the dust of misery."

To this also must be added the tendency of commerce to create selfish interests—to destroy the idea and sentiment of personal and national honor, which seeks its vindications in war, and to encourage the notion that we are to use other people rather than to serve them, service being the supreme idea of Christ's regenerate humanity: "I am among you as he that serveth." "The Son of man came, not to be ministered unto, but to minister."—R.T.

Isaiah 23:2

The dependence of one nation upon another.

Tyre was, according to some authorities, a colony of Zidon. And the figure in the text sets forth a corporate body, each part dependent on the other. Insular Tyre directly dependent on the mainland, and both closely related to Zidon. And yet further, the Egyptians had in their country no timber for the building of seaworthy ships, so their foreign trade was carried on for them by the Phoenicians. Some of the European nations now are pressing to secure seaports, in order to relieve their sense of dependence on others. Insular England does the carrying trade for the world, so all nations depend on her, and she in turn depends on the trading of the nations. In the pottery districts we were told that the white clay, of which biscuit china is made, is brought all the way from Cornwall, because it can be more easily carried than the heavier clay, and the coal, which are needed for the firing process. So even Staffordshire depends on Cornwall, and Cornwall on Staffordshire. Some countries send us corn, some sugar, some spice, some cotton, some fruit. Countries vary in their genius. Rome finds law for the world, Greece finds art, and Palestine finds religion. For its highest well-being no one nation can separate itself from the others. It lives and thrives by its very dependence. We only note—

I. THAT THIS MUTUAL DEPENDENCE TENDS TO CHECK THE WAR-SPIRIT. The people of the nations never want war. They may be roused to a fever-heat of passion, and so be driven into war; but the long experience of the ages proves that, whoever gets good out of war, the people always suffer. Classes of society want war; but only for the maintenance of selfish interests. The evil of war is seen in its shutting the markets of the world. Such is England's dependence on foreign corn, and so nearly does it consume its stores in the face of the new harvest, that six months' war would threaten famine. All classes, except those who trade in war and war material, pray and strive for universal peace. Man's true interests support the Christian principles.

II. THAT THIS MUTUAL DEPENDENCE ENRICHES ALL SECTIONS. God has ordered his world so that nobody shall be "sufficient to himself." And the more a man seems to have, the more dependent he becomes, because of the increase of his wants. The most independent man is the ignorant laborer, who can lie anywhere and eat anything; the least independent, the wealthy man who has encouraged ten thousand needless wants and luxuries. God puts the abundance of one thing in one land, and of another thing in another. And the exchange of commodities enriches all. The world is one body, "and if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it." The interest of one nation is the interest of all. God is the God and Father of all.—R.T.

Isaiah 23:9

God's constant work of humbling pride.

"Jehovah Sabaoth hath devised it, to desecrate the pride of all glory." It is possible that reference may be intended to the desecration of the Tyrian temple of Hercules, which is said to have been the oldest in the world. But the reference may be general, and any actual case would but illustrate the general truth. "God did not bring these calamities upon Tyre in a way of sovereignty, to show an arbitrary and irresistible power; but he did it to punish the Tyrians for their pride. Many other sins, no doubt, reigned among them—idolatry, sensuality, and oppression; but the sin of pride is fastened upon as that which was the particular ground of God's controversy with Tyre, for he resists the proud. Let the ruin of Tyre be a warning to all places and persons to take heed of pride; for it proclaims to all the world that he who exalts himself shall be abased." Thomson, in 'The Land and the Book,' forcibly describes the present condition of humbled, ruined Tyre: "It (an insignificant village) is all that remains of her. But weep not for Tyre; this very silence and repose are most eloquent and emphatic on themes of the last importance to the Christian faith. There is nothing here of that which led Joshua to call it 'the strong city' more than three thousand years ago (Joshua 19:29); nothing of that mighty metropolis which baffled the proud Nebuchadnezzar and all his power for thirteen years, until every head in his army was bald, and every shoulder peeled in the hard service against Tyrus (Ezekiel 29:18); nothing in this wretched roadstead and. empty markets to remind one of the times when merry mariners did sing in her markets; no visible trace of those towering ramparts which so long resisted the efforts of the great Alexander;—all have vanished like a troubled dream. As she now is and has long been, Tyre is God's witness; but great, powerful, and populous, she would be the infidel's boast." The point to be illustrated is that God will be sure to deal with individuals and with nations, for the humbling and crushing of pride. He will do so because—

I. PRIDE INVOLVES PERIL TO A MAN'S OWN CHARACTER. There can be no healthy growth where it is present. The passive virtues, which are so specially commended in Christianity, cannot dwell with pride, which is so closely allied with satisfaction in self and the despising of others. Pride is a worm at the loot of the tree of character.

II. PRIDE DESTROYS THE COMFORTABLENESS OF A MAN'S RELATIONS WITH HIS FELLOW-MEN. The proud man tries to keep away from his fellows. And his fellows are glad enough to keep away from him. It is inconceivably miserable for a "man to be placed alone in the midst of the earth."

III. PRIDE SPOILS A MAN'S RELATIONS WITH GOD. They are founded on the proper humility of the submissive and dependent creature. For man the universal law is, "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time," or else you certainly must, as Tyre, be humbled.R.T.

Isaiah 23:12

No escape from God's judgments.

"There also shalt thou have no rest." Either the colonists would not receive them, or their enemies would still pursue after them, seeking them out even where they had found shelter. Reference is intended to those calamities which befell the Tyrians in their subsequent settlements—Cyprus, Sicily, Carthage, and Spain. Cheyne illustrates the expression by showing that "the long arm of Assyria reached them even in Cyprus, where Lull, King of Zidon, had already sought refuge." The importance of Cyprus as a naval station was recognized by the Babylonians fifteen or sixteen centuries before Christ. The inscription of Sargon, King of Agane, relates how "the sea of the setting sun he crossed," and in the third year conquered a land which can hardly be any other than Cyprus. Cyprus was also conquered by the Assyrian Sargon. God's judgments never exhaust themselves in acts which fail to accomplish the desired ends of humbling men's pride and correcting men's faults. They go on until their purpose is reached. The point to be illustrated here is that God's judgments cannot be escaped by any fleeing from the place where God's judgments are resting. The judgment was on the Tyrians, and it affected Tyre only for their sakes. So to escape from Tyre could not result in getting away from the afflicting and humbling hand of God. This may be efficiently illustrated from the story of Jonah, who hurried from the upland districts of Palestine to take ship at Joppa, flee across the great sea, and get away from the presence of the Lord. He could not. God holdeth "the winds in his fists, and the waters in the hollow of his hand," and can send these to execute his judgments. And still it is a fixed idea of men, out of which they need to be driven, that they can get free of their disabilities, and of Divine judgment as correction of sin, by changing their circumstances, or going from one place to another. Never. God deals with theft, and only in a secondary sense with their circumstances. As long as we sin we come into the Divine judgment. If we suffer, and yet the evil is not cured, the Divine judgments must continue. "For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still." And sometimes the freedom we have sought by changing our place is changed to an even more humiliating form of chastisement, as the Tyrians endured worse things in their escape than if they had remained at home. However we flee from troubles, we can never flee from ourselves, and never rice from God.R.T.

Isaiah 23:18

Commerce the handmaid of religion.

"Her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness unto the Lord." This appears to be a prediction of the conversion of the Tyrians to the worship and service of the true God. "Instead of hoarding up their gains, or devoting them as presents to the temple of Hercules, as they had formerly done, they would now consecrate them to the support of true religion, "In the line of fulfillment we may note that Jesus Christ visited the neighborhood (Matthew 15:21); St. Paul found disciples there (Acts 21:3-6); and it early became a Christian bishopric. The prophecy would be accomplished if the Christians of Tyre sent girls to Jerusalem; as such gifts would be regarded as representative of the "merchandise." Dean Plumptre says, "Interpreted religiously, the prophet sees the admission of proselytes to the worship of Israel in the future, as he had seen it probably in the days of Hezekiah (Psalms 87:4). Interpreted politically, the words point to a return to the old alliance between Judah and Tyre in the days of Solomon (1 Kings 5:1-12), and to the gifts which that alliance involved (Psalms 45:12)." The Tyrians and Zidonians contributed to the erection of the second temple (Ezra 3:7). Commerce. as having regard to purely worldly interests, is called "harlotry." "Large marts of commerce are often compared to harlots seeking many lovers, that is, they court merchants, and admit any one for the sake of gain." Commerce is the handmaid of religion when she is—

I. THE AGENT FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS. In the sense of uprightness and fairness between man and man. Religion is the chief support of practical rightness, truth to word and promise, fair taking of samples, honest wages, reasonable profits, and doing the best for those who buy of us and those who sell to us. But religion is glad of the help of all good business principles, and all good business customs. Religion is strengthened by the sense of honor that is found in commercial men. Honest commerce helps on the work which religion would do in the world.

II. THE AGENT FOR CHARITY. In the sense of gentle consideration for others, and helpfulness to all who are in distress. The tendency of commerce is towards selfishness, but when touched by the spirit of religion it is sensitive to the needs of the poor, who are always multiplied by advancing civilization. Religion inspires workers among the poor and suffering and disabled. Commerce is noble when, acting as handmaid to religion, it supports the workers with its wealth, helping the hungry and the outcast to "sufficiency for eating, and to durable clothing."—R.T.

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Isaiah 23". The Pulpit Commentary. 1897.