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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Isaiah 23:18

Her gain and her harlot's wages will be set apart to the Lord ; it will not be stored up or hoarded, but her gain will become sufficient food and choice attire for those who dwell in the presence of the Lord .
New American Standard Version
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  1. Bridgeway Bible Commentary
  2. Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible
  3. E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes
  4. Calvin's Commentary on the Bible
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  6. Chuck Smith Bible Commentary
  7. John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
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Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Church;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Tyre;  
Dictionaries:
Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Money;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Preaching;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Tyre;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Isaiah, Book of;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Tyre, Tyrus;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Nile;   Tyre;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Isaiah;   Merchandise;   Trade;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Gifts;   Ishmael B. Jose B. Halafta;  

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Judgment on Phoenicia (23:1-18)

Commerce was the source of Phoenicia's power. Its merchant navy was well known throughout the ancient world, and Phoenician traders sailed to ports far and near. Phoenicia's own ports, Tyre and Sidon, were among the most prosperous cities of the time, but because of their commercial greed and corruption they too will be destroyed.

The prophet pictures the scene in various places when Tyre falls. Phoenician traders who have sailed to Cyprus are shocked when they hear the news. The sea without Phoenician ships is like a mother without children. Egypt panics on hearing the news, because her valuable grain trade is now ruined (23:1-5).

In former times the Phoenicians made colonies of other countries, but now they are forced to flee to other countries in search of refuge (6-7). The proud people are humiliated, and this humiliation has been brought upon them by God himself (8-9). In the far off port of Tarshish (in Spain) there is confusion and despair, because the city has depended much on Phoenician trade for its well-being. God has now destroyed Phoenicia, and there will be no escape for its greedy merchants (10-12). The nation that God uses to carry out his judgment on Phoenicia is Babylon (Chaldea) (13-14).

After an interval Phoenicia will revive, and will show the same interest as formerly in commercial activities. The prophet likens these activities to those of a prostitute, since they are guided by immoral greed and selfish desires, and give no thought for God's standards (15-17). Nevertheless, God will receive glory even from Phoenicia. In due course God's people will benefit from the wealth and merchandise of Phoenicia, and they will dedicate some of this to God (18; cf. Matthew 15:21-28; Acts 21:2-6).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/isaiah-23.html. 2005.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And her merchandise - The prophecy here does not mean that this would take place immediately after her rebuilding, but that subsequent to the seventy years of desolation this would occur.

Shall be holiness to the Lord - This undoubtedly means, that at some future period, after the rebuilding of Tyre, the true religion would prevail there, and her wealth would be devoted to his service. That the true religion prevailed at Tyre subsequently to its restoration and rebuilding there can be no doubt. The Christian religion was early established at Tyre. It was visited by the Saviour Matthew 15:21, and by Paul. Paul found several disciples of Christ there when on his way to Jerusalem Acts 21:3-6. It suffered much, says Lowth, under the Diocletian persecution. Eusebius (Hist. x. 4.) says that ‹when the church of God was founded in Tyre, and in other places, much of its wealth was consecrated to God, and was brought as an offering to the church, and was presented for the support of the ministry agreeable to the commandments of the Lord.‘ Jerome says, ‹We have seen churches built to the Lord in Tyre; we have beheld the wealth of all, which was not treasured up nor hid, but which was given to those who dwelt before the Lord.‘ It early became a Christian bishopric; and in the fourth century of the Christian era, Jerome (Commentary in Ezekiel 26:7; Ezekiel 27:2) speaks of Tyre as the most noble and beautiful city of Phenicia, and as still trading with all the world. Reland enumerates the following list of bishops as having been present from Tyre at various councils; namely, Cassius, Paulinus, Zeno, Vitalis, Uranius, Zeno, Photius, and Eusebius (see Reland‘s Palestine, pp. 1002-101l, in Ugolin vi.) Tyre continued Christian until it was taken by the Saracens in 639 a.d.; but was recovered again by Christians in 1124. In 1280, it was conquered by the Mamelukes, and was taken by the Turks in 1516. It is now under the dominion of the Sultan as a part of Syria.

It shall not be treasured … - It shall be regarded as consecrated to the Lord, and freely expended in his service.

For them that dwell before the Lord - For the ministers of religion. The language is taken from the custom of the Jews, when the priests dwelt at Jerusalem. The meaning is, that the wealth of Tyre would be consecrated to the service and support of religion.

For durable clothing - Wealth formerly consisted much in changes of raiment; and the idea here is, that the wealth of Tyre would be devoted to God, and that it would be furnished for the support of those who ministered at the altar.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/isaiah-23.html. 1870.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

holiness = hallowed.

sufficiently = abundantly.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/isaiah-23.html. 1909-1922.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

18.But her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord. This was another instance of the divine compassion towards Tyre. Though she had been restored, yet she was not converted to God, but continued to follow dishonest practices, so that she justly deserved to be ruined. And indeed she was again punished severely, when Alexander took the city by storm; but still the kingdom of Christ, as Luke informs us, was erected there. (Acts 21:4.) This verse ought therefore to be viewed as contrasted with the former, as if he had said, “And yet the merchandise of Tyre shall be consecrated to God.” Here we have an astonishing proof of the goodness of God, which penetrated not only into this abominable brothel, but almost into hell itself. The restoration of Tyre ought thus to be regarded as a proof of the goodness of God; but the former favor was small in comparison with the second, when God consecrated her to himself.

But a question arises, “Could that which the inhabitants of Tyre obtained by cheating and unlawful methods be offered to God in sacrifice?” For God abhors such sacrifices, and demands an honest and pure conscience. (Proverbs 21:27, Isaiah 1:13.) Many commentators, in expounding this passage, give themselves much uneasiness about this question, but without any good reason; for the Prophet does not mean that the merchandise of Tyre will be consecrated to God while she continues to commit fornication, but describes a time subsequent to her change and conversion. At that time she will not lay up riches for herself, will not amass them by unlawful methods, but will employ them in the service of God, and will spend the produce of her merchandise in relieving the wants of the godly. When he used a word expressive of what was disgraceful, he had his eye on the past, but intimated that she would unlearn those wicked practices, and change her disposition.

It shall not be treasured nor laid up. He describes, in a few words, the repentance of Tyre, who, having formerly been addicted to avarice, has been converted to Christ, and will no longer labor to amass riches, but will employ them in kind and generous actions; and this is the true fruit of repentance, as Paul admonishes, that “he who stole should steal no more, but, on the contrary, should labor that he might relieve the poor and needy.” (Ephesians 4:28.) Isaiah foretells that the inhabitants of Tyre, who formerly, through insatiable avarice, devoured the riches of all, will henceforth take pleasure in generous actions, because they will no longer have an insatiable desire of gain. It is an evidence of brotherly love when we relieve our neighbors, as it is an evidence of cruelty if we suffer them to be hungry, especially when we ourselves have abundance.

Her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the Lord. He next mentions a proper method of exercising generosity, which is, to employ their wealth in aiding the servants of God. Though he includes all godly persons, yet he alludes to the Levites and priests, some of whom sacrificed, while others made ready the sacrifices, and others kept watch, and, in short, all were ready to perform their duty; and therefore they were said to “dwell before the Lord.” (Numbers 3:1.) The same thing may justly be said of all the ministers of the Church. But as all believers, of whatever rank they are, belong to the sanctuary of God, and have been made by Christ “a royal priesthood,” (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6,) that they may stand in the presence of God, so I willingly regard this passage as relating to all “the household of faith,” (Galatians 6:10,) to whom attention is especially due; for Paul holds them out as having the highest claims, and enjoins that they shall be first relieved. If the tie which binds us universally to mankind ought to prevent us from “despising our own flesh,” (Isaiah 58:7,) how much more the tie that binds the members of Christ, which is closer and more sacred than any natural bonds?

We ought also to attend to this mode of expression, by which we are said to “dwell before God;” (118) for though there is not now any “Ark of the Covenant,” (Hebrews 9:4,) yet, through the kindness of Christ, we approach more nearly to God than the Levites formerly did. We are therefore enjoined to “walk before him,” as if we were under his eye, that we may follow holiness and justice with a pure conscience. We are enjoined to walk before him, and always to consider him as present, that we may be just and upright.

That they may eat till they are satisfied. (119) The Prophet means that we ought to supply the wants of brethren with greater abundance and generosity than what is customary among men; for when neighbors ought to be relieved, men are very niggardly. Few men perform cheerfully any gratuitous duty, or labor, or kindness; for they reckon that they give up and take from their own property all that they bestow on others. For the purpose of correcting this error, God highly commends cheerfulness; for the command which Paul gives to deacons, “to distribute joyfully,” (Romans 12:8,) ought to be applied to all; and all ought to remember that passage which declares that “God loveth a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7.)

It deserves our attention, also, that the Prophet says that what is bestowed on the poor is consecrated to God; as the Spirit elsewhere teaches, that “with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” (Hebrews 13:16; 2 Corinthians 9:12.) Never was it on his own account that he commanded sacrifices to be made, nor did he ever stand in need of them. But under the law he ordained such exercises of piety; and he now commands us to bestow and spend on our neighbors something that is our own, and declares that all that we lay out on their account (120) is “a sacrifice of sweet savor,” (Philippians 4:18,) and is approved and accepted by him. This ought powerfully to inflame us to the exercise of kindness and generosity, when we learn that our alms are so highly applauded, and that our hands, as well as our gift, are consecrated to God.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/isaiah-23.html. 1840-57.

Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible

  1. Intro:
    1. Jeff Thompson(EEO) & Bill Hampson.
    2. The Coney is a rock badger, a bit larger than the prairie dog. Coneys are grayish/brown, the color of the rocks. As long as the coney, the rock badger, is on the rock sunning itself, it's almost impossible to see.When a predator comes to attack, the Coney will run into a hole, the crag in the rock. If a vulture or an eagle wants to sweep down on the coney, it has to knock down a mountain to get at it.One thing about Coneys, they know where their security lies. If a coney decides to go off on the prairie, venturing away from the rock, then it's vulnerable. It doesn't matter how courageous the coney is. The most courageous coney falls victim to the smallest wolf or lion. When itwanders away from the rock, a Coney is dead meat.
      1. ​​​​​​​Q: Where does your security lie?
    3. Tyre represents the materialism of a great commercial center.
      1. It seemed impossible for this great & successful economy could even be touched…let alone be wiped out!
      2. Men think they control the economy but God makes the final decision!!!
      3. Q: 4 years ago, what represented to Ben Ladin our Financial Headquarters, our materialism, our commercial center? (W.T.C.)
      4. Q: What effect did it have on us 2000 miles away? Upon the whole world?
        1. So as we read through the different cities that were affected by Tyre’s downfall, maybe we can relate to how it would affect us.
  2. TRAMPLING TYRE! (1-18)
    1. ​​​​​​​TYRE’S DESTRUCTION! (1-7)
    2. Tyre(rock) – Lebanon today.
      1. A Phoenician City; on the Med. Coast; 35 m. north of Mnt. Carmel; Sidon 20 m. to its N.(the older of the 2 cities)
      2. Jerome said that it(Tyre) was the noblest & most beautiful of the Phoenician cities & an emporium of commerce for almost the whole world.
      3. Map – Key Cities Mentioned:
      4. Sidon – Almost every time mentioned with Tyre in NT [10/12]
      5. Cypress – Island 150 N/W of Tyre.
      6. Tarshish – Q: Who tried to flee to Tarshish? (Jonah)
        1. Tarshish = Spain.
      7. Shihor – Egypt.
      8. The entire Mediterranean region looked to Tyre as the great commercial center.
      9. Fortress – It was a double city, 1 part an island, a ½ mile from the shore, & the other on the mainland opposite.
        1. It had 2 harbors connected by a canal.
        2. The island was rocky & the city was fortified on the land side w/a 150’ wall!
          1. Thus it was referred to in Joshua as a “strong” or “fortified” city. (Joshua 19:29)
      10. History –
      11. Nebuchadnezzar captured after a 13-year siege, 572 B.C., resulting in the destruction of the mainland city.
      12. All Phoenicia submitted to Alexander the Great …accept the little island port. But this too later fell to Alexander, about 332 B.C., after the construction of a causeway to the island.
        1. This was one of the most difficult undertakings of all his wars
        2. He built a causeway, but then the Tyrians destroyed it. He ended up having to get a fleet to come in from the other side while they built the causeway again. (took 7 months)
        3. Ezekiel 26 explained some details of this (vs.8 raise a defense against you[i.e. a phalanx])
      13. The city was rebuilt in Roman times, and Jesus visited the region of Tyre and Sidon during his ministry.
      14. A small Christian community had been established there by the time of Paul. (he visited)
      15. In Scripture – (Found in Mt.- Mrk.- Lk.- Acts: 3 x’s each)
        1. Jesus loved the Lebanese! “Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon.” (Mt.15:21)
      16. Most famous: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.”
        1. (i.e.) Tyre & Sidon were bad but if they had seen what you’ve seen “even they” would have turned!
    3. So, her harbors were closed. Her boarders desolate. Her sea abandoned. Egypt, her ally, is afraid.
      1. And so the question is Who on earth is gonna do that???
        1. Read on…nobody “on earth”! (they are just who he’ll use!)
    4. WHO? (8-14)
      1. The Lord of Hosts! – a title always used to show His great power!
      2. Tyre, called the market place for the nations, is seen as a symbol of the end of a secure world.
        1. Tyre will have a brief respite but the end is near.
    5. 70 YEAR JUDGMENT! (15-17)
    6. Harlot? – After 70 yrs Tyre would again become a trading center, like a prostitute who was forgotten but who returned to her illicit practice, singing to attract lovers to her again. (Walvoord & Zuck; pg.1071)
    7. (18) Isaiah foresees a day when Tyre’s riches will be no longer hoarded for her own selfish enjoyment, but will be lavished upon Jehovah & His people.
      1. Yet, unfortunately there is no hint of Tyre turning at anytime to God.
      2. The Persian Cyrus compelled Tyre & Sidon to contribute materials for the rebuilding of Jehovah’s Temple in Jerusalem(Ezra 3:7)[floated cedar logs down the Med.]
    8. Q: So what should the Christian’s attitude be towards wealth & material?
      1. See 1 Tim.6:6-10; 17-19.
      2. (7) F.B.Meyer said, “Remember, you can carry nothing out of this world…except your character.”
      3. A simple living Quaker was watching his new neighbor move in, w/all his furnishings & expensive “toys” that “successful” people collect. He finally went over to his neighbor & said, “Neighbor, if ever thou dost need anything, come to see me, & I will tell thee how to get along w/o it.”
      4. Henry David Thoreau said, “a man is wealthy in proportion to the # of things he can afford…to do w/out!”
        1. Riches often are a trap because they lead to bondage rather than freedom.
        2. Instead of giving satisfaction, riches often create additional lusts/desires.
      5. Money can’t by happiness” we’re told…but there are still a lot of people who would love the chance to prove it for themselves!
      6. But, many people have found that “money” doesn’t buy happiness…so, now they’re trying Credit Cards!
      7. The average family’s ambition is: “to make as much money as they’re spending!”
      8. (17a) not to be haughty – “If wealth makes a person proud, then he understands neither himself nor his wealth.”
      9. (17b) He gives richly – Q: “was it in your power or the might of your hand that made you gain wealth?” – No! See Deut.8:17,18
        1. The possessing of material wealth ought to humble a person & cause him to glorify God…not himself!
      10. On a conference call today on a board I sit on(S.S. Jeff Jackson/ Lou Gehrig’s disease - a fatal degenerative disease of the nervous system) & one of the ministry leaders mentioned a very wealthy man that sits on his board, & I love how he talked about him. He said, “he just loves giving away his money. That’s probably why God gave so much to him because he knew he couldn’t keep it!”
      11. Trust God not wealth! – “To some wealth means security, when in reality it means Insecurity!” (i.e. parable of the rich farmer!)
      12. Stats: Jesus talked a great deal about money.
        1. In the Parables: 16 of the 38 parables were concerned about how to handle money & possessions.
        2. In the Gospels: 1 out of 10 verse(288 in all) deal directly w/the subject of $.
        3. Bible overview: The bible offers 500 verses on prayer; less than 500 on faith, but more than 2,000 on money & possessions. Howard Dayton Jr.
    9. Eat sufficiently & fine clothing –
      1. Look at what extent God will go to provide for his little one’s!
        1. See Mt.6:31,32
    10. Personal fortune is never a source of security. A downturn in the economy, ill health, bankruptcy, or disaster can quickly wipe out personal fortune. The Lord is our ONLY genuine security!
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "Brian Bell Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cbb/isaiah-23.html. 2017.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Now in chapter23he takes up his burden against Tyre. Tyre was, of course, a seaport town. It was the area... The people of Tyre were known as Phoenicians. And so you who are versed in your ancient history know of the Phoenicians and the tremendous navy that the Phoenicians possessed. They were merchants. Their ships plied the Mediterranean. In fact, they even went around the Cape Horn to bring back goods, merchandise and all. And the Phoenician navy more or less ruled the seas, and in those days the navies were used primarily for merchandising.

And so Tyre was the commercial capital of the world as far as goods and variety of goods and all. Commercialism more or less centered in Tyre in those days, the city of Tyre. So he is pronouncing now the judgment of God against Tyre, the commercial capital.

It is interesting as you go into the prophecies of Ezekiel that Ezekiel also in chapter26 declares the destruction of Tyre. The description that Ezekiel gives in chapter26 is much more detailed than is that of Isaiah. Ezekiel points out that there will be two enemies that will come against Tyre. The first one would break down their walls, destroy their cities, and so forth. The second one would take the rubble and cast it into the midst of the sea. And scrape the dust and cast it into the midst of the sea. And he goes on and he divides the sieges of Tyre between, "he shall do this, he shall do this, he shall do that." And then it turns and the pronoun becomes "they and they and they."

Now, as you look at your secular history, you"ll find that Nebuchadnezzar came against Tyre first; after a thirteen-year siege he finally took Tyre. But as the scriptures said, he"ll not get any spoil. And Nebuchadnezzar after thirteen years did not take any spoil. Because while he was besieging the city of Tyre, because he basically had a land army and the Phoenicians had all these ships, the people of Tyre during this period of siege actually moved to an island that was about a mile offshore. And they built a whole new city of Tyre on this island, so that by the time Nebuchadnezzar took the city of Tyre, the people had pretty well moved out to this island and thus he didn"t take any spoil. Just like Ezekiel said. But then Ezekiel said, "And they shall come and they shall take thy timbers and thy stones and cast them into the midst of the sea: and they will scrape thy dust and throw them in the midst of the sea" ( Ezekiel 26:12 ). That"s a strange thing for a prophet to say about the destruction of a city.

So when Alexander the Great, couple hundred years after Nebuchadnezzar, came in his conquest of that area, when he came to the city of Tyre and made a demand that they capitulate to him, they said, "Are you kidding? We"re safe. We"re out here on this island. There is nothing you can do." Well, he tried to gather a navy from ships in Sidon and so forth, and that invasion was crushed. And so Alexander the Great then launched upon this very interesting campaign of taking the ruins of the old city of Tyre, and he began to throw the rocks, the timbers and all, building a causeway out to the island. Finally taking the dirt and scraping it and dumping it on top so that he could get his machines for besieging the city and all, moving them along this causeway that he built and he fulfilled the weird prophecies of Ezekiel of scraping the dust and all and throwing it into the midst of the sea. And he built the causeway out to Tyre and finally took the city of Tyre, utterly destroying it and the Bible says, "And thy place shall be a place for the spreading of nets" ( Ezekiel 26:14 ).

Now for years people just thought when they saw the ruins of the area Tyre that this was just a peninsula. But upon closer examination they discovered that it is exactly as the historian said, "This is the island city of Tyre." And the peninsula that they thought was a peninsula is actually an artificial causeway that was built by Alexander the Great as he conquered the city of Tyre exactly according to the script. You"d think that Alexander had read the Bible or something. He would just follow the script perfectly as God declared.

The interesting thing when they finally discovered the site of ancient Tyre, when they finally realized, "This is Tyre", they looked up and here were fishermen spreading their nets on the rocks there. Just like Ezekiel said, "And thy place shall be a place for the spreading of nets." So again, God"s interesting Word being fulfilled.

Then in Ezekiel 28:1-26, he takes up this lamentation against the king of Tyre. But as he is speaking against the king of Tyre, the prophecy switches and he begins to address himself unto Satan, the power behind the king of Tyre. "How art," no, that"s Isaiah. In addressing himself, Ezekiel says concerning Satan, "Thou was perfect in beauty, perfect in wisdom, perfect in all of thy ways until the day that iniquity was found in thee," and so forth. "And thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God" ( Ezekiel 28:12-13 ). And he is describing Satan.

Now Tyre was the center of the commercial system. God seems to have it in for man"s commercial systems. It would seem that God is not interested in men exploiting other men for their own profit. And God comes down hard against Tyre because of its commercialism. In the eighteenth chapter of Revelation, the final great commercial system that is destroyed, again, it says, "Weep and howl, ye merchants for you were made rich and so forth by thy merchandise and all." But it says, "Rejoice ye in heaven for those men who have enslaved other men in debts and so forth are over, you know." So that when we enter into the Kingdom Age you won"t find commercialism. Everyone that thirsteth, come and drink, eat freely. Commercialism will be over in the Kingdom Age. And all of us will share together in that kingdom and no one will be exploiting someone else for gain or for profit. And God really has it in for people exploiting others for personal gain or profit. And so he takes up the burden against Tyre, the commercial center.

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 ( Isaiah 23:1 ).

So Tyre is to be laid waste. It was. This great commercial city.

Be still, ye inhabitants of the coast; thou whom the merchants of Zidon, that pass over the sea, have replenished. And by great waters the seed of Sihor, the harvest of the river, is her revenue; and she is the marketplace of the nations. 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. As at the report concerning Egypt, so shall they be sorely pained at the report of Tyre. Pass ye over to Tarshish; howl, ye inhabitants of the coast. Is this your joyous city, whose antiquity is of ancient days? her own feet shall carry her afar off to sojourn. Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honorable of the earth? The LORD of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honorable of the earth. Pass through thy land as a river, O daughter of Tarshish: there is no more strength. 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 strongholds thereof. 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. 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. Howl, ye ships of Tarshish ( Isaiah 23:2-14 ):

Now he speaks here of the Chaldeans or the Babylonians being the conquerors.

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

The great Phoenician navy.

And it shall come to pass in that day, that Tyre shall be forgotten for seventy years, according to the days of one king: after the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing as a harlot. Take a harp, go about the city, thou harlot that hast been forgotten; make sweet melody, sing many songs, that thou mayest be remembered. 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. 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 ( Isaiah 23:15-18 ).

Now in Psalm, a psalm of the Kingdom Age speaks of Tyre bringing her gifts and so forth unto the Lord in the Kingdom Age in one of the kingdom psalms. So ultimately Tyre will be used again only for the supplying of the kingdom of the Lord. "

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Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/isaiah-23.html. 2014.

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible


The Doom of Tyre

Tyre was a great mercantile centre of the ancient world, and at the time of the Hebrew monarchy chief state of Phœnicia, the parent of many colonies, and mistress of the Mediterranean. It is uncertain what siege of Tyre is here referred to; but see on Isaiah 23:13.

1-5. The news of the fall of Tyre is spread.

6-9. Tyre must take refuge in her distant colonies, for her doom is purposed by Jehovah.

10-14. But even her colonies will afford no refuge, for the power of Phœnicia will be altogether broken. The fate of Chaldea serves as a warning of coming desolation.

15-18. After seventy years Tyre shall recover her commercial prosperity, but her gains shall be consecrated to Jehovah's service.

1. Homeward-bound ships are greeted at Chittim (Cyprus) with the news that Tyre has fallen. Ships of Tarshish] Tarshish is probably Tartessus, in Spain; the expression denotes deep-sea ships.

2. Isle] 'coastland,' i.e. of Phœnicia.

3. Sihor] i.e 'black,' a name for the Nile (Jeremiah 2:18). River] RV 'Nile.' Tyre reaped large revenues from Egypt by carrying her corn. Is.. is] RV 'was.. was.'

4. Strength] stronghold, i.e Tyre. Saying, etc.] The once busy quays are deserted, and the prophet pictures the city as a bereaved mother mourning her children.

5. RV 'When the report cometh to Egypt they shall be sorely pained.'

6. Tarshish] Tartessus, in Spain. The Tyrians are bidden to seek refuge in their western colonies on the shores of the Mediterranean. Of these Phoenician colonies Carthage was the most famous.

7. Her own, etc.] RV 'whose feet carried her.'

8. Taken this counsel] RV 'purposed this.' Crowning city] alluding to the many dependent kings in her colonies.

10. A river] RV 'the Nile.' There.. strength] 'There is no girdle about thee any more.' The Tyrian colonies, released from all restraint, throw off allegiance.

11. Against .. city] RV 'concerning Canaan,' i.e. Phœnicia.

12. Oppressed] or 'defiled.' Tyre was no longer a virgin citadel. Pass over to Chittim] Flight to Cyprus would not secure safety from Assyria.

13. This people, etc.] According to AV rendering, this v. describes the consolidation of the Chaldeans into a nation by the Assyrians. There is, however, no other record of this, and it is better to read, 'This people is no more; the Assyrian hath appointed it for the beasts of the wilderness' (i.e. made it desolate): 'they set up their towers' (siegetowers), 'they overthrew the palaces thereof; he made it a ruin' (RV). The fate of the Chaldeans at the hand of the Assyrians is quoted as a warning for Tyre. Babylon, the Chaldean capital, was taken by the Assyrians in 710 and 703 b.c. (see on Isaiah 21:1-10). The present. prophecy accordingly should be dated between' one or other of those years and Sennacherib's invasion of W. Asia (701).

14. Strength] RV 'stronghold.'

15. Seventy] perhaps a symbolic number for a long period. According to, etc.] i.e. without revolution or change.

16. The v. is figurative of Tyre seeking to renew her commerce.

17. Figurative of her restored traffic.

18. The old occupation will be renewed, but purged of its worldliness.

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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/isaiah-23.html. 1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Unlike a selfish prostitute, however, Tyre would set aside her income to the Lord, and it would benefit those who dwell in the Lord"s presence. The wages of a prostitute were unacceptable offerings to the Lord under the Old Covenant ( Deuteronomy 23:18). When the Jewish exiles returned from Babylon, the merchants of Tyre sold them building materials for the second temple ( Ezra 3:7), as they had done for the first temple during Solomon"s reign ( 1 Kings 5:1-12). But the change in the Tyrians" attitude that this verse promises did not mark them then; they still engaged in commerce for selfish ends. Thus this verse looks beyond the history of ancient Tyre to a time yet future when God will transform hearts and cause Gentiles worldwide to come and worship Him (cf. Isaiah 60:5-9; Revelation 21:24-26). In the future Tyre will have a new status, a new spirit, and a new allegiance (cf. Psalm 87:4). She will join the Ethiopians, Egyptians, Assyrians ( Isaiah 18:7; Isaiah 19:18-25), and many other Gentiles in uniting to fulfill God"s glorification of Israel.

"The care of a Phoenician widow once extended to a prophet ( 1 Kings 17:8-16) will be the norm of coming relationships." [Note: Motyer, p189.]

The Judeans should not envy the Tyrians, nor should God"s people of any era envy materialistic idolaters. Ultimately God"s people will enjoy all the wealth of Tyre that will come to her God.

". . . chs13-23seem to be saying that since the glory of the nations (chs13, 14) equals nothing, and since the scheming of the nations (chs14-18) equals nothing, and since the vision of this nation (chs21, 22) equals nothing, and since the wealth of the nations (ch23) equals nothing, don"t trust the nations! The same is true today. If we believe that a system of alliances can save us, we have failed to learn the lessons of Isaiah and of history. God alone is our refuge and strength ( Psalm 46:2 [Eng1])." [Note: Oswalt, pp427-28.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/isaiah-23.html. 2012.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(18) Her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord.—The words seem to reverse the rule of Deuteronomy 23:18, which, probably not without a reference to practices like those connected with the worship of Mylitta (Herod., i. 99), forbade gifts that were so gained from being offered in the Sanctuary. Here, it seems to be implied, the imagery was not to be carried to what might have seemed its logical conclusion. The harlot city, penitent and converted, might be allowed, strange as it might seem, to bring the gains of her harlotry into the temple of the Lord. 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 David and Solomon (1 Kings 5:1-12), and to the gifts which that alliance involved (Psalms 45:12).

For them that dwell before the Lord . . .—These were probably, in the prophet’s thoughts, the citizens of Jerusalem, who were to find in Tyre their chief resource both for food and raiment. Traces of this commerce after the return of the Jews from the captivity are found in Nehemiah 13:16, “men of Tyre” bringing “fish and all manner of ware” to the gates of Jerusalem. Of the more direct service we find evidence in the fact that Tyrians and Zidonians contributed to the erection of the second Temple, as they had done to that of the first (Ezra 3:7).

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/isaiah-23.html. 1905.

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible

CHAPTER 23

The Burden of Tyre

1. Tyre’s great disaster (Isaiah 23:1-5) 2. The complete overthrow (Isaiah 23:6-14) 3. Tyre’s future restoration and degradation (Isaiah 23:15-18)Tyre typifies the commercial expansion and glory of the world. Behind this commercial glory stands Satan, the god of this age. Read Ezekiel 28:11-19. Nebuchadnezzar carried out judgment upon Tyre Ezekiel 29:17-21. A revival of Tyre is also predicted. We call attention to a statement in the beautiful Forty-fifth Psalm, a millennial Psalm. When the King appears, surrounded by His own, “The daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift” Psalms 45:12. It is what is indicated in Isaiah’s vision, “And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord.”

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Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gab/isaiah-23.html. 1913-1922.

G. Campbell Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible

The burden of Tyre opens with a graphic description of her desolation. Her harbors are closed. Her borders are desolate. The sea, which had been her highway, is abandoned, and Egypt, her ally, is affrighted at the report. The desolation is then contemplated, and the inquiry, "Who hath purposed this against Tyre?" is answered. This desolation is the act of Jehovah.

In view of this fact, the utter overthrow is again described. The prophet then declares definitely that for seventy years Tyre is to be forgotten. After seventy years she is to be visited by Jehovah, and restored to a position of influence. There is no hint of Tyre turning at any time to God. According to this prophecy, when restored she will still play the harlot with the kings of the earth. Her restoration is to be in some way in the economy of God, of service to His own people. Nothing more than this is intended.

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Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "G. Campbell Morgan Exposition on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gcm/isaiah-23.html. 1857-84.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And her merchandise, and her hire,.... Or, "but her merchandise", &c. not the same as before; or, however, not as carried on at the same time, but many ages after, even in the times of the Gospel; for this part of the prophecy respects the conversion of the Tyrians, in the first ages of Christianity; this is prophesied of elsewhere, Psalm 45:12 and was fulfilled in the times of the apostles, Acts 11:19 and so Kimchi and Jarchi say this is a prophecy to be fulfilled in the days of the MessiahF13So in Midrash, Kohelet, fol. 62. 3. ; and then the trade of this people, and what they got by it,

should be holiness to the Lord; that is, devoted, at least, great part of it, to holy uses and service; that is, in defraying of all expenses in carrying on the worship of God, for the maintenance of Gospel ministers, and for the supply and support of the poor saints:

it shall not be treasured, nor laid up: in order to be laid out in pride and luxury; or to be kept as useless, to gratify a covetous disposition; or for posterity to come:

for her merchandise shall be laid up for them, that dwell before the Lord; part of what should be gained by trading, at least, should be laid by for religious uses, as is directed, 1 Corinthians 16:1 even for the relief of poor saints in general, who assemble together before the Lord, for the sake of his worship; and particularly for the support of the ministers of the Gospel, who stand before the Lord, and minister in holy things, in his name, to the people:

to eat sufficiently; that they may have food convenient for them, and enough of it; or, in other words, have a sufficient maintenance, a comfortable supply of food for themselves and families, and raiment also; as follows:

and for durable clothing; that they may have a supply of clothing, and never want a coat to put upon their backs. This prophecy, as it belongs to Gospel times, is a proof of the maintenance of Gospel ministers, that they ought to be liberally provided for; and care should be taken that they want not food and raiment, but have a fulness and sufficiency of both, and that which is convenient for them.

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Gill, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/isaiah-23.html. 1999.

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

— Judgment upon Tyre - Isaiah 23:1-18 records Isaiah's prophecy against Tyre.

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Geneva Study Bible

And her merchandise and her hire shall be z holiness to the LORD: it shall not be treasured nor laid up; for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the LORD, for sufficient food and for durable clothing.

(z) He shows that God yet by the preaching of the gospel will call Tyre to repentance and turn her heart from evil and filthy gain, to the true worshipping of God, and liberality toward his saints.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/isaiah-23.html. 1599-1645.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Sanctified to the Lord. This alludes to the conversion of the Gentiles. (Challoner) --- Before, the Tyrian were great enemies to the Jews, 2 Esdras xiii. 16., and 1 Machabees v. 15. Our Saviour wrought a miracle in favour of one of this country, Matthew v. 22., and Zacharias viii. 20. (Calmet) --- Continuance. Literally, "old age." Aquila, "with changes of dress." (Haydock)

 

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/isaiah-23.html. 1859.

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

EXPOSITORY NOTES ON

THE PROPHET ISAIAH

By

Harry A. Ironside, Litt.D.

Copyright @ 1952

edited for 3BSB by Baptist Bible Believer in the spirit of the Colportage ministry of a century ago

ISAIAH CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

THE BURDEN OF TYRE

WE NOW COME to the last of these special prophecies, or burdens, relating to nations and cities with whom Israel had to do. Three of these may be looked at as very definite types of this present evil world, to deliver us from which, CHRIST died.

Egypt speaks of the world as we first knew it in our natural state; a scene of darkness, bondage, and death. Its Pharaohs were recognized by the mass of the people not only as kings but as gods, and divine honors were paid to them. Thus they may well speak to us of Satan, the prince and god of this world.

From Egypt Israel was delivered by the blood of the passover lamb and the omnipotent power of GOD who led them triumphantly through the dried bed of the Red Sea where Pharaoh's hosts, who plunged in after them, were destroyed. On the farther shores of the Red Sea they sang praises to Him who had so wonderfully delivered them.

We too, through grace, have known such deliverance and can say that henceforth just as Egypt was dead to Israel and Israel dead to it, so we have died to the world and the world to us by our identification with the crucified Saviour.

Babylon speaks rather of the religious world - a religion based not upon divine revelation but upon the vain imaginations of men, not subject to the will of GOD.

From this idolatrous city the worship of images was spread far and wide throughout the ancient world. It has its counterpart today in the sphere of worldly religion which has a form of godliness without the power. We see it in its completeness in the mystery of Babylon the Great in the book of Revelation; a vast religious-commercial system which will dominate the greater part of the world after the Church has been caught up to be with the Lord. But at last the rulers of earth's kingdoms themselves will tire of this incubus and will destroy it utterly.

Tyre speaks of the world as a great commercial system - where men through material pursuits seek to enrich themselves and their families, reveling in every kind of luxury and in forgetfulness

of GOD. This is the pervading aspect of the world as we know it today, when nation after nation is reaching out for commercial gain and people are living on a luxurious scale such as has never been known in previous centuries.

But the day is soon coming when all these things upon which men have set their hearts shall be destroyed and the present world system pass away. We may see a prediction of this in the prophecy relating to the doom of 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. Be still, ye inhabitants of the isle; thou whom the merchants of Zidon, that pass over the sea, have replenished. And by great waters the seed of Sihor. the harvest of the river, is her revenue; and she is a mart of nations. 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. As at the report concerning Egypt, so shall they be sorely pained at the report of Tyre" (verses 1-5).

The prophet foresaw the complete destruction of Tyre as a great metropolis whose ships reached every known port in the world of that day. Sidon was the mother city but it never attained to the greatness of its daughter, Tyre, settled by merchants who left Sidon to build a great city by the seaside, partly on the land and partly on a rocky island some distance from the shore, the two being connected by a stone causeway.

The history of Tyre reads like a thrilling romance and will repay anyone who takes the time to acquaint himself with it. The Sidonians were Phoenicians, an active, progressive race from which sprang some of the more progressive peoples of modern times. They are credited with having invented the alphabet at a time when other nations still used pictographs in order to express themselves in writing.

Our own alphabet in many respects Is linked with these ancient Phoenician characters. It must have seemed incredible at the time of Isaiah's prophecy that Tyre should ever become little more than a memory, yet the predictions were fulfilled to the letter. The Tyre of today is but a squalid reminder of the great metropolis of olden days. The doom of the city would affect nations as near as Egypt and as far away as Tarshish because it was through the ships of Tyre that their merchandise was profitably disposed of.

"Pass ye over to Tarshish; howl, ye inhabitants of the isle. Is this your joyous city, whose antiquity is of ancient days? her own feet shall carry her afar off to sojourn. Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honourable of the earth? 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" (verses 6-9).

Tarshish seems to be a somewhat general term, certainly including Spain, possibly also Great Britain. We are told that the Tyrian merchants brought from Tarshish tin, lead, and other metals (Ezekiel 27:12). These were found in the mines of Spain and Britain, the very word "Brittania," the ancient name of that island kingdom, meaning "the land of tin."

On the other hand, in I Kings10:22 we are told that Solomon's navy brought to Palestine from Tarshish, gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks. The last came originally from India so that Tarshish would seem to refer not only to Western Europe but also to Eastern Asia.

Solomon's navy made the round trip once every three years. This would suggest a lengthy sea voyage through the Mediterranean, out past the Pillars of Hercules into the broad Atlantic, southward past the shores of Africa, rounding the Cape of Good Hope, up through the Indian Ocean to Hindustan and back. It is noteworthy that these voyages were made in ships of Tyre, though belonging to King Solomon.

We can well understand how the great merchant princes of Tyre were looked upon as the honorable of the earth, even as today men give honor to those who amass vast fortunes through commercial enterprises. Unhappily, men who thus become wealthy, seldom give the glory to the GOD who gave them the ability to earn such vast sums. Tyre did not take GOD into account at all and so He would bring against it other great powers in order to "stain the pride of all glory," for He has decreed that no flesh shall glory in His presence.

For us as Christians today it is the Cross of CHRIST that speaks of the shameful death of the One whom the great ones of earth rejected, but in whose death we may now see the end of all earthly glory. So with the Apostle Paul we may well exclaim, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."

"Pass through thy land as a river, O daughter of Tarshish; there is no more strength. 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. 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" (verses 10-12).

The destruction of Tyre would involve to a very large extent the loss of prestige of many of the great merchant cities which had been founded by or were in close alliance with Tyre. Tartessun in Spain was a daughter of Tyre because founded by Phoenicians. The Same was true of Cartagena and also of Carthage in North Africa. Chittim, or Cyprus, owed its prosperity chiefly to the business done with Tyre. Hence, the howling of the merchants of all of these commercial centers when the great city to which they looked as the chief source of their prosperity fell beneath the judgment of GOD whom it had ignored.

"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. Howl, ye ships of Tarshish: for your strength is laid waste. 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. Take an harp, go about the city, thou harlot that hast been forgotten; make sweet melody, sing many songs, that thou mayest be remembered. 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 comm1t fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth"

(verses 13-17).

The immediate agency for the accomplishment of this prophecy of the destruction of Tyre was Nebuchadnezzar and his Chaldean armies. Babylon, originally founded by Nimrod and known as Babel, had existed for many centuries, but it never became a great world power until it was enlarged and taken over by the Assyrians long before Nebuchadnezzar's day. Separated from Assyria, it eventually became the dominant power in the region west of the Euphrates.

Nebuchadnezzar besieged Tyre and partially destroyed it, carrying away many of its people into captivity. During that same seventy years in which Israel remained in captivity, the Phoenician city was in a state of degradation and collapse, but after the death of Nebuchadnezzar and, a few years later, the capture of Babylon by the Medes and Persians, Tyre was largely rebuilt, though it never again became the commercial city it had been. But it sought to establish intimate relations with various surrounding peoples in the effort to recoup its misfortunes.

During the Persian period of world ascendancy Tyre flourished to some extent, but was at last almost completely destroyed by the armies of Alexander the Great when he overcame the Persians and conquered most of Western Asia and Egypt. Tyre has never come into prominence since and yet there is a future of blessing predicted for it.

It is evident that the last verse of our chapter, like so many other prophetic scriptures, carries us beyond the present age to the establishment of the Messianic kingdom of our Lord JESUS CHRIST.

In that day a new city will be raised up on the ruins of Tyre and will be subject to Him whose right it is to reign, and will bring her glory and honor to His feet. This is predicted both here and in Psalms 45:12 where we see Israel, once more recognized as the wife of the Lord, and the daughter of Tyre among those who rejoice in her blessing and bring their gifts to the king.

"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" (verse 18).

~ end of chapter 23 ~

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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/isn/isaiah-23.html. 1914.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

holiness — Her traffic and gains shall at last (long after the restoration mentioned in Isaiah 23:17) be consecrated to Jehovah. Jesus Christ visited the neighborhood of Tyre (Matthew 15:21); Paul found disciples there (Acts 21:3-6); it early became a Christian bishopric, but the full evangelization of that whole race, as of the Ethiopians (Isaiah 18:1-7), of the Egyptians and Assyrians (Isaiah 19:1-25), is yet to come (Isaiah 60:5).

not treasured — but freely expended in His service.

them that dwell before the Lord — the ministers of religion. But Horsley translates, “them that sit before Jehovah” as disciples.

durable clothing — Changes of raiment constituted much of the wealth of former days.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/isaiah-23.html. 1871-8.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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.

Her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord - her traffic and gains shall at last (long after the restoration mentioned, in Isaiah 23:17) be consecrated to Yahweh. Eusebius, 'History,' 10:, Isaiah 4:1-6, says, 'When the Church of God was founded in Tyre, much of its wealth was consecrated to God, and was brought as an offering to the Church for the support of the ministry.' Jesus Christ visited the neighbourhood of Tyre (Matthew 15:21): Paul found disciples there (Acts 21:3-6): it early became a Christian bishopric; but the full evangelization of that whole race, as of the Ethiopians (Isaiah 18:1-7), of the Egyptians and Assyrians (Isaiah 19:1-25), is yet to come (Isaiah 60:5).

It shall not be treasured - but freely expended in His service.

Her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the Lord - the ministers of religion. But Horsley translates, 'for them that sit before Yahweh' as disciples.

And for durable clothing. Changes of raiment constituted much of the wealth of former days.

Remarks: The 'prince-merchants' of our commercial nation have much to learn from the doom of Tyre, once the "mart of nations." Commerce is, doubtless, one earthly basis of national prosperity; but it affords no safeguard against national ruin, when the favour of the Lord does not accompany it. The largest 'revenue' comes to nought at the command of the Almighty. In vain did Tyre look for help to her many colonies, as well as to the mother city, Zidon, in the day of her distress. Zidon herself was put to shame, so that she could afford no succour; and the Tyrians could only flee to Tarshish and elsewhere, as exiled fugitives. Tyre, that was once so "joyous," as now "still," and void of national life. "Antiquity" will not avail when it has arrayed against it, "the Ancient of days." So far are "the honourable of the earth" from being able to counteract the "purpose" of "the Lord of hosts," that it is their very pride which brings down His wrath; for his 'purpose' is "to stain" or pollute "the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth." Let us learn that the true blessedness of the possession of wealth, great or small, consists in the dedication of it to the glory of God, the advancement of the kingdom of Christ, and the temporal and spiritual relief of our fellow-men.

The four chapters, 24-27, form one continuous poetical prophecy, descriptive of the dispersion and successive calamities of the Jews (); the preaching of the Gospel by the first Hebrew converts throughout the world (Isaiah 24:13-16); the judgments on the adversaries of the Church, and its final triumph (Isaiah 24:16-23); thanksgiving for the overthrow of the apostate faction (Isaiah 25:1-12), and establishment of the righteous in lasting peace (Isaiah 26:1-21); judgment on leviathan and entire purgation of the Church, (Isaiah 27:1-13.) Having treated of the several nations in particular-Babylon, Philistia, Moab, Syria, Israel, Egypt, Edom, and Tyre (the miniature representative of all, as all kingdoms flocked into it) - he passes to the last times of the world at large, and of Judah, the representative and future head of the Churches.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/isaiah-23.html. 1871-8.

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

Inner History

Isaiah 23

The whole chapter relates to the destiny of Tyre. History has confirmed the prophecy to the letter. Jesus Christ himself referred to the destiny of Tyre and Sidon. The Tarshish of this chapter is Spain. Chittim is the island of Cyprus. The word "merchant" is the same word that is rendered in other places "Canaanite." The Canaanites were the most energetic commercial men of their time. To be a merchant was to be a Canaanite; to be a Canaanite was to be a merchant, substantially. With these points of antiquity the general mass of the people have nothing to do. Yet with the inner history which lies under all these marvellous accidents the world must be concerned until the end of time.

For example, the world must come, however slowly, to recognise the fact that rulers themselves are ruled; that nations are units; that empires are limited; that the Lord reigneth. There can be only one Supreme. It would seem as if all pluralism were but accidental—that in unity we must find character, purpose, power, issue, and destiny. There are many volumes, but the only volume which holds them all, in so far as they are true, is the Bible. There are many kings, but they all have a King over them—eternal, immortal, invisible, the only Potentate; all others are dramatic kings, painted figures, useful or useless, as the case may be; but the King of glory reigneth, and all gates fly back at his coming, and all doors lift themselves up in sign of welcome, and in token of his right to come. Nations take a great deal of education in this matter, as indeed do individuals. What a glorious dawn is that which will shine above the eastern hills when the world begins to feel that it is reigned over, governed, guided in all its march of progress; that every throb of it is but the echo of a throb profounder still:—

The world grows warmer under that recognition. At first the recognition is terrible enough, but it becomes more and more beneficent as things shape themselves, as dumb things begin to sing, and things that looked impracticable and unmanageable fall into order, and consent to the universal economy. Unless we get some larger view like this we shall be the victims of circumstances; every little Napoleon that cares to be haughty to the ambassador of a foreign court may set us up in an attitude of alarm. Be quiet with religious tranquillity. Things are not ordered by the whims and moods of petty toy-kings: they come and go, they die of diseases, like dogs; they have no philosopher"s stone in their pouch; they are but a smoke, as we are: the Lord reigneth. When nations come to understand this, the earth shall yield her increase, the whole world shall be a harvest-field, and there shall be no want in our streets, no cry of atheistic pain.

The world must come, secondly, to recognise the fact that even empires are dependent upon character for their existence. Where are the testimonials? What is their record? It is all written. The greatest man cannot do without his references. Under many circumstances he may pass freely, because a good deal will be assumed regarding him; but there will come a point—call it, if you will, Day of Judgment; it is a solemn, grand term—when empires must put down their record, and stand or fall by what they have done. The individuals make the nation. When the individuals are right the nation cannot be wrong. It is not within our compass to deal with countries, empires, great lands, all at once; but we can deal with the little children, we can begin at some point of reformation or culture, and be faithful to the sphere which that point indicates; and thus every one of us can be helping the regeneration of the world. It is possible that we may be wasting much energy by imagining that because we cannot control an empire we cannot educate a life. Our empire may be the little house-empire—all the young forces that throb about the hearthstone and the table. Or we may have some wizardry of eloquence that can touch people who will not go to church. Or we may have that secret of sympathy which makes the whole world kin. Do not suppose that we are to wait until we have energy enough to make the whole world hear us; we may begin with the very first child that comes in our way—yea, with the dying man who has but an hour to live; even in him we may, by God"s blessing, cause to flash up that divinity which men call light.

We cannot read this history without feeling how true it is in all its moral outline and issue. For Tyre we may substitute London, Paris, New York, or the countries which they indicate. It is only the letter of this chapter which is ancient; the principle is energetic evermore. There is a tone of bitterness in the chapter, a tone of what is distinctively Scriptural irony—that acid, biting tone of old Elijah. "Pass ye over to Tarshish" ( Isaiah 23:6). That is an ironical expression. The people are mocked when through sin they have lost their strength. Go away to your remotest colony, and sit down with those whom you have called tributaries and dependents. O thou once overfed and over-pampered glutton, go sit down in the kitchen when the fire is out, and make a banquet for thyself on thy memory! How proud had Tyre been! How she thrived upon her corn trade in Egypt! Egypt had no timber, and therefore could not build ships; and if she had had a whole Bashan full of oaks she never would have cut a plank, for Egypt from time immemorial detested the sea. You never caught an Egyptian on the sea if he could stow himself away anywhere else. The Tyrian liked the sea, did not care how broad it was, or deep; he had a spirit of locomotion and daring and enterprise, and wherever the corn was the man of Tyre might be seen. Tyre enriched herself with the harvests of the Nile; she thought Sihor flowed for her advantage; the harvest of the river was her revenue, and she was a mart of nations. Honour to whom honour is due. She had acquired a great position in the world, and therefore she must have had elements of character of conspicuous value. It is idle to deny the energy, the capacity, the force of any man who has ascended to the top and planted his banner there. He has to be accounted for, and reckoned with; and he will never be brought down by sneers. Tyre was a haughty lady. To know what Tyre was we have only to read Ezekiel xxvi-xxviii. There we have a full-length portraiture of Tyrus; "O thou that art situate at the entry of the sea, which art a merchant of the people for many isles, Thus saith the Lord God; O Tyrus, thou hast said, I am of perfect beauty. Thy borders are in the midst of the seas, thy builders have perfected thy beauty. They have made all thy ship boards of fir trees of Senir: they have taken cedars from Lebanon to make masts for thee. Of the oaks of Bashan have they made thine oars; the company of the Ashurites have made thy benches of ivory, brought out of the isles of Chittim. Fine linen with broidered work from Egypt was that which thou spreadest forth to be thy sail; blue and purple from the isles of Elishah was that which covered thee" ( Ezekiel 27:3-7). Only a prophet dare have challenged such strength and splendour. The prophecies should be read not retrospectively but prospectively, as they were uttered, and we should see the great men of old hurling their thunders against evident might, pomp, grandeur, settled and immutable reputation.

A wonderful thing is this, that when the Spirit of God is in a man he cares for no city, how great soever it may be, though he himself may not have whereon to lay his head. There Isaiah, however, a spirit in him which makes him greater than all the capitals of the world, were they added to one another and constituted into one great avenue of capitals, each house in all the vista crowned or starred with the sceptre thrust from every window. The Galilean fishermen cared nothing for the pomp of Jerusalem; old prophets with ragged mantles on their stooping shoulders hurled divinest judgment against proud kings. The Church has lost this prophetic inspiration, and now she bows down to worldly greatness, and tells with delight that a chariot and pair has driven up to her front door. To what a cant of indignity has she sunk, even in her very speech! She is now an "influential" Church, a "respectable" Church, an "intelligent" Church, a Church possessed of "exceptional advantages," and most careful about her "reputation"! So the world pays its copper tribute, and says to the Church, Behave yourself! let us do what we like, and you sing your hymns and go up to heaven like any other vapour. Where are the men who can do without food, clothing, shelter? Where are the men who would spurn any offer of patronage?—sons of lightning, sons of judgment; men who never sit down to eat, but snatch their apple as they hasten along the road that they may keep their next appointment to thunder judgment upon unrighteousness, and break in pieces with an iron rod the vessel of impurity.

Tyre is called "the crowning city" ( Isaiah 23:8). The speaker cannot drop his satire; he has got accustomed to it now; he is in his best vein of mockery. The crowning city was Tyre because she distributed crowns to the Phoenician colonies,—so to say, she kept a whole cupboard full of crowns, and took one out after another, and gave to the little colonies that they might play at being kingdoms. "Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity." But Tyre was proud of her dignities! "Haran, and Canneh, and Eden, the merchants of Sheba, Asshur, and Chilmad, were thy merchants. There were thy merchants in all sorts of things, in blue clothes, and broidered work, and in chests of rich apparel, bound with cords, and made of cedar, among thy merchandise. The ships of Tarshish did sing of thee in thy market: and thou wast replenished, and made very glorious in the midst of the seas" ( Ezekiel 27:23-25). Then the "rowers" of Tyre—the men who, so to speak, rowed the beautiful city as upon a river—brought her into great waters, and whilst she was there the east wind broke her. O that east wind! that eternal resource of God! So Tyre was overwhelmed:—

But the question arose: Who did all this? How did all this come to pass? The answer is sublime:—

"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.... 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 strongholds thereof ( Isaiah 23:9, Isaiah 23:11).

There is a "who" in history. We find that who in the eighth verse: "Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre?" "Who" is not a word we apply to a dog, but to a Prayer of Manasseh, to one reasonable, responsible. Yet who could apply the term to a mere man under such peculiar circumstances? No man could have done it. We never ask, with any idea of receiving for an answer that a man did it, "Who set the sun in his tabernacle?" Did it ever occur to any one to say, "Two men lifted the burning load to that altitude"? The answer would, be received with a derisive smile. There are some things which man could not have done. God reconstructs geography. He is not only the Geologist of the globe, but its Geographer. The God that built up the rocks managed all the surface work. God readjusts the map of the world; he alters names, boundaries, capacities; the four seasons are his servants, and he tells them what to do. At this very time Chittim, or Cyprus, revolted against Tyre, and the Phoenician colonies began to be restless, and hey too joined Sennacherib when he attacked the mother city. There are colonies that will not always be colonies. Who did it? God shook the kingdoms: Egypt, Ethiopia, Babylon, Syria, Israel, Judah, quaked down to their foundations, whilst Tiglath-Pileser was building and glorifying the Assyrian Empire, as if he were a species of god: and in due time his neck was to be wrung, and he was to be thrown away, because there cannot be two Almighties.

"Pass over to Chittim" ( Isaiah 23:12). Here we have the irony again. Go into the little island, shrink within the smallest bounds: O thou mighty England, Great Britain and Ireland, go and sit upon a stone, and dine upon gravel and sand! "Behold the land of the Chaldeans" ( Isaiah 23:13). What is the meaning of that challenge? The meaning is that Tyre learned from Chaldea. Let one country learn from another. Do not let history be wasted upon our statesmen and leaders and merchants. Study the history of the world if you would study the history of your own town. Always read the little in the light of the great. Be sure to have the right atmosphere, the right point of view, the right perspective, or you may be imagining that a thing is great only because it is near. The philologist does not scruple to say that if a man knows only one language he knows none. There is an obvious sense in which that is true. It may be said to be distinctively and peculiarly true of the English tongue, which has about it the flavour of nearly all countries, and is the most difficult of all languages to acquire. So it is about our business, about our parish, about our city, and about our country: we know nothing about any of these until we know something about the whole scheme of things. We must know that even a straight line drawn upon a globe dips, and loses its straightness. We must remember that a city, any city, how proud, great, mighty, rich soever, is to be judged in the light of the history of cities. Tyre must ponder Chaldea.

How true the Bible is to itself in making everything turn upon character! Now what have you done? What is your spirit? Are you haughty or humble? Is your greatness moral, or only financial? What is covered by your fine linen with broidered work from Egypt? Do you cover wounds and bruises with these decorated plasters? What is your soul? This is God"s answer. "Son of Prayer of Manasseh, say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord God; Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a god, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a Prayer of Manasseh, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God: behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee: with thy wisdom and with thine understanding thou hast gotten thee riches, and hast gotten gold and silver into thy treasures: by thy great wisdom and by thy traffick hast thou increased thy riches, and thine heart is lifted up because of thy riches: therefore thus saith the Lord God; Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God; behold, therefore I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations: and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy Wisdom of Solomon, and they shall defile thy brightness. They shall bring thee down to the pit, and thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas" ( ). The Lord will not have two gods. He will not have any rival. "Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I am God? but thou shalt be a Prayer of Manasseh, and no God, in the hand of him that slayeth thee. Thou shalt die the deaths of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord God" ( Ezekiel 28:9-10). The rampant boaster should be brought down to the dust. Our strength is in our modesty. What hast thou that thou hast not received? We have seen men of boastful temper, who have mocked others, sold up in the public market-place without a soul to buy in a chair for the overthrown boaster to sit down upon. Character is everything. Character is dignity. There may be no money in the bank, but see how the head holds itself up, and how the eye has an upward turn in it that means, I seek a country out of sight; I am but a stranger and a pilgrim, with hardly time to put off my sandals and lay down my staff; I yearn for the city of light. Character is courage. "The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion." What is this character? It can only be a creation of God. Character is not one of the arts or manufactures. There is less manipulation about a character than about anything else. A picture may be painted, but not a character. Character is the real Prayer of Manasseh, the inward soul- Prayer of Manasseh, the spirit- Prayer of Manasseh, the very plasm of being. Blessed be God that it is Song of Solomon, for otherwise how many men would be mistaken: they are so rough externally, they have had so few advantages; they have been battled against and overthrown, until quite a tone of defiance has entered into their daily speech, but in their souls they are chastened, and refined, and pure, and trustful. This is the miracle of God. Character only can be regenerated and reconstructed and guaranteed by all the energy of heaven. "Ye must be born again." We have greater advantages than ever Tyre had: how are we using them? "I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you." Let us consider this well, and be wise.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jpb/isaiah-23.html. 1885-95.

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Isaiah 23:1. The burden of Tyre. This was one of the most ancient cities of Phœnicia, situate on a rock, seven hundred paces from the shore, though now joined to the land by the working of the sea. The Zidonians built and fortified Tyre for safety in time of war. It was rebuilt and improved by king Agenor, father of Cadmus. Genesis 11:4. In Joshua’s time it was called the strong city, and fell to the lot of Aser; but being deemed impregnable, no conquest was attempted. After the destruction of Troy, Æneas found protection with the Tyrians and sailed to Carthage, and finally to Italy. Tyre was the mother of navigation, the emporium of merchandise, and covered the seas with her ships. It had part of its city on the opposite shore. The inhabitants, though Canaanites at first, would by commerce presently become mixed nations.

Nebuchadnezzar besieged this strong place for thirteen years; during which time the redundant population were sent away to Carthage, and to the Grecian ports. When the Tyrians could hold out no longer, the merchants fled with their ships and riches to Carthage. When the city was stormed, eight were put to death, and two thousand crucified, the conquerors being enraged that they found no reward for their long siege.

Isaiah 23:3. The seed of Sihor, the river which limited the southern boundary of the promised land. 2 Chronicles 13:5.—The harvest of the river, the Nile. The reference is to the manner of sowing corn, as the inundation retired. Ecclesiastes 11:1. The harvests of the rivers formed a principal source of Tyrian wealth.

Isaiah 23:6. Pass ye over to Tarshish. The LXX read, καρχηδονος, Carthage, and correctly no doubt. There is however another opinion given, 1 Kings 10:22; which is favoured by Bochart, and by Poole; but the navy of Hiram, king of Tyre, and the navy of Tarshish are distinctly named. Carthage was a daughter of Tyre, built, according to Boiste’s chronology, in the year of the world 2398, and embellished by queen Dido in 2480. It stood on a neck of land between Tunis and Utica, and became the metropolis of a powerful republic, comprising Tunis, Sardinia, Sicily, and a great part of Spain. In the space of a hundred and fifty years, she maintained three Punic wars with Rome; and Hannibal her general marched an army from Spain into the heart of Italy, and menaced the gates of Rome with fire. At length the senate passed the severe decree, Delenda est Carthago. Let Carthage be destroyed. When Scipio announced his orders, the inhabitants ran about the streets in a frantic manner, tearing their hair, and uttering piercing cries to their gods. But Carthage rose again by Roman colonies, and became a grand seat of christianity. It was finally ruined by the Arabs, and left to this day like Babylon, in a mass of confusion. BOISTE.

Isaiah 23:8. Who hath taken counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, as to riches, splendour, architecture and commerce. Her merchants were princes, living in regal style, and loaded with wealth. Who could dare to storm the impregnable fortress, and ravage the queen of the seas. Ah, it was thy pride which made the Lord take counsel against thee, and decree to put the virgin’s neck under the rude yoke of the king of Babylon. The council of a senate should always act in subordination to the council in heaven.

Isaiah 23:12. Thou shalt no more rejoice, oh thou oppressed virgin. The title of virgin was delicately applied to all primitive cities that had never been stormed and ravaged by conquest. Thou must now fly for refuge to all the isles of Chittim, now called Greek Islands, and to the shores of the Mediterranean sea, and sing for bread.

Isaiah 23:14. Howl, ye ships of Tarshish. These spread themselves on the western shores of Europe and Africa. In the Saxon chronicle, edited by Ingram, 1823, we have an account of a Trojan or a Phœnician colony who came in five long ships to the north of Ireland, and west of Scotland. Tha comon of Armenia.

Isaiah 23:16. Take a harp, go about the city, thou harlot. The perfection of thy music, and thy melodious airs of Phœnician song, may procure thee a pittance of bread in exile. What a contrast between the princely mansions, and the Tyrian purple, now changed for garbs of shame.

Isaiah 23:17-18. It shall come to pass, after the end of seventy years, as in Isaiah 23:15. The days of one king, or the expiration of the Assyrian empire. Daniel 7:17; Daniel 8:20. The Lord shall visit Tyre, and cause her gradually to rise again; and her hire of merchandise shall be holiness to the Lord. As but little of this occurred after the seventy years captivity, in the worship of the God of Israel, the ultimate bearing of this prophecy must regard the conversion of the people to the christian religion. Bishop Lowth adds here, “that after its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar, and after being taken by Alexander, Tyre recovered its commerce, and wealth, and grandeur. St. Paul found disciples here. Acts 21:3-4. Christianity flourished in Tyre till the city was taken by the Turks, in the year 639. It was retaken by the Christians, in the crusade of 1124. But in 1280 it was conquered by the Mamelukes, and taken from them by the Turks in 1516. Since that time it has sunk into utter decay, and is a mere rock.”—A French traveller, who visited the place since the revolution, remarks, “I saw fishermen spreading their nets on Tyre.” See Ezekiel 26:14. Surely then, the holy men who were allowed to see the fate of Tyre, beheld it with the eyes of heaven. Had the prophets speculated as merchants, or divined as wizards, their presumption had been their destruction.—From Jeremiah’s sending his scroll to Babylon, we may infer that Isaiah made his vision known to Tyre.

REFLECTIONS.

Alas, alas! Oh virgin daughter of the seas, and pride of all the east! Thy merchants were princes; thy armies guarded thy country. Ezekiel 27:10-11. Thy ships swept the seas, the masts of thy harbour were like a forest of trees, thy commerce reached to Britain, and made the nations rich. The land and isles of Thule (Scotland and her isles) were visited by thy ships.— Why, oh virgin, living on a rock, didst thou forget the rock of ages! Why wast thou deaf to the Hebrew prophets? Why didst thou forget thy relations to a God! Why wast thou blind to the vengeance which sported on all the western nations, till at last the destroyers appeared under thy walls? There is a point when national repentance is too late.

In the fall of Tyre the proud and licentious cities of the earth may see the cloud suspended over their heads, and they should read in every tempest which shakes their towers divine instruction. Tyre was in alliance with all the nations of the earth, except the king of Babylon, and this king she little feared because of her insular situation, and maritime strength. Yet mark how she fell from the summit of her splendour. God gave Nebuchadnezzar a heart to persevere in the siege till the heads of his soldiers were bald, and their shoulders peeled with burdens. Her riches, instead of saving her, were the boon which tempted the army to persevere; and all her allies, by supplying her with corn, did but prolong the sore calamities of the siege. How vain to take counsel against the Lord, and promise ourselves security out of his protection.

Rich and proud individuals ought to be instructed, as well as cities and nations; for though the scale be smaller, the principles of equity are the same. Let us read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the sacred scriptures, that we may hence derive a thousand arguments for repentance, piety, and the fear of the Lord.

Above all, let us mark the glimmerings of mercy behind the dark cloud. When the Lord showed favour to Zion, he would show favour to Tyre, the first builders of his temple. Hear the gracious words: Her merchandise and her hire shall no more be prostituted in whoredom, and to her idols, but shall be holiness to the Lord. Temporal glory shall yet smile on her port and commerce, and the worship of Jehovah resound in her synagogues and churches. Let christians attend this tragic school; let them hearken to Jehovah’s voice, that their peace may flow as a river, and their righteousness abound as the waves of the sea, in all the plenitude of covenant grace.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/isaiah-23.html. 1835.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Isaiah 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.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/isaiah-23.html. 1865-1868.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

This restoration of the trade of Tyre is called a visitation on the part of Jehovah, because, however profane the conduct of Tyre might be, it was nevertheless a holy purpose to which Jehovah rendered it subservient. “And her gain and her reward of prostitution will be holy to Jehovah: it is not stored up nor gathered together; but her gain from commerce will be theirs who dwell before Jehovah, to eat to satiety and for stately clothing.” It is not the conversion of Tyre which is held up to view, but something approaching it. Sachar (which does not render it at all necessary to assume a form sâchâr for Isaiah 23:3) is used here in connection with ' ethnân , to denote the occupation itself which yielded the profit. This, and also the profit acquired, would become holy to Jehovah; the latter would not be treasured up and capitalized as it formerly was, but they would give tribute and presents from it 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; mecasseh = that which covers, i.e., the covering; ‛ âthik , like the Arabic ‛atik , old, noble, honourable). A strange prospect! As Jerome says, “ Haec secundum historiam necdum facta comperimus .”

The Assyrians, therefore, were not the predicted instruments of the punishment to be inflicted upon Phoenicia. Nor was Shalmanassar successful in his Phoenician war, as the extract from the chronicle of Menander in the Antiquities of Josephus ( Ant. ix. 14, 2) clearly shows. Elulaeus, the king of Tyre, had succeeded in once more subduing the rebellious Cyprians ( Kittaioi ). But with their assistance (if indeed ἐπὶ τούτους πέμπσας is to be so interpreted)

(Note: The view held by Johann Brandis is probably the more correct one-namely, that Shalmanassar commenced the contest by sending an army over to the island against the Chittaeans ( ἐπὶ not in the sense of ad , to, but of contra , against, just as in the expression further on, ἐπ ̓ αὐτοὺς ὑπέστρεψε, contra eos rediit ), probably to compel them to revolt again from the Tyrians. Rawlinson ( Monarchies, ii. 405) proposes, as an emendation of the text, ἐπὶ του'τον, by which the Cyprian expedition is got rid of altogether.))

Shalmanassar made war upon Phoenicia, though a general peace soon put an end to this campaign. Thereupon Sidon, Ace, Palaetyrus, and many other cities, fell away from Tyrus (insular Tyre), and placed themselves under Assyrian supremacy. But as the Tyrians would not do this, Shalmanassar renewed the war; and the Phoenicians that were under his sway supplied him with six hundred ships and eight hundred rowers for this purpose. The Tyrians, however, fell upon them with twelve vessels of war, and having scattered the hostile fleet, took about five hundred prisoners. This considerably heightened the distinction of Tyre. And the king of Assyria was obliged to content himself with stationing guards on the river (Leontes), and at the conduits, to cut off the supply of fresh water from the Tyrians. This lasted for five years, during the whole of which time the Tyrians drank from wells that they hand sunk themselves. Now, unless we want to lower the prophecy into a mere picture of the imagination, we cannot understand it as pointing to Asshur as the instrument of punishment, for the simple reason that Shalmanassar was obliged to withdraw from the “fortress of the sea” without accomplishing his purpose, and only succeeded in raising it to all the greater honour. But it is a question whether even Nebuchadnezzar was more successful with insular Tyre. All that Josephus is able to tell us from the Indian and Phoenician stories of Philostratus, is that Nebuchadnezzar besieged Tyre for thirteen years in the reign of Ithobal ( Ant. x. 11, 1). And from Phoenician sources themselves, he merely relates (c. Ap. i. 21) that Nebuchadnezzar besieged Tyre for thirteen years under Ithobal (viz., from the seventh year of his reign onwards). But so much, at any rate, may apparently be gathered from the account of the Tyrian government which follows, viz., that the Persian era was preceded by the subjection of the Tyrians to the Chaldeans, inasmuch as they sent twice to fetch their king from Babylon. When the Chaldeans made themselves masters of the Assyrian empire, Phoenicia (whether with or without insular Tyre, we do not know) was a satrapy of that empire (Josephus, Ant. x. 11, 1; c. Ap. i. 19, from Berosus), and this relation still continued at the close of the Chaldean rule. So much is certain, however - and Berosus, in fact, says it expressly - viz. that Nebuchadnezzar once more subdued Phoenicia when it rose in rebellion; and that when he was called home to Babylon in consequence of the death of his father, he returned with Phoenician prisoners. What we want, however, is a direct account of the conquest of Tyre by the Chaldeans. Neither Josephus nor Jerome could give any such account. And the Old Testament Scriptures appear to state the very opposite - namely, the failure of Nebuchadnezzar's enterprise. For in the twenty-seventh year after Jehoiachim's captivity (the sixteenth from the destruction of Jerusalem) the following word of the Lord came to Ezekiel (Ezekiel 29:17-18): “Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon has caused his army to perform a long and hard service against Tyre: every head is made bald, and every shoulder peeled; yet neither he nor his army has any wages at Tyre for the hard service which they have performed around the same.” It then goes on to announce that Jehovah would give Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar, and that this would be the wages of his army. Gesenius, Winer, Hitzig, and others, infer from this passage, when taken in connection with other non-Israelitish testimonies given by Josephus, which merely speak of a siege, that Nebuchadnezzar did not conquer Tyre; but Hengstenberg ( de rebus Tyriorum, 1832), Hävernick ( Ezek . pp. 427-442), and Drechsler ( Isaiah ii. 166-169) maintain by arguments, which have been passed again and again through the sieve, that this passage presupposes the conquest of Tyre, and merely announces the disproportion between the profit which Nebuchadnezzar derived from it and the effort that it cost him. Jerome (on Ezekiel) gives the same explanation. When the army of Nebuchadnezzar had made insular Tyre accessible by heaping up an embankment with enormous exertions, and they were in a position to make use of their siege artillery, they found that the Tyrians had carried away all their wealth in vessels to the neighbouring islands; “so that when the city was taken, Nebuchadnezzar found nothing to repay him for his labour; and because he had obeyed the will of God in this undertaking, after the Tyrian captivity had lasted a few years, Egypt was given to him” (Jerome).

I also regard this as the correct view to take; though without wishing to maintain that the words might not be understood as implying the failure of the siege, quite as readily as the uselessness of the conquest. But on the two following grounds, I am persuaded that they are used here in the latter sense. (1.) In the great trilogy which contains Ezekiel's prophecy against Tyre (Ezek 26-28), and in which he more than once introduces thoughts and figures from Isaiah 23, which he still further amplifies and elaborates (according to the general relation in which he stands to his predecessors, of whom he does not make a species of mosaic, as Jeremiah does, but whom he rather expands, fills up, and paraphrases, as seen more especially in his relation to Zephaniah), he predicts the conquest of insular Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar. He foretells indeed even more than this; but if Tyre had not been at least conquered by Nebuchadnezzar, the prophecy would have fallen completely to the ground, like any merely human hope. Now we candidly confess that, on doctrinal grounds, it is impossible for us to make such an assumption as this. There is indeed an element of human hope in all prophecy, but it does not reach such a point as to be put to shame by the test supplied in Deuteronomy 18:21-22. (2.) If I take a comprehensive survey of the following ancient testimonies: ( a ) that Nebuchadnezzar, when called home in consequence of his father's death, took some Phoenician prisoners with him (Berosus, ut sup. ); ( b ) that with this fact before us, the statement found in the Phoenician sources, to the effect that the Tyrians fetched two of their rulers from Babylon, viz., Merbal and Eirom, presents a much greater resemblance to 2 Kings 24:12, 2 Kings 24:14, and Daniel 1:3, than to 1 Kings 12:2-3, with which Hitzig compares it; ( c ) that, according to Josephus (c. Ap. i. 20), it was stated “in the archives of the Phoenicians concerning this king Nebuchadnezzar, that he conquered all Syria and Phoenicia;” and ( d ) that the voluntary submission to the Persians (Herod. Isaiah 3:19; Xen. Cyrop. i. 1, 4) was not the commencement of servitude, but merely a change of masters; - if, I say, I put all these things together, the conclusion to which I am brought is, that the thirteen years' siege of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar ended in its capture, possibly through capitulation (as Winer, Movers, and others assume).

The difficulties which present themselves to us when we compare together the prophecies of Isaiah and Ezekiel, are still no doubt very far from being removed; but it is in this way alone that any solution of the difficulty is to be found. For even assuming that Nebuchadnezzar conquered Tyre, he did not destroy it, as the words of the two prophecies would lead us to expect. The real solution of the difficulty has been already given by Hävernick and Drechsler: “The prophet sees the whole enormous mass of destruction which eventually came upon the city, concentrated, as it were, in Nebuchadnezzar's conquest, inasmuch as in the actual historical development it was linked on to that fact like a closely connected chain. The power of Tyre as broken by Nebuchadnezzar is associated in his view with its utter destruction.” Even Alexander did not destroy Tyre, when he had conquered it after seven months' enormous exertions. Tyre was still a flourishing commercial city of considerable importance under both the Syrian and the Roman sway. In the time of the Crusades it was still the same; and even the Crusaders, who conquered it in 1125, did not destroy it. It was not till about a century and a half later that the destruction was commenced by the removal of the fortifications on the part of the Saracens. At the present time, all the glory of Tyre is either sunk in the sea or buried beneath the sand - an inexhaustible mine of building materials for Beirut and other towns upon the coast. Amidst these vast ruins of the island city, there is nothing standing now but a village of wretched wooden huts. And the island is an island no longer. The embankment which Alexander threw up has grown into a still broader and stronger tongue of earth through the washing up of sand, and now connects the island with the shore - a standing memorial of divine justice (Strauss, Sinai und Golgotha, p. 357). This picture of destruction stands before the prophet's mental eye, and indeed immediately behind the attack of the Chaldeans upon Tyre - the two thousand years between being so compressed, that the whole appears as a continuous event. This is the well-known law of perspective, by which prophecy is governed throughout. This law cannot have been unknown to the prophets themselves, inasmuch as they needed it to accredit their prophecies even to themselves. Still more was it necessary for future ages, in order that they might not be deceived with regard to the prophecy, that this universally determining law, in which human limitations are left unresolved, and are miraculously intermingled with the eternal view of God, should be clearly known.

But another enigma presents itself. The prophet foretells a revival of Tyre at the end of seventy years, and the passing over of its world-wide commerce into the service of the congregation of Jehovah. We cannot agree with R. O. Gilbert ( Theodulia, 1855, pp. 273-4) in regarding the seventy years as a sacred number, which precludes all clever human calculation, because the Lord thereby conceals His holy and irresistible decrees. The meaning of the seventy is clear enough: they are, as we saw, the seventy years of the Chaldean rule. And this is also quite enough, if only a prelude to what is predicted here took place in connection with the establishment of the Persian sway. Such a prelude there really was in the fact, that, according to the edict of Cyrus, both Sidonians and Tyrians assisted in the building of the temple at Jerusalem (Ezra 3:7, cf., Isaiah 1:4). A second prelude is to be seen in the fact, that at the very commencement of the labours of the apostles there was a Christian church in Tyre, which was visited by the Apostle Paul (Acts 21:3-4), and that this church steadily grew from that time forward. In this way again the trade of Tyre entered the service of the God of revelation. But it is Christian Tyre which now lies in ruins. One of the most remarkable ruins is the splendid cathedral of Tyre, for which Eusebius of Caesarea wrote a dedicatory address, and in which Friedrich Barbarossa, who was drowned in the Kalykadnos in the year 1190, is supposed to have been buried. Hitherto, therefore, these have been only preludes to the fulfilment of the prophecy. Its ultimate fulfilment has still to be waited for. But whether the fulfilment will be an ideal one, when not only the kingdoms of the world, but also the trade of the world, shall belong to God and His Christ; or spiritually, in the sense in which this word is employed in the Apocalypse, i.e., by the true essence of the ancient Tyre reappearing in another city, like that of Babylon in Rome; or literally, by the fishing village of Tzur actually disappearing again as Tyre rises from its ruins - it would be impossible for any commentator to say, unless he were himself a prophet.

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Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/isaiah-23.html. 1854-1889.

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

God's People Get the Profit of Tyre

The destruction of Tyre will not be forever. If Babylon ruled over Tyre for seventy years (Isa 23:15; Eze 29:17-18; Jer 29:10), the LORD will allow a restoration for Tyre. The way this is expressed is based on the idea that Tyre is a harlot who has been playing the harlot by her commerce with the nations. In the song of the harlot, Tyre goes back to her lovers to draw attention to herself again and lure them into trading with her as an attractive trading partner (Isa 23:16-17). It is not trade as such that is condemned, but the way trade is conducted and the merchandise. Often the trade is accompanied by literal harlotry and women are traded as prostitutes.

In spite of again abusing the flourishing trade under the permission of the LORD, the LORD will achieve His own purpose with it. An example of this we see in the relationship between Hiram, the king of Tyre, and Solomon (1Kgs 7:13-14). Also after the return of a remnant from Babylon to Jerusalem, Tyre and Sidon contribute to the rebuilding of the temple (Ezra 3:7). Soon, however, their striving for profit prevailed again (Neh 13:16).

Her harlot's wages, the proceeds of her sinful trade, shall be holy to the LORD (Isa 23:18). This will happen in the realm of peace. Then "the daughter of Tyre [will come] with a gift" (Psa 45:12a). That gift, and all that Tyre has earned with her trade, will be used by Him "for those who dwell in the presence the LORD". His people will saturate themselves with the food of the nations and will dress themselves with the graceful garments of the nations. The riches of the nations will be brought to His people (Isa 60:5; Psa 72:10-11).

All the glory of the earth will one day be detached from the power of sin to which it is now subject and attached. In that time, the time of the realm of peace, everything, including the world economy, will contribute to the glory of the King of kings and will be enjoyed as an inheritance by those who live in fellowship with the LORD.

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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Isaiah 23:18". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kng/isaiah-23.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

The Restoration of TyRev. 15. And it shall come to pass in that day, at the time when this prophecy would be fulfilled, that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years, the length of the Chaldean supremacy, according to the days of one king, the reference to this period being as of a time during which the lot of Tyre will be uniformly bad. After the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing as an harlot, the fate of Tyre will be according to the song of the harlot, a portion of which is now quoted:

v. 16. Take an harp, or zither, go about the city, thou harlot that hast been forgotten; make sweet melody, with pleasant playing, sing many songs that thou mayest be remembered, the trade of Tyre being compared with the business of a harlot because both serve mammon and, in part, the lowest desires of the flesh. The methods of Tyre are now represented as having success.

v. 17. And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years that the Lord will visit Tyre, in mercy, to give her another opportunity to repent, and she shall turn to her hire, the gain of her trade being compared to the price of prostitution, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth, because she would court merchants from all nations and admit any one for the sake of gain.

v. 18. And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord, by a disposition of God of which probably many of the Tyrians were not aware; it shall not be treasured nor laid up, concealed for her own use; for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the Lord, His disciples, to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing, to be taken care of in the proper manner, with changes of raiment according to the custom of the time. There seems to be no doubt that this prophecy refers to the Christian era. We know that Jesus visited the neighborhood of Tyre, Mat_15:21, that Paul found disciples there, Act_21:3-6, that it afterward was a powerful Christian bishopric, its cathedral being one of the most splendid of the early days. Other phases of the prophecy concerning Tyre are given by other prophets.

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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/isaiah-23.html. 1921-23.

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

             b) The Restoration of Tyre

Isaiah 23:15-18

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

[FN14]Shall Tyre sing as an harlot;

16 Take an harp, go about the city,

Thou harlot that hast been forgotten:

Make sweet melody, sing many Song of Solomon,

That thou mayest be remembered.

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.

18 And her [FN15]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 [FN16][FN17]durable clothing.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

Isaiah 23:15. On the form נִשְׁבַּחַת comp. Ewald, § 194 b.

Isaiah 23:17. The He of the suffix is without Mappik. Comp. Ewald, § 247 d.

[The word in Arabic means old and then excellent.—D. M.].

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. After70 years, which will have a character of unity as the period of the reign of one king, the wish will be fulfilled in Tyre that is expressed in a well-known song which advises a forgotten harlot, by singing and playing in the streets of the city, to cause herself to be again remembered ( Isaiah 23:15-16). The Lord will again assist Tyre, she will renew her commercial intercourse, which is compared with amorous solicitation, with all the countries of the earth ( Isaiah 23:17). But the gain of her harlotry will be consecrated to the Lord, and be assigned by Him to His servants for their rich enjoyment.

2. Isaiah 23:15-16. Regarding the expression In that day comp. on Isaiah 7:18. Seventy years shall Tyre be forgotten.—This is the duration of the Chaldæan supremacy, which according to Jeremiah (comp. my remarks on Jeremiah 25:11), lasted from the battle of Carchemish to the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus, consequently according to the information we now possess, from605 (4) till538 B. C, or67 years. This period of67 years may possibly, when we have more exact knowledge, be extended to quite70 years or thereabouts. It can, however, be taken as a round number of70 years, according to prophetic reckoning. Tyre will be so far forgotten, as it will be lost in the great empire of the world. This period of its being forgotten shall last70 years according to the days of one king—The expression recalls Isaiah 16:14 : Isaiah 21:16; but the meaning is different. Here the emphasis lies on אחד. The Prophet intends to declare that this period will have for Tyre a character of unity. It will happen to Tyre under the successor as under the predecessor. The change of rulers will produce no alteration. This time of seventy years, during which Tyre will be forgotten, will bear as uniform a character as if the whole period were the time of the reign of only a single king. These words make the judgment heavier; there will be no alleviation of its severity. [This interpretation is preferable to the common one which makes king stand here for kingdom or dynasty.—D. M.]. After70 years, what in a well-known song often sung by frivolous young people, is under a certain condition set forth in prospect to a courtesan who is no longer sought after, shall be fulfilled in the case of Tyre. She shall regain the lost favor. But the Prophet intends at the same time to say that Tyre must do as the harlot in order again to attain favor. Tyre shall, after70 years, endeavor to recover the favor of the nations, and again employ her old commercial arts in order to form business connections. And the Lord will vouchsafe success. [The translation of the latter part of Isaiah 23:15, in the text of the E. V, cannot be fairly made out of the original Hebrew. The rendering in the margin is the right one. Isaiah 23:16 is a snatch of the song of the harlot, and might have the marks of a quotation. D. M.].

3. And it shall come——clothing.

Isaiah 23:17-18. That commercial intercourse is compared with unchaste intercourse has its ground herein that the former serves Mammon and the belly (taken in the widest sense). But mammon and the belly are idols, and idolatry is fornication (comp. Nahum 3:4). Tyre will return to her hire for harlotry ( Micah 1:7), and will practise fornication with all the kingdoms of the earth. And her gain ( Isaiah 23:3), or her hire as a harlot, will be holy unto the Lord.—It will not be kept by the gainers and laid up in the treasury ( Isaiah 39:6), or concealed, hidden in the ground (חסן as a verb only here), but it will serve those who dwell before Jehovah (not stand, for to stand before the Lord marks the service of the priests in the temple, Deuteronomy 10:8; Judges 20:28, etc.), i.e. the Israelites in general, because the territory in which they dwell is the holy land, which has the house of Jehovah for its all-dominating centre. We may ask here how it is conceivable that the Lord can restore a people on which He has inflicted judgment, in order that it may begin again its old business of fornication; and how the wages of prostitution can be consecrated to the Lord, as in Deuteronomy 23:18 it is expressly forbidden to bring “the hire of a whore” into the house of God. I believe that the passage before us, which bears in this point a great resemblance to Isaiah 19:18 sqq, belongs to those utterances which must have been obscure to the Prophet himself, because the key to their interpretation is not furnished till they are fulfilled. This fulfilment, however, seems to be afforded by the Christian Tyre, respecting which we shall say more immediately. [“Instead of a queen reinstated on the throne, Tyre appears as a forgotten harlot suing once more for admiration and reward. This metaphor necessarily imparts a contemptuous tone to the prediction. The restoration here predicted was to be a restoration to commercial prosperity and wealth, but not to regal dignity or national importance.… Notwithstanding the apparent import of the figure, the conduct of Tyre is not in itself unlawful. The figure, indeed, is now commonly agreed to denote nothing more than commercial intercourse, without necessarily implying guilt. In ancient times when international commerce was a strange thing, and nearly monopolized by a single nation, and especially among the Jews, whose laws discouraged it for wise but temporary purposes, there were probably ideas attached to such promiscuous intercourse entirely different from our own. Certain it is that the Scriptures more than once compare the mutual solicitations of commercial enterprise to illicit love. That the comparison does not necessarily involve the idea of unlawful or dishonest trade, is sufficiently apparent from Isaiah 23:18.” Alexander. D. M.].

4. In regard to the fulfilment of this prophecy we can get at the right view only when we attend carefully to the peculiarity of the prophetic vision. The Prophet does not see every thing, but only the principal matters, and he sees all the chief things which are essentially identical, not one after the other, but as it were on one surface beside each other. Hence it happens that that appears to him an immediate effect, which in reality is the result of a long course of development extending over thousands of years. Hence frequently the appearance is as if “fulfilment did not correspond to the prophecy, while yet the fulfilment only happens in another way than it seemed from the point of view of the Prophet that it ought to happen. I have, to cite an example, shown in detail in my Commentary on Jeremiah, 50, 51, that Babylon was never destroyed by the hand of man. It has been various times captured. The conquerors injured the city, the one on this, the other on that part, but none of them at once so entirely destroyed it, as, according to Jeremiah 50, 51, apparently should have been done. And yet the final, result corresponds quite to the picture which Jeremiah draws of Babylon’s destruction. The same is the case here. Isaiah affirms two separate things: 1) Tyre shall be destroyed, and that by the Chaldæans; 2) It shall be restored after70 years, and its wealth shall be serviceable to the kingdom of God. And these announcements have also on the whole been fulfilled; but because the separate constituents of the prophecy were accomplished at various times, widely apart from one another, the fulfilment, while it corresponds to the prophetic picture as a whole, is not evident in its details. Our prophecy does not refer to the siege by Shalmaneser, because the Prophet ( Isaiah 23:13) expressly declares that he has the Chaldeans in view as the enemies that would cause the ruin of Tyre. After what has been already said I cannot acknowledge that there is anything to justify an alteration of the text. But the conflicts of Shalmaneser with Tyre can have furnished the occasion for our prophecy. The object at which the Assyrian, and afterwards the Babylonian rulers aimed for the extension and security of their kingdom towards the southwest, was the conquest of Egypt. The conquest of Syria, Phenicia, Palestine, Philistia and the adjoining territories of Arabia was only in order to the attainment of that end. The possession of Phenicia, that ruled the sea, was especially of the greatest importance for the war with Egypt, because Phenicia, with its fleet in the hands of the Assyrians, could be just as useful to them as, in the service of the Egyptians, it could be hurtful to them. For this reason the Prophet ( Isaiah 23:5) depicts the terror which the capture of Tyre would produce in Egypt. For that party in Jerusalem that was disposed to rely on the alliance with Egypt against Assyria, the integrity of Tyre must for this reason be a matter of prime moment. We might say: they relied on Tyre as the right arm of Egypt. As now the Prophet combated the reliance on Egypt, he must also be concerned to destroy the false hopes that were placed on Tyre. He does this in our chapter, while he represents Tyre as a city devoted by the Lord to destruction ( Isaiah 23:8 sqq.). Why should Judah trust in such a power and not rather in Him who is able to decree such a doom on the nations? To set this before his people for due consideration, was certainly the practical aim of Isaiah. But we must now inquire more precisely: Did Isaiah see himself prompted to this discourse before the campaign of Shalmaneser against Tyre, during the same, or after it? It is not indeed impossible for the Prophet to have uttered this prediction before the conflicts which Shalmaneser, according to the fragment of Menander in Josephus (Antiqq. IX:14, 2), carried on with the Tyrians; but any ground in facts for making this assumption is entirely wanting. It is also in itself not impossible for Isaiah to have composed the prophecy after the blockade of Tyre had been raised, perhaps at the same time with those prophecies against Egypt (18, 19, 20), and against the nations whose subjugation was a necessary preliminary to attacking Egypt (15, 16, Isaiah 21:11 sqq.). We might even appeal in support of this view to Isaiah 20:6, where under הָאִי הַזֶּה it would be proper to understand Phenicia and specially Tyre. But this prophecy belongs to the year711 B. C, consequently to a time when the blockade of Tyre by Shalmaneser was long past. For Shalmaneser was in the year 722 already dead. But now it is certainly less probable that a Prophet should make a matter the subject of a prophecy at a time when this matter has been partially disposed of and engages less the general interest, than that he should do this at a time when the matter in question is going on, and is attracting the greatest attention. I therefore hold it to be more probable that our prophecy was delivered before the year722, and that it consequently belongs to a time when the conflict with Tyre was still lasting. The prophecy published at this juncture was, moreover, intended to tell the Israelites that the Assyrians would not conquer Tyre, as then seemed likely, but that the Chaldeans would do so. The prophecy then belongs to the same time as chapter28 (comp. the introduction to28–33), which first assails the Egyptian alliance, and, as we will there show, must have been composed before the capture of Samaria (comp. Isaiah 28:1), and therefore before the contemporaneous blockade of Tyre (comp. Schrader,ut supra, p155). The blockade by Shalmaneser and his successor Sargon, although the expression ἐκαρτέρησαν in Menander would warrant our inferring a final surrender, does not seem to have been attended with consequences particularly hurtful to the Tyrians. The Assyrians were themselves interested in sparing the resources of the Tyrians, that they might use them for their own advantage. From this time till the commencement of the Chaldean wars there is a complete gap in the history of Phenicia (Movers, II, I, p400). That Nebuchadnezzar besieged Tyre is now no more disputed by any one. That the siege lasted thirteen years has at least great internal probability. Josephus states it on the authority of Philostratus (Antiqq. X:11, 1) and of the Tyrian Menander (although, without expressly mentioning his name, Contra Apion, 1, 21). We have, besides, the authority of the prophet Ezekiel (26–28, Isaiah 29:16 sqq.). But the question is: Did Nebuchadnezzar also destroy Tyre? On this subject many needless words have been used by those who thought that the honor of prophecy absolutely required that Tyre should have been destroyed at once and directly by Nebuchadnezzar. This did not happen, and is by no means necessary to save the credit of prophecy. We know from Herodotus (II:161) and Diodorus (I:68) that the Egyptian king Apries, who was cotemporary with Nebuchadnezzar, undertook a successful expedition against the Phenicians who had hitherto been his allies. How would this be conceivable if Phenicia (to which doubtless Tyre is to be reckoned) had not been for the Egyptians the country of an enemy, i.e., a Babylonian province? According to the account already mentioned, which Josephus (Contra Apion I:21) communicates from Tyrian sources, there arose difficulties in regard to the succession to the throne of Tyre after the thirteen years’ siege. A king Baal ruled for ten years after Itobaal, in whose reign the siege began. But then follow two Judges, one high-priest, then again two Judges, who govern in conjunction with a king. The duration of these governments was, in the case of some of them, very brief. At last the Tyrians procure for themselves a king from Babylon in the person of Merbaal, and after his death they obtain from the same place his brother Hiram. For, according to 2 Kings 25:28, there were, beside Zedekiah, other captive kings in Babylon. If now Nebuchadnezzar brought the royal family with him to Babylon, is not that a proof of his having conquered Tyre? (comp. Movers,ut supra, p460 sqq.). So much is established, that Tyre, since the close of the conflicts with Nebuchadnezzar, ceased to be an independent state. Although it was not destroyed, which would not have served the interests of the Chaldeans, it became a province of the Babylonian empire, whence it passed over into the hands of the Persians, Grecians and Romans, as Jerome on Ezekiel 27 says: “Quod nequaquam ultra sit regina populorum nec proprium habeat imperium, uti habuit sub Hiram et ceteris regibus, sed vel Chaldœis vel Macedonibus vel Ptolemœis et ad postremum Romania servitura sit.” The conquest by Nebuchadnezzar was the act in the world’s history which originated the complete destruction of Tyre, though its ruin was not all at once effected. This act had involved in it what should take place in the future, and this future gradually unfolded the significance of that act which was such a beginning as presaged the coming end, as was the earnest of the final doom of Tyre. Its capture by Alexander the Great (333 B. C.; comp. Curt4:7 sqq.; Arrian II:24) was one of the chief events in the accomplishment of its predicted ruin. But Tyre outlived even this visitation. Curtius says expressly: “Multis ergo casibus defuncta et post excidium renata, nunc tamen longa pace cuncta refovente sub tutela Romanœ mansuetudinis acquiescit.” Who can help thinking here on the restoration which Isaiah, Isaiah 23:15 sqq, promises to the city? Isaiah indeed promises this restoration after70 years. But these70 years denote only the duration of the rule of the Chaldeans. The Prophet sees only one master of the Phenician capital—the Chaldeans ( Isaiah 23:13). This is the relative defect in his vision. He sees too the restoration immediately after the disappearance of this one enemy. This is likewise a relative defect. For, as in reality the destruction of Tyre had many distinct stages, so also was it with the restoration. The occasion and starting point of the restoration is seen by the Prophet in the passing away of this one arch-enemy. But to Isaiah this flourishing anew of Tyre was only a revival of its commerce, and this was really the fact. Thus Jerome on Ezekiel 27 states that Tyre “usque hodie perseverat ut omnium propemodum gentium in illa exerceantur commercia.”Pliny, however, remarks (Hist. Nat. V:17): “Tyrus olim clara. …. nunc omnis ejus nobilitas conchylio atque purpura constat.” Tyre became afterwards a Christian city. When our Lord was upon earth, longing souls came from the borders of Tyre and Zidon to see and to hear Him; and Hebrews, on His part, did not disdain to honor these borders with His presence ( Mark 3:8; Luke 6:17; Matthew 15:21). Paul found there ( Acts 21:3 sqq.) a Christian church. In the beginning of the fourth century Methodius was bishop of Tyre. In315 a church erected there at great expense was dedicated by Eusebius of Cæsarea. In355 a Synod convoked by the Eusebians against Athanasius was held there. In1125 it was taken by the crusaders and incorporated in the kingdom of Jerusalem. In1127 it became the seat of an archbishop. William of Tyre, the celebrated historian, occupied the see of Tyre from the year1174. Not till the end of the 13 th century did the Saracens destroy the fortifications. After Alexander the Great had connected Tyre with the main land by means of a mole, it ceased to be an island, and it is now a village of fishermen’s huts, with about3,000 inhabitants (Sur). All that the Prophet announced has thus in fact been fulfilled. But in the language of prophecy and in the language of its fulfilment, divine thoughts clothe themselves in such strangely different forms that only he can perceive the identity who understands how to combine the long-drawn lines of history into one picture in perspective. This picture will exactly correspond to that of the Prophet. [The remarks of our author, when carefully studied, vindicate the Prophet from the charge of even a relative error. The Prophet does not say that the predicted restoration of Tyre should all at once take place on the expiration of seventy years, or the close of the rule of the Chaldeans. The requirement of the prophecy is satisfied if Tyre should begin to flourish after its deliverance from the Chaldean oppression. The Spirit of God again saw in the capture of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar the germinant force which would issue in its final complete destruction, and accordingly foretells that the ruin of Tyre would follow that event. But whether this should happen at once, or in the course of time, is not declared. Nebuchadnezzar brought Tyre to ruin; for his capture of it led to its entire destruction, though there intervened a long line of operations and issues which it required many ages to develop. The remark of Abarbanel, that has been often quoted, is here in point, “that it is the custom of the prophets in their predictions to have respect at once to a near and remote period, so that prophecies pointing to very distant times are found among others which relate to the immediate future. Whence we may the more certainly conclude that God might threaten the Tyrians with the destruction of their city, though it might be brought on at different times and by gradual advances.” There is no mistake made by Isaiah in the picture which he drew. It fully served the object intended by God. The relative mistake is in the exponent of the prophecy.—D. M.]

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. On Isaiah 23:1 sqq. “Commerce and seaports are not in themselves evil—but where commerce prospers and is in full bloom, there God’s gift and ordinance are to be recognised. Solomon engaged in commerce ( 2 Kings 10:28). When trade declines, this is to be looked upon as a punishment from the hand of God on account of the extortion practised by merchants. For a merchant shall hardly keep himself from doing wrong, and a huckster shall not be freed from sin ( Sirach 27:29). Sin is committed not only where merchants deal falsely, but also where they are proud of their riches and magnificence, and move along as princes and lords, and forget the poor, and at the same time neglect divine service, God’s word and sacrament.” Cramer. [This is quite too indiscriminate a censure of merchants and traders. Cicero (De Off. Lib. 1) expresses a similar opinion as to the necessity for hucksters to practise deceit in order to make a profit. Happily the book of Ecclesiasticus is not inspired Scripture, and Christianity has so far improved the spirit of men of business that the language of the Apocrypha as quoted above and of Cicero would not now be tolerated, but would be universally regarded as most unjust and calumniatory.—D. M.]

2. On Isaiah 23:8-9. “This place affords us consolation. As the threatening of the Prophet against Tyre was not vain, so also the tyranny of our adversaries will come to an end. Neither the Pope nor the Turk believes that they can fall—but they shall fall, as Tyre fell.” Luther.

3. On Isaiah 23:18. “Ego intelligo de futuro regno Christi, quod et ipsa Tyrus convertenda est ad Dominum. Dicit igitur, postquam reversa fuerit ad suas negociationes, imminebit regnum Christi, quod Tyrus quoque amplectetur, sicut testatur Acts 21.” Luther.

On Isaiah 23:18. They who dwell before the Lord—i.e., who believe on Him, will have: 1) their merchandise, 2) will eat and be satisfied, 3) will be well clothed. Therefore money and property, food and goodly apparel, are not to be condemned and renounced. This admits of practical application against monkery and the Anabaptists.” Cramer. [The original Anabaptists of Germany maintained a community of goods.—D. M.]

HOMILETICAL AND HINTS

1. [On Isaiah 23:1-14. Why did God bring these calamities on Tyre? Not to show an arbitrary and irresistible power, but to punish the Tyrians for their pride ( Isaiah 23:9). 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. 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. After Henry.—D. M.]

2. [ Isaiah 23:8-9. An appropriate text for a discourse on God’s moral government over the nations, Daniel 4:3.—D. M.]

3. On Isaiah 23:18. Concerning the right use of worldly goods: 1) We ought not to gather them as a treasure, nor to hide them2. We ought to consecrate them to the Lord, and therefore apply them: a) to sacred objects, b) for the wants of the body according to the will of the Lord.

Footnotes:

FN#14 - Heb. It shall be unto Tyre as the song of an harlot.

FN#15 - gain.

FN#16 - Heb. old.

FN#17 - splendid.

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Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/isaiah-23.html. 1857-84.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

The Restoration of Tyre. B. C. 718.

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

Here is, I. The time fixed for the continuance of the desolations of Tyre, which were not to be perpetual desolations: Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years, Isaiah 23:15. So long it shall lie neglected and buried in obscurity. It was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar much about the time that Jerusalem was, and lay as long as it did in its ruins. See the folly of that proud ambitious conqueror. What the richer, what the stronger, was he for making himself master of Tyre, when all the inhabitants were driven out of it and he had none of his own subjects to spare for the replenishing and fortifying of it? It is surprising to see what pleasure men could take in destroying cities and making their memorial perish with them, Psalm 9:6. He trampled on the pride of Tyre, and therein served God's purpose but with greater pride, for which God soon after humbled him.

II. A prophecy of the restoration of Tyre to its glory again: After the end of seventy years, according to the years of one king, or one dynasty or family of kings, that of Nebuchadnezzar when that expired, the desolations of Tyre came to an end. And we may presume that Cyrus at the same time when he released the Jews, and encouraged them to rebuild Jerusalem, released the Tyrians also, and encouraged them to rebuild Tyre. Thus the prosperity and adversity of places, as well as persons, are set the one over against the other, that the most glorious cities may not be secure nor the most ruinous despair. It is foretold, 1. That God's providence shall gain smile upon this ruined city (Isaiah 23:17): The Lord will visit Tyre in mercy for, though he contend, he will not contend for ever. It is not said, Her old acquaintance shall visit her, the colonies she has planted, and the trading cities she has had correspondence with (they have forgotten her) but, The Lord shall visit her by some unthought-of turn he shall cause his indignation towards her to cease, and then things will run of course in their former channel. 2. That she shall use her best endeavours to recover her trade again. She shall sing as a harlot, that has been some time under correction for her lewdness but, when she is set at liberty (so violent is the bent of corruption), she will use her old arts of temptation. The Tyrians having returned from their captivity, and those that remained recovering new spirits thereupon, they shall contrive how to force a trade, shall procure the best choice of goods, under-sell their neighbours, and be obliging to all customers as a harlot that has been forgotten, when she comes to be spoken of again, recommends herself to company by singing and playing, takes a harp, goes about the city, perhaps in the night, serenading, makes sweet melody, and sings many songs. These are innocent and allowable diversions, if soberly, and moderately, and modestly used but those that value themselves upon their virtue should not be over-fond of them, nor ambitious to excel in them, because, whatever they are now, anciently they were some of the baits with which harlots used to entice fools. Tyre shall now by degrees come to be the mart of nations again she shall return to her hire, to her traffic, and shall commit fornication (that is, she shall have dealings in trade, for the prophet carries on the similitude of a harlot) with all the kingdoms of the world that she had formerly traded with in her prosperity. The love of worldly wealth is a spiritual whoredom, and therefore covetous people are called adulterers and adulteresses (James 4:4), and covetousness is spiritual idolatry. 3. That, having recovered her trade again, she shall make a better use of it than she had done formerly and this good she should get by her calamities (Isaiah 23:18): Her merchandise, and her hire, shall be holiness to the Lord. The trade of Tyre, and all the gains of her trade, shall be devoted to God and to his honour and employed in his service. It shall not be treasured and hoarded up, as formerly, to be the matter of their pride and the support of their carnal confidence but it shall be laid out in acts of piety and charity. What they can spare from the maintenance of themselves and their families shall be for those that dwell before the Lord, for the priests, the Lord's ministers, that attend in his temple at Jerusalem not to maintain them in pomp and grandeur, but that they and theirs may eat sufficiently, may have food convenient for them, with as little as may be of that care which would divert them from their ministration, and that they may have, not rich and fine clothing, but durable clothing, that which is strong and lasting, clothing for old men (so some read it), as if the priests, though they were young, must wear such plain grave clothing as old men used to wear. Now, (1.) This supposes that religion should be set up in New Tyre, that they should come to the knowledge of the true God and into communion with the Israel of God. Perhaps their being fellow-captives with the Jews in Babylon (who had prophets with them there) disposed them to join with them in their worship there, and turned them from idols, as it cured the Jews of their idolatry: and when they were released with them, and as they had reason to believe for their sakes, when they were settled again in Tyre, they would send gifts and offerings to the temple, and presents to the priests. We find men of Tyre then dwelling in the land of Judah, Nehemiah 13:16. Tyre and Sidon were better disposed to religion in Christ's time than the cities of Israel for, if Christ had gone among them, they would have repented, Matthew 11:21. And we meet with Christians at Tyre (Acts 21:3,4), and, many years after, did Christianity flourish there. Some of the rabbin refer this prophecy of the conversion of Tyre to the days of the Messiah. (2.) It directs those that have estates to make use of them in the service of God and religion, and to reckon that best laid up which is so laid out. Both the merchandise of the tradesmen and the hire of the day-labourers shall be devoted to God. Both the merchandise (the employment we follow) and the hire (the gain of our employments) must be holiness to the Lord, alluding to the motto engraven on the frontlet of the high priest (Exodus 39:30), and to the separation of the tithe under the law, Leviticus 27:30. See a promise like this referring to gospel times, Zechariah 14:20,21. We must first give up ourselves to be holiness to the Lord before what we do, or have, or get, can be so. When we abide with God in our particular callings, and do common actions after a godly sort--when we abound in works of piety and charity, are liberal in relieving the poor, and supporting the ministry, and encouraging the gospel--then our merchandise and our hire are holiness to the Lord, if we sincerely look at his glory in them. And our wealth need not be treasured and laid up on earth for it is treasured and laid up in heaven, in bags that wax not old, Luke 12:33.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/isaiah-23.html. 1706.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

The desolations of Tyre were not to be for ever. The Lord will visit Tyre in mercy. But when set at liberty, she will use her old arts of temptation. The love of worldly wealth is spiritual idolatry; and covetousness is spiritual idolatry. This directs those that have wealth, to use it in the service of God. When we abide with God in our worldly callings, when we do all in our power to further the gospel, then our merchandise and hire are holiness to the Lord, if we look to his glory. Christians should carry on business as God's servants, and use riches as his stewards.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
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Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhn/isaiah-23.html. 1706.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord: he speaks not here of what the Tyrians would do immediately after their restitution, but some time after it, even in the days of the Messiah; of which even some of the Jewish rabbies understand it, and to which the prophets have a special respect in their several prophecies, and Isaiah among and above the rest of them. So this is a prophecy concerning the conversion of the Tyrians to the true religion, of the accomplishment whereof something is said Acts 21:3-5, and more in other authors.

It shall not be treasured nor laid up, either out of covetousness, or for the service of their pride and luxury, as they formerly did; but now they shall freely lay it out upon pious and charitable uses.

For them that dwell before the Lord; for the support and encouragement of the ministers of holy things, who shall teach the good knowledge of the Lord, who dwell in God’s house, and minister in his presence; the support of such persons being not only an act of justice and charity, but also of piety, and of great use and necessity to maintain and propagate religion in the world. Although this doth not exclude, but rather imply, their liberality in contributing to the necessities of all Christians.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/isaiah-23.html. 1685.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

After Seventy Years Tyre Will Be Restored (Isaiah 23:15-18).

Analysis.

a And it will come about in that day that Tyre will be forgotten seventy years, according to the days of one king (Isaiah 23:15 a).

b After the end of seventy years it will be to Tyre as in the song of the prostitute (Isaiah 23:15 b).

c Take a harp, go about the city, you harlot, you have been forgotten.

c Make sweet melody, sing many songs, that you may be remembered.

b And it will come about after the end of seventy years that Yahweh will visit Tyre, and she will return to her hire, and will play the harlot with all the kingdoms of the world on the face of the earth (Isaiah 23:17).

a And her merchandise and her hire will be holiness to Yahweh. It will not be treasured or laid up, for her merchandise will be for those who dwell before Yahweh to eat sufficiently and for durable clothing (Isaiah 23:18).

In ‘a’ Tyre will be forgotten for seventy years, for the period of one king, but in the parallel she will in the end finally be remembered by Yahweh, for she will turn to Yahweh. In ‘b’ she will after the seventy years go forth as in the song of the prostitute, and in the parallel she will return to plying her trade as a prostitute to the nations of the world. In ‘c’ and parallel we have the song of the prostitute.

Isaiah 23:15-16

‘And it will come about in that day that Tyre will be forgotten seventy years, according to the days of one king. After the end of seventy years it will be to Tyre as in the song of the prostitute,

Take a harp,

Go about the city,

You harlot, you have been forgotten.

Make sweet melody,

Sing many songs,

That you may be remembered.’

The destruction of Tyre would have effect for ‘seventy years’. Then she would again begin her harlot ways. She will rise again and bring herself to people’s memories. This is pictured in the form of what was probably a well known song about a prostitute who had been off the streets and had been forgotten. So she took her harp and went about the city singing sweet melodies, so that soon she was again remembered. Central to the thought is that she was a harlot, as was Tyre with its licentious ways. Indeed harlotry is a description regularly used of cities in the Bible because of the behaviour that occurred in them and because they were idolatrous (compare Isaiah 1:21; Nahum 3:4; Ezekiel 23:5; Ezekiel 23:7; Ezekiel 23:11; Ezekiel 23:16).

‘Seventy years, according to the days of one king.’ It is often suggested that this indicates a precise measurement like Isaiah 16:14; Isaiah 21:16, but the use of the number seventy militates against this, nor does this refer to a business contract. The phrase here rather suggests that it is a symbolic number. Kings rarely lived for anywhere near seventy years, never mind reigning for that period (the ‘book of days’ which was kept in respect of a king, and is often mentioned in this connection, covered only his reign). Thus this probably means ‘seventy years, that is, the lifetime of a king’, with seventy years being thus clearly indicated to be symbolic and signifying the divine perfection of the determined period as often occurs with the use of seventy.

On the other hand it may refer to the length of reign of a particularly long-lived king.

Tyre was constantly subject to attack by the Assyrians and equally constantly rebelled when the opportunity arose. She was never loath to take part in insurrections. Which incident this refers to is unclear, for it is very general and could be applied to any major taking of the mainland city. But the period of ‘seventy years’ may reflect the period when Tyre came under the domination of Sidon some years after Tyre’s capture and partial destruction by Sargon II in 722 BC. Thus she was ‘forgotten’. The period would badly affect her world position and her trade. She regained her autonomy in around 630 BC.

Isaiah 23:17

‘And it will come about after the end of seventy years that Yahweh will visit Tyre, and she will return to her hire, and will play the harlot with all the kingdoms of the world on the face of the earth.’

After her restoration Tyre will again become prominent in world trade and in taking her licentious behaviour ‘worldwide’. She will not have learned from her judgment.

Isaiah 23:18

‘And her merchandise and her hire will be holiness to Yahweh. It will not be treasured or laid up, for her merchandise will be for those who dwell before Yahweh to eat sufficiently and for durable clothing.’

The contrast with Isaiah 23:17 is stark. This clearly looks beyond Isaiah 23:17 into the future. Such sudden switches are seen elsewhere in Isaiah who sees all the future as one. (We have already seen in the burdens how in the end other nations will turn to Yahweh - Isaiah 18:7; Isaiah 19:19-25). God will turn her around. Then Tyre’s merchandise and trading will have been purified (thus it is not trade itself that is seen as sinful). It will be ‘holiness to Yahweh’, separated to Him and His service. This was partly so in that Tyre would provide material for the new temple (Ezra 3:7). But the description goes beyond that. The point is that her selfish building up of wealth will cease and she will rather make it available to supply the needs of God’s people. She will partake in the blessings of the future (Revelation 21:24-26). There would be those in Tyre too who would be conquered by Christ and have their part in the new heaven and the new earth.

We should note as we come to the end of this section that Babylon and Edom were the only two of the ten for whom Isaiah had a burden, whose final and complete destruction was, or will be, emphasised. In the cases of both Egypt and Tyre (and even Assyria) their future restoration is emphasised. Compare also Ethiopia/Sudan (Isaiah 18:7). Thus behind all the judgments is the prospect of final restoration for all apart from those set against God from the beginning by their very nature. What ‘Babylon’ stood for, pride, arrogance, rebellion, blasphemy, anti-Yahwism, the occult, must be destroyed, whichever nation it was in. And what ‘Edom’ stood for was betrayal. As the brother tribe of Israel who turned against them (Esau/Edom was Jacob/Israel’s brother) they were the Judas before Judas.

(Ezekiel will take another approach to Isaiah with regard to Tyre. He stresses the final end of Tyre (Isaiah 26:14). But his emphasis all through is on judgment. Thus we see that the prophets are more to be seen as drawing lessons from the future of the nations than as trying to prophesy the whole future. Both were right. Tyre did cease as a powerful city, but its people did continue, and many did come to Christ).

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/isaiah-23.html. 2013.

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Isaiah 23. Oracle on Tyre.—The date and authorship are alike very uncertain. If by Isaiah, the occasion may be the siege of Tyre by Shalmaneser about 727-722 (p. 59), the historicity of which, however, is questioned by some, or Sennacherib's invasion in 701. The text of 13 is very suspicious, and its interpretation very uncertain, or it might have helped to fix the date. is probably a post-exilic appendix. Isaiah 23:1-14 is perhaps best referred to Nebuchadnezzar's siege of Tyre, 585-577 (p. 61).

The ships of Tarshish (Isaiah 2:16*) are on their way back to Tyre, and after they have left Kittim, i.e. Cyprus (Numbers 24:23 f.*), they hear the news of Tyre's fate from ships in flight from that city. Let the inhabitants of Phœnicia's coastland (mg.) be dumb with grief and terror, she that has been enriched by the maritime trade of Zidon. The corn harvest of Egypt, whose fertility was created by the overflow of the Nile, was her revenue, and this revenue was the gain of the nations. The sea disowns her children, and Egypt is sorely troubled at the tidings of Tyre's fall, whether from the loss of her market, or from foreboding that Tyre's fate may be her own, is uncertain. Let the Phœnicians emigrate to Tarshish, their most distant colony. Can this be the prosperous and ancient State whose enterprise had taken her citizens to such distant lands to trade and settle in them? Who has purposed this against Tyre? Tyre, the giver of crowns, who appointed the kings that governed her colonies, whose merchants are princes. It is Yahweh, whose design it is to humble those who are exalted in the earth. (The text and meaning of Isaiah 23:10 are uncertain.) Yahweh has stretched His hand over the sea, since it is by the sea that Tyre has relation with her colonies. He has commanded that the strongholds of Phœnicia shall be destroyed. No more shall captured Zidon rejoice. Let her pass over to Cyprus; even there she will find no rest, for the long arm of the conqueror will reach her. (On Isaiah 23:13, see below.) The poem closes much as it began.

Isaiah 23:3. Shihor: i.e. the Nile (Jeremiah 2:18).—mart: render "gain."

Isaiah 23:4. Omit "stronghold of the sea" as a gloss.

Isaiah 23:10. Heb. seems to mean, Just as the Nile in time of flood flows over the land, unhindered by its banks, so now Tyre's colonies may assert their independence, the restraint of Tyre being removed. Usually "the girdle" is explained as a symbol of restraint, but generally its removal is a symbol of weakness. But this is very dubious, and the LXX read differently. Duhm emends "Wail, fleet of Tarshish, there is no haven any more."

Isaiah 23:11. Canaan: i.e. Phœnicia.

Isaiah 23:13. Extremely difficult. Heb. may be translated in various ways. Of these RV is perhaps the best, but it involves some violence. The best suggestion perhaps is that of E. Meier, that we should read Kittim for Chaldeans. The general sense is then that no rest in Kittim is possible because the Assyrians have laid it also waste. The detailed interpretation is still very uncertain.

. For seventy years Tyre will sink out of notice and carry on her lucrative trade no longer. At the end of that period she will return to her former commercial activity. Yahweh will visit her, and she will make great gain by trading with all nations, but the treasure thus acquired will be dedicated to Yahweh to support His servants.

Isaiah 23:15. seventy years: from Jeremiah 25:11 f; Jeremiah 29:10.—the days of one king: while the throne is held by one king, there is a continuity in policy, the state of things remains settled and unchanged, whereas on his death his successor may change everything.

Isaiah 23:16. A quotation from the song mentioned in Isaiah 23:15.

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Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/isaiah-23.html. 1919.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

It is worthy remark, that Tyre's captivity was appointed by the Lord, to be of the same length as Israel's, and under the same government. Was this designed, (I only ask the question, not determine) that the children of Tyre, by mingling with God's Israel in captivity, might become acquainted with Israel's God? Certain it is, that after Tyre began to recover from her ruin, and commenced trade again, there was a friendly intercourse between Israel and Tyre. In the days of Nehemiah, certain men of Tyre lived in Judah, for the holy man of God complained of their profaning the sabbath in selling their fish on the Lord's day, Nehemiah 13:16. And it should seem, by what our Lord saith of Tyre and Sidon, that he had his eye upon it for good; Matthew 11:21-22. And in the after age, when Christ had finished redemption, and was returned to glory, the apostles, in their general dispersion of preaching the gospel, found disciples in Tyre, Acts 21:4. Reader, who shall say, but that for the conversion of the men of Tyre, in bringing the Lord's heritage that were among them to the knowledge of Jesus, the overthrow of Tyre was appointed? Who shall calculate to what extent in the present hour the Lord is accomplishing his purpose, in the commotions of the earth, among kingdoms and people, in order to gather his dispersed to himself, from all the varieties of the earth? Oh, what a subject of this kind will open in heaven, when the Lord shall have brought home his whole Church! Then every tongue will break out in that voice of praise, in singing the song of Moses, and of the Lamb, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty: just and true are thy ways, thou, King of saints! Revelation 15:3.

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Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

REFLECTIONS

READER, how truly blessed is it to see, in the rise and fall of nations, that the Lord is carrying on his own gracious purposes; that all the events of nations, kingdoms, and empires, are but ministering to that little handful of people, whom God hath formed for himself, and to show forth his praise! The mind is lost in amazement, when beholding the love, and care, and the watchings over of the Lord upon his Israel. It was said of them, as a distinguishing feature of character, that they should dwell alone, and not be reckoned among the nations. And uniformly through the Bible, we find this to be the case. In God the Father's purpose they thus have all along moved on. In Jesus love, and grace, and favor, everything is made to minister to them. And in the mercy, teachings, and influences of the Holy Ghost, all his tendencies are towards them. So that if the overthrow of nations shall promote Israel's welfare, the Lord overthrows them. If the prosperity of nations become necessary to humble Israel, the Lord brings this to pass also. In all things, and by all means, Jehovah is forwarding his gracious designs for his Church, and the final happiness of Zion, and of the redeemed of the Lord, is at the bottom of all the dispensations and providences going on throughout the world. Reader, think of this; carry the thought with you wherever you go; bring it into recollection whatever history you read, of the nations that are past, or of the nations now existing; and while the solemn thought is deeply impressed both upon your mind and my own, oh! for grace to inquire and search diligently, whether we are of the true Israel of God? If we are not of this world, but Jesus hath chosen us out of the world, what have we to do with its customs, and its pleasures and pursuits? Surely we cannot have a more decided testimony, than when sitting aloof from all its unnecessary concerns. If Jesus be our portion, then our intimacy will not be great with those, who have their portion only in this life. O how sweetly doth Jesus call to his hidden ones, who dwell indeed, but do not belong, to the men of Tyre, and of Zidon, in the present day: Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/isaiah-23.html. 1828.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Isaiah 23:18. And her merchandise, &c., shall be holiness to the Lord. — The meaning of the prophet is extremely clear, namely, “that the time should come, after the restoration of Tyre, in which the Tyrians, out of reverence to the true God, would consecrate their wealth and gain to him, and would readily contribute that gain and wealth to the support of the teachers of true religion. In short, that the Tyrians should become converts to that religion. The reader will easily observe that the passage is metaphorical.” “The Tyrians were much addicted to the worship of Hercules, as he was called by the Greeks, or of Baal, as he is denominated in Scripture; but, in process of time, by the means of some Jews and proselytes, living and conversing with them, some of them also became proselytes to the Jewish religion; so that we find a great multitude of people from the sea-coast of Tyre and Sidon came to hear our Saviour; and he, though peculiarly sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, yet came into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon; and the first fruits of the gospel there was a Tyrian woman, a woman of Canaan, as she is called, a Syro-phenician by nation. When St. Paul, in his way to Jerusalem, came to Tyre, he found disciples there, who were inspired by the Holy Ghost, and prophesied; and with them he tarried seven days. In the time of Dioclesian’s persecution, the Tyrians were such sincere converts to Christianity that they exhibited several glorious examples of confessors and martyrs; and when the storm of persecution was blown over, under their Bishop Paulinus, they built an oratory, or rather a temple, for the public worship of God, the most magnificent and sumptuous in all Palestine. Eusebius produces this last occurrence in proof of the completion of Isaiah’s prophecy; and St. Jerome is of the same opinion. To these proofs we will only add, that as Tyre consecrated its merchandise and hire unto the Lord, so it had the honour of being erected into an archbishopric, and the first under the patriarchate of Jerusalem, having fourteen bishops under its primacy; and in this state it continued several years.” — Bishop Newton.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/isaiah-23.html. 1857.

The Biblical Illustrator

Isaiah 23:1-18

The burden of Tyre

The prophecy against Tyre: lessons

The Tarshish of this chapter is Spain.
Chittim is the island of Cyprus. The word “merchant” is the same word that is rendered in other places “Canaanite.” The Canaanites were the most energetically commercial men of their time. To be a merchant was to be a Canaanite; to be a Canaanite was to be a merchant, substantially.

I. The world must come, however slowly, to recognise the fact that RULERS THEMSELVES ARE RULED that the Lord reigneth. There can only be one Supreme. What a glorious dawn is that which will shine above the eastern hills when the world begins to feel that it is reigned over, governed, guided in all its march of progress. The world grows warmer under that recognition. At first the recognition is terrible enough, but it becomes more and more beneficent as things shape themselves.

II. The world must come to recognise the fact that EVEN EMPIRES ARE DEPENDENT UPON CHARACTER FOR THEIR EXISTENCE. For Tyre we may substitute London, Paris, New York, or the countries which they indicate. It is only the letter of this chapter which is ancient; the principle is energetic evermore. (J. Parker, D. D.)

The prophet’s attitude towards cities and states

When the Spirit of God is in a man he cares for no city, how great soever it may be, though he himself may not have whereon to lay his head. There is, however, a spirit in him which makes him greater than all the capitals of the world were they added to one another and constituted into one great avenue of capitals, each house in all the vista crowned or starred with a sceptre thrust from every window. The Galilean fishermen cared nothing for the pomp of Jerusalem; old prophets with ragged mantles on their stooping shoulders hurled Divinest judgment against proud kings. (J. Parker, D. D.)

The Church’s love of worldly patronage

The Church has lost this prophetic inspiration, and now she bows down to worldly greatness and tells with delight that a chariot and pair has driven up to her front door. To what cent of indignity has she sunk, even in her very speech! She is now an influential Church, a respectable Church, an intelligent Church, a Church possessed of exceptional advantages, and most careful about her reputation! So the world pays its copper tribute, and says to the Church, Behave yourself! let us do what we like, and you sing your hymns and go up to heaven like any other vapour. Where are the men who can do without food, clothing, shelter? Where are the men who would spurn any offer of patronage?--sons of thunder, sons of judgment; men who never sit down to eat, but snatch their apple as they hasten along the road that they may keep their next appointment to thunder judgment upon unrighteousness, and break in pieces with an iron rod the vessel of impurity. (J. Parker, D. D.)

Tyre

Tyre’s celebrity dates first from the time of David. In the Assyrian era, however, Tyre had already attained to a kind of supremacy over the rest of the Phoenician cities. It lay on the coast, rather more than twenty miles from Sidon; but being hard pressed by enemies, it had transferred the real seat of its trade and wealth to a rocky island, three miles farther north, and only 1200 paces from the mainland. The strait that separated this insular Tyre ( τύρος) from ancient Tyre ( παλαίτυρος) was, upon the whole, shallow, and the ship channel in the neighbourhood of the island was only about eighteen feet deep, so that a siege of insular Tyre by Alexander was carried out by the erection of a mole. Luther refers the prophecy to this attack by Alexander. But earlier than this event was the struggle of Tyre with Assyria and Babylon, and first of all the question arises, Which of these two struggles has the prophecy in view? In consequence of new disclosures, for which we are indebted to Assyriology, the question has entered a new phase. Down to the present, however, it still permits of only a hypothetical and unsatisfactory solution. (F. Delitzsch.)

The Phoenicians

The Phoenicians were simply carriers and middle men. In all time there is no instance of a nation so wholly given over to buying and selling, who frequented even the battlefields of the world that they might strip the dead and purchase the captive. (Prof. G. A. Smith, D. D.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Isaiah 23:18". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/isaiah-23.html. 1905-1909. New York.

The Biblical Illustrator

Isaiah 23:1-18

The burden of Tyre

The prophecy against Tyre: lessons

The Tarshish of this chapter is Spain.
Chittim is the island of Cyprus. The word “merchant” is the same word that is rendered in other places “Canaanite.” The Canaanites were the most energetically commercial men of their time. To be a merchant was to be a Canaanite; to be a Canaanite was to be a merchant, substantially.

I. The world must come, however slowly, to recognise the fact that RULERS THEMSELVES ARE RULED that the Lord reigneth. There can only be one Supreme. What a glorious dawn is that which will shine above the eastern hills when the world begins to feel that it is reigned over, governed, guided in all its march of progress. The world grows warmer under that recognition. At first the recognition is terrible enough, but it becomes more and more beneficent as things shape themselves.

II. The world must come to recognise the fact that EVEN EMPIRES ARE DEPENDENT UPON CHARACTER FOR THEIR EXISTENCE. For Tyre we may substitute London, Paris, New York, or the countries which they indicate. It is only the letter of this chapter which is ancient; the principle is energetic evermore. (J. Parker, D. D.)

The prophet’s attitude towards cities and states

When the Spirit of God is in a man he cares for no city, how great soever it may be, though he himself may not have whereon to lay his head. There is, however, a spirit in him which makes him greater than all the capitals of the world were they added to one another and constituted into one great avenue of capitals, each house in all the vista crowned or starred with a sceptre thrust from every window. The Galilean fishermen cared nothing for the pomp of Jerusalem; old prophets with ragged mantles on their stooping shoulders hurled Divinest judgment against proud kings. (J. Parker, D. D.)

The Church’s love of worldly patronage

The Church has lost this prophetic inspiration, and now she bows down to worldly greatness and tells with delight that a chariot and pair has driven up to her front door. To what cent of indignity has she sunk, even in her very speech! She is now an influential Church, a respectable Church, an intelligent Church, a Church possessed of exceptional advantages, and most careful about her reputation! So the world pays its copper tribute, and says to the Church, Behave yourself! let us do what we like, and you sing your hymns and go up to heaven like any other vapour. Where are the men who can do without food, clothing, shelter? Where are the men who would spurn any offer of patronage?--sons of thunder, sons of judgment; men who never sit down to eat, but snatch their apple as they hasten along the road that they may keep their next appointment to thunder judgment upon unrighteousness, and break in pieces with an iron rod the vessel of impurity. (J. Parker, D. D.)

Tyre

Tyre’s celebrity dates first from the time of David. In the Assyrian era, however, Tyre had already attained to a kind of supremacy over the rest of the Phoenician cities. It lay on the coast, rather more than twenty miles from Sidon; but being hard pressed by enemies, it had transferred the real seat of its trade and wealth to a rocky island, three miles farther north, and only 1200 paces from the mainland. The strait that separated this insular Tyre ( τύρος) from ancient Tyre ( παλαίτυρος) was, upon the whole, shallow, and the ship channel in the neighbourhood of the island was only about eighteen feet deep, so that a siege of insular Tyre by Alexander was carried out by the erection of a mole. Luther refers the prophecy to this attack by Alexander. But earlier than this event was the struggle of Tyre with Assyria and Babylon, and first of all the question arises, Which of these two struggles has the prophecy in view? In consequence of new disclosures, for which we are indebted to Assyriology, the question has entered a new phase. Down to the present, however, it still permits of only a hypothetical and unsatisfactory solution. (F. Delitzsch.)

The Phoenicians

The Phoenicians were simply carriers and middle men. In all time there is no instance of a nation so wholly given over to buying and selling, who frequented even the battlefields of the world that they might strip the dead and purchase the captive. (Prof. G. A. Smith, D. D.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Isaiah 23:18". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/isaiah-23.html. 1905-1909. New York.

The Biblical Illustrator

Isaiah 23:17-18

And it shall come to pass, after the end of seventy years, that the Lord will visit Tyre

The revival of Tyre

In the fourth and last strophe, the prophet dwells upon the revival of Tyre in the ideal future.
After seventy years of enforced retirement and quiescence, Tyre will resume her previous activity, but with the significant change, that her gains will now be consecrated to Jehovah, supplying food and stately clothing to the people of Israel who dwell in His immediate presence (
Isaiah 23:18). The figure under which Isaiah expresses this thought, appears to us a strange one; but it is suggested by the reflection that devotion to gain as such, unrelieved by any ennobling principle, is an unworthy occupation, which may easily degenerate into spiritual prostitution. The prophet, having once made use of the figure, retains it to the end. Disengaged from its singular garb, the truth which he enunciates is an important one. Tyre was preeminently, in Isaiah’s day, the representative of the spirit of commerce: and the prophet here anticipates the time when this spirit may be elevated and purified. Isaiah pictures to himself the future growth of religion among the different nations with which he was acquainted under figures consonant to the peculiarities of each; in the case of Tyre, it takes the form of a purification of the base spirit of commerce; the old occupation of Tyre is not discarded, it is only purged of its worldliness, and ennobled. (Prof. S. R. Driver, D. D.)

The mercenary spirit a prostitution of the soul

In so far as commercial activity, thinking only of earthly advantage, does not recognise a God-appointed limit, and carries on a promiscuous traffic with all the world, it is a prostitution of the soul. (F. Delitzsch.)

Phoenician harlotry

Moreover, at markets and fairs, especially Phoenician ones, prostitution of the body was an old custom. (F. Delitzsch.)

Commercial harlotry

The harlot converts into a matter of traffic what should be a sacred relationship: so trade brings men together merely as buyers and sellers, not as brethren; and consequently rapidly degenerates from self-interest into selfishness, unless it be perpetually counterbalanced by other and nobler aims in the man. (Sir E. Strachey, Bart.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Isaiah 23:18". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/isaiah-23.html. 1905-1909. New York.

The Biblical Illustrator

Isaiah 23:18

And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord

Mercantile life

I.
We are reminded that THE MARKET IS A DIVINE INSTITUTION. In this chapter it is not commerce that is doomed to destruction but commercialists. When one thinks of the innate tendency of human nature to exchange commodities, a tendency discoverable even in children and barbarians: the distribution of the necessaries of human subsistence and progress over every zone of the globe, each zone supplying a something which the other does not, and the provisions of each zone, if not essential to human life, essential to human civilisation and comfort; the facilities which nature has provided in rivers, and oceans, and winds for conveying these commodities from one part of the globe to another, and the fact that the social unity and happiness of mankind can only be advanced by the principle of mutual interdependence, and that commerce is essential to this--it is impossible to escape the conclusion that trade is of Divineappointment. The principle is as old as the race, as wide as the world, as operative as life itself.

II. The chapter reminds us that THE MARKET IS UNDER THE SCRUTINY OF THE RIGHTEOUS GOVERNOR OF THE WORLD. Though the Tyrian traders pursued their daily race for wealth, and indulged in the luxuries which their wealth could supply, utterly regardless of God, He was not regardless of them. So now, God is as truly in the market as in the temple, and as truly demands worship at the stall of the one, as at the altar of the other.

III. The chapter reminds us that MERCANTILE PROSPERITY IS NO GUARANTEE FOR THE SAFETY OF A COUNTRY. If commercial prosperity could have saved a people, Tyre would have remained. But where is Tyre now? As she rose in wealth, she sank in vice. “Righteousness alone exalteth a nation.”

IV. The chapter reminds us that THE MARKET SHOULD BE SUBSERVIENT TO THE TEMPLE. This indeed is the grand subject of our text. (Homilist.)

True religion in Tyre

The prophecy does not mean that this would take place immediately after the rebuilding, but subsequently to the seventy years of its desolation. After the return of the Jews from Babylon they penetrated different countries and everywhere endeavoured to proselyte their inhabitants. That the Christian religion was established at Tyre, is not only indicated by the fact that Paul found several of his disciples there on his way to Jerusalem (Acts 21:3-4), but from the statement of subsequent historians. Eusebius says, that when the Church of God was founded in Tyre “much of its wealth was consecrated to God.” And Jerome says, “We have seen churches built to the Lord in Tyre.” So not only has the prophecy of its destruction been fulfilled, but the prophecy in the text, namely, its restoration and consecration to God, has also to some extent been realised. (Homilist.)

Business

In relation to this subject there are several popular errors.

1. One is, that which makes business an end in itself. The pursuit of wealth for its own sake eats up the soul and reduces the man to a grub, it may be a bloated and a decorated grub, still a grub.

2. Another error is the using of the market as a means of ultimate retirement. What is this but to grasp at a shadow? The man who spends his best energies and days in accumulating riches becomes utterly unfit for the enjoyment of a retired life.

3. Another error is the regarding business and religion as antagonistic elements. Man is a moral being, and everywhere and everywhen his moral obligation meets him. There is no more opposition between business and religion than there is between the body and the soul. It is by the body only that the soul can be truly developed.

4. There is yet another error that is noteworthy, that of making religion subservient to business. There are men who make gain of godliness. (Homilist.)

The subserviency of the market to the temple

The market should be subordinate to the temple. This will appear if we consider the following things--

I. THE RELATION OF MAN TO BOTH.

1. His relation to the market or to business is material. But his spiritual part is related to religion. It hungers for spiritual knowledge, for moral holiness, for communion with God. It does not live by bread alone. Now, as the spiritual part of man is confessedly of more value than the material, should not that work which is necessary for the latter be made subservient to the interest of the former?

2. Again, his relation to the market is temporary. How short is man’s mercantile life? But his relation to spiritual engagements is abiding. Ought not the market, therefore, to be rendered subservient to the interests of the temple?

II. THE ADAPTATION OF THE MARKET TO THE PROMOTION OF PERSONAL RELIGION.

1. Commerce is suited to promote religious discipline. Neither inactivity nor exclusive solitude is favourable to spiritual development. The duties of the market properly discharged tend to quicken, test, and strengthen the eternal principles of virtue. Those principles, like trees, always require the open air, and oftentimes storms to deepen their roots, and strengthen their fibres. In the market, man has his integrity, patience, faith in God put to the test.

2. Not only is the market a good scene for spiritual discipline, but for spiritual intercourse as well In it there is not only the exchange of material commodities, but an exchange of thoughts and emotions and purposes. Mind flows into mind, and the souls of nations mingle their ideas. What an immense influence for good or ill can men exert in the market! One impious mind in the market may pour its poisonous influence far into the civilised world. On the other hand, what an opportunity has the godly man for spiritual usefulness! The apostles often went into the market place to preach because of its opportunities for diffusing the truth. It seems that the Author of our being made an exchange of temporal commodities necessary for us in order that we may exchange the spiritual commodities of true thoughts and high purposes.

3. Once more, it is one of the best scenes for the practical display of religious truth. When does piety appear to the best advantage? On its knees in the closet? No one sees it there. In the temple, in the presence of the great congregation, going out in song and sigh? No. But in the market, a thing of life and strength. The man who stands firm in the market to principles in the midst of temptation, who stoops not to the mean, the greedy and the false, but who governs his spirit with calmness amidst the annoyances and disturbances of commercial life, gives a far better revelation of genuine religion than is contained in the grandest sermon ever preached. The British market is almost the heart of the world: give to it a holy and healthy pulsation, and its sanitary influence shall be felt afar.

Conclusion--

1. The principles of righteousness should govern us in the discharge of commercial duties.

2. Spiritual prosperity is the only true test of commercial success The more a man succeeds in the accumulation of wealth apart from the growth of his soul, the more really disastrous is his business. He becomes a moral bankrupt. Nay, more, the real man is lost--lost in the clerk, the shopkeeper, the merchant. (Homilist.)

Undue devotion to business

There are too many people in England on whose gravestones the French epitaph might be written, “He was born a man and died a grocer.” (C. Kingsley, M. A.)
.

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Isaiah 23:18". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/isaiah-23.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Isaiah 23:18. And her merchandise, &c. The meaning of the prophet is extremely clear; namely, that the time would come after the restoration of Tyre, in which the Tyrians, out of reverence to the true God, would consecrate their wealth and gain to him, and would readily contribute that gain and wealth to the use and support of the teachers of true religion: in short, that the Tyrians would become converts to that religion. The reader will easily observe that the passage is metaphorical, and that consequently no reasonable objections can be urged against it. See Zechariah 9:1-8. Psalms 45:12; Psalms 72:10. The Tyrians were much addicted to the worship of Hercules, as he was called by the Greeks, or of Baal, as he is denominated in Scripture; but in process of time, by the means of some Jews and proselytes living and conversing with them, some of them also became proselytes to the Jewish religion; so that we find a great multitude of people from the sea-coasts of Tyre and Sidon came to hear our Saviour; and he, though peculiarly sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, yet came into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon; and the first-fruits of the Gospel there was a Tyrian woman, a woman of Canaan as she is called, a Syro-phoenician by nation, Luke 6:17. Matthew 15:21. Mark 7:24. When St. Paul, in his way to Jerusalem, came to Tyre, he found disciples there who were inspired by the Holy Ghost, and prophesied; and with them he tarried seven days, Acts 21:4. In the time of Dioclesian's persecution, the Tyrians were such sincere converts to Christianity, that they exhibited several glorious examples of confessors and martyrs; and when the storm of persecution was blown over, under their Bishop Paulinus, they built an oratory, or rather a temple, for the public worship of God, the most magnificent and sumptuous (to an extreme) in all Palestine and Phoenicia. To these particulars we will only add, that Tyre was erected into an archbishopric, and the first under the patriarchate of Jerusalem having fourteen bishops under its primacy; and in this state it continued several years. See Bishop Newton's Dissertations. Vitringa has shewn at large, that this prophesy concerning Tyre has a further and mystical reference to papal Rome, of which St. John speaks in the very words of this prophet; Thy merchants were the great men of the earth, Revelation 18:23. And he has been at great pains to shew how exactly the remarkable attributes of Tyre, in a mystical sense, belong to the corrupt Romish church. See Revelation 13 throughout.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, Tyre was a city in Phoenicia, of great antiquity, and the grand mart of trade for all the commodities of the east and west. It stood on an island, about half a mile from the sea, strongly fortified by art and nature, and deemed impregnable: but when God hath a controversy with any people, their strength is weakness. We have here,

1. Her prosperity. She was a mart of nations, enriched by the traffic of all people, whose merchants resorted thither, peopled at first by a colony from Sidon or Zidon, a few leagues distant from Tyre, and therefore called her daughter, though soon eclipsing her mother city. Thither the products of Egypt were carried, and her revenue increased with the harvest, which the river Sihor, or Nile, by overflowing, produced. A city, full of wealth, and, as the sad effect of it, grown proud and haughty. A joyous city, where pleasure as well as business abounded; and siting as a queen on the seas, her seat of empire, seemed established for ever; her citizens, great as princes, and her merchants among the honourable of the earth.

2. Her fall by Nebuchadnezzar, after a siege of thirteen years. When the city could hold out no longer, the inhabitants stripped the place of every thing valuable, and sailed away, leaving little but empty houses, and a naked rock. The ships of Tarshish or Tartessus, and more generally the ships of the sea of all nations, are called upon to howl over her desolations; no house being left standing by the conqueror, nor is there any more entering into the port, her commerce being utterly ruined. From the land of Chittim it is revealed to them, the Tyrians are informed of the preparations made against them by the Babylonians; or there is no entering in from the land of Chittim, the merchants of Greece and Italy can no longer carry on their trade thither: it is revealed to them that Tyre is destroyed. In mournful silence the inhabitants would sit astonished at their overthrow, and Zidon her neighbour, and nearly connected with her, be ashamed, having placed such confidence in Tyre that it could not be taken; but the waves of the sea carry the tidings, and this proud city, late the strength of the sea, so fortified and strengthened by it, bemoans her desolations; no longer full of inhabitants, and sending out her colonies to distant parts, but now a widow, bereaved of her children. Not Egypt's fall, though so potent a kingdom, would spread a greater terror, or, as the words may be read, when the report cometh to the Egyptians, they will be in pain at the report of Tyre, trembling for themselves when this bulwark between them and the Chaldeans is fallen. Hasting now to forsake the place, the inhabitants are enjoined to embark for Tarshish, and her own feet shall carry her away; those that should be seized by the conqueror, would be led into captivity; or this may signify her ships, whose oars and mariners would serve her instead of feet to escape. Swift as a river, the merchants of Tarshish, who were at Tyre, or the people so called, are urged to hasten away; because the place is no longer defensible, and is ready to fall. Thus for a season her joy should be silenced. The oppressed virgin, the daughter of Zidon, that had never been conquered before, must pass over to the isles of Chittim, Greece, or Italy; or to the islands of Corsica, Sardinia, and Sicily, where colonies of the Tyrians were planted; and yet even there thou shalt have no rest, these countries being doomed to fall under the yoke of their enemies. Note; (1.) When God pursues, there is no flying from our misery. (2.) They who think themselves most secure, feel the heavier anguish in their falls.

3. If it be asked, who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the answer is, one that is fully able to execute his designs, the Lord of Hosts, who would abase their pride, and stain all human glory; that others, warned by their fall, might be admonished of the vanity of every temporal possession, and the folly of being proud, and trusting on that which can profit so little in the day of wrath. As he did of old, when Egypt was smitten under his mighty hand, so hath he now given commandment to the destroyer, and is pleased to use the Chaldean sword. Though this people was not of note and figure till the Assyrian founded it for them that dwelt in the wilderness, who drove out the original inhabitants of Mesopotamia, and translated thither the Chaldeans, who before dwelt scattered in the wilderness; they set up the towers thereof, they raised up the palaces of Babylon, greatly augmenting and fortifying it; he brought it, or he shall bring it, to ruin; these Chaldeans shall be instruments to execute the divine judgments.

2nd, The desolations of Tyre are not designed to be perpetual.

1. Seventy years are appointed for the term of her captivity, as of the Jews, during the days of one king, or kingdom; for so long Nebuchadnezzar and his family reigned before Babylon was taken: and on the conquest Cyrus made, these, among other captive nations, were permitted to resettle in their own country.

2. On their return, Tyre is represented under the character of a harlot, returning from confinement, or recovering from sickness, when all her paramours had forsaken her; and resuming all her former arts to recover her trade, and to engage the return of her merchants, as a harlot, with the harp, by her voice and music seeks to draw in her lovers, and enrich herself by the wages of her fornication: and so far she would succeed, as to become again a general mart, and to increase her wealth, as in her former days of prosperity. Note; (1.) This world's wealth carries a harlot's smiles, and too often seduces the heart into spiritual fornication. (2.) Though our case be reduced never so low, we need nor despair: when God will turn our captivity, he can bring back our lost prosperity.

3. A better state than that of her worldly prosperity closes the prophesy. In the days of the Messiah her gains should be employed in the service of his kingdom, to support the preachers of his Gospel, and be consecrated to his glory; which was fulfilled, Acts 21:3 when we find Christianity planted there; and, according to the custom of the primitive church, no doubt, the inhabitants being rich contributed liberally to the necessities of the saints. Note; (1.) If God give abundance, it becomes then a blessing indeed, when we have, through his grace, a desire to employ it to his glory. (2.) The ministers of the sanctuary have a just claim to a liberal maintenance, and they who honour the maker they serve will be happy to support his ministers for his sake. (3.) They who devote themselves to God's work, must desire no great things in this world; if they have sufficient bread, and durable clothing, they want not niceties and elegance.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/isaiah-23.html. 1801-1803.

Expositor's Bible Commentary

CHAPTER XVIII

TYRE OR, THE MERCENARY SPIRIT

702 B.C.

Isaiah 23:1-18

THE task, which was laid upon the religion of Israel while Isaiah was its prophet, was the task, as we have often told ourselves, of facing the world’s forces, and, of explaining how they were to be led captive and contributory to the religion of the true God. And we have already seen Isaiah accounting for the largest of these forces: the Assyrian. But besides Assyria, that military empire, there was another power in the world, also novel to Israel’s experience and also in Isaiah’s day grown large enough to demand from Israel’s faith explanation and criticism. This was Commerce, represented by the Phoenicians, with their chief seats at Tyre and Sidon, and their colonies across the seas. Not even Egypt exercised such influence on Isaiah’s generation as Phoenicia did; and Phoenician influence, though less visible and painful than Assyrian, was just as much more subtle and penetrating as in these respects the influence of trade exceeds that of war. Assyria herself was fascinated by the glories of Phoenician commerce. The ambition of her kings, who had in that century pushed south to the Mediterranean, was to found a commercial empire. The mercenary spirit, as we learn from prophets earlier than Isaiah, had begun also to leaven the life of the agricultural and shepherd tribes of Western Asia. For good or for evil commerce had established itself as a moral force in the world.

Isaiah’s chapter on Tyre is, therefore, of the greatest interest. It contains the prophet’s vision of commerce the first time commerce had grown vast enough to impress his people’s imagination, as well as a criticism of the temper of commerce from the standpoint of the religion of the God of righteousness. Whether as a historical study or a message, addressed to the mercantile tempers of our own day, the chapter is worthy of close attention.

But we must first impress ourselves with the utter contrast between Phoenicia and Judah in the matter of commercial experience, or we shall not feel the full force of this excursion which the prophet of a high, inland tribe of shepherds makes among the wharves and warehouses of the great merchant city on the sea.

The Phoenician empire, it has often been remarked, presents a very close analogy to that of Great Britain: but even more entirely than in the case of Great Britain the glory of that empire was the wealth of its trade, and the character of the people was the result of their mercantile habits. A little strip of land, one hundred and forty miles long, and never more than fifteen broad, with the sea upon one side and the mountains upon the other, compelled its inhabitants to become miners and seamen. The hills shut off the narrow coast from the continent to which it belongs, and drove the increasing populations to seek their destiny by way of the sea. These took to it kindly, for they had the Semite’s born instinct for trading. Planting their colonies all round the Mediterranean, exploiting every mine within reach of the coastland, establishing great trading depots both on the Nile and the Euphrates, with fleets that passed the Straits of Gibraltar into the Atlantic and the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb into the Indian Ocean, the Phoenicians constructed a system of trade, which was not exceeded in range or influence till, more than two thousand years later, Portugal made the discovery of America and accomplished the passage of the Cape of Good Hope. From the coasts of Britain to those of Northwest India, and probably to Madagascar, was the extent of Phoenician credit and currency. Their trade tapped river basins so far apart as those of the Indus, the Euphrates, probably the Zambesi, the Nile, the Rhone, the Guadalquivir. They built ships and harbours for the Pharaohs and for Solomon. They carried Egyptian art and Babylonian knowledge to the Grecian archipelago, and brought back the metals of Spain and Britain. No wonder the prophet breaks into enthusiasm as he surveys Phoenician enterprise! "And on great waters the seed of Shihor, the harvest of the Nile, was her revenue; and she was the mart of nations."

But upon trade the Phoenicians had built an empire. At home their political life enjoyed the freedom, energy, and resources which are supplied by long habits of an extended commerce with other peoples. The constitution of the different Phoenician cities was not, as is sometimes supposed, republican, but monarchical; and the land belonged to the king. Yet the large number of wealthy families at once limited the power of the throne, and saved the commonwealth from being dependent upon the fortunes of a single dynasty. The colonies in close relation with the mother country assured an empire with its life in better circulation and with more reserve of power than either Egypt or Assyria. Tyre and Sidon were frequently overthrown, but they rose again oftener than the other great cities of antiquity, and were still places of importance when Babylon and Nineveh lay in irreparable ruin. Besides their native families of royal wealth and influence and their flourishing colonies, each with its prince, these commercial states kept foreign monarchs in their pay, and sometimes determined the fate of a dynasty. Isaiah entitles Tyre "the giver of crowns, the maker of kings, whose merchants are princes, and her traffickers are the honourable of the earth."

But trade with political results so splendid had an evil effect upon the character and spiritual temper of the people. By the indiscriminating ancients the Phoenicians were praised as inventors; the rudiments of most of the arts and sciences, of the alphabet and of money have been ascribed to them. But modern research has proved that of none of the many elements of civilisation which they introduced to the West were they the actual authors. The Phoenicians were simply carriers and middlemen. In all time there is no instance of a nation so wholly given over to buying and selling, who frequented even the battlefields of the world that they might strip the dead and purchase the captive. Phoeninician history-though we must always do the people the justice to remember that we have their history only in fragments-affords few signs of the consciousness that there are things which a nation may strive after for their own sake, and not for the money they bring in. The world, which other peoples, still in the reverence of the religious youth of the race, regarded as a house of prayer, the Phoenicians had already turned into a den of thieves. They trafficked even with the mysteries and intelligences; and their own religion is largely a mixture of the religions of the other peoples with whom they came into contact. The national spirit was venal and mercenary-the heart of a hireling, or, as Isaiah by a baser name describes it, the heart of "a harlot." There is not throughout history a more perfect incarnation of the mercenary spirit than the Phoenician nation.

Now let us turn to the experience of the Jews, whose faith had to face and account for this world-force.

The history of the Jews in Europe has so identified them with trade that it is difficult for us to imagine a Jew free from its spirit or ignorant of its methods. But the fact is that in the time of Isaiah Israel was as little acquainted with commerce as it is possible for a civilised nation to be. Israel’s was an inland territory. Till Solomon’s reign the people had neither navy nor harbour. Their land was not abundant in materials for trade-it contained almost no minerals, and did not produce a greater supply of food than was necessary for the consumption of its inhabitants. It is true that the ambition of Solomon had brought the people within the temptations of commerce. He established trading cities, annexed harbours and hired a navy. But even then, and again in the reign of Uzziah, which reflects much of Solomon’s commercial glory, Israel traded by deputies, and the mass of the people remained innocent of mercantile habits. Perhaps to moderns the most impressive proof of how little Israel had to do with trade is to be found in their laws of money-lending and of interest. The absolute prohibition which Moses placed upon the charging of interest could only have been possible among a people with the most insignificant commerce. To Isaiah himself commerce must have appeared alien. Human life, as he pictures it, is composed of war, politics, and agriculture; his ideals for society are those of the shepherd and the farmer. We moderns cannot dissociate the future welfare of humanity from the triumphs of trade.

"For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,

Saw the vision of the world and all the wonder that would be;

Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,

Pilots of the purple twilight, dropping down with costly bales."

But all Isaiah’s future is full of gardens and busy fields, of irrigating rivers and canals:-

"Until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness become a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest.

Blessed are ye, that sow beside all waters, that send forth the feet of the ox and the ass."

"And He shall give the rain of thy seed, that thou shalt sow the ground withal, and bread-corn, the increase of the ground; and it shall be juicy and fat: in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures."

Conceive how trade looked to eyes which dwelt with enthusiasm upon scenes like these! It must have seemed to blast the future, to disturb the regularity of life with such violence as to shake religion herself! With all our convictions of the benefits of trade, even we feel no greater regret or alarm than when we observe the invasion by the rude forces of trade of some scene of rural felicity: blackening of sky and earth and stream; increasing complexity and entanglement of life; enormous growth of new problems and temptations; strange knowledge, ambitions and passions that throb through life and strain the tissue of its simple constitution, like novel engines, which shake the ground and the strong walls, accustomed once to re-echo only the simple music of the mill-wheel and the weaver’s shuttle. Isaiah did not fear an invasion of Judah by the habits and the machines of trade. There is no foreboding in this chapter of the day when his own people were to take the place of the Phoenicians as the commercial "harlots" of the world, and a Jew was to be synonymous with usurer and "publican." Yet we may employ our feelings to imagine his, and understand what this prophet-seated in the sanctuary of a pastoral and agricultural tribe, with its simple offerings of doves, and lambs, and sheaves of corn, telling how their homes, and fields and whole rustic manner of life were subject to God-thought, and feared, and hoped of the vast commerce of Phoenicia, wondering how it also should be sanctified to Jehovah.

First of all, Isaiah, as we might have expected from his large faith and broad sympathies, accepts and acknowledges this great world-force. His noble spirit shows neither timidity nor jealousy before it. Before his view what an unblemished prospect of it spreads! His descriptions tell more of his appreciation than long laudations would have done. He grows enthusiastic upon the grandeur of Tyre; and even when he prophesies that Assyria shall destroy it, it is with the feeling that such a destruction is really a desecration, and as if there lived essential glory in great commercial enterprise. Certainly from such a spirit we have much to learn. How often has religion, when brought face to face with the new forces of a generation - commerce, democracy, or science-shown either a base timidity or baser jealousy, and met the innovations with cries of detraction or despair! Isaiah reads a lesson to the modern Church in the preliminary spirit with which she should meet the novel experiences of Providence. Whatever judgment may afterwards have to be passed, there is the immediate duty of frankly recognising greatness wherever it may occur. This is an essential principle, from the forgetfulness of which modern religion has suffered much. Nothing is gained by attempting to minimise new departures in the world’s history; but everything is lost if we sit down in fear of them. It is a duty we, owe to ourselves, and a worship which Providence demands from us, that we ungrudgingly appreciate every magnitude of which history brings us the knowledge.

It is almost an unnecessary task to apply Isaiah’s meaning to the commerce of our own day. But let us not miss his example in this: that the right to criticise the habits of trade and the ability to criticise them healthily are alone won by a just appreciation of trade’s world-wide glory and serviceableness. There is no use preaching against the venal spirit and manifold temptations and degradations of trade, until we have realised the indispensableness of trade and its capacity for disciplining and exalting its ministers. The only way to correct the abuses of "the commercial spirit," against which many in our day are loud with indiscriminate rebuke, is to impress its victims, having first impressed yourself, with the opportunities and the ideals of commerce. A thing is great partly by its traditions and partly by its opportunities-partly by what it has accomplished and partly by the doors of serviceableness of which it holds the key. By either of these standards the magnitude of commerce is simply overwhelming. Having discovered the world-forces, commerce has built thereon the most powerful of our modern empires. Its exigencies compel peace; its resources are the sinews of war. If it has not always preceded religion and science in the conquest of the globe, it has shared with them their triumphs. Commerce has recast the modern world, so that we hardly think of the old national divisions in the greater social classes which have been its direct creation. Commerce determines national policies; its markets are among the schools of statesmen; its merchants are still "princes, and its traffickers the honourable of the earth."

Therefore let all merchants and their apprentices believe, "Here is something worth putting our manhood into, worth living for, not with our brains only or our appetites, but with our conscience, with our imagination, with every curiosity and sympathy of our nature. Here is a calling with a healthy discipline, with a free spirit, with unrivalled opportunities of service, with an ancient and essential dignity." The reproach which is so largely imagined upon trade is the relic of a barbarous age. Do not tolerate it, for under its shadow, as under other artificial and unhealthy contempts of society, there are apt to grow up those sordid and slavish tempers, which soon make men deserve the reproach that was at first unjustly cast upon them. Dissipate the base influence of this reproach by lifting the imagination upon the antiquity and world-wide opportunities of trade-trade, "whose origin," as Isaiah so finely puts it, "is of ancient days; and her feet carry her afar off to sojourn."

So generous an appreciation of the grandeur of commerce does not prevent Isaiah from exposing its besetting sin and degradation.

The vocation of a merchant differs from others in this, that there is no inherent nor instinctive obligation in it to ends higher than those of financial profit-emphasised in our days into the more dangerous constraint of immediate financial profit. No profession is of course absolutely free from the risk of this servitude; but other professions offer escapes, or at least mitigations, which are not possible to nearly the same extent in trade. Artist, artisan, preacher, and statesman have ideals which generally act contrary to the compulsion of profit and tend to create a nobility of mind strong enough to defy it. They have given, so to speak, hostages to heaven- ideals of beauty, of accurate scholarship, or of moral influence, which they dare not risk by abandoning themselves to the hunt for gain. But the calling of a merchant is not thus safeguarded. It does not afford those visions, those occasions of being caught away to the heavens, which are the inherent glories of other lives. The habits of trade make this the first thought-not what things of beauty are in themselves, not what men are as brothers, not what life is as God’s discipline, but what things of beauty, and men, and opportunities are worth to us-and in these times what they are immediately worth-as measured by money. In such an absorption art, humanity, morals, and religion become matters of growing indifference.

To this spirit, which treats all things and men, high or low, as matters simply of profit, Isaiah gives a very ugly name. We call it the mercenary or venal spirit. Isaiah says it is the spirit of "the harlot."

The history of Phoenicia justified his words. Today we remember her by nothing that is great, by nothing that is original. She left no art nor literature, and her once brave and skilful populations degenerated till we know them only as the slave-dealers, panders, and prostitutes of the Roman empire. If we desire to find Phoenicia’s influence on the religion of the world, we have to seek for it among the most sensual of Greek myths and the abominable practices of Corinthian worship. With such terrible literalness was Isaiah’s harlot-curse fulfilled.

What is true of Phoenicia may become true of Britain, and what has been seen on the large scale of a nation is exemplified every day in individual lives. The man who is entirely eaten up with the zeal of gain is no better than what Isaiah called Tyre. He has prostituted himself to covetousness. If day and night our thoughts are of profit, and the habit, so easily engendered in these times, of asking only, "What can I make of this?" is allowed to grow upon us, it shall surely come to pass that we are found sacrificing, like the poor unfortunate, the most sacred of our endowments and affections for gain, demeaning our natures at the feet of the world for the sake of the world’s gold. A woman sacrifices her purity for coin, and the world casts her out. But some who would not touch her have sacrificed honour and love and pity for the same base wage, and in God’s sight are no better than she. Ah, how much need is there for these bold, brutal standards of the Hebrew prophet to correct our own social misappreciations!

Now for a very vain delusion upon this subject! It is often imagined in our day that if a man seek atonement for the venal spirit through the study of art, through the practice of philanthropy, or through the cultivation of religion, he shall surely find it. This is false-plausible and often practised, but utterly false. Unless a man see and reverence beauty in the very workshop and office of his business, unless he feel those whom he meets there, his employees and customers, as his brethren, unless he keep his business methods free from fraud, and honestly recognise his gains as a trust from the Lord, then no amount of devotion elsewhere to the fine arts, nor perseverance in philanthropy, nor fondness for the Church evinced by ever so large subscriptions, will deliver him from the devil of mercenariness. This is a plea of alibi that shall not prevail on the judgment day. He is only living a double life, whereof his art, philanthropy, or religion is the occasional and dilettante portion, with not nearly so much influence on his character as the other, his calling and business, in which he still sacrifices love to gain. His real world-the world in which God set him, to buy and sell indeed, but also to serve and glorify his God-he is treating only as a big warehouse and exchange. And so much is this the case at the present day, in spite of all the worship of art and religion which is fashionable in mercantile circles, that we do not go too far when we say that if Jesus were now to visit our large markets and manufactories, in which the close intercourse of numbers of human persons renders the opportunities of service and testimony to God so frequent, He would scourge men from them, as He scourged the traffickers of the Temple, for that they had forgotten that here was their Father’s house, where their brethren had to be owned and helped, and their Father’s glory revealed to the world.

A nation with such a spirit was of course foredoomed to destruction. Isaiah predicts the absolute disappearance of Tyre from the attention of the world. "Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years. Then," like some poor unfortunate whose day of beauty is past, she shall in vain practise her old advertisements on men. "After the end of seventy years it shall be unto Tyre as in the song of the harlot: Take a harp, go about the city, thou harlot that hast been forgotten; make sweet melody, sing many songs, that thou mayest be remembered."

But Commerce is essential to the world. Tyre must revive; and the prophet sees her revive as the minister of Religion, the purveyor of the food of the servants of the Lord, and of the accessories of their worship. It must be confessed, that we are not a little shocked when we find Isaiah continuing to apply to Commerce his metaphor of a harlot, even after Commerce has entered the service of the true religion. He speaks of her wages being devoted to Jehovah, just in the same manner as those of certain notorious women of heathen temples were devoted to the idol of the temple. This is even against the directions of the Mosaic law. Isaiah, however, was a poet; and in his flights we must not expect him to carry the whole Law on his back. He was a poet, and probably no analogy would have more vividly appealed to his Oriental audience. It will be foolish to allow our natural prejudice against what we may feel to be the unhealthiness of the metaphor to blind us to the magnificence of the thought which he clothes in it.

All this is another proof of the sanity and far sight of our prophet. Again we find that his conviction that judgment is coming does not render his spirit morbid, nor disturb his eye for things of beauty and profit in the world. Commerce, with all her faults, is essential, and must endure, nay shall prove in the days to come Religion’s most profitable minister. The generosity and wisdom of this passage are the more striking when we remember the extremity of unrelieved denunciation to which other great teachers of religion have allowed themselves to be hurled by their rage against the sins of trade. But Isaiah, in the largest sense of the expression, is a man of the world-a man of the world because God made the world and rules it. Yet even from his far sight was hidden the length to which in the last days Commerce would carry her services to man and God, proving as she has done, under the flag of another Phoenicia, to all the extent of Isaiah’s longing, one of Religion’s most sincere and profitable handmaids.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "Expositor's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/teb/isaiah-23.html.

The Pulpit Commentaries

EXPOSITION

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; 18:7; Justin, 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; Jeremiah 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; 1:7; 12:13; 2 Samuel 24:15; 1 Kings 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.

HOMILETICS

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.

HOMILIES BY E. JOHNSON

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 (Zephaniah 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.

LESSONS.

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."

J.

HOMILIES BY W.M. STATHAM

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.

HOMILIES BY W. CLARKSON

Isaiah 23:1-15

Aspects of Divine judgment.

I. ITS CERTAINTY.

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.

II. ITS FULNESS AND EFFICACY.

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.

III. THAT WE SHOULD DEVOTE SOME GOOD PART OF OUR SUBSTANCE TO THE MAINTENANCE OF PUBLIC WORSHIP. "For them that dwell before the Lord," etc.

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.

HOMILIES BY R. TUCK

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.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc/isaiah-23.html. 1897.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
her merchandise
60:6,7; 2 Chronicles 2:7-9,11-16; Psalms 45:12; 72:10; Zechariah 14:20,21; Mark 3:8; Acts 21:3-5
it shall
Matthew 6:19-21; Luke 12:18-20,33; 16:9-13
for them
Deuteronomy 12:18,19; 26:12-14; Proverbs 3:9,10; 13:22; 28:8; Ecclesiastes 2:26; Malachi 3:10; Matthew 25:35-40; Luke 8:3; Acts 9:39; Romans 15:25-27; Galatians 6:6; Philippians 4:17,18
durable
Heb. old. Reciprocal: Exodus 10:26 - cattle;  Numbers 31:28 - levy;  Deuteronomy 12:7 - And there;  Deuteronomy 16:16 - and they shall;  Joshua 6:19 - all the silver;  Ecclesiastes 10:19 - but;  Song of Solomon 5:1 - eat;  Song of Solomon 7:13 - I have;  Isaiah 18:7 - shall the;  Isaiah 45:14 - The labour;  Isaiah 60:5 - forces;  Isaiah 61:6 - ye shall eat;  Jeremiah 12:15 - after;  Jeremiah 48:47 - Yet will I bring;  Jeremiah 49:6 - GeneralEzekiel 26:3 - Behold;  Ezekiel 26:12 - thy merchandise;  Ezekiel 28:16 - the multitude;  Ezekiel 44:3 - to eat;  Micah 4:13 - I will consecrate;  Zechariah 14:14 - and the;  Matthew 25:16 - went

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/isaiah-23.html.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

Holiness — This is a prophecy concerning the conversion of the Tyrians to the true religion.

Laid up — Either out of covetousness, or for their pride and luxury, as they formerly did; but now they shall freely lay it out upon pious and charitable uses.

Shall be — For the support and encouragement of the ministers of holy things, who shall teach the good knowledge of the Lord. Although this does not exclude, but rather imply their liberality in contributing to the necessities of all Christians.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/isaiah-23.html. 1765.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

18.Her merchandise’ be holiness to the Lord — The diffusion of the good seed of Messianic truths must produce not a little fruit among the Phoenician populations. Christ in a solitary mission there found the soil good for scattering that seed. Seagoing communication to all parts of the Gentile world was another overruled result of Tyrian commerce to carry the Gospel messengers to far off ports. The trade of commerce, first learned in Phoenicia, is now transferred to all parts of the world. All men are made near neighbours by means of it. See chapter 60.

 

 

 

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/isaiah-23.html. 1874-1909.