the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
New American Standard Version
Bible Study Resources
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).
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bbc/​isaiah-23.html. 2005.
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.
These files are public domain.
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bnb/​isaiah-23.html. 1870.
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.
(118) Bogus footnote
(119) Bogus footnote
(120) Bogus footnote
These files are public domain.
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​cal/​isaiah-23.html. 1840-57.
Now in chapter 23 he 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 chapter 26 declares the destruction of Tyre. The description that Ezekiel gives in chapter 26 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 Psalms, 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. "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​csc/​isaiah-23.html. 2014.
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. Psalms 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, p. 189.]
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.
". . . chs. 13-23 seem to be saying that since the glory of the nations (chs. 13, 14) equals nothing, and since the scheming of the nations (chs. 14-18) equals nothing, and since the vision of this nation (chs. 21, 22) equals nothing, and since the wealth of the nations (ch. 23) 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 (Psalms 46:2 [Eng. 1])." [Note: Oswalt, pp. 427-28.]
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​dcc/​isaiah-23.html. 2012.
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, Psalms 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 Messiah m; 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.
m So in Midrash, Kohelet, fol. 62. 3.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​geb/​isaiah-23.html. 1999.
|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; 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,Psalms 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; 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; 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; Acts 21:4), 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; Zechariah 14:21. 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.
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Isaiah 23:18". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​mhm/​isaiah-23.html. 1706.