Isaiah 23- Punishment of Tyre

1 The burden of Tyre. Howl, ye ships of Tarshish; for it is laid waste, so that there is no house, no entering in: from the land of Chittim it is revealed to them.
Tyre was a major city (capital city?) of the Phoenicians. The Phoenicians had many large cities around the Mediterranean; colonies, actually. The famous Carthage in northern Africa is one of them. We believe Tarshish is another, located in southern Turkey, but we aren’t really sure.

Chittim is the island of Cyprus just off the coast of Greece. This was also a major trading city and the central point in the Mediterranean, so the best place to trade news.

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

Zidon was the mother city of the Phoenicians. By this time though, Tyre had grown to be the major city.

Tyre itself was divided into two parts; one on the shore just north of Israel, and one on an island just off the coast. When enemies threatened, the residents of the land part simply took refuge on the island. They were safe (or so they thought) from all attack there.

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

The Phoenicians were the first and one of the greatest trading nations the world has ever seen. They controlled commerce around the whole Mediterranean.

Sihor was a river of Egypt that traders sailed up to do business.

4 Be thou ashamed, O Zidon: for the sea hath spoken, even the strength of the sea, saying, “I travail not, nor bring forth children, neither do I nourish up young men, nor bring up virgins.”

5 As at the report concerning Egypt, so shall they be sorely pained at the report of Tyre.

“Just like everyone will be sad and scared when they hear how Egypt falls, they will feel the same about you soon.”

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

“Don’t take refuge on the island, but go to Tarshish. The island isn’t as safe as you think.”

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

8 Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honorable of the earth?

This city was so rich, their merchants lived at the same standard of living as the kings of other countries.

9 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.

“Pride goeth before the fall.” God hates pride.

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

11 He stretched out his hand over the sea, He shook the kingdoms: the LORD hath given a commandment against the merchant city, to destroy the strong holds thereof.

“You are doomed because God Himself commands it.”

12 And He said, “Thou shalt no more rejoice, O thou oppressed virgin, daughter of Zidon: arise, pass over to Chittim; there also shalt thou have no rest.”

Even if they try to take refuge as far away as the island of Cyprus, they can’t run from God. He will find them.

13 Behold the land of the Chaldeans; this people was not, till the Assyrian founded it for them that dwell in the wilderness: they set up the towers thereof, they raised up the palaces thereof; and he brought it to ruin.

The Assyrians had destroyed the first kingdom of Babylon (Chaldeans). They are an example of what is fixing to happen to Tyre.

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

Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to the cities of Tyre for thirteen years and did conquer it. By the end of that time, those of Tyre would have been completely impoverished.

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.

The city will lay empty and unused for one life-span; 70 years. Then she will rise again.

Tyre was taken about the same time as Jerusalem, and Jerusalem served Babylon for 70 years. When Cyrus of Persia gave the command for the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild their temple and city, he actually allowed everyone to go back home. This would have included the Phoenicians.

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.

Trade will resume.

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.