Isaiah Chapter 23 Star Chart: Clockwise from when there is "no entering in" (23:1) when Nebuchadnezzar's Cancer army surrounded the "crowning city" (solar crown inside Cancer) (23:8) and the siege began in 586 B.C. and Hydra -- the (wavy) "sea has (red radius line) spoken" and (Ursa Major) "Zidon is (red radius line) ashamed" (23:4) and "Howl (Cancer's open mouth and upraised hands), ye ships of Tarshish" (Argo) (23:14) since Cancer's "own feet shall carry her afar off to" captivity (23:7) and "Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years" (586 to 516 B.C.) (23:15) UNTIL "Tyre shall "sing as an harlot" (23:15) (Notice again Cancer's open mouth and upraised hands); and she takes "an harp" (lunar crescent), and goes "about the city, thou harlot (Virgo) that hast been forgotten; make sweet melody, sing many songs, that thou mayest be remembered" (23:15-16) and Tyre "shall commit (red radius line) fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth (ten horns of Cancer red radius line fornicate with both Virgo and Coma)" (23:17) in 516 B.C. is 70 years.

The 70 years from the captivity of Jerusalem in 586 to 516 B.C. is the same as the period when Tyre "shall be forgotten seventy years" (23:15). "Nebuchadnezzar took all Palestine and Syria and the cities on the seacoast, including Tyre, which fell after a siege of 13 years" (E. A. Wallis Budge, Babylonian Life And History, p. 50)(570 B.C.). Therefore, we must count 70° years clockwise from Argo -- the ship of Tarshish. "And her merchandise and her hire (gold coin in Cancer) 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 (Cancer mouth), and for durable clothing" (23:18).

 

The Burden of Tyre


23:1 The burden of Tyre. Howl, ye ships of Tarshish (Argo); for it is (red radius line) laid waste, so that there is no house, no entering in: from the land of Chittim (Cyprus) it is revealed to them.

The 'Tarshish' here referred to, was doubtless a city or country in Spain (Ταρτησσο`ς Tarte¯ssos), and was the most celebrated emporium to which the Phenicians traded. It is mentioned by Diod. Sic., v. 35-38; Strabo, iii. 148; Pliny, "Nat. Hist." iii. 3. According to Jeremiah 10:9, it exported silver; according to Ezekiel 27:12, Ezekiel 27:25, it exported silver, iron, tin, and lead, to the Tyrian market.

'Among the three different opinions of ancient and modern interpreters, according to which they sought for the land of Chittim in Italy, Macedonia, and Cyprus, I decidely prefer the latter, which is also the opinion of Josephus ("Ant." i. 6, 1). According to this, Chittim is the island Cyprus, so called from the Phoenician colony, Kition, (Citium), in the southern part of the island, but still in such a sense, that this name Chittim was, at a later period, employed also in a wider sense, to designate other islands and countries adjacent to the coasts of the Mediterranean, as, e. g., Macedonia (Daniel 11:30; 1 Macc. 1:1; 8:5). This is also mentioned by Josephus. That Κι´τιον Kition (Citium) was sometimes used for the whole island of Cyprus, and also in a wider sense for other islands, is expressly asserted by Epiphanius, who himself lived in Cyprus, as a well-known fact ("Adv. Haeres." xxx. 25); where he says, "it is manifest to all that the island of Cyprus is called Κι´τιον Kition (Citium), for the Cyprians and "Rhodians" (Ρ?ο´διοι Rodioi) are called "Kitians" Κι´τιοι Kitioi."

It could also be used of the Macedonians, because they were descended from the Cyprians and Rhodians. That most of the cities of Cyprus were Phenician colonies, is expressly affirmed by Diodorus (ii. 114; compare Herod. vii. 90), and the proximity of the island to Phenicia, together with its abundant supply of productions, especially such as were essential in shipbuilding, would lead us to expect nothing else. One of the few passages of the Bible which give a more definite hint in regard to Chittim is Ezekiel 27:6, which agrees very well with Cyprus: "Of the oaks of Bashan do they make them oars; thy ships' benches do they make of ivory, encased with cedar from the isles of Chittim." The sense of this passage is, that the fleets coming from Tarshish (Tartessus) to Tyre, would, on their way, learn from the inhabitants of Cyprus the news of the downfall of Tyre.'

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

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

4 Be thou ashamed, O Zidon (Ursa Major): for the sea (wavy Hydra) hath (red radius line) 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 (Tyrians are besieged).

5 As at the report concerning Egypt, so shall they be (red radius line) sorely pained at the report of Tyre.

6 Pass ye over to Tarshish; howl, ye inhabitants of the isle (Cancer is obviously yelling with upraised hands).

7 Is this your joyous city, whose antiquity is of ancient days? her own (Cancer-crab) feet shall carry her afar off to sojourn (captivity).

8 Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city (solar crown on Cancer), whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honourable of the earth?

9 The Lord of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth.

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.

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.

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 (Nebuchadnezzar's Chaldeans destroyed Tyre in 573 B.C.).

In verse 13, the prophet says that this would be done by the 'Chaldeans;' and this verse serves to fix the time of the fulfillment to the siege of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar. In this all commentators probably (except Grotius, who supposes that it refers to Aexander the Great) are agreed. Indeed, it seems to be past all doubt, that the events here referred to pertain to the siege of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar. In the remainder of the prophecy (Isaiah 23:14 to the end of the chapter), the prophet declares the "time" during which this calamity would continue. He declares that it would be only for seventy years Isaiah 23:14, and that after that, Tyre would be restored to her former splendor, magnificence, and successful commerce Isaiah 23:16-17; and that then her wealth would be consecrated to the service of Yahweh Isaiah 23:18.

The land of the Chaldeans - Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Chaldea or Babylonia. The names Babylon and Chaldea are often interchanged as denoting the same kingdom and people (see Isaiah 48:14, Isaiah 48:20; Jeremiah 50:1; Jeremiah 51:24; Ezekiel 12:13). The sense is, 'Lo! the power of Chaldea shall be employed in your overthrow.'

They set up the towers thereof - That is, the towers in Babylon, not in Tyre (see the notes at Isaiah 13) Herodotus expressly says that the Assyrians built the towers and temples of Babylon (i.84).

And he brought it to ruin - That is, the Babylonian or Chaldean brought Tyre to ruin: to wit, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of a people formerly unknown and rude, would be employed to destroy the ancient and magnificent city of Tyre.

14 Howl (Cancer's open mouth yell), ye ships of Tarshish (Argo): for your strength is laid waste.

The 'Tarshish' here referred to, was doubtless a city or country in Spain (Ταρτησσο`ς Tarte¯ssos), and was the most celebrated emporium to which the Phenicians traded. It is mentioned by Diod. Sic., v. 35-38; Strabo, iii. 148; Pliny, "Nat. Hist." iii. 3. According to Jeremiah 10:9, it exported silver; according to Ezekiel 27:12, Ezekiel 27:25, it exported silver, iron, tin, and lead, to the Tyrian market.

15 And it shall come to pass in that day, that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years (586 to 516 B.C.), according to the days of one king: after the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing (Cancer's open mouth) as an harlot (Virgo).

Seventy years; during the whole time of the Jewish captivity in Babylon. For Tyrus was taken by Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah 27:3,8 Eze 26:7, a little after the taking of Jerusalem, and was restored by the favour of the Persian monarchs after the return of the Jews from the captivity of Babylon.

days of one king—that is, a dynasty. The Babylonian monarchy lasted properly but seventy years. From the first year of Nebuchadnezzar to the taking of Babylon, by Cyrus, was seventy years; then the subjected nations would be restored to liberty. Tyre was taken in the middle of that period, but it is classed in common with the rest, some conquered sooner and others later, all, however, alike to be delivered at the end of the period. So "king" is used for dynasty (Da 7:17; 8:20): Nebuchadnezzar, his son Evil-merodach, and his grandson, Belshazzar, formed the whole dynasty (Jer 25:11, 12; 27:7; 29:10).

Seventy years, according to the days of one king - 'That is, of one kingdom (see Daniel 7:17; Daniel 8:20).' (Lowth) The word 'king' may denote dynasty, or kingdom. The duration of the Babylonian monarchy was properly but seventy years. Nebuchadnezzar began his conquest in the first year of his reign, and from thence to the taking of Babylon by Cyrus was seventy years. And at that time the nations that had been conquered and subdued by the Babylonians would be restored to liberty. Tyre was, indeed, taken toward the middle of that period, and its subjugation referred to here was only for the remaining part of it. 'All these nations,' says Jeremiah Jer 25:11, 'shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.' Some of them were conquered sooner, and some later; but the end of this period was the common time of deliverance to them all. So Lowth, Newton, Vitringa, Aben Ezra, Rosenmuller, and others, understand this. That 'the days at one king' may denote here kingdom or dynasty, and be applied to the duration of the kingdom of Babylon, is apparent from two considerations, namely,

(1) The word 'king' must be so understood in several places in the Scriptures; Daniel 7:17 : 'These great beasts which are four, are four great kings which shall arise out of the earth,' that is, dynasties, or succession of kings (Daniel 8:20; so Revelation 17:12).

(2) The expression is especially applicable to the Babylonian monarchy, because, during the entire seventy years which that kingdom lasted, it was under the dominion of one family or dynasty. Nebuchadnezzar founded the Babylonian empire, or raised it to so great splendor, that he was regarded as its founder, and was succeeded in the kingdom by his son Evil-Merodach, and his grandson Belshazzar, in whose reign the kingdom terminated; compare Jeremiah 27:7 : 'And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son's son.' The period of seventy years is several times mentioned, as a period during which the nations that were subject to Babylon would be oppressed, and after that they should be set at liberty (see Jeremiah 25:11-12; Jeremiah 29:10; compare Jeremiah 46:26).

Shall Tyre sing as an harlot - Margin, as the Hebrew, 'It shall be unto Tyre as the song of an harlot.' That is, Tyre shall be restored to its former state of prosperity and opulence; it shall be adorned with the rich productions of other climes, and shall be happy and joyful again. There are two ideas here; one that Tyre would be again prosperous, and the other that she would sustain substantially the same character as before. It was common to compare cities with females, whether virtuous or otherwise (see the note at Isaiah 1:8). The same figure which is used here occurs in Revelation 17:3-19 (compare Isaiah 47:1; Nahum 3:4; Revelation 18:3, Revelation 18:9).

Nebuchadnezzar began his conquests in the first year of his reign; from thence to the taking of Babylon by Cyrus are seventy years, at which time the nations subdued by Nebuchadnezzar were to be restored to liberty. These seventy years limit the duration of the Babylonish monarchy. Tyre was taken by him towards the middle of that period; so did not serve the king of Babylon during the whole period, but only for the remaining part of it. This seems to be the meaning of Isaiah; the days allotted to the one king or kingdom, are seventy years; Tyre, with the rest of the conquered nations, shall continue in a state of subjection and desolation to the end of that period. Not from the beginning and through the whole of the period; for, by being one of the latest conquests, the duration of that state of subjection in regard to her, was not much more than half of it. "All these nations," saith Jeremiah, Jeremiah 25:11, "shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years." Some of them were conquered sooner, some later; but the end of this period was the common term for the deliverance of them all.

There is another way of computing the seventy years, from the year in which Tyre was actually taken to the nineteenth of Darius Hystaspis; whom the Phoenicians, or Tyrians, assisted against the Ionians, and probably on that account might then be restored to their former liberties and privileges. But I think the former the more probable interpretation. - L.

16 Take an harp (lunar crescent), go about the city, thou harlot (Virgo) 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 (ten horn nations of Cancer).

Shall again be the mart of commerce Isaiah 23:3; shall have contact with all the nations, and derive her support, splendor, luxury, from all. The idea is, that she would be restored to her former commercial importance, and perhaps, also, the prophet intends to intimate that she would procure those gains by dishonest acts, and by fraudulent pretexts. After the destruction of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar, it remained desolate until the close of the Babyloian monarchy. Then a new city was built on the island, that soon rivaled the former in magnificence. That new city was besieged and taken by Alexander the Great, on his way to the conquests of the East.

After the end of seventy years - Tyre, after its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar, recovered, as it is here foretold, its ancient trade, wealth, and grandeur; as it did likewise after a second destruction by Alexander. It became Christian early with the rest of the neighboring countries. St. Paul himself found many Christians there, Acts 21:4. It suffered much in the Diocletian persecution. It was an archbishopric under the patriarchate of Jerusalem, with fourteen bishoprics under its jurisdiction. It continued Christian till it was taken by the Saracens in 639; was recovered by the Christians in 1124; but in 1280 was conquered by the Mamelukes, and afterwards taken from them by the Turks in 1517. Since that time it has sunk into utter decay; is now a mere ruin, a bare rock, "a place to spread nets upon," as the Prophet Ezekiel foretold it should be, Ezekiel 26:14. See Sandy's Travels; Vitringa on the place; Bp. Newton on the Prophecies, Dissert. xi.

18 And her merchandise and her hire (gold coin in Cancer) 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.

It was also a place of great strength. Old Tyre was defended by a wall, which was regarded as impregnable, and which is said to have resisted the attacks of Nebuchadnezzar for thirteen years. New, or Insular Tyre, was inaccessible, until Alexander constructed the immense mole by which he connected it with the mainland, and as they had the command of the sea, the city was regarded unapproachable. Alexander could not hare taken it had he not possessed resources, and patience, and power, which perhaps no other ancient conqueror possessed; and had he not engaged in an enterprise which perhaps all others would have regarded as impracticable and hopeless. Josephus, indeed, states, that Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, made war against the Tyrians, with a fleet of sixty ships, manned by 800 rowers. The Tyrians had but twelve ships, yet they obtained the victory, and dispersed the Assyrian fleet, taking 500 prisoners. Shalmaneser then besieged the city for five years, but was unable to take it. This was in the time of Hezekiah, A.M. 3287, or about 717 b.c.

Nebuchadnezzar took the city after a siege of thirteen years, during the time of the Jewish captivity, about 573 years before Christ. This was in accordance with the prophecy in this chapter (see the note at Isaiah 23:13), and according to the predictions also of Ezekiel. The desolation was entire. The city was destroyed, and the inhabitants driven into foreign lands (see Isaiah 23:7, note; Isaiah 23:12, note). The city lay desolate for seventy years (see Isaiah 23:15, note; Isaiah 23:17, note), and Old Tyre was in ruins in the time of the invasion of Alexander the Great. A new city had risen, however, on the island, called New Tyre, and this city was taken by Alexander, after a siege of eight months. Near the shore the water is said to have been shallow, but near the new city it was three fathoms, or nineteen feet in depth. The city of Tyre was taken by Alexander 332 b.c. and 241 years after its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar, and consequently about 170 years after it had been rebuilt.

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.'

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 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.


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