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Isaiah Twenty Three

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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Isaiah 23:1 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. Tyre was a great city of the Phoenicians, noted as the home port of a great fleet of merchant ships. Its decline and eventual destruction were foretold by both Isaiah and, much later, by Ezekiel (see Ezekiel 26-28).

Tarshish. Tarshish is frequently mentioned in Scripture because of its ships plying the Mediterranean (e.g., Jonah 1:3). The city itself was evidently a colony of the Phoenicians, possibly Carthage in North Africa or Tartessus in Spain. Since the word itself means “smelting place,” it could refer to a region whence the Tyrians obtained their metals, possibly Great Britain or even somewhere in America or the Far East. The fact that the ships of Solomon took three years to go and return from Tarshish with an exotic cargo (2 Chronicles 9:21) would seem to indicate a very long journey. Considerable evidence exists that the sea-going Phoenicians did sail around the tip of Africa and probably even reached America.

Chittim. Chittim (same as Kittim) is believed by many to refer to Cyprus. Both Kittim and Tarshish were grandsons of Japheth, son of Noah (Genesis 10:4).

Isaiah 23:2 Be still, ye inhabitants of the isle; thou whom the merchants of Zidon, that pass over the sea, have replenished.

Isaiah 23:3 And by great waters the seed of Sihor, the harvest of the river, is her revenue; and she is a mart of nations.

Isaiah 23:4 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.

Isaiah 23:5 As at the report concerning Egypt, so shall they be sorely pained at the report of Tyre.

Isaiah 23:6 Pass ye over to Tarshish; howl, ye inhabitants of the isle.

Isaiah 23:7 Is this your joyous city, whose antiquity is of ancient days? her own feet shall carry her afar off to sojourn.

Isaiah 23:8 Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honourable of the earth?

Isaiah 23:9 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.

Isaiah 23:10 Pass through thy land as a river, O daughter of Tarshish: there is no more strength.

Isaiah 23:11 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.

Isaiah 23:12 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.

Isaiah 23:13 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.

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

Isaiah 23:15 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 an harlot.

forgotten seventy years. It is interesting that Tyre, like Judah, was to be “forgotten” for seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11-12). Tyre was semi-autonomous under the Assyrians, until conquered by Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian hosts. Although it continued to exist after that, and even revived to a degree when Cyrus conquered Babylon, Tyre never regained the power and prestige it enjoyed for many centuries before the Assyrian invasion. It was finally destroyed by Alexander the Great. The “seventy years” may correlate with the approximately seventy years between Nebuchadnezzar's conquest of Tyre and its revival under Cyrus.

Isaiah 23:16 Take an harp, go about the city, thou harlot that hast been forgotten; make sweet melody, sing many songs, that thou mayest be remembered.

Isaiah 23:17 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.

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.