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Isaiah 23

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The Lord Will Judge Tyre

23:1 Here is a message about Tyre:

Wail, you large ships, 1 

for the port is too devastated to enter! 2 

From the land of Cyprus 3  this news is announced to them.

23:2 Lament, 4  you residents of the coast,

you merchants of Sidon 5  who travel over the sea,

whose agents sail over 23:3 the deep waters! 6 

Grain from the Shihor region, 7 

crops grown near the Nile 8  she receives; 9 

she is the trade center 10  of the nations.

23:4 Be ashamed, O Sidon,

for the sea 11  says this, O fortress of the sea:

“I have not gone into labor

or given birth;

I have not raised young men

or brought up young women.” 12 

23:5 When the news reaches Egypt,

they will be shaken by what has happened to Tyre. 13 

23:6 Travel to Tarshish!

Wail, you residents of the coast!

23:7 Is this really your boisterous city 14 

whose origins are in the distant past, 15 

and whose feet led her to a distant land to reside?

23:8 Who planned this for royal Tyre, 16 

whose merchants are princes,

whose traders are the dignitaries 17  of the earth?

23:9 The Lord who commands armies planned it –

to dishonor the pride that comes from all her beauty, 18 

to humiliate all the dignitaries of the earth.

23:10 Daughter Tarshish, travel back to your land, as one crosses the Nile;

there is no longer any marketplace in Tyre. 19 

23:11 The Lord stretched out his hand over the sea, 20 

he shook kingdoms;

he 21  gave the order

to destroy Canaan’s fortresses. 22 

23:12 He said,

“You will no longer celebrate,

oppressed 23  virgin daughter Sidon!

Get up, travel to Cyprus,

but you will find no relief there.” 24 

23:13 Look at the land of the Chaldeans,

these people who have lost their identity! 25 

The Assyrians have made it a home for wild animals.

They erected their siege towers, 26 

demolished 27  its fortresses,

and turned it into a heap of ruins. 28 

23:14 Wail, you large ships, 29 

for your fortress is destroyed!

23:15 At that time 30  Tyre will be forgotten for seventy years, 31  the typical life span of a king. 32  At the end of seventy years Tyre will try to attract attention again, like the prostitute in the popular song: 33 

23:16 “Take the harp,

go through the city,

forgotten prostitute!

Play it well,

play lots of songs,

so you’ll be noticed!” 34 

23:17 At the end of seventy years 35  the Lord will revive 36  Tyre. She will start making money again by selling her services to all the earth’s kingdoms. 37  23:18 Her profits and earnings will be set apart for the Lord. They will not be stored up or accumulated, for her profits will be given to those who live in the Lord’s presence and will be used to purchase large quantities of food and beautiful clothes. 38 

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1 tn Heb “ships of Tarshish.” This probably refers to large ships either made in or capable of traveling to the distant western port of Tarshish.

2 tc The Hebrew text reads literally, “for it is destroyed, from a house, from entering.” The translation assumes that the mem (מ) on בַּיִת (bayit) was originally an enclitic mem suffixed to the preceding verb. This assumption allows one to take בַּיִת as the subject of the preceding verb. It is used in a metaphorical sense for the port city of Tyre. The preposition min (מִן) prefixed to בּוֹא (bo’) indicates negative consequence: “so that no one can enter.” See BDB 583 s.v. מִן 7.b.

3 tn Heb “the Kittim,” a designation for the people of Cyprus. See HALOT 504-05 s.v. כִּתִּיִּים.

4 tn Or “keep quiet”; NAB “Silence!”

5 map For location see Map1 A1; JP3 F3; JP4 F3.

6 tc The Hebrew text (23:2b-3a) reads literally, “merchant of Sidon, the one who crosses the sea, they filled you, and on the deep waters.” Instead of מִלְאוּךְ (milukh, “they filled you”) the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa reads מלאכיך (“your messengers”). The translation assumes an emendation of מִלְאוּךְ to מַלְאָכָו (malakhav, “his messengers”), taking the vav (ו) on וּבְמַיִם (uvÿmayim) as improperly placed; instead it should be the final letter of the preceding word.

7 tn Heb “seed of Shihor.” “Shihor” probably refers to the east branch of the Nile. See Jer 2:18 and BDB 1009 s.v. שִׁיחוֹר.

8 tn Heb “the harvest of the Nile.”

9 tn Heb “[is] her revenue.”

10 tn Heb “merchandise”; KJV, ASV “a mart of nations”; NLT “the merchandise mart of the world.”

11 tn J. N. Oswalt (Isaiah [NICOT], 1:430-31) sees here a reference to Yam, the Canaanite god of the sea. He interprets the phrase מָעוֹז הַיָּם (maoz hayyam, “fortress of the sea”) as a title of Yam, translating “Mighty One of the Sea.” A more traditional view is that the phrase refers to Sidon.

12 tn Or “virgins” (KJV, ASV, NAB, NASB).

sn The sea is personified here as a lamenting childless woman. The foreboding language anticipates the following announcement of Tyre’s demise, viewed here as a child of the sea, as it were.

13 tn Heb “they will be in pain at the report of Tyre.”

14 tn Heb “Is this to you, boisterous one?” The pronoun “you” is masculine plural, like the imperatives in v. 6, so it is likely addressed to the Egyptians and residents of the coast. “Boisterous one” is a feminine singular form, probably referring to the personified city of Tyre.

15 tn Heb “in the days of antiquity [is] her beginning.”

16 tn The precise meaning of הַמַּעֲטִירָה (hammaatirah) is uncertain. The form is a Hiphil participle from עָטַר (’atar), a denominative verb derived from עֲטָרָה (’atarah, “crown, wreath”). The participle may mean “one who wears a crown” or “one who distributes crowns.” In either case, Tyre’s prominence in the international political arena is in view.

17 tn Heb “the honored” (so NASB, NRSV); NIV “renowned.”

18 tn Heb “the pride of all the beauty.”

19 tc This meaning of this verse is unclear. The Hebrew text reads literally, “Cross over your land, like the Nile, daughter of Tarshish, there is no more waistband.” The translation assumes an emendation of מֵזַח (mezakh, “waistband”) to מָחֹז (makhoz, “harbor, marketplace”; see Ps 107:30). The term עָבַר (’avar, “cross over”) is probably used here of traveling over the water (as in v. 6). The command is addressed to personified Tarshish, who here represents her merchants. The Qumran scroll 1QIsaa has עבדי (“work, cultivate”) instead of עִבְרִי (’ivri, “cross over”). In this case one might translate “Cultivate your land, like they do the Nile region” (cf. NIV, CEV). The point would be that the people of Tarshish should turn to agriculture because they will no longer be able to get what they need through the marketplace in Tyre.

20 tn Heb “his hand he stretched out over the sea.”

21 tn Heb “the Lord.” For stylistic reasons the pronoun (“he”) has been used in the translation here.

22 tn Heb “concerning Canaan, to destroy her fortresses.” NIV, NLT translate “Canaan” as “Phoenicia” here.

23 tn Or “violated, raped,” the point being that Daughter Sidon has lost her virginity in the most brutal manner possible.

24 tn Heb “[to the] Kittim, get up, cross over; even there there will be no rest for you.” On “Kittim” see the note on “Cyprus” at v. 1.

25 tn Heb “this people [that] is not.”

26 tn For the meaning of this word, see HALOT 118 s.v. *בַּחוּן.

27 tn Or “laid bare.” For the meaning of this word, see HALOT 889 s.v. ערר.

28 sn This verse probably refers to the Assyrian destruction of Babylon.

29 tn Heb “ships of Tarshish.” See the note at v. 1.

30 tn Or “in that day” (KJV). The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated; see note on “in the future” in 2:2.

31 sn The number seventy is probably used in a stereotypical, nonliteral sense here to indicate a long period of time that satisfies completely the demands of God’s judgment.

32 tn Heb “like the days of a king.”

33 tn Heb “At the end of seventy years it will be for Tyre like the song of the prostitute.”

34 tn Heb “so you will be remembered.”

35 tn The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated; see note on “in the future” in 2:2.

36 tn Heb “visit [with favor]” (cf. KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV); NIV “will deal with.”

37 tn Heb “and she will return to her [prostitute’s] wages and engage in prostitution with all the kingdoms of the earth on the face of the earth.”

38 tn Heb “for eating to fullness and for beautiful covering[s].”

sn The point of this verse, which in its blatant nationalism comes precariously close to comparing the Lord to one who controls or manages a prostitute, is that Tyre will become a subject of Israel and her God. Tyre’s commercial profits will be used to enrich the Lord’s people.



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