You successfully added to your cart! You can either continue shopping, or checkout now if you'd like.

Note: If you'd like to continue shopping, you can always access your cart from the icon at the upper-right of every page.



Isaiah: Prophet of Salvation Book 4

Isaiah is the prophet of Salvation. He is also known as the truly "Universalist" prophet, by which is meant that He makes it clear that salvation is extended equally to all nations and not just to Israel. He lived to see the fall of Israel and the deportation of the Israelites to Assyria, and he prophesied of their "return" to God (through repentance). He is truly a "major prophet" whose prophecies greatly influenced the Apostle Paul in the New Testament.

Category - Bible Commentaries

Isaiah 23: The Fall of Tyre

Chapter 7: God’s Judgment on Tyre

Isaiah 23:5-7 says,

5 When the report reaches Egypt, they will be in anguish at the report of Tyre. 6 Pass over to Tarshish; wail, O inhabitants of the coastland. 7 Is this your jubilant city, whose origin is from antiquity, whose feet used to carry her to colonize distant places?

When Egypt and Tarshish heard the report of the overthrow of Tyre, they were “in anguish” and wailed, because their main source of income had died. Tyre’s sailors were among the best in the world and were the ones who had been transporting supplies throughout the Mediterranean and even past Tarshish (Spain) to Britain, Ireland, and Scandinavia. There is clear evidence that they even crossed the Atlantic on mining expeditions. Certainly, they colonized many places.

Whose Plan is This?

Isaiah 23:8 says,

8 Who has planned [ya’ats, “to advise, give counsel, command”] this against Tyre, the bestower of crowns, whose merchants [sakhar] were princes [sar], whose traders [kenah’an, “Canaanites”] were the honored [kabod,” heavy”] of the earth?

The prophet uses figurative language to describe Tyre, whose sakhar were sar. We see here the common literary tool of similar words or words beginning with the same sound. So also the kenah’an were kabad. Tyre’s traders were the heavyweights of the earth, the “kingmakers,” the wealthy men who held the real but secret power behind the crowns.

Yet Tyre was to be overthrown, not by those kingmakers, but by God Himself. The prophet asks, “Who has planned this against Tyre?” Who has plotted successfully against such powerful men? The answer is given in Isaiah 23:9,

9 The Lord of hosts has planned it, to defile the pride [ga’ohn, “pomp, majesty, elevation”] of all beauty, to despise [kalal, “despise, curse, dishonor”] all the honored [kabad, “heavyweights”] of the earth.

The prophet makes it clear that God Himself has overthrown Tyre. The same spirit of Tyre today will be overthrown as well, including all the wealthy kingmakers who control the political and judicial systems from behind the scenes and who, by the law of the sea, have usurped authority over all the people without their knowledge.

Overflowing Tyre

Isaiah 23:10, 11 continues,

10 Overflow your land like the Nile [yeh’ore], O daughter of Tarshish, there is no more restraint. 11 He has stretched His hand out over the sea, He has made the kingdoms tremble; the Lord has given a command concerning Canaan to demolish its strongholds.

Tyre was to be overflowed, even as the Nile and its canals (yeh’ore) overflowed the land each year. This is another reference to the city being overflowed by the waters of the sea when Alexander cast the entire mainland city into the sea to build his causeway to the island. From a judicial standpoint, where the judgment always fits the crime, Tyre ruled the sea and oppressed the people by the law of the sea; therefore, God would judge Tyre accordingly.

From a prophetic standpoint, it tells us that Mystery Babylon—in its commercial capacity—will also be judged for ruling the people by maritime law and for treating the people as being legally dead. Today, as maritime law has overflowed the land, so also will the land, wealth, and possessions of the kingmakers be overflowed. That is the divine plan. As this occurs, “the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn” (Rev. 18:11), because international trade has ceased. Among their cargoes that are no longer bought and sold are “slaves and human lives” (Rev. 18:13), or more literally, “the souls of men” (KJV).

Tyre Oppressed and Violated

Isaiah 23:12 says,

12 He has said, “You shall exult no more, O crushed [ashaq, “pressed upon, oppressed, forcibly violated”] virgin daughter of Sidon. Arise, pass over to Cyprus; even there you will find no rest.”

Cities that had never been conquered were often called “virgins.” So Tyre, after its conquest, was called a “crushed virgin daughter of Sidon.” It is a vivid picture of a violent rape, because the judgment fits the crime. Babylon gave its wine (false teaching) to the nations, and “the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her” (Rev. 18:3). Hence, the judgment of God is to “give back to her double according to her deeds” (Rev. 18:6). This is in accordance with the law in Exodus 21:23-25 and 22:4.

Hence, the day is coming—and now is upon us—when Babylon/Tyre is being judged by God Himself. He is the One who has planned this, and He is the One executing that plan. The chaos of the overthrow is not directed against God’s people but is designed to set them free from the oppression of the heavyweight kingmakers who rule secretly by the power of their wealth.

The Chaldeans

Isaiah 23:13, 14 says,

13 Behold, the land of the Chaldeans—this is the people which was not; Assyria appointed it for desert creatures—they erected their siege towers, they stripped its palaces, they made it a ruin. 14 Wail, O ships of Tarshish, for your stronghold [ma’owz] is destroyed.

The Assyrians were going to lay siege to Tyre in Isaiah’s time, but the city would not actually fall until the Babylonians took the city under Nebuchadnezzar in 573 B.C. Jerusalem was taken in 586 B.C., and then the Babylonians laid siege to Tyre. The siege took a long time, but Tyre finally fell 13 years later in 573. Nonetheless, the island offshore remained independent for two more centuries.

Nebuchadnezzar was a Chaldean. Here the prophet calls the city a “stronghold” (ma’owz), which refers to a strong fortress. The term is a synonym for Tyre, or tzur, “rock, castle, fortress.”

The Chaldeans originally were a nomadic people from Armenia in the territory of Assyria. They were people living in the wilderness. By the time of Isaiah, a few Chaldees had moved to southern Babylonia, but they did not yet have a significant presence there, nor were they a powerful people. For Isaiah to prophesy that they would be able to overcome one of the most ancient and powerful cities like Tyre probably seemed incredible at the time.

Yet Isaiah tells us that “Assyria appointed it,” that is, they laid the foundations for the conquest of Tyre to be given to these “desert creatures,” or “them that dwell in the wilderness” (KJV)—a reference to the Chaldeans. Essentially, the unsuccessful Assyria siege would be a prelude to the Chaldean conquest under Nebuchadnezzar a century later.

It was not the Assyrians but the Babylonian Chaldeans that built siege towers so that they could hurl rocks and shoot arrows over the walls of Tyre and thereby take the city.

The Chaldean dynasty began with Nebuchadnezzar’s father, Nabopolassar, who revolted against Assyria and captured Nineveh in 612 B.C. But Nabopolassar died in August of 605 B.C., and his son Nebuchadnezzar succeeded him and finished the conquests begun by his father. He reigned 45 years until 560 B.C., and then his son Evil-Merodach reigned for two years before he was killed by his brother-in-law, Neriglissar, or “Nergal-sar-ezer” (Jer. 39:13).

Neriglissar reigned four years from 558-554, and his young son, Labashi-Marduk inherited the throne. But he was too young to secure his position and was assassinated after just nine months. This ended the Chaldean dynasty of Babylon, as Nabonidus, who was from Harran, took the throne. His son Belshazzar was his co-regent when the Persians conquered Babylon (Dan. 5:30). Scripture calls him a Chaldean, but treats the term in a geographical sense, rather than in the tribal sense.

The Babylonians included a number of tribes, including Chaldeans, but the actual Chaldean dynasty was rather short-lived. In Isaiah’s time, the Chaldeans were not ruling Babylon, although their priestly class was rising in religious power and prestige, due to the recognition it received from its superior knowledge of astrology.

Isaiah prophesies that the Assyrians would prepare the way for the Chaldeans to take the city of Tyre.

Tyre’s 70-Year Captivity

Isaiah 23:15, 16 says,

15 Now in that day Tyre will be forgotten [shakakh, “forgotten, ignored”] for seventy years like the days of one king [i.e., one dynasty]. At the end of seventy years it will happen to Tyre as in the song of the harlot: 16 “Take your harp, walk about the city, O forgotten harlot; pluck the strings skillfully, sing many songs, that you may be remembered.”

No one has been able to find a 70-year cycle specifically applying to Tyre. The 70 years appears to coincide with the 70-year captivity and exile of Judah (604-534), during which time God had given the Dominion Mandate to Nebuchadnezzar and his dynasty. This was prophesied later in Jer. 27:6, 7,

6 Now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and I have given him also the wild animals of the field to serve him. 7 All the nations shall serve him and his son and his grandson until the time of his own land comes; then many nations and great kings will make him their servant.

Jer. 25:11 says that Babylon’s time of dominion would be limited to seventy years. It appears that this is the seventy years that Isaiah mentioned as well. As so often happens, early prophecies paint with a broad brush, and the later prophets are more specific and give us greater details. Isaiah appears to include Tyre with the other nations that were to be conquered by the Chaldean dynasty.

The Song of the Forgotten Harlot

Isaiah 23:16 appears to be the lyric for a popular song in those days. It was a song depicting a harlot that no one remembered. She then picked up a harp and walked around the city so that the men would remember her again and, presumably, would be able to make a living.

Tyre itself was the harlot, of course. The city’s commerce was interrupted for 70 years, and the supply chains had disintegrated. This was according to divine judgment, the same time frame as the judgment upon Jerusalem. When the Dominion Mandate was taken from Jerusalem and given to Babylon, it affected the entire region, including Tyre, because “all the nations” were given to Nebuchadnezzar—not just Jerusalem.

Jerusalem learned its lesson (somewhat), but Tyre did not. When the 70 years ended, Tyre went back to its old ways, which the prophet calls “harlotry.”

Isaiah 23:17, 18 says,

17 It will come about at the end of seventy years that the Lord will visit Tyre. Then she will go back to her harlot’s wages and will play the harlot with all the kingdoms on the face of the earth. 18 Her gain and her harlot’s wages will be set apart to the Lord; it will not be stored up or hoarded, but her gain will become sufficient food and choice attire for those who dwell in the presence of the Lord.

Mainland Tyre was rebuilt after the Babylonian empire fell. After 70 years, God visited Tyre, not to judge her further but to release her from captivity. To visit is to investigate the situation. Tyre was then released from captivity by the divine court, having paid for her past sins. Unfortunately, she returned to the same old life of maritime commerce (“harlotry”) without regard to the laws of God.

The Harlot’s Wages Confiscated

So in verse 18 the prophet says that “her gain and her harlot’s wages will be set apart for the Lord,” because in the end, God will lay claim to all ill-gotten wealth as restitution for sin. Prov. 13:22 says also, “the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.” Rev. 18:5, 6 says she must pay double restitution (Exodus 22:4),

5 for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. 6 Pay her back even as she has paid, and give back to her double according to her deeds; in the cup which she has mixed, mix twice as much for her.

This transfer of wealth from Tyre to the people of the New Jerusalem has not yet taken place (as of this writing), but the prophet saw the event thousands of years ago. The harlot of Tyre, or the great harlot of Mystery Babylon, has been storing up the wealth that it has accumulated through sin (harlotry). Rev. 18:3 says, “the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality.”

But in the end, it will be confiscated and given to “those who dwell in the presence of the Lord.” Why? Because they have been the primary victims. Hence, when Babylon falls, Rev. 18:24 tells us,

24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth.