Isaiah 23:14
Howl, you ships of Tarshish: for your strength is laid waste.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) Howl, ye ships of Tarshish: for your Strength is laid waste.—The prophecy of woe ends as it began in Isaiah 23:1. The “strength” is the fortress of Tyre.

23:1-14 Tyre was the mart of the nations. She was noted for mirth and diversions; and this made her loth to consider the warnings God gave by his servants. Her merchants were princes, and lived like princes. Tyre being destroyed and laid waste, the merchants should abandon her. Flee to shift for thine own safety; but those that are uneasy in one place, will be so in another; for when God's judgments pursue sinners, they will overtake them. Whence shall all this trouble come? It is a destruction from the Almighty. God designed to convince men of the vanity and uncertainty of all earthly glory. Let the ruin of Tyre warn all places and persons to take heed of pride; for he who exalts himself shall be abased. God will do it, who has all power in his hand; but the Chaldeans shall be the instruments."Howl ... Isaiah 23:1.

For your strength - That which has been your support and strength; to wit, Tyre (compare Ezekiel 26:15-18).

14. strength—stronghold (compare Eze 26:15-18). Your strength; the city of Tyre, where you found safety and wealth. Howl, ye ships of Tarshish,.... As in Isaiah 23:1. See Gill on Isaiah 23:1,

for your strength is laid waste; meaning Tyre, a strong seaport, where their ships were safe, and always found vent for their goods and merchandise; and so it was the strength and support of their country; but was now destroyed, and therefore was matter of lamentation and mourning.

Howl, ye ships of Tarshish: for your {s} strength is laid waste.

(s) That is, Tyrus by whom you are enriched.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. The poem closes as it began with an apostrophe to the ships of Tarshish.

your strength) your strong-hold (R.V. as in Isaiah 23:4).Verse 14. - Howl, ye ships of Tarshish (comp. ver. 1). The ships that traded with Tarshish, not those belonging to Tarshish, are intended. Your strength is laid waste; rather, your stronghold; i.e. Tyre itself. The elegy ends as it began, with a statement of the bare fact. Alexander's destruction of the city was the final and complete fulfillment of the prophecy. The captures by Esarhaddou (G. Smith, 'Eponym Canon,' pp. 139-142), by Asshur-bani-pal (ibid., pp. 144.145), and by Nebuchadnezzar, were anticipations of the final one, and partial fulfillments of the prophecy. The inhabitants of Tyre, who desired to escape from death or transportation, are obliged to take refuge in the colonies, and the farther off the better: not in Cyprus, not in Carthage (as at the time when Alexander attacked the insular Tyre), but in Tartessus itself, the farthest off towards the west, and the hardest to reach. "Pass ye over to Tarshish; howl, ye inhabitants of the coast! Is this your fate, thou full of rejoicing, whose origin is from the days of the olden time, whom her feet carried far away to settle? Who hath determined such a thing concerning Tzor, the distributor of crowns, whose merchants are princes, whose traders are the chief men of the earth? Jehovah of hosts hath determined it, to desecrate the pomp of every kind of ornament, to dishonour the chief men of the earth, all of them." The exclamation "howl ye" (hēillu) implies their right to give themselves up to their pain. In other cases complaint is unmanly, but here it is justifiable (compare Isaiah 15:4). In Isaiah 23:7 the question arises, whether ‛allizâh is a nominative predicate, as is generally assumed ("Is this, this deserted heap of ruins, your formerly rejoicing city?"), or a vocative. We prefer the latter, because there is nothing astonishing in the omission of the article in this case (Isaiah 22:2; Ewald, 327, a); whereas in the former case, although it is certainly admissible (see Isaiah 32:13), it is very harsh (compare Isaiah 14:16), and the whole expression a very doubtful one to convey the sense of לכם אשר עליזה קריה הזאת. To ‛allizâh there is attached the descriptive, attributive clause: whose origin (kadmâh, Ezekiel 16:55) dates from the days of the olden time; and then a second "whose feet brought her far away (raglaim construed as a masculine, as in Jeremiah 13:16, for example) to dwell in a foreign land. This is generally understood as signifying transportation by force into an enemy's country. But Luzzatto very properly objects to this, partly on the ground that רגליה יבלוּה (her feet carried her) is the strongest expression that can be used for voluntary emigration, to which lâgūr (to settle) also corresponds; and partly because we miss the antithetical ועתּה, which we should expect with this interpretation. The reference is to the trading journeys which extended "far away" (whether by land or sea), and to the colonies, i.e., the settlements founded in those distant places, that leading characteristic of the Tyro-Phoenician people (this is expressed in the imperfect by yobiluâh, quam portabant; gur is the most appropriate word to apply to such settlements: for mērâchōk, see at Isaiah 17:13). Sidon was no doubt older than Tyre, but Tyre was also of primeval antiquity. Strabo speaks of its as the oldest Phoenician city "after Sidon;" Curtius calls it vetustate originis insignis; and Josephus reckons the time from the founding of Tyre to the building of Solomon's temple as 240 years (Ant. viii. 3, 1; compare Herod. ii. 44). Tyre is called hammaēatirâh, not as wearing a crown (Vulg. quondam coronata), but as a distributor of crowns (Targum). Either would be suitable as a matter of fact; but the latter answers better to the hiphil (as hikrı̄n, hiphrı̄s, which are expressive of results produced from within outwards, can hardly be brought into comparison). Such colonies as Citium, Tartessus, and at first Carthage, were governed by kings appointed by the mother city, and dependent upon her. Her merchants were princes (compare Isaiah 10:8), the most honoured of the earth; נכבּדּי acquires a superlative meaning from the genitive connection (Ges. 119, 2). From the fact that the Phoenicians had the commerce of the world in their hands, a merchant was called cena‛ani or cena‛an (Hosea 12:8; from the latter, not from cin‛âni, the plural cin‛ânim which we find here is formed), and the merchandise cin‛âh. The verb chillēl, to desecrate or profane, in connection with the "pomp of every kind of ornament," leads us to think more especially of the holy places of both insular and continental Tyre, among which the temple of Melkarth in the new city of the former was the most prominent (according to the Arrian, Anab. ii. 16, παλαιότατον ὧν μνήμη ἀνθρωπίνη διασώζεται). These glories, which were thought so inviolable, Jehovah will profane. "To dishonour the chief men:" lehâkēl (ad ignominiam deducere, Vulg.) as in Isaiah 8:22.
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