Isaiah 23:11 Commentaries: 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.
Isaiah 23:11
He stretched out his hand over the sea, he shook the kingdoms: the LORD has given a commandment against the merchant city, to destroy the strong holds thereof.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) He shook the kingdoms.—The picture of the great convulsion of the time includes more than Tyre and its subject states. Egypt, Ethiopia, Babylon, Syria, Israel, Judah, were all affected, shaken as to their very foundations, by the rapid progress of the restored Assyrian empire under Tiglath-pileser and his successors.

Against the merchant city.—Literally, Canaan (the word “city” being an interpolation), taken here as equivalent to Phœnicia. So in Joshua 5:1, the LXX. translates “Canaanites” by “Phœnicia.”

Isaiah 23:11-12. He — Namely, the Lord, mentioned in the latter part of the verse; stretched out his hand over the sea — That is, Tyre, called the sea, (Isaiah 23:4,) to overthrow it. He shook — Hebrew, הרגיז, he made to tremble, the kingdoms — Either the two kingdoms of Tyre and Zidon, or the neighbouring and confederate kingdoms, which might justly quake at her fall, for the dreadfulness and unexpectedness of the event, and because Tyre was a bulwark and a refuge to them. The Lord hath given a commandment, to destroy, &c. — Hath put this design into the hearts of her enemies, and given them courage to attempt, and strength to execute it. Thou shalt no more rejoice, oppressed virgin — He calls her a virgin, because she had hitherto never borne the yoke of a conquering enemy; though withal he signifies that she should be oppressed, and, as it were, ravished, by her enemies. Daughter of Zidon — Tyre is called the daughter of Zidon, because she was first built and inhabited by a colony of the Zidonians; as Pliny calls Carthage the daughter of Tyre, because she was built by a colony of Tyrians. “It is certain,” says Lowth, “that of the two cities, Zidon was much the most ancient, being mentioned by Moses in his account of the peopling of the world after the flood, Genesis 10:19; and again, chap. 49:13. Afterward it is called by Joshua, great Zidon, Joshua 11:8 : Homer likewise takes notice of Zidon, but not of Tyre; and the authority of Strabo is express to the same purpose.” Arise, pass over to Chittim, &c. — See on Isaiah 23:1; Isaiah 23:6. “Of all the Phenicians,” says Bishop Newton, “the Tyrians were the most celebrated for their shipping and colonies. Tyre exceeded Zidon in this respect, as Strabo testifies, and sent forth colonies into Africa and Spain, unto and beyond the pillars of Hercules: and Quintus Curtius says that her colonies were diffused almost over the whole world. The Tyrians, therefore, having planted colonies at Tarshish, and upon the coasts of Chittim, it was natural for them, when they were pressed with dangers and difficulties at home, to flee to their friends and countrymen abroad for protection. That they really did so, St. Jerome asserts, upon the authority of Assyrian histories, which are now lost. But,” it is here foretold, that, “though they should pass over to Chittim, yet even there they should find no quiet settlement; There also shalt thou have no rest — Megasthenes (an historian who lived about 300 years before Christ) is quoted by several ancient authors, for saying that Nebuchadnezzar subdued a great part of Africa and Spain, and proceeded as far as the pillars of Hercules. After he had subdued Tyre and Egypt, we may suppose he carried his arms further westward; and if he proceeded as far as Megasthenes reports, the Tyrians might well be said to have no rest, their conqueror pursuing them from one country to another. But besides this, and after this, the Carthaginians, and other colonies of the Tyrians, lived in a very unsettled state. Their history is made up of little but wars and tumults, even before their three fatal wars with the Romans, in every one of which their affairs grew worse and worse. Sicily and Spain, Europe and Africa, the land, and their own element, the sea, were theatres of their calamities and miseries; till, at last, not only the new, but old Carthage too, was utterly destroyed. As the Carthaginians sprung from the Tyrians, and the Tyrians from the Zidonians, and Zidon was the firstborn of Canaan, (Genesis 10:15,) so the curse upon Canaan seems to have pursued them to the most distant parts of the earth.”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.He stretched out his hand - That is, Yahweh (see Isaiah 23:9). To stretch out the hand is indicative of punishment (see the notes at Isaiah 5:25; Isaiah 9:12), and means that God has resolved to inflict exemplary punishment on Tyre and its dependent colonies.

Over the sea - That is, over the sea coast of Phenicia; or over the cities that were built on the coast. This alludes to the fact that Nebuchadnezzar would lay siege to these cities, and would ravage the maritime coast of Phenicia. It is not improbable also that, having taken Tyre, he would extend his conquests to Citium, on the island of Cyprus, and destroy as many of the dependent cities of Tyre as possible.

The Lord hath given a commandment - The control here asserted over Nebuchadnezzar is similar to that which he asserted over the Assyrian Sennacherib (see the note at Isaiah 10:5).

Against the merchant city - Hebrew, 'Against Canaan' (על־כנען 'el-kena‛an). The word 'Canaan' may here be used as in Isaiah 23:8, to denote a place given to merchandise or traffic, since this was the principal employment of the inhabitants of this region; but it is rather to be taken in its obvious and usual sense in the Scriptures, as denoting the land of Canaan, and as denoting that Nebuchadnezzar would be sent against that, and especially the maritime parts of it, to lay it waste.

To destroy the strongholds thereof - That is, the strongholds of Canaan; as Tyre, Sidon, Accho, etc. Tyre, especially, was strongly fortified, and was able long to resist the arms of the Chaldeans.

11. He—Jehovah.

kingdoms—the Phœnician cities and colonies.

the merchant city—rather, Canaan, meaning the north of it, namely, Phœnicia. On their coins, they call their country Canaan.

He, the Lord, expressed Isaiah 23:9, stretched out his hand to strike it, the antecedent being put for the consequent,

over the sea; or, against the sea, i.e. against Tyrus, the daughter of the sea, as she was now called; and consequently against all those ships and men which used to traffic with Tyrus, and were enriched by that trade, and therefore suffered in her fall.

He shook the kingdoms, Heb. he made the kingdoms to tremble; either,

1. The two kingdoms of Tyre and Sidon; or rather,

2. The neighbouring and confederate kingdoms, as appears by comparing this with Ezekiel 26:15-18, who might justly quake at her fall, partly, for the dreadfulness and unexpectedness of the thing; partly, because Tyre was a bulwark, and a refuge, and a great advantage to them; and partly, because her fall made way for their ruin, as being destroyed by their common enemy.

Hath given a commandment; hath contrived and purposed it, as was said, Isaiah 23:8,9; hath put this design into the heads and hearts of her enemies, and given them courage to attempt, and strength to execute, so difficult an enterprise.

Against the merchant city, Heb. against Canaan; the word Canaan being taken either,

1. For a merchant, as it is used, Job 41:6 Hosea 12:7; or rather,

2. For the proper name of a place or people, as it is generally used; for the Tyrians and Sidonians were descended from Canaan, Genesis 10:15, and were the only considerable remainders of that cursed race whom God had devoted to destruction. And so this phrase may be here used both as all evidence and as an argument of their intended and approaching ruin. He stretched out his hand over the sea,.... That is, the Lord of hosts, who had purposed to destroy Tyre, stretched out his hand of power over it, called the sea, as in Isaiah 23:4 because situated in it, supported by it, and had the sovereignty of it; in like manner as he stretched out his hand on the Red Sea, and destroyed Pharaoh and the Egyptians in it; to which the allusion may be:

he shook the kingdoms; of Tyre and Zidon, which were both kingdoms, and distinct ones; and also made other neighbouring kingdoms shake and tremble when these fell, fearing it would be their case next. Some understand this of the moving of Nebuchadnezzar, and of the kings of the provinces under him, to come against Tyre:

the Lord hath given a commandment against the merchant city; the city of Tyre, so famous for merchandise, that it was the mart of nations, as in Isaiah 23:3 or "against Canaan", in which country Tyre and Zidon were, being originally built and inhabited by the posterity of Canaan, Genesis 10:15,

to destroy the strong holds thereof; either of the merchant city Tyre, whose fortifications were strong, both by nature and art; or "of Canaan", whose strong holds, or fortified cities, the principal of them were Tyre and Zidon; so Jarchi: and if the Lord of hosts gives a commandment to destroy it and its strong holds, as he did to Nebuchadnezzar and his army, and afterwards to Alexander and his, who could save them? that is, God said it, who gave commandment to destroy it.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. He stretched out his hand, &c.] R.V. he hath stretched out … hath shaken. Cf. ch. Isaiah 5:25, Isaiah 14:26-27. The kingdoms are specially Phœnicia and its dependencies.

the merchant city] Read Canaan and see on Isaiah 23:8. “Canaan” is the name used by the Phœnicians of themselves and their colonists, but this is the only example in the Old Test. of its restriction to Phœnicia.Verse 11. - He stretched out his hand over the sea, By "he" we must understand "Jehovah" (see ver. 9). God has smitten Tyro - the great maritime power - destroyed its dominion, and set its subject cities free. He shook the kingdoms; i.e. not only Tyre, but the other cities of the Phoenician coast, each of which had its own king (Herod., 7:98; Strab., 16. p. 754). Against the merchant city; rather, against Canaan. Phoenicia is called "Canaan," as England is often called "Britain." So the "SyroPhoenician woman" of Mark 7:26 is "a woman of Canaan" in Matthew 15:22. The address to the whole of the coast-land now passes into an address to the ancestral city. Isaiah 23:4 "Shudder, O Sidon; for the sea speaketh, the fortress of the sea, thus: I have not travailed, nor given birth, nor trained up young men, brought up maidens." The sea, or more closely considered, the fortress of the sea, i.e., the rock-island on which Neo-tyrus stood with its strong and lofty houses, lifts up its voice in lamentation. Sidon, the ancestress of Canaan, must hear with overwhelming shame how Tyre mourns the loss of her daughters, and complains that, robbed as she has been of her children, she is like a barren women. For the war to have murdered her young men and maidens, was exactly the same as if she had never given birth to them or brought them up. Who is there that does not recognise in this the language of Isaiah (compare Isaiah 1:2)? - Even in Egypt the fate of Phoenicia produces alarm. Isaiah 23:5 "When the report cometh to Egypt, they tremble at the report from Tzor." In the protasis (Isaiah 23:5) lemitzraim (to Egypt) the verb "cometh" is implied; the Caph in Isaiah 23:5 signifies simultaneousness, as in Isaiah 18:4 and Isaiah 30:19 (Ges. Thes. p. 650). The news of the fall of Tyre spreads universal terror in Egypt, because its own prosperity depended upon Tyre, which was the great market for its corn; and when such a bulwark had fallen, a similar fate awaited itself.
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