Isaiah 23:15 Commentaries: Now in that day Tyre will be forgotten for seventy years like the days of one king. At the end of seventy years it will happen to Tyre as in the song of the harlot:
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years.—If we take the number literally, the seventy years may coincide with those of the captivity of Judah, during which, under the Chaldæan supremacy, Tyre was reduced to a state of comparative insignificance. It seems better, however, with Cheyne, to take it as a symbolic number for a long period of indefinite duration, and so, bringing it into closer connection with the context, to reckon the period from its conquest by the Assyrians.

According to the days of one king.—We look in vain for any ruler of Assyria or Babylon whose reign was of this length, and the words probably mean, as the days fixed by a kingi.e., by a despotic and absolute decree. Possibly, however, the “one king” may stand for one dynasty.

Shall Tyre sing as an harlot.—Literally, there shall be to Tyre as the song of the harlot, possibly referring to some well-known lyric of this type. The commercial city, welcoming foreigners of all nations as her lovers for the sake of gain, is compared to the prostitute who sells herself for money. (Comp. Revelation 17:2.)

Isaiah 23:15-17. And it shall come to pass, &c. — Here begins the second part of this discourse, which contains an alleviation of the judgment decreed against Tyre. The prophet foretels, 1st, “That God would circumscribe within certain bounds his severity to Tyre, and within seventy years restore it to its former state;” and, 2d, “That in process of time the Tyrians should be converted to the true religion,” Isaiah 23:18. The former particular is predicted, first literally, and then figuratively. Tyre shall be forgotten — Neglected and forsaken by those who used to traffic with her; seventy years, according to the days of one king — “Or kingdom, meaning the Babylonian, which was to continue seventy years.” After the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing as a harlot, &c. — The plain meaning of this metaphorical passage, says Bishop Newton, in which Tyre is represented as a harlot, “is, that she should lie neglected of traders and merchants for seventy years, as long as the Babylonian empire lasted, and after that she should recover her liberties and her trade, and draw in several of all nations to deal with her, and particularly the kings of the earth to buy her purples, which were worn chiefly by emperors and kings, and for which Tyre was famous above all places in the world. Seventy years was the time prefixed for the duration of the Babylonian empire. So long the nations were to groan under that tyrannical yoke, though these nations were subdued, some sooner, some later than others, Jeremiah 25:11-12. Accordingly, at the end of seventy years, Cyrus and the Persians subverted the Babylonian empire, and restored the conquered nations to their liberty.” The bishop observes further, that these seventy years may also be computed after another manner. “Tyre was taken by Nebuchadnezzar in the thirty-second year of his reign, and in the five hundred and seventy-third before Christ. Seventy years from thence will bring us down to the year five hundred and three before Christ, and the nineteenth of Darius Hystaspis. At that time, it appears from history that the Ionians had rebelled against Darius, and the Phenicians assisted him with their fleets: and, consequently, it is reasonable to conclude that they were now restored to their former privileges. In the succeeding reign we find that they, together with the Sidonians, furnished Xerxes with several ships for his expedition into Greece. And, by the time of Alexander, the Tyrians were grown to such power and greatness that they stopped the progress of that rapid conqueror longer than any part of the Persian empire besides. But this is to be understood of the insular Tyre; for, as the old city flourished most before the time of Nebuchadnezzar, so the new city flourished most afterward, and this is the Tyre that henceforth is so much celebrated in history.”23:15-18 The desolations of Tyre were not to be for ever. The Lord will visit Tyre in mercy. But when set at liberty, she will use her old arts of temptation. The love of worldly wealth is spiritual idolatry; and covetousness is spiritual idolatry. This directs those that have wealth, to use it in the service of God. When we abide with God in our worldly callings, when we do all in our power to further the gospel, then our merchandise and hire are holiness to the Lord, if we look to his glory. Christians should carry on business as God's servants, and use riches as his stewards.Tyre shall be forgotten - Shall cease to be a place of importance in commerce; shall be unheard of in those distant places to which ships formerly sailed.

Seventy years, according to the days of one king - 'That is, of one kingdom (see Daniel 7:17; Daniel 8:20).' (Lowth) The word 'king' may denote dynasty, or kingdom. The duration of the Babylonian monarchy was properly but seventy years. Nebuchadnezzar began his conquest in the first year of his reign, and from thence to the taking of Babylon by Cyrus was seventy years. And at that time the nations that had been conquered and subdued by the Babylonians would be restored to liberty. Tyre was, indeed, taken toward the middle of that period, and its subjugation referred to here was only for the remaining part of it. 'All these nations,' says Jeremiah Jer 25:11, 'shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.' Some of them were conquered sooner, and some later; but the end of this period was the common time of deliverance to them all. So Lowth, Newton, Vitringa, Aben Ezra, Rosenmuller, and others, understand this. That 'the days at one king' may denote here kingdom or dynasty, and be applied to the duration of the kingdom of Babylon, is apparent from two considerations, namely,

(1) The word 'king' must be so understood in several places in the Scriptures; Daniel 7:17 : 'These great beasts which are four, are four great kings which shall arise out of the earth,' that is, dynasties, or succession of kings (Daniel 8:20; so Revelation 17:12).

(2) The expression is especially applicable to the Babylonian monarchy, because, during the entire seventy years which that kingdom lasted, it was under the dominion of one family or dynasty. Nebuchadnezzar founded the Babylonian empire, or raised it to so great splendor, that he was regarded as its founder, and was succeeded in the kingdom by his son Evil-Merodach, and his grandson Belshazzar, in whose reign the kingdom terminated; compare Jeremiah 27:7 : 'And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son's son.' The period of seventy years is several times mentioned, as a period during which the nations that were subject to Babylon would be oppressed, and after that they should be set at liberty (see Jeremiah 25:11-12; Jeremiah 29:10; compare Jeremiah 46:26).

Shall Tyre sing as an harlot - Margin, as the Hebrew, 'It shall be unto Tyre as the song of an harlot.' That is, Tyre shall be restored to its former state of prosperity and opulence; it shall be adorned with the rich productions of other climes, and shall be happy and joyful again. There are two ideas here; one that Tyre would be again prosperous, and the other that she would sustain substantially the same character as before. It was common to compare cities with females, whether virtuous or otherwise (see the note at Isaiah 1:8). The same figure which is used here occurs in Revelation 17:3-19 (compare Isaiah 47:1; Nahum 3:4; Revelation 18:3, Revelation 18:9).

15. forgotten—Having lost its former renown, Tyre shall be in obscurity.

seventy years—(so Jer 25:11, 12; 29:10).

days of one king—that is, a dynasty. The Babylonian monarchy lasted properly but seventy years. From the first year of Nebuchadnezzar to the taking of Babylon, by Cyrus, was seventy years; then the subjected nations would be restored to liberty. Tyre was taken in the middle of that period, but it is classed in common with the rest, some conquered sooner and others later, all, however, alike to be delivered at the end of the period. So "king" is used for dynasty (Da 7:17; 8:20): Nebuchadnezzar, his son Evil-merodach, and his grandson, Belshazzar, formed the whole dynasty (Jer 25:11, 12; 27:7; 29:10).

shall Tyre sing as … harlot—It shall be to Tyre as the song of the harlot, namely, a harlot that has been forgotten, but who attracts notice again by her song. Large marts of commerce are often compared to harlots seeking many lovers, that is, they court merchants of all nations, and admit any one for the sake of gain (Na 3:4; Re 18:3). Covetousness is closely akin to idolatry and licentiousness, as the connection (Eph 5:5; Col 3:5) proves (compare Isa 2:6-8, 16).

Forgotten; neglected and forsaken by those who used to resort thither.

Seventy years; during the whole time of the Jewish captivity in Babylon. For Tyrus was taken by Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah 27:3,8 Eze 26:7, a little after the taking of Jerusalem, and was restored by the favour of the Persian monarchs after the return of the Jews from the captivity of Babylon.

Of one king; either,

1. Of the kingdom of Babylon, which lasted so long after this time; the word king being put for kingdom, as it is Daniel 7:17 8:21; or

2. Of one royal race, of Nebuchadnezzar, including his son, and his son’s son, in whom his family and kingdom were to expire.

After the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing as an harlot; she shall by degrees return to her former state of prosperity and traffic, whereby she shall easily entice the merchants of the world to converse and trade with her, as harlots use to entice their customers by lascivious songs. And it shall come to pass in that day,.... When Tyre is destroyed, from that time forward:

that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years; shall so long lie in its ruin, and not be rebuilt; it shall be without inhabitants, and unfrequented by men; there shall be no merchandise in it during that time; no merchants will come nigh it; she will be like a harlot cast off and forgotten by her lover: the term of time is the same with that of the captivity of the Jews in Babylon, and great part of it at least run out along with it; for Tyre was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, as Jerusalem was, though some time after it, and was restored when the Babylonish empire was destroyed, at the expiration of seventy years:

according to the days of one king; or kingdom, the Babylonish kingdom, which lasted so long in Nebuchadnezzar's family; whose family, he himself, his son, and son's son, are here meant, as Aben Ezra thinks; and seems to be the more commonly received sense; though Kimchi and others understand it of the days of a man, which are seventy years, Psalm 90:10 and so it is added in the Septuagint version, "as the time of a man"; which perhaps was a marginal note, way of explanation, and crept into the text. Jarchi is of opinion King David is meant, whose age was seventy years, though he is at a loss to give a reason for this his opinion; but Kimchi suggests one, and that is, the covenant which was between Hiram king of Tyre and David; and this is mentioned to put the Tyrians in mind of the breach of it, which had brought desolation upon them; some understand this of the King Messiah (i):

after the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing as an harlot; being rebuilt and restored to its former state; as a harlot who has been cast off by her lovers, on account of some disease she has laboured under, and through a dislike of her; but, having recovered her health, makes use of her arts, and this among others, to sing a song, in order to draw, by her melodious voice, her lovers to her again; and so Tyre being built again, and out of the hands of its oppressors, and restored to its former liberty, should make use of all arts and methods to recover her trade, and draw merchants from all parts to her again.

(i) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 99. 1. Yalkut Simeoni in Psal. lxxii. fol. 112. 2.

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 {t} seventy years shall Tyre {u} sing as an harlot.

(t) Tyrus will lie destroyed seventy years which he calls the reign of one king, or a man's age.

(u) Will use all craft and subtilty to entice men again to her.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. seventy years] The period fixed by Jeremiah for the duration of the Exile and the dominion of the Chaldæan Empire (ch. Isaiah 25:11 f., Isaiah 29:10). The number occurs frequently in the later literature: Zechariah 1:12; Zechariah 7:5; Daniel 9:2 ff.; 2 Chronicles 36:21. It is to be noted that in all these cases there is a reference more or less explicit to Jeremiah’s prediction; and the use of the number here is probably to be accounted for in the same way. Ezekiel had used the number “forty” in a precisely similar manner (ch. Isaiah 4:6, Isaiah 29:13).

according to the days of one king] The meaning is uncertain. Possibly it denotes a fixed, unalterable order of things, such as is maintained by the even rule of a single monarch. Some take it to mean “during the existence of one dynasty.”

shall Tyre sing as a harlot] Rather: it shall happen to Tyre according to the song of the harlot,—evidently a well-known popular ballad, quoted in the next verse.

15–18. The appendix. Tyre shall be forgotten for seventy years; afterwards she shall resume her commercial activity, but its profits shall be dedicated to Jehovah’s people.Verses 15-18. - TYRE'S RESTORATION TO PROSPERITY AND CONVERSION TO JEHOVAH. After an interval, expressed by the symbolic number of" seventy years," Tyre is to rise from her ashes, and become once more a prosperous state, resuming her former occupation of a "merchant city," and once more making great gains, which she will devote to the service of Jehovah. St. Jerome thought that this prophecy had not been accomplished in his day. If so, it cannot be said to have been accomplished yet; unless, indeed, Tyre may be regarded as representing the commercial spirit, which. under Christianity, is not necessarily alien from religion, but shows itself sometimes altogether friendly to the Church, supplying ways and means for ten thousand philanthropic and praiseworthy enterprises (ver. 18). Verse 15. - Tyro shall be forgotten; i.e. "shall cease to occupy men's thoughts, as a factor in politics - shall pass out of their calculations, and count for nothing." Seventy years. "Forty years" and "seventy years" are the chief representatives in Scripture of an indefinite time. The week of creation seems to have given to seven its quasi-sacred character, which passed from the primary number to the corresponding decimal one. The sacred use of "seventy" appears first in the "seventy elders" who accompanied Moses to the covenant-feast on Sinai (Exodus 24:9). After this, "seventy 'talents are mentioned as the weight of the bronze offerings for the tabernacle (Exodus 38:29), and "seventy" shekels as the weight of the silver bowls offered by the heads of tribes when the tabernacle was set up (Numbers 7:13-85). The "indefinite" us, of "seventy" is most apparent in such expressions as that of Genesis 4:24, "If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, surely Lamech seventy and sevenfold;" and that of Matthew 18:22, "I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven." "Seventy" seems also to be indefinite in Exodus 15:27; Numbers 33:9; Judges 1:7; Judges 12:13; 2 Samuel 24:15; 1 Kings 5:15: 1 Chronicles 21:14, etc. It is absurd to count the "seventy years" of the present passage, as some do, from the accession of Nebuchadnezzar to the death of Nabonidus, for neither did Tyro begin to be forgotten in the first year of the one prince, nor did she immediately recover herself on the death of the other. According to the days of one king; or, like the days of one king. The period, whatever its length, should be to Type "like the days of one king;" i.e. unchanging, without hope. Oriental kings prided themselves on maintaining an unaltered policy (cf. 2 Kings 25:27; Isaiah 14:17). Shall Tyre sing as an harlot; literally, it shall be to Tyre as [in] the song of the harlot. A particular song seems to be meant, part of which the prophet proceeds to quote in the next verse. 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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