Isaiah 23:18 Commentaries: 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.
Isaiah 23:18
And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the LORD: it shall not be treasured nor laid up; for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the LORD, to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing.
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(18) Her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord.—The words seem to reverse the rule of Deuteronomy 23:18, which, probably not without a reference to practices like those connected with the worship of Mylitta (Herod., i. 99), forbade gifts that were so gained from being offered in the Sanctuary. Here, it seems to be implied, the imagery was not to be carried to what might have seemed its logical conclusion. The harlot city, penitent and converted, might be allowed, strange as it might seem, to bring the gains of her harlotry into the temple of the Lord. Interpreted religiously, the prophet sees the admission of proselytes to the worship of Israel in the future, as he had seen it probably in the days of Hezekiah (Psalm 87:4). Interpreted politically, the words point to a return to the old alliance between Judah and Tyre in the days of David and Solomon (1Kings 5:1-12), and to the gifts which that alliance involved (Psalm 45:12).

For them that dwell before the Lord . . .—These were probably, in the prophet’s thoughts, the citizens of Jerusalem, who were to find in Tyre their chief resource both for food and raiment. Traces of this commerce after the return of the Jews from the captivity are found in Nehemiah 13:16, “men of Tyre” bringing “fish and all manner of ware” to the gates of Jerusalem. Of the more direct service we find evidence in the fact that Tyrians and Zidonians contributed to the erection of the second Temple, as they had done to that of the first (Ezra 3:7).

Isaiah 23:18. And her merchandise, &c., shall be holiness to the Lord. — The meaning of the prophet is extremely clear, namely, “that the time should come, after the restoration of Tyre, in which the Tyrians, out of reverence to the true God, would consecrate their wealth and gain to him, and would readily contribute that gain and wealth to the support of the teachers of true religion. In short, that the Tyrians should become converts to that religion. The reader will easily observe that the passage is metaphorical.” “The Tyrians were much addicted to the worship of Hercules, as he was called by the Greeks, or of Baal, as he is denominated in Scripture; but, in process of time, by the means of some Jews and proselytes, living and conversing with them, some of them also became proselytes to the Jewish religion; so that we find a great multitude of people from the sea-coast of Tyre and Sidon came to hear our Saviour; and he, though peculiarly sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, yet came into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon; and the first fruits of the gospel there was a Tyrian woman, a woman of Canaan, as she is called, a Syro-phenician by nation. When St. Paul, in his way to Jerusalem, came to Tyre, he found disciples there, who were inspired by the Holy Ghost, and prophesied; and with them he tarried seven days. In the time of Dioclesian’s persecution, the Tyrians were such sincere converts to Christianity that they exhibited several glorious examples of confessors and martyrs; and when the storm of persecution was blown over, under their Bishop Paulinus, they built an oratory, or rather a temple, for the public worship of God, the most magnificent and sumptuous in all Palestine. Eusebius produces this last occurrence in proof of the completion of Isaiah’s prophecy; and St. Jerome is of the same opinion. To these proofs we will only add, that as Tyre consecrated its merchandise and hire unto the Lord, so it had the honour of being erected into an archbishopric, and the first under the patriarchate of Jerusalem, having fourteen bishops under its primacy; and in this state it continued several years.” — Bishop Newton. 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.And her merchandise - The prophecy here does not mean that this would take place immediately after her rebuilding, but that subsequent to the seventy years of desolation this would occur.

Shall be holiness to the Lord - This undoubtedly means, that at some future period, after the rebuilding of Tyre, the true religion would prevail there, and her wealth would be devoted to his service. That the true religion prevailed at Tyre subsequently to its restoration and rebuilding there can be no doubt. The Christian religion was early established at Tyre. It was visited by the Saviour Matthew 15:21, and by Paul. Paul found several disciples of Christ there when on his way to Jerusalem Acts 21:3-6. It suffered much, says Lowth, under the Diocletian persecution. Eusebius (Hist. x. 4.) says that 'when the church of God was founded in Tyre, and in other places, much of its wealth was consecrated to God, and was brought as an offering to the church, and was presented for the support of the ministry agreeable to the commandments of the Lord.' Jerome says, 'We have seen churches built to the Lord in Tyre; we have beheld the wealth of all, which was not treasured up nor hid, but which was given to those who dwelt before the Lord.' It early became a Christian bishopric; and in the fourth century of the Christian era, Jerome (Commentary in Ezekiel 26:7; Ezekiel 27:2) speaks of Tyre as the most noble and beautiful city of Phenicia, and as still trading with all the world. Reland enumerates the following list of bishops as having been present from Tyre at various councils; namely, Cassius, Paulinus, Zeno, Vitalis, Uranius, Zeno, Photius, and Eusebius (see Reland's Palestine, pp. 1002-101l, in Ugolin vi.) Tyre continued Christian until it was taken by the Saracens in 639 a.d.; but was recovered again by Christians in 1124. In 1280, it was conquered by the Mamelukes, and was taken by the Turks in 1516. It is now under the dominion of the Sultan as a part of Syria.

It shall not be treasured ... - It shall be regarded as consecrated to the Lord, and freely expended in his service.

For them that dwell before the Lord - For the ministers of religion. The language is taken from the custom of the Jews, when the priests dwelt at Jerusalem. The meaning is, that the wealth of Tyre would be consecrated to the service and support of religion.

For durable clothing - Wealth formerly consisted much in changes of raiment; and the idea here is, that the wealth of Tyre would be devoted to God, and that it would be furnished for the support of those who ministered at the altar.

18. merchandise … holiness—Her traffic and gains shall at last (long after the restoration mentioned in Isa 23:17) be consecrated to Jehovah. Jesus Christ visited the neighborhood of Tyre (Mt 15:21); Paul found disciples there (Ac 21:3-6); it early became a Christian bishopric, but the full evangelization of that whole race, as of the Ethiopians (Isa 18:1-7), of the Egyptians and Assyrians (Isa 19:1-25), is yet to come (Isa 60:5).

not treasured—but freely expended in His service.

them that dwell before the Lord—the ministers of religion. But Horsley translates, "them that sit before Jehovah" as disciples.

durable clothing—Changes of raiment constituted much of the wealth of former days.

Her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord: he speaks not here of what the Tyrians would do immediately after their restitution, but some time after it, even in the days of the Messiah; of which even some of the Jewish rabbies understand it, and to which the prophets have a special respect in their several prophecies, and Isaiah among and above the rest of them. So this is a prophecy concerning the conversion of the Tyrians to the true religion, of the accomplishment whereof something is said Acts 21:3-5, and more in other authors.

It shall not be treasured nor laid up, either out of covetousness, or for the service of their pride and luxury, as they formerly did; but now they shall freely lay it out upon pious and charitable uses.

For them that dwell before the Lord; for the support and encouragement of the ministers of holy things, who shall teach the good knowledge of the Lord, who dwell in God’s house, and minister in his presence; the support of such persons being not only an act of justice and charity, but also of piety, and of great use and necessity to maintain and propagate religion in the world. Although this doth not exclude, but rather imply, their liberality in contributing to the necessities of all Christians. And her merchandise, and her hire,.... Or, "but her merchandise", &c. not the same as before; or, however, not as carried on at the same time, but many ages after, even in the times of the Gospel; for this part of the prophecy respects the conversion of the Tyrians, in the first ages of Christianity; this is prophesied of elsewhere, Psalm 45:12 and was fulfilled in the times of the apostles, Acts 11:19 and so Kimchi and Jarchi say this is a prophecy to be fulfilled in the days of the Messiah (m); and then the trade of this people, and what they got by it,

should be holiness to the Lord; that is, devoted, at least, great part of it, to holy uses and service; that is, in defraying of all expenses in carrying on the worship of God, for the maintenance of Gospel ministers, and for the supply and support of the poor saints:

it shall not be treasured, nor laid up: in order to be laid out in pride and luxury; or to be kept as useless, to gratify a covetous disposition; or for posterity to come:

for her merchandise shall be laid up for them, that dwell before the Lord; part of what should be gained by trading, at least, should be laid by for religious uses, as is directed, 1 Corinthians 16:1 even for the relief of poor saints in general, who assemble together before the Lord, for the sake of his worship; and particularly for the support of the ministers of the Gospel, who stand before the Lord, and minister in holy things, in his name, to the people:

to eat sufficiently; that they may have food convenient for them, and enough of it; or, in other words, have a sufficient maintenance, a comfortable supply of food for themselves and families, and raiment also; as follows:

and for durable clothing; that they may have a supply of clothing, and never want a coat to put upon their backs. This prophecy, as it belongs to Gospel times, is a proof of the maintenance of Gospel ministers, that they ought to be liberally provided for; and care should be taken that they want not food and raiment, but have a fulness and sufficiency of both, and that which is convenient for them.

(m) So in Midrash, Kohelet, fol. 62. 3.

And her merchandise and her hire shall be {z} holiness to the LORD: it shall not be treasured nor laid up; for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the LORD, for sufficient food and for durable clothing.

(z) He shows that God yet by the preaching of the gospel will call Tyre to repentance and turn her heart from evil and filthy gain, to the true worshipping of God, and liberality toward his saints.

18. merchandise and hire are synonymous; the one is the literal, the other the metaphorical designation of the same fact.

holiness to the Lord] i.e. “dedicated” to Jehovah (in opposition to the letter of Deuteronomy 23:18). The word has no ethical sense; and the idea of “commerce as the handmaid of religion,” if by that it is meant that Tyre’s commerce is to be conducted in a religious spirit, is foreign to the passage. Tyre is still a “harlot” as of old, and her conversion to the true God does not appear to be contemplated here.

shall not be treasured nor laid up] as formerly, for the benefit of Tyre herself. Those that dwell before the Lord are the Jewish people, who according to another prophecy (ch. Isaiah 61:6) are the priests of humanity.

For durable read stately, as R.V. marg. The word is not found elsewhere.Verse 18. - Her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord. There is nothing intrinsically wrong or debasing in commerce. Rightly pursued, and engaged in with the view of devoting the profits made in it to good and pious ends, the commercial life may be as religious, and as acceptable to God as any other. The world has known many merchants who were Christians, in the highest sense of the word. Solomon in his best days was a merchant (1 Kings 9:27, 28; 1 Kings 10:22), but one who employed the wealth which he derived from commerce to the honor and glory of God. It shall not be treasured nor laid up. The merchants shall not lay it up in their own coffers, but expend it wisely and religiously. It shall be for them that dwell before the Lord; i.e. it shall be applied to religious uses - to the sustentation of ministers, the relief of the poor and necessitous among God's people, and other similar purposes. Such an employment of the gains made sanctifies commerce, and makes it a good and a blessed thing.

The prophet now proceeds to relate, as it were, to the Pheonicio-Spanish colony, the daughter, i.e., the population of Tartessus, what has happened to the mother country. "His hand hath He stretched over the sea, thrown kingdoms into trembling; Jehovah hath given commandment concerning Kena'an, to destroy her fortresses. And He said, Thou shalt not rejoice any further, thou disgraced one, virgin daughter of Sidon! Get up to Kittim, go over; there also shalt thou not find rest." There is no ground whatever for restricting the "kingdoms" (mamlâcoth) to the several small Phoenician states (compare Isaiah 19:2). Jehovah, reaching over the sea, has thrown the lands of Hither Asia and Egypto-Ethiopia into a state of the most anxious excitement, and has summoned them as instruments of destruction with regard to Kenaēan (אל, like על in Esther 4:5). Phoenicia called itself Kena‛an (Canaan); but this is the only passage in the Old Testament in which the name occurs in this most restricted sense. לשׁמיד, for להשׁמיד, as in Numbers 5:22; Amos 8:4. The form מעזניה is more rare, but it is not a deformity, as Knobel and others maintain. There are other examples of the same resolution of the reduplication and transposition of the letters (it stands for מענזיה, possibly a Phoenician word; see Hitzig, Grabschrift, p. 16, and Levi, Phoenizische Studien, p. 17), viz., תּמנוּ in Lamentations 3:22 (vid., at Psalm 64:7), and קבנו in Numbers 23:13, at least according to the Jewish grammar (see, however, Ewald, 250, b).

(Note: Bttcher derives the form from מעזן, a supposed diminutive; see, however, Jesurun, pp. 212-216.)

"Virgin of the daughter of Sidon" (equivalent to "virgin daughter of Sidon," two epexegetical genitives; Ewald, 289, c) is synonymous with Kena‛an. The name of the ancestral city (compare Isaiah 37:22) has here become the name of the whole nation that has sprung from it. Hitherto this nation has been untouched, like a virgin, but now it resembles one ravished and defiled. If now they flee across to Cyprus (cittiyim or cittim), there will be no rest for them even there, because the colony, emancipated from the Phoenician yoke, will only be too glad to rid herself to the unwelcome guests from the despotic mother country.

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