Isaiah 23:2
Be still, you inhabitants of the isle; you whom the merchants of Zidon, that pass over the sea, have replenished.
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(2) Inhabitants of the isle . . .—Better, coast. The word was specially appropriate to the narrow seaboard strip of land occupied by the Phœnicians—Zidon, the older city, the “great Zidon” of Joshua 11:8; Joshua 19:28, appearing as the representative of Phœnicia generally. It was her commerce that had filled Tyre and the other daughter cities. The “dumbness” to which the prophet calls the people is that of stupefied terror.

Isaiah 23:2-3. Be still, ye inhabitants of the isles — Hebrew, דמו, be silent; as persons confounded, and not knowing what to say, or as mourners use to be. Silence is a mark of grief and consternation: see Isaiah 47:5; Lamentations 11:10. The prophet here addresses the people of Tyre now fled to the island. The title of island, however, is often given by the Hebrews to places not surrounded by the sea, but only bordering upon it; whom the merchants of Zidon have replenished — With mariners and commodities. Tyre and Sidon, being cities near each other, and both famous for merchandise and navigation, helped to enrich each other. And by great waters the seed of Sihor, &c. — Sihor here means the river Nile, so called, as it is also Jeremiah 2:18, and 1 Chronicles 13:5, from the blackness of its waters charged with the mud, which it brings down from Ethiopia, when it overflows; as it was called by the Greeks Melas, and by the Latins Melo, for the same reason. “The English translation,” says Lowth, “published under Queen Elizabeth, gives us a clearer sense of this verse thus: The seed of Nilus, growing by the abundance of waters, and the harvest of the river was her revenues.” Egypt, by its extraordinary fertility, caused by the overflowing of the Nile, supplied the neighbouring nations with corn, by which branch of trade the Tyrians gained great wealth.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.Be still - This is the description of a city which is destroyed, where the din of commerce, and the sound of revelry is no longer heard. It is an address of the prophet to Tyre, indicating that it would be soon still, and destroyed.

Ye inhabitants of the isle - (of Tyre). The word 'isle' (אי 'iy) is sometimes used to denote a "coast or maritime region" (see the note at Isaiah 20:6), but there seems no reason to doubt that here it means the island on which New Tyre was erected. This may have been occupied even before Old Tyre was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, though the main city was on the crest.

Thou whom the merchants of Zidon - Tyre was a colony from Sidon; and the merchants of Sidon would trade to Tyre as well as to Sidon.

Have replenished - Hebrew, 'have filled,' that is, with merchandise, and with wealth. Thus, in Ezekiel 27:8, Tyre is represented as having derived its seamen from Sidon: 'Theinhabitants of Sidon and of Arvad were thy mariners.' And in Ezekiel 27:9-23, Tyre is represented as having been filled with shipbuilders, merchants, mariners, soldiers, etc., from Gebal, Persia, Lud, Phut, Tarshish, Jayvan, Tubal, Mesheck, Dedan, Syria, Damascus, Arabia, etc.

2. Be still—"struck dumb with awe." Addressed to those already in the country, eye-witnesses of its ruin (La 2:10); or, in contrast to the busy din of commerce once heard in Tyre; now all is hushed and still.

isle—strictly applicable to New Tyre: in the sense coast, to the mainland city, Old Tyre (compare Isa 23:6; Isa 20:6).

Zidon—of which Tyre was a colony, planted when Zidon was conquered by the Philistines of Ascalon. Zidon means a "fishing station"; this was its beginning.

replenished—with wealth and an industrious population (Eze 27:3, 8, 23). Here "Zidon," as the oldest city of Phœnicia, includes all the Phœnician towns on the strip of "coast." Thus, Eth-baal, king of Tyre [Josephus, Antiquities, 8.3,2], is called king of the Sidonians (1Ki 16:31); and on coins Tyre is called the metropolis of the Sidonians.

Be still, Heb. Be silent, as one confounded, and not knowing what to say, or as mourners use to be, Job 2 8,13 Isa 47:5; boast no more of thy wealth and power, as thou usedst to do.

Of the isle, Heb. of Tyrus, which now was an island, Ezekiel 27:3 28:2, till Alexander joined it to the continent, as Pithy reports. Although the title of islands is oft given by the Hebrews to places bordering upon the sea.

Zidon; an eminent city of Palestine, nigh unto Tyre, much concerned with her and for her.

That pass over the sea; that are a seafaring people. Have replenished; with mariners, Ezekiel 27:8, and commodities. Be still, ye inhabitants of the isle,.... Either the isles of Chittim, or other islands that traded with Tyre, the singular being put for the plural, called upon to grieve and mourn, because the city of their merchandise was destroyed, as Kimchi; or of Tyre itself, which being situated at some distance from the shore, was an island itself, until it was joined to the continent by Alexander (q); and even old Tyre might be so called, it being usual in Scripture to call places by the seashore isles; and besides, old Tyre included in it new Tyre, the island, as Pliny (r) suggests; who are instructed to be silent as mourners, and to cease from the hurries of business, which they would be obliged to, and not boast of their power and wealth, as they had formerly done, or attempt to defend themselves, which would be in vain:

thou whom the merchants of Zidon, that pass over the sea, have replenished; Zidon was a very ancient city of Phoenicia, more ancient than Tyre; for Tyre was a colony of the Zidonians, and built by them, and so might be said to be replenished by them with men from the first, as it also was with mariners, Ezekiel 27:8 and likewise with merchants and wares, they being a trading and seafaring people; wherefore they are spoken of as merchants, and as passing over the sea: or this may be understood of the isles replenished with goods by the merchants of Tyre and Zidon, but now no more, and therefore called to mourning.

(q) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 19. (r) Ibid.

Be still, ye inhabitants of the isle; thou whom the merchants of Zidon, that pass over the sea, have {f} replenished.

(f) Have hunted and enriched you.

2. The prophet next apostrophises the inhabitants of the coast (render so, as in ch. Isaiah 20:6), i.e. Phœnicia, calling them to be still, or rather dumb, with bewilderment.

the merchants (in Heb. collective sing.) of Zidon] Zidon is generally interpreted throughout this prophecy as standing for Phœnicia as a whole. This is perhaps unnecessary, although it can easily be justified by usage (see Deuteronomy 3:9; Jdg 3:3; 1 Kings 11:1, &c.). Zidon is said to have been the most ancient of the Phœnician settlements, and its merchants might naturally be spoken of as having founded the commercial prosperity of the country.Verse 2. - Be still; rather, be silent, as in the margin. It would be idle to complain or lament. Ye inhabitants of the isle. Tyro was situated on a small isle, which Alexander joined to the mainland by means of a mole (Arrian, 'Exp. Alex.,' 2:23). It is uncertain, however, whether this isle is meant here, or the strip of Phoenician coast, since the Hebrew 'i has both meanings. Thou whom the merchants of Zidon... have replenished. During the flourishing period of Tyro (B.C. 1025-585), Zidon, though it had generally kings of its own, played a secondary part to Tyre, and for the most part acquiesced in Tyrian supremacy. Its best sailors served in the Tyrian fleet (Ezekiel 27:8), and its merchants were content to enrich the recognized "chief city." Jehovah first of all gives him the blow which makes him tremble in his post, and then pulls him completely down from this his lofty station,

(Note: וּממּעמדך has not only the metheg required by the kametz on account of the long vowel, and the metheg required by the patach on account of the following chateph patach (the latter of which also takes the place of the metheg, as the sign of a subordinate tone), but also a third metheg with the chirek, which only assists the emphatic pronunciation of the preposition, out which would not stand there at all unless the word had had a disjunctive accent (compare Isaiah 55:9; Psalm 18:45; Hosea 11:6).)

in order that another worthier man may take his place. "And it will come to pass in that day, that I call to my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and invest him with thy coat, and I throw thy sash firmly round him, and place they government in his hand; and he will become a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. And I place the key of David upon his shoulder: and when he opens, no man shuts; and when he shuts, no man opens. And I fasten him as a plug in a fast place, and he becomes the seat of honour to his father's house. And the whole mass of his father's house hangs upon him, the offshoots and side-shoots, every small vessel, from the vessel of the basins even to every vessel of the pitchers." Eliakim is called the "servant of Jehovah," as one who was already a servant of God in his heart and conduct; the official service is added for the first time here. This title of honour generally embraces both kinds of service (Isaiah 20:3). It is quite in accordance with oriental custom, that this transfer of the office is effected by means of investiture (compare 1 Kings 19:19): chizzēk, with a double accusative, viz., that of the person and that of the official girdle, is used here according to its radical signification, in the sense of girding tightly or girding round, putting the girdle round him so as to cause the whole dress to sit firmly, without hanging loose. The word memshaltekâ (thy government) shows how very closely the office forfeited by Shebna was connected with that of the king. This is also proved by the word "father," which is applied in other cases to the king as the father of the land (Isaiah 9:5). The "key" signifies the power of the keys; and for this reason it is not given into Eliakim's hand, but placed upon his shoulder (Isaiah 9:5). This key was properly handled by the king (Revelation 3:7), and therefore by the "house-mayor" only in his stead. The power of the keys consisted not only in the supervision of the royal chambers, but also in the decision who was and who was not to be received into the king's service. There is a resemblance, therefore, to the giving of the keys of the kingdom of heaven to Peter under the New Testament. But there the "binding" and "loosing" introduce another figure, though one similar in sense; whereas here, in the "opening" and "shutting," the figure of the key is retained. The comparison of the institution of Eliakim in his office to the fastening of a tent-peg was all the more natural, that yâthēd was also used as a general designation for national rulers (Zechariah 10:4), who stand in the same relation to the commonwealth as a tent-peg to the tent which it holds firmly and keeps upright. As the tent-peg is rammed into the ground, so that a person could easily sit upon it, the figure is changed, and the tent-peg becomes a seat of honour. As a splendid chair is an ornament to a room, so Eliakim would be an honour to his hitherto undistinguished family. The thought that naturally suggests itself - namely, that the members of the family would sit upon this chair, for the purpose of raising themselves to honour - is expressed by a different figure. Eliakim is once more depicted as a yâthed, but it is as a still higher one this time - namely, as the rod of a wardrobe, or a peg driven high up into the wall. Upon this rod or peg they hang (thâlu, i.e., one hangs, or there hangs) all the câbōd of the house of Eliakim, i.e., not every one who wished to be honoured and attained to honour in this way (cf., Isaiah 5:13), but the whole weight of his family (as in Isaiah 8:7). This family is then subdivided into its separate parts, and, as we may infer from the juxtaposition of the masculine and feminine nouns, according to its male and female constituents. In צאצאים (offshoots) and צפעות ("side-shoots," from צפע, to push out; compare צפיע, dung, with צאה, mire) there is contained the idea of a widely ramifying and undistinguished family connection. The numerous rabble consisted of nothing but vessels of a small kind (hakkâtân), at the best of basons (aggânoth) like those used by the priests for the blood (Exodus 24:6), or in the house for mixing wine (Sol 7:3; Aram. aggono, Ar. iggâne, ingân, a washing bason), but chiefly of nebâlim, i.e., leather bottles or earthenware pitchers (Isaiah 30:14). The whole of this large but hitherto ignoble family of relations would fasten upon Eliakim, and climb through him to honour. Thus all at once the prophecy, which seemed so full of promise of Eliakim, assumes a satirical tone. We get an impression of the favouring of nephews and cousins, and cannot help asking how this could be a suitable prophecy for Shebna to hear.

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