Isaiah 23:3
And by great waters the seed of Sihor, the harvest of the river, is her revenue; and she is a mart of nations.
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(3) By great waters the seed of Sihor . . .—Sihor (“the dark river”) is as in Jeremiah 2:18, a Hebrew name for the Nile. The corn-trade with Egypt (Ezekiel 27:7, adds the linen-trade) was naturally a chief branch of Tyrian commerce. Practically, indeed, as the Egyptians had no timber to build ships, and, for the most part, hated the sea, their navy consisted of Phœnicians. Tyre practically reaped the harvest that sprang from the inundation of the Nile. For “mart,” read gain. The “great waters” are those of the great sea, i.e., of the Mediterranean.

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.And by great waters - That is, by the abundant-waters, or the overflowing of the Nile. Tyre was the mart to which the superabundant productions of Egypt were borne (see Ezekiel 27)

The seed of Sihor - There can be no doubt that by 'Sihor' here is meant the river Nile in Egypt (see Joshua 13:3; 1 Chronicles 13:5; Jeremiah 2:18). The word שׁחר shichor is derived from שׁחר shachar, "to be black" Job 30:30, and is given to the Nile from its color when it brings down the slime or mud by which Egypt is rendered so fertile. The Greeks gave to the river the name Μέλας Melas ("black"), and the Latins call it "Melo" - (Serv. ad Virg. "Geor." iv. 291. It was called "Siris" by the Ethiopians; perhaps the same as Sihor. The upper branches of the Nile in Abyssinia all receive their names from the "color" of the water, and are called the White River, the Blue River, etc.

The harvest of the river - The productions caused by the overflowing of the river. Egypt was celebrated for producing grain, and Rome and Greece derived no small part of their supplies from that fertile country. It is also evident that the inhabitants of Palestine were early accustomed to go to Egypt in time of scarcity for supplies of grain (see Genesis 37:25, Genesis 37:28, and the history of Joseph, Genesis 41-43) That the "Tyrians" traded with Egypt is also well known. Herodotus (ii. 112) mentions one entire quarter of the city of Memphis that was inhabited by the Tyrians.

Is her revenue - Her resources are brought from thence.

She is a mart of nations - How true this was, see Ezekiel 27. No place was more favorably situated for commerce; and she had engrossed the trade nearly of all the world.

3. great waters—the wide waters of the sea.

seed—"grain," or crop, as in 1Sa 8:15; Job 39:12.

Sihor—literally, "dark-colored"; applied to the Nile, as the Egyptian Jeor, and the Greek Melas, to express the "dark, turbid" colors given to its waters by the fertilizing soil which it deposits at its yearly overflow (Jer 2:18).

harvest of the river—the growth of the Delta; the produce due to the overflow of the Nile: Egypt was the great granary of corn in the ancient world (Ge 41:1-57; 42:1-38; 43:1-34).

her revenue—Tyrian vessels carried Egyptian produce obtained in exchange for wine, oil, glass, &c., into various lands, and so made large profits.

mart—(Eze 27:3). No city was more favorably situated for commerce.

By great waters; by the sea, which is very fitly called the great waters, Psalm 107:23; understand, cometh, or is brought to her.

The seed of Sihor; the corn of Egypt, wherewith Egypt abounded, and furnished divers other parts of the world, whence it was called the granary of the Roman empire; which also was easily conveyed by sea from Egypt to Tyre, and thence to divers other countries. This is called seed, here, as also Haggai 1:10, and elsewhere, by a usual metonymy; and the seed of Sihor, because it grew up the more abundantly because of the overflow of the river, as all sorts of authors have noted. For Sihor is nothing else but Nilus, as appears from Jeremiah 2:18, which is called Sihor, as by the Greeks it was called Melas, from its black colour. And this and no other river seems to be that Sihor, which is so oft mentioned as one of the bounds of the land of Canaan, as Numbers 34:5, &c., because that land, at least in that extent which God allotted and gave it to the Israelites, though they through neglect or cowardice might not actually possess it, did reach to one of the branches of that river. And indeed, if Sihor be not Nilus, that great and neighbouring river is not named in all the Scripture, which seems very improbable.

The harvest of the river: this clause explains the former; that plentiful harvest of corn which comes from the influence and inundation of Nilus, which is emphatically called the river, as here, so also Exodus 1:22 Isaiah 19:5 Ezekiel 29:3,9, as Euphrates is in other texts of Scripture.

Is her revenue; is as easily procured and plentifully enjoyed by her, as if it grew in her own territories.

A mart of nations; a place to which all nations resort for traffic.

And by great waters the seed of Sihor,.... Sihor is the river Nile in Egypt; it had its name from the black colour of its waters, as in Jeremiah 2:18 hence called by the Greeks Melas, and by the Latins Melo: the "seed" of it intends what was sown and grew upon the banks of it, or was nourished by the overflow of this river throughout the land, and includes corn, flax, paper, &c. with which Egypt abounded; and when this is said to be "by great waters", the meaning either is, that it grew by great waters, the waters of the Nile, and through the influence of them; or that it came by great waters to Tyre; that is, by the waters of the sea, the Mediterranean Sea:

the harvest of the river is her revenue; this clause is the same with the former, and serves to explain it; the river is the river Nile, the harvest is the seed that was sown and grew by it, and which at the proper season, when ripe, was gathered from it, and carried in ships to Tyre, with which that city was supplied and enriched, as if it had been its own produce:

and she is a mart of nations; Tyre was a city to which all nations traded, it was a mart for them all, and where they brought their wares to sell, and always found a market for them, here they had vent. The twenty seventh chapter of Ezekiel EZechariah 27:1 is a proper commentary on this clause.

And by great waters the {g} seed of Sihor, the harvest of the river, is her revenue; and she is a merchandise of nations.

(g) Meaning, the corn of Egypt which was fed by the overflowing of the Nile.

3. The easiest translation would be: and on great waters the seed of Shihor, the harvest of the Nile, (was) her revenue, and it (i.e. her revenue) was the gain of the nations. Shihor might be a name for the Nile, as in Jeremiah 2:18; and the meaning would be that the revenue of Tyre (or Phœnicia) was derived from the sea-traffic in Egyptian grain. This was no doubt the case to some extent; but to suppose that the corn trade with Egypt was a principal source of wealth to Tyre is contrary to all the information we possess. The expression of the thought, moreover, is involved and enigmatic, and even if we call to our aid the subtle suggestion that Tyre, with no agriculture of her own, nevertheless reaped a rich harvest by her command of the sea, the idea is still unworthy of Isaiah, and of the rest of this poem.

The translation mart in E.V., instead of “gain” or “merchandise” is hardly justifiable.

Verse 3. - By great waters; rather, on great waters; i.e. on the waters of the Mediterranean (cf. Psalm 107:23; Ezekiel 27:26). The Egyptian vessels conveyed the corn intended for exportation to the ports at the mouths of the Nile, where it was transhipped aboard Phoenician craft, which carried it on the open sea to the countries needing it. We never hear of the Egyptians disputing the trade of the Mediterranean with the Phoenicians and the Greeks, though they certainly had trading-vessels at times on the waters of the Red Sea. The seed of Sihor; i.e. the corn of the Nile valley. "Si-her," or rather "Shihor," is the only proper name by which the Nile is designated in the Hebrew Scriptures. It means "the dark," "the turbid," and may be compared with the modern "Bahr-el-azrak," used of the Eastern or Abyssinian Nile, and with the term" Nilus" itself, if that signifies "the dark blue stream." It occurs, as the name of the Nile, only in Joshua 13:3; 1 Chronicles 13:5; Jeremiah 2:18; and the present place. Is her revenue; i.e. "produces a portion of her annual income." And she is a man of nations (so Gesenius and Ewald). Delitzsch and Mr. Cheyne translate, "It is the gain of the nations," referring "it' to the corn which the Tyrians exported. Isaiah 23:3"Be alarmed, ye inhabitants of the coast! Sidonian merchants, sailing over the sea, filled thee once. And the sowing of Sichor came upon great waters, the harvest of the Nile, her store; and she became gain for nations." The suffixes of מלּא (to fill with wares and riches) and תּבוּאה (the bringing in, viz., into barns and granaries) refer to the word אי, which is used here as a feminine for the name of a country, and denotes the Phoenician coast, including the insular Tyre. "Sidonian merchants" are the Phoenicians generally, as in Homer; for the "great Sidon" of antiquity (Zidon rabbâh, Joshua 11:8; Joshua 19:28) was the mother-city of Phoenicia, which so thoroughly stamped its name upon the whole nation, that Tyre is called צדנם אם upon Phoenician coins. The meaning of Isaiah 23:3 is not that the revenue of Tyre which accrued to it on the great unfruitful sea, was like a Nile-sowing, or an Egyptian harvest (Hitzig, Knobel). Such a simile would be a very beautiful one, but it is a very unlikely one, since the Phoenicians actually did buy up the corn-stores of Egypt, that granary of the ancient world, and housed the cargoes that were brought to them "upon great waters," i.e., on the great Mediterranean. Sichor is a Hebraic form of Siris (the native name of the upper Nile, according to Dionysius Perieg. and Pliny). It signifies the black river (Meals, Eust. on Dion. Per. 222), the black slime of which gave such fertility to the land. "The harvest of the Nile" is not so much an explanation as an amplification. The valley of the Nile was the field for sowing and reaping, and the Phoenician coast was the barn for this valuable corn; and inasmuch as corn and other articles of trade were purchased and bartered there, it thereby became gain (constr. of sachar, Ewald, 213, a, used in the same sense as in Isaiah 18:1-7, Isaiah 45:14, and Proverbs 3:14), i.e., the means of gain, the source of profit or provision, to whole nations, and even to many such. Others render the word "emporium;" but sâchâr cannot have this meaning. Moreover, foreigners did not come to Phoenicia, but the Phoenicians went to them (Luzzatto).
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