Isaiah 23:4
Be you ashamed, O Zidon: for the sea has spoken, even the strength of the sea, saying, I travail not, nor bring forth children, neither do I nourish up young men, nor bring up virgins.
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(4) Be thou ashamed, O Zidon . . .—Zidon is addressed as the mother-city of Tyre. The “strength” (or fortress) of the sea is the rock-island on which the new Tyre was built. She sits as a widow bereaved of her children, with no power to renew the population which once crowded her streets. (Comp. Lamentations 1:1.)

Isaiah 23:4. Be thou ashamed, O Zidon — Tyre is called the daughter of Zidon, Isaiah 23:12, being built and first inhabited by a colony of the Zidonians. Or, rather, as Justin says, “The Zidonians, when their city was taken by the king of Ascalon, betook themselves to their ships, and landed and built Tyre.” Zidon, therefore, as the mother city, is here supposed to be deeply afflicted with the calamity of her daughter. For the sea hath spoken — That part of the sea in which Tyre was, and from which ships and men were sent into all countries; even the strength of the sea — This is added to explain what he meant by the sea, even Tyre, which might be called the strength of the sea, because it was strong at sea, both by its situation, and the strength of its naval forces; saying, I travail not, &c. — I, who was so fruitful that I sent forth colonies into other countries, (of which Carthage was one,) am now barren and desolate.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 thou ashamed, O Zidon - Tyre was a colony of Sidon. Sidon is here addressed as the mother of Tyre, and is called on to lament over her daughter that was destroyed. In Isaiah 23:12, Tyre is called the 'daughter of Sidon;' and such appellations were commonly given to cities (see the note at Isaiah 1:8). Sidon is here represented as ashamed, or grieved - as a mother is who is bereft of all her children.

The sea hath spoken - New Tyre was on a rock at some distance from the land, and seemed to rise out of the sea, somewhat as Venice does It is described here as a production of the sea, and the sea is represented as speaking by her.

Even the strength of the sea - The fortress, or strong place (מעוז mā‛ôz) of the sea. Tyre, on a rock, might be regarded as the strong place, or the defense of the Mediterranean. Thus Zechariah Zechariah 9:3 says of it. 'And Tyrus did build herself a stronghold' (מצור mâtsôr).

Saying, I travail not - The expresssions which follow are to be regarded as the language of Tyre - the founder of colonies and cities. The sense is, 'My wealth and resources are gone. My commerce is annihilated. I cease to plant cities and colonies, and to nourish and foster them, as I once did, by my trade.' The idea of the whole verse is, that the city which had been the mistress of the commercial world, and distinguished for founding other cities and colonies, was about to lose her importance, and to cease to extend her colonies and her influence over other countries. Over this fact, Sidon, the mother and founder of Tyre herself, would be humbled and grieved that her daughter, so proud, so rich, and so magnificent, was brought so low.

4. Zidon—called on, as being the parent country of Tyre (Isa 23:12), and here equivalent to Phœnicia in general, to feel the shame (as it was esteemed in the East) of being now as childless as if she never had any. "I (no more now) travail, nor bring forth," &c. "Strength of the sea," that is, stronghold, namely, New Tyre, on a rock (as "Tyre" means) surrounded by the sea (Eze 26:4, 14-17; so Venice was called "Bride of the sea"; Zec 9:3). Be thou ashamed, O Zidon; for Zidon was a great city near Tyre, and strongly united to her by commerce and league, and called by some the mother of Tyre, which they say was built and first inhabited by a colony of the Sidonians; and therefore she must needs be greatly concerned in the destruction of Tyrus.

The sea; that part of the sea in which Tyrus was, and from which ships and men were sent into all countries.

The strength of the sea: this is added to explain what he meant by the sea, even Tyrus, who might be called the strength of the sea, either actively, because it defended that part of the sea from piracies and injuries; or passively, because it was defended and strengthened by the sea, which encompassed it. And this title is here given to Tyrus, to show what great cause of confusion and fear Zidon had from this example, which for strength was much inferior to Tyrus.

I travail not, nor bring forth children, & c.; I, who was so exceeding fruitful and populous, that I sent forth colonies into other countries, (of which the famous city of Carthage was one,) am now become barren and desolate. Be thou ashamed, O Zidon,.... A city near to Tyre, about twenty five miles from it; Jarchi says it was within a day's walk of it; these two cities, as they were near to each other, so they were closely allied together, and traded much with one another, so that the fall of Tyre must be distressing and confounding to Zidon; and besides, Tyre was a colony of the Zidonians, and therefore, Isaiah 23:12, is called the daughter of Zidon, and could not but be affected with its ruin, and the more, as it might fear the same would soon be its case:

for the sea hath spoken; which washed the city of Tyre; or those that sailed in it; or rather Tyre itself, so called because its situation was by the sea, the island was encompassed with it:

even the strength of the sea; which was enriched by what was brought by sea to it, and was strengthened by it, being surrounded with the waters of it as with a wall, and had the sovereignty over it:

saying, I travail not, nor bring forth children, neither do I nourish up young men, nor bring up virgins; either the sea itself, which now no more brought great numbers of young people to Tyre, children to be educated, young men to be instructed in trade and business, and virgins to be given in marriage, the city being destroyed; or Tyre, which before was very populous, full of children, young men, and maidens, but now desolate; and which formerly sent out colonies abroad, and was a mother city to many, as Pliny says (s); it was famous for the birth of many cities, as Lepti, Utica, Carthage, and Gades or Cales; but now it was all over with her. Some render it as a wish, "O that I had never travailed", &c. and so the Targum.

(s) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 19.

Be thou ashamed, O Zidon: for the {h} sea hath spoken, even the strength of the sea, saying, I {i} travail not, nor bring forth children, neither do I nourish young men, nor bring up virgins.

(h) That is, Tyrus, which was the chief part of the sea.

(i) I have no people left in me, and am as a barren woman, that never had children.

4. even the strength of the sea] Better as R.V. the stronghold of the sea. The fine figure of the lonely sea denying that she ever had children is somewhat marred by the introduction of this clause, as if the poet had corrected himself by an afterthought, and changed the subject of personification from the sea to Tyre. One is tempted to remove the words as a gloss.

I travail not, nor bring forth, &c.] Render with R.V. I have not travailed, nor brought forth, neither have I nourished young men, nor brought up (cf. ch. Isaiah 1:2) virgins.Verse 4. - Be thou ashamed, O Zidon. Zidon, the most ancient and venerable of the Phoenician cities (Genesis 10:15; Joshua 11:8; Joshua 19:28; Judges 18:7; Justin, 18:3, etc.), is called upon to feel shame because Tyre is captured. The ruin of the metropolitan city would be felt as a disgrace by all the lesser towns, and by Zidon especially. The sea... even the strength of the sea; rather, the stronghold of the sea; i.e. Tyre herself. Tyre declares that she is childless, has neither son nor daughter, is as if she had never travailed nor brought forth children. I travail not, etc.; rather, I have not travailed, nor brought forth, nor nourished up, etc. My children being dead or taken from me, it is as if I had never borne them. 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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