Isaiah 23:6
Pass you over to Tarshish; howl, you inhabitants of the isle.
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(6) Pass ye over to Tarshish . . .—The words have the ring of a keen irony. The Tyrians are told to go to Tarshish, the extreme point of their commerce; not, as before, to bring back their wealth, but to seek safety there as exiles. No nearer asylum would give them safety. So, in the siege of Tyre by Alexander the Great, the Tyrians sent their old men, women, and children to Carthage (Diod. Sic. xvii. 41). So Layard (Nineveh, plate 71) represents enemies of the Assyrians taking refuge in ships (Cheyne). The “isle” or “coast” is, as before, Tyre, and. its neighbourhoods.

Isaiah 23:6-7. Pass ye over to Tarshish — Flee from your own country to Tartessus in Spain, and there bewail your calamity. Or, betake yourselves for refuge to some of the parts to which you used to traffic. The LXX. say, εις Καρχηδονα, to Carthage, which was a colony transplanted from Tyre. Howl, ye inhabitants of the isle — Of Tyre, as Isaiah 23:2. Is this your joyous city? — That formerly lived in so much pomp, and pleasure, and security? Whose antiquity is of ancient days — See on Isaiah 23:1. Tyre, though not so old as Zidon, yet certainly was of very high antiquity. Justin, in the passage above quoted, had dated the building of it at a certain number of years before the taking of Troy; but the number is lost in the present copies. Her own feet shall carry her — Whereas before, like a delicate lady, she would not set her foot to the ground, but used to be carried in stately chariots; afar off to sojourn — To seek for new habitations.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.Pass ye over - That is, ye inhabitants of tyre. This is an address to Tyre, in view of her approaching destruction; and is designed to signify that when the city was destroyed, its inhabitants would flee to its colonies, and seek refuge and safety there. As Tarshish was one of its principal colonies, and as the ships employed by Tyre would naturally sail to Tarshish, the inhabitants are represented as fleeing there on the attack of Nebucbadnezzar. That the inhabitants of Tyre did fire in this manner, is expressly asserted by Jerome upon the authority of Assyrian histories which are now lost. 'We have read,' says he, 'in the histories of the Assyrians, that when the Tyrians were besieged, after they saw no hope of escaping, they went on board their ships, and fled to Cartilage, or to some islands of the Ionian and AEgean Sea' (Jerome in loc.) And again (on Ezekiel 29) he says, 'When the Tyrians saw that the works for carrying on the siege were perfected, and the foundations of the walls were shaken by the battering rams, whatever precious things in gold, silver, clothes, and various kinds of furniture the nobility had, they put them on board their ships, and carried to the islands. So that the city being taken, Nebuchadnezzar found nothing worthy of his labor.' Diodorus (xvii. 41) relates the same thing of the Tyrians during the siege of Alexander the Great, where he says that they took their wives and children to Carthage.

Howl - Deep grief among the Orientals was usually expressed by a loud, long, and most dismal howl or shriek (see the note at Isaiah 15:2).

Ye inhabitants of the isle - Of Tyre. The word 'isle,' however, may be taken as in Isaiah 20:6 (see the note on that place), in, the sense of coast, or maritime country in general, and possibly may be intended to denote Old Tyre, or the coast of Phenicia in general, though most naturally it applies to the city built on the island.

6. Pass … over—Escape from Tyre to your colonies as Tarshish (compare Isa 23:12). The Tyrians fled to Carthage and elsewhere, both at the siege under Nebuchadnezzar and that under Alexander. Pass ye over to Tarshish; flee from your own country to Tarsus of Cilicia, and there bewail your calamities. Or rather, as others render the place, Pass over the sea, which is oft called Tarshish; of which See Poole "Isaiah 23:1".

Of the isle; of Tyrus, as before, Isaiah 23:2. Pass ye over to Tarshish,.... Either to Tartessus in Spain, or to Tarsus in Cilicia, which lay over against them, and to which they might transport themselves, families, and substance, with greater ease; or "to a province of the sea", as the Targum, any other seaport; the Septuagint says to Carthage, which was a colony of the Tyrians; and hither the Assyrian (u) historians say they did transport themselves; though Kimchi thinks this is spoken, not to the Tyrians, but to the merchants that traded with them, to go elsewhere with their merchandise, since their goods could no more be disposed of in that city as usual.

Howl, ye inhabitants of the isle: of Tyre, as in Isaiah 23:2 or of every isle, as Aben Ezra, which traded here, because now their commerce was at an end; so Kimchi.

(u) Apud Hieron. in loc.

Pass ye over to {l} Tarshish; wail, ye inhabitants of the isle.

(l) Tyrus wills other merchants to go to Cilicia, and to come no more there.

6. The second strophe commences here with a summons to the Phœnicians to betake themselves to their Spanish colony for refuge, their own country being at the mercy of the invader. So the Tyrians, when attacked by Alexander the Great, sent all those unfit for war to Carthage, another western colony. Gesenius instances also the projected emigration of the Dutch merchants to Batavia in 1672 if the independence of Holland should be overthrown.Verse 6. - Pass ye over to Tarshish. The advice was good, and may, perhaps, have been followed to some extent. When Sennacherib attacked Elulaeus of Sidon ( B.C. 701), that monarch fled across the sea ('Records of the Past,' vol. 1. p. 35), probably to Cyprus. When Alexander finally ruined Tyre, a part of the population made its escape on shipboard to Carthage (Arrian,' Exp. Alex.,' 2:24, § 8). An escape of the kind is represented in the Assyrian sculptures (Layard, 'Monuments of Nineveh,' first series, pl. 7l). We will refer to this again. But in the meantime the impression is an irresistible one; and the Targum, Jerome, Hitzig, and others, are therefore right in assuming that Eliakim is the peg which, however glorious its beginning may have been, comes at last to the shameful end described in Isaiah 22:25 : "In that day, saith Jehovah of hosts, will the peg that is fastened in a sure place be removed, and be cast down, and fall; and the burden that it bore falls to the ground: for Jehovah hath spoken." The prophet could not express in clearer terms the identity of the peg threatened here with Eliakim himself; for how is it conceivable that the prophet could turn all that he has predicated of Eliakim in Isaiah 22:23, Isaiah 22:24, into predicates of Shebna? What Umbreit says - namely, that common sense must refer Isaiah 22:25 to Shebna - is the very reverse of correct. Eliakim himself is also brought down at last by the greatness of his power, on account of the nepotism to which he has given way. His family makes a wrong use of him; and he is more yielding than he ought to be, and makes a wrong use of his office to favour them! He therefore falls, and brings down with him all that hung upon the peg, i.e., all his relations, who have brought him to ruin through the rapacity with which they have grasped at prosperity.

Hitzig maintains that Isaiah 22:24, Isaiah 22:25 form a later addition. But it is much better to assume that the prophet wrote down Isaiah 22:15-25 at one sitting, after the predicted fate of the two great ministers of state, which had been revealed to him at two different times, had been actually fulfilled. We know nothing more about them than this, that in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah it was not Shebna, but Eliakim, "who was over the house" (Isaiah 36:3, Isaiah 36:22; Isaiah 37:2). But Shebna also filled another office of importance, namely that of sōpher. Was he really taken prisoner and carried away (a thing which is perfectly conceivable even without an Assyrian captivity of the nation generally)? Or did he anticipate the threatened judgment, and avert it by a penitential self-abasement? To this and other questions we can give no reply. One thing alone is certain - namely, that the threefold prediction of Shebna's fall, of Eliakim's elevation, and of Eliakim's fall, would not stand where it does, if there were any reason whatever to be ashamed of comparing the prophecy with its fulfilment.

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