Isaiah 23:8
Who has taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honorable of the earth?
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(8) The crowning city.—The participle is strictly transitive in its force. Tyre was the distributor of crowns to the Phœnician colonies. The Vulg., however, gives “crowned.”

Whose merchants are princes.—It is a fact worth noting in the history of language that the word for “merchants” here, and in Hosea 12:7; Proverbs 31:24, is the same as that for Canaanite. The traffickers of the earth were pre-eminently of that race.

Isaiah 23:8-9. Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre? — Words of admiration. Who, and where, is he that could imagine, or durst attempt such a thing as this? This is the work of God, and not of man. The crowning city — Which was a royal city, and carried away the crown from all other cities: whose merchants are princes — Equal to princes for wealth, and power, and reputation. The Lord of hosts hath purposed it — This is the Lord’s own doing; to stain the pride of all glory — God’s design is, by this example, to abase the pride of all the potentates of the earth, that they may see how weak they are when he sets himself against them.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.Who hath taken this counsel? - To whom is this to be traced? Is this the work of man, or is it the plan of God? - questions which would naturally arise at the contemplation of the ruin of a city so ancient and so magnificent. The object of this question is to trace it all to God; and this perhaps indicates the scope of the prophecy - to show that God reigns, and does all his pleasure ever cities and kingdoms.

The crowning city - The distributer of crowns; or the city from which dependent towns, provinces, and kingdoms had arisen. Many colonies and cities had been founded by Tyre. Tartessus in Spain, Citium in Cyprus, Carthage in Africa, and probably many other places were Phenician colonies, and derived their origin from Tyre, and were still its tributaries and dependants (compare Ezekiel 27:33).

Whose merchants are princes - Princes trade with thee; and thus acknowledge their dependence on thee. Or, thy merchants are splendid, gorgeous, and magnificent like princes. The former, however, is probably the meaning.

Whose traffickers - (כנעניה kı̂ne‛âneyhâ, Canaanites). As the ancient inhabitants of Canaan were "traffickers or merchants," the word came to denote merchants in general (see Job 41:6; Ezekiel 17:4; Hosea 12:7; Zephaniah 1:1 l). So the word Chaldean came to mean astrologers, because they were celebrated for astrology.

8. Who—answered in Isa 23:9, "The Lord of hosts."

crowning—crown-giving; that is, the city from which dependent kingdoms had arisen, as Tartessus in Spain, Citium in Cyprus, and Carthage in Africa (Eze 27:33).

traffickers—literally, "Canaanites," who were famed for commerce (compare Ho 12:7, Margin).

Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre? words of admiration: who and where is he that could imagine or durst attempt such a thing as this? This is the work of God, as is expressed, Isaiah 23:9, and not of man.

The crowning city; which was a royal city, Jeremiah 25:22, and called a kingdom, Ezekiel 28:2,12, and carried away the crown from all other cities, and crowned herself and her, citizens with glory and delights.

Whose merchants are princes; equal to princes for wealth, and power, and reputation. Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city,.... Which had a king over it, to whom it gave a crown; and which crowned its inhabitants with riches and plenty, and even enriched the kings of the earth, Ezekiel 27:33 this is said as wondering who could lay a scheme to destroy such a city, or ever think of succeeding in it; who could take it into his head, or how could it enter into his heart, or who could have a heart to go about it, and still less power to effect the ruin of such a city, which was the queen of cities, and gave laws and crowns, riches and wealth, to others; surely no mere mortal could be concerned in this; see Revelation 13:3,

whose merchants are princes; either really such, for even princes and kings of the earth traded with her, Ezekiel 27:21 or they were as rich as princes in other countries were:

whose traffickers are the honourable of the earth; made rich by trafficking with her, and so attained great honour and glory in the world; see Revelation 18:3.

Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the {m} crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traders are the honourable of the earth?

(m) Who makes her merchants like princes.

8, 9. This is the execution of Jehovah’s purpose, and therefore irreversible.

the crowning city] Or, the crown-giver. Tyre is rightly so-called, inasmuch as some of her colonies (Kition, Tarshish and Carthage) were ruled by kings, subject to the mother-city.

whose traffickers] The word is probably the gentilic noun “Canaanite” which is used with the sense of “trader” in Job 41:6 [Heb. 40:30]; Proverbs 31:24; Zechariah 14:21, as the collective name “Canaan” is in older passages (Hosea 12:7; Zephaniah 1:11). It was of course from the commercial proclivities of the Phœnicians themselves that the word acquired this secondary significance amongst the Hebrews. The petty trade of Palestine seems to have been largely in the hands of Tyrian dealers (Nehemiah 13:16 ff.) and hence a Canaanite came to mean a merchant, just as a Chaldæan came to mean an astrologer and a Scotchman in some parts of England meant a pedlar.Verse 8. - Who hath taken this counsel? Who can have conceived the thought of destroying a city at once so powerful and so conducive to the advantage of other states? The answer is given in the next verse. The crowning city; i.e. "the dispenser of crowns." Either to the governors of her colonies, or perhaps to the other cities of Phoenicia Proper. It is not quite clear whether the kings of those cities needed the sanction of Tyro to confirm them on their thrones, or not. The Hebrew word used must certainly be rendered "crowning," and not "crowned." Whose merchants are princes. Not actually sovereigns, but the chief men in the state under the king. Traffickers; literally, Canaanites. But the ethnic name seems to have early acquired the secondary meaning of "traders" (see Proverbs 31:24; Job 41:6). "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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