Judgment of Tyre

“Pride is so subtle that if we aren’t careful we’ll be proud of our humility. When this happens our goodness becomes badness. Our virtues become vices. We can easily become like the Sunday School teacher who, having told the story of the Pharis … More


In this chapter the prophet extends his message to Tyre, which is Israel’s neighboring nation to the northeastern Mediterranean coastal kingdom (v. 1). Ships making their way eastward from Tarshish (probably in Spain) would stop in Cyprus before going on to Tyre and Sidon which were key cities in the known world of that day and whose merchants were made wealthy through trading (vv. 2-4). Egypt trembled when it heard about Tyre (vv. 5-6), which was known as the happy city that had spread to distant lands (v. 7) and its merchants were honored all over the known world (v. 8).

The prophet next turns to the people of the nearest Phoenician colony, Cyprus. He points to the contrast between Tyre’s past gaiety and wide-flung colonization to its current humbling under the mighty hand of God (vv. 9-10). The pride of Tyre was a sin that God could not ignore. The implication of this passage is that the fall of Tyre would mean the ruin of the commercial trading ventures of Cypress (vv. 11-12) and Western Europe. Neither Tyre or Cypress, across the sea, could be regarded as a haven of safety when Assyria, the instrument of God’s wrath (Isa. 10:5-11), was on the rampage (vv. 13-14). The city of Tyre will be forgotten for 70 years (vv. 15-16). At the end of those 70 years, the Lord will let Tyre get back into business (vv. 17-18). Some of the lessons that Isaiah teaches us from this portion of scripture is: (1) God controls all of the nations of the world and does with them what He pleases. (2) God especially hates the sin of pride. (3) God judges the nations for the way they treat each other.


No matter how frightening the national or international situation may become, because I know that I am one of God’s children, I can have peace because God is on the throne.

Isaiah 23:1-18 (English Standard Version)

The oracle concerning Tyre. Wail, O ships of Tarshish, for Tyre is laid waste, without house or harbor! From the land of Cyprus it is revealed to them. Be still, O inhabitants of the coast; the merchants of Sidon, who cross the sea, have filled you. And on many waters your revenue was the grain of Shihor, the harvest of the Nile; you were the merchant of the nations. Be ashamed, O Sidon, for the sea has spoken, the stronghold of the sea, saying: "I have neither labored nor given birth, I have neither reared young men nor brought up young women." When the report comes to Egypt, they will be in anguish over the report about Tyre. Cross over to Tarshish; wail, O inhabitants of the coast! Is this your exultant city whose origin is from days of old, whose feet carried her to settle far away? Who has purposed this against Tyre, the bestower of crowns, whose merchants were princes, whose traders were the honored of the earth? The LORD of hosts has purposed it, to defile the pompous pride of all glory, to dishonor all the honored of the earth. Cross over your land like the Nile, O daughter of Tarshish; there is no restraint anymore. He has stretched out his hand over the sea; he has shaken the kingdoms; the LORD has given command concerning Canaan to destroy its strongholds. And he said: "You will no more exult, O oppressed virgin daughter of Sidon; arise, cross over to Cyprus, even there you will have no rest." Behold the land of the Chaldeans! This is the people that was not; Assyria destined it for wild beasts. They erected their siege towers, they stripped her palaces bare, they made her a ruin. Wail, O ships of Tarshish, for your stronghold is laid waste. In that day Tyre will be forgotten for seventy years, like the days of one king. At the end of seventy years, it will happen to Tyre as in the song of the prostitute: "Take a harp; go about the city, O forgotten prostitute! Make sweet melody; sing many songs, that you may be remembered." At the end of seventy years, the LORD will visit Tyre, and she will return to her wages and will prostitute herself with all the kingdoms of the world on the face of the earth. Her merchandise and her wages will be holy to the LORD. It will not be stored or hoarded, but her merchandise will supply abundant food and fine clothing for those who dwell before the LORD.

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