Isaiah 23:13

Isaiah 23:13

Behold the land of the Chaldeans
Not Tyre, as some think, so called, because founded by the Chaldeans, who finding it a proper place for "ships", so they render the word "tziim", afterward used, and which is so interpreted by Jarchi, built the city of Tyre; but the country called Chaldea is here meant, and the Babylonish empire and monarchy, particularly Babylon, the head of it:

this people was not;
a people, or of any great note and figure:

[till] the Assyrian founded it for them that dwell in the wilderness;
Nimrod was the first builder of Babel, in the land of Shinar, and from that land went forth Ashur, and built Nineveh, the city Rehoboth, and Calah, which were built for people that lived scattered up and down in fields and desert places; so that the Assyrians were the first founders of Chaldea; and after it had been inhabited by the Chaldeans, it was seized upon by the Assyrians, and became a province of theirs:

they set up the towers thereof;
the towers of Babylon, not of Tyre. Jarchi interprets it of building bulwarks against Tyre:

they raised up the palaces thereof;
the stately buildings of Babylon; or razed them; so Jarchi; also the Targum,

``they destroyed the palaces thereof:''

[and] he brought it to ruin:
or he will do it; the past tense for the future, i.e. God will bring Babylon to ruin; and therefore it need not seem strange that Tyre should be destroyed, since this would be the case of Babylon. Sir John Marsham F7 interprets the words thus,

``look upon Babylon, the famous metropolis of the Chaldeans; the people, that possess that city, not along ago dwelt in deserts, having no certain habitation; Nabonassar the Assyrian brought men thither, the Scenites (the inhabitants of Arabia Deserta, so called from their dwelling in tents); he fortified the city, he raised up towers, and built palaces; such now was this city, founded by the Assyrian; yet God hath brought it to ruin; Babylon shall be destroyed as Tyre;''

and this instance is brought to show that a city and a people, more ancient and powerful than Tyre, either had been or would be destroyed; and therefore need not call in question the truth or credibility of the prophecy relating to Tyre; but the sense of the whole, according to Vitringa, seems rather to be this: "behold the land of the Chaldeans"; the country they now inhabit; take notice of what is now about to be said; it may seem strange and marvellous: "this people was not"; not that they were of a late original, for they were an ancient people, who descended from Chesed, the son of Nahor, but for a long time of no account, that lived scattered up and down in desert places: till "the Assyrian founded it for them that dwell in the wilderness"; he drove out the Arabians from Mesopotamia, and translated the Chaldeans thither, who before inhabited the wilderness: "they set up the towers thereof, they raised up the palaces"; that is, the Assyrians fortified and adorned the city of Babylon, the metropolis of the country; so Herodotus F8 says the Assyrian kings adorned the walls and temples of Babylon; now behold this land of the Chaldeans, or the people that inhabit it, as poor and as low as they have been, who owe their all to the Assyrians, even these "shall bring" Tyre "to ruin"; so that the instruments of the ruin of Tyre are here described; which, when this prophecy was delivered, might seem improbable, the Assyrians being possessors of monarchy.


FOOTNOTES:

F7 Canon. Chronic. Egypt p. 509. Ed. 4to.
F8 Clio, sive l. 1. c. 184.

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