Isaiah 23

Listen to Isaiah 23

An Oracle Concerning Tyre and Sidon

1 The 1oracle concerning 2Tyre. Wail, O 3ships of Tarshish, for Tyre is laid waste, 4without house or harbor! From 5the land of Cyprus[a] it is revealed to them.
2 Be still, O inhabitants of the coast; the merchants of 6Sidon, who cross the sea, have filled you.
3 And on many waters your revenue was the grain of Shihor, the harvest of the Nile; you were 7the merchant of the nations.
4 Be ashamed, O 8Sidon, 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."
5 When the report comes to Egypt, they will be in anguish[b] over the report about Tyre.
6 9Cross over to Tarshish; wail, O inhabitants of the coast!
7 Is this your exultant city 10whose origin is from days of old, whose feet carried her to settle far away?
8 Who has purposed this against Tyre, the bestower of crowns, whose merchants were princes, whose traders were the honored of the earth?
9 The LORD of hosts has purposed it, 11to defile the pompous pride of all glory,[c] to dishonor all the honored of the earth.
10 Cross over your land like the Nile, O daughter of Tarshish; there is no restraint anymore.
11 12He has stretched out his hand over the sea; he has shaken the kingdoms; the LORD has given command concerning Canaan to destroy its strongholds.
12 And he said: "You will no more exult, O oppressed virgin daughter of 13Sidon; arise, 14cross over to 15Cyprus, even there you will have no rest."
13 Behold the land of 16the Chaldeans! This is the people that was not;[d] Assyria destined it for wild beasts. They erected 17their siege towers, they stripped her palaces bare, they made her a ruin.
14 18Wail, O ships of Tarshish, for your stronghold is laid waste
15 In that day Tyre will be forgotten for 19seventy years, like the days[e] of one king. At the end of 20seventy years, it will happen to Tyre as in the song of the prostitute:
16 "Take a harp; go about the city, O forgotten prostitute! Make sweet melody; sing many songs, that you may be remembered."
17 At the end of 21seventy years, the LORD will visit Tyre, and she will return to her wages and 22will prostitute herself with all the kingdoms of the world on the face of the earth.
18 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.

Isaiah 23 Commentary

Chapter 23

The overthrow of Tyre. (1-14) It is established again. (15-18)

Verses 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.

Verses 15-18 The desolations of Tyre were not to be for ever. The Lord will visit Tyre in mercy. But when set at liberty, she will use her old arts of temptation. The love of worldly wealth is spiritual idolatry; and covetousness is spiritual idolatry. This directs those that have wealth, to use it in the service of God. When we abide with God in our worldly callings, when we do all in our power to further the gospel, then our merchandise and hire are holiness to the Lord, if we look to his glory. Christians should carry on business as God's servants, and use riches as his stewards.

Cross References 22

  • 1. See Isaiah 13:1
  • 2. [Jeremiah 25:22; Jeremiah 27:2, 3]; See Ezek. 26:2 - 28:24; Joel 3:4-8; Amos 1:9, 10; Zechariah 9:2-4
  • 3. ver. 14; 1 Kings 10:22; 1 Kings 22:48
  • 4. Isaiah 24:10
  • 5. Jeremiah 2:10; See Genesis 10:4
  • 6. ver. 4, 12; Genesis 10:15; Joshua 19:28; Jeremiah 25:22; Jeremiah 27:3; Ezekiel 27:8; Ezekiel 32:30; Joel 3:4; Zechariah 9:2
  • 7. See Ezekiel 27:3-23
  • 8. [See ver. 2 above]
  • 9. ver. 12
  • 10. [Genesis 10:15]
  • 11. [Ezekiel 28:7]
  • 12. [Exodus 14:21]
  • 13. See ver. 2
  • 14. ver. 6
  • 15. ver. 1
  • 16. Isaiah 47:1; Isaiah 48:14
  • 17. [2 Kings 25:1]
  • 18. See ver. 1
  • 19. Jeremiah 25:11, 22
  • 20. Jeremiah 25:11, 22
  • 21. Jeremiah 25:11, 22
  • 22. Revelation 17:1, 2

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. Hebrew Kittim; also verse 12
  • [b]. Hebrew they will have labor pains
  • [c]. The Hebrew words for glory and hosts sound alike
  • [d]. Or that has become nothing
  • [e]. Or lifetime

Chapter Summary


This chapter gives an account both of the desolation and restoration of Tyre, an ancient city of Phoenicia. Its desolation is described as so complete, that a house was not left in it, Isa 23:1 and by the fewness and stillness of the inhabitants of it, with which it had been replenished, it having been a mart of nations, Isa 23:2,3 and by the shame and pain Zidon, a neighbouring city, was put into, on account of it, Isa 23:4,5 and by the removal of its inhabitants to other places, Isa 23:6,7,12 all which is attributed to the counsel, purpose, and commandment of God, to destroy it; whose view was to stain their pride, and bring them into contempt, Isa 23:8-11 the means and instruments made use of to this purpose were the Assyrians or Chaldeans, Isa 23:13 and its desolation is further aggravated by the loss of its trade; hence the merchants of other countries are called to mourning, Isa 23:1,14 the date and duration of this desolation were seventy years, Isa 23:15 after which it should be restored, and its merchandise and commerce with all the nations of the earth be revived again, Isa 23:15-18.

Isaiah 23 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.