Isaiah 23

A Prophecy Against Tyre

1 A prophecy against Tyre: Wail, you ships of Tarshish! For Tyre is destroyed and left without house or harbor. From the land of Cyprus word has come to them.
2 Be silent, you people of the island and you merchants of Sidon, whom the seafarers have enriched.
3 On the great waters came the grain of the Shihor; the harvest of the Nile[a] was the revenue of Tyre, and she became the marketplace of the nations.
4 Be ashamed, Sidon, and you fortress of the sea, for the sea has spoken: “I have neither been in labor nor given birth; I have neither reared sons nor brought up daughters.”
5 When word comes to Egypt, they will be in anguish at the report from Tyre.
6 Cross over to Tarshish; wail, you people of the island.
7 Is this your city of revelry, the old, old city, whose feet have taken her to settle in far-off lands?
8 Who planned this against Tyre, the bestower of crowns, whose merchants are princes, whose traders are renowned in the earth?
9 The LORD Almighty planned it, to bring down her pride in all her splendor and to humble all who are renowned on the earth.
10 Till[b] your land as they do along the Nile, Daughter Tarshish, for you no longer have a harbor.
11 The LORD has stretched out his hand over the sea and made its kingdoms tremble. He has given an order concerning Phoenicia that her fortresses be destroyed.
12 He said, “No more of your reveling, Virgin Daughter Sidon, now crushed! “Up, cross over to Cyprus; even there you will find no rest.”
13 Look at the land of the Babylonians,[c]this people that is now of no account! The Assyrians have made it a place for desert creatures; they raised up their siege towers, they stripped its fortresses bare and turned it into a ruin.
14 Wail, you ships of Tarshish; your fortress is destroyed!
15 At that time Tyre will be forgotten for seventy years, the span of a king’s life. But at the end of these seventy years, it will happen to Tyre as in the song of the prostitute:
16 “Take up a harp, walk through the city, you forgotten prostitute; play the harp well, sing many a song, so that you will be remembered.”
17 At the end of seventy years, the LORD will deal with Tyre. She will return to her lucrative prostitution and will ply her trade with all the kingdoms on the face of the earth.
18 Yet her profit and her earnings will be set apart for the LORD; they will not be stored up or hoarded. Her profits will go to those who live before the LORD, for abundant food and fine clothes.

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 46

  • 1. Joshua 19:29; 1 Kings 5:1; Jeremiah 47:4; Eze 26,27,28; Joel 3:4-8; Amos 1:9-10; Zechariah 9:2-4
  • 2. S Isaiah 13:6
  • 3. S 1 Kings 10:22
  • 4. S Genesis 10:4; Isa 2:16 "fn"
  • 5. S Genesis 1:2; Ezekiel 26:4
  • 6. S Job 2:13
  • 7. Ezekiel 27:5-24
  • 8. Judges 1:31
  • 9. S Genesis 41:5
  • 10. S Isaiah 19:7
  • 11. S Psalms 83:7; Ezekiel 27:3
  • 12. S Genesis 10:15,19
  • 13. Isaiah 54:1
  • 14. Ezekiel 30:9
  • 15. Ezekiel 26:17-18
  • 16. S Genesis 10:4
  • 17. ver 12; S Isaiah 5:14; S Isaiah 21:5; Isaiah 22:2; Isaiah 32:13; Ezekiel 26:13
  • 18. Nahum 3:16
  • 19. Ezekiel 28:5; Revelation 18:23
  • 20. S Isaiah 14:24
  • 21. S Job 40:11
  • 22. S Isaiah 13:11
  • 23. Isaiah 5:13; Isaiah 9:15; Ezekiel 27:3
  • 24. S Exodus 14:21
  • 25. S Psalms 46:6
  • 26. ver 14; Isaiah 25:2; Ezekiel 26:4; Zechariah 9:3-4
  • 27. S ver 7; Revelation 18:22
  • 28. Isaiah 37:22; Isaiah 47:1; Jeremiah 14:17; Jeremiah 46:11; Lamentations 2:13; Zephaniah 3:14; Zechariah 2:10
  • 29. S Genesis 10:4
  • 30. Isaiah 43:14; Jeremiah 51:12
  • 31. Isaiah 10:5
  • 32. S Psalms 74:14; Isaiah 18:6
  • 33. S 2 Kings 25:1
  • 34. Isaiah 10:7
  • 35. S 1 Kings 10:22
  • 36. S Genesis 10:4; Isa 2:16 "fn"
  • 37. S ver 11
  • 38. Jeremiah 25:22
  • 39. S Psalms 90:10
  • 40. Proverbs 7:10
  • 41. S Psalms 90:10
  • 42. Deuteronomy 23:17-18; Ezekiel 16:26; Nahum 3:4; Revelation 17:1; Revelation 18:3,9
  • 43. Jeremiah 25:26
  • 44. Exodus 28:36; S Exodus 39:30; Joshua 6:17-19; Psalms 72:10
  • 45. Isaiah 18:7; Isaiah 60:5-9; Isaiah 61:6; Micah 4:13
  • 46. Amos 1:9-10; Zechariah 14:1,14

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Masoretic Text; Dead Sea Scrolls "Sidon," / "who cross over the sea;" / "your envoys " 3"are on the great waters." / "The grain of the Shihor," / "the harvest of the Nile,"
  • [b]. Dead Sea Scrolls and some Septuagint manuscripts; Masoretic Text "Go through"
  • [c]. Or "Chaldeans"

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