“The burden of Tyre. Howl, ye ships of Tarshish; for it is laid waste, so
that there is no house, no entering in: from the land of Chittim it is
revealed to them.”
previous chapter has dealt with Jerusalem, the city which is the origin of
Christianity, so now does this one discuss Tyre, the city that is biblically
representative of the world’s commerce, God’s view of which is ominously
indicated in that the message begins with the word Howl. It is also
significant that Tyre means distress. The burden (prophecy) was of
the city’s coming destruction, and as with many of these OT histories, the
downfall of Tyre foreshadows the collapse of the world’s commercial system
in the now imminent Great Tribulation.
generally believed to have been the ancient name for Spain; as Chittim is
for Cyprus, so the message is that Tyrian sailors returning from Spain,
stopping at Cyprus on their way to Tyre, heard at Cyprus of Tyre’s
destruction. There being “no house, no entering in” describes the total
destruction both of the city and its harbor.
“Be still, ye inhabitants of the isle; thou whom the merchants of Zidon
(Sidon), that pass over the sea, have replenished.”
“Be still” is
better rendered “be silent.” It is the equivalent of the modern “being
struck dumb,” as with awe or sorrow.
inhabitants of the isle” means “inhabitants of the coast lands.” Their
surprise and sorrow would be beyond words to express.
was the twin city of Tyre, the two ports being just a few miles apart.
“And by great waters the seed of Sihor, the harvest of the river, is her
revenue; and she is a mart of nations.”
renders these two verses, “Deathly silence is everywhere! Stillness reigns
where once your bustling port was full of ships from Sidon, bringing
merchandise from far across the ocean, from Egypt and along the Nile. You
were the merchandise mart of the world.”
Sihor was the
ancient name for the upper reaches of the Nile; and the “harvest of the
river” was the grain produced in the Nile valley, and shipped to Tyre and
“Be thou ashamed, O Zidon: for the sea hath spoken, even the strength of the
sea, saying, I travail not, nor bring forth children, neither do I nourish
up young men, nor bring up virgins.”
translates this verse, “Sidon, the sea fortress, cries in her
disappointment, I no longer feel the anguish of labor or bear children; I
have no young sons to rear, no daughters to bring up.” This records the
lament of Sidon upon hearing of Tyre’s destruction. She laments the fall of
the city, for it was she (Sidon) which had founded Tyre, there being
sufficient volume of trade to make both cities very prosperous.
“As at the report concerning Egypt, so shall they be sorely pained at the
report of Tyre.”
translation of this verse is that of The Jerusalem Bible, “When the
Egyptians learn the fate of Tyre, they will be appalled,” for Tyre had been
one of the foremost customers for Egyptian grain.
“Pass ye over to Tarshish; howl, ye inhabitants of the isle.”
the inhabitants of the coastal lands adjoining Tyre, to board ships and flee
wailing to Tarshish [Spain] for refuge.
“Is this your joyous city, whose antiquity is of ancient days? Her own feet
shall carry her afar off to sojourn.”
translates this, “Is this your joyful city founded far back in the past?
Whose footsteps led her abroad to found her own colonies?” Taylor’s
translation being, “This silent ruin is all that is left of your once joyous
land. What a history was yours! Think of all the colonists you sent to
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary however, takes it to be “walking
on foot as captives to an enemy’s land.”
“Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose
merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honorable of the earth?”
crowning city” is variously rendered, “the crown-giver, whose merchants were
princes,” ATT; “... the crowned queen,” Moffatt; “... empire builder, and
top trader of the world,” Taylor.
is answered in the next verse.
“The Lord of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory, and to
bring into contempt all the honorable of the earth.”
translates this, “It was the Lord of hosts who planned it, to abase man’s
pride, to humble human splendor and whatever earth honors,” the
corresponding NT equivalent of this truth being given in Matthew 23:12, “And
whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble
himself shall be exalted.” It is significant that pride heads the list of
things that God hates, see Proverbs 6:16-17, “These six things doth the Lord
hate: yea seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look ....”
“Pass through thy land as a river, O daughter of Tarshish: there is no more
The men of
Tarshish (Spain) were commanded to return to their own land, because with
Tyre destroyed they would neither have to pay tribute nor customs duties to
it, nor was there any longer a market there for their wares.
through their own land “as a river,” continues to speak of their freedom
from Tyre’s dominion. As a river cuts its own path through the land, so
would they be free to choose their own course in life.
is that “they would pour forth from Tyre, as waters flow on when the
barriers are removed,” JFB.
“... no more
strength” is a synonym for Tyre’s vanished power.
“He stretched out his hand over the sea, he shook the kingdoms: the Lord
hath given a commandment against the merchant city to destroy the strong
Jehovah’s hand that was stretched out over the sea, to eliminate the
maritime traffic of Canaan, and thus destroy Tyre by cutting off the trade
that was her very life blood.
“And he said, Thou shalt no more rejoice, O thou oppressed virgin, daughter
of Zidon: arise, pass over to Chittim (Cyprus); there also shalt thou have
by Zidon, was to become like a violated virgin, i.e., worthless,
virgin, daughter of Zidon” doesn’t imply moral purity of the Tyrian women,
but rather that they were cultured and refined in their manner of living, as
are many of their modern day immoral counterparts.
where they might seek refuge, they would be unable to escape the judgment of
God. Nor would the fleeing inhabitants find refuge even if they fled to the
island of Cyprus. Once God’s patience is exhausted there is no way to
escape His wrath.
“Behold the land of the Chaldeans; this people was not, till the Assyrian
founded it for them that dwell in the wilderness: they set up the towers
thereof, they raised up the palaces thereof; and he brought it to ruin.”
translations of this verse are, “Look at the country of the Chaldeans, no
longer a nation; the Assyrians have laid its capital in ruins, a place for
wild creatures of the desert; they erected their siege-works and overthrew
its fortifications,” Moffatt. “It will be the Babylonians, not the
Assyrians, who consign Tyre to the wild beasts! They will lay siege to it,
raze its palaces and make it a heap of ruins,” Taylor. This latter
rendering seems preferable.
“Howl, ye ships of Tarshish (Spain): for your strength is laid waste.”
sailors, stopping at Cyprus on their way home from Spain, and learning there
of Tyre’s destruction, would lament bitterly and inconsolably, for the
devastation of their city spelled their own financial ruin.
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy
years, according to the days of one king: after the end of seventy years
shall Tyre sing as an harlot.”
“Take an harp, go about the city, thou harlot that hast been forgotten; make
sweet melody, sing many songs, that thou mayest be remembered.”
translation - Taylor’s - reads, “For 70 years Tyre will be forgotten. Then
in the days of another king, the city will come back to life again: she will
sing sweet songs as a harlot sings, who, long absent from her lovers, walks
the streets to look for them again and is remembered.”
description is of Tyre’s revival after seventy years, and of her becoming
again a populous prosperous port, attracting, as formerly, merchant ships
from all over the known world of that day.
“And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the Lord
will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit
fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth.”
translates this verse, “At the end of the seventy years Yahweh will visit
Tyre. Once again she will begin to receive the pay of her whoring. She
will play the whore with all the kingdoms on the surface of the earth,” and
the Phillip’s version reads, “At the end of seventy years the Lord will
restore Tyre and she will return to her business and she will traffic with
all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth.”
“And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord: it shall
not be treasured nor laid up; for her merchandise shall be for them that
dwell before the Lord, to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing.”
points to what will be in the Millennium, for history records no such period
in Tyre’s experience. This verse is a symbolic picture of Millennial
conditions relative to world trade (of which Tyre is an OT type) in that
fast approaching era that will conclude this present world’s existence.