Here are the notes on Isaiah 21-24 – a rich passage that will well repay careful study. God bless you.
Because of Calvary,
Isaiah 21-24 English Standard Version (ESV)
Fallen, Fallen Is Babylon
21 The oracle concerning the wilderness of the sea.
As whirlwinds in the Negeb sweep on,
it comes from the wilderness,
from a terrible land.
2 A stern vision is told to me;
the traitor betrays,
and the destroyer destroys.
Go up, O Elam;
lay siege, O Media;
all the sighing she has caused
I bring to an end.
3 Therefore my loins are filled with anguish;
pangs have seized me,
like the pangs of a woman in labor;
I am bowed down so that I cannot hear;
I am dismayed so that I cannot see.
4 My heart staggers; horror has appalled me;
the twilight I longed for
has been turned for me into trembling.
5 They prepare the table,
they spread the rugs,[a]
they eat, they drink.
Arise, O princes;
oil the shield!
6 For thus the Lord said to me:
“Go, set a watchman;
let him announce what he sees.
7 When he sees riders, horsemen in pairs,
riders on donkeys, riders on camels,
let him listen diligently,
8 Then he who saw cried out:[b]
“Upon a watchtower I stand, O Lord,
continually by day,
and at my post I am stationed
9 And behold, here come riders,
horsemen in pairs!”
And he answered,
“Fallen, fallen is Babylon;
and all the carved images of her gods
he has shattered to the ground.”
10 O my threshed and winnowed one,
what I have heard from the Lord of hosts,
the God of Israel, I announce to you.
11 The oracle concerning Dumah.
One is calling to me from Seir,
“Watchman, what time of the night?
Watchman, what time of the night?”
12 The watchman says:
“Morning comes, and also the night.
If you will inquire, inquire;
come back again.”
13 The oracle concerning Arabia.
In the thickets in Arabia you will lodge,
O caravans of Dedanites.
14 To the thirsty bring water;
meet the fugitive with bread,
O inhabitants of the land of Tema.
15 For they have fled from the swords,
from the drawn sword,
from the bent bow,
and from the press of battle.
16 For thus the Lord said to me, “Within a year, according to the years of a hired worker, all the glory of Kedar will come to an end. 17 And the remainder of the archers of the mighty men of the sons of Kedar will be few, for the Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken.”
An Oracle Concerning Jerusalem
22 The oracle concerning the valley of vision.
What do you mean that you have gone up,
all of you, to the housetops,
2 you who are full of shoutings,
tumultuous city, exultant town?
Your slain are not slain with the sword
or dead in battle.
3 All your leaders have fled together;
without the bow they were captured.
All of you who were found were captured,
though they had fled far away.
4 Therefore I said:
“Look away from me;
let me weep bitter tears;
do not labor to comfort me
concerning the destruction of the daughter of my people.”
5 For the Lord God of hosts has a day
of tumult and trampling and confusion
in the valley of vision,
a battering down of walls
and a shouting to the mountains.
6 And Elam bore the quiver
with chariots and horsemen,
and Kir uncovered the shield.
7 Your choicest valleys were full of chariots,
and the horsemen took their stand at the gates.
8 He has taken away the covering of Judah.
In that day you looked to the weapons of the House of the Forest, 9 and you saw that the breaches of the city of David were many. You collected the waters of the lower pool, 10 and you counted the houses of Jerusalem, and you broke down the houses to fortify the wall. 11 You made a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the old pool. But you did not look to him who did it, or see him who planned it long ago.
12 In that day the Lord God of hosts
called for weeping and mourning,
for baldness and wearing sackcloth;
13 and behold, joy and gladness,
killing oxen and slaughtering sheep,
eating flesh and drinking wine.
“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”
14 The Lord of hosts has revealed himself in my ears:
“Surely this iniquity will not be atoned for you until you die,”
says the Lord God of hosts.
15 Thus says the Lord God of hosts, “Come, go to this steward, to Shebna, who is over the household, and say to him: 16 What have you to do here, and whom have you here, that you have cut out here a tomb for yourself, you who cut out a tomb on the height and carve a dwelling for yourself in the rock? 17 Behold, the Lord will hurl you away violently, O you strong man. He will seize firm hold on you 18 and whirl you around and around, and throw you like a ball into a wide land. There you shall die, and there shall be your glorious chariots, you shame of your master’s house. 19 I will thrust you from your office, and you will be pulled down from your station. 20 In that day I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, 21 and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your sash on him, and will commit your authority to his hand. And he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. 22 And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. 23 And I will fasten him like a peg in a secure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his father’s house. 24 And they will hang on him the whole honor of his father’s house, the offspring and issue, every small vessel, from the cups to all the flagons. 25 In that day, declares the Lord of hosts, the peg that was fastened in a secure place will give way, and it will be cut down and fall, and the load that was on it will be cut off, for the Lord has spoken.”
An Oracle Concerning Tyre and Sidon
23 The oracle concerning Tyre.
Wail, O ships of Tarshish,
for Tyre is laid waste, without house or harbor!
From the land of Cyprus[c]
it is revealed to them.
2 Be still, O inhabitants of the coast;
the merchants of Sidon, 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 the merchant of the nations.
4 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.”
5 When the report comes to Egypt,
they will be in anguish[d] over the report about Tyre.
6 Cross over to Tarshish;
wail, O inhabitants of the coast!
7 Is this your exultant city
whose 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,
to defile the pompous pride of all glory,[e]
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 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.
12 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.”
13 Behold the land of the Chaldeans! This is the people that was not;[f] Assyria destined it for wild beasts. They erected their siege towers, they stripped her palaces bare, they made her a ruin.
14 Wail, O ships of Tarshish,
for your stronghold is laid waste.
15 In that day Tyre will be forgotten for seventy years, like the days[g] of one king. At the end of seventy 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 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. 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.
Judgment on the Whole Earth
24 Behold, the Lord will empty the earth[h] and make it desolate,
and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants.
2 And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest;
as with the slave, so with his master;
as with the maid, so with her mistress;
as with the buyer, so with the seller;
as with the lender, so with the borrower;
as with the creditor, so with the debtor.
3 The earth shall be utterly empty and utterly plundered;
for the Lord has spoken this word.
4 The earth mourns and withers;
the world languishes and withers;
the highest people of the earth languish.
5 The earth lies defiled
under its inhabitants;
for they have transgressed the laws,
violated the statutes,
broken the everlasting covenant.
6 Therefore a curse devours the earth,
and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt;
therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched,
and few men are left.
7 The wine mourns,
the vine languishes,
all the merry-hearted sigh.
8 The mirth of the tambourines is stilled,
the noise of the jubilant has ceased,
the mirth of the lyre is stilled.
9 No more do they drink wine with singing;
strong drink is bitter to those who drink it.
10 The wasted city is broken down;
every house is shut up so that none can enter.
11 There is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine;
all joy has grown dark;
the gladness of the earth is banished.
12 Desolation is left in the city;
the gates are battered into ruins.
13 For thus it shall be in the midst of the earth
among the nations,
as when an olive tree is beaten,
as at the gleaning when the grape harvest is done.
14 They lift up their voices, they sing for joy;
over the majesty of the Lord they shout from the west.[i]
15 Therefore in the east[j] give glory to the Lord;
in the coastlands of the sea, give glory to the name of the Lord, the God of Israel.
16 From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise,
of glory to the Righteous One.
But I say, “I waste away,
I waste away. Woe is me!
For the traitors have betrayed,
with betrayal the traitors have betrayed.”
17 Terror and the pit and the snare[k]
are upon you, O inhabitant of the earth!
18 He who flees at the sound of the terror
shall fall into the pit,
and he who climbs out of the pit
shall be caught in the snare.
For the windows of heaven are opened,
and the foundations of the earth tremble.
19 The earth is utterly broken,
the earth is split apart,
the earth is violently shaken.
20 The earth staggers like a drunken man;
it sways like a hut;
its transgression lies heavy upon it,
and it falls, and will not rise again.
21 On that day the Lord will punish
the host of heaven, in heaven,
and the kings of the earth, on the earth.
22 They will be gathered together
as prisoners in a pit;
they will be shut up in a prison,
and after many days they will be punished.
23 Then the moon will be confounded
and the sun ashamed,
for the Lord of hosts reigns
on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem,
and his glory will be before his elders.
Grace Bible Fellowship Church
Adult SS Elective: Isaiah 21:1-24:23
September 11, 2016
- Babylon (21:1-10)
“A disjointed, vivid picture (2-7) builds up of an attack by the Persians (Elam as a Persian satrapy) and Medes (2) which will catch the defenders of Babylon unprepared and feasting (5), just as Dn. 5 records of them. But Isaiah’s….great agitation in vs 3-4 is akin to Jeremiah’s in Je. 4:19-26, even though the fall of the persecuting city, this place of groaning (2), is the thing he has longed for (4). But these opposite reactions throw incidental light on the writing of the later chapters, in that they are the very feelings of one to whom (as to the exiles) Babylon seemed both prison and home.
“In v.8a…the NIV justifiably follows the Qumran MS. The prophet, just when his vigil appears endless, sees the promised cavalcade and knows that it spells the end of Babylon. Rev. 18:2 takes up the cry of ‘Fallen, fallen’ and treats Babylon as typical of the godless world. The final outburst, ‘O my threshed and winnowed one’ (RSV), captures not only the agony, but the purpose, of Israel’s long ordeal.” [Kidner, p. 646]
“Isaiah compares the attack of Elam and Media on Babylon to whirlwinds coming from the desert…. He sees the prepared tables, the banquets, and the drinking of the Babylonians, but he cannot reach the officers to warn them…. The picture fits in well with the fest of Belshazzar in Daniel 5….
“Next the Lord commands him to serve as a watchman and to report on any movement. A man in a chariot gives him the awaited report: ‘Babylon has fallen’ (v. 9; cf. Rev. 18:2). This is God’s word of deliverance to his people.” [VanGemeren, p. 488]
- A Vision Received (21:1-2a)
- An End Envisaged (21:2b-9)
- A reaction of horror (21:3-4)
“Physically (3) and emotionally (4a) Isaiah goes into shock…. Isaiah confesses he had longed to see the Lord come and put the world to rights but the dire vision has revealed the other side of such an intervention; not what it will mean for the saved but what it will mean for the lost (cf. 2 Thes. 1:6-10). He has seen the horror inseparable from the day of the Lord. On one level the horror is what is coming to the historical Babylon, with which Hezekiah is busy allying himself.” [Motyer, p. 174]
“We hear a great deal about the pain of unanswered prayer. What about the pain of answered prayer. What about the light that blisters and burns?” [W. E. Sangster, Can I Know God? (New York: Abingdon Press, 1960), p. 121]
“Two rabbis approaching Jerusalem observed a fox running upon the hill Zion. And Rabbi Joshua wept; but Rabbi Eliezer laughed. ‘Wherefore dost thou laugh?’ said he who wept. ‘Nay, wherefore dost thou weep?’ demanded Eliezer. ‘I weep,’ replied Rabbi Joshua, ‘because I see what is written fulfilled. Because of Mount Zion, which is desolate, the poor walk upon it. ‘And therefore,’ said Rabbi Eliezer, ‘do I laugh; for I have thereby a pledge that as God has fulfilled His threatenings to the very letter, so not one of His promises shall fall; for He is ever more ready to show mercy than judgment.’” [Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 179]
- A reaction of Pleasure (21:5)
- An End Accomplished (21:6-9)
“Under the figure of a threshing-ground and the son of a threshing-floor (i.e. the corn threshed upon it), the Prophet describes his own beaten, crushed, and pounded people.” [Matthew Arnold in Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 181-182]
“The threshing and winnowing of the Lord’s people…will be protracted. Darkness prevails rather than light and things go on as they always have done (cf. 2 Pet. 3:4), day and night coming from now here and going nowhere.” [Motyer, p. 176]
“Crushed as Judah is under Assyria, it is no solution to link itself with doomed Babylon…” [Motyer, p. 173]
“It is all too easy, amid the batterings of life, to opt for an apparent escape or relief based on compromise. It is hard to maintain the walk of faith, to believe that when crushed we are still his people.” [Motyer, p. 176]
- A Message Reported (21:10)
- Edom (21:11-12)
“The place-names belong to Edom, but the title Dumah (cf. Gn. 25:14) may have been chosen for its ominous meaning, ‘silence.’ The point of the question is ‘how long till morning?’ ― reflecting a time of suffering. The reply is not a platitude but a warning that any respite will be only temporary (cf. Pr. 4:18-19). The three Heb. imperatives, lit. ‘ask, return, come’ (12:b) can be taken at their surface meaning or, more deeply, as the basic divine call: ‘Seek, repent, come’. But Edom’s answer can be gathered from e.g. 34:5-17 and from Obadiah.” [Kidner, p. 646]
“Twice an Edomite calls upon the watchman (Isaiah) to predict the end of ‘the night’ of distress. He responds that the morning of ‘hope’ will come, but can say no more.” [VanGemeren, p. 488]
“God’s program is carried forward not only in great dramatic acts (9) but also in long tracts of time when nothing seems to be happening. Isaiah imposed on his enquirer the bitterest medicine of all, the discipline of sticking it out.” [Motyer, p. 177]
- Arabia (21:13-17)
- The Vision (21:13-15)
“The special significance of this oracle lies in its warning to the freest and most inaccessible of tribes that Assyria’s long arm will reach even them, at God’s command.” [Kidner, p. 646]
- The Meaning (21:16-17)
“The people of Kedar…were also known as caravaneers and were respected for their prowess with bows and arrows. These warlike archers were able to protect the caravans as they migrates across the Arabian desert, but they are bit able to defend themselves,” [VanGemeren, p. 488]
- Jerusalem (22:1-25)
‘Three oracles are brought together in chapter 22: Jerusalem (verses 1-14); Shebna (verses 15-19); and Eliakim (verses 20-25). They have a common theme in the condemnation of a this-worldly security. Thus, Jerusalem is found cannibalizing itself to make itself safe, without a thought of looking to the Lord (verses 8-11);l Shebna is portrayed as the man concerned only for his own worldly glory, before and after death (verses 16-18); and Eliakim is at risk of becoming the focal point of the security of others to his own and their downfall (verses 23-24). When the city (verses 1-14), the man (verses 15-19) and the family (verses 23-24) become self-sufficient they have committed the unpardonable sin.” [Motyer, p. 180]
- The Self-sufficient City (22:1-14)
“The whole passage is a set piece on the contrast between salvation by faith and salvation by works.” [Motyer, p. 186]
“There is a clear contrast between the city’s gaiety (2a. 13) and its grim future…. Isaiah alone sees where this escapism, which is summed up for all time in v. 13b (cf. 1 Cor. 15:32) will end.
“With characteristic long sight (cf. 21:1-20), he foretells the fall of Jerusalem a century away (586 BC), with its famine casualties (2b, cf. 1a, 4-9), its fugitive leaders (3cf. 2 Ki. 25:4-5) and its houses torn down to strengthen the wall (2b, cf. Je. 33:4)….
“For the Palace of the Forest as an armory (8) see 1 Ki. 10:17, for the water supply (9, 11) cf. the preparations of Ahaz and Hezekiah (7:3; 2 Ki. 20:20) in Isaiah’s own day….
“Note, in all this Jerusalem oscillated between activism (9-11) and escapism (12-14); the former was a denial of faith (11b), the later a denial of repentance.” [Kidner, p. 646]
- Questionable joy (22:1-2a)
“According to verses 1-4, there is a contrast between people and prophet: they rejoice, but he weeps. This is because he sees what they do not see: death, defection and capture (2b-3), in fact nothing less than (lit.) ‘the destruction of the daughter of my people’ (4)…. Isaiah has long known that Jerusalem will fall to some foe, though not to Assyria. It was revealed to him at the time of the Babylonian visit (chapter 39) that Babylon would be the destroyer.” [Motyer, p. 181]
- Coming calamity (22:2b-7)
“Isaiah is not recording the past but envisaging the future as if it were before his very eyes. The fulfillment came in 2 Kings 25:4. Without using the bow…mean s without a shot being fired either in defense or by the enemy…. There was neither resolution to stand nor courage to fight…. Even flight was useless.” [Motyer, p. 182]
“Therefore, i.e. consequent on this vision of the end, the people’s busy plans for life (9-11) ended in death and being deserted by those they trusted (3). Those who survived were destined only for captivity (3). They had planned for a siege (9-11) instead of trusting the Lord and a siege they got in full and plenty!” [Motyer, p. 182]
iii. Past Choices (22:8-11)
“They were now in a great fright, and in this fright they manifested two things much amiss: ― I. A great contempt of God’s goodness and power to help them [v. 8-11]…. II. A great contempt of God’s wrath and justice in contending with them, v. 12-14.” [Matthew Henry’s Commentary IV, p. 92-93]
“The Lord is always the ultimate agent in his people’s experiences, and it suited his purposes at this juncture to test, by the onset of Sennacherib, whether they, under Hezekiah’s favorable leadership would walk in the way of faith or the way of the world…. Note the sense of immediate reaction in You looked in that day. No time was needed for thought; at once self-sufficiency and self-competence took over. Their primary trust was militarism: their stored armaments (8b), their material defenses (9a) and their supplies (9b)” [Motyer, p. 184]
“They made use of all the means they could think of for their own preservation; and it is not for doing this that they are blamed, but, in doing this, they did not acknowledge God… They did not depend upon God for a blessing upon their endeavors, saw no need for it, and therefore sought not to Him for it, but thought their own powers and policies sufficient for them.” [Matthew Henry’s Commentary IV, p. 92-93]
“The Lord was not in their purview. Why bother with faith when you have walls, water and weapons? Why look to God when you can look to your own resources?… The circumstances of the Lord’s people are not chance but design, and their resource is not to change their circumstances (challenging his will) or question them (doubting his will) but to throw themselves in faith upon the doer, the potter himself.” [Motyer, p. 185]
“The Lord, the LORD Almighty is sovereign in status (the Lord, ‘adōnāy), saving by nature (the LORD, Yahweh, the exodus God) and omnipotent in every situation (Almighty ‘of hosts’). How foolish to look to weapons etc. and not to him!… The way to look to him was in a true repentance and contrition (Joel 2:12ff.) which also touched and changed the outer life.” [Motyer, p. 185]
- Culpable joy (22:12-14)
“The unforgivable sin is to believe that is one cannot save oneself one cannot be saved (9-11) and to act as though this world were all (13).” [Motyer, p. 181]
- The Self-sufficient Man (22:14-19)
“…The oracles on Shebna and Eliakim (the only oracles on individuals in chapters 13-27) serve two purposes. First, they show that the choice between faith and works is individual as well as national and that divine judgment reaches to the individual level, and secondly, they provide one of Isaiah’s interim fulfillments…
“Shebna found his identity as a person in the ‘this-worldly’ benefits of his office, and he set about securing his ‘place in history’ by his own efforts. He enjoyed a position as the king’s right hand man in charge of the palace (15). He went in for ostentatious display (splendid chariots; 18) and he intended to perpetuate his memory in a grandiose tomb (16). He was, therefore, individually what the nation was collectively: wedded to present satisfactions and self-confident in the face of the future….” [Motyer, p. 186]
- The Self-sufficient Family (22:20-25)
“Eliakim is given the key, i.e. the authority to legislate and make binding decisions; his purpose is to be a peg, to hold the kingdom firm. The image of the key is found only here in the Old Testament (cf. Rev. 3:7). Peg…means ‘tent peg’ unless the context indicates otherwise (cf. Jdg. 16:14; Zc. 10:4) and the picture is of a tent peg driven into a firm place, holding the tent secure in the wind. This gives force to the altered meaning in verse 25 where Eliakim turns into a ‘wall peg’, a maintenance system for his family. At this point he has departed from his terms of reference.” [Motyer, p. 188]
“Eliakim himself is also brought down at last by the greatness of his power, on account of the nepotism to which he has given way. His family makes a wrong us of him; and he is more yielding than he ought to be, and makes a wrong use of his office to favor them! He therefore falls, and bring down with him all that hung upon the peg, i.e., all his relations, who have brought him to ruin through the rapacity with which they have grasped at prosperity.” [Delitzsch, p. 263]
“The strong title, the Lord Almighty, exposes the folly of trusting a human being when the Lord is there to be trusted.” [Motyer, p. 188-189]
- Tyre (23:1-18)
“Tyre…’pioneer of commerce, parent of colonies, mistress of the sea.’” [Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 188]
“David and Solomon enjoyed warm relations with Tyre, marred only by Tyrian discontent over the cities Solomon ceded (1 Ki. 9:10ff.). Hiram of Tyre ‘always loved David’ (1 Ki, 5:1) and renewed his covenant with Solomon (1 Ki. 5:12), co-operating commercially over the temple (1 Ki. 5:6ff.). But there was another side. Solomon took Phoenician wives and imported the cult of the Sidonian Ashtoreth (1 Ki. 11:1, 5). These high places remained (2 Ki. 23:13) and Isaiah would have grown up with an awareness of Tyre’s corruption of Israel’s most favored king. Phoenician influence was an evil genius to the northern kingdom also, even to the extent of almost replacing Yahweh with the Baal of Sidon (1 Ki. 16, 18). In the Psalms, however, though we find Tyre in a hostile coalition against Israel (Ps. 83:7), yet the psalmist prays that the Gentile nations may come to know the name of the Lord (Ps. 83:18). In Psalm 45 the ‘daughter of Tyre’ brings a gift to the royal wedding (verses 12-13) and in Psalm 87 Tyre is accorded birthright honors in Zion (verse 4). Finally, in the prophets references are for the most part hostile (Je. 47:4; Am. 1:9ff.; Joel 3:4; 4:4; Zc 9:2-4), and it is of Tyre alone that Ezekiel fails to say that they will yet ‘know the Lord (Ezk. 25;7, 11; 30:26). Isaiah, however, looks forward to the dedication of Tyre’s wealth to the Lord and his people (23:18)…
“While the first cycle of oracles (chapters 13-20) placed the people of God amid the political upheavals of the world, the emphasis in the second cycle has been religious: the fall of the idols of Babylon (21:9) and the unforgivable sin (22:14). Suitably therefore, at the end we come to Tyre, the religious corrupter. But just as Egypt, the political oppressor, will yet come into a co-equal status in the Lord (19:25), so Tyre will yet come into a relationship of holiness…. Isaiah puts the matter in a nutshell: the corrupter will become holy merchandise. The care of a Phoenician widow once extended to a prophet (1 Ki. 17:8-16) will be the norm of coming relationships.” [Motyer, p. 189]
“The proved strength of Tyre made it a good test of the sovereignty of the Lord over history; its transformation, in the light of experience, made it a startling example of the sovereignty of mercy.” [Motyer, p. 190]
- The Fall of Tyre (23:1-14)
“The repercussions and causes of Tyre’s fall. The news is pictured as reaching her ships at Cyprus, her nearest colony (1…), leaving them homeless, as making the sea itself seem childless for lack of her merchantmen (4); as striking dismay into Egypt (5); and as scattering the people of Tyre itself (the island, 6) to distant Tarshish (6) or nearby Cyprus (12)….
“The human cause of the overthrow seems in v 13 to be Babylon rather than Assyria, both of which powers subjugated Tyre in Part. (Later the Greeks, and later still the Saracens and the Crusaders, captured and recaptured it.) But the root cause is sought in v 8 and answered in v 9: Who planned this…? The Lord Almighty…. It is a particular instance of his judgment on pride (9) wherever it appears, which is one of the great themes of this book…” [Kidner, p. 647]
“There was an immense vitality in Tyre which made it expand from a small base to become a power of world significance, but never with imperialist ambitions, never with the intention to settle in far-off lands. It was trade, not conquest, which drove Tyrians; nor lordship, but money. The parallel Egypt oracle (19:1-20:6) represents the power of the world pressing on the people of God. Tyre represents the ways of the world exerting their influence.” [Motyer, p. 191]
“Tarshish, probably Tartessus in Spain, the farthest point of their voyages and the chief center of the produce they carried.” Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 188]
“The harvests of the Nile were carried to all lands by Tyrian ships, and Tyrian revenue largely came from this carrying trade.” [Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 189]
“Egypt had no timber, and therefore could not build ships; and if she had had a whole Bashan full of oaks she never would have cut a plank, for Egypt from time immemorial detested the sea…. The Tyrian liked the sea, did not care how broad it was or deep…” [Peoples Bible in Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 190]
“The silence of the shattered city (2-3) gave way to grief over loss of life (4-5) and now to evacuation of refugees, heading (as so often for profit but now in loss) for Tarshish.” [Motyer, p. 191]
“The duration of time is no guarantee against the coming of judgment; Tyre was a ‘joyous city, whose antiquity was of ancient days,’ but judgment would fall upon her in God’s chosen time.” [Pulpit Commentary in Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 190]
“The topic changes from what happened (2-7) to why it happened (8-13), and first of all to the mind behind the change in Tyre’s fortunes: the Lord’s plan…. With all this array of worldly greatness, Tyre is at last faced with the ‘Disposer Supreme’ ― The LORD Almighty.” [Motyer, p. 191]
“Lord of hosts, the real Lord even of idolatrous Phoenicia.” [Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 191]
“The people of Phoenicia can no longer depend on the trade advantages of Tyre… They will have to build up their own land.” [VanGemeren, p. 489]
“In verse 11 the Lord ‘gave an order’. We now learn who received his command and why the displaced Sidonians will find no rest. Tiglath-pileser of Assyria began his bid for world dominion in 745 and by 738 he was able to impose a military governor on Tyre. Tyre, however, continued to be restive under Assyrian overlordship and in 729 was compelled to pay an indemnity of 150 gold talents. Shalmaneser (727-722) besieged Tyre unsuccessfully, and at the end of the eighth century BC Tyre was still in rebellion, negotiating with Egypt against Assyria. Sennacherib laid the mainland waste in 701 and did damage to Tyrian trade. According to Erlandsson ‘only with the decline of Assyria around 630 did Tyre regain complete independence and the capability of creating new riches.’ But an inveterate tendency to meddle in revolt meant continuing trouble with the great empires. Nebuchadnezzar opened a thirteen-year siege in 586 but without ultimate success. Likewise, the Persian Artaxerxes III besieged Tyre in 333, but the rock citadel withstood all assailants till it fell at last to Alexander the Great in 332.” [Motyer, p. 192]
“The epithet ‘virgin’ is applied to Zidon as a fortress hitherto unviolated by a conqueror.” [Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 191]
“If the refugees wonder why they will not be received and allowed to ‘rest’ anywhere, they need only ask who would risk provoking Assyria by receiving them.” [Motyer, p. 192]
- The Recovery of Tyre (23:15-18)
“Tyre is compared to an old prostitute unable to attract interest… It’s abandonment will last ‘seventy years’ (cf. Jer 25:12; 29:10)…. After a period of time the people will be restored, but they must also recognize that a portion of their income must be set apart for the Lord of Hosts (cf. 60:4-14).” [VanGemeren, p. 489]
“What a picture…Isaiah gives of transformation: the converted prostitute consecrating all that the old life, now past and gone, had meant and gained (cf. Lk 7:44-46; Jn. 12:3). Isaiah speaks first of a new status: Tyre’s earnings will be set apart for the LORD/’holiness to the Lord’. This is the word which adorned the high priest (Ex. 28:36) and is used of what belongs to the divine sphere of reality (Lv. 27:9-10). Secondly, he speaks of a new spirit: these earnings will not be stored up or hoarded. The old mercenary spirit will be replaced by generosity. Thirdly, there will be a new allegiance and concern for those who live before the Lord, i.e. Zion’s people (Pss. 27:4; 84:4, 7). The same thought is expressed in Psalm 87:4, where Tyre is granted a birthright in Zion.” [Motyer, p. 193-194]
“Silly man is like the foolish chickens; though the kite comes and takes away many of their fellows, yet the rest continue pecking the ground, never heeding their owner, never minding their shelter. Death comes and snatches away one man here, a second there; one before them, another behind them, and they are killed by death, undone forever; yet they who survive take no warning, but persist in their wicked, ungodly ways (Job 4:20, 21).” [Swinnock, 1673, in Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 192]
- A Message to the World (24:1-27:13)
“After the separate nations (chs. 13-23), now the world as a whole comes into view. These four chapters, often loosely known as the ‘Isaiah Apocalypse’, show the downfall of supernatural as well as earthly enemies (24:21-22; 27:1), and of death itself (25:8). They contain (26:19) one of the two clear promises in the OT of bodily resurrection.” [Kidner, p. 647]
“These four chapters are known as Isaiah’s ‘apocalypse,’ because in them the prophet Isaiah introduces God’s universal judgment, the renewal of the earth, the removal of death and the effects of sin, the deliverance of his people, and the victorious and universal rule of God.” [VanGemeren, p. 490]
“The whole earth is now the focus of attention and not just individual nations and cities. The Lord made the earth and is King over all the earth (Ps. 47:2), so He has a right to do what He pleases. He will punish sinners because they have not respected His covenant (v. 5; Gen. 9:8-17) or cared for the earth as faithful stewards of His gifts. They have disobeyed His will, claimed the earth for themselves, and abused it selfishly.
“When the time of judgment comes, God will pay no attention to anyone’s economic or social status (vv. 2-3). They joyful feast will become a funeral (vv. 7-13); those who try to escape will be trapped (vv. 17-18); and proud leaders will become prisoners (vv. 21-23). The Lord will humble the ‘haughty people’ (v. 4) and the ‘exalted ones’ (v. 21).
“But Isaiah ends on a note of triumph: the Lord will reign gloriously (v. 23)!” [Wiersbe, With the Word, p. 466-467]
- The Lord will judge His enemies (24:1-20)
“In a couple of brief strokes Isaiah presents the extent of devastation effected by God’s judgment on the earth…. This destruction is the result of man’s grievous sin against God and his covenant of preservation (Gen. 9:9-17). His curse rests on all of creation. Man has transgressed against God’s holy ordinances governing the family, morality, preservation of life, and true worship. Therefore, God’s judgment must come upon all men. All have sinned; all are covenant breakers without exception. Yet, God is faithful to his promises in the Noahic and Abrahamic covenants by preserving a remnant.
“The earth is compared to a city after the ravages of fire, war, and earthquake. It lies in ruins. The people left in it are the survivors of the ‘gaiety’ and ‘joy’ of the past (v. 11), which are symbolized by wine (vv. 7, 9). The songs of the revelers have come to an abrupt end, but a new song is being raised.” [VanGemeren, p. 490]
“The emphasis on joylessness is a striking comment on what Heb. 11:25 calls ‘the fleeting pleasures of sin’ (RSV); and RSV’s term ‘the city of chaos’ (10; cf. GN. 1:2) is a witness to sin’s regressive action, turning God’s order back to formlessness.” [Kidner, p. 648]
“This is what they chose: a world without the ordering hand of God and this, in faithful divine justice, is what they got.” [Motyer, p. 204]
- The Lord will keep His promises (24:21-23)
“The one ray of hope is the mention of gleanings (13), the leaving of a few (6), as in 17:6 and in the explicit ‘remnant’ passages, e.g. 10:20-23.” [Kidner, p. 648]