Isaiah Chapter 23 Notes

Isaiah Ch 23 Commentary // larryhuntbiblecommentary.wordpress.com

My notes from Isaiah 23:

v. 4: I do not quite understand the metaphor here.  In general, I believe it is saying that the productivity associated with Phoenicia (Tyre and Sidon) will cease, like that of a mother who no longer bears children.  But I am not sure exactly what the mother represents.  The sea, as the means of Tyre’s wealth, could be the mother, or the fortifications of Tyre,[1] as the means of preserving the city’s ability to gather wealth, could be the mother.

v. 12: The phrase “oppressed virgin daughter” seems like a strange one to use to describe a city that is being justly condemned.  Out of context, it has the natural connotation of innocence and unjust persecution.  One can conclude from the context, however, that the writer believed that Tyre and Sidon were justly condemned, so he obviously did not intend for “oppressed virgin daughter” to signify innocence or moral purity.  My best guess is that the term “virgin” symbolizes the fact that Tyre had never been violated by an invading army before, just as a virgin has never been violated by a man.

v. 15: This is the same seventy-year reign of Babylon that the Jews would have to endure before their own deliverance.

When he writes, “The song about the prostitute,” I wonder if he is referring to a well-known song.

Vs. 17-18: Just as I did not expect the writer to use a term like “virgin” to refer to a wicked city, so here I was surprised to find him using a term like “prostitute” to refer to a city whose “wages will be dedicated to the LORD.”  I suspect that Isaiah chose these terms for the ironic and satirical significance they could have in this context.  For another instance of Isaiah’s use of irony and satire, see 6:9.  As for how Tyre’s wares could have been dedicated to the LORD, Barnes cites Eusebius and Jerome, who claim that much of the wealth of Tyre went to support Christian churches in the city (387).  I believe this, or similar support of faithful Jews before Christianity, would satisfy the prophecy’s claim.

[1] Of course, “the fortress of the sea” (which I am interpreting here as a reference to Tyre’s fortifications) might just as easily be another reference to the sea itself.  Hebrew poetry often made repeated reference to a singe object by using synonymous words and phrases.


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