The Slave Trade and Human Trafficking, ישעיהו כג:י-יח / Isaiah 23:10-18

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Isaiah 23:10-18

Concerning Tyre, the great city falling was not merely the result of Assyrian king’s desire for war and to conquer other nations. The reason for her fall was due to her pride, her wealth, and her disposition towards other nations, i.e., the slave trade and human trafficking can be used as an example. The God of Israel is Lord over all, Creator of all things, and by this reason He is Lord, King, and God over all! No man or beast is exempt from this fact, all of us will stand before Him one day to give an account. We are called to be humble and seek the Lord God in heaven. Tyre on the other hand was about self-aggrandizement and self-glorying. The Lord God Almighty in fact desires to share His love towards all, to whomever will receive it (see Isaiah 2:1-5, 58:6-12). In addition to this, the Lord God in heaven destroying Tyre was not for the purpose of causing Israel to conquer her, and rule over her. (Isaiah 36:13-20) The purpose of her destruction was to show the foolishness of pride and arrogance before God and men. (Isaiah 2:11, 37:26) The Lord God of Israel is demonstrating the transitory nature of pride and glory and the foolishness of relying upon such things. (Isaiah 2:11, 2:17, 4:2, 5:15-16, 13:19, 14:12-20, 28:1-6; 60:15) Isaiah goes on in his Oracle stating the following:

ספר ישעיה פרק כג
י עִבְרִי אַרְצֵךְ כַּיְאֹר בַּת-תַּרְשִׁישׁ אֵין מֵזַח עוֹד:

Isaiah 23:10 states, “Pass through thy land as a river, O daughter of Tarshish: there is no more strength. (עִבְרִי אַרְצֵךְ כַּיְאֹר בַּת-תַּרְשִׁישׁ אֵין מֵזַח עוֹד)” Now we note something about this phrase עִבְרִי אַרְצֵךְ כַּיְאֹר “passing through the land like a river.” If we watch water coursing over the ground, for example, taking a garden hose and turning on the water and watching the water move over the ground. We note that the direction the water stream takes is the path of least resistance. We note something concerning sin. Sin is the path of least resistance when it comes to the flesh. We recognize this based upon personal experience and upon what Scriptures say, for example what Paul says according to Romans 7:22-25.

We note how the HNT writes Romans 7:22, בָּאָדָם הַפְּנִימִי שֶׁבִּי אֲנִי שָׂמֵחַ בְּתוֹרַת אֱלֹהִים saying “in the inward man in me, I rejoice in the instruction of God.” We note תוֹרַת means “instruction” of God, which is a reference to the Torah of God. The Greek text writes τῷ νόμῳ τοῦ θεοῦ “the law (ܒ݁ܢܳܡܽܘܣܶܗ) of the God” making it clear there is only One God, and it is the Torah that is being referred to here. Paul writes that his inward man delights in the Torah. He goes on saying אַךְ בְּאֵיבָרַי אֲנִי רוֹאֶה חֹק אַחֵר “but in my limbs I see another law” It is important to note the word חֹק is used to make a distinction between the Torah and this other law. The reason being is that the Torah is not inherently bad, but as Paul wrote is the word of God which was supposed to bring life (see Romans 7:10). The חֹק of the body / flesh is at war with the Torah / Instruction of God. This is where this idea enters regarding sin being the path of least resistance when it comes to the flesh. The body wants sin, it wants to disobey. So, when Isaiah states עִבְרִי אַרְצֵךְ כַּיְאֹר בַּת-תַּרְשִׁישׁ אֵין מֵזַח עוֹד “Pass through thy land as a river, O daughter of Tarshish: there is no more strength” he is speaking in this regard. We note that the modern commentaries state that this verse is filled with difficulties. These difficulties disappear when we take a Torah perspective! This seems to fit the context of the oracle best. The LXX however has an alternate interpretation saying the following concerning Isaiah 23:10.

Here the LXX uses the word ἐργάζου meaning “work, labor” your land (γῆν σου). The TgJ writes “10 Remove from thy land, as the waters of a river; flee to a province of the sea: there is no more strength.” The L-Peshitta agrees with the Hebrew bible (ܥܒܪܝ ܠܐܪܥܟܝ ܐܝܟ ܗܢܪܐ). So there is a significant difference here according to the LXX in regard to the translation of the MSS. The idea of ἐργάζου τὴν γῆν σου “work your land” could be paralleled to the idea of becoming farmers, a humbler life, as opposed to the mercantile trade. Note that Israel was an agricultural culture and drawing near to the Lord who is the “good shepherd” there may be an analogy to this type of humble lifestyle and drawing near to the Lord God in heaven. However, like the river passing through the land, through the path of least resistance, sin is to be overcome, to be fought, and we need God’s help and His presence in our lives to overcome!

Isaiah continues saying according to Isaiah 23:11 the following:

ספר ישעיה פרק כג
יא יָדוֹ נָטָה עַל-הַיָּם הִרְגִּיז מַמְלָכוֹת יְהֹוָה צִוָּה אֶל-כְּנַעַן לַשְׁמִד מָעֻזְנֶיהָ:

Isaiah 23:11 states, “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 strongholds thereof. (יָדוֹ נָטָה עַל-הַיָּם הִרְגִּיז מַמְלָכוֹת יְהֹוָה צִוָּה אֶל-כְּנַעַן לַשְׁמִד מָעֻזְנֶיהָ)” The Septuagint translates this saying, ἡ δὲ χείρ σου οὐκέτι ἰσχύει κατὰ θάλασσαν, ἡ παροξύνουσα βασιλεῖς, κύριος σαβαωθ ἐνετείλατο περὶ Χανααν ἀπολέσαι αὐτῆς τὴν ἰσχύν. “But your hand that provoked kings no longer has power over the sea; the Lord Sabaoth commanded concerning Canaan to destroy its power.” This suggests how the Lord God has command of the nations of the earth, as the LXX writes He commanded Canaan to destroy the power of this city and nation. These things suggest that God is always at work in the background, so we can trust and rely upon Him! The sea and wealth that was derived from it, ultimately belongs to the Lord God in heaven. So it is that God is the one who has the power to influence the surrounding nations, for peace, or for war, depending upon how one responds to his call, and his word on his or her life. It is the mercy and grace of God that provides us with the time to respond appropriately in humbleness and Teshuvah. When we read Ezekiel 27, we get a picture of the pride of Tyre.

Ezekiel 27:1-36
27 The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, 2 Now, thou son of man, take up a lamentation for Tyrus; 3 And say unto Tyrus, O thou that art situate at the entry of the sea, which art a merchant of the people for many isles, Thus saith the Lord GOD; O Tyrus, thou hast said, I am of perfect beauty. 4 Thy borders are in the midst of the seas, thy builders have perfected thy beauty. 5 They have made all thy ship boards of fir trees of Senir: they have taken cedars from Lebanon to make masts for thee. 6 Of the oaks of Bashan have they made thine oars; †the company of the Ashurites have made thy benches of ivory, brought out of the isles of Chittim. 7 Fine linen with broidered work from Egypt was that which thou spreadest forth to be thy sail; blue and purple from the isles of Elishah was that which covered thee. 8 The inhabitants of Zidon and Arvad were thy mariners: thy wise men, O Tyrus, that were in thee, were thy pilots. 9 The ancients of Gebal and the wise men thereof were in thee thy †calkers: all the ships of the sea with their mariners were in thee to occupy thy merchandise. 10 They of Persia and of Lud and of Phut were in thine army, thy men of war: they hanged the shield and helmet in thee; they set forth thy comeliness. 11 The men of Arvad with thine army were upon thy walls round about, and the Gammadims were in thy towers: they hanged their shields upon thy walls round about; they have made thy beauty perfect. 12 Tarshish was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of all kind of riches; with silver, iron, tin, and lead, they traded in thy fairs. 13 Javan, Tubal, and Meshech, they were thy merchants: they traded the persons of men and vessels of brass in thy market. 14 They of the house of Togarmah traded in thy fairs with horses and horsemen and mules. 15 The men of Dedan were thy merchants; many isles were the merchandise of thine hand: they brought thee for a present horns of ivory and ebony. 16 Syria was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of the wares of thy making: they occupied in thy fairs with emeralds, purple, and broidered work, and fine linen, and coral, and agate. 17 Judah, and the land of Israel, they were thy merchants: they traded in thy market wheat of Minnith, and Pannag, and honey, and oil, and balm. 18 Damascus was thy merchant in the multitude of the wares of thy making, for the multitude of all riches; in the wine of Helbon, and white wool. 19 Dan also and Javan going to and fro occupied in thy fairs: bright iron, cassia, and calamus, were in thy market. 20 Dedan was thy merchant in precious clothes for chariots. 21 Arabia, and all the princes of Kedar, they occupied with thee in lambs, and rams, and goats: in these were they thy merchants. 22 The merchants of oSheba and Raamah, they were thy merchants: they occupied in thy fairs with chief of all spices, and with all precious stones, and gold. 23 Haran, and Canneh, and Eden, the merchants of Sheba, Asshur, and Chilmad, were thy merchants. 24 These were thy merchants in all sorts of things, in blue clothes, and broidered work, and in chests of rich apparel, bound with cords, and made of cedar, among thy merchandise. 25 The ships of Tarshish did sing of thee in thy market: and thou wast replenished, and made very glorious in the midst of the seas. 26 Thy rowers have brought thee into great waters: the east wind hath broken thee in the midst of the seas. 27 Thy riches, and thy fairs, thy merchandise, thy mariners, and thy pilots, thy calkers, and the occupiers of thy merchandise, and all thy men of war, that are in thee, and in all thy company which is in the midst of thee, shall fall into the midst of the seas in the day of thy ruin. 28 The suburbs shall shake at the sound of the cry of thy pilots. 29 And all that handle the oar, the mariners, and all the pilots of the sea, shall come down from their ships, they shall stand upon the land; 30 And shall cause their voice to be heard against thee, and shall cry bitterly, and shall cast up dust upon their heads, they shall wallow themselves in the ashes: 31 And they shall make themselves utterly bald for thee, and gird them with sackcloth, and they shall weep for thee with bitterness of heart and bitter wailing. 32 And in their wailing they shall take up a lamentation for thee, and lament over thee, saying, What city is like Tyrus, like the destroyed in the midst of the sea? 33 When thy wares went forth out of the seas, thou filledst many people; thou didst enrich the kings of the earth with the multitude of thy riches and of thy merchandise. 34 In the time when thou shalt be broken by the seas in the depths of the waters thy merchandise and all thy company in the midst of thee shall fall. 35 All the inhabitants of the isles shall be astonished at thee, and their kings shall be sore afraid, they shall be troubled in their countenance. 36 The merchants among the people shall hiss at thee; thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt be any more. (KJV)

Here we are seeing the prophecy of Isaiah come to pass. It is obvious that Tyre ships, her trade, and mercantile wealth were the center of her concern, pride, and eventual ruin! We can see the truth of these things, such as according to Ezekiel 27:35-36, how when trade routes are destroyed nations fear. A similar thing is happening today with the supply chain and logistics issues, everything becomes more expensive and just getting the necessities of life can cause serious hardship on the common person. This is where the truth of what Isaiah is saying here comes to the forefront, and we are faced with the reality of who God is, and the truths that are found in the Scriptures. Just as there are physical laws in physics and chemistry, there are also spiritual laws as well. Many take the approach of wanting to live in a fantasy, like a video game, movie, or television show, as opposed to facing the truth and living by that truth. The truth is that we are to rely upon the Lord God in heaven for all things! We are all called to believe God’s word, to believe that God exists, and that Yeshua is His Messiah, and that we are to humble ourselves and repent turning from sin. This is the reality of things according to the Scriptures, and we should not go about our lives simply as we want in disregard to God’s holy Word. If we do live this way, eventually the timer of life will run out, and we will stand before the Holy God and give an account and there will be no hope because of the earthly rejection of Yeshua and the God of Israel! This is the outcome of what is happening to Tyre, as Isaiah goes on saying the following:

ספר ישעיה פרק כג
יב וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא-תוֹסִיפִי עוֹד לַעֲלוֹז הַמְעֻשָּׁקָה בְּתוּלַת בַּת-צִידוֹן כִּתִּיים [כִּתִּים] קוּמִי עֲבֹרִי גַּם-שָׁם לֹא-יָנוּחַ לָךְ:

Isaiah 23:12 states, “And he said, Thou shalt no more rejoice, O thou oppressed virgin, daughter of Zidon: (וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא-תוֹסִיפִי עוֹד לַעֲלוֹז הַמְעֻשָּׁקָה בְּתוּלַת בַּת-צִידוֹן) arise, pass over to Chittim; there also shalt thou have no rest. (כִּתִּיים [כִּתִּים] קוּמִי עֲבֹרִי גַּם-שָׁם לֹא-יָנוּחַ לָךְ)” The idea here is that rejoicing will cease because the people are fleeing from war. Here we are told that Tyre and Tarshish has oppressed בְּתוּלַת בַּת-צִידוֹן “virgin daughter of Zidon.” The second half of the verse speaks to fleeing to Kittim and still finding no rest. This parallels what we read at the end of the book of Jeremiah, how the people refused to listen to the voice of God, to remain in the land of Israel, instead they fled to Egypt, and their sins followed them there too, and they died because of their sins. The LXX translates saying, καὶ ἐροῦσιν Οὐκέτι μὴ προσθῆτε τοῦ ὑβρίζειν καὶ ἀδικεῖν τὴν θυγατέρα Σιδῶνος, καὶ ἐὰν ἀπέλθῃς εἰς Κιτιεῖς, οὐδὲ ἐκεῖ σοι ἀνάπαυσις ἔσται, “12 And they will say, “You will surely no longer continue to abuse and to wrong the daughter of Sidon! Even if you go away to Cyprus, not even there will there be rest for you;” translating כִּתִּים as Κιτιεῖς which is Cyprus. The HALOT Lexicon states the following,

“Kittim n.pop., original, inhabitants of כת Κίτιον (:: Brandenstein 72); in OT: —1. בְּנֵי יָוָן, grandchildren of יֶפֶת Gn 10:4 1C 1:7; —2. people from southern Cyprus Is 23:1, 12 Ezk 27:6 (→ Zimmerli 640); —3. אִיֵּי כִ׳ the Greek Archipelago :: קֵדָר as representative of the East Jr 2:10 (Rudolph 14); 1Macc 11 85 the Macedonian empire; —4. adj. צִיִּים כִּתִּים Da 11:30 the Romans, also Nu 24:24 (Vulg.); —5. in DSS: כתיאים and כתיים, in 1QpHab and Mish., 4Qp Nah, Isa; → Rowley PEQ 88 (1956):1ff.; Reicke-R. Hw. 299.”

Note the variety of locations this Noun represents, Cyprus, the Greek Archipelago (what the ancient Greeks called the Aegean Sea), the Macedonian empire, the Romans. There seems to be a usage that changes for each time period that it is used, such as in the DSS time period it was a reference to Rome. The point is that one cannot flee from his or her sins! This is the perspective that we need to take concerning this verse, the idea that we cannot flee from our sins. We need the Lord, His Mercy, His Forgiveness. This was the purpose of His sending Yeshua into the world to not just show us the way, but to the laying down his life for the forgiveness of our sins! This perspective, of being humble, and not seeking self-aggrandizement, goes hand in hand with being faithful to God. This flies in the face of the world and is very counter cultural in today’s modern terms. The same could be said in the days of Isaiah too. So, the people are told to flee, but they will not find rest or peace for their souls until they repent, seek the God in heaven, and turn from their sins! We remember again that the Lord God is behind this raising up of Assyria, and no matter how far one can flee, it will not be out of reach of God who is far greater than any Assyrian king! (Isaiah 57:19-21)

ספר ישעיה פרק כג
יג הֵן | אֶרֶץ כַּשְֹדִּים זֶה הָעָם לֹא הָיָה אַשּׁוּר יְסָדָהּ לְצִיִּים הֵקִימוּ בַחיּנָיו [בַחוּנָיו] עוֹרְרוּ אַרְמְנוֹתֶיהָ שָֹמָהּ לְמַפֵּלָה:

Isaiah 23:13 states, “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.” (הֵן | אֶרֶץ כַּשְֹדִּים זֶה הָעָם לֹא הָיָה אַשּׁוּר יְסָדָהּ לְצִיִּים הֵקִימוּ בַחיּנָיו [בַחוּנָיו] עוֹרְרוּ אַרְמְנוֹתֶיהָ שָֹמָהּ לְמַפֵּלָה) Here Isaiah ultimately predicts what will happen as Babylon will ultimately be conquered and destroy everything. Looking at the Septuagint (LXX) it is interesting how the Greek translation is more direct in the interpretation on the Isaiah’s text.

We note that the Chaldeans (כַּשְׂדִּים, kasdim) were an ethnic group located in southern Babylonia during the first millennium BC and this group briefly ruled the ancient Near East. The Chaldean King Nebuchadnezzar was responsible for the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of the Judaeans. Mesopotamian sources first mention the Chaldeans during the reign of Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II in the early ninth century BC. The Chaldeans, along with the Arameans, were West Semites. Although many scholars have identified the Chaldeans with the Arameans, ancient Assyrian and Babylonian texts consistently distinguish between the two groups and indicate that the Chaldeans appeared in Babylonia prior to the Arameans. This could be the interpretation Isaiah is speaking of, but in this case, it appears that the Assyrians built the stronghold cities (i.e. walls and towers) of which the Caldeans took. The LXX states that the land of the Caldeans was made desolate by the Assyrians, that the walls and towers is a description of Assyria assailing Babylon. The Targum translation states, “13 Behold the land of the Chaldeans, this is the people that formerly did not exist; the Assyrians founded it in the islands; they raised up her beacons, they destroyed her palaces, they have made her a ruinous heap.” (TgJ) Note that these stronghold cites are described as being in the islands, even the vastness of the sea did not prevent their destruction from the Chaldeans. The LXX suggests that Assyria had destroyed Babylon. John Oswalt states, “If the Phoenicians believed they could escape, they were invited to contemplate their opposite number on the east, Babylon. Assyria, God’s instrument, had, speaking metaphorically, almost exterminated Babylon. They had built siege towers against her wall. In the lower parts of these towers battering rams smashed at the wall, while above, soldiers shot arrows down into the city and let down ramps over which they could rush to attack the defenders. As a result, the Assyrians had conquered the city, stripped its palaces and reduced it to a ruin. While Sargon’s attack in 710 may be the one referred to, it seems more likely that Sennacherib’s much more thorough overthrow of the city in 689 is the one in view. In any case, the prophet’s argument is that if Babylon cannot escape, neither can Tyre, no matter where they flee.” Isaiah goes on saying the following:

ספר ישעיה פרק כג
יד הֵילִילוּ אֳנִיּוֹת תַּרְשִׁישׁ כִּי שֻׁדַּד מָעֻזְּכֶן: טו וְהָיָה בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא וְנִשְׁכַּחַת צֹר שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה כִּימֵי מֶלֶךְ אֶחָד מִקֵּץ שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה יִהְיֶה לְצֹר כְּשִׁירַת הַזּוֹנָה:

Isaiah 23:14 states, “Howl, ye ships of Tarshish: for your strength is laid waste. (הֵילִילוּ אֳנִיּוֹת תַּרְשִׁישׁ כִּי שֻׁדַּד מָעֻזְּכֶן)” Isaiah 23:15 “And it shall come to pass in that day, that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years, (וְהָיָה בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא וְנִשְׁכַּחַת צֹר שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה) according to the days of one king: after the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing as an harlot. (כִּימֵי מֶלֶךְ אֶחָד מִקֵּץ שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה יִהְיֶה לְצֹר כְּשִׁירַת הַזּוֹנָה)” Isaiah draws us back to the ships of Tarshish, their strength being laid waist. The ships themselves, the men, the crew, they are called to lament as well since they no longer have a trade or the ability to make wealth. We note what the Torah states concerning these things:

ספר דברים פרק ח
יח וְזָֽכַרְתָּ֙ אֶת־יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ כִּ֣י ה֗וּא הַנֹּתֵ֥ן לְךָ֛ כֹּ֖חַ לַעֲשֹׂ֣ות חָ֑יִל לְמַ֨עַן הָקִ֧ים אֶת־בְּרִיתֹ֛ו אֲשֶׁר־נִשְׁבַּ֥ע לַאֲבֹתֶ֖יךָ כַּיֹּ֥ום הַזֶּֽה׃

Devarim / Deuteronomy 8:18
18 But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. (KJV)

Here we are told that it is the Lord God in heaven who gives us the strength to make wealth. Because of this we are to remember the Lord God in heaven, His Holy Words, and obey His Words listening to them and applying them to our lives. The ships of Tarshish and Tyre did not know the God in heaven who gave them this ability to work. According to Isaiah 23:15, Tyre is paralleled to the 70 year exile that Israel will be carried away and exiled for. We note that in Isaiah 23:15-18, we are told that ultimately Tyre will return from the 70 year exile, and prostitute herself to the nations again, and her wealth that she acquires will be for God’s people. The point is that Isaiah is pointing out the outcome of faithfulness. We are to remain faithful to the Lord, the King of the nations, and by doing so we will be rewarded. Note that when Judah is carried away, Tyre will lay waste for 70 years, to eventually be inhabited again and those inhabitants will again take up their pride by the very same trade. Isaiah goes on saying the following according to Isaiah 23:16-18.

ספר ישעיה פרק כג
טז קְחִי כִנּוֹר סֹבִּי עִיר זוֹנָה נִשְׁכָּחָה הֵיטִיבִי נַגֵּן הַרְבִּי-שִׁיר לְמַעַן תִּזָּכֵרִי: יז וְהָיָה מִקֵּץ | שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה יִפְקֹד יְהֹוָה אֶת-צֹר וְשָׁבָה לְאֶתְנַנָּה וְזָנְתָה אֶת-כָּל-מַמְלְכוֹת הָאָרֶץ עַל-פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה: יח וְהָיָה סַחְרָהּ וְאֶתְנַנָּהּ קֹדֶשׁ לַיהֹוָה לֹא יֵאָצֵר וְלֹא יֵחָסֵן כִּי לַיֹּשְׁבִים לִפְנֵי יְהֹוָה יִהְיֶה סַחְרָהּ לֶאֱכֹל לְשָֹבְעָה וְלִמְכַסֶּה עָתִיק:

Isaiah 23:16 states, “Take an harp, go about the city, thou harlot that hast been forgotten; make sweet melody, sing many songs, that thou mayest be remembered. (קְחִי כִנּוֹר סֹבִּי עִיר זוֹנָה נִשְׁכָּחָה הֵיטִיבִי נַגֵּן הַרְבִּי-שִׁיר לְמַעַן תִּזָּכֵרִי)” Isaiah 23:17 “And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, (וְהָיָה מִקֵּץ | שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה) that the LORD will visit Tyre, (יִפְקֹד יְהֹוָה אֶת-צֹר) and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth. (וְשָׁבָה לְאֶתְנַנָּה וְזָנְתָה אֶת-כָּל-מַמְלְכוֹת הָאָרֶץ עַל-פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה)” Isaiah 23:18 “And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the LORD: (וְהָיָה סַחְרָהּ וְאֶתְנַנָּהּ קֹדֶשׁ לַיהֹוָה) 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. (לֹא יֵאָצֵר וְלֹא יֵחָסֵן כִּי לַיֹּשְׁבִים לִפְנֵי יְהֹוָה יִהְיֶה סַחְרָהּ לֶאֱכֹל לְשָֹבְעָה וְלִמְכַסֶּה עָתִיק)” Isaiah calls Tyre a prostitute (זוֹנָה) who has been forgotten (נִשְׁכָּחָה). The reason for being forgotten may be that she is old and used up, nobody is interested in her any longer and so Isaiah challenges her to sing songs in the hopes of some who will remember her. Looking at the LXX, the Greek translation draws in the idea of God causing this prostitute to lament and roam the city after the 70 years, and how the Lord God will restore Tyre to her former state.

Note that the English translation (LES2) provides a little translatory license, the Greek text speaks of Tyre taking the lyre and singing of her being like her former memory (σου μνεία γένηται). The TgJ translates “16 Thy glory is changed: wander to another country, O city, who hast been as an harlot, thou art doomed to oblivion: thy harp is turned into mourning, and thy song to lamentation; perhaps, thou mayest be remembered.” speaking of the devastation that is coming. Note that Tyre did not regain prominence until the coming of Persia. From yet another perspective (e.g., Kaiser), it was only under the Ptolemies that Tyre regained her autonomy. According to the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary:

PTOLEMY (PERSON) [Gk Ptolemaios (Πτολεμαιος)]. A name of Macedonian origin (Gk ptolemaios “warlike”) borne by the founder and, as a dynastic name, by all subsequent rulers of the line of Greek-speaking kings who ruled Egypt after the death of Alexander the Great (323 b.c.) until the country’s annexation by Rome (30 b.c.). Hence the line is known as the Ptolemaic dynasty; the period of its rule is often referred to as the Ptolemaic period; and the kings are usually referred to as the Ptolemies. They are of biblical interest because the struggles of the earlier Ptolemies with the Seleucid kings of Syria for control of Palestine led them into close contact with the Jews, toward whom they were generally well-disposed. Moreover, their promotion of Alexandria as a center of literature and scholarship was to have a profound effect upon the development of scholarship and learning in the early Christian church because the Church Fathers in essence adopted the scholarly methods of the classical tradition while rejecting its pagan content.

ANCHOR YALE BIBLE DICTIONARY

Note that the restoration of Tyre is something of God’s doing according to the LXX. Note this promise of restoration is found throughout the Scriptures, according to the following references: Bereshit / Genesis 50:24-25, Shemot / Exodus 3:16-17, Ruth 1:6, Zechariah 10:3. We note that this is the mercy of God, His grace that performs this restoration. We also should note that the grace of God does not guarantee a positive response, i.e. Tyre prostituting herself again to the nations when she has the strength to do so. Notice here in Isaiah 23:17, וְהָיָה מִקֵּץ | שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה יִפְקֹד יְהֹוָה אֶת-צֹר וְשָׁבָה לְאֶתְנַנָּה וְזָנְתָה אֶת-כָּל-מַמְלְכוֹת הָאָרֶץ עַל-פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה “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.” The outcome of God’s restorative grace was for Tyre to simply return to prostituting herself to the nations again. She forgot her former sins and chose to renew herself in her sins again. She forgot who was the one who caused her destruction due to her sins to begin with. Many persons have experienced God’s hand of judgment and promised to do differently, but when deliverance came, they very quickly reverted to their old ways. This may be being said of Tyre. Could this be said of any of us today? What a dire warning this is for us today according to the words of the prophet Isaiah!

We note what it says according to Isaiah 23:18. This reminds us of what is written in the Torah according to Devarim / Deuteronomy 23:18.

ספר דברים פרק כג
יט לֹא־תָבִיא֩ אֶתְנַ֨ן זֹונָ֜ה וּמְחִ֣יר כֶּ֗לֶב בֵּ֛ית יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ לְכָל־נֶ֑דֶר כִּ֧י תֹועֲבַ֛ת יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ גַּם־שְׁנֵיהֶֽם׃:

Devarim / Deuteronomy 23:18
23:18 Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the LORD thy God. (KJV)

The Torah seems to speak contrary to what we see here in Isaiah 23:18. The Torah says that the wage of a prostitute is not to be given as an offering to the Lord. We note here though that prostitution is used here figuratively according to Isaiah, as Tyre bowing down to the gods of the nations (prostituting herself to the nations) and the actual business of mercantile trade was not immoral, it was what one did with this trade that caused immorality. Note what we read in Isaiah 2:1-5, this is the idea of wealth flowing to Jerusalem, God’s holy city. The city was set apart for God to use and to establish His holy name, and to create a holy priesthood of people. (See Shemot / Exodus 19:5-6; Tehillim / Psalms 84:4-5, and 1 Peter 2:9) All things belong to the Lord. Notice what we have been seeing here according to Isaiah 13-23, God says that glory of the nations is nothing (Isaiah 13-14), their plans are nothing (Isaiah 14-18), their wisdom is nothing (Isaiah 19-20), the future plans of the inhabitants of the city are nothing (Isaiah 21-22), and here in Isaiah 23, the wealth of the nations is nothing, then the real question is why would one trust in the nations? The answer is clear, we are to trust in the Lord God in heaven, in whom all things belong! Note what Peter has to say concerning 2 Peter 1:8-11.

2 Peter 1:8-11
1:8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1:9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 1:11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (KJV, ܗܳܠܷܝܢ ܓܷ݁ܝܪ ܟܱ݁ܕ݂ ܫܟ݂ܺܝ̈ܚܳܢ ܠܟ݂ܽܘܢ ܘܝܰܬܻ݁ܝܪܴ̈ܢ ܆ ܠܴܐ ܗ̄ܘܳܐ ܒܱ݁ܛܻܝ̈ܠܷܐ ܐܴܦ݂ܠܴܐ ܕ݁ܠܴܐ ܦܻ݁ܐܪܷ̈ܐ ܁ ܡܩܺܝ̈ܡܳܢ ܠܟ݂ܽܘܢ ܇ ܒ݁ܫܽܘܘܕܴ݁ܥܶܗ ܕ݁ܡܳܪܱܢ ܝܶܫܽܘܥ ܡܫܺܝܚܳܐ ܂ܗܰܘ ܓܷ݁ܝܪ ܕ݁ܠܴܐ ܫܟ݂ܺܝ̈ܚܳܢ ܠܷܗ ܗܳܠܷܝܢ ܆ ܣܰܡܝܳܐ ܐܻܝܬ݂ܱܘܗ̄ܝ ܁ ܕ݁ܠܴܐ ܚܳܙܶܐ ܇ ܕܱ݁ܛܥܳܐ ܕܾ݁ܘܟܴ݁ܝܳܐ ܕܱ݁ܚܛܴܗܰܘܗ̄ܝ̈ ܩܰܕ݂ܡܳܝܷ̈ܐ ܂ ܘܥܰܠ ܗܳܝ ܝܰܬܻ݁ܝܪܴܐܝܺܬ݂ ܐܱܚܰܝ̈ ܆ ܝܺܨܱܦ݂ܘ ܕܱ݁ܒ݂ܝܰܕ݂ ܥܒ݂ܳܕ݂ܰܝ̈ܟܾ݁ܘܢ ܛܴܒ݂ܷ̈ܐ ܇ ܩܪܴܝܬ݁ܟ݂ܽܘܢ ܘܰܓ݂ܒ݂ܺܝܬ݂ܟ݂ܽܘܢ ܡܫܰܪܱܪܬܴ݁ܐ ܬܷ݁ܥܒ݁ܕ݂ܽܘܢ ܂ ܟܱ݁ܕ݂ ܓܷ݁ܝܪ ܗܳܠܷܝܢ ܥܳܒ݂ܕܻ݁ܝܢ ܐܢ̄ܬܾ݁ܘܢ ܆ ܠܴܐ ܡܬ݂ܾܘܡ ܡܶܫܬܱ݁ܪܥܺܝܢ ܐܢ̄ܬܾ݁ܘܢ ܂ ܗܳܟ݂ܰܢܳܐ ܓܷ݁ܝܪ ܥܰܬܻ݁ܝܪܴܐܝܺܬ݂ ܡܶܬ݂ܝܰܗ̄ܒ݂ܳܐ ܠܟ݂ܽܘܢ ܆ ܡܰܥܰܠܬܴ݁ܐ ܕ݁ܡܰܠܟܾ݁ܘܬ݂ܴܐ ܕܱ݁ܠܥܳܠܱܡ ܁ ܕ݁ܡܳܪܱܢ ܘܦ݂ܳܪܾܘܩܰܢ ܂ ܝܶܫܽܘܥ ܡܫܺܝܚܳܐ ܀ 8 ταῦτα γὰρ ὑμῖν ὑπάρχοντα καὶ πλεονάζοντα οὐκ ἀργοὺς οὐδὲ ἀκάρπους καθίστησιν εἰς τὴν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ ἐπίγνωσιν. 9 ᾯ γὰρ μὴ πάρεστιν ταῦτα, τυφλός ἐστιν μυωπάζων, λήθην λαβὼν τοῦ καθαρισμοῦ τῶν πάλαι αὐτοῦ ἁμαρτιῶν. 10 διὸ μᾶλλον, ἀδελφοί, σπουδάσατε βεβαίαν ὑμῶν τὴν κλῆσιν καὶ ἐκλογὴν ποιεῖσθαι· ταῦτα γὰρ ποιοῦντες οὐ μὴ πταίσητέ ποτε. 11 οὕτως γὰρ πλουσίως ἐπιχορηγηθήσεται ὑμῖν ἡ εἴσοδος εἰς τὴν αἰώνιον βασιλείαν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ.)

Here Peter speaks to being purged from sin by our faith in Yeshua. Isaiah speaks of those who are lost, only death will purge their sins, and this occurs without atonement. The outcome of such who have their sins purged without atonement is everlasting destruction. (see Daniel 12:2-4) It is by the mercy of God that Tyre was destroyed and then reborn, this is the analogy that is being described according to Isaiah 23:18 the restoration of the city and wealth. According to 2 Peter 1:9, the interpretation is that Tyre has not recognized the glory of God in this situation. They are blind because they did not have in them this word of praise concerning the salvation of God. 

Rabbinic Commentary

The Targum Jonathan is an Aramaic and Rabbinic translation of the book of Isaiah and is therefore a valuable resource for studying the book of Isaiah!

תרגום יונתן בן עוזיאל אל ישעיה פרק כג:י-יח
י גְלַא מֵאַרעִיך כְמֵי נַהרָא עֵירוּקִי לִמדִינַת יַמָא לֵית תְקֹוף עֹוד׃ יא גְבוּרְתֵיה מְרָמְמָא עַל יַמָא לַאְזָעָא מַלכְווָתָא יוי פַקֵיד עַל כְנַעַן לְשֵיצָאָה תוּקפַהָא׃ יב וַאְמַר לָא תֹוסְפִין עֹוד לְמִתקַף דַהְוֵיתֹון אָנְסִין לְעַמָא דִבצִידֹון לְכִתִים קוּמוּ גְלֹו אַף תַמָן לָא יְהֵי לְכֹון נְיָח׃ יג הָא אְרַע כַסדָאֵי דֵין עַמָא כִיד לָא הְוֹו אַתוּרָאָה שַכלְלַה לִנגָווָן אְקִימוּ חַזְיָתַהָא פַגַרוּ בִירָניָתַהָא שַוְיוּהָא לְדִמחַמרָא׃ יד אֵילִילוּ נָחְתֵי סְפִינֵי יַמָא אְרֵי אִתבְזֵיז מְחֹוז תֻקפְכֹון׃ טו וִיהֵי בְעִדָנָא הַהוּא וְתִתרַחַק צֹור שִבעִין שְנִין כְיֹומֵי מַלכָא חַד מִסֹוף שִבעִין שְנִין יְהֵי לְצֹור כְתֻשבְחַת נָפְקַת בָרָא׃ טז אִתחַלַף יְקָרִיך אִיטַלטַל לִמדִינָא קַרתָא דַהְוָת כְנָפְקַת בָרָא אִתרַחַקַת הְפוּכִי כִינָריִך לְאַבלָא וּזמָרִיך לְאִליָא מָא אִם יֵיעֹול דוּכרָנִיך׃ יז וִיהֵי מִסֹוף שִבעִין שְנִין יֵיעֹול דוּכרָנַה דְצֹור לִקדָם יוי וּתתוּב לְאַתרַה וּתהֵי מְסַפְקָא סְחֹורָא לְכָל מַלכְוָת עַמְמַיָא דְעַל אַפֵי אַרעָא׃ יח וּתהֵי סְחֹורְתַה וְאַגרַה קֻדשָא קֳדָם יוי לָא יִתאְצַר וְלָא יִתגְנֵיז אְרֵי לְדִמשַמְשִין קֳדָם יוי יְהֵי אַגרַה לְמֵיכַל לְמִסבַע וְלִכסוּ דִיקָר׃

Targum Jonathan son of Uziel Isaiah 23:10-18
23:10 Remove from thy land, as the waters of a river; flee to a province of the sea: there is no more strength. 23:11 His power is lifted up against the sea, to make the kingdom to tremble; the Lord has given the command concerning the merchant city, to make an end of her strength. 23:12 And he said, ye shall no more be strong, ye that did violence to the people which are in Zidon. Arise, pass over to Chittim; even there ye shall have no rest. 23:13 Behold the land of the Chaldeans, this is the people that formerly did not exist; the Assyrians founded it in the islands; they raised up her beacons, they destroyed her palaces, they have made her a ruinous heap. 23:14 Howl, ye that are embarking in ships of the sea, for the seacoast of your strength is spoiled. 23:15 And it shall come to pass at that time, that Tyre shall be put by for seventy years, according to the days of one king: at the end of seventy years, it shall be unto Tyre as the song of an harlot. 23:16 Thy glory is changed: wander to another country, O city, who hast been as an harlot, thou art doomed to oblivion: thy harp is turned into mourning, and thy song to lamentation; perhaps, thou mayest be remembered. 23:17 And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years that Tyre shall be remembered before the Lord; and she shall return to her place, and her mart shall be plentiful for all the kingdoms of the nations, which are upon the face of the earth. 23:18 And her merchandise and her gain shall be holy before the Lord, it shall not be treasured nor laid up; for it shall be for them that are serving before the Lord; her gain shall be for food sufficient, and for vestments of glory. (TgJ)

According to the TgJ, the interpretation is that God has commanded concerning the merchant city to make an end of her strength. When we study the Scriptures, we realize that strength is a function of the presence of God in our lives. This is what Paul spoke of according to Ephesians 6:10 when he appeals to God’s people to be strong in the Lord.

The word ἐνδυναμοῦσθε is written in the passive voice translated “be strong” here actually means “be strengthened.” The idea here is that it is the Lord God who strengthens us, as opposed to strengthening ourselves. This describes being empowered by God, this is what the passive voice implies in the Greek text. The Peshitta renders this ܡܶܟܻ݁ܝܠ ܐܱܚܰܝ̈ ܐܷܬ݂ܚܰܝܰܠܘ saying “therefore my brothers be strengthened” where the word ܐܷܬ݂ܚܰܝܰܠܘ is a “denominative, ethpael, imperative, masculine, second person, plural” verb. The pael verb is the passive form, and the ethpael is a stronger sense of the passive voice. So this agrees with the Greek text to understand that it is the Lord who does the empowering and strengthening in our lives. This emphasizes the high calling of God in the Messiah, in Yeshua, and the life that proceeds from our faith in Yeshua and in our Father in heaven through the giving of the Holy Spirit (John 14). This is the Torah centric principle of God dwelling in our midst, where His power is present to do anything! The word ἐνδυναμοῦσθε is from the stem δύναμις G1539 (dynamis) meaning “power, might, strength, force, ability, deed of power, miracle.” The most frequent use of the verb δύναμαι is with a complementary infinitive and is closely equivalent to the English expression “to be able to.” In the LXX the verb δύναμαι occurs over 300×, most often as the rendering of יכל with the simple meaning “to be able to” (Bereshit / Genesis 13:6, etc.). The noun δύναμις occurs 580×. The term is used to represent a large number of Hebrew words, but esp. חַיִל (almost 160×), which can mean “strength, power” (Ecclesiastes 10:10), “wealth, goods” (Bamidbar / Numbers 31:9), “army” (Bamidbar / Numbers 31:14). Also 125× there is the equivalence between δύναμις and צָבָא, a word traditionally rendered “host” and having varied denotations: “army, troops” (1 Kings 2:5), “war, military service” (Bamidbar / Numbers 1:3), “stars” (2 Kings 17:16), “heavenly beings” (1 Kings 22:19; cf. the divine epithet Sabaoth, often transliterated in the LXX). (Christopher A. Beetham, ed., “Δύναμις,” Concise New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2021), 245) We note that there is a great wealth knowledge and significance to looking at the Greek and Hebrew equivalent words. Rabbi Jeremiah in the Messianic Chat Telegram channel is doing a study on Revelation each Wednesday morning (9:00am EST, join here: https://t.me/MessianicChat) So here Paul is teaching the Ephesians the high standard that God is calling His people to live by, that is found by faith in Yeshua the Messiah. Here in Ephesians 6, Paul reminds people that we are in a spiritual battle. This is why he said according to Ephesians 6:12-13, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” In order to stand strong like this, ἐνδυναμοῦσθε is written in the passive voice to show that we cannot endure without the power of God in our lives. To be strong in the Lord by the power of His might is the only way to live victoriously. The concept of “in the Lord” is vital to understand what Paul means because it is only when we remain in the Lord that we possess the power to overcome the enemy. Yeshua said according to John 15:4-5, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’” It is at this point that Paul concludes Ephesians discussing the ongoing spiritual war and telling us how we have the full armor of God. (Ephesians 6:13-18). These are the things that were lacking in the lives of the people of Tyre, Sidon, and Tarshish. Because the people did not know God, and they made their wealth their idol, and walked in the abominations of their hearts, that God had brought these things upon them resulting in their destruction. Without the Lord God in heaven, there is no strength, this is how the TgJ continues according to Isaiah 23:10-12 saying, י גְלַא מֵאַרעִיך כְמֵי נַהרָא עֵירוּקִי לִמדִינַת יַמָא לֵית תְקֹוף עֹוד׃ 3:10 Remove from thy land, as the waters of a river; flee to a province of the sea: there is no more strength. יא גְבוּרְתֵיה מְרָמְמָא עַל יַמָא לַאְזָעָא מַלכְווָתָא יוי פַקֵיד עַל כְנַעַן לְשֵיצָאָה תוּקפַהָא׃ 23:11 His power is lifted up against the sea, to make the kingdom to tremble; the Lord has given the command concerning the merchant city, to make an end of her strength. יב וַאְמַר לָא תֹוסְפִין עֹוד לְמִתקַף דַהְוֵיתֹון אָנְסִין לְעַמָא דִבצִידֹון לְכִתִים קוּמוּ גְלֹו אַף תַמָן לָא יְהֵי לְכֹון נְיָח׃ 23:12 And he said, ye shall no more be strong, ye that did violence to the people which are in Zidon. Arise, pass over to Chittim; even there ye shall have no rest. (TgJ) SIDON (צִידוֹן, tsidon; Σιδών, Sidōn) is one of the most important Canaanite and Phoenician city-states on the Lebanese coast, which flourished from the late fourth-third millennium BC until the first millennium BC. Sidon produced and transited wealthy commodities to trading partners in Assyria, Egypt, Cyprus, and the Aegean regions.

With being unrepentant, and having no strength in the Lord God of Israel, the people are told to flee to Kittim. Rashi states the following concerning this place:

Rashi on Isaiah 23:12 Part 1
כתים. אל ארץ כתים קומי עבורי גם שם לא ינוח לך למה אני אומר קומי עבורי:
to Kittim to the land of Kittim, arise and cross; even there you shall have no rest. Why do I say, “Arise and cross over?” According to our reading, that of the printed editions, we find no answer to this question. According to some manuscripts, however, the reading is as follows:] to Kittim to the land of Kittim, arise and cross, even there you shall have no rest. Why? Behold the land of the Chaldees They shall exile you from there.

Rashi asks why קומי עבורי “raise and cross over” and then argues that there is no answer for this. Could it be that the raising and crossing is a factor of getting in their boats and going over to Europe? If we are to take the Kittim as being representative of Rome, or at least regionally speaking, then this would make sense as why the text is written קומי עבורי “raise and cross over.” The next verse speaks of the Chaldeans saying, יג הָא אְרַע כַסדָאֵי דֵין עַמָא כִיד לָא הְוֹו אַתוּרָאָה שַכלְלַה לִנגָווָן אְקִימוּ חַזְיָתַהָא פַגַרוּ בִירָניָתַהָא שַוְיוּהָא לְדִמחַמרָא׃ 23:13 Behold the land of the Chaldeans, this is the people that formerly did not exist; the Assyrians founded it in the islands; they raised up her beacons, they destroyed her palaces, they have made her a ruinous heap. (TgJ) Remember back in Isaiah 21:1 we read מַשָּׂ֖א מִדְבַּר־יָ֑ם כְּסוּפֹ֤ות בַּנֶּ֨גֶב֙ לַֽחֲלֹ֔ף מִמִּדְבָּ֣ר בָּ֔א מֵאֶ֖רֶץ נֹורָאָֽה׃ “The burden of the desert of the sea. As whirlwinds in the south pass through; So it cometh from the desert, from a terrible land.” (KJV) (See study here https://www.matsati.com/index.php/death-on-a-massive-scale-everyone-is-ignoring-the-warning-signs-isaiah-211-9/) We asked the question about what this meant by the “burden of the desert of the sea?” (מַשָּׂ֖א מִדְבַּר־יָ֑ם) concerning Babylon. Could this verse from Isaiah 23:13 be considered as a similar situation here, that the sea is referred to the desert, and not the ocean islands? An oasis might be considered an island amongst the sea of sand. Here we are told that the Assyrians founded these locations, wherever this might be located, of which the Babylonians took over. The Midrash on Mishley (Proverbs) 30 Part 7 is equally elusive in the interpretation on the meaning of this verse.

Midrash Mishlei 30:7
“Four are among the tiniest on earth, and yet they are the wisest of the wise” (Proverbs 30:24) these relate to the various empires and monarchs. “Ants are a folk without power, and yet they prepare food for themselves in summer” (Proverbs 30:25). This refers to the Empire of Babylon. As it is written “Behold the land of Chaldea. This is the people that has ceased to be. Assyria founded it to station ships” (Isaiah 23:13). “The badger is a folk without strength, and yet it makes its home in the rock” (Proverbs 30:26). This refers to the Persian-Median Empire. And what is the meaning of “and yet it makes its home in the rock?” This refers to Ahasuerus and Cyrus who sought to rebuild the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. “The locusts have no king, and yet they all march forth in formation” (Proverbs 30:27). This refers to Alexander the Macedonian, for he overtook the entire world as locusts fly through the air. “You can catch the lizard in your hand, and yet it is found in royal palaces” (Proverbs 30:28). This refers to Edom (i.e., the Roman Empire), for of all the small creatures, none are despised like it. And so it is written “And I hated Esau” (Malachi 1:3). And what is the meaning of “and yet it is found in royal palaces?” This also refers to Edom (i.e., Roman Empire), for they destroyed the Holy Temple. “You can catch the lizard in your hand” Said Rabbi Jeremiah, this is Edom the wicked nation, for everything established there in Israel is now destroyed and forgotten.

We note that the Midrash states, “This refers to the Empire of Babylon. As it is written ‘Behold the land of Chaldea.’ This is the people that have ceased to be. Assyria founded it to station ships” (Isaiah 23:13).” The point is that the Babylonian empire was in the midst of a desert, and not the sea; the location seems to be a bit confusing. Could it be that these shipping lines are transformed into land-based shipping routes, and this is what is being referred to? The Midrash speaks of the power of God in the insect world as an example, the ant, the locust, the lizard, each of these are small, each of these is an unclean thing, and yet they find themselves everywhere, even making their way into the Holy Temple. Note that the priests would need to be very observant to clear out these things from the Temple of God. There may be an analogy here to the foolish person who does not keep him or herself such that the defiling thing does not enter their life. There are many ways that unclean things may come into our lives, and Yeshua said in Mark 7 that the uncleanness of man comes from within, from the heart of a man, as opposed to something externally entering in. It is easy to prevent external uncleanness through obeying God’s holy Words, but the internal uncleanness that proceeds from inside out, this is the most difficult to overcome. It is these things in which Paul speaks of in relation to this spiritual war, like what he says in Romans 6 and 7 concerning the flesh and sin, and the spirit and life found in God’s holy Word. Ephesians describes again how we need the power of God in our lives to overcome these things, and our faith in Yeshua, we receive the power of God through His Holy Spirit entering into our lives (John 14) so that God Himself powerfully works in our lives, and keeps us according to His word, something of which we are to submit our lives to, again leading to humbleness and repentance, two things that are necessary for the power of God to work in our lives. Rashi goes on saying the following:

Rashi on Isaiah 23,13 Part 1-4
הן ארץ כשדים זה העם לא היה. אשר לא כדאי הוא להיות עם שהרי נקראו הגוי המר והנמהר (חבקוק א׳:ו׳) עם שוטה הוא מן הבריות שהקב”ה מתחרט עליהן על שבראם כמו ששנינו שלשה הקב”ה מתחרט עליהם במסכת סוכה: Behold the land of the Chaldees, this people has never been It was not to be a people, for they are called, (Habakkuk 1:6) “bitter, impetuous nation.” They are a foolish nation, of the creatures that the Holy One, blessed be He, (so to speak,) regrets (creating) them. [Tractate Sukkah (52b)].
אשור יסדה. להשכין בה ציים שלו ספינותיו בירניות גדולות כמו צי אדיר (לקמן לג): Assyria established it to station his fleets therein, his ships, huge battle ships, as (infra 33:21): “A mighty fleet (צִי).”
הקימו בחוניו. הם יקימו מצודותיהם על צור, בחוניו ל’ עופל ובוחן (לקמן לב) בורפריי”ץ בלע”ז שעושין למצור על הכרכים: they erected its towers They shall erect their fortifications (var., their siege towers) upon Tyre. (Heb.) בַּחוּנָיו, an expression similar to (infra 32:14): “tower and bastion (בֹּחַן),” bajjpred in O.F., which they erect for a siege against walled cities.
עוררו ארמנותיה. יחריבו ל’ ערו ערו (תהילים קל״ז:ז׳) ל’ נתיצה עד היסוד: destroyed its palaces (עוֹרְרוּ). They shall destroy. (This is) an expression like (Psalms 137:7): “Raze it, raze it (עָרוּ עָרוּ),” an expression of demolition until the very foundation.

Rashi describes the nation as a foolish nation of which the Lord God regrets creating them. (Talmud Bavli Sukkah 52b) Foolishness is the outcome of someone misusing the intelligence that God has given him. A fool uses his reasoning skills to make wrong decisions. The most basic type of foolishness is denying God’s existence or saying, “there is no God” (Tehillim / Psalm 14:1). The Scriptures associate folly or foolishness with a quick temper (Mishley / Proverbs 14:16-17), perverse speech (Mishley / Proverbs 19:1), and disobedience to parents (Mishley / Proverbs 15:5). Solomon wrote “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.” meaning that we are born with an innate foolishness, but discipline will help train us in wisdom (Mishley / Proverbs 22:15, אִ֭וֶּלֶת קְשׁוּרָ֣ה בְלֶב־נָ֑עַר שֵׁ֥בֶט מ֝וּסָ֗ר יַרְחִיקֶ֥נָּה מִמֶּֽנּוּ). Solomon also wrote in Mishley / Proverbs 19:3 that foolishness is counterproductive, that “a person’s own folly leads to their ruin” (אִוֶּ֣לֶת אָ֭דָם תְּסַלֵּ֣ף דַּרְכֹּ֑ו וְעַל־יְ֝הוָ֗ה יִזְעַ֥ף לִבֹּֽו). We also note that Mishley / Proverbs 24:9 states, זִמַּ֣ת אִוֶּ֣לֶת‬ חַטָּ֑את וְתֹועֲבַ֖ת לְאָדָ֣ם לֵֽץ “the plans of folly are sin” (זִמַּ֣ת אִוֶּ֣לֶת‬ חַטָּ֑את). We note that Proverbs has a lot to say concerning foolishness. The Scriptures also say that the one who is born of God, who is a child of the Most High God, he receives the very nature of God (2 Peter 1:4). Paul wrote this means that one receives the mind of Mashiakh (Messiah, 1 Corinthians 2:16). The indwelling power of God, the presence of God in our lives helps us to reject foolishness and foolish behavior. With God’s help, one can make decisions that glorify God as the Lord God Himself gives us life and life more abundantly. (Philippians 4:8-9, Ephesians 5:18-6:4) Ultimately in this world, one is either foolish or wise, meaning that the foolish one rejects the God in heaven and His Messiah Yeshua, where the wise one believes in the Messiah and commits his life to God (see Matthew 7:24-27). When one humbles his heart and places his faith in the Messiah (Christ) Yeshua, the words and passages of the Scriptures are life. To those who reject Yeshua and God our Father in heaven, the scripture to them is foolishness. The wise one believes God’s word, and the blessing of God falls upon him. This is opposite of what Tyre, Sidon, and Tarshish did, and so the wrath of God fell upon them as the TgJ continues saying, יד אֵילִילוּ נָחְתֵי סְפִינֵי יַמָא אְרֵי אִתבְזֵיז מְחֹוז תֻקפְכֹון׃ 23:14 Howl, ye that are embarking in ships of the sea, for the seacoast of your strength is spoiled. טו וִיהֵי בְעִדָנָא הַהוּא וְתִתרַחַק צֹור שִבעִין שְנִין כְיֹומֵי מַלכָא חַד מִסֹוף שִבעִין שְנִין יְהֵי לְצֹור כְתֻשבְחַת נָפְקַת בָרָא׃ 23:15 And it shall come to pass at that time, that Tyre shall be put by for seventy years, according to the days of one king: at the end of seventy years, it shall be unto Tyre as the song of an harlot. (TgJ) It appears that the destruction and the length of time of exile would be the same as that of the people of Jerusalem and Judah.

Ein Yaakov (Glick Edition), Sanhedrin 11:53
R. Simlai lectured: “What does the passage (Am. 5:18) Woe unto you that long for the day of the Lord, mean? For what do you wish the day of the Lord? It is [one of] darkness and not of light. This might be likened unto a cock and a bat, which were waiting for daybreak. The cock said to the bat, ‘I look out for the light, because the light is mine (I see it), but for what purpose do you wait for it?'” Ib. 5:33) And this is what a Sadducee said to R. Abahu: “When will your Messiah appear?” And he answered: “When your people will be surrounded with darkness.” “Art thou trying to curse me?” asked the Sadducee. He answered: “No, it is written so (Isa. 60:2) For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and a gross darkness the people; but over thee will shine forth the Lord, and His glory will be seen over thee?” We are taught in a Baraitha that R. Elazar says: “Forty years will be the Messianic period, as it is said (Ps. 95:10) Forty years did I feel loathing on this generation.” R. Elazar b. Azaryah says: “Seventy years, as it is said (Is. 23:15) And it shall come to pass on that day that Tyre shall be forgotten for seventy years, like the days of one king; i.e., who is meant by the one king? The Messiah is meant.” Rabbi, however, says: “It will continue for three generations,” as it is said (Ps. 72:5) They shall fear thee, as long as the sun shineth, and in the presence of the moon throughout all generations.” R. Hillel, however, says: “Israel has no more Messiah to expect, for they have already enjoyed him in the days of Hezekiah.” R. Joseph said: “May the Lord forgive R. Hillel [for his statement] for Hezekiah was there at the time of the first Temple, and Zacharyah, who prophesied at the time of the second Temple, said (Zech. 9:9) Be exceedingly glad, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, thy king will come unto thee, righteous and victorious, lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a call the foal of a she-ass.”

Here Ein Yaakov speaks a lot concerning the messiah in relation to the Isaiah text. He opens with the day of the Lord and Amos 5:18 stating woe to those who long for the day of the Lord because this will be a day of darkness and not light. He goes on speaking of when and how long will the messiah appear? Towards the end of the Midrash, Ein Yaakov writes that Israel already enjoyed the days of the messiah in Hezekiah’s and Zechariah’s time. The point is Judaism recognizes many messiahs have been sent of God to deliver His people. The belief in a messiah and a messianic age is deeply rooted in Jewish tradition which may be understood based upon the fact that the messiah became a part of the most famous of Maimonides’s Thirteen Principles of Faith which states, “And Ma’amin, I believe with a full heart in the coming of the Messiah, and even though he may tarry, I will wait for him on any day that he may come.” Jewish tradition affirms at least five things about the Messiah concerning what he will do. The Sages say that He will be a descendant of King David, He will gain sovereignty over the land of Israel, He will gather the Jews there from the four corners of the earth, He will restore them to full observance of Torah, and He will bring peace to the whole world. When we consider what the Scriptures say, especially that which is written in the NT text, we understand the only way for peace to come to the earth is through a change of heart within each individual. Yeshua speaks of this when he discusses what happens when we place our faith in Him, that our Father gives His peace into our hearts. Such is Isaiah’s vision of the messianic age in which the wolf shall dwell with the lamb and the calf with the young lion. (See Isaiah 11:6) We note that the Messiah’s reign (Yeshua’s reign) encompasses the past, the present, and the future, which holds consistent with the concept of the various messianic figures whom God has brought into this world.

In Bamidbar / Numbers 16:22 Moshe fell on his face and prayed “God of the spirits of all flesh” when he requested from God through prayer for a new leader to guide the people. Rashi interprets this saying that Moshe spoke this way, understanding that everyone is different from one another. The Lord God answered Moshe saying Joshua shall take over in the position of leadership. The significant point was that Joshua was a man in whom the Spirit of God dwelled. What was Joshua’s devotion to God like? We read in Shemot / Exodus 33:11, “Joshua, son of Nun, did not leave the tent.” (Exodus 33:11) Joshua became the great leader that he was because he put the Lord God Almighty first in his life. He learned what it meant to be a leader by drawing near to Moshe. The basic concept is that if one wants to develop righteousness in his or her life, he should spend time with righteous people. Likewise, if a person wants to become a great leader, he should stay close to those who are good leaders. If a person wants to develop great faith, then one should stay close to those who have great faith. The basic concept is to train ourselves to do these things with the power and help of God in our lives. This is why the NT text writes that we are to walk in the footsteps of the Messiah Yeshua! The purpose is so that we become more and more like him! This is why Yeshua said what he did according to Luke 6:40 “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.” The people of Tyre, Sidon, and Tarshish never understood these things. They desired their mercantile wealth which led them into greater and greater sin, and to forget about the God in heaven who created them. So, Isaiah concludes with Isaiah 23 saying according to the TgJ, טז אִתחַלַף יְקָרִיך אִיטַלטַל לִמדִינָא קַרתָא דַהְוָת כְנָפְקַת בָרָא אִתרַחַקַת הְפוּכִי כִינָריִך לְאַבלָא וּזמָרִיך לְאִליָא מָא אִם יֵיעֹול דוּכרָנִיך׃ 23:16 Thy glory is changed: wander to another country, O city, who hast been as a harlot, thou art doomed to oblivion: thy harp is turned into mourning, and thy song to lamentation; perhaps, thou mayest be remembered. יז וִיהֵי מִסֹוף שִבעִין שְנִין יֵיעֹול דוּכרָנַה דְצֹור לִקדָם יוי וּתתוּב לְאַתרַה וּתהֵי מְסַפְקָא סְחֹורָא לְכָל מַלכְוָת עַמְמַיָא דְעַל אַפֵי אַרעָא׃ 23:17 And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years that Tyre shall be remembered before the Lord; and she shall return to her place, and her mart shall be plentiful for all the kingdoms of the nations, which are upon the face of the earth. יח וּתהֵי סְחֹורְתַה וְאַגרַה קֻדשָא קֳדָם יוי לָא יִתאְצַר וְלָא יִתגְנֵיז אְרֵי לְדִמשַמְשִין קֳדָם יוי יְהֵי אַגרַה לְמֵיכַל לְמִסבַע וְלִכסוּ דִיקָר׃ 23:18 And her merchandise and her gain shall be holy before the Lord, it shall not be treasured nor laid up; for it shall be for them that are serving before the Lord; her gain shall be for food sufficient, and for vestments of glory. (TgJ) Because the people rejected the Lord and did not know Him, their end was doom and oblivion. The Lord however will provide the opportunity for this place to be reestablished and regain her former wealth. The point was for the former things should lead to repentance and humbleness of heart. Ibn Ezra writes the following concerning these verses.

Ibn Ezra on Isaiah 23:18:7
ויש שואלים והלא התורה אסרה אתנן זונה (דברים כ”ג י”ט) ואיך אמר הנביא כי אתנן צור הזונה יהיה קודש, התשובה הכתוב בתורה הוא האמת וזה שאמר הנביא הוא על דרך משל ואיננה זונה כלל:
Some ask, How can the prophet promise that the hire of the harlot Tyre will be sanctified to the Lord, since the Law prohibits the hire of an harlot to be brought to the house of the Lord? (Deut. 23:19). The reply to this question is, that the Law prohibits the real hire of an harlot, but the prophet uses the words, her hire, in a figurative sense; in reality, he does not speak of an harlot at all.

Here the idea of Tyre becoming a harlot again to the nations, is a testimony to the power of God and the lack of faith in the lives of the people. The lack of faith leads to ungodliness, sin, and prostituting oneself to the nations of this world desiring the things of the world over the things of God. These things in history reveal to us why we are to always seek the Lord God of Israel and His Messiah Yeshua each day of our lives. We note what Akeidat Yitzchak 97:1 Part 16 writes saying, “The term ‘prostitute’ applies even if the woman in question is the exclusive sex partner of one soldier, or civilian male. Since she does not enjoy the benefit of marriage, i.e. no formal responsibilities having been entered into by her male partner, their sexual union is no better than intercourse with a harlot. To underline the negative view taken of harlotry, the Torah emphasizes that the proceeds of such unions are not acceptable as sacrifices in the holy Temple.” This suggests that simply believing or confessing faith in the One true God exists or is real is not sufficient. This is simply a harlot relationship. One must enter into a covenant relationship with God by faith, in the full sense of the marriage covenant, only then will faith be effective, not just for earthly / Temple based acceptability, but also for heavenly acceptability, and to gain access to our Father in the Messiah! In the Marriage relationship, one must live as one who loves his or her spouse. This is the outward working of faithfulness, being faithful to one’s spouse, to live and care for this person that we love. This is how we are to envision our relationship with God within the marriage covenant. We note that nobody would want to embarrass one’s spouse or make him or her look bad, because this is a reflection upon the husband or wife. Similarly, we too do not want to make God, or His Messiah Yeshua look bad, because this is a reflection upon Him, at least that is how the world will see it. These things speak to us concerning the high calling that each of us has in the Lord by faith! Similar to what we read in Vayikra / Leviticus 1:4, “He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, that it may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf,” we read that Moshe laid his hands upon Joshua in front of all of Israel. He endowed Joshua with his authority over Israel. Midrash Rabbah describes the situation in the following way:

Midrash Rabbah Bamidbar 13:20 and 21:15
Like one who lights one candle with another, [the leaders of Israel] were filled with the Holy Spirit. They were filled with the Holy Spirit taken from the spirit of Moses, but the Spirit of Moses was not diminished. This is like the case of a man who lights one candle with another. The one candle ignites but the flame on the other candle is not diminished.

The Midrash parallels the laying on of hands to the lighting of a candle. In similar fashion, we are to be lit on fire by the presence of God in the Messiah Yeshua, and then we are to walk in that fire for God and His glory. Yeshua endows us with authority and power to live in this life and continue the work of Tikkun Olam in the name of the Messiah, and in the Name of God, for the glory of our father in heaven!

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Dr. Duane D. Miller received his Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. Degree in Chemical Engineering from The University of Akron Ohio. He is currently a Chemical Engineering Researcher. Duane’s research expertise has focused upon functional materials development for the control, conversion, and release of process gases in Energy production technologies. His R&D interests include computational chemistry, developing novel technologies for converting biomass to fuels and studying their fundamental interactions during the chemical conversion process. His past experience includes sorbent development for pre- and post-combustion CO2 and SO2 capture, selective absorption of H2S from methane streams, O2 capture for oxy-fuel combustion, photocatalytic reduction of alcohols, NOx reduction catalysis, the development of oxygen carriers to combust fossil fuels (CH4 and coal) for the chemical looping combustion processes, and the extraction of rare earth elements using patent pending sorbents. His research expertise has focused on operando-characterization using Infrared, Raman, and UV-Vis spectroscopy to observe the nature of the catalytic active sites and reaction intermediates under realistic reaction conditions, allowing direct correlation of molecular/electronic structures with catalyst performance during Gas-Solid / Liquid-Solid Adsorption and Photocatalytic Processes with real time online analysis of reaction products using ICP-MS and mass spectrometry. His current work involves a multi-disciplinary approach to developing, understanding, and improving the catalytic gasification of coal and methane, high temperature chemical looping combustion, and the catalytic decomposition and gasification of biomass and coal using novel microwave reactor.​ He has been studying the Hebrew Scriptures and the Torah for 20+ years and sharing what he has learned. The studies developed for MATSATI.COM are freely to be used by everyone, to God be the Glory!