Daily Arts Web Nucleus


Discover the Arts! Each day a different image from the Literary, Performing, or Visual Arts representing a portion of Scripture
plus an explanation with links and a discussion forum

2013 July 3

Ships in Distress in a Raging Storm (c. 1690)
Ludolf Backhuysen (1630-1708)
Dutch Golden Age Baroque Style
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Image Source: Web Gallery of Art

     Explanation: The burden of Tyre is the subject of Isaiah 23. As was the case in a parallel prophecy in Ezekiel chapters 26-28, various elements of Isaiah's prophecy refer to different times and to different locations of Tyre. Isaiah says that the ships of Tyre will howl in distress when they come and find it laid waste; its commerce will be destroyed; it will be desolate for 70 years (1 - 15-a). These statements apply chiefly to coastal Tyre on the mainland, which was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586-573 B.C. Then, after Tyre was rebuilt on a nearby island which had been its naval station, refuge, and religious center, it too was desolated - this time by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C. who built a 200 foot wide causeway to the island giving his troops access to the city.
     Isaiah goes on to say, that when Tyre is restored, its merchandise will be for those who serve the LORD (15-b - 18). This was fulfilled not only in the Persian era, but also in the Christian era. Concerning this aspect of the prophecy, the Keil and Delitzsch commentary says this: "According to the edict of Cyrus, both Sidonians and Tyrians assisted in the building of the temple at Jerusalem (Ezra 3:7, cf., Isaiah 1:4). ... [Also] at the very commencement of the labours of the apostles there was a Christian church in Tyre, which was visited by the Apostle Paul (Acts 21:3-4), and ... this church steadily grew from that time forward. In this way again the trade of Tyre entered the service of the God of revelation. But it is Christian Tyre which now lies in ruins. One of the most remarkable ruins is the splendid cathedral of Tyre, for which Eusebius of Caesarea wrote a dedicatory address, and in which Friedrich Barbarossa, who was drowned in the Kalykadnos in the year 1190, is supposed to have been buried. Hitherto, therefore, these have been only preludes to the fulfilment of the prophecy. Its ultimate fulfilment has still to be waited for."
     Albert Barnes adds the following comments: "The Christian religion was early established at Tyre. It was visited by the Saviour Matthew 15:21, and by Paul. Paul found several disciples of Christ there when on his way to Jerusalem Acts 21:3-6. It suffered much, says Lowth, under the Diocletian persecution. Eusebius (Hist. x. 4.) says that 'when the church of God was founded in Tyre, and in other places, much of its wealth was consecrated to God, and was brought as an offering to the church, and was presented for the support of the ministry agreeable to the commandments of the Lord.' Jerome says, 'We have seen churches built to the Lord in Tyre; we have beheld the wealth of all, which was not treasured up nor hid, but which was given to those who dwelt before the Lord.' It early became a Christian bishopric; and in the fourth century of the Christian era, Jerome (Commentary in Ezekiel 26:7; Ezekiel 27:2) speaks of Tyre as the most noble and beautiful city of Phenicia, and as still trading with all the world. Reland enumerates the following list of bishops as having been present from Tyre at various councils; namely, Cassius, Paulinus, Zeno, Vitalis, Uranius, Zeno, Photius, and Eusebius (see Reland's Palestine, pp. 1002-101l, in Ugolin vi.) Tyre continued Christian until it was taken by the Saracens in 639 a.d.; but was recovered again by Christians in 1124. In 1280, it was conquered by the Mamelukes, and was taken by the Turks in 1516. It is now [c. mid 1800's] under the dominion of the Sultan as a part of Syria."

Isaiah 23

     1 The burden of Tyre.
     Howl, ye ships of Tarshish; for it is laid waste, so that there is no house, no entering in: from the land of Chittim it is revealed to them. 2 Be still, ye inhabitants of the isle; thou whom the merchants of Zidon, that pass over the sea, have replenished. 3 And by great waters the seed of Sihor, the harvest of the river, is her revenue; and she is a mart of nations. 4 Be thou ashamed, O Zidon: for the sea hath spoken, even the strength of the sea, saying, I travail not, nor bring forth children, neither do I nourish up young men, nor bring up virgins. 5 As at the report concerning Egypt, so shall they be sorely pained at the report of Tyre. 6 Pass ye over to Tarshish; howl, ye inhabitants of the isle. 7 Is this your joyous city, whose antiquity is of ancient days? her own feet shall carry her afar off to sojourn. 8 Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honourable of the earth? 9 The LORD of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth. 10 Pass through thy land as a river, O daughter of Tarshish: there is no more strength. 11 He stretched out his hand over the sea, he shook the kingdoms: the LORD hath given a commandment against the merchant city, to destroy the strong holds thereof. 12 And he said, Thou shalt no more rejoice, O thou oppressed virgin, daughter of Zidon: arise, pass over to Chittim; there also shalt thou have no rest.
     13 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.
     14 Howl, ye ships of Tarshish: for your strength is laid waste.
     15 And it shall come to pass in that day, that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years, according to the days of one king: after the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing as an harlot.
     16 Take an harp, go about the city, thou harlot that hast been forgotten; make sweet melody, sing many songs, that thou mayest be remembered.
     17 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. 18 And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the LORD: it shall not be treasured nor laid up; for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the LORD, to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing.

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