Isaiah 23 God Is Sovereign Over The Nations-Tyre Falls.
Tyre was “a prominent Phoenician port on the Mediterranean, west of Mt. Hermon and Damascus. Judah had a longstanding relationship with Tyre, for Solomon had traded with Hiram of Tyre (1 Kin. 5:1, 8-11) and Phoenician sailors had manned Solomon’s fleet (1 Kin. 9:27)” (NGSB p. 1060). Tyre would be laid waste so that there would be no reason for ships to harbour there, and no houses to make home (v. 1 Cf. Jer. 25:22; 47:4; Ezek. 26-28). Amos declared judgment on Tyre “because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom, and did not remember the covenant of brotherhood” (1:9[-10]). Tyre through her trading had built up silver and gold, but the LORD would “destroy her power in the sea,” and she would “be devoured by fire” (Zech. 9:2-4). Inhabitants along her coastland, and merchants of the sea like Sidon, would no longer be bringing grain or “the harvest of the river” as revenue (vv. 2-3). Sidon and Egypt would both be in agony and ashamed (vv. 4-5), with the latter fearful seeing the hand of providence in their state (19:15-16).
Nations as far as Spain (Tarshish or Tartessus – Jon 1:3), would join in the lament (v. 6). Tyre had been a joyous crowning city from ancient times, not unlike Jerusalem (v. 7 Cf. 22:2; 32:13), “whose merchants are princes, whose traders are the honourable of the earth” (v. 8 Cf. Ezek. 28:2, 12). “The LORD of hosts has purposed it” (v.9a Cf. 14:26). The covenant making and covenant keeping LORD rules with his hosts from heaven, over the kingdoms of the world. He determined to bring low the pride and honour of the nations (v. 9b Cf. 13:11; 24:4; Job 40:11-12; Dan. 4:37). The next generation of Tarshish would have no strength (v. 10), because the LORD had “stretched out His hand over the sea, He shook the kingdoms,” and He had given the “commandment against Canaan to destroy its strongholds” (v. 11). Canaan (which included Tyre and Sidon), would rejoice no more, and even in Cyprus, across the river, they would find no rest (v. 12 Cf. Ezek. 26:13-14). The Chaldeans (Assyrians) were on the horizon, so that Tarshish would continue to wail (vv. 14 Cf. Ezek. 25:27ff.).
Tyre would be forgotten for 70 years, signifying fullness, “according to the days of one king” (v. 15a). At the end of the 70 years the “song of the harlot” would be taken up, a “sweet melody” by which they might be remembered (v. 15b). However, the LORD would indeed remember Tyre at the end of the 70 years (v. 16), declaring that Tyre would return to her hire, “and commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world on the face of the earth” (v. 17). “Like a harlot, Tyre formed economic alliances with anyone who enriched her, regardless of ethics” (Ibid. p. 1061). However, all her gain would be given to the LORD, “for those who dwell before the LORD, to eat sufficiently, and for fine clothing” (v. 18). “Tyre too, will acknowledge the sovereignty of the Lord by paying tribute (Deut. 2:3-35; Josh. 6:17, 19). The wealth of the nations builds up the kingdom of God (45:14; 60:5, 11; 61:6; 66:12; Hag. 2:7-8)” (Ibid. p. 1061). This prediction of 70 years also forms an introduction to the apocalyptic section which follows (24-27).