Isaiah 23:12
And he said, You shall no more rejoice, O you oppressed virgin, daughter of Zidon: arise, pass over to Chittim; there also shall you have no rest.
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(12) Thou oppressed virgin.—Strictly speaking, the noun and adjective are incompatible, the latter conveying the sense of defiled,” or deflowered.” Till now Tyre had known no defeat. Her fortress was a virgin citadel. Now the barbarian conqueror was to rob her of that virginity.

Pass over to Chittim.—With a keen irony the prophet gives a counsel which he declares will be of no avail. They may flee to Chittim (Cyprus); but the power of the Assyrians would reach them even there. Once and again the inscriptions of the Assyrian kings record how they subdued and took tribute from “Yatnan,” the “island in the sea of the setting sun,” which can be none other than Cyprus (e.g., Sargon in Records of the Past, vii. 26).

23:1-14 Tyre was the mart of the nations. She was noted for mirth and diversions; and this made her loth to consider the warnings God gave by his servants. Her merchants were princes, and lived like princes. Tyre being destroyed and laid waste, the merchants should abandon her. Flee to shift for thine own safety; but those that are uneasy in one place, will be so in another; for when God's judgments pursue sinners, they will overtake them. Whence shall all this trouble come? It is a destruction from the Almighty. God designed to convince men of the vanity and uncertainty of all earthly glory. Let the ruin of Tyre warn all places and persons to take heed of pride; for he who exalts himself shall be abased. God will do it, who has all power in his hand; but the Chaldeans shall be the instruments.And he said - God said Isaiah 23:9.

Thou shalt no more rejoice - The sense is, that Tyre was soon to be destroyed. It does not mean that it should never afterward exult or rejoice, for the prophet says Isaiah 23:17, that after its destruction it would be restored, and again be filled with exultation and joy.

O thou oppressed Virgin - Lowth renders this, 'O thou deflowered virgin,' expressing the sense of the word המעשׁקה hame‛ushâqâh.

O daughter of Zidon - Isaiah 23:4. "Pass over to Chittim" (see the note at Isaiah 23:1). The idea is, that under the siege the inhabitants of Tyre would seek refuge in her colonies, and the cities that were dependent on her.

There also shalt thou have no rest - It is not improbable that Nebuchadnezzar would carry his arms to Cyprus - on which the city of Citium was - where the Tyrians would take refuge first. Megasthenes, who lived about 300 years before Christ, says of Nebuchadnezzar that he subdued a great part of Africa and Spain, and that he carried his arms so far as the Pillars of Hercules (see Newton, On the Prophecies, xi. 11). But whether this refers to the oppressions which Nebuchadnezzar would bring on them or not, it is certain that the colonies that sprung from Phenicia were exposed to constant wars after this. Carthage was a colony of Tyre, and it is well known that this city was engaged in hostility with the Romans until it was utterly destroyed. Indeed all the dependent colonies of ancient Tyre became interested and involved in the agitations and commotions which were connected with the conquests of the Roman empire.

12. he—God.

rejoice—riotously (Isa 23:7).

oppressed—"deflowered"; laying aside the figure "taken by storm"; the Arabs compare a city never taken to an undefiled virgin (compare Na 3:5, &c.).

daughter of Zidon—Tyre: or else, sons of Zidon, that is, the whole land and people of Phœnicia (see on [731]Isa 23:2) [Maurer].

Chittim—Citium in Cyprus (Isa 23:1).

there also … no rest—Thy colonies, having been harshly treated by thee, will now repay thee in kind (see on [732]Isa 23:10). But Vitringa refers it to the calamities which befell the Tyrians in their settlements subsequently, namely, Sicily, Corcyra, Carthage, and Spain, all flowing from the original curse of Noah against the posterity of Canaan (Ge 9:25-27).

O thou oppressed virgin: so he calls her, either for her pride and beauty, and living in great ease and pleasure; or because she had hitherto never borne the yoke of a conquering enemy; though withal he declares that she should be oppressed or defloured very suddenly.

Daughter of Zidon; whereby he understands either,

1. Zidon herself, who suffered in and with Tyre: for so this phrase seems generally to be used,

the daughter of Zion, or of Jerusalem, or of Babel, or Egypt, &c., being nothing else but Zion, Jerusalem, Babel, Egypt, &c. Or rather,

2. Tyrus, as most interpreters, both Jewish and Christian, understand it, of whom this whole context and prophecy speaks; which may well be called the daughter of Zidon, because she was first built and possessed by a colony of the Sidonians; as Pliny calleth Carthage the daughter of Tyre, because she was built by a colony of Tyrians. And the title of daughter is ofttimes given in Scripture to towns or cities which had their being from or dependence upon other cities; in which sense we read of the daughter of Heshbon, Numbers 21:25, and of Rubbah, Jeremiah 49:2,3, and of Sodom, and of Samaria, Ezekiel 16:46,49,53. And the daughter of Tarshish here above, Isaiah 23:10, is not meant of Tarshish itself, but of Tyrus, which had a relation to and dependence upon Tarshish.

Pass over to Chittim; of which place See Poole "Isaiah 23:1". There also shalt thou have no rest; thither thine enemies shall pursue thee, and there shall they overtake thee, although thou wilt think thyself secure when thou art fled to remote parts beyond the sea. And he said, thou shalt no more rejoice,.... Not meaning that she should never more rejoice, but not for a long time, as Kimchi interprets it; when her calamity should come upon her, her jovial time, her time of mirth, jollity, and revelling, would be over for a time; for, at the end of seventy years, she should take her harp, and sing again, Isaiah 23:15 for the words seem to be spoken of Tyre, concerning whom the whole prophecy is; though some think Zidon is here meant, which, being near, suffered at the same time with Tyre, or quickly after:

O thou oppressed virgin! Tyre is called a "virgin", because of her beauty, pride, and lasciviousness, and because never before subdued and taken: and "oppressed", because now deflowered, ransacked, plundered, and ruined, by Nebuchadnezzar:

daughter of Zidon: some think Zidon itself is meant, just as daughter of Zion means Zion herself, &c.; but it may be also observed, that such cities that have sprung from others, or have their dependence on them, are called their daughters; so we read of Samaria and her daughters, and Sodom and her daughters, Ezekiel 16:46 and so Tyre is called the daughter of Zidon, because it was a colony of the Zidonians (f); and at first built and supported by them, though now grown greater than its mother:

arise, pass over to Chittim; to the isle of Cyprus, which was near them, and in which was a city called Citium; or to Macedonia, which was called the land of Chittim, as in the Apocrypha:

"And it happened, after that Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian, who came out of the land of Chettiim, had smitten Darius king of the Persians and Medes, that he reigned in his stead, the first over Greece,'' (1 Maccabees 1:1)

or to the isles of the Aegean and Ionian seas; or to Greece and Italy; which latter sense is approved by Vitringa, who thinks the islands of Corsica, and Sardinia, and Sicily, are meant, which were colonies of the Tyrians; and so in Isaiah 23:1,

there also shalt thou have no rest; since those countries would also fall into the enemy's hands, either the Babylonians, or the Medes and Persians, or the Romans; into whose hands Macedonia, Carthage, and other colonies of the Tyrians fell, so that they had no rest in any of them.

(f) Justin ex Trogo, l. 18. c. 3.

And he said, Thou shalt no more rejoice, O thou oppressed {o} virgin, {p} daughter of Zidon: arise, pass over to Chittim; there also shalt thou have no rest.

(o) For Tyre was never touched nor afflicted before.

(p) Because Tyrus was built by them of Zidon.

12. And he said] What follows may be regarded as the “commandment” referred to in Isaiah 23:11.

O thou oppressed (or ravished) virgin, daughter of Zidon] The epithet “virgin” is applied to Zidon as a fortress hitherto unviolated by a conqueror. It is an almost inevitable inference that the calamity here described is the first she has known, at least within living memory. This would apply to the campaign of Shalmaneser, but not to that of Sennacherib.Verse 12. - He said. Jehovah continues his threatenings. The oppressed virgin, daughter of Sidon - or rather, the oppressed virgin-daughter of Sidon - may he either. Tyre, which, according to some, was built by fugitives from Zidon, or Phoenicia generally, of which Zidon, as the "firstborn" (Genesis 10:15), was a sort of mother. Pass over to Chittim (comp. ver. 6). Chittim (Cyprus) was a nearer refuge than Tarshish, and far more easily reached; but, on the other hand, it was much less safe. Sargon and Esarhaddon both of them exercised dominion over it; and when Abdi-Milkut, King of Sidon, fled there in the reign of the latter, the Assyrian monarch pursued him, caught him, and "cut off his head" (G. Smith, 'Eponym Canon,' p. 137). Still, it was so often sought by princes flying from Phoenicia when attacked by Assyria, that cuneiform scholars call it "the usual refuge of the Phoenician kings" ('Transactions of Bibl. Archaeology Society,' vol. 4. p. 86). There also shalt thou have no rest. Cyprus submitted to Sargon ('Records of the Past,' vol. 7. p. 26), and again to Esarhaddon (ibid., vol. 8. p. 108). It was included in the dominions of Asshur-bani-pal (G. Smith, 'History of Asshur-bani-pal,' pp. 31, 32). After Nebuchadnezzar's conquest of Tyre, it was annexed by Egypt (Herod., 2:182), on the conquest of which country by Cambyses it became Persian. The Phoenicians had "no rest" there after Assyria had once found her way to the island. The inhabitants of Tyre, who desired to escape from death or transportation, are obliged to take refuge in the colonies, and the farther off the better: not in Cyprus, not in Carthage (as at the time when Alexander attacked the insular Tyre), but in Tartessus itself, the farthest off towards the west, and the hardest to reach. "Pass ye over to Tarshish; howl, ye inhabitants of the coast! Is this your fate, thou full of rejoicing, whose origin is from the days of the olden time, whom her feet carried far away to settle? Who hath determined such a thing concerning Tzor, the distributor of crowns, whose merchants are princes, whose traders are the chief men of the earth? Jehovah of hosts hath determined it, to desecrate the pomp of every kind of ornament, to dishonour the chief men of the earth, all of them." The exclamation "howl ye" (hēillu) implies their right to give themselves up to their pain. In other cases complaint is unmanly, but here it is justifiable (compare Isaiah 15:4). In Isaiah 23:7 the question arises, whether ‛allizâh is a nominative predicate, as is generally assumed ("Is this, this deserted heap of ruins, your formerly rejoicing city?"), or a vocative. We prefer the latter, because there is nothing astonishing in the omission of the article in this case (Isaiah 22:2; Ewald, 327, a); whereas in the former case, although it is certainly admissible (see Isaiah 32:13), it is very harsh (compare Isaiah 14:16), and the whole expression a very doubtful one to convey the sense of לכם אשר עליזה קריה הזאת. To ‛allizâh there is attached the descriptive, attributive clause: whose origin (kadmâh, Ezekiel 16:55) dates from the days of the olden time; and then a second "whose feet brought her far away (raglaim construed as a masculine, as in Jeremiah 13:16, for example) to dwell in a foreign land. This is generally understood as signifying transportation by force into an enemy's country. But Luzzatto very properly objects to this, partly on the ground that רגליה יבלוּה (her feet carried her) is the strongest expression that can be used for voluntary emigration, to which lâgūr (to settle) also corresponds; and partly because we miss the antithetical ועתּה, which we should expect with this interpretation. The reference is to the trading journeys which extended "far away" (whether by land or sea), and to the colonies, i.e., the settlements founded in those distant places, that leading characteristic of the Tyro-Phoenician people (this is expressed in the imperfect by yobiluâh, quam portabant; gur is the most appropriate word to apply to such settlements: for mērâchōk, see at Isaiah 17:13). Sidon was no doubt older than Tyre, but Tyre was also of primeval antiquity. Strabo speaks of its as the oldest Phoenician city "after Sidon;" Curtius calls it vetustate originis insignis; and Josephus reckons the time from the founding of Tyre to the building of Solomon's temple as 240 years (Ant. viii. 3, 1; compare Herod. ii. 44). Tyre is called hammaēatirâh, not as wearing a crown (Vulg. quondam coronata), but as a distributor of crowns (Targum). Either would be suitable as a matter of fact; but the latter answers better to the hiphil (as hikrı̄n, hiphrı̄s, which are expressive of results produced from within outwards, can hardly be brought into comparison). Such colonies as Citium, Tartessus, and at first Carthage, were governed by kings appointed by the mother city, and dependent upon her. Her merchants were princes (compare Isaiah 10:8), the most honoured of the earth; נכבּדּי acquires a superlative meaning from the genitive connection (Ges. 119, 2). From the fact that the Phoenicians had the commerce of the world in their hands, a merchant was called cena‛ani or cena‛an (Hosea 12:8; from the latter, not from cin‛âni, the plural cin‛ânim which we find here is formed), and the merchandise cin‛âh. The verb chillēl, to desecrate or profane, in connection with the "pomp of every kind of ornament," leads us to think more especially of the holy places of both insular and continental Tyre, among which the temple of Melkarth in the new city of the former was the most prominent (according to the Arrian, Anab. ii. 16, παλαιότατον ὧν μνήμη ἀνθρωπίνη διασώζεται). These glories, which were thought so inviolable, Jehovah will profane. "To dishonour the chief men:" lehâkēl (ad ignominiam deducere, Vulg.) as in Isaiah 8:22.
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