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Isaiah 23 New English Translation (NET Bible)

The Lord Will Judge Tyre

23 This is an oracle[a] about Tyre:
Wail, you large ships,[b]
for the port is too devastated to enter![c]
From the land of Cyprus[d] this news is announced to them.
Lament,[e] you residents of the coast,
you merchants of Sidon who travel over the sea,
whose agents sail over the deep waters.[f]
Grain from the Shihor region,[g]
crops grown near the Nile[h] she receives;[i]
she is the trade center[j] of the nations.
Be ashamed, O Sidon,
for the sea[k] says this, O fortress of the sea:
“I have not gone into labor
or given birth;
I have not raised young men
or brought up young women.”[l]
When the news reaches Egypt,
they will be shaken by what has happened to Tyre.[m]
Travel to Tarshish!
Wail, you residents of the coast!
Is this really your boisterous city[n]
whose origins are in the distant past,[o]
and whose feet led her to a distant land to reside?
Who planned this for royal Tyre,[p]
whose merchants are princes,
whose traders are the dignitaries[q] of the earth?
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies planned it—
to dishonor the pride that comes from all her beauty,[r]
to humiliate all the dignitaries of the earth.
10 Daughter Tarshish, travel back to your land, as one crosses the Nile;
there is no longer any marketplace in Tyre.[s]
11 The Lord stretched out his hand over the sea,[t]
he shook kingdoms;
he[u] gave the order
to destroy Canaan’s fortresses.[v]
12 He said,
“You will no longer celebrate,
oppressed[w] virgin daughter Sidon!
Get up, travel to Cyprus,
but you will find no relief there.”[x]
13 Look at the land of the Chaldeans,
these people who have lost their identity![y]
The Assyrians have made it a home for wild animals.
They erected their siege towers,[z]
demolished[aa] its fortresses,
and turned it into a heap of ruins.[ab]
14 Wail, you large ships,[ac]
for your fortress is destroyed!

15 At that time[ad] Tyre will be forgotten for seventy years,[ae] the typical life span of a king.[af] At the end of seventy years Tyre will try to attract attention again, like the prostitute in the popular song:[ag]

16 “Take the harp,
go through the city,
forgotten prostitute!
Play it well,
play lots of songs,
so you’ll be noticed.”[ah]

17 At the end of seventy years[ai] the Lord will revive[aj] Tyre. She will start making money again by selling her services to all the earth’s kingdoms.[ak] 18 Her profits and earnings will be set apart for the Lord. They will not be stored up or accumulated, for her profits will be given to those who live in the Lord’s presence and will be used to purchase large quantities of food and beautiful clothes.[al]


  1. Isaiah 23:1 tn See note at Isa 13:1.
  2. Isaiah 23:1 tn Heb “ships of Tarshish.” This probably refers to large ships either made in or capable of traveling to the distant, western port of Tarshish.
  3. Isaiah 23:1 tc The Hebrew text reads literally, “for it is destroyed, from a house, from entering.” The translation assumes that the mem (מ) on בַּיִת (bayit) was originally an enclitic mem suffixed to the preceding verb. This assumption allows one to take בַּיִת as the subject of the preceding verb. It is used in a metaphorical sense for the port city of Tyre. The preposition min (מִן) prefixed to בּוֹא (boʾ) indicates negative consequence: “so that no one can enter.” See BDB 583 s.v. מִן 7.b.
  4. Isaiah 23:1 tn Heb “the Kittim,” a designation for the people of Cyprus. See HALOT 504-05 s.v. כִּתִּיִּים.
  5. Isaiah 23:2 tn Or “keep quiet”; NAB “Silence!”
  6. Isaiah 23:3 tc The Hebrew text (23:2b-3a) reads literally, “merchant of Sidon, the one who crosses the sea, they filled you, and on the deep waters.” Instead of מִלְאוּךְ (milʾukh, “they filled you”) the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa reads מלאכיך (“your messengers”). The translation assumes an emendation of מִלְאוּךְ to מַלְאָכָו (malʾakhav, “his messengers”), taking the vav (ו) on וּבְמַיִם (uvemayim) as improperly placed; instead it should be the final letter of the preceding word.
  7. Isaiah 23:3 tn Heb “seed of Shihor.” “Shihor” probably refers to the east branch of the Nile. See Jer 2:18 and BDB 1009 s.v. שִׁיחוֹר.
  8. Isaiah 23:3 tn Heb “the harvest of the Nile.”
  9. Isaiah 23:3 tn Heb “[is] her revenue.”
  10. Isaiah 23:3 tn Heb “merchandise”; KJV, ASV “a mart of nations”; NLT “the merchandise mart of the world.”
  11. Isaiah 23:4 tn J. N. Oswalt (Isaiah [NICOT], 1:430-31) sees here a reference to Yam, the Canaanite god of the sea. He interprets the phrase מָעוֹז הַיָּם (maʿoz hayyam, “fortress of the sea”) as a title of Yam, translating “Mighty One of the Sea.” A more traditional view is that the phrase refers to Sidon.
  12. Isaiah 23:4 tn Or “virgins” (KJV, ASV, NAB, NASB).sn The sea is personified here as a lamenting childless woman. The foreboding language anticipates the following announcement of Tyre’s demise, viewed here as a child of the sea, as it were.
  13. Isaiah 23:5 tn Heb “they will be in pain at the report of Tyre.”
  14. Isaiah 23:7 tn Heb “Is this to you, boisterous one?” The pronoun “you” is masculine plural, like the imperatives in v. 6, so it is likely addressed to the Egyptians and residents of the coast. “Boisterous one” is a feminine singular form, probably referring to the personified city of Tyre.
  15. Isaiah 23:7 tn Heb “in the days of antiquity [is] her beginning.”
  16. Isaiah 23:8 tn The precise meaning of הַמַּעֲטִירָה (hammaʿatirah) is uncertain. The form is a Hiphil participle from עָטַר (ʿatar), a denominative verb derived from עֲטָרָה (ʿatarah, “crown, wreath”). The participle may mean “one who wears a crown” or “one who distributes crowns.” In either case, Tyre’s prominence in the international political arena is in view.
  17. Isaiah 23:8 tn Heb “the honored” (so NASB, NRSV); NIV “renowned.”
  18. Isaiah 23:9 tn Heb “the pride of all the beauty.”
  19. Isaiah 23:10 tc This meaning of this verse is unclear. The Hebrew text reads literally, “Cross over your land, like the Nile, daughter of Tarshish, there is no more waistband.” The translation assumes an emendation of מֵזַח (mezakh, “waistband”) to מָחֹז (makhoz, “harbor, marketplace”; see Ps 107:30). The term עָבַר (ʿavar, “cross over”) is probably used here of traveling over the water (as in v. 6). The command is addressed to personified Tarshish, who here represents her merchants. The Qumran scroll 1QIsaa has עבדי (“work, cultivate”) instead of עִבְרִי (ʿivri, “cross over”). In this case one might translate “Cultivate your land, like they do the Nile region” (cf. NIV, CEV). The point would be that the people of Tarshish should turn to agriculture because they will no longer be able to get what they need through the marketplace in Tyre.
  20. Isaiah 23:11 tn Heb “his hand he stretched out over the sea.”
  21. Isaiah 23:11 tn Heb “the Lord.” For stylistic reasons the pronoun (“he”) has been used in the translation here.
  22. Isaiah 23:11 tn Heb “concerning Canaan, to destroy her fortresses.” NIV, NLT translate “Canaan” as “Phoenicia” here.
  23. Isaiah 23:12 tn Or “violated, raped,” the point being that Daughter Sidon has lost her virginity in the most brutal manner possible.
  24. Isaiah 23:12 tn Heb “[to the] Kittim, get up, cross over; even there there will be no rest for you.” On “Kittim” see the note on “Cyprus” at v. 1.
  25. Isaiah 23:13 tn Heb “this people [that] is not.”
  26. Isaiah 23:13 tn For the meaning of this word, see HALOT 118 s.v. *בַּחוּן.
  27. Isaiah 23:13 tn Or “laid bare.” For the meaning of this word, see HALOT 889 s.v. ערר.
  28. Isaiah 23:13 sn This verse probably refers to the Assyrian destruction of Babylon.
  29. Isaiah 23:14 tn Heb “ships of Tarshish.” See the note at v. 1.
  30. Isaiah 23:15 tn Or “in that day” (KJV). The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated; see note on “in the future” in 2:2.
  31. Isaiah 23:15 sn The number seventy is probably used in a stereotypical, nonliteral sense here to indicate a long period of time that satisfies completely the demands of God’s judgment.
  32. Isaiah 23:15 tn Heb “like the days of a king.”
  33. Isaiah 23:15 tn Heb “At the end of seventy years it will be for Tyre like the song of the prostitute.”
  34. Isaiah 23:16 tn Heb “so you will be remembered.”
  35. Isaiah 23:17 tn The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated; see note on “in the future” in 2:2.
  36. Isaiah 23:17 tn Heb “visit [with favor]” (cf. KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV); NIV “will deal with.”
  37. Isaiah 23:17 tn Heb “and she will return to her [prostitute’s] wages and engage in prostitution with all the kingdoms of the earth on the face of the earth.”
  38. Isaiah 23:18 tn Heb “for eating to fullness and for beautiful covering[s].”sn The point of this verse, which in its blatant nationalism comes precariously close to comparing the Lord to one who controls or manages a prostitute, is that Tyre will become a subject of Israel and her God. Tyre’s commercial profits will be used to enrich the Lord’s people.
New English Translation (NET)

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