A mocking message about Tyre
Tyre is gone1A message about Tyre
Scream, sailors of Tarshish,
Just back from your voyage to Cyprus.
Your homes are gone,
The harbor destroyed.
Do the same, merchants in Sidon,
You who sent your traders across the sea,
3Sailing above the deep water.
You trafficked in Egyptian grain.
You bought it, then sold it to nations.
4Sidon was a seaside fortress with bragging rights.
There’s nothing left to brag about now.
The sea cries out,
“My children are gone.
I don’t have sons. I don’t have daughters.
It’s as though I’ve never given birth.”
5When the news gets back to Egypt,
They’ll be deeply upset about Tyre.
Turn your ships around6
You ships at sea, sailing home to the coast,
Stay away. Sail off to Tarshish.
With its long and proud history
And the colonies it planted abroad.
8Who decided to destroy Tyre?
It was wonderful city,
a king-maker city,
Where merchants became princes
Honored all over the world.
9The LORD of all decided it.
He did it to humble the proud
And to shame the honored.
10Sail on, sail on,
Back to Tarshish.
The harbor of Tyre is gone.
God shook Tyre to death11
The LORD reached out above the sea
And shook Tyre’s kingdom to death.
He gave his orders for the rest of Canaan.
Their kingdoms have to go.
“Your days of celebration are over,
Sweet virgin princess, young Sidon.
Sail away to Cyrus, escape if you can.
But there’s no safe haven there, either.”
13Even Babylon is gone, leveled to ruins.
Look what the Assyrians did.
They turned a beautiful kingdom of human beings
Into a wild kingdom of beasts.
Cry “Havoc,” ships of Tarshish.
Your strong harbor, safe haven is gone.
For a king’s lifetime,
Forgotten for 70 years.
Then it’ll come back and do business
Like the hooker in the well-known song.
16Pick up your harp and pluck it.
Take your music on the road.
Sing old songs of days gone by.
And try to sing in tune.
17Seventy years later, the LORD comes by
And Tyre’s back in business.
She’s a hooker with an international clientele.
And she’s hooking up all over the world.
18She makes her money and does a good business,
But the money’s not hers to keep.
It goes to God, and supports his work:
Food and fine clothes for his people.
Many scholars say this is either a prophecy about the Assyrians defeating Tyre or a report after the event. The writer pretends to mourn for Tyre but it’s just a taunt. The writer seems happy to see it defeated. Tyre wasn’t just a city on the southern coast of Lebanon. It was the capital of a city-state kingdom that included other cities such as Sidon, along with colonies abroad, including on the island of Cyprus. Assyrians attacked Tyre four times. It’s hard to know which one this message is talking about. One occasion: Tyre joined the widespread revolt against the Assyrian Empire from about 705-701 BC. Assyrian king Sennacherib crushed Tyre’s contribution to the revolt in 701 BC. Judah’s king Hezekiah had also revolted then. Sennacherib lay siege to Jerusalem, but suddenly withdrew without conquering it (2 Kings 18:17-19:37).
Location of Tarshish is unknown. It was the prophet Jonah’s destination when he tried to run away from God. Scholars often guess that it was a city in Spain or somewhere else at the opposite end of the Mediterranean Sea from the Jewish homeland. Some say it was a Phoenician colony called Tartessus, in Spain. Phoenicians were native to what is now Lebanon, but their merchant ships sailed through the Mediterranean Sea.
It’s hard to know what’s going on here. Some scholars say this reflects the Canaanite sea god, known as Yam, crying like a parent of Tyre who has lost his family.
Egypt lost an important trading partner because Phoenicians in what is now Lebanon managed the most aggressive fleet of merchant ships in the Mediterranean Sea. Assyria shut them down, for a time. Also, Egypt would have worried that with the fall of Tyre, Assyrians were one country closer to striking them.
This could suggest Tyre would either join the Jews in their faith or would be subjugated by the Jews and pay taxes to them. There’s no known indication of either after Assyria defeated the town.
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