Isaiah 23:1-18

Daybreak for Students

Isaiah 23:1-18

Isaiah 23
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. Take an harp, go about the city, thou harlot that hast been forgotten; make sweet melody, sing many songs, that thou mayest be remembered. — Isaiah 23:15-16

When I was a small child, my family would travel to the town where I presently live. I remember sitting in the back seat of the car and noticing the large brick building with the giant words, “Albers Mill,” across the top. This picturesque building was located near the train track on the waterfront. The area was busy day and night with incoming and outgoing shipments from the large port.

When we moved here about five years ago, that brick landmark was vacant, rundown, and the windows were either broken out or boarded up. It had been in that condition for many years. Just recently, there has been a push to restore the downtown area. A contractor purchased this old, trashy, boarded-up building and began to turn it into something usable. His desire was to maintain as much of the original look as possible. The building is now a restored, multipurpose facility, which has become a famous regional tourist attraction. What looked like a ruin that needed to be torn down is now a thriving group of stores on the first two floors and very expensive apartments on the upper floors.

The restoration of the old Albers Mill reminds me of how Isaiah described Tyre. The city during Isaiah’s time was rich and prosperous, but the prophet predicted that because of sin and pride, it would become desolate for seventy years. But God is in the restoration business, and He would eventually give new life to Tyre.

There are many people who, through sinful choices in life find themselves on a path of destruction. Often families are gone, jobs are lost, and health is broken. The world may look on and call them losers, but God offers hope. He is the God of restoration. He calls for the hopeless to repent and He will give new life. He can give beauty to even the most unloved of this world.

Never underestimate what God can do for a person who comes to Him with all his heart! He can mend what seems impossible to repair. He can restore what looks as though it should be torn down and disposed of. He can replace hate with love, and distrust with trust. Whatever situation you may be facing today, give it to God and see what He will do with it.


Chapter 23 records a collage or panorama of future events as seen by the prophet. It focuses on the coming judgment of Tyre, and the nations that traded with it. In the first verse, the prophet calls on the seafarers of Tarshish to “howl” because their great gain through commerce with Tyre would stop. In the subsequent verses, Isaiah describes where Tyre got its wealth and declares that this great luxury and splendor would be destroyed. In verse 13, Isaiah says that this destruction would be done by the Chaldeans, during the days of Nebuchadnezzar.

The 15th verse refers to Tyre as the song of the harlot, namely, a harlot that has been forgotten, but who seeks to attract notice again by her song. Large ports of merchant trading centers were often compared to harlots seeking many lovers, meaning they courted merchants of all nations. These merchant centers would accept anyone for the sake of financial gain. Isaiah’s prophecy indicated that Tyre would again attract commercial trade.

The message of this chapter was to foretell the destruction that would come upon a rich, proud, and prosperous city, and then goes on to show that God was King over the nations of the earth. Regardless of what Tyre and all other nations thought of their accomplishments, God was the One to set up and to put down.

Before its judgment, Tyre was a place of great strength. Josephus, the great Jewish historian, states that Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, made war against Tyre with a fleet of sixty ships, manned by 800 rowers. Tyre had but twelve ships, yet they obtained the victory, and scattered the Assyrian fleet, taking 500 prisoners. Shalmaneser then besieged the city for five years, but was unable to take it. This was in the time of the prophet Hezekiah, about 717 B.C. History states that old Tyre was defended by a wall, which was believed to be impregnable. This city resisted the attacks of Nebuchadnezzar for thirteen years, from 586-573 B.C. The new Tyre, after the restoration, was inaccessible until 322 B.C. when Alexander the Great constructed the immense rock wall with which he connected the city to the mainland. Tyre also had control of the sea.

In verse 18, Isaiah looked ahead in time and referred to the Millennium. At that time, the people in Tyre will share some of the blessings that Israel will receive.


(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II.   The message of condemnation: the Holy One of Israel provoked, rebuking and judging
     C.   Prophecies related to the foreign nations
           12.   The judgment of Tyre (23:1-18)
                   a.   The destruction of Tyre (23:1-14)
                   b.   The restoration of Tyre (23:15-18)


  1. Why did Isaiah say the Lord planned to destroy Tyre? 

  2. Why would God target for judgment the possessions or activities that cause a nation to prosper?

  3. What creative way can you think of to glorify God using your material resources?


If you are burdened for loved ones who have wrecked their lives by sin, don’t lose hope. God is in the restoring business and can bring hope to the hopeless.