Shipwrecks? Prostitution? Rape, plunder, and pillage? This doesn’t sound like a good direction to go. All those terms are used in Isaiah to refer to people who neglect God’s word. There are parallels in every age, as Dr. Luther indicates in his comments on Isaiah 23.
Luther, Martin, edited by Jaroslav Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, translated by Herbert J.A. Bowman) Luther’s Works, Vol. 16, Lectures on Isaiah Chapters 1-39. St. Louis: Concordia, 1969. Logos Electronic Edition.
“Isaiah Chapter 23” pp. 182-185.
Isaiah chapter 23 turns attention to Tyre and Sidon. Luther notes a calamitous decline in shipping and trade which had made Tyre a world power (LW 16, 182). In verse seven the arrogant city which has never trusted in God is left desolate. This draws the mockery of the prophet. The inhabitants will be scattered, particularly to Africa, and the strength of the city will be forgotten (v. 15) (LW 16, 184). At the end of the period of forgetfulness there will be singing and a return to normalcy. Luther observes, however, from verse 16, that the normalcy is that of prostitution.
Tyre’s economy will recover but it will be no more pleasing to God than it was before the captivity. Luther also points out that in Christ, the people of Tyre have been generous to the poor. He contrasts this to the practice of monks, bishops, and popes of his time, who live like royalty. (LW 16, 185).
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