Isaiah 23

15 At that time Tyre will be forgotten for seventy years, the span of a king's life. But at the end of these seventy years, it will happen to Tyre as in the song of the prostitute:
16“Take up a harp, walk through the city,
you forgotten prostitute;
play the harp well, sing many a song,
so that you will be remembered.”

2 Answers 2


There are several ways to understand Isa 23:15 and its song of the prostitute but the simplest is this - V16 is either the song or a paraphrase of the well-known song. This means, as Barnes notes:

Shall Tyre sing as an harlot - Margin, as the Hebrew, 'It shall be unto Tyre as the song of an harlot.' That is, Tyre shall be restored to its former state of prosperity and opulence; it shall be adorned with the rich productions of other climes, and shall be happy and joyful again. There are two ideas here; one that Tyre would be again prosperous, and the other that she would sustain substantially the same character as before.

That is, Tyre was characterized by political and moral harlotry before being subjugated by Babylon. Afterward it will recover its independence and return to that same position of political and moral harlotry and, again, sing the song of the prostitute.

Gill arrives at a similar conclusion:

after the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing as an harlot; being rebuilt and restored to its former state; as a harlot who has been cast off by her lovers, on account of some disease she has laboured under, and through a dislike of her; but, having recovered her health, makes use of her arts, and this among others, to sing a song, in order to draw, by her melodious voice, her lovers to her again; and so Tyre being built again, and out of the hands of its oppressors, and restored to its former liberty, should make use of all arts and methods to recover her trade, and draw merchants from all parts to her again.


In Isaiah 23:1-16, the prophet Yeshayahu caricatures the Port of Tarshish (Tareshiysh, תַּרְשִׁ֗ישׁ) - as "The-Adulterer" (Ha-Zonah, הַזּוֹנָֽה) owned by Tyre (Tsor, צֹ֑ר), which was visited by Ships (Aniyot, אֳנִיּ֣וֹת) seeking merchandise from Egypt (Mitsrayim, מִצְרָ֑יִם) - "the harvest of the Nile was her revenue", Isaiah 23:3-5.

In Isaiah 23:15-16, "Like-Songs of The-Adulterer" ( כְּשִׁירַ֖ת הַזּוֹנָֽה ) is symbolic of Tyre's flirtation with Egypt (Mitsrayim, מִצְרָ֑יִם), having economic relations in trading with a nation of idols.

Additional Commentary is available on Isaiah 23:1-16 [MT] : https://www.sefaria.org/Isaiah.23?lang=bi

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