2 CHRONICLES 9
21 For the king's ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram: every three years once came the ships of Tarshish bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.
Opposite Tyre was an island, whose inhabitants were not attacked by the destroyer. To them the prophet says,
"Be still, ye inhabitants of the isle. Pass ye over to Tarshish; howl ye inhabitants of the isle. Is this Tyre, your joyous city, whose antiquity is of ancient days? Her own feet shall carry her afar off to sojourn."
It was strong in the days of Joshua, even 950 years before, but how long before that is not known.
When Nebuchadnezzar took the city after a siege of thirteen years, he found it empty. Tyre's own feet carried her away. The ships of Tarshish carried her people afar off to sojourn, and landed multitudes of them on the shores of their customers beyond the sea.
"Pass through thy land as a river, O daughter of Tarshish: strength is no more."
This they did after the manner stated, when they found they could no longer resist the Chaldeans with any prospect of success. Therefore, "Howl ye ships of Tarshish; for your strength" also "is laid waste," and the ruin of Tyre becomes yours for seventy years.
But Tarshish commercially seems to have been to Tyre what the United States and India are to the British emporium of trade and commerce. The navy and commerce of western Tarshish grew out of the prosperity and enterprise of its "daughter," Tyre.
In the days of Solomon, Tyre was a large city and small country, rich, and trading in ships to the coasts of the east and west. Tyre and Tarshish were connected at that time by commerce and navigation; for Hiram in alliance with Solomon traded in partnership with him to Tarshish.
The sons of Tarshish seem to have found their way to India and the coasts of India, as well as to Spain and Britain; so that in trading with them, the Tyrians and Israel visited their shores in their own vessels sailing from the ports of the Red Sea; while the mariners of Tarshish frequented Tyre in theirs from the west.
That the Tarshish people in the days of Solomon were found in the east is evident from scripture history. In accounting for the abundance of gold and silver in Jerusalem, the historian says,
"For Solomon had at sea a navy of Tarshish with the navy of Hiram; once in three years came the navy of Tarshish, bringing gold and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks. So King Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom."
Now that the navy did not belong to Tarshish, but to Solomon, appears from a parallel text, where it reads,
"And Solomon made a navy of ships in Eziongeber, which is beside Elath, on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom; and they came to Ophir and fetched from thence gold."
And, "the king's ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Hiram." Solomon owned the ships, and the king of Tyre found the sailors. Again, Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, joined himself with Ahaziah, king of Israel, to make ships of Tarshish; to go to Ophir for gold, and they built the ships, in Eziongeber. But the Lord broke the ships, and they were not able to go to Tarshish;" because of the wickedness of Ahaziah.
Now it is evident from this, that the settlements of Tarshish to which Israel traded were in the east.
Eziongeber, where the ships to Tarshish sailed from, was at the extremity of Elan, a gulf of the Red Sea. A fleet weighing anchor from this port for a voyage out of one year and a half, could only have sailed in one direction, and that was to the straits of Babelmandeb, about 1500 miles in a south easterly course. Having passed the straits, they would sail east by north to Ophir, the Tyre of the east, on the coasts of Tarshish.
Wherever this mart of nations was, it would not be on the Arabian coast; for it was intended to send the ships "to Tarshish for to go to Ophir;"
if it had been there, it would have read "to Sheba," or "to Dedan for to go to Ophir." Josephus is no doubt correct in saying that Ophir was in India; which is equivalent to saying that Tarshish and India are the same; because Ophir is in Tarshish. To go "to Tarshish for to go to Ophir," is like saying they went "to England for to go to London."
The identity of Ophir and Tarshish with India is also manifested by the merchandize brought home in Solomon's ships-gold and silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks, almug trees and precious stones; all Indian products, collected at the great trading emporium of the east.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Mar 1858