Isaiah 33:23

Thy tacklings are loosed; they could not well strengthen their mast, they could not spread the sail: then is the prey of a great spoil divided; the lame take the prey.

Thy tacklings are loosed,.... Or "are left" {h}; forsaken by the mariners, as being of no use and service:

they could not well strengthen their mast; with ropes to make it stand upright:

they could not spread the sail; upon the mast, without which they could not proceed. This is spoken to and of the enemies of the church; most interpreters understand it of the Assyrians, who are compared to a ship in great distress at sea, when its tacklings are shattered, the mast is split, and the sails cannot be spread. The metaphor is taken and carried on from Isaiah 33:21, where mention is made of a galley with oars, and a gallant ship. Tyrannical governments are thought by some to be compared to ships; a king to the mast; princes to ropes, cords, and tackling; and their army in battle array to sails spread; but here all is in confusion, distress, and unavoidable ruin: this may very well be applied to the antichristian states, when the vials of God's wrath shall be poured out upon them; especially when the second vial shall be poured out upon the sea, and all shipping will suffer, as under the second trumpet the third part of ships were destroyed, there being a correspondence between the trumpets and the seals, Revelation 8:8:

then is the prey of a great spoil divided: as the spoil of the Assyrian camp was by the Israelites, so will the spoil of the Papists by the Protestants; particularly when the kings of the earth shall be filled with an aversion to the whore of Rome, and shall destroy her, and make her bare and desolate of all her riches, and shall "eat her flesh", or seize upon her substance, which will become the prey of a great spoil unto them:

the lame take the prey; which denotes both how easily it shall be taken, and what a plenty there shall be, that even such, and who come late, shall have a share in it. The Targum of the whole is,

"at that time (when vengeance shall be taken on Gog) the people shall be broken with their own strength, and they shall be like to a ship whose ropes are broken; and there is no strength in their mast, which is cut down, that it is not possible to spread a sail on it; then shall the house of Israel divide the substance of the people, the multitude of a prey and spoil; and although the blind and the lame are left among them, they also shall divide the multitude of the prey and spoil.''

{h} So the word is interpreted by Kimchi and Ben Melech.