The merchandise of Tyre. (1-25) Its fall and ruin. (26-36)
Verses 1-25 Those who live at ease are to be lamented, if they are not prepared for trouble. Let none reckon themselves beautified, any further than they are sanctified. The account of the trade of Tyre intimates, that God's eye is upon men when employed in worldly business. Not only when at church, praying and hearing, but when in markets and fairs, buying and selling. In all our dealings we should keep a conscience void of offence. God, as the common Father of mankind, makes one country abound in one commodity, and another in another, serviceable to the necessity or to the comfort and ornament of human life. See what a blessing trade and merchandise are to mankind, when followed in the fear of God. Besides necessaries, an abundance of things are made valuable only by custom; yet God allows us to use them. But when riches increase, men are apt to set their hearts upon them, and forget the Lord, who gives power to get wealth.
Verses 26-36 The most mighty and magnificent kingdoms and states, sooner or later, come down. Those who make creatures their confidence, and rest their hopes upon them, will fall with them: happy are those who have the God of Jacob for their Help, and whose hope is in the Lord their God, who lives for ever. Those who engage in trade should learn to conduct their business according to God's word. Those who possess wealth should remember they are the Lord's stewards, and should use his goods in doing good to all. Let us seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.
Ezekiel 27:1-36 . TYRE'S FORMER GREATNESS, SUGGESTING A LAMENTATION OVER HER SAD DOWNFALL.
2. lamentation--a funeral dirge, eulogizing her great attributes, to make the contrast the greater between her former and her latter state.
3. situate at the entry of the sea--literally, plural, "entrances," that is, ports or havens; referring to the double port of Tyre, at which vessels entered round the north and south ends of the island, so that ships could find a ready entrance from whatever point the wind might blow (compare Ezekiel 28:2 ).
merchant of . . . people for many isles--that is, a mercantile emporium of the peoples of many seacoasts, both from the east and from the west ( Isaiah 23:3 ), "a mart of nations."
of perfect beauty--( Ezekiel 28:12 ).
4. Tyre, in consonance with her seagirt position, separated by a strait of half a mile from the mainland, is described as a ship built of the best material, and manned with the best mariners and skilful pilots, but at last wrecked in tempestuous seas ( Ezekiel 27:26 ).
5. Senir--the Amorite name of Hermon, or the southern height of Anti-libanus ( Deuteronomy 3:9 ); the Sidonian name was Sirion. "All thy . . . boards"; dual in Hebrew, "double-boards," namely, placed in a double order on the two sides of which the ship consisted [VATABLUS]. Or, referring to the two sides or the two ends, the prow and the stern, which every ship has [MUNSTER].
cedars--most suited for "masts," from their height and durability.
6. Bashan--celebrated for its oaks, as Lebanon was for its cedars.
the company of . . . Ashurites--the most skilful workmen summoned from Assyria. Rather, as the Hebrew orthography requires, "They have made thy (rowing) benches of ivory inlaid in the daughter of cedars" [MAURER], or, the best boxwood. FAIRBAIRN, with BOCHART, reads the Hebrew two words as one: "Thy plankwork (deck: instead of 'benches,' as the Hebrew is singular) they made ivory with boxes." English Version, with MAURER'S correction, is simpler.
Chittim--Cyprus and Macedonia, from which, PLINY tells us, the best boxwood came [GROTIUS].
7. broidered . . . sail--The ancients embroidered their sails often at great expense, especially the Egyptians, whose linen, still preserved in mummies, is of the finest texture.
Elishah--Greece; so called from Elis, a large and ancient division of Peloponnesus. Pausanias says that the best of linen was produced in it, and in no other part of Greece; called by HOMER, Alisium.
that which covered thee--thy awning.
8. Arvad--a small island and city near Phoenicia, now Ruad: its inhabitants are still noted for seafaring habits.
thy wise men, O Tyrus . . . thy pilots--While the men of Arvad, once thy equals ( Genesis 10:18 ), and the Sidonians, once thy superiors, were employed by thee in subordinate positions as "mariners," thou madest thine own skilled men alone to be commanders and pilots. Implying the political and mercantile superiority of Tyre.
9. Gebal--a Phoenician city and region between Beirut and Tripoils, famed for skilled workmen ( 1 Kings 5:18 , Margin; Psalms 83:7 ).
calkers--stoppers of chinks in a vessel: carrying on the metaphor as to Tyre.
occupy thy merchandise--that is, to exchange merchandise with thee.
10. Persia . . . Phut--warriors from the extreme east and west.
Lud--the Lydians of Asia Minor, near the Meander, famed for archery ( Isaiah 66:19 ); rather than those of Ethiopia, as the Lydians of Asia Minor form a kind of intermediate step between Persia and Phut (the Libyans about Cyrene, shielded warriors, Jeremiah 46:9 , descended from Phut, son of Ham).
hanged . . . shield . . . comeliness--Warriors hanged their accoutrements on the walls for ornament. Divested of the metaphor, it means that it was an honor to thee to have so many nations supplying thee with hired soldiers.
11. Gammadims--rather, as the Tyrians were Syro-Phoenicians, from a Syriac root, meaning daring, "men of daring" [LUDOVICUS DE DIEU]. It is not likely the keeping of watch "in the towers" would have been entrusted to foreigners. Others take it from a Hebrew root, "a dagger," or short sword ( Judges 3:16 ), short-swordsmen."
12. Tarshish--Tartessus in Spain, a country famed for various metals, which were exported to Tyre. Much of the "tin" probably was conveyed by the Phoenicians from Cornwall to Tarshish.
traded in thy fairs--"did barter with thee" [FAIRBAIRN]; from a root, "to leave," something left in barter for something else.
13. Javan--the Ionians or Greeks: for the Ionians of Asia Minor were the first Greeks with whom the Asiatics came in contact.
Tubal . . . Meshech--the Tibareni and Moschi, in the mountain region between the Black and Caspian Seas.
persons of men--that is, as slaves. So the Turkish harems are supplied with female slaves from Circassia and Georgia.
vessels--all kinds of articles. Superior weapons are still manufactured in the Caucasus region.
14. Togarmah--Armenia: descended from Gomer ( Genesis 10:3 ). Their mountainous region south of the Caucasus was celebrated for horses.
horsemen--rather, "riding-horses," as distinct from "horses" for chariots [FAIRBAIRN].
15. Dedan--near the Persian Sea: thus an avenue to the commerce of India. Not the Dedan in Arabia ( Ezekiel 27:20 ), as the names in the context here prove, but the Dedan sprung from Cush [BOCHART], ( Genesis 10:7 ).
merchandise of thine hand--that is, were dependent on thee for trade [FAIRBAIRN]; came to buy the produce of thy hands [GROTIUS].
a present--literally, "a reward in return"; a price paid for merchandise.
horns of ivory--Ivory is so termed from its resemblance to horns. The Hebrew word for "ivory" means "tooth"; so that they cannot have mistaken ivory as if coming from the horns of certain animals, instead of from the tusks of the elephant.
16. "Syria was thy mart for the multitude," &c. For "Syria" the Septuagint reads "Edom." But the Syrians were famed as merchants.
occupied--old English for "traded"; so in Luke 19:13 .
agate--Others translate, "ruby," "chalcedony," or "pearls."
17. Minnith . . . Pannag--names of places in Israel famed for good wheat, wherewith Tyre was supplied ( 1 Kings 5:9 1 Kings 5:11 , Ezra 3:7 , Acts 12:20 ); Minnith was formerly an Ammonite city ( Judges 11:33 ). "Pannag" is identified by GROTIUS with "Phenice," the Greek name for "Canaan." "They traded . . . wheat," that is, they supplied thy market with wheat.
18. Helbon--or Chalybon, in Syria, now Aleppo; famed for its wines; the Persian monarchs would drink no other.
19. Dan also--None of the other places enumerated commence with the copula ("also"; Hebrew, ve). Moreover, the products specified, "cassia, calamus," apply rather to places in Arabia. Therefore, FAIRBAIRN translates, "Vedan"; perhaps the modern Aden, near the straits of Bab-el-man-deb. GROTIUS refers it to Dana, mentioned by PTOLEMY.
Javan--not the Greeks of Europe or Asia Minor, but of a Greek settlement in Arabia.
going to and fro--rather, as Hebrew admits, "from Uzal." This is added to "Javan," to mark which Javan is meant ( Genesis 10:27 ). The metropolis of Arabia Felix, or Yemen; called also Sanaa [BOCHART]. English Version gives a good sense, thus: All peoples, whether near as the Israelite "Dan," or far as the Greeks or "Javan," who were wont to "go to and fro" from their love of traffic, frequented thy marts, bringing bright iron, &c., these products not being necessarily represented as those of Dan or Javan.
bright iron--Yemen is still famed for its sword blades.
20. Dedan--in Arabia; distinct from the Dedan in Ezekiel 27:15 ( Genesis 25:3 ) [BOCHART].
precious clothes--splendid coverlets.
21. Arabia--the nomadic tribes of Arabia, among which Kedar was pre-eminent.
occupied with thee--literally, "of thy hand," that is, they traded with thee for wares, the product of thy hand
22. Sheba . . . Raamah--in Arabia.
chief of . . . spices--that is, best spices ( Deuteronomy 33:15 ). Obtained from India and conveyed in caravans to Tyre.
23. Haran--the dwelling-place of Abraham in Mesopotamia, after he moved from Ur ( Genesis 11:31 ).
Canneh--Calneh, an Assyrian city on the Tigris; the Ctesiphon of the Greeks ( Genesis 10:10 ).
Eden--probably a region in Babylonia (see Genesis 2:8 ).
Chilmad--a compound; the place designated by PTOLEMY "Gaala of Media." The Chaldee version interprets it of Media. HENDERSON refers it to Carmanda, which XENOPHON describes as a large city beyond the Euphrates.
24. all sorts of things--Hebrew, "perfections"; exquisite articles of finery [GROTIUS].
clothes--rather, "mantles" or "cloaks"; literally, "wrappings." For "blue," HENDERSON translates, "purple."
chests of rich apparel, bound with cords--treasures or repositories of damask stuffs, consisting of variegated threads woven together in figures [HENDERSON].
cedar--The "chests" were made of cedar, in order to last the longer; and it also keeps off decay and has a sweet odor.
25. sing of thee--personification; flay great merchant ships were palpable proofs of thy greatness. Others translate from a different Hebrew root, "were thy (mercantile) travellers." FAIRBAIRN translates, "Were thy walls." But the parallelism to "thou wast glorious" favors English Version, "sing of thee."
26. In contrast to her previous greatness, her downfall is here, by a sudden transition, depicted under the image of a vessel foundering at sea.
east wind--blowing from Lebanon, the most violent wind in the Mediterranean ( Psalms 48:7 ). A Levanter, as it is called. Nebuchadnezzar is meant. The "sea" is the war with him which the "rowers," or rulers of the state vessel, had "brought" it into, to its ruin.
27. The detailed enumeration implies the utter completeness of the ruin.
and in all thy company--"even with all thy collected multitude" [HENDERSON].
28. The suburbs--the buildings of Tyre on the adjoining continent.
29. So on the downfall of spiritual Babylon ( Revelation 18:17 , &c.).
shall stand upon . . . land--being cast out of their ships in which heretofore they prided themselves.
30. against thee--rather, "concerning thee."
31. utterly bald--literally, "bald with baldness." The Phoenician custom in mourning; which, as being connected with heathenish superstitions, was forbidden to Israel ( Deuteronomy 14:1 ).
take up--lift up.
the destroyed--a destroyed one. Literally, (as opposed to its previous bustle of thronging merchants and mariners, Ezekiel 27:27 ), "one brought to death's stillness."
in . . . midst of . . . sea--insular Tyre.
33. out of the seas--brought on shore out of the ships.
filledst--didst supply plentifully with wares.
enrich . . . kings--with the custom dues levied on the wares.
34. In the time when . . . shall . . . shall--Now that thou art broken (wrecked) . . . thy merchandise . . . are fallen [MAURER].
36. hiss--with astonishment; as in 1 Kings 9:8 .