Of the oaks of Bashan have they made thine oars
To row the ships with; for their ships probably were no other than galleys, which were rowed with oars, as were the ships of first invention. Bashan was a country in Judea where oaks grew; see ( Isaiah 2:13 ) . The country of Judea in general was famous for oaks; it abounded with them in the times of Homer F20, who speaks of Typho being buried in a country abounding with oaks, among the rich or fat people of Judea; and he seems to design Bashan particularly, of which Og was king, whom he calls Typho, and of whose bed he makes mention in the same place; hence several places in Judea had their names from the oaks which grew, there, as Elonmoreh, Allonbachuth, Elonmeonenim, Elontabor, and Elonbethhanan, ( Genesis 12:6 ) ( 35:8 ) ( Judges 9:37 ) ( 1 Samuel 10:3 ) ( 1 Kings 4:9 ) and which one would have thought were fitter to make their ships of; but of these only their oars were made: the company of the Ashurites have made thy benches of ivory, brought
out of the isles of Chittim;
the benches for the towers to sit on, or for others in the cabin and decks; but that these should be wholly of ivory is not very probable; nor was ivory brought from the isles of Chittim, but from other parts; nor is it easy to say who the company of the Ashurites were; some say the Assyrians; but why they should be so called is not plain. Jarchi makes (Myrva tb) to be but one word, which signifies box trees, as it is used in ( Isaiah 41:19 ) and he supposes that these benches, or be they what they will, were made of box trees covered or inlaid with ivory. So the Targum,
``the lintels of thy gates (the hatches) were planks of box tree inlaid with ivory;''which box, and not the ivory, was brought from the isles of Chittim; either from Cyprus, where was a place called Citium; or from Macedonia, from whence box was fetched; or from the province of Apulia, as the Targum; where there might be plenty of it, as in Corsica, and other places, where particularly the best box grows, as Pliny F21 says. Jerom interprets Cittin of Italy; and Ben Gorion says F23 that Cittim are the Romans.
F20 (cwrw enidruoent', ioudhv en pioni dhmw) . Homer. Iliad. 2. Vid. Dickinson, Delphi Phoenicix. c. 2. p. 13, 16.
F21 Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 16.
F23 Heb. Hist. l. 1. c. 1. p. 7.