The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
The dirge of Tyre written in poetical form. Tyre is compared to a fair vessel, to whose equipment the various nations of the world contribute, launching forth in majesty, to be wrecked and to perish. The nations enumerated point out Tyre as the center of commerce between the eastern and western world. This position, occupied for a short time by Jerusalem, was long maintained by Tyre, until the erection of Alexandria supplanted her in this traffic. Compare the dirge of Babylon Isaiah 14:3-23; in each case the city named represents the world-power antagonistic to God.
Now, thou son of man, take up a lamentation for Tyrus;
And say unto Tyrus, O thou that art situate at the entry of the sea, which art a merchant of the people for many isles, Thus saith the Lord GOD; O Tyrus, thou hast said, I am of perfect beauty.
Entry - literally, "entries." Ancient Tyre had two ports, that called the Sidonian to the north, the Egyptian to the south; the former exists to the present day. The term "entry of the sea" is naturally enough applied to a harbor as a place from which ships enter and return from the sea. The city was known in the earliest times as "Tyre the port."
Thy borders are in the midst of the seas, thy builders have perfected thy beauty.
They have made all thy ship boards of fir trees of Senir: they have taken cedars from Lebanon to make masts for thee.
Fir-trees (or, cypress) of Senir - The name by which the Amorites knew Mount Hermon.
Of the oaks of Bashan have they made thine oars; the company of the Ashurites have made thy benches of ivory, brought out of the isles of Chittim.
The company ... ivory - Rather, "thy benches (or, deck) made they of ivory with boxwood" (or, larch), i. e., boxwood inlaid with ivory.
The isles - (or, coasts) of Chittim is a phrase used constantly for Greece and the Grecian islands. It may probably be extended to other islands in the Mediterranean sea Genesis 10:5, and there ivory may have been brought from the coasts of North Africa.
Fine linen with broidered work from Egypt was that which thou spreadest forth to be thy sail; blue and purple from the isles of Elishah was that which covered thee.
Or, "Fine linen Genesis 41:42 with embroidery from Egypt was" thy sail that it might be to thee for a banner. Sails from Egypt were worked with various figures upon them which served as a device. Their boats had no separate pennons.
Blue and purple - Tyrian purple was famous. The Tyrians no doubt imported from the neighboring coasts the mollusks from which they dyed the fine linen of Egypt.
Isles of Elishah - See Genesis 10:4. Elishah is considered equivalent to the Greek AEolis on the western coast of Asia Minor. This and the islands adjacent would very naturally have commerce with the Tyrians. In early days the supply of the murex from the coast of Phoenicia had been insufficient for the Tyrian manufactures. The isles of Greece abounded in the mollusks.
That which covered thee - As an awning.
The inhabitants of Zidon and Arvad were thy mariners: thy wise men, O Tyrus, that were in thee, were thy pilots.
Arvad - See Genesis 10:18. An island off the coast of Sidon, now called Ruad.
The ancients of Gebal and the wise men thereof were in thee thy calkers: all the ships of the sea with their mariners were in thee to occupy thy merchandise.
Gebal - i. e., Byblos (modern Gebeil) in Phoenicia, the chief seat of the worship of Adonis, and situated on an eminence over-looking the river Adonis, north of Beirut, not far from the Mediterranean sea. The "ancients" is a term for the council that presided over maritime cities.
They of Persia and of Lud and of Phut were in thine army, thy men of war: they hanged the shield and helmet in thee; they set forth thy comeliness.
The prophet here leaves the allegory of the ship to describe the armies of the Tyrians composed of mercenary soldiers.
Persia - The name of this people does not occur in the more ancient books of the Old Testament; but in the books of the exile and after the exile it is frequent. This exactly corresponds with the record of history. It was just at the time that Ezekiel wrote that the rude and warlike people of Persia were rising into notice, soon about to seize, under Cyrus, the empire of the Asiatic world.
Lud - See Genesis 10:13. The union here of "Lud with Phut," an undoubtedly African tribe (compare Ezekiel 30:5; Isaiah 66:19) seems to indicate Lud to be of Hamitic race, not the Semitic race. Both names occur repeatedly on Egyptian inscriptions, especially as supplying mercenary soldiers.
Phut - Libyans (see Genesis 10:6).
The men of Arvad with thine army were upon thy walls round about, and the Gammadims were in thy towers: they hanged their shields upon thy walls round about; they have made thy beauty perfect.
Gammadims - Rendered by Septuagint "watchmen;" by others, "brave warriors;" but more probably the name of some nation of which we have no record. The custom of hanging shields upon the walls of a town by way of ornament seems to have been of purely Phoenician origin, and thence introduced by Solomon into Jerusalem 1 Kings 10:16.
Tarshish was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of all kind of riches; with silver, iron, tin, and lead, they traded in thy fairs.
The thread broken at Ezekiel 27:8 is taken up, and the various nations are enumerated which traded with Tyre.
Tarshish - Tartessus in Spain (marginal references). Spain was rich in the metals named.
Merchant - Especially applied to those who traveled about with caravans to carry on trade (see Genesis 23:16).
Fairs - Or, "wares" Ezekiel 27:33. The word occurs only in this chapter. The foreign merchants gave their wares in return for the products delivered to them by Tyre.
Javan, Tubal, and Meshech, they were thy merchants: they traded the persons of men and vessels of brass in thy market.
Jaran - Greece (Ion), including the Grecian colonies in Sicily and Italy.
Tubal, and Meshech - The Tibareni and Moschi, whose lands were on the Caucasian highlands between the Euxine and Caspian Seas (see the marginal reference), were a fine race of men; from thence slaves have been continually sought. Greece too in ancient times was famous for furnishing slaves.
They of the house of Togarmah traded in thy fairs with horses and horsemen and mules.
Togarmah - Armenia.
The men of Dedan were thy merchants; many isles were the merchandise of thine hand: they brought thee for a present horns of ivory and ebony.
Dedan - There were two tribes (Shemite and Hamite), each bearing the name of "Dedan" (see Genesis 10:7). The Hamite (Ethiopian) Dedan may well have supplied for a payment (rather than "for a present") horns, ivory, and ebony; the Shemite (Arabians), "clothes for chariots" (see Ezekiel 27:20).
Syria was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of the wares of thy making: they occupied in thy fairs with emeralds, purple, and broidered work, and fine linen, and coral, and agate.
Syria - "Aram" here included Mesopotamia; and Babylon was famous for its precious stones. Many read "Edom."
Emeralds - Rather, carbuncle.
Fine linen - The word (בוץ bûts) was used only in the times of the captivity. It is a Phoenician word, which in Greek assumed the form "byssus," properly "cotton," as distinguished from "linen;" the Phoenicians spinning their threads from cotton wool, the Egyptians from flax.
Judah, and the land of Israel, they were thy merchants: they traded in thy market wheat of Minnith, and Pannag, and honey, and oil, and balm.
Minnith - A city of the Ammonites, whose country was famous for wheat 2 Chronicles 27:5. The wheat was carried through the land of Israel to Tyre.
Pannag - This word occurs nowhere else, and has been very variously explained. Some take it to be "sweetwares." Others see in it the name of a place, fertile like Minnith, perhaps identical with Pingi on the road from Baalbec to Damascus.
Damascus was thy merchant in the multitude of the wares of thy making, for the multitude of all riches; in the wine of Helbon, and white wool.
Helbon - Chalybon, near Damascus, whose wine was a favorite luxury with Persian kings.
White wool - A product of flocks that grazed in the waste lands of Syria and Arabia.
Dan also and Javan going to and fro occupied in thy fairs: bright iron, cassia, and calamus, were in thy market.
Dan also - Hebrew Vedan, a place in Arabia, not elsewhere mentioned.
Going to and fro - Better as in the margin, a proper name, "Meuzal," or rather, "from Uzal" which was the ancient name of Senaa the capital of Yemen in Arabia. Greek merchants would carry on commerce between Uzal and Tyre.
Bright iron - literally, "wrought iron;" iron worked into plates smooth and polished. Yemen was famous for the manufacture of sword-blades.
Cassia - The inner bark of an aromatic plant.
Calamus - A fragrant reed-like plant (see Exodus 30:23-24). Both are special products of India and Arabia.
Dedan was thy merchant in precious clothes for chariots.
Dedan - See Ezekiel 27:15. It is remarkable that "Dedan and Sheba" occur both among the descendants of Ham in Genesis 10:7, and among the descendants of Abraham and Keturah in Genesis 25:3. This seems to indicate that there were distinct nomad tribes bearing the same names of Hamite and of Semitic origin; or it may be that whereas some of the nomad Arabs were Hamite, others Semitic, these were of mixed origin, and so traced up their lineage alike to tiara and Shem. Here we have, at any rate, a number of Arabian nomad tribes mentioned together, and these tribes and their caravans were in those days the regular merchant travelers between east and west. By her ships, Tyre spread over Europe the goods which by these caravans she obtained from India and China.
Precious clothes - Or "clothes of covering," cloths of tapestry.
Arabia, and all the princes of Kedar, they occupied with thee in lambs, and rams, and goats: in these were they thy merchants.
Kedar - The representative of the pastoral tribes in the northwest of Arabia.
The merchants of Sheba and Raamah, they were thy merchants: they occupied in thy fairs with chief of all spices, and with all precious stones, and gold.
Sheba - Sabaea, the richest country of Arabia, corresponded nearly with what is now called Yemen or Arabia Felix.
Raamah - Closely connected with "Sheba," whose seat is supposed to have been in the neighborhood of the Persian Gulf.
Haran, and Canneh, and Eden, the merchants of Sheba, Asshur, and Chilmad, were thy merchants.
Haran - Charrae in Mesopotamia.
Canneh - "Calneh" Genesis 10:10, probably Ctesiphon on the Tigris.
Eden - On the Euphrates Isaiah 37:12. "the merchants of Sheba" Here the towns or tribes that traded with Sheba. Sheba maintained a considerable trade with Mesopotamia.
Chilmad - Possibly Kalwada near Bagdad.
These were thy merchants in all sorts of things, in blue clothes, and broidered work, and in chests of rich apparel, bound with cords, and made of cedar, among thy merchandise.
All sorts of things - See the margin, "made of cedar" Rather, made fast.
The ships of Tarshish did sing of thee in thy market: and thou wast replenished, and made very glorious in the midst of the seas.
Did sing of thee - Or, were thy bulwarks, i. e., bulwarks of thy traffic. Others render it: "were thy caravans," thy merchandise.
Thy rowers have brought thee into great waters: the east wind hath broken thee in the midst of the seas.
The east wind - Compare the marginal reference
Thy riches, and thy fairs, thy merchandise, thy mariners, and thy pilots, thy calkers, and the occupiers of thy merchandise, and all thy men of war, that are in thee, and in all thy company which is in the midst of thee, shall fall into the midst of the seas in the day of thy ruin.
All who have been enumerated as sharing in, and constituting, the glory of Tyre are now recounted as partakers in her wreck.
The suburbs shall shake at the sound of the cry of thy pilots.
The suburbs - Or, "precincts." Tyre rose from the midst of the sea; her "precincts" were the surrounding waters and the adjoining coasts.
And all that handle the oar, the mariners, and all the pilots of the sea, shall come down from their ships, they shall stand upon the land;
As Tyre is figured by a large vessel, so are the subject-states by smaller boats which accompany the great ship. These terrified by the storm approach the land. Tyre is hopelessly swallowed up, crew and all, in the midst of the sea. The small crafts escape to shore.
And shall cause their voice to be heard against thee, and shall cry bitterly, and shall cast up dust upon their heads, they shall wallow themselves in the ashes:
And they shall make themselves utterly bald for thee, and gird them with sackcloth, and they shall weep for thee with bitterness of heart and bitter wailing.
Utterly bald - See Ezekiel 7:18 note.
And in their wailing they shall take up a lamentation for thee, and lament over thee, saying, What city is like Tyrus, like the destroyed in the midst of the sea?
When thy wares went forth out of the seas, thou filledst many people; thou didst enrich the kings of the earth with the multitude of thy riches and of thy merchandise.
In the time when thou shalt be broken by the seas in the depths of the waters thy merchandise and all thy company in the midst of thee shall fall.
All the inhabitants of the isles shall be astonished at thee, and their kings shall be sore afraid, they shall be troubled in their countenance.
The news of Tyre's ruin shall reach to distant isles, to merchant cities who trade with her. These in their selfish love of gain shall rejoice over her who was once paramount over them, hissing out against her curses and scorn.
The merchants among the people shall hiss at thee; thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt be any more.