Ezekiel 27
Pulpit Commentary
The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
Now, thou son of man, take up a lamentation for Tyrus;
Verse 2. - Take up a lamentation for Tyrus. The dirge over the merchant-city that follows, the doom sic transit gloria mundi, worked out with a fullness of detail which reminds us of the Homeric catalogue of ships ('Iliad,' 2:484-770), is almost, if not altogether, without a parallel in the history of literature. It can scarcely have rested on anything but personal knowledge. Ezekiel, we must believe, had, at some time or other in his life, trod the sinful streets of the great city, and noted the mingled crowd of many nations and in many costumes that he met there, just as we infer from Dante's vivid description of the dockyards of Venice ('Inf.,' 21:7-15) that he had visited that city. Apart from its poetic or prophetic interest, it is for us almost the locus classicus as to the geography and commerce of that old world of which Tyre was in some sense the center. We may compare it, from that point of view, with the ethnological statements in Genesis 10; just as, from the standpoint of prophecy, it has to be compared with Isaiah's "burden" against Babylon (Isaiah 13, 14.), and with St. John's representation of Rome as the spiritual Babylon of the Apocalypse (Revelation 18.).
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.
Verse 3. - We begin with the picture of the city, situate at the entry (Hebrew, entries), or harbors of the sea. Of these Tyro had two - the northern, known as the Sidonian; the southern, as the Egyptian. There she dwelt, a merchant of the peoples, that came, in the wider sense of the word (see Ezekiel 26:15), from the isles of the Mediterranean. I am perfect in beauty. The boast here put into the mouth of the city appears afterwards as the utterance of its ruler, or as applied to him (Ezekiel 28:2, 15-17). We are reminded of Genoa, la superba.
Thy borders are in the midst of the seas, thy builders have perfected thy beauty.
Verse 4. - In the midst of the seas; literally, in the heart (Revised Version). The words were true of the island-city, but Ezekiel has already present to his thoughts the idealized picture of the city under the figure of its stateliest ship. The builders are ship-builders, and in the verses that follow we have a picture of the Bucentaur of the Venice of the ancient world.
They have made all thy ship boards of fir trees of Senir: they have taken cedars from Lebanon to make masts for thee.
Verse 5. - Fir trees of Senti. The name appears in Deuteronomy 3:9 and Song of Solomon 4:8 as Shenir; in 1 Chronicles 5:23 it is spelt as here. From Deuteronomy 3:9 we learn that it was the Amorite name for Hermon, as Sirion was the Sidonian name. In 1 Kings 5:10 Hiram King of Tyro appears as supplying Solomon with the fir and cedar timber mentioned here for the erection of his palace, the house of the forest of Lebanon (1 Kings 7:2). The fir tree was more commonly used for ships, the cedar for houses (Virgil, 'Georg.,' 2:444). The Hebrew for "boards" is unique in its form as a plural with a dual form superadded to indicate that each plank had its counterpart on the other side of the ship.
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.
Verse 6. - The high plateau of Bashan, the region east of the sea of Galilee and the Jordan, now known as the Hauran, was famous then, as it is now, for its oak forests and its wild cattle (Psalm 22:12). The company of the Ashurites, etc.; better, with the Revised Version, they have made thy benches of ivory inlaid in boxwood. The Authorized Version follows the present Hebrew text, but the name of the nation there is not the same as that of the Assyrians, and corresponds with the Ashurites of 2 Samuel 2:9 - an obscure tribe of Canaanites, possibly identical with the Geshurites. A difference of punctuation or spelling (Bithasshurim for Bath-asshu-rim) gives the meaning which the Revised Version follows; thasshur being used in Isaiah 41:19 and Isaiah 60:13 for the box tree, or perhaps cypress, or larch, as forming part of the glory of Lebanon. The use of ivory in ship or house building seems to have been one of the arts for which Tyre was famous. So we have the ivory palace of Ahab, after he had married his Sidonian queen (1 Kings 22:39) and those of the monarch who had married a Tyrian princess in Psalm 45:8 (see also Amos 3:15). For the use of such inlaid wood in later times, see Virgil, 'AEneid,' 10:137. Either the ivory or the wood is said to come from the isles of Chittim. The word was about as wide in its use as the "Indies" in the time of Elizabeth. Josephus ('Ant.,' 1:06. 1) identifies it with Cyprus, which perhaps retains a memorial of it in Citium. The Vulgate, as in Numbers 24:24, identifies it here with Italy, and in Daniel 11:30 translates the "ships of Chittim" as trieres et Romani, while in 1 Macc. 1:1, it is used of Greece as including Macedonia. In Genesis 10:4 the Kittim appear as descended from Javan, i.e. are classed as Greeks or Ionians. The ivory which the Tyrians used probably came from Northern Africa, and may have been supplied through Carthage or other Phoenician colonies. A supply may have come also from Ethiopia through Egypt, or from the Red Sea ports, with which the Phoenicians carried on a trade with Arabia. Inlaid ivory-work, sometimes in wood, sometimes with enamel, is found both in Egyptian and Assyrian remains ('Dict. Bible,' s.v. "Ivory").
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.
Verse 7. - For the fine linen of Egypt, the Byssus famous in its commerce, see Genesis 41:42; Exodus 26:36. This, which took the place of the coarse canvas of the common ships, was made more magnificent by being embroidered with purple or crimson, with gold borders. The ship of Antony and Cleopatra had purple sails, which, as they swelled out with the wind, served as a banner. The ancient ships had no flags or pennons. So the Revised Version renders, of fine linen, was thy sail, that it might be to thee for an ensign. The word for "sail" in the Authorized Version is rendered" banner" in Psalm 60:4; Isaiah 13:2, and "ensign" in Isaiah 11:12. The isles of Elishah. The name appears in Genesis 10:4 as one of the sons of Javan. It has been identified, on the ground chiefly of similarity of sound, with Ells, Hellas, or AEolia. Laconia has been suggested as being famous for the murex which supplied the purple dye. The Targum gives Italy. Sicily also has been conjectured. The murex is common all over the Mediterranean, but Cythera and Abydos are named as having been specially famous for it. Probably, as in the case of "Chittim," the word was used with considerable latitude. The latter clause of the verse describes the awning over the deck of the queenly ship. Was Ezekiel describing what he had actually seen in the state-ship of Tyro?
The inhabitants of Zidon and Arvad were thy mariners: thy wise men, O Tyrus, that were in thee, were thy pilots.
Verse 8. - The two cities are named as tributaries of Tyro from which she drew her sailors, the Tyrians themselves acting as captains and pilots. Zidon (now Saida) is named in Genesis 10:15 as the firstborn of Canaan, and was older than Tyre itself (Isaiah 23:2, 12). Arvad is identified with the Greek Aradus, the modern Ruad, an island about two miles from the coast, about two miles north of the mouth of the river Eleutheros (Nahr-el-Kebir). It is scarcely a mile in circumference, but was prominent enough to be named here and in Genesis 10:18; 1 Chronicles 1:16. Opposite to it on the mainland was the town of Antaradus. For mariners, the Revised Version gives rowers.
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.
Verse 9. - The ancients of Gebal. The word is used in the sense of "elders" or "senators," the governing body. Gebal, for which the LXX. gives Biblii, is identified with the Greek Byblus. The name appears in Psalm 83:7 in connection, among other nations, with Tyre and Asshur, as allied with them against Israel; in Joshua 13:5 as near Lebanon and Hermon; in 1 Kings 5:18 (margin Revised Version) as among the stonemasons who worked with Hiram's builders. Byblus was situated on an eminence overlooking the river Adonis between Beirut and Tripoli. Its modern name, Gebail, retains the old Semitic form, and its ruins abound in marble and granite columns of Phoenician and Egyptian workmanship. The work of the caulkers was to stop the chinks of the ship, and the men of Gebal appear to have been especially skilful in this. We note that the metaphor of the ship falls into the background in the latter clause of the verse, and does not appear again.
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.
Verse 10. - Persia. The name does not meet us in any Old Testament book before the exile, Elam taking its place. It was just about the time that Ezekiel wrote that the Persians were becoming conspicuous through their alliance with the Modes. So we find it again in Ezekiel 38:5; Daniel 5:28; Daniel 8:20; 2 Chronicles 36:20, 22; Ezra 1:1; Ezra 4:5; Esther 1:3. Here they are named as mercenaries in the Tyrian army. Lud. The LXX. and the Vulgate, led by the similarity of sound, give Lydians. In Genesis 10:13 the Ludim appear as descendants of Mizraim, while Lud in Genesis 10:22 is joined with Elam and Asshur as among the sons of Shem. Its combination with "Phut" (i.e. Libya) here and in Jeremiah 46:9 is in favor of its referring to an African nation (comp. also Ezekiel 30:5; Isaiah 66:19). Phut. Both the LXX. and the Vulgate give Libyans. In Genesis 10:6 the name is joined with Cash and Mizraim. The Lubim (Libyans) are named as forming part of Shishak's army in 2 Chronicles 12:3; 2 Chronicles 16:8, and in Nahum 3:9 and Jeremiah 46:9 as closely allied with the Egyptians. Ezekiel names Phut again as sharing in the fall of Tyre (Ezekiel 30:5), and as serving in the army of Gog (Ezekiel 38:5). Mr. R. S. Peele is inclined to identify them with the Nubians.
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.
Verse 11. - (For Arvad, see Ver. 8.) Gammadim. The LXX. translates "guards" (φύλακες); the Vulgate, Pygmies, probably as connecting the name with Gamad (equivalent to "a cubit"). The Targum gives "watchmen;" Gesenius, "warriors:" Hitzig, "deserters." The name probably indicates that they were the flower of the Tyrian army - the life-guards (like the "Immortals" of the Persians) of the merchant-city. On the whole, we must leave the problem as one that we have no data for solving. The grouping with Arvad, however, suggests a Syrian or Phoenician tribe. They hanged their shields. The custom seems to have been specially Phoenician. Solomon introduced it at Jerusalem (Song of Solomon 4:4). The sight of the walls thus decorated, the shields being sometimes gilt or painted, must have been sufficiently striking to warrant Ezekiel's phrase that thus the beauty of the city was "made perfect" by it. The custom reappears in 1 Macc. 4:57.
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.
Verse 12. - Tarahish. The description of the city is followed by a catalogue raisonnee of the countries with which she traded. Here we are on more certain ground, there being a general consensus that Tarshish, the Greek Tartessus, indicates the coast of Spain, which was pre-eminent in the ancient world for the metals named (Jeremiah 10:9). The ships of Tarshish (1 Kings 22:48; Isaiah 2:16) were the larger merchant-vessels that were made for this distant traffic. Like all such names, it was probably used with considerable latitude, and it is worth noting that both the LXX. and the Vulgate give Carthaginians. Probably the chief Phoenician colonies in Spain, notably, of course, Carthago Nova, were offshoots from Carthage, in which, by the way, we trace the old Hebrew Kirjath (equivalent to "city"). Traded in thy fairs; better, with the Revised Version, traded for thy wares; i.e. they bartered their mineral treasures for the goods brought by the Tyrian merchants. The same Hebrew word appears in Vers. 14, 16, 19, 22, 23, but is not found elsewhere in the Old Testament, and may have been a technical word in Tyrian commerce. The LXX. gives ἀγορά; the Vulgate, nundinae, which seems to have suggested the Revised Version.
Javan, Tubal, and Meshech, they were thy merchants: they traded the persons of men and vessels of brass in thy market.
Verse 13. - Javan (father of Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim, and son of Japheth, Genesis 10:2, 4) stands generically for Greece, and probably represents Ionia. Tubal and Meshech are sons of Japheth in Genesis 10:2, and are always grouped together, except in Psalm 120:5, where Meshech appears alone, and in Isaiah 66:19, where Tubal is named, but not Meshech. In Ezekiel 32:26 they are associated with Elam and Asshur (Assyria); in Ezekiel 38:2, 3 and Ezekiel 39:1 with Gog. The two names probably represented the tribes on the southeast coast of the Black Sea. Here the chief traffic was in slaves, the Tyrian traders probably buying them in exchange for their manufactured goods, and selling them to the cities of Greece as well as Phoenicia. In Greek history the names appear as Tibaroni and Moschi (Herod., 3:94; Xenophon, 'Anab.,' 5:5. 2, etal.). In Joel 4:6 Tyriaus are represented as selling Israelites as slaves in Greek cities (Hebrew "sons of Javan"). Thrace and Scythia were at all times the chief countries from which Greece imported her slaves. Vessels of brass. Here, as throughout the Old Testament, we should read "copper," the mixed metal which we know as "brass" not Being known to ancient metallurgy. Copper-mines were found near the Caucasus, and Euboea was also famous for them. The region was also noted for its iron.
They of the house of Togarmah traded in thy fairs with horses and horsemen and mules.
Verse 14. - Togarmah. The name appears in Ezekiel 38:6 as an ally of Gog, in Genesis 10:3 as a son of Gomer. Jerome identifies it with Phrygia, others with Cappadocia, but there is a wider consensus for Armenia, which was famous for its horses and mules (Xenophon, ' Anab.,' 5. 34; Strabo, 11:14. 9; Herod., 1:194).
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.
Verse 15. - The men of Dedan. The name occurs again in Ver. 20, and has already met us in Ezekiel 25:13 (where see note). Here the words probably refer to the many isles of the Persian Gulf or the Red Sea. So the ships of Solomon and Hiram - ships of Tarshish (name used generically for merchant-vessels) - brought ivory among their other imports, starting from Ezion-Geber (1 Kings 9:26; 1 Kings 10:22). Ebony came from Ethiopia and India. Virgil, indeed, names the latter country as the only region which produced it ('Georg.,' 2:115). Ceylon is at present one of the chief sources of supply. The LXX. curiously enough gives Rhodians, the Hebrew letters for d and r being easily mistaken by copyists.
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.
Verse 16. - Syria; Hebrew, Aram. The LXX. which gives ἀνθρώπους, seems to have read Adam (equivalent to "man"), another instance of the fact just referred to. And this has led many commentators (Michaelis, Ewald, Hitzig, Furst) to conjecture, following the Peshito Version, that Edom must have been the true reading. As regards the products named, we know too little of the commerce of Edom to say whether it included them in its exports, and the fact that the broidered work of Babylon had been famous from of old (Joshua 7:21), and that it was also the oldest emporium for precious stones, may be urged in favor of the present reading, and of taking Aram in its widest sense as including Mesopotamia. On the other hand, the mention of onyx, sapphire, coral, pearls, topaz, in Job 28:16-19, the local coloring of which is essentially Idumaean, supports the conjectural emendation. Emeralds (comp. Exodus 28:18). Some writers identify it with the carbuncle. It meets us again in Ezekiel 28:13. The fine linen (butz) is different from that of Ver. 7 (shesh) and appears only in the later books of the Old Testament (1 Chronicles 4:21; 2 Chronicles 3:14; Esther 1:6, et al.). It was probably the byssus of the Greeks, made of cotton, while the Egyptian fabric was of flax. Coral. The Hebrew (ramoth) occurs only here and in Job 28:18. "Coral" is the traditional Jewish interpretation, but the LXX. transliterates, and the Vulgate gives secure. Agate is found here and in Isaiah 54:12, and has been identified with the ruby or carbuncle. In Exodus 28:19 and Exodus 39:12 the English represents a different Hebrew word.
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.
Verse 17. - Judah and the land of Israel. The narrow strip of land occupied by the Phoenicians was unable to supply its crowded population. It was dependent on Israel for its corn and oil and the like in the days of Solomon (1 Kings 5:9-11) and continued to be so to those of Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:20). Minnith appears in Judges 11:33 as a city of the Ammonites near Heshbon, and the region of Ammon was famous for its wheat (2 Chronicles 27:5). Minnith wheat probably fetched the highest price in the Tyrian markets. Pannag is found here only. The versions, Targum, LXX., give "ointments" (μύροι), Vulgate, balsam. Most modern commentators take it as meaning sweetmeats, the syrup of grape-juice, possibly something like the modern rahat-la-koum of Turkish commerce. Possibly, like Minnith, it may have been a proper name the significance of which is lost to us. Honey was at all times one of the famous products of Palestine (Judges 14:8; 1 Samuel 14:27; Psalm 19:10; Exodus 33:3).
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.
Verse 18. - Damascus. The chief expert of the great capital of Syria was the wine of Helbon. The name occurs only here in the Old Testament. The LXX. gives Chel-ben; the Vulgate, as if it described the quality of the wine, vinum pingue. It has been identified with Aleppo and with Chaly-ben, but both of these places are too remote from Damascus, and Mr. J. R. Porter ('Dict. Bible,' s.v.) finds it in a place a few miles from Damascus, still bearing the name, and famous as producing the finest grapes in Syria. Strabo (Ezekiel 15. p. 735) names the wine of Chalybon as the favorite drink of the Persian kings, and Athenaeus (1:22) says the same of the wine of Damascus. The name appears in Egyptian monuments in conjunction with Kedes, as a Hittite city, and Brugsch ('Geogr. AEgypt.,' 2:45) agrees with Porter as to its position. White wool. The adjective has been taken as a proper name (Smend) "wool of Zachar,' the region being identified with Nabatheaea, which was famous for its sheep. The LXX. gives "wool of Miletus," the city most famous in Greek commerce for its woollen fabrics.
Dan also and Javan going to and fro occupied in thy fairs: bright iron, cassia, and calamus, were in thy market.
Verse 19. - Dan also; Hebrew, Vedan. The Authorized Version, following the Vulgate, takes the first syllable as the common conjunction "and;" but no other verse in the chapter begins in this way, and the Revised Version is probably right in giving the Hebrew word as its stands. Dan, it may be added, was hardly likely to have been singled out of all the tribes after the mention of Judah and Israel, especially as it had shared in the exile of the ten tribes. Smend identifies it with Waddan, between Mecca and Medina, or with Aden. Javan, too. already named in Ver. 13, can scarcely here be Greece, though it may possibly refer to Greek traders. It also has been identified conjecturally with an Arabian city. The words, going to and fro, have been rendered "from Uzal" (Genesis 10:27), the ancient name of the capital of Yemen, in Arabia; or, as in the Revised Version, with yarn. The bright iron describes the steel used for sword-blades, for which Yemen was famous. Cassia (Exodus 30:24; Psalm 45:8) and calamus (Exodus 30:23; Song of Solomon 4:14) both belong to the class of perfumes for which Arabia was famous. It is probably the Acorns fragraas, the "sweet cane" of Isaiah 43:24; Jeremiah 6:20.
Dedan was thy merchant in precious clothes for chariots.
Verse 20. - Dedan (see Ver. 15). Here probably we have another portion of the same race. The precious clothes for riding (Revised Version) were probably of the nature of the carpets used then as now as saddle-cloths - the ephippia of the Greeks - in Persia and other parts of Asia. Compare "ye that sit on rich carpels," in Judges 5:10 (Revised Version). So the Vulgate, tapetibus ad sedendum. The LXX. gives κτήνη ἔκλετα, as though it referred to horses.
Arabia, and all the princes of Kedar, they occupied with thee in lambs, and rams, and goats: in these were they thy merchants.
Verse 21. - Arabia. The word, commonly in connection with Dedan, is used in the limited sense which attaches to it in the Old Testament (2 Chronicles 9:14; Isaiah 21:13; Jeremiah 25:24)for the tribes of what in Greek and Roman geography were known as Arabia Deserts. Kedar. The name (equivalent to "black-skinned") appears as that of the second son of Ishmael (Genesis 25:13). The black tents of Kedar (Psalm 120:5; Song of Solomon 1:5) indicate a nomadic tribe of the Bedouin type, famous, as in Isaiah 60:7 and Jeremiah 49:28, 29, for their flocks of sheep and camels. They appear, also, as having cities and villages in Isaiah 42:11. The name is used in later rabbinic writings for all the inhabitants 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.
Verse 22. - Sheba. The Sabaea of the Greeks. It is applied, in Genesis 10:7 and 1 Chronicles 1:9, to a grandson of Cush; in Genesis 10:28 and 1 Chronicles 1:22, to a son of Joktan; and in Genesis 25:3 and 1 Chronicles 1:32, to a grandson of Abraham. Geographically, in Ezekiel's time it probably included the South-Arabian region, that of Yemen, or Arabia Felix, and was famous, as in the history of the Queen of Sheba, for its gold, gems, and spices (1 Kings 10:1, 2; Psalm 72:10, 15). Raamah. Named in Genesis 10:7 as father of the Cushite Sheba, and probably, therefore, connected with it ethnologically and geographically. The chief of all spices had probably a technical name, like the "principal spices" of Exodus 30:23 and Song of Solomon 4:14 for the genuine balsam, the product of the Amyris opobalsamum, which is found between Mecca and Medina. The precious stones includes onyx, rubies, agates, and cornelians found in the mountains of Hadramant, and the jaspers and crystals of Yemen. In the Rhammanitae, mentioned by Strabo as a Sabaean tribe (16:782), we have, perhaps, a survival of the old name.
Haran, and Canneh, and Eden, the merchants of Sheba, Asshur, and Chilmad, were thy merchants.
Verse 23. - Haran and Canaeh, etc. From Arabia we pass to Mesopotamia. Haran (Genesis 11:31) stands for the Carrhae of the Romans, situated at the point where the old military and commercial roads bifurcated Cowards Babylon and the Delta of the Persian Gulf in the one direction, and Canaan in the other. It appears in Genesis 24:10 and Genesis 29:4 as the city of Nahor, in Mesopotamia (Aram-Naharaim, equivalent to "Syria of the two rivers"), or, more definitely, in Parian-Atom, which lies below Mount Masius, between the Khabour and the Euphrates. It is famous in Roman history for the defeat of Crassus by the Parthians. Caaneh. The eastern of the two roads just mentioned ran on to Calneh (of which Cauneh is a variant), named in Genesis 10:10 as one of the cities built by Nimrod. It is probably represented by the modern Niffer, about sixty miles southeast of Babylon. It is named in Isaiah 10:9 in connection with Carehemish, in Amos 6:2 with Hamath the great, as conquered by the Assyrians. It has been conjecturally identified by the Targum and other ancient writers with Ctesiphon, but (?). Eden; spelt differently in the Hebrew from the Eden of Genesis 2:8. It is probably identical with the Eden near Thelassar (Td. Assar) of Isaiah 37:12 and 2 Kings 19:12, where, as here, it is connected with Haran as among the Assyrian conquests. Its site has not been determined, and it has been placed by some geographers in the hill-country above the Upper Mesopetamian plains; by others near the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates. The position of the Eden of Amos 1:5, near Damascus, points to a Syrian town of the same name. The merchants of Sheba. The recurrence of the name after the full mention of the people in Ver. 22 arises probably from the fact that they were the carriers in the commerce between the Mesopotamian cities just named and Tyre. Asshur. The name may stand (Smend), as it commonly does, for Assyria as a country; but its juxtaposition with the names of cities has led some geographers (Movers, p. 252, in Keil) to identify with a city Sum (Essurieh) on the west bank of the Euphrates, above Thapsacus (the Tiphsah of 1 Kings 4:24), and on the caravan-route which runs from Palmyra (the Tadmor of 2 Chronicles 8:4) to Haran. Chilmad. The name is not found elsewhere. The LXX. gives Charman, a town near the Euphrates, mentioned in Xenophon, 'Anab.,' 1:5. 10, as Charmaude. It can scarcely have been a place of much general note, but may have had some special reputation which made it prominent in Tyrian commerce.
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.
Verse 24. - In all sorts of things; better, with the Revised Version, in choice wares. Hebrew, articles of beauty; or, as in margin of the Authorized Version, "excellent things." The words have been variously interpreted,

(1) by Ewald, as "suits of armor;"

(2) by Keil, as "stately dresses;"

by Havernick, as "works of art" generally. The description in detail that follows is so vivid as to give the impression that Ezekiel had seen the merchants of Sheba unloading their camels and bringing out their treasures as they arrived at Tyro. The blue clothes (wrappings of blue, as in the Revised Version) were the purple robes of Babylon, which were famous all over the world. The words that follow are somewhat obscure, but are probably rightly translated by Keil, "embroidered of twisted yarn, in-wound, and strong cords for thy wares." The yarn may have been used for the cordage of the Tyrian ships. The words, made of cedar, are in this rendering taken as an adjective, equivalent to "firm" or "strong" (so Furst).
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.
Verse 25. - The verse beaus a new section, and glides back into the original metaphor of the ship, as in Vers. 4-9. The ships of Tarshish are used generically for merchant-ships. The catalogue of the commerce ends with Ver. 24, and the more poetic imagery reappears. It was, as centering in herself all that they brought to her that the merchant-city was very glorious in the midst of the waters. For sing of thee, read, the ships of Tarshish were thy caravans (Revised Version). The word has also the sense of "wall," as in Jeremiah 5:10 and Job 24:11; and this, describing the ships as the "wooden wails" of Tyre, gives a tenable sense here.
Thy rowers have brought thee into great waters: the east wind hath broken thee in the midst of the seas.
Verse 26. - Thy rowers have brought thee. The metaphor goes on its course. The state-ship is in the open sea, and the east wind, the Euroclydon of the Mediterranean (Acts 27:14), blows and threatens it with destruction (comp. Psalm 48:7). In that destruction all who contributed to her prosperity were involved. The picture reminds us of the description of the ship of Tarshish in Jonah 1:4, 5. The city shall be left, in that terrible day, in the heart of the seas (Revised Version).
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.
The suburbs shall shake at the sound of the cry of thy pilots.
Verse 28. - The suburbs. The word is so translated in Ezekiel 45:2, and Ezekiel 48:17, and is used of the pasture-lands round the cities of refuge in Numbers 35:2. Here it is probably used in a wider sense for the coast-lands of Phoenicia, or even (as in the margin) for the "waves" that washed the shores of the island-city. The Vulgate gives classes (equivalent to "fleets").
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;
Verses 29-31. - And all that handle the oar, etc. The picture is, perhaps, figurative. As Tyre itself was the great state-ship, so the other ships may stand for the other Phoenician cities that beheld her downfall. Looking to the picture itself, it presents the rowers and others as feeling that, if the great ship had been wrecked, there was little hope of safety for them, and so they leave their ships and stand on the coast wailing. (For casting dust, as a sign of mourning, see Joshua 7:6; 1 Samuel 4:12; Job 2:12, et al.; for "wallowing in the dust," Jeremiah 6:26; Jeremiah 25:34; Micah 1:10-16. For the "baldness" and "sackcloth" of Ver. 31, see Ezekiel 7:18.)
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.
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?
Verse 32. - As in other instances of extreme sorrow, the inarticulate signs of grief pass after a time into spoken words. What city is like Tyrus, etc.? What parallel can be found in the world's history, either for her magnificence or her fall? The shipwreck of her fortunes (we are still in the region of the prophet's metaphors) would be utter and irretrievable.

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 merchants among the people shall hiss at thee; thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt be any more.
The Pulpit Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010 by BibleSoft, inc., Used by permission

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Ezekiel 26
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