|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
27:1-25 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.
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.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The ancients of Gebal,.... A promontory of the Phoenicians, the same with the Gabale of Pliny (n), and with the land of the Giblites, Joshua 13:5. It was by the Greeks called Byblus; and so the Septuagint here render the words, the elders of Bybli or Byblus, a place once famous for the birth and temple of Adonis; it is now called Gibyle. Mr. Maundrell (o) says it is pleasantly situated by the seaside, and that at present it contains but a little extent of ground, yet more than enough for the small number of its inhabitants; it is compassed with a dry ditch, and a wall with square towers in it, at about every forty yards' distance; on its south side it has an old castle; within it is a church; besides which it has nothing remarkable; though anciently it was a place of no mean extent, as well as beauty, as may appear from the many heaps of ruins, and the fine pillars that are scattered up and down in the gardens near the town. The old experienced workmen of this place were employed by the Tyrians in mending and refitting their ships, and in the caulking of them, as follows:
the wise men thereof were in thee thy caulkers; or, "the strengtheners of thy breaches" (p), or "chinks"; the seams and commissures of the planks; which they stopped with tow, oakum, or such like stuff; at least this is what is used now, whatever might be by those wise men; and it seems by this that it was reckoned a very great art and mystery, and which only wise men were masters of, at least such the Tyrians employed. The Targum renders it,
"providing thy necessaries;''
as if they were the ships' husbands:
all the ships of the sea with their mariners were in thee to occupy thy merchandise; ships from all parts were in her harbours, which brought goods into her, and carried goods out of her, by way of merchandise. So the Targum,
"all that go down into the sea, and the ships; they were rowers, and they brought merchandise into the midst of thee;''
the goods of merchants from divers places; and carried back commodities again they traded for at Tyre; see Revelation 18:19.
(n) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 20. (o) Journey &c. p. 33, 34. (p) "roborantes scissuram tuam", Montanus; "instaurantes fissuras tuas", Munster, Tigurine version; "rimas tuas", Vatablus; "instauratores rupturaram tuarum", Piscator.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
9. Gebal—a Phonician city and region between Beirut and Tripolis, famed for skilled workmen (1Ki 5:18, Margin; Ps 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.
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