Ezekiel 27:15
The men of Dedan were your merchants; many isles were the merchandise of your hand: they brought you for a present horns of ivory and ebony.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) Dedan.—This Dedan is a descendant of Ham through Cush (Genesis 10:7). The tribe was located in Arabia, probably upon the shores of the Persian Gulf (Isaiah 21:13). The Dedan of Ezekiel 27:20, on the other hand, is a Semitic tribe, spoken of also in Ezekiel 25:13; Jeremiah 49:8. The “many isles” of this Dedan were the islands in the Persian Gulf, on the Arabian coast, and they were “merchandise” in the sense of supplying material for the commerce of Tyre. “Brought thee for a present” might seem to imply tribute, but the original rather conveys the idea of return payment. “Horns of ivory” is, literally, horns of teeth; the name “horn” being simply a commercial term derived from the shape of the elephant’s tusk. “Ebony” is a word used only here. It was brought both from India and Ethiopia, the wood from the latter being preferred.

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.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).15. Dedan—near the Persian Sea: thus an avenue to the commerce of India. Not the Dedan in Arabia (Eze 27:20), as the names in the context here prove, but the Dedan sprung from Cush [Bochart], (Ge 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.

Dedan: see Ezekiel 25:13. This Dedan was in Arabia, built by Dedan the son of Regina, not far from the Persian Gulf, and now called Daden, whence through the Red Sea they might convey their own merchandise.

Many isles, in the Indian Seas and in the Red Sea, traded with thee.

For a present; knowing how acceptable they were to get thy favour, they either made presents, and gave these things, or brought them to sell. Horns; elks’ horns, or wild goats’; some think it is meant of the unicorn, but the first is likeliest.

Ivory; ivory, not

of, the Hebrew is not in

regimen, but in

apposition, and should be read, They brought thee presents, horns, ivory, and ebony, which is a very solid, heavy, shining, and black wood, fit for many choice works. The men of Dedan were thy merchants,.... Not Dedan in Idumea or Edom, but in Arabia, from Dedan the son of Raamah, Genesis 10:7,

many isles were the merchandise of thine hands; that is, many isles took off their manufactures from them, in lieu of what they brought them, which were as follow:

they brought thee for a present; that they might have the liberty of trading in their fairs and markets; or rather for a reward, or as a price, for the goods they had of them:

horns of ivory and ebony; Kimchi reads them as separate things; and which the Targum confirms, "horns, ivory, and ebony"; elks' horns, or horns of goats, as the Targum; and "ivory", or the teeth of elephants; and "ebony", which is a wood of a very black colour, hard and heavy, and of which many things are made. The Targum takes it for the name of a fowl, and renders it peacocks; so Jarchi; see 2 Chronicles 9:21, but Ben Melech much better interprets it of a tree, called in Arabia "ebenus". Solinus makes it peculiar to India (d); and so Virgil (e).

(d) Polyhistor. c. 65. (e) "----Sola India nigrum fert ebenum.----" Virgil. Georgic. 1. 2.

The men of Dedan were thy merchants; many isles were the merchandise of thy hand: they brought thee for a present {i} horns of ivory and ebony.

(i) Meaning, unicorn's horns and elephant's teeth.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. men of Dedan] lit. sons of Dedan; LXX. sons of the Rhodians (r being read for d, as often). Dedan occurs again Ezekiel 27:20, in connexion with Arabian tribes, and in Ezekiel 25:13 it appears to be placed S. of Edom, being either part of that country or bordering on it (cf. Jeremiah 49:8; Jeremiah 25:23; Isaiah 21:13). Here, however, Dedan is connected with coast lands and must be another. Hence it has usually been placed on the Persian Gulf. Ivory and ebony, the articles in which it traded, might be Indian products. On the other hand the Phœnicians certainly had colonies in Rhodes; and if Rhodians were the true reading the “isles” would be the coasts of the Mediterranean.

merchandise of thine hand] If “merchandise” be the right reading the abstract term is used for “merchants.” The phrase “of thy hand” means under thee, doing thy service, cf. Ezekiel 27:21.

horns of ivory] Tusks of elephants, so called from their resemblance to horns. Ebony, the other article referred to, was brought from India and Ethiopia. The African ebony was most esteemed. If Rhodians be read reference would be to the traffic between Phœnicia and the interior of Africa, the intermediaries of which were Rhodes and the sea-coasts of the Mediterranean. Rawlin. (Phœnicia, p. 287) mentions that many objects in ivory have been found in Cyprus.

brought thee for a present. Rather: horns of ivory … they rendered to thee as tribute, lit. rendered as thy tribute. Tyre is the mistress to whom the nations are subject, and the merchandise they bring is a tribute which they render to her.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. The lamentation commences with a picture of the glory of the city of Tyre, its situation, its architectural beauty, its military strength and defences (Ezekiel 27:3-11), and its wide-spread commercial relations (Ezekiel 27:12-25); and then passes into mournful lamentation over the ruin of all this glory (Ezekiel 27:26-36).

Introduction and description of the glory and might of Tyre. - Ezekiel 27:1. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 27:2. And do thou, O son of man, raise a lamentation over Tyre, Ezekiel 27:3. And say to Tyre, Thou who dwellest at the approaches of the sea, merchant of the nations to many islands, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Tyre, thou sayest, I am perfect in beauty. Ezekiel 27:4. In the heart of the seas is thy territory; thy builders have made thy beauty perfect. Ezekiel 27:5. Out of cypresses of Senir they built all double-plank-work for thee; they took cedars of Lebanon to make a mast upon thee. Ezekiel 27:6. They made thine oars of oaks of Bashan, thy benches they made of ivory set in box from the islands of the Chittaeans. Ezekiel 27:7. Byssus in embroidery from Egypt was thy sail, to serve thee for a banner; blue and red purple from the islands of Elishah was thine awning. Ezekiel 27:8. The inhabitants of Sidon and Arvad were thy rowers; thy skilful men, O Tyre, were in thee, they were thy sailors. Ezekiel 27:9. The elders of Gebal and its skilful men were with thee to repair thy leaks; all the ships of the sea and their mariners were in thee to barter thy goods. Ezekiel 27:10. Persian and Lydian and Libyan were in thine army, thy men of war; shield and helmet they hung up in thee; they gave brilliancy to thee. Ezekiel 27:11. The sons of Arvad and thine army were upon thy walls round about, and brave men were upon they towers; they hung up their shields upon thy walls round about; they have made thy beauty perfect. - The lamentation commences with an address to Tyre, in which its favourable situation for purposes of trade, and the perfect beauty of which she was conscious, are placed in the foreground (Ezekiel 27:3). Tyre is sitting, or dwelling, at the approaches of the sea. מבואת ים, approaches or entrances of the sea, are harbours into which ships sail and from which they depart, just as מבוא העיר sa t, the gate of the city, it both entrance and exit. This description does not point to the city on the mainland, or Old Tyre, but answers exactly to Insular Tyre with its two harbours.

(Note: Insular Tyre possessed two harbours, a northern one called the Sidonian, because it was on the Sidonian side, and one on the opposite or south-eastern side, which was called the Egyptian harbour from the direction in which it pointed. The Sidonian was the more celebrated of the two, and consisted of an inner harbour, situated within the wall of the city, and an outer one, formed by a row of rocks, which lay at a distance of about three hundred paces to the north-west of the island, and ran parallel to the opposite coast of the mainland, so as to form a roadstead in which ships could anchor (vid., Arrian, ii. 20; Strabo, xvi. 2. 23). This northern harbour is still held by the city of Sur, whereas the Egyptian harbour with the south-eastern portion of the island has been buried by the sand driven against the coasts by the south winds, so that even the writers of the Middle Ages make no allusion to it. (See Movers, Phnizier, II. 1, pp. 214ff.).)

ישׁבתי, with the connecting i, which is apparently confounded here after the Aramaean fashion with the i of the feminine pronoun, and has therefore been marked by the Masora as superfluous (vid., Ewald, 211b). The combination of רכלת with 'אל איּים ר may be accounted for from the primary meaning of רכל, to travel about as a merchant: thou who didst go to the nations on many shores to carry on thy trade. Tyre itself considers that she is perfect in her beauty, partly on account of her strong position in the sea, and partly because of her splendid edifices.

(Note: Curtius, iv. 2: Tyrus et claritate et magnitudine ante omnes urbes Syriae Phoenicesque memorabilis. (Cf. Strabo, xvi. 2.22.))

In the description which follows of this beauty and glory, from Ezekiel 27:4 onwards, Tyre is depicted allegorically as a beautiful ship, splendidly built and equipped throughout, and its destruction is afterwards represented as a shipwreck occasioned by the east wind (Ezekiel 27:26.).

(Note: Jerome recognised this allegory, and has explained it correctly as follows: "He (the prophet) speaks τροπικῶς, as though addressing a ship, and points out its beauty and the abundance of everything. Then, after having depicted all its supplies, he announces that a storm will rise, and the south wind (auster) will blow, by which great waves will be gathered up, and the vessel will be wrecked. In all this he is referring to the overthrow of the city by King Nabuchodonosor," etc. Rashi and others give the same explanation.)

The words, "in the heart of the seas is thy territory" (Ezekiel 27:4), are equally applicable to the city of Tyre and to a ship, the building of which is described in what follows. The comparison of Tyre to a ship was very naturally suggested by the situation of the city in the midst of the sea, completely surrounded by water. As a ship, it must of necessity be built of wood. The shipbuilders selected the finest kinds of wood for the purpose; cypresses of Antilibanus for double planks, which formed the sides of the vessel, and cedar of Lebanon for the mast. Senir, according to Deuteronomy 3:9, was the Amoritish name of Hermon or Antilibanus, whereas the Sidonians called it Sirion. On the other hand, Senir occurs in 1 Chronicles 5:23, and Shenir in Sol 4:8, in connection with Hermon, where they are used to denote separate portions of Antilibanus. Ezekiel evidently uses Senir as a foreign name, which had been retained to his own time, whereas Sirion had possibly become obsolete, as the names had both the same meaning (see the comm. on Deuteronomy 3:9). The naming of the places from which the several materials were obtained for the fitting out of the ship, serve to heighten the glory of its construction and give an ideal character to the picture. All lands have contributed their productions to complete the glory and might of Tyre. Cypress-wood was frequently used by the ancients for buildings and (according to Virgil, Georg. ii. 443) also for ships, because it was exempt from the attacks of worms, and was almost imperishable, and yet very light (Theophr. Hist. plant. v. 8; Plinii Hist. nat. xvi. 79). לחתים, a dual form, like חמתים in 2 Kings 25:4; Isaiah 22:11, double-planks, used for the two side-walls of the ship. For oars they chose oaks of Bashan (משּׁוט as well as משׁוט in Ezekiel 27:29 from שׁוּט, to row), and the rowing benches (or deck) were of ivory inlaid in box. קרשׁ is used in Exodus 26:15. for the boards or planks of the wooden walls of the tabernacle; here it is employed in a collective sense, either for the rowing benches, of which there were at least two, and sometimes three rows in a vessel, one above another, or more properly, for the deck of the vessel (Hitzig). This was made of she4n, or ivory, inlaid in wood. The ivory is mentioned first as the most valuable material of the קרשׁ, the object being to picture the ship as possessing all possible splendour. The expression בּתּ־אשּׁרים, occasions some difficulty, partly on account of the use of the word בּת, and partly in connection with the meaning of אשּׁרים , although so much may be inferred from the context, that the allusion is to some kind of wood inlaid with ivory, and the custom of inlaying wood with ivory for the purpose of decoration is attested by Virgil, Aen. x. 137:

"Vel quale per artem

Inclusum buxo, aut Oricia terebintho

Lucet ebur."

But the use of בּת does not harmonize with the relation of the wood to the ivory inserted in wood; nor can it be defended by the fact that in Lamentations 3:3 an arrow is designated "the son of the quiver." According to this analogy, the ivory ought to have been called the son of the Ashurim, because the ivory is inserted in the wood, and not the wood in the ivory.

(Note: The Targum has paraphrased it in this way: דפּין דאשׁכרעין מכבשׁין בשׁן דפיל, i.e., planks of box or pine inlaid with ivory.)

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