Ezekiel 27:16
Syria was your merchant by reason of the multitude of the wares of your making: they occupied in your fairs with emeralds, purple, and broidered work, and fine linen, and coral, and agate.
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(16) Emeralds.—The precious stone intended here, and in Exodus 28:18, is now generally understood to be the carbuncle. The word for “fine linen” is not that of Ezekiel 27:7, but a Phœnician word, occurring only in the books written in the time of the captivity. It is thought to mean cotton, for the woven fabrics of which Babylon was famous. Agate (marg., chrysoprase) is probably the ruby, or certainly some stone of brilliancy (Isaiah 54:12)

Ezekiel 27:16-20. Syria was thy merchant, &c. — From what is said here, we may conclude that the inhabitants of Tyre were exceedingly industrious, skilful in arts, and politic; for here almost all nations are described as bringing their respective commodities to Tyre, to give in exchange for the wares or manufactures of that place; which shows to what a vast height they carried their manufactures, and what immense profits they must have gained, since, it seems, they were able to purchase all kinds of precious stones, and the richest commodities of the world, with their own manufactures. Judah and Israel were thy merchants — Both the kingdom of the two tribes, and that of the ten. They traded in thy market wheat of Minnith — Minnith was a place belonging to the Ammonites, Jdg 11:33, and was noted for excellent wheat, great quantities of which the Jews brought to Tyre, the Tyrians having none of their own growth, but being supplied therewith by the Jews and Israelites, from the growth of their own or the neighbouring countries: see 1 Kings 5:9-11; Ezra 3:7; Acts 12:20. And Pannag — This is a word not elsewhere to be found, supposed by some to be the name of a place; by others, more probably, taken for some rich ointment, or gum. The Vulgate translates it balsam. In the wine of Helbon — Helbon is supposed to be that part of Syria which is called Chalybonitis by Ptolemy; and white wool — Bochart understands this to be wool of a bright purple colour. The LXX. and Chaldee render it, wool from Miletus, a place famous for that commodity. Daniel also, &c. — Grotius thinks that Daniel in the kingdom of Israel can scarcely be meant here; and finds that a city called Dana is placed by Ptolemy in the island of Ceylon. Dedan, &c., in precious clothes for chariots — Either these were rich coverings which were flung over the horses when harnessed to chariots, or else coverings for the seats of the chariots.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.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.

16. "Syria was thy mart for the multitude," &c. For "Syria" the Septuagint reads "Edom." But the Syrians were famed as merchants.

occupied—old English for "traded"; so in Lu 19:13.

agate—Others translate, "ruby," "chalcedony," or "pearls."

The multitude of the wares of thy making; the abundance of the Tyrian manufacture for all uses, which the Syrians could have no where else.

With emeralds; rather, for emeralds, a rich and lovely stone; or carbuncles, as others have it.

Purple, or violet-coloured, clothes. Broidered work: see Ezekiel 27:7.

Fine linen: see Ezekiel 27:7.

Coral; men guess this may be rubies, carbuncles, or chalcedonies; or crystal, with which they made looking-glasses.

Agate; a stone well known to us, but not so well known whether it exactly translate the Hebrew dkdk here used; some say it is the chrysoprase, a stone mixed with gold colour and green, and some such mixture may be seen in some agates. Syria was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of the wares of thy making,.... Which they took off of their hands, and for them brought the following things:

they occupied in thy fairs with emeralds; precious stones of a green colour: Jarchi renders it "carbuncles", other precious stones of a different colour; and so the word is translated by Pagninus, Montanus, Grotius, the French, and Diodate; sometimes called "carchedonies", and which the Apostle John calls the "chalcedony", Revelation 21:19, the same with rubies; and so the word here used is rendered by Luther; and, by Abarbinel, precious stones of great value; see Proverbs 3:15, from whence the Syrians had these to trade with at Tyre cannot be easily said; the modern rubies, which are thought to be the true and genuine carbuncles of the ancients, seldom exceed the weight of twenty carats; yet some say the Emperor Rudolphus the second had a ruby as big as a little hen's egg, bought at sixty thousand ducats, and supposed to be worth more; and that Regulus Decan had one of thirty four carats, bought at six minas of gold, that is, a hundred and ninety two pounds of gold; and that the great Mogul had one, which cost a million four hundred and twenty five thousand florins; and that there are some which exceed the weight of fifty carats (f); but there were few, if any of these, that came to the market of Tyre; however, no doubt, some valuable ones were here sold.

Purple, and broidered work, and fine linen; cloth of purple colour, raiment of needlework curiously embroidered, and linen of the best sort. So the Targum,

"purple clothes, and wrought with a needle, and linen of different colours;''

and of such they made their sails, tilts, and tents; see Ezekiel 27:7.

And coral, and agate; the first is a sea plant.

"This opinion is now so well established, that all other sentiments seem almost precluded. P. Kircher supposes entire forests of it at the bottom of the sea; and M. Tournefort, that able botanist, maintains, that it evidently multiplies by seed, though neither its flower nor seed be known. However, the count de Marsigli has discovered some parts therein, which seem to serve the purpose of seeds and flower, it vegetates the contrary way to all other plants; its foot adhering to the top of the grotto, and its branches shooting downwards, there are properly but three kinds of coral, red, white, and black; the white is the rarest and most esteemed; but it is the red that is ordinarily used in medicine; the places for fishing it are the Persian gulf, Red sea, coasts of Africa towards the bastion of France, the isles of Majorca and Corsica, and the coasts of Provence and Catalonia (g).''

Perhaps the Syrians might have theirs from the Red sea, or the Mediterranean. The other, the "agate", is a precious stone, the same with the "achates", first found in Sicily, as Isidore says (h), by a river of the same name; is of a black colour, according to him, having in the middle black and white circles joined and variegated; but they are of different colours, and of different degrees of transparency. The word is variously rendered; by some the ruby; by others the carbuncle; by others the chalcedony; and by others crystal; it is hard to say what is meant. Now the Phoenicians or Tyrians were so deeply engaged in trade with the Syrians, that it became a common proverb, the Phonicians against the Syrians (i); when like are set against like, as the Egyptians against the Egyptians, Isaiah 19:2.

(f) Vid. Braunium de Vestitu Sacerdot. Hebr. 1. 2. c. 11. p. 669. (g) Chambers's Cyclopaedia in the word "Coral". (h) Origin, l. 16. c. 11. (i) Vid. Reinesium de Lingua Punic. c. 2. sect. 12.

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.
16. For Syria (Aram) the Syr. reads Edom, and so in effect LXX. (interchange of d and r as Ezekiel 27:15). If Edom be read the line pursued would be from S. to N., Edom, Ezekiel 27:16, Judah, Ezekiel 27:17, Damascus, Ezekiel 27:18. The verse is otherwise peculiar in beginning with a precious stone, then passing on to stuffs and ending with precious stones.

wares of thy making] Rather; by reason of the multitude of thy works, i.e. not those wrought by Tyre, but those which the nations wrought and brought to her, all of which are considered hers.

occupied in thy fairs] Rather: emeralds … they brought as thy wares. The “emerald” according to others is the carbuncle. “Coral” may be “pearls.” The two things may have been confused; both were fished in the Persian Gulf. The “agate” may be the ruby. The precious stones might seem in favour of Edom, but the fine linen is more naturally the Syrian byssus. LXX. omits all the textile fabrics with the exception of broidered work; and the text must be held uncertain.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. 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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