Ezekiel 27:7
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.
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(7) Fine linen with broidered work.—To a modern sailor “fine linen “may seem both an extravagant and an insufficient material for a ship’s sails, but the State ships of antiquity were often fitted out in this way, and the sails embroidered in colours in place of a pennon. The clause literally is, Linen with embroidery from Egypt was for thy spreading out (sail), to be to thee for a sign.

Isles of Elishah.—In Genesis 10:4, 1Chronicles 1:7, Elishah is mentioned among the sons of Javan, or Ionia. The regions here referred to are the coasts of Asia Minor, where an abundant supply of the murex (from which came the famous purple dye) was obtained, when the quantity on the Tyrian coast was insufficient for its manufactures. “That which covered thee” is the awning spread over the ship’s deck.

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.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.

7. broidered … sail—The ancients embroidered their sails often at great expense, especially the Egyptians, whose linen, still preserved in mummies, is of the finest texture.

Elishah—Greece; so called from Elis, a large and ancient division of Peloponnesus. Pausanias says that the best of linen was produced in it, and in no other part of Greece; called by Homer, Alisium.

that which covered thee—thy awning.

Fine linen; whereas thrift teaches us to use the coarse linen for like purposes, these prodigal Tyrians used the finest silken sails, as we may render the words.

With broidered work; divers figures, curiously drawn with the needle in this fine linen, which made exceeding costly sails; yet pride and wantonness in some of them went to the charges of it.

From Egypt; where was much of this fine linen, and many of these neat embroiderers.

Blue, or violet colour, and purple; both rich and noble colours: the garments of great men and princes were made hereof, Genesis 41:42 Proverbs 31:22; see Ezekiel 16:10.

From the isles of Elishah; either from the sea-coast of Æolis in the Lesser Asia, the inhabitants whereof were excellent in the skill of dying wool; or from Peloponnesus, in which is one country called Elis, famous for fine linen, and about the mouth of the river Eurotas. The fishing for the purple fish was fatuously known, so that it might be this place beside the isles of the Ægean and Cretian seas, as Cos, Nysirus, (called from its purples Porphyris,) Cythera, and the Cyclades, which are many; some twelve of better note we might name, as now called Andro, Parlo, Zea, Sdilli, Micoli, &c.

That which covered thee: he speaks not here of garments, but of the coverings they used in their ships or galleys. Their tilts, as our boatmen call them, the clothes they spread over their heads on ship-board, to keep them from sun and weather, were such as be fitted kings and princes for costliness and beauty.

Fine linen with broidered work from Egypt,.... From whence came the finest and whitest linen; and which they embroidered with needlework, which looked very beautiful. Pliny (x) says there were four sorts of linen in Egypt, called Tanitic, Pelusiac, Butic, and Tentyritic, from the names and provinces where they were produced; of the second sort the garments of the high priest among the Jews were made; for they say (y), on the day of atonement he was in the morning clothed with Pelusiac garments; that is, with garments made of linen which came from Pelusium, a well known city in Egypt; and which Jarchi (z) says was the best, and in the greatest esteem; and one of the Misnic commentators says (a) that the linen from Pelusium is fine and beautiful, and comes from the land of Raamses; and observes, that, in the Jerusalem Targum, Raamses is said to be Pelusium; but though they are not one and the same place, yet they are both in the same country, Egypt, and near one another; and with this sort of linen the priests of Hercules were clothed, according to Silius (b); and so the "shesh", or linen, of which the garments of the Jewish priests in common were made, was linen from Egypt; and which their Rabbins (c) say is the best, and is only found there. The Phoenicians, of which Tyre was a principal city, took linen of Egypt, and traded with other nations with it, as well as made use of it for themselves; particularly with the Ethiopians, the inhabitants of the isle of Cernes, now called the Canaries, who took of them Egyptian goods, as linen, &c.; in lieu of which they had of them elephants' teeth, the skins of lions, leopards, deer, and other creatures (d): now such fine linen as this

was that which thou spreadest forth to be thy sail: not content with canvass or coarse linen, which would have done as well, they must have the finest Egyptian linen, and this very curiously embroidered, to make their sails of they spread upon their masts, to receive the wind; at least this they spread "for a flag" (e), standard or ensign, as, the word may be rendered; when they hoisted up their colours on any occasion, they were such as these: "blue and purple, from the isles of Elishah, was that which covered thee"; meaning not garments made of cloth of these colours, which the master of the vessel or mariners wore; but the tilts, or tents, or canopies erected on the decks, where they sat sheltered from the rain, wind, or sun; these were made of stuff died of a violet and purple colour, the best they could get; and which they fetched from the isles of Elishah, or the Aegean sea, from Coa, Rhodia, Nisyrus, and other places famous for purple, as Tyre itself afterwards was. The Targum is,

"from the province of Italy;''

or of Apulia, as others (f); see Revelation 18:12.

(x) Nat. Hist. l. 19. c. 1.((y) Misn. Yoma, c. 3. sect. 7. (z) Gloss. in T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 34. 2.((a) Bartenora in Misn. Yoma, ib. (b) "----Velantur corpore lino, Et Pelusiaco praefulget stamine vertex." L. 3. de Bell. Punic. (c) Aben Ezra in Exodus 25.4. (d) Vid. Reinesium de Lingua Punica, c. 2. sect. 13. (e) "in signum, sive vexillum", Gussetius; so some in Bootius. (f) So R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 48. 1.

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.
7. The rigging and furnishing of the ship. Her sail (ancient ships usually had but one) was embroidered byssus, fine linen, out of Egypt (Ezekiel 16:10). Render: broidered byssus of Egypt was thy sail, to serve to thee for a pennon. The flag proper seems not to have been used in ancient navigation, its purpose was served by the sail, as for example at the battle of Actium the ship of Antony was distinguished by its purple sail. The word seems to mean sail, Isaiah 33:23. On “broidered” cf. ch. Ezekiel 16:10; Ezekiel 16:13; Ezekiel 16:18.

that which covered thee] lit. thy covering (in Isaiah 14:11 a coverlet, cf. Isaiah 23:18), either an awning, or more probably a cabin, the sides and roof of which were of the fine stuffs named.

the isles of Elishah] In Genesis 10:4 Elishah is one of the sons of Javan, i.e. Ionia or Grecian Asia. The Targ. renders “country of Italy.” Ges. combines the name with Elis, and understands the Peloponnesus in general, which was certainly noted for the dyes referred to in the verse.

8 seq. The manning of the ship. The inhabitants of Sidon and Arvad were her rowers, and her own wise men her steersmen.

thy mariners] rowers. Sidon lay to the N. of Tyre, about half way between it and Beirut, and was probably the oldest Phœnician town, Tyre being a colony. Sidon is the firstborn of Canaan (Genesis 10:15), and is called Great Sidon in Joshua 19:28. It is frequently referred to in Homer (e.g. Il. 7. 290), who does not mention Tyre. At a later time Tyre eclipsed her mother in power and wealth. Arvad (Aradus) lay greatly more to the N. It was built on a small island, over two miles from the mainland, and, being without natural harbours, piers were laboriously constructed of huge blocks of stone, 16 feet long by 7 broad, quarried on the island. It was dependent for water upon the mainland, but when its supply was cut off recourse was had to a powerful spring of fresh water which was known to rise under the sea in the channel between the town and the mainland. This spring was isolated and the water brought by a tube to the surface. The spring is said still to exist. Arvad, now Ruwâd, or, Ruweideh, is often mentioned in the Assyrian Annals. Tiglath-pileser I. (c. 1100) embarked on ships of Arvad and sailed out into “the great sea,” Del., Parad. p. 281 (the same expression is used by another king of himself, Schrader, KAT. p. 184, on 1 Kings 5:13, cf. p. 104). See chart of Arvad, Rawl., Phœn. p. 74.

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? Ezekiel 27:7The 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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