Ezekiel 27:9
The ancients of Gebal and the wise men thereof were in you your caulkers: all the ships of the sea with their mariners were in you to occupy your merchandise.
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(9) The ancients of Gebal.—“The ancients” is a thoroughly Semitic expression for the prominent men of a city. Gebal, the ancient Byblos, the modern Gébeil, and the Gu-ba-lu of the Assyrian inscriptions, was a famous Phœnician town just north of Beirût. Its site is still rich in ruins. Its people were famous builders, and according to the margin of 1Kings 5:18 (so also the Septuagint and Vulgate) were employed by Solomon on the work of the Temple. The representation is that the whole widely-dispersed Phœnician race were tributary to the works of Tyre. At this point the figure of the ship gives place for a time to plain language, the better to set forth the military resources and power of this great city.

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.Gebal - i. e., Byblos (modern Gebeil) in Phoenicia, the chief seat of the worship of Adonis, and situated on an eminence over-looking the river Adonis, north of Beirut, not far from the Mediterranean sea. The "ancients" is a term for the council that presided over maritime cities. 9. Gebal—a Phœnician 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.

The ancients; old experienced workmen.

Of Gebal; a town of Phoenicia near the sea, one of the four principal towns, to which belonged a jurisdiction over a fourth part of Phoenicia, mentioned Psalm 83:7, among the conspirators against Israel and the Giblites, 1 Kings 5:18. Natives of Gebal are called stone-squarers, people fitted for hard and servile works.

The wise men; skilful in their trades.

Were in thee; hired and dwelt in Tyre for gain’s sake, that they might be still employed.

Calkers; shipwrights, to build no doubt, as well as repair and strengthen, their ships.

All the ships of the sea; ships from all parts of the sea, full of mariners, not only to manage the ships at sea, but to offer their service to the Tyrians for bringing in or carrying out of their wares, so that they might reap the profit, whilst others did undergo trouble and danger of trafficking by sea; factors, and warehouse-keepers, and brokers. 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.

The ancients of Gebal and its wise men were in thee thy {d} calkers: all the ships of the sea with their mariners were in thee to exchange thy merchandise.

(d) Meaning, that they built the walls of the city, which is here meant by the ship: and of these were the builders of Solomon's temple, 1Ki 5:18.

9. ancients of Gebal] The elders, a title of honour or office, the magistrates. Probably also the “wise men thereof” is a semi-official title (cf. Ezekiel 27:8). The power of Tyre was exerted over all her dependencies (Ezekiel 26:17), in which men of the highest position entered all ranks of her service. Gebal (the classical Byblos, now Jubeil) is situated not far from the river Adonis (Ibrahim) somewhat over 20 miles N. of Beirut (Joshua 13:5; 1 Kings 5:18, R.V.). The town was devoted to the worship of Beltis (Astarte) and Adonis, cf. on ch. Ezekiel 8:14. The name appears in the Assyrian inscriptions, Del., Parad. p. 283.

thy calkers] Marg. stoppers of chinks, carpenters.

to occupy thy merchandise] to handle thy wares. The representation is that the great ship was attended on by all the ships of the sea with their sailors, who served her and delivered her wares to her, or were occupied about them (Ezekiel 27:27).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. The tidings of the destruction of Tyre will produce great commotion in all her colonies and the islands connected with her. - Ezekiel 26:15. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah to Tyre, Will not the islands tremble at the noise of thy fall, at the groaning of the wounded, at the slaughter in the midst of thee? Ezekiel 26:16. And all the princes of the sea will come down from their thrones, and will lay aside their robes and take off their embroidered clothes, and dress themselves in terrors, sit upon the earth, and they will tremble every moment, and be astonished at thee. Ezekiel 26:17. They will raise a lamentation for thee, and say to thee: How hast thou perished, thou who wast inhabited from out of the sea, thou renowned city, she who was mighty upon the sea, she and her inhabitants, who inspired all her inhabitants with fear of her! Ezekiel 26:18. Now do the islands tremble on the day of thy fall, and the islands in the sea are confounded at thy departure. - הלא, nonne, has the force of a direct affirmation. קול מפּלה, the noise of the fall, stands for the tidings of the noise, since the noise itself could not be heard upon the islands. The fall takes place, as is added for the purpose of depicting the terrible nature of the event, at or amidst the groaning of the wounded, and the slaughter in the midst of thee. בּהרג is the infinitive Niphal, with the accent drawn back on account of the following Milel, and should be pointed בּהרג . The word איּים, islands, is frequently used so as to embrace the coast lands of the Mediterranean Sea; we have therefore to understand it here as applied to the Phoenician colonies on the islands and coasts of that sea. The "princes of the sea" are not kings of the islands, but, according to Isaiah 23:8, the merchants presiding over the colonies of Tyre, who resembled princes. כּסאות, not royal thrones, but chairs, as in 1 Samuel 4:13, etc. The picture of their mourning recalls the description in Jonah 3:6; it is not derived from that passage, however, but is an independent description of the mourning customs which commonly prevailed among princes. The antithesis introduced as a very striking one: clothing themselves in terrors, putting on terrors in the place of the robes of state which they have laid aside (see the similar trope in Ezekiel 7:27). The thought is rendered still more forcible by the closing sentences of the verse: they tremble לרנעים, by moments, i.e., as the moments return - actually, therefore, "every moment" (vid., Isaiah 27:3). - In the lamentation which they raise (Ezekiel 26:17), they give prominence to the alarming revolution of all things, occasioned by the fact that the mistress of the seas, once so renowned, has now become an object of horror and alarm. נושׁבת מיּמּים, inhabited from the seas. This is not to be taken as equivalent to "as far as the seas," in the sense of, whose inhabitants spread over the seas and settle there, as Gesenius (Thes.) and Hvernick suppose; for being inhabited is the very opposite of sending the inhabitants abroad. If מן were to be taken in the geographical sense of direction or locality, the meaning of the expression could only be, whose inhabitants spring from the seas, or have migrated thither from all seas; but this would not apply to the population of Tyre, which did not consists of men of all nations under heaven. Hitzig has given the correct interpretation, namely, from the sea, or out of the seas, which had as it were ascended as an inhabited city out of the bosom of the sea. It is not easy to explain the last clause of Ezekiel 26:17 : who inspired all her inhabitants with their terror, or with terror of them (of themselves); for if the relative אשׁר is taken in connection with the preceding ישׁביה, the thought arises that the inhabitants of Tyre inspired her inhabitants, i.e., themselves, with their terror, or terror of themselves. Kimchi, Rosenmller, Ewald, Kliefoth, and others, have therefore proposed to take the suffix in the second יושׁביה as referring to היּם ot gnirre, all the inhabitants of the sea, i.e., all her colonies. But this is open to the objection, that not only is ים of the masculine gender, but it is extremely harsh to take the same suffix attached to the two ישׁביה as referring to different subjects. We must therefore take the relative אשׁר and the suffix in חתּיתם as both referring to היא וישׁביה: the city with its population inspired all its several inhabitants with fear or itself. This is not to be understood, however, as signifying that the inhabitants of Tyre kept one another in a state of terror and alarm; but that the city with its population, through its power upon the sea, inspired all the several inhabitants with fear of this its might, inasmuch as the distinction of the city and its population was reflected upon every individual citizen. This explanation of the words is confirmed by the parallel passages in Ezekiel 32:24 and Ezekiel 32:26. - This city had come to so appalling an end, that all the islands trembled thereat. The two hemistichs in Ezekiel 26:18 are synonymous, and the thought returns by way of conclusion to Ezekiel 26:15. איּין has the Aramaean form of the plural, which is sometimes met with even in the earlier poetry (vid., Ewald, 177a). צאת, departure, i.e., destruction.
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