Ezekiel 29:18
Son of man, Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon caused his army to serve a great service against Tyrus: every head was made bald, and every shoulder was peeled: yet had he no wages, nor his army, for Tyrus, for the service that he had served against it:
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(18) Yet had he no wages.—The siege of Tyre is here represented as a service to God, for which Nebuchadnezzar had not yet received his reward. This is quite in accordance with the whole Scriptural representation of that monarch, as a man raised up to execute God’s judgments. He was himself unconscious of this, and yet did that which had been foretold—a striking instance that “there is a God in history.” It has been argued from this verse, and from the fact that there is no especial mention in history of the result of the siege of Tyre, that Nebuchadnezzar failed in its capture; but all that is meant is that he failed to obtain any considerable booty thereby, the Tyrians having abundant warning and opportunity to convey away their valuables by sea. This St. Jerome expressly asserts to have been done by them, and he further describes the method of the capture of the city by the same means afterwards used by Alexander, that of building a mole from the mainland to the island; thus explaining how in the besieging army “every head was made bald, and every shoulder was peeled” by the bearing of burdens for the structure. Berosus expressly testifies that Nebuchadnezzar “conquered all Syria and Phœnicia” (Jos. c. Ap., i. 21); and Josephus also cites Philostratus, Megasthenes, and Diocles as mentioning Nebuchadnezzar’s exploits and the siege of Tyre in a way which, while they do not directly mention, yet certainly imply the capture of the city (ibid., and Antt. x. 11, § 1). Besides, it is inconceivable that Ezekiel, who long survived that siege, should have left that prophecy on record if the event was otherwise than as he predicted.

29:17-21 The besiegers of Tyre obtained little plunder. But when God employs ambitious or covetous men, he will recompense them according to the desires of their hearts; for every man shall have his reward. God had mercy in store for the house of Israel soon after. The history of nations best explains ancient prophecies. All events fulfil the Scriptures. Thus, in the deepest scenes of adversity, the Lord sows the seed of our future prosperity. Happy are those who desire his favour, grace, and image; they will delight in his service, and not covet any earthly recompence; and the blessings they have chosen shall be sure to them for ever.Yet had he no wages - It is not improbable that the Tyrians before they surrendered their island-citadel managed to remove much of their treasure; but others exlplain the verse; that the siege and capture of Tyre is to be regarded as the "work" appointed, and the possession of Egypt as the "reward or wages" for the work.18. every head … bald, … shoulder … peeled—with carrying baskets of earth and stones for the siege works.

no wages … for the service—that is, in proportion to it and the time and labor which he expended on the siege of Tyre. Not that he actually failed in the siege (Jerome expressly states, from Assyrian histories, that Nebuchadnezzar succeeded); but, so much of the Tyrian resources had been exhausted, or transported to her colonies in ships, that little was left to compensate Nebuchadnezzar for his thirteen year's siege.

His army: the army, the inferior officers, and principal commanders, it is like, were weary of the siege, and might advise the raising it; but the authority, presence, and immovable resolution of the king kept them on still, and made them hold out.

A great service; it was service to the justice of God in punishing the Tyrians by the ambition of Nebuchadnezzar, who would not endure any thing to stand against him. It was great service, both for hardness of work, heaviness of burdens, and unreasonable length of the siege, thirteen years together.

Every head was made bald; either age, or sicknesses, (which often make men bald,) or continued wearing of the helmets, spoiled the best heads of hair amongst them; or perhaps it noteth the weeping bargain they had, though they mastered Tyre, where they got no booty; and both Nebuchadnezzar and his army might shave their heads, in token of mourning for their loss, rather than crown their heads with garlands of joy for gaining of the city.

Every shoulder was peeled; either clothes wore out, they had scarce any to their backs in so long a siege, or galled and blistered with carrying burdens, stones, timber, iron, and earth for fortifications, and to make a passage from the continent to Tyre; which sores, when healed, left scabs or dead skin that peeled off.

He had no wages; for though Tyre was very rich when first besieged, no doubt very much wealth was carried away by shipping at the beginning and during the siege, which none could prevent, very much spent and wasted in the siege, and what was left preserved by articles of surrender; for most conclude that it was delivered on composition, and the conqueror had only victory for his pains and charge.

Son of man, Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon,.... The same with Nebuchadnezzar; he goes by both names in Scripture, nor is the difference very great:

caused his army to serve a great service against Tyrus; in besieging it thirteen years (c) before he was able to take it; during which time his army suffered much hardship, was greatly fatigued and wearied, by the various military works they were engaged in, to carry on the siege so long a time:

every head was made bald, and every shoulder was peeled: the heads of the soldiers became bald with wearing their helmets so long, or carrying baskets of earth and timber upon them, to make mounts with; and the skin of their shoulders was peeled off, either with their armour, or by carrying burdens on them for the above purpose; or, as Jerom says, from the Assyrian annals, to make a causeway to join the island to the continent, that so they might come at it with their battering rams, and demolish it:

yet hath he no wages; nor his army, for Tyrus; for besieging it; for, as the same Jerom observes when the Tyrians found that the city was like to be taken by him, their gold and silver, and whatsoever was valuable that was with them, they put on and sent it to other islands; or, as others say, that when Tyre on the continent, which was what Nebuchadnezzar besieged, was about to be taken, the inhabitants transplanted their riches to the island at some distance, where new Tyre was afterwards built; however, what with the consumption of their riches during this thirteen years' siege, and the removing their effects to other places before the taking of the city there was scarce anything left for the plunder of king of Babylon's army, so that he and that had nothing to requite them:

for the service that he had served against it: it must have cost him a great deal of money to support such a numerous army for so long a time, as well as the siege was very toilsome and laborious; and yet, when the city was taken, there was nothing found in it to answer this expense and labour.

(c) Hist. Physic. spud Joseph. adv. Aplon, l. 1. c. 21.

Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon caused his army to serve a great {k} service against Tyre: every head was made bald, and every shoulder was rubbed raw: yet had he no wages, {l} nor his army, for Tyre, for the service that he had served against it:

(k) He took great pains at the siege of Tyre and his army was sore handled.

(l) Signifying that Nebuchadnezzar had more pains than profit by the taking of Tyre.

18. On spelling of Nebuchadnezzar cf. Ezekiel 26:7, Ezekiel 30:10.

every head made bald] Not by the length of time but by the hard service, the rubbing of the armour or the burdens borne on head and shoulder. Arabic poets refer to the baldness caused by the headpieces. The siege of Tyre lasted thirteen years, but while this is well attested history is silent as to the issue of the siege. Whatever the issue was Neb. and his army did not reap adequate reward from it—he had no wages for his service done for Jehovah.

Verse 18. - Nebuchadnezzar, etc. The words carry us to the close of the thirteen years' siege of Tyre referred to in the notes on Ezekiel 28, and enable us to refer the commencement of that siege to the fourteenth year of Jehoiachin's captivity, circ. B.C. 586, two years after the destruction of Jerusalem. This agrees with the report of the Tyrian Annals given by Josephus ('Contra Apion,' 1:21), who gives the names of the kings of Tyro from Ithobal to Hirom, in the fourteenth year of whose reign Cyrus became King of Persia. Josephus, however, gives the seventh, in. stead of the seventeenth, year of Nebuchadnezzar as the date of the beginning of the siege. Here the point dwelt on is not the success of the siege, but its comparative failure. The labors and sufferings of the besiegers had been immense. Jerome (in loc.) states (not, however, giving his authority) that these labors consisted mainly in the attempt to fill up the strait between the island-city and the mainland with masses of stone and rubbish. These were carried on the heads and shoulders of the troops, and the natural result was that the former lost their hair and the latter their skin, and the whole army was in a miserable plight. And after all, the king had no wages for his labors. The city indeed, was taken, but the inhabitants made their escape by sea, with their chief possessions, and the hopes of spoil were disappointed. Ezekiel 29:18Conquest and Plundering of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar

Ezekiel 29:17. In the seven and twentieth year, in the first (moon), on the first of the moon, the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 29:18. Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, has made his army perform hard work at Tyre: every head is bald, and every shoulder grazed, and no wages have been given to him and to his army from Tyre for the work which he performed against it. Ezekiel 29:19. Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I give Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, the land of Egypt, that he may carry away its possessions, and plunder its plunder, and make booty of its booty, and this may be the wages of his army. Ezekiel 29:20. As the pay for which he worked, I give him the land of Egypt, because they did it for me, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Ezekiel 29:21. In that day will I cause a horn to sprout to the house of Israel, and I will open the mouth for thee in the midst of them; and they shall know that I am Jehovah. - This brief prophecy concerning Egypt was uttered about seventeen years after the preceding word of God, and was the latest of all the predictions of Ezekiel that are supplied with dates. But notwithstanding its brevity, it is not to be taken in connection with the utterance which follows in Ezekiel 30:1-19 so as to form one prophecy, as Hitzig supposes. This is at variance not only with the formula in Ezekiel 30:1, which is the usual introduction to a new word of God, but also with Ezekiel 29:21 of the present chapter, which is obviously intended to bring the previous word of God to a close. This termination, which is analogous to the closing words of the prophecies against Tyre and Sidon in Ezekiel 28:25-26, also shows that the present word of God contains the last of Ezekiel's prophecies against the Egyptian world-power, and that the only reason why the prophet did not place it at the end when collecting his prophecies - that is to say, after Ezekiel 32 - was, that the promise in v. 30, that the Lord would cause a horn to bud to the house of Israel, contained the correlate to the declaration that Egypt was henceforth to be but a lowly kingdom. Moreover, this threat of judgment, which is as brief as it is definite, was well fitted to prepare the way and to serve as an introduction for the more elaborate threats which follow. The contents of the prophecy, namely, the assurance that God would give Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar as spoil in return for the hard labour which he and his army had performed at Tyre, point to the time immediately following the termination of the thirteen years' siege of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar. If we compare with this the date given in Ezekiel 29:17, the siege was brought to a close in the twenty-seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin, i.e., b.c. 572, and must therefore have commenced in the year b.c. 586, or about two years after the destruction of Jerusalem, and with this the extract given by Josephus (c. Ap. i. 21) from the Tyrian annals agrees.

(Note: For the purpose of furnishing the proof that the temple at Jerusalem lay in ruins for fifty years, from the time of its destruction till the commencement of its rebuilding, Josephus gives in the passage referred to above the years of the several reigns of the kings and judges of Tyre from Ithobal to Hirom, in whose reign Cyrus took the kingdom; from which it is apparent that fifty years elapsed from the commencement of the siege of Tyre to the fourteenth year of Hirom, in which Cyrus began to reign. At the same time, the seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar is given by mistake instead of the seventeenth or nineteenth as the date of the beginning of the siege. (Compare on this point Movers, Phnizier, II 1, pp. 437ff.; M. v. Niebuhr, Gesch. Assurs u. Bab. pp. 106ff.; and M. Duncker, Gesch. des Altert. I p. ))

העביד עבדה, to cause a work to be executed, or service to be rendered. This labour was so severe, that every head was bald and every shoulder grazed. These words have been correctly interpreted by the commentators, even by Ewald, as referring to the heavy burdens that had to be carried in order to fill up the strait which separated Insular Tyre from the mainland. They confirm what we have said above, in the remarks on Ezekiel 26:10 and elsewhere, concerning the capture of Tyre.

But neither he nor his army had received any recompense for their severe toil. This does not imply that Nebuchadnezzar had been unable to accomplish the work which he had undertaken, i.e., to execute his design and conquer the city, but simply that he had not received the recompense which he expected after this severe labour; in other words, had not found the booty he hoped for when the city was taken (see the introductory remarks on Ezekiel 26-28). To compensate him for this, the Lord will give him the land of Egypt with its possessions as booty, ונשׂא המנהּ, that he may carry off the abundance of its possessions, its wealth; not that he may lead away the multitude of its people (De Wette, Kliefoth, etc.), for "נשׂא is not the appropriate expression for this" (Hitzig). המון, abundance of possessions, as in Isaiah 60:5; Psalm 37:16, etc. פּעלּה, the doing of a thing; then that which is gained by working, the recompense for labour, as in Leviticus 19:13 and other passages. אשׁר עשׂוּ is taken by Hitzig as referring to the Egyptians, and rendered, "in consequence of that which they have done to me." But although אשׁר may be taken in this sense (vid., Isaiah 65:18), the arguments employed by Hitzig in opposition to the ordinary rendering - "for they (Nebuchadnezzar and his army) have done it for me," i.e., have performed their hard work at Tyre for me and by my commission - have no force whatever. This use of עשׂה is thoroughly established by Genesis 30:30; and the objection which he raises, namely, that "the assertion that Nebuchadnezzar besieged Tyre in the service of Jehovah could only have been properly made by Ezekiel in the event of the city having been really conquered," is out of place, for this simple reason, that the assumption that the city was not taken is a mere conjecture; and even if the conjecture could be sustained, the siege itself might still be a work undertaken in the service of Jehovah. And the principal argument, namely, "that we should necessarily expect עשׂה (instead of עשׂוּ), inasmuch as with עשׂוּ every Hebrew reader would inevitably take אשׁר as referring to מצרים," is altogether wide of the mark; for מצרים does not signify the Egyptians in this passage, but the land of Egypt alone is spoken of both in the verse before us and throughout the oracle, and for this עשׂוּ is quite unsuitable, whereas the context suggests in the most natural way the allusion to Nebuchadnezzar and his army. But what is absolutely decisive is the circumstance that the thought itself, "in consequence of what the Egyptians have done to me," i.e., what evil they have done, is foreign to, if not at variance with, all the prophecies of Ezekiel concerning Egypt. For the guilt of Egypt and its Pharaoh mentioned by Ezekiel is not any crime against Jehovah, but simply Pharaoh's deification of himself, and the treacherous nature of the help which Egypt afforded to Israel. ליהוה equals עשׂה לי is not the appropriate expression for this, in support of which assertion we might point to עשׂוּ לי in Ezekiel 23:38. - Ezekiel 29:21. On that day, namely, when the judgment upon Egypt is executed by Nebuchadnezzar, the Lord will cause a horn to sprout or grow to the house (people) of Israel. The horn is a symbol of might and strength, by which the attacks of foreigners are warded off. By the overthrow of Judah the horn of Israel was cut off (Lamentations 2:3; compare also Jeremiah 48:25). In עצמיח קרן the promise coincides, so far as the words are concerned, with Psalm 132:17; but it also points back to the prophetic words of the godly Hannah in 1 Samuel 2:1, "My horn is exalted in Jehovah, my mouth hath opened itself wide over my enemies," and is Messianic in the broader sense of the word. The horn which the Lord will cause to sprout to the people of Israel is neither Zerubbabel nor the Messiah, but the Messianic salvation. The reason for connecting this promise of salvation for Israel with the overthrow of the power of Egypt, as Hvernick has observed, is that "Egypt presented itself to the prophet as the power in which the idea of heathenism was embodied and circumscribed." In the might of Egypt the world-power is shattered, and the overthrow of the world-power is the dawn of the unfolding of the might of the kingdom of God. Then also will the Lord give to His prophet an opening of the mouth in the midst of Israel. These words are unquestionably connected with the promise of God in Ezekiel 24:26-27, that after the fall of Jerusalem the mouth of Ezekiel should be opened, and also with the fulfilment of that promise in Ezekiel 33:22; but they have a much more comprehensive meaning, namely, that with the dawn of salvation in Israel, i.e., in the church of the Lord, the word of prophecy would sound forth in the richest measure, inasmuch as, according to Joel (Ezekiel 2:1-10), a universal outpouring of the Spirit of God would then take place. In this light Theodoret is correct in his remark, that "through Ezekiel He signified the whole band of prophets." But Kliefoth has quite mistaken the meaning of the words when he discovers in them the thought that "God would then give the prophet a new word of God concerning both Egypt and Israel, and that this is contained in the oracle in Ezekiel 30:1-19." Such a view as this is proved at once to be false, apart from other grounds, by the expression בּתוכם (in the midst of them), which cannot be taken as applying to Egypt and Israel, but can only refer to בּית ישׂראל, the house of Israel.

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