And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Verse 1. - In the eleventh year, etc. The last date given (Ezekiel 24:1) was the tenth day of the tenth month of the ninth year (sc. B.C. 590). We have now come to the eleventh year, on which, on the ninth day of the fourth month, Jerusalem was taken, while its destruction followed in the seventh day of the fifth month (Jeremiah 52:6, 12). Here the number of the month is not given in the Hebrew or the Vulgate, while the LXX. inserts the "first month." In Ezekiel 32:17 we have a like omission, and in both cases it is natural to assume an error of transcription. The tidings of the capture may have reached both Tyre and Tel-Abib, and Ezekiel may have heard of the temper in which the former had received them, just as he had heard how the nations named in the previous chapter had exulted in the fall, imminent and, as they thought, inevitable, of the holy city.
Son of man, because that Tyrus hath said against Jerusalem, Aha, she is broken that was the gates of the people: she is turned unto me: I shall be replenished, now she is laid waste:
Verse 2. - Because that Tyrus, etc. As the nearest great commercial city, the Venice of the ancient world, Tyre, from the days of David (2 Samuel 5:11) and Solomon (1 Kings 5:1) onward, had been prominent in the eyes of the statesmen and prophets of Judah; and Ezekiel follows in the footsteps of Joel 3:4; Amos 1:9, 10; Isaiah 23, in dealing with it. The description in Vers. 5 and 14 points, not to the city on the mainland, the old Tyre of Joshua 19:29, which had been taken by Shalmaneser and was afterwards destroyed by Alexander the Great, but to the island-city, the new Tyre, which was, at this time, the emporium of the ancient world. The extent of her commerce will meet us in Ezekiel 27. Here, too, as in the case of the nations in Ezekiel 25, Ezekiel's indignation is roused by the exulting selfishness with which Tyre had looked on the downfall (actual or imminent, as before) of Jerusalem. "Now," her rulers seem to have said, "we shall be the only power in the land of Canaan." Jerusalem, that had been the gate of the peoples, was now broken. The name thus given may imply either
(1) that Jerusalem was regarded as to a considerable extent a commercial city, carrying on much intercourse with the nations with which she was in alliance, (Ezekiel 23:40, 41; 1 Kings 9:26-28; 1 Kings 22:48; Isaiah 2:7; Herod., 3:5, of Cadytis, i.e. probably Jerusalem); or
(2) that its temple had, under Hezekiah and Josiah, drawn many proselytes from the neighboring nations, as in Psalm 87:4-6, and was looking forward to a yet fuller confluence of men of all races, as in the prophecies of Micah 4:1, 2 and Isaiah 2:2, 3 - expectations which may well have become known to a city like Tyro, in frequent intercourse with Judah. "Now," the Tyrians might say, "that hope is shattered." I shall be replenished. The interpolated "now" indicates what is, of course, implied, that Tyre expects her prosperity to increase in proportion to the decline and fall of Jerusalem.
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Tyrus, and will cause many nations to come up against thee, as the sea causeth his waves to come up.
Verse 3. - As the sea causeth, etc. We note the special appropriateness of the comparison to the position of the island city.
And they shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, and break down her towers: I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock.
It shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD: and it shall become a spoil to the nations.
Verse 5. - It shall be a place for the spreading of nets, etc. The prediction is repeated in Ver. 14, and after many chances and changes, apparent revival followed by another period of decay, the present condition of Tyre strikingly corresponds with it. The travelers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries report that "its inhabitants are only a few poor wretches that harbor in vaults and subsist upon fishing" (Mandrell, in 1697); that the number of those inhabitants was "only ten, Turks and Christians" (Hasselquist, in 1751); that there were, a little later on, "fifty or sixty poor faro nee (Volney, in 1766). During the present century there has been a partial revival, and Porter, in 1858, estimates its population at from three to four thousand. The present state of its harbor, as compared with that of Beyrout, is against any future expansion of its commerce ('Dict. Bible,' s.v. "Tyre").
And her daughters which are in the field shall be slain by the sword; and they shall know that I am the LORD.
Verse 6. - The daughters in the field are, according to the usual symbolism of prophecy, the subject or allied cities on the mainland.
For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will bring upon Tyrus Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, a king of kings, from the north, with horses, and with chariots, and with horsemen, and companies, and much people.
Verse 7. - I will bring against thee, etc. There is a special emphasis of abruptness in the way in which Ezekiel brings in the name of the great Chaldean conqueror (we note, by the way, that he adopts the less common spelling of the name), of whom he speaks as "king of kings." The title is used by Daniel (Daniel 2:37) of Nebuchadnezzar, and by Artaxerxes of himself (Ezra 7:12), by Darius in the Nakshi Rustam inscription ('Records of the Past,' 5:151), by Tiglatb-Pileser, with the addition of "lord of lords" (ibid., 5:8).
He shall slay with the sword thy daughters in the field: and he shall make a fort against thee, and cast a mount against thee, and lift up the buckler against thee.
Verses 8-10. - (For the usual operations of a siege, see notes on Ezekiel 4:1, 2.) The buckler was the roof of shields under which the besiegers protected themselves from the missiles of the besieged. For engines of war, read battering-rams; for wheels, wagons. The final result will be that the breach will be made, with results such as those described in Ver. 1].
And he shall set engines of war against thy walls, and with his axes he shall break down thy towers.
By reason of the abundance of his horses their dust shall cover thee: thy walls shall shake at the noise of the horsemen, and of the wheels, and of the chariots, when he shall enter into thy gates, as men enter into a city wherein is made a breach.
With the hoofs of his horses shall he tread down all thy streets: he shall slay thy people by the sword, and thy strong garrisons shall go down to the ground.
Verse 11. - Thy strong garrisons; literally, the pillars of thy strength (Revised Version). So the Vulgate, nobiles statuae. So the word is used in Isaiah 19:19; Jeremiah 43:13; 2 Kings 3:2. The words probably refer to the two famous columns standing in the temple of the Tyrian Hercules, one of gold and one of emerald (possibly malachite or lapis-lazuli), as symbols of strength, or as pedestals surmounted by a statue of Baal (Herod., 2:44).
And they shall make a spoil of thy riches, and make a prey of thy merchandise: and they shall break down thy walls, and destroy thy pleasant houses: and they shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the water.
Verse 12. - Thy pleasant houses; Hebrew, houses of desire. The palaces of the merchant-princes of Tyro, stately as those of Genoa or Venice. In the midst of the water. We are again reminded that it is the island city of which the prophet speaks.
And I will cause the noise of thy songs to cease; and the sound of thy harps shall be no more heard.
Verse 13. - The noise of thy songs. As in the imagery, of Isaiah 23:16, Tyre seems to have been famous for its music - the operatic city, as it were, of the ancient world - eminent no less for its culture than its commerce (romp. Ezekiel 28:13). The description of the desolation of the captured city is summed up once more in the words of Ver. 5. It shall be a place to "spread nets upon."
And I will make thee like the top of a rock: thou shalt be a place to spread nets upon; thou shalt be built no more: for I the LORD have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD.
Thus saith the Lord GOD to Tyrus; Shall not the isles shake at the sound of thy fall, when the wounded cry, when the slaughter is made in the midst of thee?
Verse 15. - Shall not the isles, etc.? The Hebrew word is used in a wider sense, as including all settlements on the sea-coast as well as islands. So it is used of Philistia (Isaiah 20:6), and of the maritime states of Asia Minor (Daniel 11:18), of the east and south coasts of Arabia (Ezekiel 27:15). Looking to the extent of commerce described in Ezekiel 27, it probably includes all the Mediterranean settlements of the Tyrians, possibly also those in the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf. The report of the fall of Tyre was to spread far and wide.
Then all the princes of the sea shall come down from their thrones, and lay away their robes, and put off their broidered garments: they shall clothe themselves with trembling; they shall sit upon the ground, and shall tremble at every moment, and be astonished at thee.
Verse 16. - The princes of the sea are not the kings of the isles, but the merchant-princes of the city (Isaiah 23:8). They shall lay aside their robes of state - Tyrian purple embroidered with gold and silver - and shall put on the garments of mourners. Jonah 3:6 presents an interesting parallel. The word thrones is used, as in 1 Samuel 4:13, for any chair of state, as that of priest or judge (Proverbs 9:14; Esther 3:1), as well as for the specifically kingly throne. For the, most part, however, the later meaning is dominant.
And they shall take up a lamentation for thee, and say to thee, How art thou destroyed, that wast inhabited of seafaring men, the renowned city, which wast strong in the sea, she and her inhabitants, which cause their terror to be on all that haunt it!
Verse 17. - Inhabited of seafaring, etc.; Hebrew, from the seas. The sense is the same, but we lose the poetry of the original in the paraphrase. Possibly, however, the phrase may represent the position of Tyro as rising out of the sea or as deriving its wealth from it. Ewald adopts a conjectural reading, which gives "destroyed from the seas;" or, with another conjecture, "She that was settled from the days of the remote past."
Now shall the isles tremble in the day of thy fall; yea, the isles that are in the sea shall be troubled at thy departure.
Verse 18. - It is noticeable that the commercial policy of Tyre is not represented as having been oppressive. The isles do not exult in their deliverance, but mourn over the captured city whose commerce had contributed to their prosperity. The "terror" of Ver. 17 is rather the impression of awe and wonder made on all who came to it.
For thus saith the Lord GOD; When I shall make thee a desolate city, like the cities that are not inhabited; when I shall bring up the deep upon thee, and great waters shall cover thee;
Verse 19. - When I shall bring up the sea. The picture of desolation is completed. The sea washes over the bare rock that was once covered with the palaces of the merchant-princes.
When I shall bring thee down with them that descend into the pit, with the people of old time, and shall set thee in the low parts of the earth, in places desolate of old, with them that go down to the pit, that thou be not inhabited; and I shall set glory in the land of the living;
Verse 20. - When I shall bring thee down, etc. The pit is sheol, Hades, the unseen world of the dead. The image may have been suggested by Isaiah 14:9, where it is used of Babylon. It was obviously one on which the mind of Ezekiel dwelt, and is reproduced in Ezekiel 32:17-32. Here, apparently, the sinking in the depth of the waters (Ver. 19) is thought of as leading to that world of the dead that lay beneath them. The people of old time may possibly include the races of the old world that were submerged in the waters of the Flood. The imagery of Psalm 88:3-7 seems to have been floating before the prophet's mind. I shall set glory; better, will set. The contrast drawn is that between the shadow-world of the dead, and the earth with its living inhabitants. There Jehovah would establish his glory, would, sooner or later, manifest his kingdom, while Tyre and its pomp should be no more, belonging only to the past. Conjectural readings and renderings have been suggested as follows:
(1) Hitzig, "And thou no longer shinest with glory in the land of the living."
(2) Havernick and Kliefoth, "That I no longer produce anything glorious from thee in the land of the living."
(3) Ewald," That thou mayest not remain (or stand) in the laud of the living." I have adopted Keil's interpretation of the Anthorized Version.
I will make thee a terror, and thou shalt be no more: though thou be sought for, yet shalt thou never be found again, saith the Lord GOD.
Verse 21. - I will make thee a terror. Ewald translates, "To sudden death will I bring thee," which corresponds with the margin of the Revised Version, I will make thee a destruction.