Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Ch. 27. Dirge over the Downfall of Tyre
The lament represents Tyre under the figure of a gallant, richly-laden ship, steered by her pilots into dangerous waters and suffering shipwreck. The passage has three main divisions:
(1) Ezekiel 27:1-11. The ship, her timbers, furnishings and manning.
(2) Ezekiel 27:12-25. The wares and merchandise with which the nations lade her.
(3) Ezekiel 27:26-36. Her shipwreck: consternation of seafaring men (Ezekiel 27:26-31); their lament over her (Ezekiel 27:32-36).
The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
Now, thou son of man, take up a lamentation for Tyrus;Ezekiel 27:1-11. Tyre as a gallant ship
2. For the phrase “take up a lamentation” cf. Ezekiel 19:1, Ezekiel 26:17, Ezekiel 28:12, Ezekiel 32:2. The word is technical for the dirge.
And say unto Tyrus, O thou that art situate at the entry of the sea, which art a merchant of the people for many isles, Thus saith the Lord GOD; O Tyrus, thou hast said, I am of perfect beauty.3. entry of the sea] lit. entries, reference possibly being to the two harbours of Tyre, one of which was to the N.-E. of the island, called the Sidonian harbour, because looking towards Sidon; and the other on the S. or S.-E. of the island, the exact position of which is uncertain owing to the silting which has taken place. See plate in Rawlinson, Phœnicia, p. 71.
people for many isles] peoples unto many coasts, or, countries, cf. Ezekiel 27:3; Ezekiel 27:6; Ezekiel 27:15. Her traffic with the peoples extended to many and distant coastlands.
Thy borders are in the midst of the seas, thy builders have perfected thy beauty.4. borders … midst of the seas] lit. heart of the seas, a phrase which appears to mean not “far out at sea,” but, in the deep waters of the sea, ch. Ezekiel 28:2; Ezekiel 28:8; Exodus 15:8; Jonah 2:3; Psalm 46:2. The term “borders” seems to mean station, moorings (Ezekiel 27:25). The proud ship was conscious of her beauty. The ship is a figure for the maritime city, the mistress of trade, built upon an ocean rock, as if moored in the sea. The city was without doubt beautiful (ch. Ezekiel 28:12); a similar phrase is used of Jerusalem, Psalm 50:2 (Psalm 48:2); Lamentations 2:15.
Ezekiel 27:5-6 the ship’s timbers.
made thy ship boards] built thy planks. The word is dual, referring to the two ribs of the ship, corresponding to one another.
fir trees of Senir] Or, cypresses. The tree is mentioned as furnishing, along with the cedar, the principal material for building the Temple, 1 Kings 5:8. Senir was the Amorite name of Hermon, which the Sidonians called Sirion (Deuteronomy 3:9). According to Schrader (KAT. on Deuteronomy 3:9; 1 Kings 5:13) both names were used by the Assyrians. The name Hermon possibly signifies “sacred” mountain, being due to its ancient sanctuary. Senir, and Sirion, is supposed to mean “coat of mail.”
On “mast” cf. Isaiah 33:23. Whether an actual cedar was ever used to be the mast of “some great ammiral” may be uncertain; the prophet, though more exact than most prophets, is also a poet.
They have made all thy ship boards of fir trees of Senir: they have taken cedars from Lebanon to make masts for thee.
Of the oaks of Bashan have they made thine oars; the company of the Ashurites have made thy benches of ivory, brought out of the isles of Chittim.6. The oars of the great ship were made of oaks of Bashan; cf. Isaiah 2:13; Zechariah 11:2. The term “oars” occurs in another form, Ezekiel 27:27, but probably with no difference of meaning. The rest of Ezekiel 27:6 should read: thy deck they made of ivory (inlaid) in sherbin wood from the isles of Chittim (the words bath teasshur should no doubt be read bitheasshur, in theasshur). This tree is mentioned as growing in Lebanon, Isaiah 41:19; Isaiah 60:13; it is usually considered to be the tree called in Arabic sherbîn, a species of cedar. Others contend for box or larch. The term “deck” is literally “board,” e.g. of the boards of the sanctuary, Exodus 26:15 seq. Chittim is Cyprus, called after the town Kition (Larnaka), but probably the name embraced the coasts of Asia Minor and Greece or perhaps even of Italy (Daniel 11:30; 1Ma 1:1; 1Ma 8:5).
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.
The inhabitants of Zidon and Arvad were thy mariners: thy wise men, O Tyrus, that were in thee, were thy pilots.
The ancients of Gebal and the wise men thereof were in thee thy calkers: all the ships of the sea with their mariners were in thee to occupy thy merchandise.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).
They of Persia and of Lud and of Phut were in thine army, thy men of war: they hanged the shield and helmet in thee; they set forth thy comeliness.10. Her men of war.
Her mercenaries were drawn from all quarters of the world. The people called here “they of Persia” appears along with Cush and Phut, African peoples, in the army of Gog, ch. Ezekiel 38:5, in which, however, northern nations as Gomer and Togarmah are also mustered. The host of Gog includes the nations lying on the outskirts of the known world, and Persia might be named among them, though the first certain mention of that country is in Ezra 4:5; Ezra 9:9, &c. Others have thought here of some African people. Lud is named, ch. Ezekiel 30:5, along with Cush and Phut, as allies of Egypt (Jeremiah 46:9); and in Genesis 10:13 Ludim is the firstborn of Mizraim (Egypt). In Isaiah 66:19 Lud is named after Tarshish, and probably some people lying on the African coast, W. of Egypt, is referred to. Phut (Genesis 10:6) is son of Ham, and brother of Cush (Ethiopia), Mizraim (Egypt) and Canaan (Phœnicia). In Ezekiel 30:5 (Jeremiah 46:9; Nahum 3:9) the people is an ally of Egypt. LXX. renders Lybians. The inhabitants of western Egypt, or those on its western border may be referred to.
they hanged the shield] The great ship is still spoken of. A figure of a ship so adorned and dressed with weapons hung on its sides is given in Layard, Nineveh, ii. p. 388. The practice of hanging weapons on buildings was not unknown in Israel, Song of Solomon 4:4 (1Ma 4:57).
The men of Arvad with thine army were upon thy walls round about, and the Gammadims were in thy towers: they hanged their shields upon thy walls round about; they have made thy beauty perfect.11. with thine army] It is scarcely possible to render: men of Arvad, they were thine army. Some proper name seems required: the men of Arvad and of … Cornill conjectures Hethlon (Ezekiel 47:15, Ezekiel 48:1), others, Cilicia.
the Gammadims] A proper name is certainly to be expected, but no place, Gammad, is known. Some have suggested “they of Gomer,” but an adj. is not formed from Gomer; Corn., Zemarites, Genesis 10:18. Others take the word as an appellative: brave warriors.
Tarshish was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of all kind of riches; with silver, iron, tin, and lead, they traded in thy fairs.12. The name Tarshish (Tartessus) was given to the district of country lying outside the Straits of Gibraltar on the lower Baetis, the Guadalquiver (Wadi el Kebîr, great river).
with silver … in thy fairs] Rather apparently: silver … they brought as thy wares. There is no evidence that the word means “fairs;” in Ezekiel 27:27; Ezekiel 27:34 the things so named fall into the waters of the sea. The representation is that all things brought to Tyre were hers, the nations offered them to her as tribute (Ezekiel 27:15). Spain was famous for the metals mentioned; cf. for silver, Jeremiah 10:9. Probably Tarshish served as an entrepôt for such products found further north, as in the Cassiterides (Scilly Islands) and Cornwall.
12–25. The market of Tyre
Several things are to be observed in this passage: 1. The representation is not that Tyre is traded with by the nations, though this is the fact lying under the figures employed. The nations are not customers of Tyre. Tyre neither buys nor sells, nor does she exchange one article for another. The nations are her merchants, who bring to her wares from every land; or they are her dependents, and the merchandise which they bring is a tribute which they render her (Ezekiel 27:15). They are her subjects, ministering to her luxury, bringing wares to her, and enriching her. The counterpart to this idea is that she enriches many peoples by bestowing her wealth upon them (Ezekiel 27:33). 2. The passage is artistic. Two words are employed for “to trade,” “to be a merchant.” The words have little difference of sense and are generally used alternately, e.g. one word in Ezekiel 27:12; Ezekiel 27:15-16; Ezekiel 27:18; Ezekiel 27:21, the other in Ezekiel 27:13; Ezekiel 27:15; Ezekiel 27:17; Ezekiel 27:20; Ezekiel 27:22 seq. Two words also are used in the sense of wares or goods, though hardly differing in meaning. These also are used alternately so as to diversify the phraseology, e.g. the one in Ezekiel 27:12; Ezekiel 27:14; Ezekiel 27:16; Ezekiel 27:18; Ezekiel 27:22, the other in Ezekiel 27:13 (15), 17, 19, with other variants of the same sense. Gesen. attributed various senses to these words, as: 1, traffic, trading, 2, fair, market-place, and 3, gain, wealth. The words do not appear to differ in meaning, and neither of the two probably has any other sense than the general one of wares. 3. Again, the language is diversified by the adoption of a variety of constructions. The word “give,” which receives an extraordinary extension of usage in Ez. and in later Heb. in general (cf. its use in the Apocalypse), is employed in the sense of put, bring, render, &c. That it ever means to “sell” (Ges.) is without evidence. The various constructions employed are seen in Ezekiel 27:12; Ezekiel 27:22 (acc. and prep. b, cf Ezekiel 27:13; Ezekiel 27:17); in Ezekiel 27:16; Ezekiel 27:18 (double prep. b), and in Ezekiel 27:14 (double accus.). These different constructions probably all express the same general meaning.
There is much uncertainty in the text, e.g. for “sons of Dedan,” Ezekiel 27:15, LXX. reads, sons of the Rhodians, and for Aram (Syria) Ezekiel 27:16, Syriac reads Edom (so LXX. “man”), in both cases by interchange of the similar letters d and r. Ezekiel 27:19 is certainly out of order, and Ezekiel 27:24 exceedingly obscure. Owing to these obscurities the precise order followed in the enumeration of the nations is involved in some uncertainty. 1. vv, 12–14, the prophet names the nations lying in the widest circle around Tyre, beginning with the furthest west, Tarshish (Spain), and pursuing a line along the north, Javan (Ionia), Tubal (N. of Asia Minor), and Togarmah (Armenia). 2. If Rhodians be read in Ezekiel 27:15, a narrower circle of the Mediterranean coasts would be described. 3. Ezekiel 27:16-19, if Edom be read for Aram, the line traced is from S. to N., along the eastern trade route, Edom, Judah, Damascus. 4. In Ezekiel 27:19 Uzal seems certainly to be the name of a place (A.V. “going to and fro”) in the S. of Arabia, the other names are Arabian, Dedan, Kedar, Sheba and Raamah. 5. The names in Ezekiel 27:23 seq. are more obscure, and it is not certain whether this be the previous line carried further N. or a new line.
Javan, Tubal, and Meshech, they were thy merchants: they traded the persons of men and vessels of brass in thy market.13. These three countries, Javan, Tubal and Meshech are usually named together, Genesis 10:2; Ezekiel 32:26; Ezekiel 38:2; Ezekiel 39:1; Isaiah 66:19. The first is the Ionians, the Greeks of Asia Minor, and the two last have usually been identified with the Moschi and Tibareni, lying to the S. and S.E. of the Black Sea. Copper and “souls of men” i.e. slaves, form the contribution of these countries. That Javan traded in slaves appears from Joel 4:6; cf. Amos 1:6; Amos 1:9.
they traded … in thy market] they brought as thy wares souls of men, &c. The nations are the servants of Tyre, and what they bring is her wares.
They of the house of Togarmah traded in thy fairs with horses and horsemen and mules.14. house of Togarmah] Usually supposed to be Armenia or part of it. Togarmah lay in the extreme N. of the world known to the prophet, and the people appears in the army of Gog with other nations from the ends of the earth (ch. Ezekiel 38:6; cf. Genesis 10:2). Others think of Phrygia or Cappadocia. All these countries were noted for breeding horses.
traded in thy fairs with horses] brought as thy wares, or, commodities, horses, &c. Horsemen can hardly have been an article of traffic; if the word be original war horses may be intended; 2 Samuel 1:6. The ancients did not use the horse for labour. LXX. omits mules, a somewhat similar word, and possibly (as Corn, conjectures) only two words should be read: horses and mules.
The men of Dedan were thy merchants; many isles were the merchandise of thine hand: they brought thee for a present horns of ivory and ebony.15. men of Dedan] lit. sons of Dedan; LXX. sons of the Rhodians (r being read for d, as often). Dedan occurs again Ezekiel 27:20, in connexion with Arabian tribes, and in Ezekiel 25:13 it appears to be placed S. of Edom, being either part of that country or bordering on it (cf. Jeremiah 49:8; Jeremiah 25:23; Isaiah 21:13). Here, however, Dedan is connected with coast lands and must be another. Hence it has usually been placed on the Persian Gulf. Ivory and ebony, the articles in which it traded, might be Indian products. On the other hand the Phœnicians certainly had colonies in Rhodes; and if Rhodians were the true reading the “isles” would be the coasts of the Mediterranean.
merchandise of thine hand] If “merchandise” be the right reading the abstract term is used for “merchants.” The phrase “of thy hand” means under thee, doing thy service, cf. Ezekiel 27:21.
horns of ivory] Tusks of elephants, so called from their resemblance to horns. Ebony, the other article referred to, was brought from India and Ethiopia. The African ebony was most esteemed. If Rhodians be read reference would be to the traffic between Phœnicia and the interior of Africa, the intermediaries of which were Rhodes and the sea-coasts of the Mediterranean. Rawlin. (Phœnicia, p. 287) mentions that many objects in ivory have been found in Cyprus.
brought thee for a present. Rather: horns of ivory … they rendered to thee as tribute, lit. rendered as thy tribute. Tyre is the mistress to whom the nations are subject, and the merchandise they bring is a tribute which they render to her.
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.
Judah, and the land of Israel, they were thy merchants: they traded in thy market wheat of Minnith, and Pannag, and honey, and oil, and balm.17. Judah and the land of Israel furnished Tyre with wheat, honey, oil and balsam.
traded in thy market wheat] they brought as thy wares wheat. Minnith is supposed to be the Ammonitish place of that name (Jdg 11:33). There is something unnatural, however, in Judah and Israel bringing an Ammonitish product to Tyre. It is their own productions that the nations bring, or at least the articles are assumed to be their own. LXX. renders “ointments;” and Corn, conjectures “spices” (Genesis 43:11; Isaiah 39:2; 2 Kings 20:13). The term “pannag” is otherwise unknown; R.V. marg. suggests a kind of confection (Targ.), while Corn, conjectures “wax” (donag). The “honey” referred to is no doubt that of bees, not grape honey. The “balm” mentioned, a product of Gilead (Jeremiah 8:22), and of Palestine (Genesis 43:11), was not the genuine balm, which was peculiar to Arabia, but an odoriferous resin (LXX. Vulg.) exuding from the mastix tree (Pistaccia lentiscus).
Damascus was thy merchant in the multitude of the wares of thy making, for the multitude of all riches; in the wine of Helbon, and white wool.18. wares of thy making] the multitude of thy works, i.e. the works done for Tyre, all of which are hers.
multitude of all riches] or, because of every kind of riches.
wine of Helbon] This is repeatedly mentioned as a choice wine in the Assyrian inscriptions (Schrad. KAT. p. 425). The Persian kings also preferred it on their table. Cf. Hosea 14:7, Song of Solomon 8:11. The place is identified with Chalbûn, N.E. of Damascus.
white wool] Possibly, wool of Zachar, though a place of this name is unknown.
Dan also and Javan going to and fro occupied in thy fairs: bright iron, cassia, and calamus, were in thy market.19. Daniel also and Javan] This is certainly incorrect; none of the verses begins with and or also, and any reference to Dan is out of the question. The word rendered “going to and fro” was translated by Ges. “spun,” i.e. yarn (and so R.V.): Wedan and Javan brought as thy wares yarn. The word is more probably a proper name and to be rendered from Uzal. Uzal (Genesis 10:27) is supposed to be identical with San‘âa, the capital of Yemen in S. Arabia. LXX. omits wedan and for Javan reads “wine” (a similar word). The text is probably in disorder. In all other cases the phrase “brought as thy wares” ends the verse, and possibly the first words of Ezekiel 27:19 should be attached to Ezekiel 27:18. So LXX. which reads Ezekiel 27:19, “from Uzal (Azel) came wrought-iron” &c. Corn. follows LXX., supplying all the words after Helbon out of the Assyrian wine lists: wine of Helbon and Zimin and Arnaban they brought to thy market. From Uzal came wrought iron &c. As the verse stands it may read: “Wedan and Javan of Uzal furnished thy wares; bright iron, cassia and calamus were among thy goods”—though the most serious objections occur to the rendering. The “bright iron” may refer to sword blades, for which Yemen was famous. The calamus or sweet cane (Jeremiah 6:20; Isaiah 43:24) supplied one of the ingredients of the holy oil for anointing the priests (Exodus 30:23-24), and so did the cassia.
Dedan was thy merchant in precious clothes for chariots.20. On Dedan cf. Ezekiel 27:15; Genesis 25:3; Ezekiel 25:13.
precious clothes for chariots] Or, saddle cloths for riding.
Arabia, and all the princes of Kedar, they occupied with thee in lambs, and rams, and goats: in these were they thy merchants.21. occupied with thee] Lit. were the merchants of thy hand, i.e. serving thee. Cf. Isaiah 60:7, “all the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered unto thee.” The Arab nomads were rich in flocks. Kedar (Genesis 25:13, second son of Ishmael) was an important people toward the N. of Arabia. In Isaiah 60:7 they are named along with the Nabatheans; in Jeremiah 49:28 they are threatened with destruction by Nebuchadnezzar, as they were threatened at an earlier time with an attack from the Assyrians (Isaiah 21:16). Outside of scripture they are mentioned first in the inscriptions of Assurbanipal (667–626 b.c.), where they are represented as dwelling between the gulf of Akaba and Babylon. Cf. the ref. Jeremiah 2:10.
The merchants of Sheba and Raamah, they were thy merchants: they occupied in thy fairs with chief of all spices, and with all precious stones, and gold.22. merchants of Sheba] The abode of this people was in the S.W. of Arabia, the ruins of their capital Marib still remain, six days’ journey E. of San‘âa, the capital of Yemen. Their caravans (Job 6:19) traded to Syria and other countries with gold, precious stones and aromatics (1 Kings 10:2; 1 Kings 10:10; Isaiah 60:6; Jeremiah 6:20; Psalm 72:10; Psalm 72:15).
occupied in thy fairs] they brought chief of all spices … as thy wares. Raamah was son of Cush and father of Sheba and Dedan (Genesis 10:7). Raamah probably lay on the Persian Gulf.
Haran, and Canneh, and Eden, the merchants of Sheba, Asshur, and Chilmad, were thy merchants.23. The places named may be regarded as an extension of the line from S. to N. in Ezekiel 27:19-22, though the names are given rather in the order W. to E. Harran in Mesopotamia, two days’ journey S.E. of Edessa, on a branch of the Euphrates, was a sacred city and place of pilgrimage, and also an emporium of trade. The defeat of Crassus by the Parthians took place there. Canneh may be Calneh (Genesis 10:10; Amos 6:2), otherwise Calno (Isaiah 10:9), a city in Babylonia. Its site has not been identified. Von Gutschmidt (Ency. Brit., art. Phœnicia) identifies Canneh with Cænæ. Eden, spelled somewhat differently from the Eden of Paradise, is elsewhere named in connexion with Haran, Isaiah 37:12 (2 Kings 19:12), and said to be in Telassar (Tel Asshur).
the merchants of Sheba] It is strange that these should be mentioned again (Ezekiel 27:22). For “Eden … Sheba” LXX. reads: these were thy merchants, i.e. Haran and Canneh. It has been supposed that the merchants of Sheba frequented the fairs of Haran and thence made their way westward along the trade route to Phenicia.
Asshur and Chilmad] LXX. reads and between the words. Asshur if taken in its usual sense would be Assyria. Others think of Sura, or Essurieh, on the Euphrates. G. Smith conjectured that Chilmad was Kalwâdha near Bagdad. LXX. renders Charman, which suggests Caramania. The rendering: “Asshur was as thine apprentice in traffic” (Hitz. Corn.), besides being a conceit, misses the whole idea of the chapter.
These were thy merchants in all sorts of things, in blue clothes, and broidered work, and in chests of rich apparel, bound with cords, and made of cedar, among thy merchandise.24. The first half of the verse may read: These were thy merchants with splendid apparel, cloaks of purple and broidered work. The second half is obscure owing to the occurrence of some words not found elsewhere.
in chests of rich apparel] The term rendered “chests” occurs Esther 3:9; Esther 4:7 in the sense of “treasures,” from root to hide, lay up, a sense common to all the dialects. In Eth. it means to wind in grave-clothes for purposes of burial, but has no special reference to clothing or textile fabrics. The sense “chests” is without evidence. A term virtually the same as that rendered “rich apparel” occurs in Assyrian of stuffs for clothing (Schr. KAT. pp. 213–16); and a similar word is used of the night heavens, according to Jensen (Babylonian Cosmog. p. 6 seq.) from the mixed colour, blue-gray. It appears used of fabrics woven of differently coloured materials.
bound with cords] This would refer to the “chests,” but this is not probable. More likely: with cords twined and durable, the “cords” themselves being the article of commerce. “Cords” can hardly be thread. The rendering “made of cedar” is altogether unlikely, some sense like strong, firm or durable is more probable. The cords were probably of wool as well as of flax, of divers colours, and used for fastening hangings or other purposes, Esther 1:6. The Babylonian weaving was very celebrated, cf. Ezekiel 16:10, Ezekiel 23:6, also the “Babylonish garment,” Joshua 7:21.
The ships of Tarshish did sing of thee in thy market: and thou wast replenished, and made very glorious in the midst of the seas.25. The “ships of Tarshish” here are deep-sea ships, great ships trading to the most distant coasts, Isaiah 2:16; Psalm 48:7.
did sing of thee] For this Ges. suggested “were thy caravans” from a verb signifying to travel (Isaiah 57:9). The camel has been called the ship of the desert, but conversely to call an east indiaman a caravan is too brilliant for the prophet. Probably by a slight change of reading: the ships of Tarshish did serve thee with (in) thy wares (Ezekiel 27:13; Ezekiel 27:17 &c.), cf. Isaiah 60:9-10, and above Ezekiel 27:9. So Aquila (Field).
made very glorious] Rather: and wast heavily laden. The figure of a mistress served by all nations, who bring wares and riches to her from all lands, passes here again into the idea of the vessel deeply laden with cargo, and therefore more easily shipwrecked and broken in dangerous waters.
Thy rowers have brought thee into great waters: the east wind hath broken thee in the midst of the seas.26–31. The vessel steered by her pilots into dangerous waters, is shipwrecked and her cargo and crew cast into the sea (Ezekiel 27:26-27). Dismay and lamentation of all seafaring men (Ezekiel 27:28-31)
26. The allegory does not need interpretation. How far her statesmen precipitated the fall of Tyre is unknown; it was the east-wind that broke her in the heart of the sea—a force above that of men (Psalm 48:7).
Thy riches, and thy fairs, thy merchandise, thy mariners, and thy pilots, thy calkers, and the occupiers of thy merchandise, and all thy men of war, that are in thee, and in all thy company which is in the midst of thee, shall fall into the midst of the seas in the day of thy ruin.27. and thy fairs] thy wares. The verse is interesting for the enumeration which it gives both of the crew and cargo. The cargo is described in three words: riches, wares and merchandise—the last two words meaning the same thing virtually, though differing in shade of idea. The verse shews that any such rendering as “fair,” “market” for these terms cannot be sustained, the things are here said to fall into the heart of the seas, cf. Ezekiel 27:33-34. The crew consists of (1) sailors, (2) pilots, (3) calkers (carpenters), (4) handlers of the wares, and (5) men of war.
and in all thy company] even all thy.
The suburbs shall shake at the sound of the cry of thy pilots.28. the suburbs] According to tradition (Baer, Ezek.) the term here is differently pointed from that rendered “suburbs,” e.g. ch. Ezekiel 45:2. The latter term means the free space surrounding a city or building. If the sense of the present word were the same reference would be to the lands or coasts in the vicinity of Tyre, a sense far from natural. Jerome conjectured “fleets” (Ew.). In Isaiah 57:20 the verb describes the violent action of the waters of the sea (Amos 8:8), and A. V. marg. suggests waves here—the waves shall quake at the cry of thy pilots.
And all that handle the oar, the mariners, and all the pilots of the sea, shall come down from their ships, they shall stand upon the land;29. All seafaring men raise a lamentation over the shipwreck of the gallant vessel.
And shall cause their voice to be heard against thee, and shall cry bitterly, and shall cast up dust upon their heads, they shall wallow themselves in the ashes:30. heard against thee] over thee. On first sign of sorrow cf. Job 2:12, and on second Jeremiah 6:26; Micah 1:10; Esther 4:1.
And they shall make themselves utterly bald for thee, and gird them with sackcloth, and they shall weep for thee with bitterness of heart and bitter wailing.31. For these signs of grief cf. ch. Ezekiel 7:18; Isaiah 15:2; Isaiah 22:12; Jeremiah 16:16; Jeremiah 47:5; Micah 1:16.
And in their wailing they shall take up a lamentation for thee, and lament over thee, saying, What city is like Tyrus, like the destroyed in the midst of the sea?32–36. Lament over Tyre
The lament appears to be in elegiac metre. The word “wailing” is a contracted form (ni = nehi).
What city] Rather: who is like Tyre.
like the destroyed] The form is very obscure, but nothing better has been proposed.
When thy wares went forth out of the seas, thou filledst many people; thou didst enrich the kings of the earth with the multitude of thy riches and of thy merchandise.33. thy wares went forth] i.e. when they were landed from the sea on many shores many peoples were filled, cf. Isaiah 23:3 (R.V.).
In the time when thou shalt be broken by the seas in the depths of the waters thy merchandise and all thy company in the midst of thee shall fall.34. the time when thou shalt be] Rather: what time thou art broken; or with further change of points: now art thou broken from the seas … thy merchandise … are fallen. The reading “time” is difficult, though cf. Jeremiah 2:17.
All the inhabitants of the isles shall be astonished at thee, and their kings shall be sore afraid, they shall be troubled in their countenance.
The merchants among the people shall hiss at thee; thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt be any more.36. among the people] peoples. “Hiss” here is hardly the expression of malicious joy, rather of astonishment and dismay, or other vivid emotion, 1 Kings 9:8.
shalt be a terror] lit. terrors, i.e. destructions—thou shalt be utterly destroyed, cf. Ezekiel 26:21.