Ezekiel 27:19
Dan also and Javan going to and fro occupied in your fairs: bright iron, cassia, and calamus, were in your market.
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(19) Dan also and Javan.—This is the only instance in this enumeration in which the name of a people is introduced with a conjunction. Besides this structural difficulty, there seems no appropriateness in the name Dan, a tribe of Israel long since carried into captivity. The city Dan was of quite too little prominence to be mentioned here. It is probable, therefore, that what our translators have taken for the conjunction is really a part of the name Vedan, a place in Arabia not elsewhere mentioned, but which some suppose to be Aden. Javan does not here stand for Greece, but for an Arabian place or tribe, which there is reason to think is Yemen.

Going to and fro.—The margin is better, Menzal, or rather—the first letter being a preposition—front Uzal, the ancient Sanaa, afterwards the capital of Yemen. Yemen was famous for its sword-blades, which may be meant by the bright (literally, wrought) iron, and also for its spices brought from India.

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.Dan also - Hebrew Vedan, a place in Arabia, not elsewhere mentioned.

Going to and fro - Better as in the margin, a proper name, "Meuzal," or rather, "from Uzal" which was the ancient name of Senaa the capital of Yemen in Arabia. Greek merchants would carry on commerce between Uzal and Tyre.

Bright iron - literally, "wrought iron;" iron worked into plates smooth and polished. Yemen was famous for the manufacture of sword-blades.

Cassia - The inner bark of an aromatic plant.

Calamus - A fragrant reed-like plant (see Exodus 30:23-24). Both are special products of India and Arabia.

19. Dan also—None of the other places enumerated commence with the copula ("also"; Hebrew, ve). Moreover, the products specified, "cassia, calamus," apply rather to places in Arabia. Therefore, Fairbairn translates, "Vedan"; perhaps the modern Aden, near the straits of Bab-el-man-deb. Grotius refers it to Dana, mentioned by Ptolemy.

Javan—not the Greeks of Europe or Asia Minor, but of a Greek settlement in Arabia.

going to and fro—rather, as Hebrew admits, "from Uzal." This is added to "Javan," to mark which Javan is meant (Ge 10:27). The metropolis of Arabia Felix, or Yemen; called also Sanaa [Bochart]. English Version gives a good sense, thus: All peoples, whether near as the Israelite "Dan," or far as the Greeks or "Javan," who were wont to "go to and fro" from their love of traffic, frequented thy marts, bringing bright iron, &c., these products not being necessarily represented as those of Dan or Javan.

bright iron—Yemen is still famed for its sword blades.

calamus—aromatic cane.

If it were the tribe of Dan, it must be understood of a time before the captivity of the ten tribes; but there is a learned man tells us of Dana a city of Taprobana, or the island Zeilan mentioned by Ptolemy, and this learned man will have this meant.

Javan; not Javan or Greece, saith that learned man, but another Javan in the isle Meroe in remote parts of Egypt, where is a principal town Uzal, or Asel, from whence these merchants came, and therefore styled Javan of Uzal, or Jayan Meuzal. And if the cassia or calamus, mentioned in the verse, were the wares brought in by the Danites and Javanites, I should go as far as Meroe and Taprobana to send them; but if the cassia and calamus were brought up at Tyre, I would believe they lived nearer, that they were Grecian pedlars, or in a northern dialect merchants, that bought them, and were meant in the text.

Bright iron; polished, as we see now an art, which so much betters the common sort of iron, and refines it, that it is of great value.

Cassia and calamus are sweet drugs. Dan also and Javan, going to and fro, occupied in thy fairs,.... Either the inhabitants of the tribe of Dan in general; or of Laish, sometime called Dan, and in later times Caesarea Philippi, which was in that tribe: though Grotius thinks that Taprobane, or the isle of Zeilan, is meant, where, and not in Dan, were the things after mentioned, in plenty; and where also, according to Ptolemy (t), was a city called Dana or Dagana: and Bochart takes Javan not to be Greece, but a people of a country in Arabia, the metropolis of which was Uzal; and so he renders it, as some of the Greek versions do, Javan of Uzal, or Asel, to distinguish it from the other Javan, Ezekiel 27:13, where also, and not in Greece, the sweet spices grew, which these are said to trade in:

bright iron, cassia, and calamus, were in thy market; brought from the above places; polished iron or steel, and the sweet spices of cassia and calamus, or the aromatic cane or reed, which came from afar, Jeremiah 6:20.

(t) Geograph. l. 7. c. 4.

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.Verse 19. - Dan also; Hebrew, Vedan. The Authorized Version, following the Vulgate, takes the first syllable as the common conjunction "and;" but no other verse in the chapter begins in this way, and the Revised Version is probably right in giving the Hebrew word as its stands. Dan, it may be added, was hardly likely to have been singled out of all the tribes after the mention of Judah and Israel, especially as it had shared in the exile of the ten tribes. Smend identifies it with Waddan, between Mecca and Medina, or with Aden. Javan, too. already named in Ver. 13, can scarcely here be Greece, though it may possibly refer to Greek traders. It also has been identified conjecturally with an Arabian city. The words, going to and fro, have been rendered "from Uzal" (Genesis 10:27), the ancient name of the capital of Yemen, in Arabia; or, as in the Revised Version, with yarn. The bright iron describes the steel used for sword-blades, for which Yemen was famous. Cassia (Exodus 30:24; Psalm 45:8) and calamus (Exodus 30:23; Song of Solomon 4:14) both belong to the class of perfumes for which Arabia was famous. It is probably the Acorns fragraas, the "sweet cane" of Isaiah 43:24; Jeremiah 6:20. The 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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