Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
Eze 27:1-36. Tyre's Former Greatness, Suggesting a Lamentation over Her Sad Downfall.
Now, thou son of man, take up a lamentation for Tyrus;
2. lamentation—a funeral dirge, eulogizing her great attributes, to make the contrast the greater between her former and her latter state.
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. situate at the entry of the sea—literally, plural, "entrances," that is, ports or havens; referring to the double port of Tyre, at which vessels entered round the north and south ends of the island, so that ships could find a ready entrance from whatever point the wind might blow (compare Eze 28:2).
merchant of … people for many isles—that is, a mercantile emporium of the peoples of many seacoasts, both from the east and from the west (Isa 23:3), "a mart of nations."
of perfect beauty—(Eze 28:12).
Thy borders are in the midst of the seas, thy builders have perfected thy beauty.
4. Tyre, in consonance with her seagirt position, separated by a strait of half a mile from the mainland, is described as a ship built of the best material, and manned with the best mariners and skilful pilots, but at last wrecked in tempestuous seas (Eze 27:26).
They have made all thy ship boards of fir trees of Senir: they have taken cedars from Lebanon to make masts for thee.
5. Senir—the Amorite name of Hermon, or the southern height of Anti-libanus (De 3:9); the Sidonian name was Sirion. "All thy … boards"; dual in Hebrew, "double-boards," namely, placed in a double order on the two sides of which the ship consisted [Vatablus]. Or, referring to the two sides or the two ends, the prow and the stern, which every ship has [Munster].
cedars—most suited for "masts," from their height and durability.
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. Bashan—celebrated for its oaks, as Lebanon was for its cedars.
the company of … Ashurites—the most skilful workmen summoned from Assyria. Rather, as the Hebrew orthography requires, "They have made thy (rowing) benches of ivory inlaid in the daughter of cedars" [Maurer], or, the best boxwood. Fairbairn, with Bochart, reads the Hebrew two words as one: "Thy plankwork (deck: instead of 'benches,' as the Hebrew is singular) they made ivory with boxes." English Version, with Maurer's correction, is simpler.
Chittim—Cyprus and Macedonia, from which, Pliny tells us, the best boxwood came [Grotius].
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. broidered … sail—The ancients embroidered their sails often at great expense, especially the Egyptians, whose linen, still preserved in mummies, is of the finest texture.
Elishah—Greece; so called from Elis, a large and ancient division of Peloponnesus. Pausanias says that the best of linen was produced in it, and in no other part of Greece; called by Homer, Alisium.
that which covered thee—thy awning.
The inhabitants of Zidon and Arvad were thy mariners: thy wise men, O Tyrus, that were in thee, were thy pilots.
8. Arvad—a small island and city near Ph�nicia, now Ruad: its inhabitants are still noted for seafaring habits.
thy wise men, O Tyrus … thy pilots—While the men of Arvad, once thy equals (Ge 10:18), and the Sidonians, once thy superiors, were employed by thee in subordinate positions as "mariners," thou madest thine own skilled men alone to be commanders and pilots. Implying the political and mercantile superiority of Tyre.
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. Gebal—a Ph�nician 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.
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. Persia … Phut—warriors from the extreme east and west.
Lud—the Lydians of Asia Minor, near the Meander, famed for archery (Isa 66:19); rather than those of Ethiopia, as the Lydians of Asia Minor form a kind of intermediate step between Persia and Phut (the Libyans about Cyrene, shielded warriors, Jer 46:9, descended from Phut, son of Ham).
hanged … shield … comeliness—Warriors hanged their accoutrements on the walls for ornament. Divested of the metaphor, it means that it was an honor to thee to have so many nations supplying thee with hired soldiers.
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. Gammadims—rather, as the Tyrians were Syro-Ph�nicians, from a Syriac root, meaning daring, "men of daring" [Ludovicus De Dieu]. It is not likely the keeping of watch "in the towers" would have been entrusted to foreigners. Others take it from a Hebrew root, "a dagger," or short sword (Jud 3:16), "short-swordsmen."
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. Tarshish—Tartessus in Spain, a country famed for various metals, which were exported to Tyre. Much of the "tin" probably was conveyed by the Ph�nicians from Cornwall to Tarshish.
traded in thy fairs—"did barter with thee" [Fairbairn]; from a root, "to leave," something left in barter for something else.
Javan, Tubal, and Meshech, they were thy merchants: they traded the persons of men and vessels of brass in thy market.
13. Javan—the Ionians or Greeks: for the Ionians of Asia Minor were the first Greeks with whom the Asiatics came in contact.
Tubal … Meshech—the Tibareni and Moschi, in the mountain region between the Black and Caspian Seas.
persons of men—that is, as slaves. So the Turkish harems are supplied with female slaves from Circassia and Georgia.
vessels—all kinds of articles. Superior weapons are still manufactured in the Caucasus region.
They of the house of Togarmah traded in thy fairs with horses and horsemen and mules.
14. Togarmah—Armenia: descended from Gomer (Ge 10:3). Their mountainous region south of the Caucasus was celebrated for horses.
horsemen—rather, "riding-horses," as distinct from "horses" for chariots [Fairbairn].
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. Dedan—near the Persian Sea: thus an avenue to the commerce of India. Not the Dedan in Arabia (Eze 27:20), as the names in the context here prove, but the Dedan sprung from Cush [Bochart], (Ge 10:7).
merchandise of thine hand—that is, were dependent on thee for trade [Fairbairn]; came to buy the produce of thy hands [Grotius].
a present—literally, "a reward in return"; a price paid for merchandise.
horns of ivory—Ivory is so termed from its resemblance to horns. The Hebrew word for "ivory" means "tooth"; so that they cannot have mistaken ivory as if coming from the horns of certain animals, instead of from the tusks of the elephant.
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. "Syria was thy mart for the multitude," &c. For "Syria" the Septuagint reads "Edom." But the Syrians were famed as merchants.
occupied—old English for "traded"; so in Lu 19:13.
agate—Others translate, "ruby," "chalcedony," or "pearls."
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. Minnith … Pannag—names of places in Israel famed for good wheat, wherewith Tyre was supplied (1Ki 5:9, 11; Ezr 3:7; Ac 12:20); Minnith was formerly an Ammonite city (Jud 11:33). "Pannag" is identified by Grotius with "Phenice," the Greek name for "Canaan." "They traded … wheat," that is, they supplied thy market with wheat.
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. Helbon—or Chalybon, in Syria, now Aleppo; famed for its wines; the Persian monarchs would drink no other.
Dan also and Javan going to and fro occupied in thy fairs: bright iron, cassia, and calamus, were in thy market.
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.
Dedan was thy merchant in precious clothes for chariots.
20. Dedan—in Arabia; distinct from the Dedan in Eze 27:15 (see on Eze 27:15). Descended from Abraham and Keturah (Ge 25:3) [Bochart].
precious clothes—splendid coverlets.
Arabia, and all the princes of Kedar, they occupied with thee in lambs, and rams, and goats: in these were they thy merchants.
21. Arabia—the nomadic tribes of Arabia, among which Kedar was pre-eminent.
occupied with thee—literally, "of thy hand," that is, they traded with thee for wares, the product of thy hand (see on Eze 27:15, 16).
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. Sheba … Raamah—in Arabia.
chief of … spices—that is, best spices (De 33:15). Obtained from India and conveyed in caravans to Tyre.
Haran, and Canneh, and Eden, the merchants of Sheba, Asshur, and Chilmad, were thy merchants.
23. Haran—the dwelling-place of Abraham in Mesopotamia, after he moved from Ur (Ge 11:31).
Canneh—Calneh, an Assyrian city on the Tigris; the Ctesiphon of the Greeks (Ge 10:10).
Eden—probably a region in Babylonia (see Ge 2:8).
Chilmad—a compound; the place designated by Ptolemy "Gaala of Media." The Chaldee version interprets it of Media. Henderson refers it to Carmanda, which Xenophon describes as a large city beyond the Euphrates.
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. all sorts of things—Hebrew, "perfections"; exquisite articles of finery [Grotius].
clothes—rather, "mantles" or "cloaks"; literally, "wrappings." For "blue," Henderson translates, "purple."
chests of rich apparel, bound with cords—treasures or repositories of damask stuffs, consisting of variegated threads woven together in figures [Henderson].
cedar—The "chests" were made of cedar, in order to last the longer; and it also keeps off decay and has a sweet odor.
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. sing of thee—personification; thy great merchant ships were palpable proofs of thy greatness. Others translate from a different Hebrew root, "were thy (mercantile) travellers." Fairbairn translates, "Were thy walls." But the parallelism to "thou wast glorious" favors English Version, "sing of thee."
Thy rowers have brought thee into great waters: the east wind hath broken thee in the midst of the seas.
26. In contrast to her previous greatness, her downfall is here, by a sudden transition, depicted under the image of a vessel foundering at sea.
east wind—blowing from Lebanon, the most violent wind in the Mediterranean (Ps 48:7). A Levanter, as it is called. Nebuchadnezzar is meant. The "sea" is the war with him which the "rowers," or rulers of the state vessel, had "brought" it into, to its ruin.
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. The detailed enumeration implies the utter completeness of the ruin.
and in all thy company—"even with all thy collected multitude" [Henderson].
The suburbs shall shake at the sound of the cry of thy pilots.
28. The suburbs—the buildings of Tyre on the adjoining continent.
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. So on the downfall of spiritual Babylon (Re 18:17, &c.).
shall stand upon … land—being cast out of their ships in which heretofore they prided themselves.
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. against thee—rather, "concerning thee."
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. utterly bald—literally, "bald with baldness." The Ph�nician custom in mourning; which, as being connected with heathenish superstitions, was forbidden to Israel (De 14:1).
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. take up—lift up.
the destroyed—a destroyed one. Literally, (as opposed to its previous bustle of thronging merchants and mariners, Eze 27:27), "one brought to death's stillness."
in … midst of … sea—insular Tyre.
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. out of the seas—brought on shore out of the ships.
filledst—didst supply plentifully with wares.
enrich … kings—with the custom dues levied on the wares.
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. In the time when … shall … shall—Now that thou art broken (wrecked) … thy merchandise … are fallen [Maurer].
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. hiss—with astonishment; as in 1Ki 9:8.