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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 26

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 3416. B.C. 588.

The comparatively despicable nations of the Ammonites and Moabites on the south-east, Edomites on the south, and Philistines on the south-west, of Judea, received a short doom. Now Tyre, at that time the most famous city for trade in the world, receives a large one in this and the two subsequent chapters. Here, after the date of the prediction, is,

(1,) One cause of the Tyrians’ ruin; namely, their rejoicing in Jerusalem’s fall, in hopes of increasing their trade by it, Ezekiel 26:2 , Ezekiel 26:3 .

(2,) Their destruction, how terrible and complete! 4-6, Ezekiel 26:12-14 ; and to be effected by a prodigious and furious army of Chaldeans, Ezekiel 26:3 , Ezekiel 26:7-11 .

(3,) What surprise and alarm their desolations should give to the nations around, Ezekiel 26:15-21 .

Verse 1

Ezekiel 26:1. In the eleventh year, in the first day of the month By the eleventh year seems to be intended the eleventh of Jehoiachin’s captivity; for Ezekiel seems to reckon this time chiefly from that period. What month it was is not mentioned: some think the first month of the year is meant; others the first month after the taking of Jerusalem.

Verses 2-3

Ezekiel 26:2-3. Because that Tyrus hath said, Aha, she is broken, &c. The meaning seems to be, the city is broken, at whose gates the people entered in; that is, the place is demolished where there used to be a confluence of people from all parts, especially at the solemn festivals. She is turned unto me, I shall be replenished Tyre rejoiced at the fall of Jerusalem, because she expected her trade would be increased by it in becoming the mart for the commodities which, while Jerusalem stood, were bought and sold there. To which may be added, that when Jerusalem was taken, the spoil of the city was carried thither for sale, and several of the inhabitants who were made captives, were there sold as slaves. Therefore, behold, I am, against thee, O Tyrus The providence of God had greatly favoured Tyre: it was a pleasant and wealthy city, and might have continued so if its inhabitants had sympathized with Jerusalem in her calamities; but when, instead of that, they took pleasure in those calamities, and rejoiced at the fall of that neighbouring city, because of the gain which they thought would thereby accrue to them, they provoked the wrath of God against themselves, for he cannot but abhor the conduct of all such as take pleasure in the calamities of others. I will cause many nations to come up against thee, &c. The Chaldeans with their confederates might be very properly called many nations, as, without doubt, the army of Nebuchadnezzar, whose dominions were very extensive, was made up of the people of various nations. As the sea causeth his waves to come up “They shall be as loud, as numerous, as irresistible, as the waves of the sea. This is one of the beautiful and expressive images which occur in the magnificent prophecy here recorded.” Bishop Newcome. Great and victorious armies are described in other places of Scripture under the figure of an inundation carrying all before it.

Verses 4-6

Ezekiel 26:4-6. They shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, &c. The expressions of these verses signify that Tyre should be entirely demolished, and that the place where the city stood should be made as bare as the top of a rock, and that it should be employed to no other use but that of a desolate shore, the drying of the fishermen’s nets. Nebuchadnezzar quite demolished old Tyre, and the stones and rubbish of it were afterward made use of by Alexander, to carry on a causeway from the continent to the island where new Tyre stood, by which means he took that. This latter city is since so decayed, that there are no remains of it left but a few huts belonging to fishermen, who are in the habit of hanging out their nets to dry upon the rocks, as is related by travellers that have been upon the place. “The present inhabitants of Tyre.” says Maundrell, page 49, “are only a few poor wretches, harbouring themselves in the vaults, and subsisting chiefly upon fishing.” The Jesuit Hadrianus Parvillerius resided ten years in Syria; and the famous Huetius heard him say, that when he approached the ruins of Tyre, and beheld the rocks stretched forth to the sea, and the great stones scattered up and down on the shore, made clean and smooth by the sun, waves, and winds, and useful only for the drying of fishermen’s nets, many of which happened at the time to be spread on them, it brought to his memory this prophecy: see Newton on the prophecies, Diss. 11.; and note on Isaiah 23:1, &c. And her daughters shall be slain with the sword By the daughters of Tyre here are meant the lesser towns, which were under her jurisdiction as the mother city, or metropolis of the kingdom: the inhabitants of these would be slain with the sword.

Verses 7-11

Ezekiel 26:7-11. Behold, I will bring upon Tyrus Nebuchadrezzar Josephus asserts, upon the authority of the Phenician Annals, translated by Menander, the Ephesian, into Greek, “that Nebuchadnezzar besieged Tyre thirteen years, when Ithobal was king there, and began the siege in the seventh year of Ithobal’s reign, and that he subdued Syria and all Phenicia. It further appears from the Phenician Annals, quoted by the same historian, that the Tyrians received their kings afterward from Babylon. These Annals too, as Dr. Prideaux hath clearly shown, agree exactly with Ezekiel’s account of the time and year wherein the city was taken.” Bishop Newton. Nebuchadnezzar is here called king of kings, because he had several other kings under him as his vassals and tributaries. With horses and with chariots, &c. With a vast army, but all land forces; for we do not find that he had any naval force, or any means of attacking the place by sea, which made his undertaking the more difficult. He shall make a fort against thee, &c. The various operations and actions of a siege are here set forth, all which it is said Nebuchadnezzar should employ against Tyre. And in a siege of so long continuance as thirteen years, undoubtedly every method and art of annoying and injuring the city was made use of. By reason of the abundance of horses, &c. This is a lively description of the tumult and desolation that attend a conquering army making themselves masters of a great city. When he shall enter into thy gates, as men enter, &c. Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, had besieged Tyre, but without success: the Tyrians with a few ships had beaten his large fleet; (Josephus’s Antiq.;) but yet, it is here foretold, Nebuchadnezzar should prevail. Thy strong garrisons Or, thy strong fortresses, or, the fortresses of thy strength, as מצבות עזן rather signifies; shall go down to the ground Shall be entirely demolished, The LXX., however, render the clause, Την υποστασιν της ισχυος σου επι την γην καταξει , He shall bring down the station of thy strength, or, thy strong (that is, military) station to the ground. The Vulgate understands the expression of their images, or tutelary gods, rendering the words, Et statuæ nobiles in terram corruent, Thy famous statues shall fall to the ground.

Verses 12-14

Ezekiel 26:12-14. And they shall make a spoil of thy riches The Chaldean army shall hinder thy trade during the war, and plunder thee in the end of it. And make a prey of thy merchandise Of the fruit, or gains, of thy merchandise. And destroy thy pleasant houses The houses of thy desire, as the margin reads it, or, Thy desirable houses. And shall lay thy stones, &c ., in the midst of the water Shall cast thy ruins into the midst of the sea. And I will cause the noise of thy songs to cease All signs or indications of mirth shall cease from the midst of thee. Great cities are full of all kinds of gayety and luxury: this had been the case with Tyre, but it is here foretold that all this should be turned into a melancholy silence. I will make thee like the top of a rock See note on Ezekiel 26:4. Thou shalt be built no more This was fulfilled; for though the inhabitants built a new city, and called it New Tyre, yet it was situated in a quite different place, namely, on an island, at some distance from the continent on which the former city stood: see note on Isaiah 23:1. It was also fulfilled with respect to the new city, which “received a great blow from Alexander, not only by his taking and burning it, but much more by his building of Alexandria in Egypt, which in time deprived it of much of its trade, and thereby contributed more effectually to its ruin. It had the misfortune afterward of changing its masters often, being sometimes in the hands of the Ptolemies, kings of Egypt, and sometimes of the Seleucidæ, kings of Syria, till at length it fell under the dominion of the Romans. It was taken by the Saracens about the year of Christ 639, in the reign of Omar, their third emperor. It was retaken by the Christians, during the time of the holy war, in the year 1124: Baldwin, the second of that name, being then king of Jerusalem, and assisted by a fleet of the Venetians. From the Christians it was taken again, in the year 1289, by the Mamelukes of Egypt, under their sultan, Alphix, who sacked and razed this, and Zidon, and other strong towns, that they might not ever again afford any harbour or shelter to the Christians. From the Mamelukes it was again taken, in the year 1516, by Selim, the ninth emperor of the Turks, and under their dominion it continues at present. But, alas! how fallen! how changed from what it was formerly! for, from being the centre of trade, frequented by all the merchant ships of the east and west, it is now become a heap of ruins, visited only by the boats of a few poor fisher-men: see note on Ezekiel 26:4. So that as to this New Tyre, or this part of Tyre, the prophecy hath likewise been literally fulfilled: I will make thee like the top of a rock; thou shalt be a place to spread nets upon.” Bishop Newton.

Verses 15-18

Ezekiel 26:15-18. Shall not the isles shake at the sound of thy fall? All those that dwell upon the sea-coast near thee shall be thrown into a consternation at the news of thy being taken and destroyed. All the princes of the sea shall come down from their thrones All the princes and rich merchants (or the merchants who are as princes, as Isaiah speaks) of Zidon, Carthage, and other maritime cities that maintained a trade with Tyre, and got great wealth by that means, shall express a deep grief and concern for the fall of it. They shall clothe themselves with trembling With fear productive of trembling; or, they shall be afraid on every side, and full of fear and trembling. And they shall take up a lamentation for thee Shall bitterly bewail thy fall. Compare Revelation 18:9. And say, How art thou destroyed How totally and irrecoverably, thou who wast such a great, rich, splendid, and well-fortified city! The renowned city, which was strong in the sea Tyre is called the strength of the sea, (Isaiah 23:4,) being strong at sea, both by its situation and its great naval forces, upon which account it was formidable to all that had trading upon the sea. Now shall the isles tremble The Vulgate reads, Nunc stupebunt naves, Now shall the ships tremble, &c., that is, all seafaring men. Yea, the isles that are in the sea shall be troubled, &c. The description given here, and in the foregoing verses, of the lamentation of the neighbouring places, and of the merchants and seafaring people, at the fall of Tyre, is extremely pathetical. By thy departure here, the Chaldee understands the removal of the inhabitants of Tyre into captivity. But Houbigant and others explain it of their forsaking the city, and fleeing away in ships to Carthage, and other distant places.

Verses 19-21

Ezekiel 26:19-21. Thus saith the Lord, When I shall make thee a desolate city When I shall fulfil these predictions, and make thee what I now threaten to make thee; like the cities that are not inhabited Whose walls are broken down, and whose streets are all solitary. When I shall bring up the deep upon thee This may be understood either figuratively of Nebuchadnezzar’s army, or literally of the sea overflowing and covering a great part of the ancient seat of the city, in consequence of the walls and outworks thereof being demolished. And great waters shall cover thee Either, literally, the waters of the sea, or, metaphorically, great afflictions. When I shall bring thee down with them that descend into the pit When thou shalt be brought to utter desolation, like the cities which have been long buried in ruin and oblivion. The phrase of going down into the pit, (by which term is often signified the grave,) is frequently made use of in Scripture, to express the destruction of a person or place. Thus our Saviour says of Capernaum, (Luke 10:15,) Thou shall be thrust down to hell, or, rather, as it ought to be translated, into the state of the dead, that is, thou shall become desolate, or be no longer a city. With the people of old time With those who are now in entire oblivion, as those who lived in the first ages of the world now are. And shall set thee in the low parts of the earth Another description of the grave, from the situation and solitude of it; in places desolate of old Desolate from the beginning. And I shall set glory in the land of the living That is, when I shall reinstate Judea in glory again. Judea is called the land of the living, (which signifies, according to the genius of the Hebrew language, the land of happy men,) because that the inhabitants were assured of all blessings so long as they served God faithfully. The prophet here foretels that the city of Jerusalem, at whose destruction the inhabitants of Tyre had so greatly exulted, should be again rebuilt in the same place, and even attain to a height of reputation and glory, while the city of Tyre should remain a desolation. I will make thee a terror, and thou shall be no more Thou shall be left in the ruins of desolation, a terrible example of my vengeance. Though thou be sought for, yet shall thou never be found again A mode of expression this, which denotes an entire destruction: see notes on Ezekiel 26:4-5; Ezekiel 26:14.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Ezekiel 26". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/ezekiel-26.html. 1857.
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