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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 28

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


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

In this chapter we have,

(1,) A prediction of singular disgrace and ruin to the king of Tyrus, by the Chaldeans, to punish his singular pride and high conceit of his own wisdom, dignity, and wealth, Ezekiel 28:1-10 .

(2,) A lamentation over him, thus astonishingly fallen from his grandeur, Ezekiel 28:11-19 .

(3,) A prediction of ruin to Zidon, a neighbouring city of Tyrus, and from which she had originated, Ezekiel 28:20-23 .

(4,) A promise of the restoration and safety of Israel, after the captivity in Babylon and present dispersion, notwithstanding the insults and abuse which they had suffered from their neighbours in the day of their distress, Ezekiel 28:24-26 .

Verse 2

Ezekiel 28:2. Say to the prince of Tyrus The name of this prince was Ithobalus, according to the Phenician annals. Because thy heart is lifted up In pride and self-conceit; and thou hast said Namely, in thy heart; I am a god I am like a god. I sit in the seat of God Inaccessible by mortals. In the midst of the seas As God is safe from all injury in his throne in heaven, so am I as safe; for the sea secures me. These words express an insolent boast of self-sufficiency, as if he had said, I fear no man, nor stand in need of any: I am seated in a place of impregnable strength: the sea defends me, so that no enemy can assault me. And they represent the excessive pride and carnal security of this prince, who trusted in his own strength, and forgot his dependance upon God. The same crime was in like manner punished in the king of Egypt, Ezekiel 29:3, and afterward in Nebuchadnezzar himself, Daniel 4:30-31. Yet thou art man, and not God Subject to all the infirmities, casualties, sorrows, and distresses that attend human nature, and to all the changes of human affairs, and hast not any of that innate, invincible power, and of that immutability of condition, which is in God. Though thou hast set thy heart as the heart of God Hast entertained thoughts which become none but God.

Verses 3-8

Ezekiel 28:3-8. Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel In thy own conceit. The fame of Daniel’s wisdom was quickly spread over Chaldea, upon his being advanced to several posts of honour and dignity by Nebuchadnezzar. See Daniel 2:8. So here the prophet in an ironical manner upbraids the vain boasts which the prince of Tyre made of his wisdom, and the policy of those about him, as if it exceeded the endowments of Daniel. The Phenicians, of whom the Tyrians were a colony, (see note on Isaiah 23:12,) valued themselves for their wisdom and ingenuity, as being inventors of navigation, letters, and sciences. Compare Zechariah 9:2. With thy wisdom, &c., thou hast gotten thee riches Thy skill in navigation and trade has increased thy wealth. Behold, I will bring upon thee the terrible of the nations The Babylonians, who by their conquests have made themselves terrible to all the nations round about them. They shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom They shall deface and destroy all the beautiful edifices which thou hast erected with admirable art, and every thing which thou valuest as ornamental or useful, beauteous or magnificent, even all the glory of thy kingdom. They shall defile thy brightness They shall render thy kingdom, which is now flourishing and glorious, weak and contemptible. Thou shalt die the deaths, &c. Thou shalt die the death of those who perished in the flood. The expression deaths, in the plural, intimates a still further punishment, even after the death of the body; such as that impious race experienced, and such as this haughty prince had well deserved by his mad pride and blasphemous impiety. And therefore with the same emphasis the prophet tells us, Ezekiel 28:10, Thou shalt die the deaths, the double death, of the uncircumcised; that is, of unbelievers and enemies to God. For circumcision being the rite which distinguished God’s chosen people from the heathen, uncircumcised is equivalent in sense to wicked or profane. So the Chaldee Paraphrase renders it here. “This is not the only place in this prophecy where the destruction by the deluge is alluded to: for this, and the fall of angels, being two of the greatest events that ever happened, and the most remarkable of God’s judgments, it was very natural for the prophets to recur to them, when they would raise their style in the description of the fall of empires and tyrants. See Ezekiel 26:19-20; Ezekiel 27:26; Ezekiel 27:32; Ezekiel 27:34. As the style of this prophet is wonderfully adapted to the subject whereof he treats, so he compares the destruction of this famous maritime city to a vessel shipwrecked in the sea, and so sends its inhabitants to the people of old times, as he calls them, who were swallowed up in the universal deluge. Their prince he compares to the prince of the rebel angels, whose pride had given him such a dreadful fall.” See Peters on Job, p. 373, and notes on Ezekiel 28:14.

Verse 9

Ezekiel 28:9 . Wilt thou yet say Or, Wilt thou then say, before him that slayeth thee, I am God Nothing can be more finely expressed than this: the prince of Tyrus thought himself, as a god, as invincible, as secure from all harm; God therefore, by his prophet, asks him here if he would have these proud thoughts, if he would think of himself as a god, when he found himself in his enemy’s power, just going to be slain. The question is most sharp and cutting: it sets the folly of his insolent pride in the strongest light; for surely he could not boast of being a god, when he was to fall by the sword of a man; and whatever proud thoughts he now entertained of himself, they certainly would be changed when he saw the sword of his enemy lifted up to slay him. So Plutarch tells us of Alexander, that “he vainly affected to be thought Jupiter’s son, and next in honour to Bacchus and Hercules: yet when he saw the blood run out of a wound he had received, which at the same time gave him much pain, he confessed that was not such blood as Homer said issued from the immortal gods.” Lib. 2, De Alexandri fortuna. This whole chapter, as well as the foregoing one, is exceedingly fine, both as to the style and composition.

Verses 12-13

Ezekiel 28:12-13. Take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus See Ezekiel 27:32. Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, &c. In thine own opinion thou art the perfect pattern of wisdom and all other excellences; thou possessest them in full measure, they are thine by an unalienable tenure, sealed up safely among thy treasures. The LXX. render this, Συ αποσφραγισμα ομοιωσεως , και στεφανος καλλους , Thou art the seal of likeness, and crown of beauty. To the same purpose the Vulgate, Tu signaculum similitudinis, plenus sapientia, perfectus decore: that is, says Lowth, “Thou art the image of God, an exact impression taken from that great copy. For the following verse shows that the expression alludes to Adam, when he was first created, and came pure out of the hands of his Maker; full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.” Thou hast been in Eden “As thy situation was pleasant, so wast thou plentifully supplied with every thing which could contribute to make thy life pleasant and happy. The state of paradise, in common speech, denotes a condition every way complete and happy. See Isaiah 51:3. The expression, as well as the whole context, alludes to the complete happiness which Adam enjoyed in paradise, before his apostacy and fall.” Every precious stone was thy covering Not only was thy crown adorned with the choicest jewels, but thou wast arrayed with royal robes, enriched with gold and precious stones of all sorts. There is probably an allusion here to the precious stones which were placed in the high-priest’s breast-plate, as the next verse alludes to the cherubim over the mercy-seat. Accordingly the LXX. enlarge the number of the stones here mentioned from nine to twelve, and place them in the same order in which they are ranked Exodus 28:17, &c. The workmanship of thy tabrets, &c.,was prepared in thee Or, for thee, in the day thou wast created The highest expressions of joy, such as are the sounding of all sorts of musical instruments, ushered thee into the world, according to the usual practice at the birth of great princes; and ever since thou hast been brought up in the choicest delicacies which a royal palace or a luxurious city could furnish.

Verses 14-15

Ezekiel 28:14-15. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth The prophet here alludes to the cherubim in the temple of Solomon, which were a part of the ark, being made of beaten gold, and therefore were with it anointed, and were very large, and covered the mercy-seat with their wings. The prince of Tyrus is here compared to one of these, on account of the high power which he bore among men, and his covering or protecting his people by that power. St. Jerome translates the expression, The extended cherub that covereth: that is, whose wings are stretched out to cover, &c., reading ממשׁן , extended, instead of ממשׁח , anointed. And I have set thee so It was I myself that determined that thou shouldest be so great a king, and have a vast power to defend and protect thy people. But this prince, like too many of mankind, was insensible of the hand which raised him, and did not consider to whom he owed his power and glory. Thou wast upon the holy mountain of God The image of the cherub is pursued. “Such was thy eminent distinction, that thou wast, as it were, placed in the temple of God on his holy mountain.” Or, thou wast placed in as secure a situation as if thou hadst been fixed on the holy mountain where the temple of God stands. Thou hast walked, &c., in the midst of the stones of fire Thou hast, as it were, been placed among the twelve precious stones on the breast-plate of the high-priest. Or this obscure sentence may signify that this prince’s palace and his attendants were very richly adorned with precious stones, which shone with a burning brightness, like fire. Lowth thinks “the words allude to the high advancement of Satan in heaven before his fall, where he was placed in one of the highest orders of angels, such as were nearest in attending upon the Divine Majesty.” Thou wast perfect in thy ways, till iniquity was found in thee “An exact description of the evangelical purity in which the devil was created, and in which he continued till, being lifted up with pride, he fell from his first estate.” “Whoever compares this place in Ezekiel with the parallel place in Isaiah 14:12, &c., where the downfall of the king of Babylon is foretold in the same prophetic language, will soon perceive that they throw a reciprocal light upon each other, and that the fall of angels is alluded to in both. The beauty and propriety of these allusions of the prophets will appear with greater lustre when it is considered that the host of heaven were the objects of the heathen idolatry; both the visible and invisible host, as well the angels as the lights of heaven; for the superstition seems to have been originally the same, as the worship of the heavenly bodies terminated in the worship of those angels, or intelligences, who were believed to animate and conduct them: and hence we see a reason why the angels were called stars, and morning-stars, in Scripture: as in Job 38:7, and so here, the covering cherub is the same with Lucifer, the son of the morning, in Isaiah. Thus, while the prophets describe the overthrow of an idolatrous prince or state by a fallen angel, or a falling star, they only make their gods to tumble with them: see Dissertation on Job, p. 374.

Verses 16-17

Ezekiel 28:16-17. By the multitude of thy merchandise, &c. The riches which thy great trade has produced have but increased thy love of gain more and more, and induced thee to commit acts of violence, fraud, and extortion, to make further additions to thy power and riches; therefore I will cast thee out of the mountain of God I will cast thee down to contempt from that super-eminent degree of power and glory to which I had raised thee, and from the exalted station of governing others, and being able to afford them protection, and from all thy great pomp and magnificence. Thy heart was lifted up because of thy beauty Thou becamest vain and insolent on account of thy power, riches, and magnificence. Here the root of this prince’s ruin is pointed out to us. His power and riches produced pride and insolence in him, and those every evil way. His grandeur blinded him, so that he did not see his true happiness, nor the right way of pursuing it, but wandered in ways which led to ruin. I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee I will make thee a spectacle to other princes, expose thee as a miserable object before their eyes, that thou mayest be an example to them to deter them from the like pride and practices.

Verses 18-19

Ezekiel 28:18-19. Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries Thy throne, palace, judgment-seats. The word מקדשׁ , generally rendered sanctuary, sometimes signifies a palace, in which sense it probably ought to be taken Amos 7:13, where our translation renders it the king’s chapel. Thus Bishop Patrick understands it, Exodus 25:8, where our version reads, Let them make me a sanctuary; God commanding that he should be served and attended upon in the tabernacle, as a king in his court or palace. The cherubim were his throne, the ark his footstool, the altar his table, (and therefore called by that name, Ezekiel 41:22; Malachi 1:7,) the priests his attendants, and the show-bread and sacrifices his provisions. The king of Tyre had filled his palace and courts of judicature, and the Tyrians their stately buildings, with iniquity and injustice, and therefore God was determined utterly to destroy them by the Chaldeans. I will bring fire from the midst of thee Punishment shall follow thy crimes, and thy own ways shall bring it upon thee: thy destruction shall proceed from thyself. I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth I will bring thee to dust. Thou shalt be made no more account of than ashes spread on the ground. All that know thee shall be astonished So low a fall from such a height of glory will astonish all who ever saw thy former magnificence.

Verses 21-23

Ezekiel 28:21-23. Set thy face against Zidon Direct thy face and thy speech toward Zidon, and fore-tel its destruction by the king of Babylon. Tyre and Zidon were neighbouring cities, and generally partakers of the same prosperity or adversity. We have, indeed, no history that informs us of the particulars of what befell Zidon; but it is likely that it sent help to the Tyrians, and so (Nebuchadnezzar proving victorious) suffered with them, and was reduced first under the power of the Chaldeans, and afterward of the Persians. Say, Behold, I am against thee, O Zidon Provoked by thy sins, I am an adversary to thee, and am determined to punish thee. I will be glorified in the midst of thee I will make my power and justice known by the judgments I will execute upon thee. In the same sense God saith, Exodus 14:17, I will get me honour upon Pharaoh. And will be sanctified in her And will get myself reverence, fear, and praise, by the punishment I will bring upon her. God is said to be sanctified in those for whose preservation or destruction he exerts his power in a remarkable manner, so as to get glory to himself. For I will send her pestilence and blood The pestilence, which often accompanies long sieges, shall destroy her inhabitants. And the wounded shall be judged, &c., by the sword That is, the wounded shall fall in the midst of her by the sword, and meet with their deserved punishment from it.

Verses 24-26

Ezekiel 28:24-26. There shall be no more a pricking brier There shall no more be any nation that shall injure, and be a vexation to the house of Israel; for all their troublesome neighbours, who had been as so many thorns in their sides, shall be destroyed or repressed, and in consequence thereof they shall dwell quietly and securely in their own land. This promise was in part fulfilled after their return from their captivity in Babylon; but the following verse shows that it chiefly relates to the general restoration of the Jews, when all the enemies of God’s church and truth shall be vanquished and subdued, often denoted in the prophetical writings by the name of Edom, Moab, and other neighbouring nations, who, upon all occasions, were wont to show their spite and ill-will against God’s ancient people. When I shall have gathered the house of Israel, &c. This seems to be a plain prophecy of the restoration of the Jews to their own land, as will appear to any one who will compare the words with the parallel texts referred to in the margin; and the rules laid down concerning the division of the land among the twelve tribes (chap. 47., 48.) do very much favour this interpretation: see note on Isaiah 11:12. And shall be sanctified in them See on Ezekiel 28:22. And they shall dwell safely therein In comparison of what they have done formerly: they shall have peace, and freedom from the annoyance of enemies. And shall build houses, and plant vineyards Building and planting are commonly joined together. When I shall have executed judgments The prophets commonly conclude their threatenings against infidels with gracious promises to God’s people, implying that he will not make an utter destruction of them, as of other people, but preserve a remnant, to whom he may fulfil his promises made to their fathers.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Ezekiel 28". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/ezekiel-28.html. 1857.
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