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The rich supply of Tyrus: the great and irrecoverable fall thereof.
Before Christ 588.
Ezekiel 27:2. Take up a lamentation, &c.— This alludes to the melancholy songs used at funerals, concerning which we spoke in our comment on the Lamentations; and wherein the women recounted every thing which was valuable or praise-worthy in the deceased, and then lamented his loss. Though indeed the prophet dwells more upon the punishment denounced against this place, than in deploring its calamity, and rather excites terror than pity; yet, notwithstanding this, he follows the plan and manner of those funeral dirges. For he recounts, as is usual in those compositions, the former glory, power, and riches of Tyre, and, by means of the contrast augments the greatness of her calamities. See Bishop Lowth's 23rd Prelection.
Ezekiel 27:3. Which art a merchant, &c.— Which joinest people by commerce, through many isles. Houbigant; who renders the beginning of the next verse, Thy borders extend even to the middle of the sea.
Ezekiel 27:5. Thy ship-boards—of Senir— Senir is the ancient name for Hermon. See Deuteronomy 3:9.
Masts— Though cedars have a thick and not a lofty trunk, masts consisting of different parts may be made of different cedars duly sized, or properly shaped if of too large a size.
Ezekiel 27:6. Of the oaks of Bashan— Bishop Newton observes upon this description of Tyre, that Cleopatra, sailing down the river Cydnus to meet Mark Antony, was not attended with greater finery and magnificence; nor have historians and poets painted the one in more lively colours than the prophet the other. Instead of, The company of the Ashurites, &c. Houbigant reads, They have made thy seats of ivory, inclosed in box, brought from the Italian islands.
Ezekiel 27:7. Isles of Elishah— Isles of Greece. It is remarkable that part of Peloponnesus was named Elis among the Grecian writers. Gebal in the ninth verse was a province of Phoenicia, near Tyre.
Ezekiel 27:10. Of Lud, and of Phut— Or, Of Ethopia, and of Mauritania, or Africa. Houbigant renders the latter part of the verse, They hanged the shield and the helmet upon thy walls, and added to thy comeliness. See the next verse.
Ezekiel 27:11. Gammadims— Tutelar images. Spencer. Fuller supposes these Gammadims to have been Phoenicians. The Hebrew word גמדים gammadim is derived from גמד gamad, which signifies to be contracted, narrowed, &c. and Parkhurst is of opinion that these people were the inhabitants of the country about Tripoli in Syria, formerly called the Αγχων or Elbow of Phoenicia, from its being narrowed, and projecting into the sea in that form. See Parkhurst on the word גמד gamad.
Ezekiel 27:12. Tarshish— Or, Tartessus. Michaelis thinks that there was only the Spanish Tarshish; and that ships sailed to it from Ezion-geber round Africa. Spic. Geogr. Spain was anciently remarkable for silver mines. Plin. l. xxxiii. c. vi.
Ezekiel 27:13. Javan, Tubal, and Mesech— Greece, the Tibareni, and Moschi, [situated near the Euxine sea] the associates of thy merchandize, bring to thy marts slaves and brazen vessels. Houbigant.
Ezekiel 27:14. Togarmah—-horses—horsemen— Or, Cappadocia—common horses,—war horses. The men of Dedan, in the next verse, probably means the Arabians.
Ezekiel 27:16. Coral and agate— Silk, and rubies, or crystal.
Ezekiel 27:17. Wheat of Minnith, &c.— Wheat, stacte, balsam, honey, oil, and resin. Houbigant. See Parkhurst on the word פנג pannag.
Ezekiel 27:18. Wine of Helbon, and white wool— Helbon is now Aleppo. Ezekiel 27:19. Cassia and Calamus] Storax, and sweet cane.
Ezekiel 27:23. Canneh— Houbigant and Grotius both read Calane; for the neighbouring places are nearly the same as in Genesis, ch. 10:
Ezekiel 27:26. Thy rowers have brought thee into great waters— This is a proper allegory, says Bishop Warburton, with only one real sense; and it is managed by the prophet with that brevity and expedition, which a proper allegory demands, when used in the place of a metaphor. He is here speaking of Tyre under the image of a ship. Houbigant renders the verse, They who shall spoil thee, shall bring thee into many waters; and a vehement wind shall break thee in the midst of the seas. This alludes to the destruction of Tyre by the Chaldeans. Grotius refers to Horace, Od. lib. Ezekiel 1:14 :
Ezekiel 27:28. The suburbs shall shake— The neighbouring places. Houbigant.
Ezekiel 27:32. What city is like Tyrus, &c.— What city was like Tyre, throughout the seas. Houbigant.
Ezekiel 27:36. The merchants—shall hiss at thee— The Chaldee renders it, They shall be astonished; and this sense agrees better with the lamentations of the sea-faring-men spoken of in the preceding verses. See Jeremiah 19:8; Jeremiah 50:13.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, Though Tyre was a heathen land, the prophet must make lamentation over it; for a gracious heart is filled with universal charity, and, touched with tender sympathy, laments over the miseries of the afflicted, wherever they appear. We have,
1. The great prosperity of Tyre, which made her fall the more grievous.
[1.] She was most conveniently situated, at the entry of the sea, and surrounded by it, her harbour most commodious, and the grand mart of the world, whither all the produce of the east and west was brought and exchanged.
[2.] The city was most beautifully adorned with noble structures, where magnificence, elegance, and, use contributed to perfect her beauty.
[3.] Her fleets were numerous, admirably built and rigged, and some most supurbly adorned; the very sails fine linen embroidered from Egypt: the pavilions covered with blue and purple; and the very benches inlaid with ivory.
[4.] Her ships were excellently manned; the pilots and chief officers Tyre supplied; the seamen, the adjacent country; and in her docks the wisest artificers were employed to refit and repair her navy.
[5.] The choicest soldiery were hired for her guard, from distant martial nations, furnished with weapons for war, which in time of peace were hung up in armouries, ready to be used on any emergence, affording at once safety and ornament to the city.
[6.] Her trade was vast and universal: ships from all quarters of the globe crowded her harbour. The nations, and the several commodities of their commerce, are mentioned. The countries of many of these are well known; but some of them are uncertain, which only afford the critics scope for conjecture; but of such immaterial points we may well be content to remain ignorant. Observe, however, the vast advantages of trade, what an intercourse it opens, and brings in the produce of the most distant lands, with as great plenty as if it had been the native growth of our own soil: but with increasing wealth increasing luxury usually rushes in, and the seeds of ruin are often springing up in the midst of the greatest prosperity.
2. Tyre prided herself on her beauty, and all nations praised and extolled her. Thus is wealth often the food of vanity: and they who abound in riches are cried up and praised. The great, as such, are usually much more noticed and honoured than the good.
2nd, The greatness of her wealth and excellence serves but to increase the misery of her fall. Behold this proud city laid low in ruins; a monument to other trading nations not to be secure in the day of prosperity.
1. Like a rich vessel wrecked by the unskilfulness of the rowers, so was Tyre brought into great waters, exposed by some imprudent conduct of her governors to the resentment of the king of Babylon, the east wind, that dashed this gallant ship to pieces in the midst of the seas: and her merchandize, riches, inhabitants, soldiers, and seamen, perished in the waters. Thus has the unskilfulness of her pilots often ruined a nation.
2. The dreadful cries of the sinking city shall reach the suburbs, the cities and villages on the continent; and the few who escape to the shore, as men from a ship wreck, shall cause their voice to be heard against thee, blaming the imprudent conduct of the pilots, who provoked the king of Babylon's resentment; or for thee, bewailing the desolations they beheld, with deepest expressions of anguish and vexation, with dust on their heads, wallowing in ashes, tearing off their hair, and weeping with bitterness and heart-felt grief, bemoaning in plaintive lamentations the dire catastrophe; a city, once so great, so rich, so joyous, replenishing with her merchandize the kings of the earth, now fallen into the lowest state of abject wretchedness, and, instead of the busy hum of crowded streets, solitude and silence reigning throughout. So awful a change can God in judgment quickly make, when his wrath arises against a guilty land.
3. The utter ruin of this proud city shall fill many with terror and astonishment; the kings of the neighbouring isles shall be sore afraid. If Tyre could not stand, which they deemed impregnable, how should they? Others shall hiss at her, mocking her vain confidence, and hoping, as she had done on the ruin of Jerusalem, that the trade of Tyre shall be transferred to their ports, and they shall be enriched thereby: for, being thus fallen, she never shall be any more; never rebuilt on the same spot, or rise to the same empire of the seas. Some think this means no more than a long time, during seventy years, see Isa 15:9 though the prophesy may respect her last destruction, since which to this day she has lain in ruins. The commerce and fall of the antichristian powers are described in expressions borrowed from this prophesy, or exactly similar, see Revelation 18:0 for their ruin shall as assuredly come.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Ezekiel 27". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany