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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 27

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Ezekiel 27:0


Oracle Against the Nations(Ezekiel 25:1-32)
Lament Over TyreLamentation For TyreLamentation Over TyreA Funeral Song for TyreSecond Lament Over the Fall of Tyre
Ezekiel 27:1-9Ezekiel 27:1-9Ezekiel 27:1-11Ezekiel 27:1-9Ezekiel 27:1-9a
(vv. Ezekiel 27:3-9)(vv. Ezekiel 27:3-9)(vv. Ezekiel 27:3-11)(vv. Ezekiel 27:3-9)(vv. Ezekiel 27:3-9a)
Ezekiel 27:9-36
Ezekiel 27:10-11Ezekiel 27:10-11Ezekiel 27:10-11
(vv. Ezekiel 27:10-11)
Ezekiel 27:12-25Ezekiel 27:12-26Ezekiel 27:12-36Ezekiel 27:12-34
(vv. Ezekiel 27:25b)(vv. Ezekiel 27:25-26)(vv. Ezekiel 27:25-36)(vv. Ezekiel 27:25-34)(vv. Ezekiel 27:25-27)
Ezekiel 27:26-36
(vv. Ezekiel 27:26-36)
Ezekiel 27:27-36
(vv. Ezekiel 27:27-28)
(vv. Ezekiel 27:28-32a)
(vv. Ezekiel 27:29-36)
(vv. Ezekiel 27:32-36)
Ezekiel 27:35-36

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the four modern translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

Verses 1-9

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 27:1-9 1Moreover, the word of the LORD came to me saying, 2”And you, son of man, take up a lamentation over Tyre; 3and say to Tyre, who dwells at the entrance to the sea, merchant of the peoples to many coastlands, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, “O Tyre, you have said, 'I am perfect in beauty.' 4Your borders are in the heart of the seas; Your builders have perfected your beauty. 5They have made all your planks of fir trees from Senir; They have taken a cedar from Lebanon to make a mast for you. 6Of oaks from Bashan they have made your oars; With ivory they have inlaid your deck of boxwood from the coastlands of Cyprus. 7Your sail was of fine embroidered linen from Egypt So that it became your distinguishing mark; Your awning was blue and purple from the coastlands of Elishah. 8The inhabitants of Sidon and Arvad were your rowers; Your wise men, O Tyre, were aboard; they were your pilots. 9The elders of Gebal and her wise men were with you repairing your seams; All the ships of the sea and their sailors were with you in order to deal in your merchandise.

Ezekiel 27:1 This is a literary marker for a new subject or development of a larger unit (i.e., Ezekiel 26:1-26). Notice that it occurs in Ezekiel 26:1; Ezekiel 27:1; Ezekiel 28:1, Ezekiel 28:11, Ezekiel 28:20.

Ezekiel 27:2 “take up” This is a Qal IMPERATIVE (BDB 669, KB 724, cf. Ezekiel 27:12; Ezekiel 19:1; Ezekiel 26:17).

“lamentations” See note at Ezekiel 26:17.

Ezekiel 27:3 This chapter is an allegorical personification of Tyre as the beautiful and well-equipped merchant ship. A good title would be “The Flagship Tyre of the Materialistic Fleet.”

“I am perfect in beauty” This was the problem, the arrogance of the king of Tyre (cf. Ezekiel 27:4, Ezekiel 27:11; Ezekiel 28:2-5, Ezekiel 28:15, Ezekiel 28:17 and possibly Ezekiel 26:20).

Ezekiel 27:5 Notice the poetic parallelism.

1. fir (juniper) from Senir, Ezekiel 27:5

2. cedar from Lebanon, Ezekiel 27:5

3. oaks from Bashan, Ezekiel 27:6

4. boxwood from Cyprus, Ezekiel 27:6

5. sails from Egypt, Ezekiel 27:7

6. awnings from Elishah (BDB 47), Ezekiel 27:7

7. rowers from Sidon and Arvad (BDB 71), Ezekiel 27:8

8. wise men from Tyre as pilots, Ezekiel 27:8

9. maintenance workers from Gebal (BDB 148), Ezekiel 27:9

This ship was made of the best and most beautiful material and manned by the best possible crew.

“Senir” This (BDB 972) is the Amorite term for Mount Hermon (cf. Deuteronomy 3:9; 1 Chronicles 5:23; Song of Song of Solomon 4:8).

Ezekiel 27:6 “of boxwood” The MT reads “daughters of Ashurim,” but by making the CONSTRUCT (BDB 123 and 81) into one word, “made with boxwood” (see UBS, Fauna and Flora of the Bible, p. 99). This tree is mentioned in Isaiah 41:19; Isaiah 60:13. A type of tree fits the context better than a place name.

Ezekiel 27:7

NASB“distinguishing mark” NRSV“ensign” TEV“easily recognized from afar” NJB“your flag”

This term (BDB 651) normally stands for a military banner or sign. Here it refers to a characteristic type of sail that denotes “the flagship of Tyre”!

“purple” It was a very expensive dye made from the mollusk shell of Murex, which are found in abundance along this portion of the Mediterranean coast.

“Elishnah” From Genesis 10:4 we learn this was a tribe of Javan (Greece, cf. 1 Chronicles 1:7). It seems to refer to inhabitants of the Aegean Islands, possibly Cyprus. The NIV Study Bible (p. 1263) identifies it as a city on the east side of Cyprus, but this is speculation.

Ezekiel 27:8 “Arvad” This (BDB 71) is another off-shore island about 100 miles north of Tyre. It was a Phoenician settlement.

Ezekiel 27:9 “Gebal” This (BDB 148) is the modern city Byblos, which is located on the coast between Sidon and Arvad.

Verses 10-11

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 27:10-11 10”Persia and Lud and Put were in your army, your men of war. They hung shield and helmet in you; they set forth your splendor. 11The sons of Arvad and your army were on your walls, all around, and the Gammadim were in your towers. They hung their shields on your walls all around; they perfected your beauty.”

Ezekiel 27:10-25 This section lists many nations. It is similar to Genesis 10:0. Some nations are listed as part of Tyre's military and some as her trading partners. It is somewhat hyperbolic to demonstrate Tyre's influence, power, and commercial reach.

A. military

1. Persia

2. Lud

3. Put

4. Arvad

5. Gammad

B. trading partners

1. Tarshish

a. silver

b. iron

c. tin

d. lead

2. Javan, Tubal, and Meshech

a. slaves

b. bronze vessels

3. Beth-togarmah

a. horses

b. mules

4. Dedan and coastlands

a. ivory

b. ebony

5. Syria (Aram)

a. emeralds

b. purple dye

c. embroidered cloth

d. fine linen

e. coral

f. rubies

6. Judah and Israel

a. wheat

b. pannag (BDB 815, only here, some kind of food)

c. honey

d. olive oil

e. balm/balsam resin

7. Damascus

a. wine

b. white or reddish gray (BDB 856 construct 850) wool

8. Vedan and Javan (spelled different from Ezekiel 27:13)

a. iron

b. cassia spice

c. calamus, aromatic reed (“sweet cane”)

9. Arabia and Kedar

a. lambs

b. rams

c. goats

10. Sheba and Raamah

a. spices

b. jewels

c. gold

11. Haran, Canneh, Eden, Sheba, Asshur, Chilmad

a. blue cloths

b. embroidered cloth

c. carpets in many colors

d. ropes

Ezekiel 27:10 “Persia and Lud and Put” These same countries had mercenaries in many armies (cf. Ezekiel 30:5; Ezekiel 38:5; Jeremiah 46:9). Lud, in some translations, refers to North Africa and in others, to Asia Minor. Put, in the Septuagint, refers to the Libyans (i.e., North Africa), but from Genesis 10:6 it seems to be on the coast of Africa by the Red Sea. Some of these geographical sites can be identified with people from Genesis 10:0 who later become tribes, localities, and countries.

“They hung shield and helmet in you” This was a type of standard decoration for military installations. Tyre used mercenaries who displayed their national military insignias (e.g., 1 Kings 10:16-17).

Ezekiel 27:11 “Arvad” The place name “Arvad” (BDB 71) is mentioned in Genesis 10:18 (from Canaanite line, cf. 1 Chronicles 1:16). It is a city located (as Tyre is) just off the coast on a small island in the northern area of Phoenician territory.

NASB“Gammadim” NKJV, JPSOA“Gammad” NRSV, TEV“Gamad” NJB“Gammadians” PESHITTA“your army” Targum of Jonathan”Cappodocia”

This term (BDB 167, KB 196) is found only here. BDB assumes it means “valorous men,” but the LXX and Peshitta assume “guardians” or “wall soldiers.” It may be a place name referring to another coastal city near Arvad (NIV Study Bible, p. 1263). The thrust of the phrase is that although Tyre had numerous mercenaries, she trusted the defense of her protective walls to her own soldiers.

“they perfected your beauty” This is a repeated phrase. See note at Ezekiel 27:4. It is significant because of its use in chapter 28.

Verses 12-25

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 27:12-25 12”Tarshish was your customer because of the abundance of all kinds of wealth; with silver, iron, tin and lead they paid for your wares. 13Javan, Tubal and Meshech, they were your traders; with the lives of men and vessels of bronze they paid for your merchandise. 14Those from Beth-togarmah gave horses and war horses and mules for your wares. 15The sons of Dedan were your traders. Many coastlands were your market; ivory tusks and ebony they brought as your payment. 16Aram was your customer because of the abundance of your goods; they paid for your wares with emeralds, purple, embroidered work, fine linen, coral and rubies. 17Judah and the land of Israel, they were your traders; with the wheat of Minnith, cakes, honey, oil and balm they paid for your merchandise. 18Damascus was your customer because of the abundance of your goods, because of the abundance of all kinds of wealth, because of the wine of Helbon and white wool. 19Vedan and Javan paid for your wares from Uzal; wrought iron, cassia and sweet cane were among your merchandise. 20Dedan traded with you in saddlecloths for riding. 21Arabia and all the princes of Kedar, they were your customers for lambs, rams and goats; for these they were your customers. 22The traders of Sheba and Raamah, they traded with you; they paid for your wares with the best of all kinds of spices, and with all kinds of precious stones and gold. 23Haran, Canneh, Eden, the traders of Sheba, Asshur and Chilmad traded with you. 24They traded with you in choice garments, in clothes of blue and embroidered work, and in carpets of many colors and tightly wound cords, which were among your merchandise. 25The ships of Tarshish were the carriers for your merchandise. And you were filled and were very glorious In the heart of the seas.

Ezekiel 27:12 “Tarshish” It is surprising that this term (BDB 1077) appears to be a place name because it is also a person in Genesis 10:4. Several other persons from Genesis 10:0 are mentioned in this context (i.e., Elishah, Arvad). The term is used in several senses in Scripture.

A. Persons

1. grandson of Javan (Greece) and brother to Elishah in Genesis 10:4; 1 Chronicles 1:7

2. grandson of Benjamin in 1 Chronicles 7:20

3. one of the powerful seven princes of Persia in Esther 1:14

B. Places

1. Phoenician mining city in southern Spain on the Guadalquiver River

2. Phoenician colony in north Africa, Carthage (LXX translation of Ezekiel 27:12)

3. Phoenician colony in Indian Ceylon

4. Phoenician colony on Sardina (city of Nora)

5. an idiom for the end of the earth

C. Things

1. precious stones (cf. Exodus 28:20; Exodus 39:13; Ezekiel 10:9; Ezekiel 28:13; Daniel 10:6; Revelation 21:20)

2. special ships (cf. 1 Kings 10:22; 1 Kings 22:48; 2 Chronicles 9:21; Psalms 48:7; Isaiah 2:16; Isaiah 23:1; Isaiah 60:9)

Ezekiel 27:13 “Javan” Because of the spelling “ionia” (BDB 402), most commentators refer this to Greece. It is spelled differently from the same word used in Ezekiel 27:19 (BDB 402).

“Tubal and Meshech” In Genesis 10:2 and 1 Chronicles 1:5 these are listed as sons or descendants of Japheth, one of Noah's three sons.

1. Gomer (his son Togarmah, cf. Ezekiel 27:14; Genesis 10:3)

2. Magog

3. Madai

4. Javan

5. Tubal

6. Meshech

7. Tiras

The significance is that several of these are mentioned as tribes or peoples in Ezekiel 38-39 (i.e., #1,2,5,6). They were inhabitants of eastern Turkey (Anatolia). They are mentioned by

1. Herodotus (3:94; 7:28)

2. Josephus (Antiq. 1.124)

“the lives of men” This refers to the slave trade (cf. Joel 3:4-8; Amos 1:9, Amos 1:10; Revelation 18:12).

Ezekiel 27:14 “Beth-togarmah” This is identified with Armenia (cf. Genesis 10:3).

Ezekiel 27:15 “Dedan” This is a descendant of Ham (cf. Genesis 10:7; 1 Chronicles 1:9) and a brother of Sheba (cf. Ezekiel 38:13, Ezekiel 38:14). The same group is mentioned in Ezekiel 27:20 as an Arabian tribe (possibly related to a specific desert oasis close to Tema). The LXX changed it to Rhodes. Because it is identified in context with “coast lands” (BDB 912). It is possible that it relates to a region north of Tyre known as “Danuna” in the Amarna letters (IVP Bible Background Commentary, p. 713).

Ezekiel 27:16 “Syria” Some Hebrew manuscripts and the Peshita relate this to Edom, which involves an emendation of the Hebrew text (see NAB, NEB, REB).

“Edom” is spelled אדמ, while “Aram” is spelled ארל. As you can see the letters d and r are formed in similar ways and easily confused in copying. The MT has “Aram” (BDB 74). Why Damascus is listed separately in Ezekiel 27:18 is uncertain. Aram was a coalition of independent tribes/clans north of Palestine and west of Assyria. Damascus may have had special autonomy.

NASB, NKJV, TEV“emeralds” NRSV, JPSOA, NIV“turquoise” NJB, REB“garnets” JB, Josephus“carbuncle”

This term (BDB 656) refers to some kind of precious stone (cf. Ezekiel 28:13). It was one of the jewels in the High Priest's breastplate (cf. Exodus 28:13; Exodus 39:11).

“rubies” This rare term (BDB 461) occurs only here and in Isaiah 54:12. It may be related to the Aramaic root “to sparkle” or “a red-hot rod.” Rubies were not common in this area of the world until a later date.

Ezekiel 27:17 Notice it says “Judah and the land of Israel.” Judah was still (or until very recently) an existing nation, but Israel had been exiled by Assyria in 722 B.C. and was no longer a nation.

“Minnith” This is a location in Ammon (cf. Judges 11:33) which produced especially fine wheat.

NASB“cakes” NKJV, NRSV“millet” NJB, JPSOA“pannag” JB“wax” REB“meal”

This term (BDB 815) appears only here in the OT. In context it refers to some type of merchandise, probably food. In Akkadian the root means “pastry.”

Ezekiel 27:18 “Helbon” This (KB 316 II, i.e., “forest place”) refers to a grape-growing area several miles north of Damascus.

NASB, NKJV, NRSV, JPSOA“white wool” TEV“Sahar” NJB“Zahar” REB“Suhar” BDB“reddish-grey”

The KB 1019 denotes the BDB meaning comes from Arabic. It also notes that it can refer to a territory northwest of Damascus, called “es-Sahra.”

Ezekiel 27:19


Both lexicons, BDB (255) and KB (259), assert the meaning as “uncertain.” Some scholars think it is a place name near Medina, Arabia. Most assert a textual corruption. However, since it is linked to Javan (Greece) it may be another name for them (i.e., Homer and the History Channel video, “Decoding the Exodus”). The Septuagint has “and wine from” instead of a name.

“Uzal” This may be (1) the capital of Yemen (BDB 23); (2) a word for “yarn” (BDB 23); or (3) a city (Izalla) in Cilicia (IVP Bible Background Commentary, p. 713).

Ezekiel 27:20-22 “Dedan, Arabia, Kedar, and Raamah” These all refer to Arabian tribes.

Ezekiel 27:23 All of these locations are in Mesopotamia and most are associated with Assyria. The Jewish Study Bible asserts that the first three of these are all Syrian cities (p. 1094, cf. Genesis 12:4; Genesis 10:10; 2 Kings 19:12; Isaiah 10:9; Isaiah 37:12; Amos 1:5).

“Asshur” Asshur (BDB 78) is a son of Shem (cf. Genesis 10:22; 1 Chronicles 1:17). It becomes a region synonymous with Assyria. One of the national gods of Assyria is named Asshur. Asshur became the name of one of the capitals of Assyria.

“Chilmad” This place (BDB 484) is unknown. The Targums revocalize the consonants and come up with “all Media” (cf. Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. 1, p. 908).

Ezekiel 27:24 “clothes” Another rare term is “clothes” (BDB 166). The NOUN is found only here and the VERB (i.e., “to wrap”) only in 2 Kings 2:8. It refers to a large garment wrapped around the body (i.e., same meaning in Aramaic, Syrian, Arabic, and Persian, NIDOTTE, vol. 1., p. 865).

“carpets of many colors” This phrase has two rare words.

1. “Carpets” (BDB 170) possibly means chests (cf. NKJV). It is found only here and in Esther 3:9 and Ezekiel 4:7, where it is translated “treasury.”

2. The phrase “many colors” (BDB 140) occurs only here. In Arabic it denotes a rope made of two colors. The trilateral root means “to twist.”

Ezekiel 27:25

NASB, NKJV, TEV, NIV“the carriers for your merchandise” NRSV, NASB (margin)“travelers for your trade” NJB“soiled in your business” JPSOA“in the service of your trade” REB“caravans of your imports”

The root (BDB 1003-1004, KB 1449-1452) has several meanings.

1. to travel, to journey

2. to behold, to regard

3. (unknown, Psalms 92:12)

4. head of cattle, bullock

5. wall

Context determines meaning. In this context #1 fits best. There are no guarantees on exact meaning for roots that

1. are rare

2. are used in poetic texts

3. are uncertain as to which root it derives

Even ancient cognate languages are unable to precisely define all Hebrew terms.

Verses 26-36

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 27:26-36 26”Your rowers have brought you Into great waters; The east wind has broken you In the heart of the seas. 27Your wealth, your wares, your merchandise, Your sailors and your pilots, Your repairers of seams, your dealers in merchandise And all your men of war who are in you, With all your company that is in your midst, Will fall into the heart of the seas On the day of your overthrow. 28At the sound of the cry of your pilots The pasture lands will shake. 29All who handle the oar, The sailors and all the pilots of the sea Will come down from their ships; They will stand on the land, 30And they will make their voice heard over you And will cry bitterly. They will cast dust on their heads, They will wallow in ashes. 31Also they will make themselves bald for you And gird themselves with sackcloth; And they will weep for you in bitterness of soul With bitter mourning. 32Moreover, in their wailing they will take up a lamentation for you And lament over you: 'Who is like Tyre, Like her who is silent in the midst of the sea? 33When your wares went out from the seas, You satisfied many peoples; With the abundance of your wealth and your merchandise You enriched the kings of earth. 34Now that you are broken by the seas In the depths of the waters, Your merchandise and all your company Have fallen in the midst of you. 35All the inhabitants of the coastlands Are appalled at you, And their kings are horribly afraid; They are troubled in countenance. 36The merchants among the peoples hiss at you; You have become terrified And you will cease to be forever.'“

Ezekiel 27:26-36 This starts the second poetic lament of chapter 27 (cf. Ezekiel 27:3-9). This lament first lists all of the people/groups mentioned in the first poem (those who built, manned the ships of Tyre and those who guarded the city). They will all be shipwrecked with the “great ship of Tyre.” Then in Ezekiel 27:30-32, these same groups mourn for Tyre's destruction (i.e., and their own).

Ezekiel 27:26 “the east wind” See note at Ezekiel 17:10.

“into great waters” Again this may refer to the chaotic waters of creation. Notice Ezekiel 27:34 “broken by the seas in the depth of the waters.” See note at Ezekiel 26:3, Ezekiel 26:19-21.

Ezekiel 27:30-32 This is a series of mourning rites.

1. cry bitterly, Ezekiel 27:30, Ezekiel 27:31, Ezekiel 27:32

2. put dust on their heads

3. wallow in ashes

4. pull out their hair

5. put on sackcloth

Ezekiel 27:32

NASB, TEV, JPSOA“like her who is silent in the midst of the sea” NKJV, NRSV, NAB“destroyed in the midst of the sea” NJB“far out to sea” PESHITTA“built in the midst of the sea”

The Hebrew root דמה has several meanings (KB 225-226). BDB 199 has “one silenced, brought to silence (destroyed).” Either option fits the context. JB speculates “with haughty Tyre” (cf. Ezekiel 27:3-9).

Ezekiel 27:34 Tyre is lost in the depth (BDB 771) of the chaotic waters sent by YHWH. The ship, the contents, and all on board are lost!

Ezekiel 27:35 Trembling takes hold of fearful people (cf. Ezekiel 32:10; Job 18:20; also notice Exodus 15:14, Exodus 15:15; Isaiah 21:3; Isaiah 33:13; Jeremiah 13:21). Note the parallel in Ezekiel 26:16.

Ezekiel 27:36 “The merchants among the people” Ezekiel's knowledge of the trading centers and their known exports is absolutely amazing. This chapter forms one of the most detailed commercial chapters anywhere in ancient literature.

“hiss at you” This (BDB 1056) is an audible gesture of astonishment (cf. Jeremiah 19:8; Jeremiah 49:17; Jeremiah 50:13). It also can be used of derision (cf. 2 Chronicles 29:8; Jeremiah 25:9, Jeremiah 25:18; Jeremiah 29:18; Jeremiah 51:37; Lamentations 2:15; Micah 6:16). In context it is hard to make a distinction between astonishment and a sense of the appropriateness of what has happened.

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Ezekiel 27". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/ezekiel-27.html. 2021.
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