EZEKIEL CHAPTER 27.
A Lament over the Fall of Tyre.
DESCRIPTION OF THE GLORY AND MIGHT OF TYRE. — V. 1. The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying, v. 2. Now, thou son of man, take up a lamentation, a song of mourning or a funeral dirge, for Tyrus, v. 3. and say unto Tyrus, the direct address intensifying the force of the lament, O thou that art situate at the entry of the sea, its double harbor giving it ready access to the Mediterranean Sea and to all the waters of the world, which art a merchant of the people for many Isles, her commercial relations bringing her to the shores of many islands and of many countries along the Mediterranean and beyond, Thus saith the Lord God, O Tyrus, thou hast said, in self-satisfied pride, I am of perfect beauty, partly on account of her impregnable location, partly on account of her beautiful building.. V. 4. Thy borders are in the midst of the seas, literally, “in the heart of the sea,” for it was this which surrounded the island metropolis; thy builders have perfected thy beauty. The picture gradually changes to that describing a beautiful vessel, since the city, surrounded by a sea of masts, had the appearance of a great seagoing vessel. V. 5. They have made all thy ship-boards, the timber used in its construction, of fir-trees of Senir, the cypress from the Anti-Lebanon being known for its ability to withstand the influence of the elements; they have taken cedars from Lebanon, long, slender, and durable, to make masts for thee. V. 6. Of the oaks of Bashan, on the eastern side of Jordan, from Jabbok to Hermon, have they made thine oars, for oak-wood is strong and tough; the company of the Ashurites, skilful workmen summoned from Assyria, have made thy benches, those on which the rowers sat, or those on the decks, of ivory, brought out of the isles of Chittim, literally, “inlaid in larch or boxwood,” from the isles of Chittim, that is, from Cyprus, which was famous for its excellent ship-building materials. V. 7. Fine linen with broidered work from Egypt, byssus in various embroidered designs, was that which thou spreadest forth to be thy sail; blue and purple from the isles of Elishah, those of the Ionian Sea or those off the coast of Greece, was that which covered thee, serving as an awning over the deck, while pennants or emblems floated from the masts. V. 8. The inhabitants of Zidon, the oldest city and the other large commercial center of Phoenicia, and Arvad, a rocky island north of Tripolis, were thy mariners, the sailors manning the Tyrian vessels; thy wise men, O Tyrus, that were in thee, skilled in the lore of the sea, were thy pilots, occupying the responsible positions. V. 9. The ancients of Gebal, a Phoenician city between Beirut and Tripolis, and the wise men thereof, skilful artisans or mechanics, were in thee thy calkers, the workmen employed to stop the holes and chinks in a vessel; all the ships of the sea with their mariners were in thee to occupy thy merchandise, to carry on trade with this foremost maritime metropolis. V. 10. They of Persia, the great Asiatic empire, and of Lud and of Phut, of two powerful African states, were in thine army, thy men of war, as a mercenary army; they hanged the shield and helmet in thee, exercising all the rights of a native army; they set forth thy comeliness, emphasizing it before all the world. V. 11. The men of Arvad, also a hired band, with thine army were upon thy walls round about, the greater part of the garrison proper thus consisting of native troops, and the Gammadims were in thy towers, courageous, valiant troops; they hanged their shields upon thy walls round about; they have made thy beauty perfect, completing the beauty of her military array. The entire description of Tyre’s might and glory serves to enhance the effect of the threatened downfall.
DESCRIPTION OF THE COMMERCE OF TYRE. — V. 12. Tarshish, or Tartessus in Spain, known for the wealth of its silver and other metals, was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of all kind of riches, for which they exchanged their wealth; with silver, iron, tin, and lead they traded in thy fairs, for the wares which Tyre had to offer. V. 13. Javan, the Ionians of Asia Minor, Tubal, and Meshech, the latter two being countries or states between the Black and the Caspian Sea, they were thy merchants; they traded the persons of men, in the traffic in slaves then practiced, and vessels of brass in thy market, for the copper-mines of eastern Asia Minor were renowned. V. 14. They of the house of Togarmah, namely, Armenia, traded in thy fairs, in exchanging wares, with horses and horsemen and mules, for Armenia was known in ancient times for its wealth in these products. V. 15. The men of Dedan, near the Persian Sea, Is. 21, 13, were thy merchants, for the location of their country placed them on the great highway between the East and the West; many isles were the merchandise of thine hand, acting as agents in promoting the commerce of Tyre; they brought thee for a present, literally, “to thee as exchange in value,” that is, in payment by barter or trade, horns of ivory and ebony. V. 16. Syria was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of the wares of thy making, the manufacturing industry of Tyre being a very important item in its wealth; they occupied in thy fairs, paying for the wares which they bought in the markets of Tyre, with emeralds, purple, and broidered work, and fine linen, the rich byssus fabric of the Orient, and coral, and agate, or rubies, for Syria was rich in precious stones. V. 17. Judah and the land of Israel, the entire country of Palestine, they were thy merchants; they traded in thy market wheat of Minnith, a city in the Ammonitish district east of Jordan, and Pannag, which has been defined as a balsam or honey-product, and honey, and oil, and balm, for all of which the country of the Jews was famed. V. 18. Damascus, the metropolis of Northern Syria, was thy merchant In the multitude of the wares of thy making, that is, also an important customer in buying Tyrian manufactures, for the multitude of all riches, on account of the abundance of the wealth offered, in the wine of Helbon, of Aleppo, famed for its wines, and white wool, of the richest and finest kind. V. 19. Dan also, or Wedan, probably a district in Arabia, and Javan, in this instance a settlement in Arabia, going to and fro occupied in thy fairs, taking part likewise in the Tyrian trade; bright iron, wrought iron used for sword blades, cassia, a kind of cinnamon, and calamus, likewise an Arabian spice, were in thy market. V. 20. Dedan, a district in Northern Arabia, was thy merchant in precious clothes for chariots, either the fine tapestries or other ornamental accouterments used on riding-horses and on battle-wagons. V. 21. Arabia, the entire country as such, and all the princes of Kedar, the sheiks of the interior of Arabia, they occupied with thee, being engaged in trade with Tyre, in lambs and rams and goats; in these were they thy merchants, for as nomadic tribes they depended upon the products of their herds and flocks. V. 22. The merchants of Sheba, in Arabia Felix, and Raamah, on the Persian Gulf, they were thy merchants; they occupied in thy fairs, in exchanging wares, with chief of all spices, with most excellent perfumes, and with all precious stones and gold, for which the mountains of Yemen were known. V. 23. Haran, in Mesopotamia, and Canneh, the later Ctesiphon, a commercial center on the Tigris, and Eden, in Mesopotamia, the merchants of Sheba, Asshur, or Assyria, and Chilmad, west of the Euphrates, were thy merchants. V. 24. These, namely, the entire list as enumerated, were thy merchants in all sorts of things, in blue clothes, fine wrappings or mantles, and broidered work, and in chests of rich apparel, used for storing, bound with cords and made of cedar, among thy merchandise, the value of cedar for this purpose having been known since early days. V. 25. The ships of Tarshish did sing of thee in thy market, literally, “were thy caravans,” thy traffic, for they performed on the sea what caravans did on land in conveying goods; and thou wast replenished, always richly stocked with goods, and made very glorious in the midst of the seas. Note how vivid the prophet’s description of the commerce of Tyre is, how it presents a full, concrete picture of the great trade routes and of the chief articles of manufacture in those days. The description of Tyre’s grandeur, however, serves but as a foil in making her fall stand out all the more glaringly.
THE FALL OF TYRE. — V. 26. Thy rowers have brought thee into great waters, Tyre being once more represented as a stately vessel of the galley variety, driven by one or more rows of oars in the hands of powerful oarsmen. The east wind, which often blows in sudden, furious gusts, hath broken thee in the midst of the seas, in a shipwreck which meant the death-blow of Tyre in the midst of her glory. V. 27. Thy riches, all the marvelous wealth heaped up in her banks and storehouses, and thy fairs, the wares with which she traded, thy merchandise, thy mariners, and thy pilots, thy calkers, and the occupiers of thy merchandise, those who actually handled and sold the goods, and all thy men of war that are in thee, and in all thy company which is in the midst of thee, that is, all the inhabitants of the city, shall fall into the midst of the seas in the day of thy ruin, the destruction being complete, as in the case of a foundered ship, which sinks with all those on board. V. 28. The suburbs, the smaller towns immediately dependent upon Tyre, shall shake at the sound of the cry of thy pilots, as they, the very ones upon whom the ship of state depended, found themselves facing annihilation. V. 29. And all that handle the oar, the mariners, and all the pilots of the sea, namely, those of other ships and nations, shall come down from their ships, disembarking on account of the intensity of the horror which they felt, they shall stand upon the land, v. 30. and shall cause their voice to be heard against thee, in loud lamentation, and shall cry bitterly and shall cast up dust upon their heads, cp. Job 2, 12; they shall wallow themselves in the ashes, cp. Jer. 6, 26, these latter acts being tokens of deep and uncontrollable grief; v. 31. and they shall make themselves utterly bald for thee, shaving their heads as another sign of deep mourning, and gird them with sackcloth, as mourners were in the habit of doing, and they shall weep for thee with bitterness of heart, in an excess of grief, and bitter wailing. V. 32. And in their wailing they shall take up a lamentation for thee and lament over thee, in a mournful dirge, saying, What city is like Tyrus, like the destroyed in the midst of the sea! now so silent after the former noisy bustle which characterized her. V. 33. When thy wares went forth out of the seas, like plants and fruits out of the ground, namely, by virtue of the fact that the many vessels of her commercial pursuits brought in the goods, thou filledst many people, meeting their demand for goods of every description; thou didst enrich the kings of the earth with the multitude of thy riches and of thy merchandise, for Tyre had included in her trade the richest and most costly goods of the earth. V. 34. In the time when thou shalt be broken by the seas, or, “now that thou hast been shattered,” or, “hast foundered,” in the depths of the waters thy merchandise and all thy company in the midst of thee shall fall, all her inhabitants being included in the judgment of destruction upon her. V. 35. All the inhabitants of the isles shall be astonished at thee, all those who had the benefit of Tyre’s commerce standing aghast at her downfall, and their kings, their merchant rulers, shall be sore afraid, they shall be troubled in their countenance, trembling lest they share her fate. V. 36. The merchants among the people shall hiss at thee, for envy is apt ever to produce a malicious joy when a rival is overthrown; thou shalt be a terror, an object of horror, and never shalt be any more. Cp. chap. 26, 21. It is a vividly impressive passage, which concludes this section of the prophecy against Tyrus, one setting forth the just wrath of a holy God.