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Bible Commentaries

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

Ezekiel 27

 

 

Verses 1-36

Chapter Twenty-seven

The Doom Of Tyre, Continued

With great detail the prophet continues to describe the doom which was to come upon Tyre because of the people’s attitude of self-satisfaction and independence of God, which led them into all kinds of iniquity.

“The word of Jehovah came again unto me, saying, And thou, son of man, take up a lamentation over Tyre; and say unto Tyre, O thou that dwellest at the entry of the sea, that art the merchant of the peoples unto many isles, thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Thou, O Tyre, hast said, I am perfect in beauty. Thy borders are in the heart of the seas; thy builders have perfected thy beauty. They have made all thy planks of fir-trees from Senir; they have taken a cedar from Lebanon to make a mast for thee. Of the oaks of Bashan have they made thine oars; they have made thy benches of ivory inlaid in boxwood, from the isles of Kittim. Of fine linen with broidered work from Egypt was thy sail, that it might be to thee for an ensign; blue and purple from the isles of Elishah was thine awning. The inhabitants of Sidon and Arvad were thy rowers: thy wise men, O Tyre, were in thee, they were thy pilots. The old men of Gebal and the wise men thereof were in thee thy calkers: all the ships of the sea with their mariners were in thee to deal in thy merchandise. Persia and Lud and Put were in thine army, thy men of war: they hanged the shield and helmet in thee; they set forth thy comeliness. The men of Arvad with thine army were upon thy walls round about, and valorous men were in thy towers; they hanged their shields upon thy walls round about; they have perfected thy beauty”-vers. 1-11.

This is described as a lamentation over Tyre, for judgment is never God’s delight. He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but His heart is grieved when it becomes necessary to deal in wrath with those who have spurned His gracious expostulations, and refused to turn from their sins.

Tyre dwelt at the entry of the sea. As already mentioned, the ancient city was built upon an island which was connected with the mainland by a causeway. To her ports came ships from all nations, and from thence her own fleet went out to all the then known world. Her people gloried in their wealth, and lived luxuriously. Nothing was too good for them. From nearby lands they brought lumber of cedar and oak with which they built magnificent mansions and palaces; they reclined upon couches inlaid with ivory. Importations of fine linen from Egypt, and blue and purple cloth from distant isles decorated their homes and were made into sails for their ships. Their sailors were conscripted from the surrounding cities and districts; and the pilots of Tyre were looked upon as experts in their calling. From the city of Gebal to the north of them came workmen to assist in shipbuilding. Gebal, which was for centuries buried beneath the sands of the desert, has only recently been uncovered by archaeologists. It is possible today to walk through the streets of this ancient city and note the arrangement of the houses: it bespeaks a remarkable civilization which, however, was long since overthrown by invading armies from other countries. Upon its ruins a Roman city was erected, which, in turn, gave place to a third city, built by the Crusaders. All these are now visible to the traveler as mute evidences of the passing glory of this world. Portions of each city have been left and stand out clearly just as the different rock strata can be seen on a hillside.

From Persia, Lud, and Put, mariners were obtained to serve for the defense of Tyre, and the men of Arvad also were engaged to protect the city against its enemies.

In verses 12 to 25 we have a list of names of cities and districts with which the merchants of Tyre traded.

“Tarshish was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of all kinds of riches; with silver, iron, tin, and lead, they traded for thy wares. Javan, Tubal, and Meshech, they were thy traffickers; they traded the persons of men and vessels of brass for thy merchandise. They of the house of Togarmah traded for thy wares with horses and warhorses and mules. The men of Dedan were thy traffickers; many isles were the mart of thy hand: they brought thee in exchange horns of ivory and ebony. Syria was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of thy handiworks: they traded for thy wares with emeralds, purple, and broidered work, and fine linen, and coral, and rubies. Judah, and the land of Israel, they were thy traffickers: they traded for thy merchandise wheat of Minnith, and Pannag, and honey, and oil, and balm. Damascus was thy merchant for the multitude of thy handiworks, by reason of the multitude of all kinds of riches, with the wine of Helbon, and white wool. Vedan and Javan traded with yarn for thy wares: bright iron, cassia, and calamus, were among thy merchandise. Dedan was thy trafficker in precious cloths for riding. Arabia, and all the princes of Kedar, they were the merchants of thy hand; in lambs, and rams, and goats, in these were they thy merchants. The traffickers of Sheba and Raamah, they were thy traffickers; they traded for thy wares with the chief of all spices, and with all precious stones, and gold. Haran and Canneh and Eden, the traffickers of Sheba, Asshur and Chilmad, were thy traffickers. These were thy traffickers in choice wares, in wrappings of blue and broidered work, and in chests of rich apparel, bound with cords and made of cedar, among thy merchandise. The ships of Tarshish were thy caravans for thy merchandise: and thou wast replenished, and made very glorious in the heart of the seas”-vers. 12-25.

Tarshish seems to have been a name used not simply, as some have thought, for Spain, but even including the British Isles. Observe that from Tarshish came tin and lead as well as silver and iron. The very word Britannia means “land of tin”; and it is believed that some of the Tyrian ships sailed beyond Gibraltar and reached Britain at a very early period.

Javan is generally supposed to refer to Greece; Tubal, and Meshech were settled by Scythian tribes, north of the Black Sea: the one in Asia, and the other in Europe. From them apparently came the Muscovites, the founders of the great Russian empire.

Togarmah is generally considered to be identical with Armenia; Dedan is somewhat uncertain, but was also located, in all likelihood, in the region of the Black Sea. Syria and Judah were respectively north and south of Tyre, Damascus being the chief city of Syria. It is not possible to identify with certainty every one of the places mentioned, some of which would have passed away forever had it not been that the names have been preserved in Ezekiel’s prophecy.

Arabia, settled by the descendants of Ishmael, was already a land in which nomadic tribes raised great numbers of large and small cattle. The Sheba of ver. 22 is undoubtedly the city whose queen, centuries before, went to visit King Solomon.

It is evident from ver. 23 that the name “Eden” was applied to a part of Mesopotamia, and may indeed have been the very district in which the ancient Eden was located.

All these various places poured their riches into the markets of Tyre and obtained, in return from them, other goods which they needed in their respective localities.

It must have seemed to the haughty, independent merchant princes of this great city, that there was little likelihood of their great commercial system ever being destroyed, but just as in a future day Babylon the Great is to go down in a moment, so Tyre’s judgment was to fall with terrible and sudden force upon the godless city which had dared to defy the Eternal One.

“Thy rowers have brought thee into great waters: the east wind hath broken thee in the heart of the seas. Thy riches, and thy wares, thy merchandise, thy mariners, and thy pilots, thy calkers, and the dealers in thy merchandise, and all thy men of war, that are in thee, with all thy company which is in the midst of thee, shall fall into the heart of the seas in the day of thy ruin. At the sound of the cry of thy pilots the suburbs shall shake. And all that handle the oar, the mariners, and all the pilots of the sea, shall come down from their ships; they shall stand upon the land, and shall cause their voice to be heard over thee, and shall cry bitterly, and shall cast up dust upon their heads; they shall wallow themselves in the ashes: and they shall make themselves bald for thee, and gird them with sackcloth, and they shall weep for thee in bitterness of soul with bitter mourning. And in their wailing they shall take up a lamentation for thee, and lament over thee, saying, Who is there like Tyre, like her that is brought to silence in the midst of the sea? When thy wares went forth out of the seas, thou filledst many peoples; thou didst enrich the kings of the earth with the multitude of thy riches and of thy merchandise. In the time that thou wast broken by the seas in the depths of the waters, thy merchandise and all thy company did fall in the midst of thee. All the inhabitants of the isles are astonished at thee, and their kings are horribly afraid; they are troubled in their countenance. The merchandise among the peoples hiss at thee; thou art become a terror, and thou Shalt nevermore have any being”-vera. 26-36.

Her rowers: that is, her statesmen, had brought her into great waters, and the east wind of adversity was to break her in the heart of the seas. All her wealth would then avail her nothing: her palaces, her warehouses, her great mansions, would all go down together and fall into the heart of the sea in the day of her ruin. The ships’ officers, pilots, and mariners, beholding from afar the burning of the city, would bewail its utter destruction, exclaiming, “Who is there like Tyre, like her that is brought to silence in the midst of the sea?” Realizing that their opportunities for enrichment were now gone forever, they would lament with a bitter cry the overthrow of the great Phoenician metropolis which God Himself declared should never more have any being. The island city of Tyre, when once destroyed, was never to rise again.

 


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Bibliography Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Ezekiel 27:4". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/isn/ezekiel-27.html. 1914.

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