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Bible Commentaries

Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

Ezekiel 27



Verses 1-11

The lamentation commences with a picture of the glory of the city of Tyre, its situation, its architectural beauty, its military strength and defences (Ezekiel 27:3-11), and its wide-spread commercial relations (Ezekiel 27:12-25); and then passes into mournful lamentation over the ruin of all this glory (Ezekiel 27:26-36).

Introduction and description of the glory and might of Tyre. - Ezekiel 27:1. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 27:2. And do thou, O son of man, raise a lamentation over Tyre, Ezekiel 27:3. And say to Tyre, Thou who dwellest at the approaches of the sea, merchant of the nations to many islands, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Tyre, thou sayest, I am perfect in beauty. Ezekiel 27:4. In the heart of the seas is thy territory; thy builders have made thy beauty perfect. Ezekiel 27:5. Out of cypresses of Senir they built all double-plank-work for thee; they took cedars of Lebanon to make a mast upon thee. Ezekiel 27:6. They made thine oars of oaks of Bashan, thy benches they made of ivory set in box from the islands of the Chittaeans. Ezekiel 27:7. Byssus in embroidery from Egypt was thy sail, to serve thee for a banner; blue and red purple from the islands of Elishah was thine awning. Ezekiel 27:8. The inhabitants of Sidon and Arvad were thy rowers; thy skilful men, O Tyre, were in thee, they were thy sailors. Ezekiel 27:9. The elders of Gebal and its skilful men were with thee to repair thy leaks; all the ships of the sea and their mariners were in thee to barter thy goods. Ezekiel 27:10. Persian and Lydian and Libyan were in thine army, thy men of war; shield and helmet they hung up in thee; they gave brilliancy to thee. Ezekiel 27:11. The sons of Arvad and thine army were upon thy walls round about, and brave men were upon they towers; they hung up their shields upon thy walls round about; they have made thy beauty perfect. - The lamentation commences with an address to Tyre, in which its favourable situation for purposes of trade, and the perfect beauty of which she was conscious, are placed in the foreground (Ezekiel 27:3). Tyre is sitting, or dwelling, at the approaches of the sea. מבואת ים , approaches or entrances of the sea, are harbours into which ships sail and from which they depart, just as מבוא העיר s a t , the gate of the city, it both entrance and exit. This description does not point to the city on the mainland, or Old Tyre, but answers exactly to Insular Tyre with its two harbours.

(Note: Insular Tyre possessed two harbours, a northern one called the Sidonian, because it was on the Sidonian side, and one on the opposite or south-eastern side, which was called the Egyptian harbour from the direction in which it pointed. The Sidonian was the more celebrated of the two, and consisted of an inner harbour, situated within the wall of the city, and an outer one, formed by a row of rocks, which lay at a distance of about three hundred paces to the north-west of the island, and ran parallel to the opposite coast of the mainland, so as to form a roadstead in which ships could anchor (vid., Arrian, ii. 20; Strabo, xvi. 2. 23). This northern harbour is still held by the city of Sur , whereas the Egyptian harbour with the south-eastern portion of the island has been buried by the sand driven against the coasts by the south winds, so that even the writers of the Middle Ages make no allusion to it. (See Movers, Phönizier , II. 1, pp. 214ff.).)

ישׁבתי , with the connecting i , which is apparently confounded here after the Aramaean fashion with the i of the feminine pronoun, and has therefore been marked by the Masora as superfluous (vid., Ewald, §211 b ). The combination of רכלת with ' אל איּים ר may be accounted for from the primary meaning of רכל , to travel about as a merchant: thou who didst go to the nations on many shores to carry on thy trade. Tyre itself considers that she is perfect in her beauty, partly on account of her strong position in the sea, and partly because of her splendid edifices.

(Note: Curtius, iv. 2: Tyrus et claritate et magnitudine ante omnes urbes Syriae Phoenicesque memorabilis . (Cf. Strabo, xvi. 2. 22.))

In the description which follows of this beauty and glory, from Ezekiel 27:4 onwards, Tyre is depicted allegorically as a beautiful ship, splendidly built and equipped throughout, and its destruction is afterwards represented as a shipwreck occasioned by the east wind (Ezekiel 27:26.).

(Note: Jerome recognised this allegory, and has explained it correctly as follows: “He (the prophet) speaks τροπικῶς , as though addressing a ship, and points out its beauty and the abundance of everything. Then, after having depicted all its supplies, he announces that a storm will rise, and the south wind ( auster ) will blow, by which great waves will be gathered up, and the vessel will be wrecked. In all this he is referring to the overthrow of the city by King Nabuchodonosor,” etc. Rashi and others give the same explanation.)

The words, “in the heart of the seas is thy territory” ( Ezekiel 27:4 ), are equally applicable to the city of Tyre and to a ship, the building of which is described in what follows. The comparison of Tyre to a ship was very naturally suggested by the situation of the city in the midst of the sea, completely surrounded by water. As a ship, it must of necessity be built of wood. The shipbuilders selected the finest kinds of wood for the purpose; cypresses of Antilibanus for double planks, which formed the sides of the vessel, and cedar of Lebanon for the mast. S e nir , according to Deuteronomy 3:9, was the Amoritish name of Hermon or Antilibanus , whereas the Sidonians called it Sirion . On the other hand, S e nir occurs in 1 Chronicles 5:23, and Sh e nir in Song of Solomon 4:8, in connection with Hermon , where they are used to denote separate portions of Antilibanus. Ezekiel evidently uses Senir as a foreign name, which had been retained to his own time, whereas Sirion had possibly become obsolete, as the names had both the same meaning (see the comm. on Deuteronomy 3:9). The naming of the places from which the several materials were obtained for the fitting out of the ship, serve to heighten the glory of its construction and give an ideal character to the picture. All lands have contributed their productions to complete the glory and might of Tyre. Cypress-wood was frequently used by the ancients for buildings and (according to Virgil, Georg . ii. 443) also for ships, because it was exempt from the attacks of worms, and was almost imperishable, and yet very light ( Theophr. Hist. plant. v. 8; Plinii Hist. nat. xvi. 79). לחתים , a dual form, like חמתים in 2 Kings 25:4; Isaiah 22:11, double-planks, used for the two side-walls of the ship. For oars they chose oaks of Bashan ( משּׁוט as well as משׁוט in Ezekiel 27:29 from שׁוּט , to row), and the rowing benches (or deck) were of ivory inlaid in box. קרשׁ is used in Exodus 26:15. for the boards or planks of the wooden walls of the tabernacle; here it is employed in a collective sense, either for the rowing benches, of which there were at least two, and sometimes three rows in a vessel, one above another, or more properly, for the deck of the vessel (Hitzig). This was made of she4n , or ivory, inlaid in wood. The ivory is mentioned first as the most valuable material of the קרשׁ , the object being to picture the ship as possessing all possible splendour. The expression בּתּ־אשּׁרים , occasions some difficulty, partly on account of the use of the word בּת , and partly in connection with the meaning of אשּׁרים , although so much may be inferred from the context, that the allusion is to some kind of wood inlaid with ivory, and the custom of inlaying wood with ivory for the purpose of decoration is attested by Virgil, Aen . x. 137:

“Vel quale per artem

Inclusum buxo, aut Oricia terebintho

Lucet ebur.”

But the use of בּת does not harmonize with the relation of the wood to the ivory inserted in wood; nor can it be defended by the fact that in Lamentations 3:3 an arrow is designated “the son of the quiver.” According to this analogy, the ivory ought to have been called the son of the Ashurim, because the ivory is inserted in the wood, and not the wood in the ivory.

(Note: The Targum has paraphrased it in this way: דפּין דאשׁכרעין מכבשׁין בשׁן דפיל , i.e., planks of box or pine inlaid with ivory.)

We must therefore adopt the solution proposed by R. Salomo and others - namely, that the Masoretic division of בת־אשּׁרים into two words is founded upon a mistake, and that it should be read as one word בּתאשּׁרים , ivory in תּאשּׁרים , i.e., either sherbin-cedar (according to more recent expositors), or box-wood, for which Bochart ( Phal . III 5) has decided. The fact that in Isaiah 60:13 the תּאשּׁוּר is mentioned among the trees growing upon Lebanon, whereas here the תּאשּׁרים are described as coming from the islands of the כּתּיּם , does not furnish a decisive argument to the contrary. We cannot determine with certainty what species of tree is referred to, and therefore it cannot be affirmed that the tree grew upon Lebanon alone, and not upon the islands of the Mediterranean. כּתּיּם are the Κιτιεῖς , the inhabitants of the port of Κίτιον in Cyprus; then the Cyprians generally; and here, as in Jeremiah 2:10, where איּים of the כּתּיּם are mentioned, in a still broader sense, inhabitants of Cyprus and other islands and coast-lands of the Mediterranean. In 1 Macc. 1:1 and 8:5, even Macedonia is reckoned as belonging to the γὴ Χεττειεῖμ or Κιτίεων . Consequently the place from which the תּאשּׁרים were brought does not furnish any conclusive proof that the Cyprian pine is referred to, although this was frequently used for ship-building. There is just as much ground for thinking of the box, as Bochart does, and we may appeal in support of this to the fact that, according to Theophrastus, there is no place in which it grows more vigorously than on the island of Corsica. In any case, Ezekiel mentions it as a very valuable kind of wood; though we cannot determine with certainty to what wood he refers, either from the place where it grew or from the accounts of the ancients concerning the kinds of wood that ship-builders used. The reason for this, however, is a very simple one - namely, that the whole description has an ideal character, and, as Hitzig has correctly observed, “the application of the several kinds of wood to the different parts of the ship is evidently only poetical.”

The same may be said of the materials of which, according to Ezekiel 27:7, the sails and awning of the ship were made. Byssus in party-coloured work ( רקמה , see comm. on Exodus 26:36), i.e., woven in mixed colours, probably not merely in stripes, but woven with figures and flowers.”

(Note: See Wilkinson, Manners and Customs , III Pl. xvi., where engravings are given of Egyptian state-ships with embroidered sails. On one ship a large square sail is displayed in purple-red and purple-blue checks, surrounded by a gold border. The vessel of Antony and Cleopatra in the battle of Actium had also purple sails; and in this case the purple sails were the sign of the admiral's ship, just as in Ezekiel they serve as a mark of distinction ( נס ). See Movers, II 3, p. 165, where the accounts of ancient writers concerning such state-ships are collected together.)

“From Egypt;” the byssus-weaving of Egypt was celebrated in antiquity, so that byssus-linen formed one of the principal articles of export (vid., Movers, ut supra , pp. 317ff.). מפרשׁ , literally, spreading out, evidently signifies the sail, which we expect to find mentioned here, and with which the following clause, “to serve thee for a banner,” can be reconciled, inasmuch as it may be assumed either that the sails also served for a banner, because the ships had no actual flag, like those in Wilkinson's engraving, or that the flag ( נס ) being also extended is included under the term מפרשׁ (Hitzig). The covering of the ship, i.e., the awning which was put up above the deck for protection from the heat of the sun, consisted of purple ( תכלת and ארגּמן , see the comm. on Exodus 25:4) from the islands of Elishah , i.e., of the Grecian Peloponesus, which naturally suggests the Laconian purple so highly valued in antiquity on account of its splendid colour (Plin. Hist. nat. ix. 36, xxi. 8). The account of the building of the ship is followed by the manning, and the attention paid to its condition. The words of Ezekiel 27:8 may be taken as referring quite as much to the ship as to the city, which was in possession of ships, and is mentioned by name in Ezekiel 27:8 . The reference to the Sidonians and Arvad , i.e., to the inhabitants of Aradus , a rocky island to the north of Tripolis, as rowers, is not at variance with the latter; since there is no need to understand by the rowers either slaves or servants employed to row, and the Tyrians certainly drew their rowers from the whole of the Phoenician population, whereas the chief men in command of the ships, the captain and pilot ( חבלים ), were no doubt as a rule citizens of Tyre. The introduction of the inhabitants of Gebal , i.e., the Byblos of the Greeks, the present Jebail , between Tripolis and Berytus (see the comm. on Joshua 13:5), who were noted even in Solomon's time as skilful architects (1 Kings 5:32), as repairers of the leak, decidedly favours the supposition that the idea of the ship is still kept in the foreground; and by the naming of those who took charge of the piloting and condition of the vessel, the thought is expressed that all the cities of Phoenicia assisted to maintain the might and glory of Tyre, since Tyre was supreme in Phoenicia. It is not till Ezekiel 27:9 that the allegory falls into the background. Tyre now appears no longer as a ship, but as a maritime city, into which all the ships of the sea sail, to carry on and improve her commerce.

Ezekiel 27:10, Ezekiel 27:11. Tyre had also made the best provision for its defence. It maintained an army of mercenary troops from foreign countries to protect its colonies and extend its settlements, and entrusted the guarding of the walls of the city to fighting men of Phoenicia. The hired troops specially named in Ezekiel 27:10 are Pharas , Lud , and Phut . פּוּט is no doubt an African tribe, in Coptic Phaiat , the Libyans of the ancients, who had spread themselves over the whole of North Africa as far as Mauretania (see the comm. on Genesis 10:6). לוּד is not the Semitic people of that name, the Lydians (Genesis 10:22), but here, as in Ezekiel 30:5; Isaiah 66:19, and Jeremiah 46:9, the Hamitic people of לוּדים (Genesis 10:13), probably a general name for the whole of the Moorish tribes, since לוּד (Ezekiel 30:5) and לוּדים (Jeremiah 44:9) are mentioned in connection with פּוּט as auxiliaries in the Egyptian army. There is something striking in the reference to פּרס , the Persians. Hävernick points to the early intercourse carried on by the Phoenicians with Persia through the Persian Gulf, through which the former would not doubt be able to obtain mercenary soldiers, for which it was a general rule to select tribes as remote as possible. Hitzig objects to this, on the ground that there is no proof that this intercourse with Persian through the Persian Gulf was carried on in Ezekiel's time, and that even if it were, it does not follow that there were any Persian mercenaries. He therefore proposes to understand by פרס , Persians who had settled in Africa in the olden time. But this settlement cannot be inferred with sufficient certainty either from Sallust, Jug . c. 18, or from the occurrence of the African Μάκαι of Herodotus, iv. 175, along with the Asiatic (Ptol. vi. 7. 14), to take it as an explanation of פּרס . If we compare Ezekiel 38:5, where Pâras is mentioned in connection with Cush and Phut , Gomer and Togarmah , as auxiliaries in the army of Gog , there can be no doubt that Asiatic Persians are intended there. And we have to take the word in the same sense here; for Hitzig's objections consist of pure conjectures which have no conclusive force. Ezekiel evidently intends to give the names of tribes from the far-off east, west, and south, who were enlisted as mercenaries in the military service of Tyre. Hanging the shields and helmets in the city, to ornament its walls, appears to have been a Phoenician custom, which Solomon also introduced into Judah (1 Kings 10:16-17, Song of Solomon 4:4), and which is mentioned again in the times of the Maccabees (1 Macc. 4:57). - A distinction is drawn in Ezekiel 27:11 between the mercenary troops on the one hand, and the Aradians, and הילך , thine army, the military corps consisting of Tyrians, on the other. The latter appears upon the walls of Tyre, because native troops were employed to watch and defend the city, whilst the mercenaries had to march into the field. The ἁπ . λεγ . גּמּדים ( Gammâdim ) signifies brave men, as Roediger has conclusively shown from the Syrian usage, in his Addenda to Gesenius' Thes . p. 70f. It is therefore an epitheton of the native troops of Tyre. - With the words, “they (the troops) completed thy beauty,” the picture of the glory of Tyre is rounded off, returning to its starting-point in Ezekiel 27:4 and Ezekiel 27:5.

Verses 12-25

This is followed by a description of the commerce of Tyre with all nations, who delivered their productions in the market of this metropolis of the commerce of the world, and received the wares and manufactures of this city in return. - Ezekiel 27:12. Tarshish traded with thee for the multitude of goods of all kinds; with silver, iron, tin, and lead they paid for thy sales. Ezekiel 27:13. Javan, Tubal, and Meshech, they were thy merchants; with souls of men and brazen vessels they made thy barter. Ezekiel 27:14. From the house of Togarmah they paid horses, riding-horses, and mules for thy sales. Ezekiel 27:15. The sons of Dedan were thy merchants; many islands were at thy hand for commerce; ivory horns and ebony they brought thee in payment. Ezekiel 27:16. Aram traded with thee for the multitude of thy productions; with carbuncle, red purple, and embroidery, and byssus, and corals, and rubies they paid for thy sales. Ezekiel 27:17. Judah and the land of Israel, they were thy merchants; with wheat of Minnith and confectionery, and honey and oil, and balsam they made thy barter. Ezekiel 27:18. Damascus traded with thee in the multitude of thy productions, for the multitude of goods of all kinds, with wine of Chelbon and white wool. Ezekiel 27:19. Vedan and Javan from Uzal gave wrought iron for thy salves; cassia and calamus were for thy barter. Ezekiel 27:20. Vedan was thy merchant in cloths spread for riding. Ezekiel 27:21. Arabia and all the princes of Kedar, they were at thy hand for commerce; lambs and rams and he-goats, in these they traded with thee. Ezekiel 27:22. The merchants of Sheba and Ragmah, they were thy merchants; with all kinds of costly spices and with all kinds of precious stones and gold they paid for thy sales. Ezekiel 27:23. Haran, and Canneh, and Eden, the merchants of Sheba, Asshur, Chilmad, were they merchants; Ezekiel 27:24. They were thy merchants in splendid clothes, in purple and embroidered robes, and in treasures of twisted yarn, in wound and strong cords for thy wares. Ezekiel 27:25. The ships of Tarshish were thy caravans, thy trade, and thou wast filled and glorious in the heart of the seas. - The enumeration of the different peoples, lands, and cities, which carried on trade with Tyre, commences with Tarshish (Tartessus) in the extreme west, then turns to the north, passes through the different lands of Anterior Asia and the Mediterranean to the remotest north-east, and ends by mentioning Tarshish again, to round off the list. But the lands and peoples, which are mentioned in Ezekiel 27:5-11 as furnishing produce and manufactures for the building of Tyre, viz., Egypt and the tribes of Northern Africa, are left out. - To avoid wearisome uniformity in the enumeration, Ezekiel has used interchangeably the synonymous words which the language possessed for trade, besides endeavouring to give life to the description by a variety of turns of expression. Thus סחרתך (Ezekiel 27:12, Ezekiel 27:16, Ezekiel 27:18), סחריך (Ezekiel 27:21), and סחרת ידך (Ezekiel 27:15), or סחרי ידך (Ezekiel 27:21), are interchanged with רכליך (Ezekiel 27:13, Ezekiel 27:15, Ezekiel 27:17, Ezekiel 27:22, Ezekiel 27:24), רכלתך (Ezekiel 27:20, Ezekiel 27:23), and מרכּלתּך (Ezekiel 27:24); and, again, נתן עזבוניך (Ezekiel 27:12, Ezekiel 27:14, Ezekiel 27:22), נתן (Ezekiel 27:16, Ezekiel 27:19), with נתן מערבך (Ezekiel 27:13, Ezekiel 27:17), and בּמערבך היה (Ezekiel 27:19), and השׁיב אשׁכּרך (Ezekiel 27:15). The words סחר , participle of סחר , and רכל , from רכל morf , signify merchants, traders, who travel through different lands for purposes of trade. סחרת , literally, the female trader; and סחרה , literally, trade; then used as abstract for concrete, the tradesman or merchant. רכל , the travelling merchant. - רכלת , the female trader, a city carrying on trade. מרכלת , trade or a place of trade, a commercial town. עזבונים ( pluralet .) does not mean a place of trade, market, and profits (Gesenius and others); but according to its derivation from עזב , to leave, relinquish, literally, leaving or giving up, and as Gusset. has correctly explained it, “that which you leave with another in the place of something else which he has given up to you.” Ewald, in accordance with this explanation, has adopted the very appropriate rendering Absatz , or sale. נתן עזבוניך , with ב , or with a double accusative, literally, to make thy sale with something, i.e., to pay or to give, i.e., pay, something as an equivalent for the sale; ' נתן בּעזב , to give something for the sale, or the goods to be sold. מערב , barter, goods bartered with נתן , to give bartered goods, or carry on trade by barter.

The following are the countries and peoples enumerated: - תּרשׁישׁ , the Tyrian colony of Tarshish or Tartessus , in Hispania Baetica , which was celebrated for its wealth in silver (Jeremiah 10:9), and, according to the passage before us, also supplied iron, tin, and lead (vid., Plin. Hist. nat . iii. 3 4, xxxiii. 6 31, xxiv. 14 41; Diod. Sic. v. 38). Further particulars concerning Tarshish are to be found in Movers, Phoeniz . II 2, pp. 588ff., and II 3, p. 36. - Javan , i.e., Jania, Greece or Greeks. - Tubal and Meshech are the Tibareni and Moschi of the ancients between the Black and Caspian Seas (see the comm. on Genesis 10:2). They supplied souls of men, i.e., slaves, and things in brass. The slave trade was carried on most vigorously by the Ionians and Greeks (see Joel 4:6, from which we learn that the Phoenicians sold prisoners of war to them); and both Greeks and Romans drew their largest supplies and the best slaves from the Pontus (for proofs of this, see Movers, II 3, pp. 81f.). It is probable that the principal supplies of brazen articles were furnished by the Tibareni and Moschi, as the Colchian mountains still contain an inexhaustible quantity of copper. In Greece, copper was found and wrought in Euboea alone; and the only other rich mines were in Cyprus (vid., Movers, II 3, pp. 66, 67). - Ezekiel 27:14. “From the house of Togarmah they paid,” i.e., they of the house of Togarmah paid. Togarmah is one of the names of the Armenians (see the comm. on Genesis 10:3); and Strabo (XI 14. 9) mentions the wealth of Armenia in horses, whilst that in asses is attested by Herodotus (i. 194), so that we may safely infer that mules were also bred there. - Ezekiel 27:15. The sons of Dedan , or the Dedanites, are, no doubt, the Dedanites mentioned in Genesis 10:7 as descendants of Cush, who conducted the carrying trade between the Persian Gulf and Tyre, and whose caravans are mentioned in Isaiah 21:13. Their relation to the Semitic Dedanites, who are evidently intended in Ezekiel 27:20, and by the inhabitants of Dedan mentioned in connection with Edom in Ezekiel 25:13 and Jeremiah 49:8, is involved in obscurity (see the comm. on Genesis 10:7). The combination with איּים רבּים and the articles of commerce which they brought to Tyre, point to a people of southern Arabia settled in the neighbourhood of the Persian Gulf. The many איּים are the islands and coasts of Arabia on the Persian Gulf and Erythraean Sea.

(Note: Movers (II 3, pp. 303ff.) adduces still further evidence in addition to that given above, namely, that “unquestionable traces of the ancient name have been preserved in the region in which the ancient Dedanites are represented as living, partly on the coast in the names Attana, Attene , which have been modified according to well-known laws, - the former, a commercial town on the Persian Gulf, visited by Roman merchants (Plin. vi. 32, §147); the latter, a tract of country opposite to the island of Tylos (Plin. l.c. §49), - and partly in the islands of the Persian Gulf” (p. 304).)

סחרת ידך , the commerce of thy hand, i.e., as abstr. pro concr ., those who were ready to thy hand as merchants. קרנות שׁן , ivory horns. This is the term applied to the elephants' tusks ( shçn ) on account of their shape and resemblance to horns, just as Pliny ( Hist. nat . xviii. 1) also speaks of cornua elephanti, although he says, in viii. 3 (4), that an elephant's weapons, which Juba calls cornua , are more correctly to be called dentes .

(Note: The Ethiopians also call ivory Karna nage , i.e., cornu elephanti , and suppose that it is from horns, and not from tusks, that ivory comes (vid., Hiob Ludolph, Hist. Aeth . I c. 10).)

The ἁπ. λεγ. . הובנים , Keri הבנים , signifies ἔβενος hebenum , ebony. The ancients obtained both productions partly from India, partly from Ethiopia (Plin. xii. 4 8). According to Dioscor. i. 130, the Ethiopian ebony was preferred to the Indian. השׁיב אשׁכּר to return payment (see the comm. on Psalms 72:10).

In Ezekiel 27:16, J. D. Michaelis, Ewald, Hitzig, and others read אדם for ארם , after the lxx and Pesh., because Aram did not lie in the road from Dedan and the איּים to Israel (Ezekiel 27:17), and it is not till Ezekiel 27:18 that Ezekiel reaches Aram. Moreover, the corruption ארם for אדום could arise all the more readily from the simple fact that the defective form אדם only occurs in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 25:14), and is altogether an extraordinary one. These reasons are undoubtedly worthy of consideration; still they are not conclusive, since the enumeration does not follow a strictly geographical order, inasmuch as Damascus is followed in Ezekiel 27:19. by many of the tribes of Southern Arabia, so that Aram might stand, as Hävernick supposes, for Mesopotamian Aram, for which the articles mentioned in Ezekiel 27:16 would be quite as suitable as for Edom, whose chief city Petra was an important place of commerce and emporium for goods. רב מעשׂיך , the multitude of thy works, thy manufactures. Of the articles of commerce delivered by ארם , the red purple, embroidery, and בּוּץ (the Aramaean name for byssus, which appears, according to Movers, to have originally denoted a species of cotton), favour Aram, particularly Babylonia, rather than Edom. For the woven fabrics of Babylonia were celebrated from the earliest times (vid., Movers, II 3, pp. 260ff.); and Babylon was also the oldest and most important market for precious stones (vid., Movers, p. 266). נפך is the carbuncle (see the comm. on Exodus 28:18). כּדכּד , probably the ruby; in any case, a precious stone of brilliant splendour (vid., Isaiah 54:12). ראמות , corals or pearls (vid., Delitzsch on Job 28:18). - Judah (Ezekiel 27:17) delivered to Tyre wheat of Minnith , i.e., according to Judges 11:33, an Ammonitish place, situated, according to the Onomast ., four Roman miles from Heshbon in the direction of Philadelphia. That Ammonitis abounded in wheat, is evident from 2 Chronicles 27:5, although the land of Israel also supplied the Tyrians with wheat (1 Kings 5:11). The meaning of the ἁπ . λεγ . דם̓̀בנ̓̀ב cannot be definitely ascertained. The rendering confectionery is founded upon the Aramaean פּנק , deliciari , and the Chaldee translation, קוליא , i.e., κολία , according to Hesychius, τὰ ἐκ μέλιτος τρωγάλια , or sweetmeats made from honey. Jerome renders it balsamum , after the μύρων of the lxx; and in Hitzig's opinion, Pannaga (literally, a snake) is a name used in Sanscrit for a sweet-scented wood, which was employed in medicine as a cooling and strengthening drug (?). Honey (from bees) and oil are well-known productions of Palestine. צרי is balsam; whether resina or the true balsam grown in gardens about Jericho ( opobalsamum ), it is impossible to decide (see my Bibl. Archäol . I p. 38, and Movers, II 3, pp. 220ff.). Damascus supplied Tyre with wine of Chelbon . חלבּון still exists in the village of Helbôn , a place with many ruins, three hours and a half to the north of Damascus, in the midst of a valley of the same name, which is planted with vines wherever it is practicable, from whose grapes the best and most costly wine of the country is made (vid., Robinson, Biblical Researches ). Even in ancient times this wine was so celebrated, that, according to Posidonius (in Athen. Deipnos. i. 22), the kings of Persia drank only Chalybonian wine from Damascus (vid., Strabo, XV 3. 22). צמר צחר , wool of dazzling whiteness; or, according to others, wool of Zachar , for which the Septuagint has ἔρια ἐκ Μιλήτου , Milesian wool.

(Note: According to Movers (II 3, p. 269), צחר is the Sicharia of Aethicus (Cosm. §108): Sicharia regio, quae postea Nabathaea, nuncupatur, silvestris valde, ubi Ismaelitae eminus , - an earlier name for the land of the Nabathaeans, who dwelt in olden time between Palestine and the Euphrates, and were celebrated for their wealth in flocks of sheep.)

Ezekiel 27:19. Various explanations have been given of the first three words. ודן is not to be altered into דּדן , as it has been by Ewald, both arbitrarily and unsuitably with Ezekiel 27:20 immediately following; nor is it to be rendered “ and Dan .” It is a decisive objection to this, that throughout the whole enumeration not a single land or people is introduced with the copula w . Vedan , which may be compared with the Vaheb of Numbers 21:14, a place also mentioned only once, is the name of a tribe and tract of land not mentioned elsewhere in the Old Testament. Movers (p. 302) conjectures that it is the celebrated city of Aden (Arab. 'dn ). Javan is also the name of an Arabian place or tribe; and, according to a notice in the Kamus , it is a place in Yemen . Tuch ( Genesis , p. 210) supposes it to be a Greek (Ionian) settlement, the founders of which had been led by their enterprising spirit to cross the land of Egypt into Southern Arabia. For the purpose of distinguishing this Arabian Javan from Greece itself, or in order to define it more precisely, מעוּזל is appended, which all the older translators have taken to be a proper name. According to the Masoretic pointing מאוּזּה , the word is, no doubt, to be regarded as a participle Pual of אזל , in the sense of spun, from אזל , to spin. But apart from the fact that it would be a surprising thing to find spun goods mentioned in connection with the trade of the Arabian tribes, the explanation itself could not be sustained from the usage of the language; for there is nothing in the dialects to confirm the idea that אזל is a softened form of עזל , inasmuch as they have all עזל (Aram.) and gzl (Arab.), and the Talmudic אזל , texere , occurs first of all in the Gemara, and may possibly have been derived in the first instance from the Rabbinical rendering of our מאוזל by “spun.” Even the fact that the word is written with Shurek is against this explanation rather than in its favour; and in all probability its origin is to be traced to the simple circumstance, that in Ezekiel 27:12, Ezekiel 27:14, Ezekiel 27:16 the articles of commerce are always mentioned before נתנוּ עזבוניך , and in this verse they would appear to be omitted altogether, unless they are covered by the word מאוזל . But we can very properly take the following words בּרזל עשׁות as the object of the first hemistich, since the Masoretic accentuation is founded upon the idea that מאוזל is to be taken as the object here. We therefore regard מאוּזל as the only admissible pointing, and take אוּזל as a proper name, as in Genesis 10:27 : “from Uzal ,” the ancient name of Sanaa , the subsequent capital of Yemen . The productions mentioned bear this out. Forged or wrought iron, by which Tuch ( l.c. p. 260) supposes that sword-blades from Yemen are chiefly intended, which were celebrated among the Arabs as much as the Indian. Cassia and calamus (see the comm. on Exodus 30:23 and Exodus 30:24), two Indian productions, as Yemen traded with India from the very earliest times. - Dedan (Ezekiel 27:20) is the inland people of that name, living in the neighbourhood of Edom (cf. Ezekiel 25:13; see the comm. on Ezekiel 27:15). They furnished בּגדי , tapetes straguli , cloths for spreading out, most likely costly riding-cloths, like the middim of Judges 5:10. ערב and קדר represent the nomad tribes of central Arabia, the Bedouins. For ערב is never used in the Old Testament for the whole of Arabia; but, according to its derivation from ערבה , a steppe or desert, simply for the tribes living as nomads in the desert (as in Isaiah 13:20; Jeremiah 3:2; cf. Ewald, Grammat. Arab . I p. 5). Kedar , descended from Ishmael, an Arabian nomad tribe, living in the desert between Arabia Petraea and Babylonia, the Cedrei of Pliny (see the comm. on Genesis 25:13). They supplied lambs, rams, and he-goats, from the abundance of their flocks, in return for the goods obtained from Tyre.

Judges 5:22. Next to these the merchants of Sheba and Ragmah ( רעמה ) are mentioned. They were Arabs of Cushite descent (Genesis 10:7) in south-eastern Arabia (Oman); for , רעמה ̔Ρεγμα , was in the modern province of Oman in the bay of the same name in the Persian Gulf. Their goods were all kinds of spices, precious stones, and gold, in which southern Arabia abounded. ראשׁ כּל־בּשׂם , the chief or best of all perfumes (on this use of ראשׁ , see the comm. on Exodus 30:23; Song of Solomon 4:14), is most likely the genuine balsam, which grew in Yemen ( Arabia felix ), according to Diod. Sic. iii. 45, along with other costly spices, and grows there still; for Forskal found a shrub between Mecca and Medina, called Abu sham , which he believed to be the true balsam, and of which he has given a botanical account in his Flora Aeg. pp. 79, 80 (as Amyris opobalsamum ), as well as of two other kinds. Precious stones, viz., onyx-stones, rubies, agates, and cornelians, are still found in the mountains of Hadramaut; and in Yemen also jaspers, crystals, and many good rubies (vid., Niebuhr, Descript . p. 125, and Seetzen in Zach's Monatl. Corresp . xix. p. 339). And, lastly, the wealth of Yemen in gold is too strongly attested by ancient writers to be called in question (cf. Bochart, Phal . II 28), although this precious metal is no found there now.

In Ezekiel 27:23, Ezekiel 27:24 the trade with Mesopotamia is mentioned. חרן , the Carrhae of the Romans in north-western Mesopotamia (see the comm. on Genesis 11:31), was situated at the crossing of the caravan-roads which intersect Mesopotamia; for it was at this point that the two caravan routes from Babylonia and the Delta of the Persian Gulf joined the old military and commercial road to Canaan (Movers, p. 247). The eastern route ran along the Tigris, where Calneh , the later Ktesiphon , and the most important commercial city. It is here called כּנּה (Canneh), contracted from כּלנה (see the comm. on Genesis 10:10; Amos 6:2). The western route ran along the Euphrates, past the cities mentioned in Ezekiel 27:23 . עדן is not the Syrian, but the Mesopotamian Eden (2 Kings 19:12; Isaiah 37:12), the situation of which has not yet been determined, though Movers (p. 257) has sought for it in the Delta of the Euphrates and Tigris. The singular circumstance that the merchants of Sheba should be mentioned in connection with localities in Mesopotamia, which has given rise both to arbitrary alterations of the text and to various forced explanations, has been explained by Movers (p. 247 compared with p. 139) from a notice of Juba in Pliny's Hist. nat . xii. 17 (40), namely, that the Sabaeans, the inhabitants of the spice country, came with their goods from the Persian Gulf to Carrhae, where they held their yearly markets, and from which they were accustomed to proceed to Gabba (Gabala in Phoenicia) and Palestinian Syria. Consequently the merchants of Sabaea are mentioned as those who carried on the trade between Mesopotamia and Tyre, and are not unsuitably placed in the centre of those localities which formed the most important seats of trade on the two great commercial roads of Mesopotamia.

Asshur and Chilmad , as we have already observed, were on the western road which ran along the Euphrates. כּלמד has already been discovered by Bochart ( Phal . I 18) in the Charmande of Xenophon ( Anab . i. 5. 10), and Sophaenetus (see Steph. Byz. s.v. Χαρμάνδη ), a large and wealthy city in a desert region “beyond the river Euphrates.” The Asshur mentioned along with Chilmad , in the midst of purely commercial cities, cannot be the land of Assyria, but must be the emporium Sura (Movers, p. 252), the present Essurieh , which stands upon the bank on this side of the Euphrates above Thapsacus and on the caravan route, which runs from Palmyra past Rusapha ( Rezeph , Isaiah 37:12; 2 Kings 19:12) to Nicephorium or Rakka, then in a northerly direction to Haran, and bending southwards, runs along the bank of the river in the direction of Chilmad or Charmande (Ritter, Erdk . XI pp. 1081ff.). The articles of commerce from these emporia, which were brought to Tyre by Sabaean caravans, consisted of מּכללים , literally, articles of perfect beauty, either state-dresses (cf. מכלל , Ezekiel 23:12 and Ezekiel 34:4), or more generally, costly works of art (Hävernick). The omission of the copula ו before בּגלומי is decisive is favour of the former, as we may infer from this that ' בגל is intended as an explanatory apposition to מּכללים . גּלומי תכלת ורקמה , cloaks ( גּלום connected with χλαμύς ) of hyacinth-purple and embroidery, for which Babylonia was celebrated (for proofs of this, see Movers, pp. 258ff.). The words which follow cannot be explained with certainty. All that is evident is, that ' ואר ' בּחבלים חב is appended to בּגנזי בּרומים without a copula, as ' בּגלומי וגו is to בּמּכללים in the first hemistich, and therefore, like the latter, is intended as an explanatory apposition. חבלים does not mean either cloths or threads, but lines or cords. חבשׁים signifies literally bound or would up; probably twisted, i.e., formed of several threads wound together or spun; and ארזים , firm, compact, from Arab. arz , to be drawn together. Consequently ' גּנזי בּרומים וגו can hardly have any other meaning than treasures of spun yarns, i.e., the most valuable yarns formed of different threads. For “treasures” is the only meaning which can be assigned to גּנזים with any certainty on philological grounds, and בּרומים , from בּרם , Arab. brm , contorsit , is either yarn spun from several or various threads, or cloth woven from such threads. But the latter would not harmonize with חבלים . Movers (II 3, pp. 263ff.) adopts a similar conclusion, and adduces evidence that silk yarn, bombyx, and cotton came to Tyre through the Mesopotamian trade, and were there dyed in the splendid Tyrian purples, and woven into cloths, or brought for sale with the dyeing complete. All the other explanations which have been given of these difficult words are arbitrary and untenable; not only the Rabbinical rendering of גּנזי בּרומים , viz., chests of damask, but that of Ewald, “pockets of damask,” and that proposed by Hartmann, Hävernick, and others, viz., girdles of various colours, ζῶναι σκιωταί . In Ezekiel 27:25 the description is rounded off with a notice of the lever of this world-wide trade. שׁרות cannot mean “walls” in this instance, as in Jeremiah 5:10, and like שׁוּרות in Job 24:11, because the ships, through which Tyre became so rich, could not be called walls. The word signifies “caravans,” after שׁוּר = Arab. sâr (Isaiah 57:9), corresponding to the Aramaean שׁירא . מערבך might be regarded as an accusative of more precise definition: caravans, with regard to (for) thy bartering trade. At the same time it is more rhetorical to take מערבך as a second predicate: they were thy trade, i.e., the carriers of thy trade. What the caravans were for the emporia of trade on the mainland, the ships of Tarshish were for Tyre, and these on the largest sea-going ships are mentioned instar omnium . By means of these vessels Tyre was filled with goods, and rendered weighty ( נכבּד ), i.e., rich and glorious. - But a tempest from the east would destroy Tyre with all its glory.

Verses 26-36

Destruction of Tyre

Ezekiel 27:26. Thy rowers brought thee into great waters: the east wind broke thee up in the heart of the seas. Ezekiel 27:27. Thy riches and thy sales, thy bartering wares, thy seamen and thy sailors, the repairers of thy leaks and the treaders in thy wares, and all thy fighting men in thee, together with all the multitude of people in thee, fell into the heart of the seas in the day of thy fall. Ezekiel 27:28. At the noise of the cry of thy sailors the places tremble. Ezekiel 27:29. And out of their ships come all the oarsmen, seamen, all the sailors of the sea; they come upon the land, Ezekiel 27:20. And make their voice heard over thee, and cry bitterly, and put dust upon their heads, and cover themselves with ashes; Ezekiel 27:31. And shave themselves bald on thy account, and gird on sackcloth, and weep for thee in anguish of soul a bitter wailing. Ezekiel 27:32. They raise over thee in their grief a lamentation, and lament over thee: Who is like Tyre! like the destroyed one in the midst of the sea!. Ezekiel 27:33. When thy sales came forth out of the seas, thou didst satisfy many nations; with the abundance of thy goods and thy wares thou didst enrich kings of the earth. Ezekiel 27:34. Now that thou art wrecked away from the seas in the depths of the water, thy wares and all thy company are fallen in thee. Ezekiel 27:35. All the inhabitants of the islands are amazed at thee, and their kings shudder greatly; their faces quiver. Ezekiel 27:36. The traders among the nations hiss over thee; thou hast become a terror, and art gone for ever. - The allusion to the ships of Tarshish, to which Tyre was indebted for its glory, serves as an introduction to a renewal in Ezekiel 27:26 of the allegory of Ezekiel 27:5-9 ; Tyre is a ship, which is wrecked by the east wind (cf. Psalms 48:8). In Palestine (Arabia and Syria) the east wind is characterized by continued gusts; and if it rises into a tempest, it generally causes great damage on account of the violence of the gusts (see Wetzstein in Delitzsch's commentary on Job 27:1). Like a ship broken in pieces by the storm, Tyre with all its glory sinks into the depths of the sea. The repetition of בּלב in Ezekiel 27:26 and Ezekiel 27:27 forms an effective contrast to Ezekiel 27:25; just as the enumeration of all the possessions of Tyre, which fall with the ship into the heart of the sea, does to the wealth and glory in Ezekiel 27:25 . They who manned the ship also perish with the cargo, - ”the seamen,” i.e., sailors, rowers, repairers of leaks (calkers), also the merchants on board, and the fighting men who defended the ship and its goods against pirates, - the whole qâhâl , or gathering of people, in the ship. The difficult expression בּכל־קהלך can only be taken as an explanatory apposition to אשׁר בּך : all the men who are in thee, namely, in the multitude of people in thee. Ezekiel 27:28. When the vessel is wrecked, the managers of the ship raise such a cry that the migreshōth tremble. מגרשׁ is used in Numbers 35:2 for the precincts around the Levitical cities, which were set apart as pasture ground for the flocks; and in Ezekiel 45:2; Ezekiel 48:17, for the ground surrounding the holy city. Consequently מגרשׁות cannot mean the suburbs of Tyre in the passage before us, but must signify the open places on the mainland belonging to Tyre, i.e., the whole of its territory, with the fields and villages contained therein. The rendering “fleet,” which Ewald follows the Vulgate in adopting, has nothing to support it.

Ezekiel 27:29. The ruin of this wealthy and powerful metropolis of the commerce of the world produces the greatest consternation among all who sail upon the sea, so that they forsake their ships, as if they were no longer safe in them, and leaving them for the land, bewail the fall of Tyre with deepest lamentation. השׁמיע with בּקול , as in Psalms 26:7; 1 Chronicles 15:19, etc. For the purpose of depicting the lamentation as great and bitter in the extreme, Ezekiel groups together all the things that were generally done under such circumstances, viz., covering the head with dust (cf. Joshua 7:6; 1 Samuel 4:12; and Job 2:12) and ashes ( התפּלּשׁ , to strew, or cover oneself, not to roll oneself: see the comm. on Micah 1:10); shaving a bald place (see Ezekiel 7:18 and the comm. on Micah 1:16); putting on sackcloth; loud, bitter weeping ( בּמר , as in Job 7:11 and Job 10:1); and singing an mournful dirge (Ezekiel 27:32.). בּניהם , in lamento eorum ; ני contracted from נהי (Jeremiah 9:17-18; cf. הי , Ezekiel 2:10). The reading adopted by the lxx, Theodot., Syr., and eleven Codd. ( בּניהם ) is unsuitable, as there is no allusion to sons, but the seamen themselves raise the lamentation. The correction proposed by Hitzig, בּפיהם , is altogether inappropriate. The exclamation, Who is like Tyre! is more precisely defined by כּדמּה , like the destroyed one in the midst of the sea. דּמּה , participle Pual , with the מ dropt, as in 2 Kings 2:10, etc. (vid., Ges. §52. 2, Anm. 6). It is quite superfluous to assume that there was a noun דּמּה signifying destruction. ' בּצאת עזב has been aptly explained by Hitzig; “inasmuch as thy wares sprang out of the sea, like the plants and field-fruits out of the soil” (the selection of the word השׂבּעתּ also suggested this simile); “not as being manufactured at Tyre, and therefore in the sea, but because the sea floated the goods to land for the people in the ships, and they satisfied the desire of the purchasers.” Tyre satisfied peoples and enriched kings with its wares, not only by purchasing from them and paying for their productions with money or barter, but also by the fact that the Tyrians gave a still higher value to the raw material by the labour which they bestowed upon them. הוניך in the plural is only met with here. - Ezekiel 27:34. But now Tyre with its treasures and its inhabitants has sunk in the depths of the sea. The antithesis in which Ezekiel 27:34 really stands to Ezekiel 27:33 does not warrant our altering עת into עתּ נשׁבּרתּ , as Ewald and Hitzig propose, or adopting a different division of the second hemistich. עת is an adverbial accusative, as in Ezekiel 16:57 : “at the time of the broken one away from the seas into the depth of the waters, thy wares and thy people have fallen, i.e., perished.” עת נשׁבּרת , tempore quo fracta es . נשׁבּרת מימּים is intentionally selected as an antithesis to נושׁבת מימּים in Ezekiel 26:17. - Ezekiel 27:35. All the inhabitants of the islands and their kings, i.e., the inhabitants of the (coast of the) Mediterranean and its islands, will be thrown into consternation at the fall of Tyre; and (Ezekiel 27:36) the merchants among the nations, i.e., the foreign nations, the rivals of Tyre in trade, will hiss thereat; in other words, give utterance to malicious joy. שׁמם , to be laid waste, or thrown into perturbation with terror and amazement. רעם פנים .t n emezama dna , to tremble or quiver in the face, i.e., to tremble so much that the terror shows itself in the countenance. - In Ezekiel 27:36 Ezekiel brings the lamentation to a close in a similar manner to the threat contained in Ezekiel 26 (vid., Ezekiel 26:21).


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The Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.

Bibliography Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Ezekiel 27:4". 1854-1889.

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