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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ezekiel 26

 

 

Introduction

CHAP. XXVI.

Tyrus, for insulting against Jerusalem, is threatened. The power of Nebuchadnezzar against her. The mourning and astonishment of the sea, at her fall.

Before Christ 588.


Verse 1

Ezekiel 26:1. In the first day of the month The first month, the first day of the month. Houbigant. See chap. Ezekiel 20:1.


Verse 2

Ezekiel 26:2. She is broken, &c.— She is broken: the commerce of the people is turned unto me. She who was full of citizens is laid waste. Houbigant. See ch. Ezekiel 27:3. Tyre was noted for her commerce; so that when Jerusalem was taken, the spoil of the city was carried thither for sale, and several of the inhabitants who were made captives were sold there as slaves. Those who follow our Translation suppose, that Jerusalem is called the gates of the people, because of the great confluence both of Jews and proselytes to that city from all parts at the solemn festivals. See Isaiah 23. Jeremiah 25:22; Jeremiah 47:4. Amos 1:9. Zechariah 9:2.


Verse 3

Ezekiel 26:3. As the sea, &c.— They shall be as loud, as numerous, as irresistible, as the waves of the sea. This is one of the beautiful and expressive ironies which occur in the magnificent prophesy here recorded.


Verse 4

Ezekiel 26:4. I will also scrape her dust from her I will brush away the dust out of her, and reduce her to a dry rock: Houbigant: an allusion to the custom in Palestine of fertilizing particular spots by carrying mould to them from other places less eligible for the purpose of sowing or planting. Chandler renders the last clause, I will make thee as a shining or barren rock; that is to say, as appears by the context, "Strip thee of thy riches, pride, power, inhabitants, palaces; so that thou shalt be as bare as a rock which hath nothing on it, and is of no other use than "for the spreading and drying of nets." See Ezekiel 26:14 and Psalms 68:6.


Verse 6

Ezekiel 26:6. And her daughters which are in the field By the daughters of Tyre are meant the lesser towns, which were under her jurisdiction; for Tyre was very powerful, and ruled over the greater part of Phoenicia.


Verse 7

Ezekiel 26:7. Nebuchadrezzar, &c.— "This is the title which these princes shall assume, as well as their successors, the kings of Persia."


Verse 12

Ezekiel 26:12. And they shall lay, &c.— The ruins of old Tyre contributed much to the taking of the new city; for with the stones, timber, and rubbish of it, Alexander built a bank or causey from the continent to the island; thereby literally fulfilling the words of the prophet. He was seven months in completing this work: but the time and labour were well employed, for by means hereof he was enabled to take and storm the city. See Bishop Newton on the Prophesies, vol. 1: and the note on Ezekiel 26:21.


Verse 16-17

Ezekiel 26:16-17. Then all the princes of the sea, &c.— That is, "All the princes and rich merchants of Sidon, Carthage, and other maritime cities, who traded with Tyre, shall express a deep concern for her misfortune." Houbigant reads the 17th verse thus, How is she destroyed, who hath been so long inhabited! the renowned city, whose defence was the sea, and whose citizens struck terror upon all who inhabit the earth! Tyre was famous for the strength of its situation, which was on the sea-shore; but the insular Tyre, as well as that on the continent, is included in this prophesy. They are both spoken of as one and the same city; part built on the continent, and part on an adjoining island. See Bishop Newton's Dissertations, vol. 1:


Verse 18

Ezekiel 26:18. Now shall the isles tremble Now the people are terrified at thy overthrow: Yea the isles of the sea are troubled at thy destruction. Houbigant.


Verse 19

Ezekiel 26:19. I shall bring up the deep upon thee I will raise against thee a mole of waters. Houbigant.


Verse 20

Ezekiel 26:20. And I shall set glory, &c.— Nor shalt thou be, or continue in the land of the living. Houbigant.


Verse 21

Ezekiel 26:21. I will make thee a terror These prophesies, like most others, were to receive their accomplishment by degrees. Nebuchadrezzar destroyed the old city, and Alexander employed the ruins and rubbish in making his causey from the continent to the island, which hence-forward were joined together. Bishop Pococke hence observes, "It is no wonder that there are no signs of the ancient city; and as it is a sandy shore, the face of every thing is altered; and the great aqueduct in many places is almost buried in the sand." So that as to this part of the city, the prophesy has literally been fulfilled: Thou shalt be built no more, &c. Ezekiel 26:14. It may be questioned, whether the new city ever after that arose to that height of glory, power, wealth, and greatness to which it was elevated in the time of Isaiah and Ezekiel. It received a great blow from Alexander, not only by his taking and burning the city, but much more by his building Alexandria in Egypt, which in time deprived it of much of its trade, and thereby contributed more effectually to its ruin. It had the misfortune afterwards of changing its masters often, being sometimes in the hands of the Ptolemies, and sometimes of the Seleucidae, till at length it fell under the dominion of the Romans. It was taken by the Saracens about the year of Christ 639, in the reign of Omar: it was retaken by the Christians in the year 1124. From the Christians it was taken again, in the year 1289, by the Mamelucs of Egypt, under the sultan Alphix, who sacked and rased this and Sidon, and other strong towns, that they might not afford any harbour to the Christians. From the Mamelucs it was taken again in the year 1516, by Selim, the ninth emperor of the Turks, and under their dominion it continues at present. But, alas! how fallen! for, from being the centre of trade, frequented by all the merchant-ships of the east and west, it is now become a heap of ruins, visited only by the boats of a few fishermen. So that as to this part likewise of the city the prophesy has been literally fulfilled: I will make thee like the top of a rock, &c. Let us now hear what travellers have to say concerning the completion of this prophesy. Hadrianus Parvellerius, a Jesuit, who resided ten years in Syria, has related, that when he approached the ruins of Tyre, and beheld the rocks stretched forth to the sea, and the great stones scattered up and down the shore made clean and smooth by the sun, and waves, and winds, and useful only for the drying of fishermen's nets, many of which happened at that time to be spread thereon, it brought to his memory the 5th and 14th verses of this chapter, I will make thee, &c. Dr. Shaw, in his account of Tyre, expresses himself thus: "I visited several creeks and inlets, to discover what provisions might have been formerly made for the security of their vessels; yet I could not perceive the least token of their cothon or harbour, that could have been of any extraordinary capacity: so that there must have been some other station than this. In the north-north-east part likewise of the city, we see the traces of a safe and commodious bason, which is scarce forty yards in diameter. Yet even this port is so choked up with sand and rubbish, that the boats of those poor fishermen, who now and then visit this once-renowned emporium, can with great difficulty be only admitted." Mr. Maundrell is fullest to our purpose. "This city, (says he) standing in the sea upon a peninsula, promises at a distance something very magnificent but when you come to it you find no similitude of that glory for which it was so renowned in ancient times. On the north side is an old Turkish ungarrisoned castle; besides which you see nothing but a mere Babel of broken walls, pillars, vaults, &c. there being not so much as one entire house left. Its present inhabitants are only a few wretches, harbouring themselves in the vaults, and subsisting chiefly upon fishing; who seem to be preserved in this place by Divine Providence, as a visible argument, how God has fulfilled his word concerning Tyre, that it should be as the top of a rock; a place for fishers to dry their nets on." See Bishop Newton's Dissert. vol. 1: p. 344.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The same year Jerusalem was destroyed, this prophesy was delivered. We have,

1. The joy that the Tyrians took in the ruin of Judah, and the hopes of advantage which they conceived would accrue to them from her fall. Jerusalem had been the gates of the people, much frequented, a place of great trade, but was now broken down; and they hoped that all the commerce which had been carried on there would be transferred to them, and that they should be replenished, both with people who might fly thither, or with captives, and the spoil sold by the conquerors. Note; It is very sinful to be pleased with the death or misfortunes of those who were our rivals in trade, or whose fall is our advantage; and the envy and covetousness which appear herein, God will assuredly remember and punish.

2. God threatens to visit Tyre for her iniquity. I am against thee; and he is more to be feared than innumerable hosts. At his beck, and under his guidance, the king of Babylon shall besiege the city with an immense army, raging like the waves of the sea: the dust raised by the multitude of his cavalry shall obscure the skies as a thick cloud, and his military engines shake down the walls, till at the breach his troops shall enter, and spread desolation on every side. Her daughters shall be slain with the sword; either the cities and people of the continent subject to Tyre; or so terrible should be the massacre when the city was taken, that not even the women should be spared; her garrisons beat to the ground; the statues of her strength, the images of her idols, on whom she placed her confidence, trodden under foot; the very pavements broken with the prancings of the horses: the rich merchandize becomes a prey to the besiegers; the walls are razed; the whole city is laid in ruins; the very dust is scraped off, and made bare as the top of a rock. Deserted now, no songs of mirth, no music, shall be heard any more in her; nor shall she ever be rebuilt, at least not on the same spot, or be restored to her former splendour, but remain a desert waste, as the top of a rock; a place for fishermen to dry their nets; which, according to the reports of those who have been there, is to this day literally true of Tyre, since its final destruction. God hath spoken it, and therefore the fulfilment is sure; and in these judgments he will make himself terribly known to them.

2nd, The dreadful ruin of Tyre is farther described.

1. The islands of the sea, terrified with her fall, will quake for fear; their princes, descending from their thrones, with expressions of deepest sorrow shall mourn over her desolations, while they tremble in expectation of sharing her fate. They shall take up their lamentation, astonished how such a glorious city could be destroyed, and weeping over the mighty fallen. Once so renowned had Tyre been; strong in the sea; fortified by the waves as bulwarks, and filled with mariners, the most expert and bold; the terror of all that ploughed the main: she reigned the unrivalled mistress of the ocean; but now was deserted and desolate; the people departed into captivity; the city, with its inhabitants, sunk under the waters; demolished by the army of the Chaldeans, rushing with resistless fury upon them, and bringing them down to the sides of the pit with those who have been long dead. Yea, so total and intire shall be the overthrow, that scarcely the vestiges shall remain. So weak is human strength, so fading is human greatness; so tottering are the foundations of the strongest cities: if we would dwell abidingly in safety, we must look above the earth for that better city whose maker and builder is God.

2. The Lord will do this. I will make thee a terror; his hand shall be visible in their ruin; and his design in her fall is to give her neighbours warning, that, terrified with her destruction, they may avoid her sins.

3. The restoration of Israel, over whom she triumphed, shall aggravate the irreparable ruin of Tyre. I shall set glory in the land of the living; in Israel, whither many souls, spiritually alive to God, should return from the captivity; and God will exalt and distinguish them with his love, favour, and protection. Note; (1.) The church of God's believing people is the land of the living; blessed and happy are they who have their portion therein. (2.) The joy and glory of the saints in heaven will aggravate the torments of the dammed in hell, when they behold the bliss from which they are eternally excluded, and gnash with rage and despair.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Ezekiel 26:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/ezekiel-26.html. 1801-1803.

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