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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Ezekiel 28



Verse 2

2. Tyrus — Tyre (rock), now at the height of its glory, having been already in existence over two thousand years. This island fortress was very proud and very beautiful, and seemed an impregnable Gibraltar. Its lack of drinking water was originally its greatest weakness, as is seen from a record of an Egyptian traveler in the fourteenth century B.C. and from a Tel-el-Amarna tablet, where Abimilki, the governor, appeals for help to the Pharaoh, saying that Zimrida the Sidonian had cut off his supplies of wood and water. But evidently this defect had been remedied before the Nebuchadnezzar campaign, which Josephus says lasted thirteen years (Antiquities of the Jews, Ezekiel 10:11). The inscriptions mentioned above prove that even then Tyre was celebrated for her vast wealth, as in Isaiah’s time she was the city “that giveth crowns” (Isaiah 23:8). For history and commerce of Tyre see Jeremias’s Tyrus, Movers’s Phoenicia, and notes Ezekiel 26:2; Ezekiel 27.

I am a god — So boasted the king of Babylon (Isaiah 14:13-14; Daniel 4:30). The inscriptions prove this statement of the prophet to be a literal truth. (Compare self-deification of the Roman emperors, Acts 12:21-23.)

Verse 3

3. Wiser than Daniel — Is this an acknowledgment that Eth-baal, “prince” or “king” of Tyre (Ezekiel 28:2; Ezekiel 28:12), was wiser than Daniel, the wisest and best Hebrew (compare Ezekiel 14:14), or is it merely a continuation of the boasting which must now be rebuked? No doubt the latter; for although the Israelites recognized the superiority of Tyrian wisdom in some directions, it was only the Hebrew seer from whom no secret could be hid. (Compare Daniel 2:21; Daniel 2:28; Daniel 4:9; Daniel 5:11, etc.) This verse does not prove necessarily that the king of Tyre at this date recognized Daniel as the typical Hebrew sage (Konig, Einleitung, p. 385), but it does prove that Ezekiel and his hearers did do this. (See note Ezekiel 14:14.)

Verse 7

7. The terrible of the nations — This is a strong name for the Chaldean army, which shall destroy the beautiful works produced by Tyrian wisdom and prove that the prince is not God, but man (Ezekiel 30:11; Ezekiel 32:12; Habakkuk 1:6-10). She is intrenched “in the heart of the seas” (Ezekiel 28:8), but that which she supposes to be her greatest protection shall be her grave.

Verse 9-10

9, 10. Thou shalt be a man — Literally, thou art man (as Ezekiel 28:2).

The deaths of the uncircumcised — Here, as Dr. Plumptre says, we reach the climax of Hebrew scorn. As the uncircumcised were to the Israelites (1 Samuel 17; 1 Samuel 26; 1 Samuel 31:4), so should the king of Tyre, unhonored, unwept, with no outward marks of reverence, be among the great ones of the past who dwell in Hades (Ezekiel 31:18; Ezekiel 32:24). If Herodotus is right in saying that the ancient Phoenicians practiced circumcision, it adds a double sting to these words.

Verse 12

12. Thou sealest up the sum — This is a very difficult phrase. It may be rendered, “Thou wast the seal ring of symmetry and the perfection of beauty;” or,” Thou wast the sealer of symmetry” (Davidson), i.e., impressed symmetry upon all things; or, “Thou settest the seal to thy completeness [perfection]” (Plumptre), i.e., the prince thinks himself to have attained the consummation of all beauty and wisdom. His signet ring represents the measure and power of the world. (Compare Orelli.)

Verse 13

13. The king of Tyre seems to dwell in a paradise equal to that in which Adam was placed, and to wear jewels equal to those upon the breast of the high priest (Exodus 28). Toy makes the list of precious stones as follows: “ruby, topaz, and jasper, tarshish stone, onyx, and beryl, sapphire, carbuncle, and emerald.”

Tabrets… pipes — Possibly, settings, ouches, referring to the good workmanship of the jewels mentioned above. Perrot and Chipiez think the word translated “tabrets” and “pipes” to be technical terms for the wheels (drums) on which the lapidaries polished their stones and the drills with which they pierced them. Many jewels finely cut have been discovered in Phoenicia, among these a sardonyx seal ring of Abibal, the father of Hiram, king of Tyre (Phoenicia and Cyprus, 1:231, 241). If the A. V. and R.V. are correct these are the jeweled musical instruments used at the king’s coronation in the day when he was created king (Ezekiel 26:13; Isaiah 5:12; Daniel 3:5).

Verse 14

14. The anointed cherub — The prince stood in Eden as divinely appointed guard and protector of the treasures of the garden, and as the highest possible form of life (Ezekiel 1:10, and note Ezekiel 10:1-16; Genesis 3:24; Exodus 25:20). Some scholars read, “the far covering cherub.” The Polychrome Bible, followed by Bertholet, reads (as LXX.), “with the cherub.”

The holy mountain — The Tyrian Olympus, the throne of deity filled with treasures which all nations have thought of as close to the primeval home of the race. (See Isaiah 14:13-14; compare Warren’s Paradise Found.) The Tyrian ruler seems to stand on the navel of the world and to occupy the highest seat of the gods. There was no mountain in the Hebrew paradise, but Ezekiel, “in addressing himself to the heathen, speaks in a way which they can understand” (Orelli). Mount Zion and the sacred mountains in every religion were only symbolical of the universal “Mount of El,” so the altar of Ezekiel’s ideal temple was called by the Babylonian name, Aralu, “mountain of countries” (Ezekiel 43:15-16), as a symbol in miniature of the terrestrial Arula, “Mount Zion” (Jeremias, p. 122).

Stones of fire — “Precious stones” — Brown’s Hebrew and English Lexicon. These were supposed by the Babylonians and others to be in abundance on the Mount of the Gods. It must be remembered also that every jewel among the Egyptians, and presumably among the Babylonians, had a symbolic meaning. For example, the Egyptians called the sapphire and lapis lazuli Dorneken, “Preserving from danger,” and one burial inscription reads, “I kept myself far from quartz and always chose the emerald” (Brugsch, Steininschrift und Bibelwort, pp. 324, 329). Even these magical protecting jewels could not save the Tyrian prince.

Verse 16

16. Will cast… will destroy — Rather, have cast… have destroyed. So in Ezekiel 28:17-18 the verbs are in the past tense. These words were spoken from the standpoint of prophecy fulfilled. Some scholars amend so as to read, “and the cherub hath destroyed thee.”

Verse 17

17. Corrupted — Rather, put to naught (Kautzsch), or stifled (Mitchel) (Amos 1:11). That is, his wisdom has been lost or lessened because of the glory which made him vain. Ezekiel only inveighed against the intellectual conceit, the aesthetic culture, and the commercial greatness of the Tyrian prince, because of his irreligious spirit and sacrilegious assumption (vs. Bertholet). Yet ancient Judaism was opposed to the mercantile spirit. On the influence of successful commerce on the religious life see Expositor’s Bible.

Verse 18

18. Defiled — Rather, profaned.

Sanctuaries — Perhaps, sanctity, with Cornill, Toy, etc.

A fire from the midst of thee — Only by internal treachery could Alexander the Great capture the city. Tyre, by her own iniquities, had kindled the flame which would consume her. (Compare Ezekiel 19:14.)

Verse 19

19. A terror — Compare Ezekiel 26:21.

Verse 21

21. Zidon — Or, Sidon. The oldest, and for many millenniums the leading Phoenician city. A document written cir. 1400 B.C. proves, however, that even at that early date Tyre had dared to lift her hand, though as yet ineffectually, even with Egypt’s assistance, against the mother city. So high did Zidon stand above all the other cities of the coast that Sidonian is the general name for Phoenician in the early Old Testament history (Judges 18:7; Judges 18:28; Deuteronomy 3:9; 1 Kings 16:31). In David and Solomon’s day, and even earlier (from 1100 B.C.), Tyre appears as the greater city, and although Sennacherib sought in every way to strengthen Sidon as a rival to Tyre, which he wished to subjugate (701 B.C.), it was so completely destroyed by Esarhaddon (678 B.C.) that it disappears entirely even from the list of towns tributary to Assyria, giving place to the new city of Esarhaddonburg, erected on or near its site (McCurdy, 2:341). At the time this prophecy was written it had evidently recovered sufficiently to deserve a passing notice (Ezekiel 27:8; Joel 3:4; Jeremiah 25:22; Jeremiah 27:3; Zechariah 9:2).

Verse 22

22. Be glorified… be sanctified — Jehovah is glorified and sanctified when his divine power and holiness are acknowledged by a righteous nation or manifested in a nation’s destruction because of its sins (Ezekiel 38:16; Ezekiel 39:13).

Verse 23

23. Be judged — R.V., “fall.” (See on “pestilence and blood,” Ezekiel 5:12, Ezekiel 14:19.)

Verse 24

24. A pricking brier — Rather, fretting thorn (Ezekiel 2:6; Leviticus 13:51, compare Numbers 33:55).

Verse 25

25. People — Literally, peoples.

Shall be sanctified — Literally, have shown myself holy. (See also Ezekiel 28:22.)

My servant Jacob — Used for Israel (Ezekiel 20:5; Ezekiel 28:25; Ezekiel 37:25).

Verse 26

26. Shall build houses — Very like Ezekiel 36:28; Jeremiah 23:6. These chastisements of the heathen, following Israel’s chastisement and to be followed by the restoration of repentant Israel, will make Jehovah known as the true God throughout the earth.


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ezekiel 28:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

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