Ezekiel 27


This chapter may be considered as the second part of the

prophecy concerning Tyre. The prophet pursues his subject in

the manner of those ancient lamentations or funeral songs, in

which the praeficiae or mourning women first recounted whatever

was great or praiseworthy in the deceased, and then mourned his

fall. Here the riches, glory, and extensive commerce of Tyre

are enlarged upon, 1-25.

Her downfall is then described in a beautiful allegory,

executed in a few words, with astonishing brevity, propriety,

and perspicuity, 26;

upon which all the maritime and commercial world are

represented as grieved and astonished at her fate, and greatly

alarmed for their own, 27-36.

Besides the view which this chapter gives of the conduct of

Providence, and the example with which it furnishes the critic

and men of taste of a very elegant and highly finished piece of

composition, it likewise affords the antiquary a very curious

and interesting account of the wealth and commerce of ancient

times. And to the mind that looks for "a city that hath

foundations," what a picture does the whole present of the

mutability and inanity of all earthly things! Many of the

places mentioned in ancient history have, like Tyre, long ago

lost their political consequence; the geographical situation of

others cannot be traced; they have sunk in the deep waters of

oblivion; the east wind hath carried them away.


Verse 2. Take up a lamentation for Tyrus] This is a singular and

curious chapter. It gives a very circumstantial account of the

trade of Tyre with different parts of the world, and the different

sorts of merchandise in which she trafficked. The places and the

imports are as regularly entered here as they could have been in

a European custom-house.

Verse 3. The entry of the sea] Tyre was a small island, or

rather rock, in the sea, at a short distance from the main land.

We have already seen that there was another Tyre on the main land;

but they are both considered as one city.

Verse 4. Thy builders have perfected thy beauty.] Under the

allegory of a beautiful ship, the prophet, here and in the

following verses, paints the glory of this ancient city. Horace

describes the commonwealth of Rome by the same allegory, and is as

minute in his description, Carm. lib. i. Od. xiv:-

O navis, referent in mare te novi

Fluctus? O quid agis? Fortiter occupa

Portum. Nonne video, ut

Nudum remigio latus,

Et malus celeri saucius Africo,

Antennaeque gemant? ac sine funibus

Vix durare carinae

Possint imperiosius

AEquor! non tibi sunt integra lintea;

Non Di, quos iterum pressa votes malo:

Quamvis Pontica pinus,

Sylvae filia nobilis,

Jactes et genus, et nomen inutile

Nil pictis timidus navita puppibus

Fidit. Tu, nisi, ventis

Debes ludibrium, cave.

Unhappy vessel, shall the waves again

Tumultuous bear thee to the faithless main?

What, would thy madness thus with storms to sport?

Cast firm your anchor in the friendly port.

Behold thy naked decks, the wounded mast,

And sail-yards groan beneath the southern blast.

Nor, without ropes, thy keel can longer brave

The rushing fury of the imperious wave:

Torn are thy sails; thy guardian gods are lost,

Whom you might call, in future tempests tost.

What, though majestic in your pride you stood,

A noble daughter of the Pontic wood,

You now may vainly boast an empty name,

Of birth conspicuous in the rolls of fame.

The mariner, when storms around him rise,

No longer on a painted stern relies.

Ah! yet take heed, lest these new tempests sweep,

In sportive rage, thy glories to the deep.


I give this as a striking parallel to many passages in this


Verse 5. Fir trees of Senir] Senir is a mountain which the

Sidonians called Sirion, and the Hebrews Hermon, De 3:9. It was

beyond Jordan, and extended from Libanus to the mountains of


Verse 6. Of the oaks of Bashan] Some translate alder, others the


The company of the Ashurites] The word asherim is by

several translated boxwood. The seats or benches being made of

this wood inlaid with ivory.

Isles of Chittim] The Italian islands; the islands of Greece;

Cyprus. Calmet says Macedonia is meant.

Verse 7. Fine linen] shesh, cotton cloth. In this sense the

word is generally to be understood.

To be thy sail] Probably the flag-ensign or pennant, is meant.

Blue and purple from the isles of Elishah] Elis, a part of the


Verse 8. Zidon and Arvad] Or Arad. Two powerful cities on the

Phoenician coast, in the neighbourhood of Tyre, from which Tyre

had her sailors; and the best instructed of her own inhabitants

were her pilots or steersmen.

Verse 9. The ancients of Gebal] This was a city of Phoenicia,

near Mount Libanus, Jos 13:5. It was called

Biblos by the Greeks.

Thy calkers] Those who repaired their vessels; paying, as it is

termed, pitched hemp into the seams, to prevent the water from

oozing through.

To occupy thy merchandise.] That is, to be thy agents or


Verse 10. They of Persia] Lud, the Lydians; Phut, a people of

Africa, see Ge 10:6. From these places they had auxiliary troops;

for as they traded with the then known world, were rich, and could

afford to give good pay, they no doubt had soldiers and sailors

from every part. Skilful and desperate men will go any where after

their price.

Verse 11. The Gammadims were in thy towers] Some think these

were a people of Phoenicia; others, that tutelar images are meant;

others, that the word expresses strong men, who acted as guards.

The Vulgate reads Pygmaei, the pygmies, who were fabled to be a

little people of a cubit in height, from gomed. a cubit;

and are are told that this little people were celebrated for their

wars with the cranes; but nothing of this kind can enter into this

description. Probably a people inhabiting the promontories of

Phoenicia are here intended; and their hanging their shields upon

the walls is a proof that soldiers are meant, and persons of skill

and prowess too.

Verse 12. Tarshish was thy merchant] After having given an

account of the naval and military equipment of this city, he now

speaks of the various places and peoples with whom the Tyrians

traded, and the different kinds of merchandise imported from those


By Tarshish some understand the Carthaginians; some think

Tartessus, near the straits of Gibraltar, is meant; others,

Tharsis in Cilicia. The place was famous for all the useful

metals, silver, iron, tin, and lead. All these they might have had

from Britain.

Verse 13. Javan, Tubal, and Meshech] The Ionians, the

Tybarenians, and the Cappadocians, or Muscovites.

They traded the persons of men] That is, they trafficked in

slaves. The bodies and souls of men were bought and sold in

those days, as in our degenerate age. With these also they traded

in brazen vessels.

Verse 14. Togarmah] The Sarmatians. Some think Cappadocia.

With these they dealt in horses, mules, and horsemen; or probably

draught horses and war horses are intended.

Verse 15. The men of Dedan] Dedan was one of the descendants of

Abraham by Keturah, and dwelt in Arabia, Ge 25:3.

Ivory and ebony might come from that quarter. By way of

distinction ivory is called both in Hebrew shen, and in Arabic

[Arabic] shen, the TOOTH, as that beautiful substance is the tooth

of the elephant.

Verse 16. Syria] These were always a mercantile people. For the

precious stones mentioned here See Clarke on Ex 28:17.

Verse 17. Judah, and the land of Israel-traded in thy market

wheat] The words have been understood as articles of merchandise,

not names of places. So the Jews traded with the Tyrians in wheat,

stacte, balsam, honey, oil, and resin.

Verse 18. Damascus wine of Helbon] Now called by the Turks

Haleb, and by us Aleppo.

White wool.] Very fine wool: wool of a fine quality. Some think

Milesian wool is meant.

Verse 19. Dan also and Javan] It is probable that both these

words mean some of the Grecian islands.

Going to and fro] They both took and brought-imported and

exported: but meuzal, from uzal, may be a proper name.

What place is signified I cannot tell, unless it be Azal, a name,

according to Kamoos, of the capital of Arabia Felix.

Verse 20. Dedan] Possibly the descendants of Dedan, son of

Raamah, see Ge 10:7.

In precious clothes for chariots.] Either fine carpets, or rich

housings for horses, camels, &c., used for riding.

Verse 21. Arabia, and all the princes of Kedar] Arabia Deserta,

on the confines of the Dead Sea. The Kedarenes inhabited the same

country. These brought lambs, rams, and goats for the consumption

of the city.

Verse 22. Sheba and Raamah] Inhabitants of Arabia Felix, at the

entrance of the Persian Gulf, who were famous for their riches and


Verse 23. Haran] In Mesopotamia; well known in Scripture.

Canneh] Or Chalane; see Ge 10:10. It is supposed to be a cape

or port of Arabia Felix, on the Indian Sea.

Eden] Equally famous: supposed to have been situated near the

confluence of the Tygris and Euphrates.

Sheba] Different from that in Eze 27:22. This was probably near

the country of the Edomites.

Asshur] Perhaps the Assyrians.

Chilmad] Possibly Cholmadora, on the Euphrates. Ptol. lib. v..

cap. 15. For several of these places, and the persons from whom

they derived their names, see Ge 10:1-32, and the notes there;

and see Calmet.

Verse 24. These were thy merchants in all sorts of things] The

above people traded with the Tyrians in a great variety of the

most valuable merchandise: blue or purple cloth, boxes of cedar,

covered with skins, and bound with silken cords, and sealed with

an engraved seal, finely cut, &c. See the Chaldee.

Verse 25. The ships of Tarshish] The ships of Tharsis, in

Cilicia, were the chief of those which traded with thee.

Verse 26. Thy rowers have brought thee into great waters] Tyre

is still considered under the allegory of a ship; and all the

vessels of different nations trading with her are represented as

towing her into deep waters-bringing her into great affluence. But

while in this state, a stormy east wind, or a destructive wind,

meaning the Chaldeans, arises, and dashes her to pieces! See the

ode from Horace, already quoted on Eze 27:4.

Verse 27. Thy riches] This vast ship, laden with all kinds of

valuable wares, and manned in the best manner, being wrecked, all

her valuables, sailors, officers, &c., went to the bottom.

Verse 28. The cry of thy pilots.] When the ship was dashed

against the rocks by the violence of the winds and the waves, and

all hope of life was taken away, then a universal cry was set up

by all on board. I have heard this cry, and nothing more dismal

can be imagined, when the ship by a violent tempest is driving

among rocks on a lee shore. Then "All lost! cut away the boat!" is

more dreadful than the cry of fire at midnight.

Verse 30. Shall cry bitterly] All that were on the land, seeing

this dreadful sight, a gallant ship perishing with all her men and

goods, are represented as setting up a dismal cry at this

heart-rending sight. But what must they have felt who were on

board? Reader, wert thou ever shipwrecked? Wert thou ever in a

hurricane on a lee rocky shore, where the helm had lost its

power, and the sails were rendered useless? Dost thou remember

that apparently last moment, when the ship drove up to the

tremendous rocks, riding on the back of a mountainous surge? Then

what was the universal cry? Hast thou ever heard any thing so

terrific? so appalling? so death and judgment-like? No. It is

impossible. These are the circumstances, this is the cry, that the

prophet describes; disorder, confusion, dismay, and ruin. And this

is a scene which the present writer has witnessed, himself a part

of the wretched, when all hope of life was taken away, the yawning

gulf opened, and nothing presented itself to support body or soul

but that GOD who gave to both their being, and ultimately rescued

him and his forlorn companions from one of the worst of deaths, by

heaving the ship from the rocks by the agency of a tremendous

receding wave. My soul hath these things still in remembrance, and

therefore is humbled within me.

Verse 32. What city is like Tyrus] This, to the end of the

chapter, is the lamentation.

Verse 36. Shall hiss at thee] shareku, shall shriek

for thee. This powerfully expresses the sensation made on the

feelings of the spectators on the shore when they saw the vessel

swallowed up.

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