Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible

Ezekiel 27

Verse 2

Pen a mournful narrative of Tyre’s fall, tell the world what she was, and what she is come to; both city and citizens too.

Verse 3

Personate Tyre as near thee, and hearing what thou sayest unto or of her; describe her, that she may know thou speakest to her.

That art situate; that dwellest, so the Hebrew.

The entry, Heb. entrances, she was but four furlongs, or five hundred paces, or half our English mile, from the continent, as it were in the very door of the sea, far enough off to have convenient harbors between her and the continent, and to be out of danger of sudden or easy surprises.

A merchant; a rich and populous emporium or mart for all commodities, either to vend or buy to islanders, or those that dwell on firm land.

Thou hast said; in thy riches, strength, alliances, and trade, thou art grown proud, thou hast thought and said too a great deal more than becomes a changeable state.

I am of perfect beauty: thou hast boasted of the excellency of thy government, the strength of thy city, the inaccessibleness of thy situation, nearness, strength, and obligations of thy allies, and as if nothing were wanting to perpetuate thy glory and happiness, poor self-flattering Tyre! But let us view particulars.

Verse 4

Weak borders, which an enemy easily breaks through, are a great defect in a state; well, Tyre, thou art well secured here, thine are in the sea that surrounds and secureth thee.

Thy builders; thy first founders, whoever they were; Agenor king of Phoenice chose wisely to build a city in safety: or by builders may be meant those who in aftertimes did add to the first foundation: these were masters of their art, and added this to the natural strength and beauty of the place; thus thou art perfected at home.

Verse 5

They; thy shipwrights.

Ship-boards; the planks, and benches, or transoms, for their ships.

Of fir trees; of the best and finest fir trees

of Senir, i.e. Hermen, Deuteronomy 3:9.

Cedars, for height, strength, durableness, and pleasing smell, beside smoothness of grain, and fitness for curious carvings, the best of trees.

From Lebanon, whose cedars excelled others.

Verse 6

Oaks; of pines, say some; of chesnut-trees, say others: but, since oaks, and those of Bashan, are famous in sacred dendrology, I know not why we should not keep to our own version, since the primary notation of the Hebrew leads us to it.

The company of the Ashurites: as we read these words, there arise many difficulties in the expounding them. If the conjecture of the learned Bochart be well considered, it will seem very probable the words would be better rendered thus; Thy benches they have made of ivory, with box brought out, &c. For the isles of Chittim afforded many amid large box trees, Whereas ivory, or the elephant’s tooth, we know, is the merchandise of other countries, and the elephant a foreigner to all the parts of Europe; nor are the teeth of elephants of that largeness to afford breadth for seats and benches; nor shall we find any such company of Ashurites, if we inquire for them. I shall therefore subscribe to that learned man in the opinion, that here are two words read divided, and by mistake translated as divided words, which ought to have been read in one word, and so translated as it is in Isaiah 41:19, where we translate Myvah, box; then all is plain, and the sense this, That from the isles, and parts about the Ionian, Ægean, and other seas of the Mediterranean, where this box tree is native, as in Corsica, Apulia, &c. and of great growth and firmness, fit to saw into boards for benches, they were conveyed to Tyrus, where their artists inlaid these box boards with ivory, and made them beautiful seats in their galleys and ships.

Verse 7

Fine linen; whereas thrift teaches us to use the coarse linen for like purposes, these prodigal Tyrians used the finest silken sails, as we may render the words.

With broidered work; divers figures, curiously drawn with the needle in this fine linen, which made exceeding costly sails; yet pride and wantonness in some of them went to the charges of it.

From Egypt; where was much of this fine linen, and many of these neat embroiderers.

Blue, or violet colour, and purple; both rich and noble colours: the garments of great men and princes were made hereof, Genesis 41:42 Proverbs 31:22; see Ezekiel 16:10.

From the isles of Elishah; either from the sea-coast of Æolis in the Lesser Asia, the inhabitants whereof were excellent in the skill of dying wool; or from Peloponnesus, in which is one country called Elis, famous for fine linen, and about the mouth of the river Eurotas. The fishing for the purple fish was fatuously known, so that it might be this place beside the isles of the Ægean and Cretian seas, as Cos, Nysirus, (called from its purples Porphyris,) Cythera, and the Cyclades, which are many; some twelve of better note we might name, as now called Andro, Parlo, Zea, Sdilli, Micoli, &c.

That which covered thee: he speaks not here of garments, but of the coverings they used in their ships or galleys. Their tilts, as our boatmen call them, the clothes they spread over their heads on ship-board, to keep them from sun and weather, were such as be fitted kings and princes for costliness and beauty.

Verse 8

Zidon; an ancient town and haven of Phoenicia, not far from Tyre.

Arvad; better known by its other name Aradus, an island belonging to Phoenicia, some say twenty, others say seven, furlongs from the continent. Thy mariners; rowers in thy galleys: the rich Tyrians would not employ their own in such servile works, they hired strangers. These Zidonians and Arvadeans, or Aredins, once thy equals, thou hast now outstripped, and makest thy servants, with pride enough.

Thy wise men; thy learned men; for navigation was the great study of the Tyrians, and who were best skilled in this were the learned or wise men among them, whom they had of their own, and trusted to be pilots, which employment carried honour in it to suit the proud humour of the Tyrians.

Verse 9

The ancients; old experienced workmen.

Of Gebal; a town of Phoenicia near the sea, one of the four principal towns, to which belonged a jurisdiction over a fourth part of Phoenicia, mentioned Psalms 83:7, among the conspirators against Israel and the Giblites, 1 Kings 5:18. Natives of Gebal are called stone-squarers, people fitted for hard and servile works.

The wise men; skilful in their trades.

Were in thee; hired and dwelt in Tyre for gain’s sake, that they might be still employed.

Calkers; shipwrights, to build no doubt, as well as repair and strengthen, their ships.

All the ships of the sea; ships from all parts of the sea, full of mariners, not only to manage the ships at sea, but to offer their service to the Tyrians for bringing in or carrying out of their wares, so that they might reap the profit, whilst others did undergo trouble and danger of trafficking by sea; factors, and warehouse-keepers, and brokers.

Verse 10

They of Persia; Persians, excellent archers.

Of Lud; Lydians; not those Croesus was king over, but those that dwelt in Egypt about the lake Marcotis, or higher towards Ethiopia, if they were not of that country, Ethiopians themselves.

Of Phut; Libyans, a people of Africa; these were the hired soldiers, and ever served in their army under Tyrian commanders.

Men of war; stationary soldiers in time of peace, and who were sent out by sea or land as occasion required in a time of war.

They hanged the shield, in time of peace; or might they not, so often as they came off the guard, bring each man his armour, and hang it up in the public armoury?

The shield, which defended the body, and helmet, which covered the head.

They set forth thy comeliness; these stout, expert, well-armed guards were an honour to the state they served, and their arsenal especially did prove the gallantry of this Tyrian state.

Verse 11

Arvad: see Ezekiel 27:8.

With thine army; mixed with other hired soldiers, made up these military forces.

Upon thy walls round about; kept guard upon the walls.

The Gammadims; some say pigmies or dwarfs, because the Hebrew word is a cubit; but the whole story of such cubit-men is fabulous. Others think it is men bold and courageous, and the word of Syriac origin and sense, and so fitly expressing the temper of Syrian or Syrophoenician soldiers. Or else, the men who name from Gammade, a town of Phoenicia. Or possibly, such as came from Aneon, another town of Phoenice; and this town had its name from its situation on a piece of land that resembles the cubit, Greek, Agkwv, and in the Hebrew, down

In thy towers; which were many, erected for strength and defence.

Hanged their shields upon thy walls: by this it appears these towers were also public armories, whence they fetched arms when needful, and where they laid them up when no further use of them.

Made thy beauty perfect; added much to her beauty, a well-armed state being among states as beautiful as a proper well-armed soldier among men.

Verse 12

Tarshish; the city or country for the inhabitants; some say Carthaginians, others Tarsus in Cilicia; others with more probability say it is Tartessus, an ancient town on the mouth of the river Baetis; or rather, over against it, in an island, (where Gades, now Cadiz,) a convenient port to export the rich metals that were brought down the Baetis from the country abounding with them, and through which their Baetis ran, and the inhabitants of this Tartessus furnished the Tyrians with them. Spain was full of silver and iron; these were the product of the country.

Tin; it is probable they fetched this from some islands over against the own country is most noted for tin and lead, which some say was fetched by the Phoenicians; if so, for aught I see to the contrary, the Tartessians, who were a people before ever the Tyrians came into those parts, might first trade here, and fetch it hence, and carry it to Tyre, the voyage being neither long or dangerous enough between that island and our Cornwall, to render the thing difficult or the conjecture improbable.

Verse 13

Javan; the Grecians, particularly the Ionians. Tubal; the Asiatic Iberians, &c.; the Albanians toward the Caspian Sea.

Meshech; the Cappadocians, with the Moschi, who dwelt about Cholcis, the country now called Mingrelia.

Traded the persons of men; brought men to sell for slaves, so the Greeks did; the (Mancipia Ionica) Ionian slaves were known and valued in the East, especially the handsome girls to wait on great ladies. The too great desire hereof in Atossa, Darius’s queen, is said to be the chief cause of his war on Greece. And as to the other, beside their senile inclinations, they were so barbarous and inhuman, and had opportunities to seize men, women, and children to sell them, that no doubt the market of Tyre was full of them.

Brass; of which metal there was great store, they say, in Cappadocia and Iberia, which they brought with them.

Verse 14

Of the house; of the country.

Togarmah; Armenia the Lesser, or Phrygia, Galatia, or Cappadocia, or Paphlagonia; all which countries, as they are neighbours to each other, so they abounded in horses; and as they had many for number, so they had good for quality, and furnished their neighbours; it is reported the Cappadocians paid two thousand horses yearly tribute to the Persians. And as they bordered on each other, it is likely they might be reckoned thus together.

Horsemen; it is like with either many horses, or some choice ones, which they sold, they might sell their grooms, as best able to manage and keep those horses.

Mules; the countries above mentioned, especially Cappadocia, had many mules, which they sold to their neighbours.

Mules, which are a mixed creature of a mare and he-ass.

Verse 15

Dedan: see Ezekiel 25:13. This Dedan was in Arabia, built by Dedan the son of Regina, not far from the Persian Gulf, and now called Daden, whence through the Red Sea they might convey their own merchandise.

Many isles, in the Indian Seas and in the Red Sea, traded with thee.

For a present; knowing how acceptable they were to get thy favour, they either made presents, and gave these things, or brought them to sell. Horns; elks’ horns, or wild goats’; some think it is meant of the unicorn, but the first is likeliest.

Ivory; ivory, not

of, the Hebrew is not in

regimen, but in

apposition, and should be read, They brought thee presents, horns, ivory, and ebony, which is a very solid, heavy, shining, and black wood, fit for many choice works.

Verse 16

The multitude of the wares of thy making; the abundance of the Tyrian manufacture for all uses, which the Syrians could have no where else.

With emeralds; rather, for emeralds, a rich and lovely stone; or carbuncles, as others have it.

Purple, or violet-coloured, clothes. Broidered work: see Ezekiel 27:7.

Fine linen: see Ezekiel 27:7.

Coral; men guess this may be rubies, carbuncles, or chalcedonies; or crystal, with which they made looking-glasses.

Agate; a stone well known to us, but not so well known whether it exactly translate the Hebrew dkdk here used; some say it is the chrysoprase, a stone mixed with gold colour and green, and some such mixture may be seen in some agates.

Verse 17

Judah; the two tribes, or kingdom of Judah.

The land of Israel; the kingdom of Israel, or the ten tribes until their dispersion.

Minnith; the name of some rich and excellent wheat country; it is mentioned in Jude 11:33, on occasion of Jephthah’s slaying the Ammonites, as lying on their borders, and it is said there is a town of that name still in being about four miles from Esbus, (or Sabasant as now called,) in the way toward Philadelphia, formerly Rubbath.

Pannag: some doubt whether this be a proper name of any country or region, but if it is, they conclude it must be Phenicia, but do not tell us how Judah and Israel should trade their wheat in Tyre market; it may be it was some more obscure place, which now is forgotten. Honey; with which Canaan flowed.

Oil; in making and selling whereof the labour, care, and profit of that country did lie.

Balm; the choicest balms were those of Gilead, whence it is probable it was carried to Tyre; or it may be it was rosin, of which they had great use. The Chaldee paraphrast interprets it by the word that denotes wax, and so it may possibly be; a good commodity in Tyre.

Verse 18

Damascus; a very ancient and wealthy city of Syria, and the royal city.

The wares of thy making; see the phrase Ezekiel 27:16.

For the multitude of all riches: though the Tyrians had many rich and lovely commodities, yet it pleased the Damascenes to bring chiefly two of their commodities in exchange, richest wines to please the palate of the luxurious Tyrians, and finest wool to clothe their pride.

Halbon; this place I meet no where else; Ptolemy hath Chalinonis in Syria, perhaps they may be it. Others, to save trouble, make it a common name; sweet, or smooth, or fat wine; for

Helbon comes from a word that signifies fat.

Verse 19

If it were the tribe of Dan, it must be understood of a time before the captivity of the ten tribes; but there is a learned man tells us of Dana a city of Taprobana, or the island Zeilan mentioned by Ptolemy, and this learned man will have this meant.

Javan; not Javan or Greece, saith that learned man, but another Javan in the isle Meroe in remote parts of Egypt, where is a principal town Uzal, or Asel, from whence these merchants came, and therefore styled Javan of Uzal, or Jayan Meuzal. And if the cassia or calamus, mentioned in the verse, were the wares brought in by the Danites and Javanites, I should go as far as Meroe and Taprobana to send them; but if the cassia and calamus were brought up at Tyre, I would believe they lived nearer, that they were Grecian pedlars, or in a northern dialect merchants, that bought them, and were meant in the text.

Bright iron; polished, as we see now an art, which so much betters the common sort of iron, and refines it, that it is of great value.

Cassia and calamus are sweet drugs.

Verse 20

Dedan, the posterity of Abraham by Keturah, who dwelt in Arabia, and were sheep-masters, and no doubt knew how to snake fine clothes of their wool.

Precious clothes, with which they lined their chariots, and covered them; also they used them for saddle-cloths, &c.

Verse 21

Arabia; a large country, and distinguished into Desert, or sandy, which cannot keep au honest man, but affords thieves enough; next the Stony, or Petraea, which afforded good pasturage for sheep and goats; and the third Felix, or happy, most remote from Tyre.

The princes; for there were many such among those Kedarens, or Scenites, who dwelt in tents, bred and fed cattle, and carried them to Tyre market; furnished the shambles at Tyre, and their altars too for sacrifices.

Verse 22

Sheba; a country in Arabia Felix, whence the queen came that visited Solomon.

Raamah; it is read Rhegma by change of v into G, as in Gomorrah, another people of the same Arabia. This Rhegma, brother to Sheba, settled near him in that fruitful land, and built towns there, and grew to fame.

Chief of all spices: this country affords all sorts of the best aromatics, or spices, which were carried to Tyre.

All precious stones, rich jewels of all sorts,

and gold too.

Verse 23

Haran; Haran or Charran in Mesopotamia, where Abraham dwelt.

Canneh; no where else mentioned, supposed to be the same with Calneh, Genesis 10:10, afterwards Ctesiphon, a pleasant city on Tigris, some three miles from Seleucia. It was built by the Parthians, whose king resided there in the winter, because of the mildness of the air.

Eden; a pleasant country, part of Babylonia. The Chaldee paraphrase calls it Hadiab, and leads us to Adiabene, which Trajan conquered in his expedition against Babylon.

Sheba; whether the same mentioned Ezekiel 27:22, (which see,) or some other, is not certain; perhaps it may be Saba, whence Sabeans.

Asshur; Asshur, the name of the father of the nation, for Assyria.

Chilmad; a country or part of Media, between Assyria and Parthia, most likely to be Gaala of Media.

Verse 24

These, either last named, or all that have been mentioned, though I conjecture the first is the true meaning, those rich, stately, and sumptuous nations traded with Tyre.

All sorts of things, of rich, precious things.

Blue clothes, which those nations delighted in, especially the Chaldeans and Assyrians, Ezekiel 23:6.

Broidered work; bought of Egyptians, sold to Assyrians, &c.

Chests of cedar, curious yet strong, made on purpose to carry sumptuous apparel, bought up at Tyre, and in those chests conveyed to all parts of the Assyrian empire, and to the northern nations.

Bound with cords; it may refer to the chests mentioned, or to other sort of rich wares neatly made up, and bound for security with cords.

Among thy merchandise: by this it should seem these chests were not like our ordinary boxes, but as choice cabinets, and good merchandise.

Verse 25

Ships of Tarshish; the ships from all parts of the sea, which came to thee, and traded with thee, praised thee, boasted of thee.

Did sing of thee; had their songs of praise, which were made to commend thy state.

In thy market; as mariners, in the ports where they arrive, usually do with mirth and songs entertain one another, so at Tyre.

Thou wast replenished; all trading came to thee, none like thee in thy warehouses or public stores.

Made very glorious; and, to do thee right, thou wert very glorious, magnificent, and beautiful, none like thee. Hitherto the prophet hath recounted Tyre’s greatness, now cometh her fall, foretold as if already come.

Verse 26

Thy rowers, governors and counsellors,

have brought thee, unadvisedly, into great waters, dangers and difficulties, in which thou art like to be shipwrecked, in which thou wilt perish.

The east wind, which is very tempestuous, and dangerous to ships in those seas: by this is meant the king of Babylon with his army, whose march was somewhat by east to Tyre.

Hath broken thee; as surely will as if he had already done it; he hath broken; it is the prophetic style.

In the midst of the seas; where thou art far from shore, and must therefore sink and drown, or where thou thoughtest thyself impregnable. Where many seas meet, it is impossible for a half-starved creature to swim out; so shall Tyre perish in the violent currents of many seas; many nations, fierce and cruel, under Nebuchadnezzar shall swallow thee up.

Verse 27

Thy riches; not the vast treasures of the public, nor the great wealth of private citizens, shall purchase Tyre a continued prosperity.

Thy fairs; these shall be interrupted by the siege, and none that frequented them shall prevail for access to them.

Thy merchandise; the stock of goods of all sorts now in thy warehouses, and what thou hast trusted out.

Thy mariners, & c.: see Ezekiel 27:8-11.

All thy company; all that are men fit for war in the multitudes of people that are in thee, or all thy own citizens that are thy militia, trained bands, or artillery company.

Shall fall: it is plural, these all shall at once fall together. The midst of the seas: see Ezekiel 27:26.

In the day; the time indeed was long preparing for the fall, but a day finished it.

Ruin; utter desolation.

Verse 28

The lesser cities on terra firma shall be alarmed with summons of their governors to put themselves in a posture of defence. Or, the waves, an elegant hyperbole, thus read; The very waves, which roar and terrify, shall hear and tremble at a stranger and more doleful cry than their own. Or, as our version, The suburbs, which are nearest the sea, shall first hear the outcries of pilots and mariners despairing of escape, when, their ship broken to pieces, all at once shriek out. So shall thy citizens cry and fall.

Verse 29

In the allegory of a miserable shipwreck, the prophet sets forth Tyre’s fall, and in this verse he represents them all shifting out of the shattered sinking ship, in great confusion, and greater fear; the slaves quit the oars, the mariners throw up the tacklings, pilots leave the helm, all make for the long boat and the land, where they bewail their undone condition. Or it may be more literally understood thus; All sea-faring men, who got their living by service done for Tyre at sea, seeing her utterly broken, shall leave the ships, get to land, that elsewhere they may get employment, or by a timely flight save themselves, and bewail their old masters’ fall.

Verse 30

Shall cause their voice to be heard; with greatest cries they shall make the country echo forth their sorrows.

Against thee; either standing on higher ground over against the shipwrecked city; or rather,

for thee, those Eastern people did use to lift up their voice in mourning, Job 2:12 Jeremiah 31:15 Lamentations 2:18,19 Zec 11:3.

Shall cry bitterly; their weeping shall be from a deep sense of the misery of their friends. and this expressed by bitter cries; so such sorrow is expressed, Zephaniah 1:14 Isaiah 22:4 33:7.

Shall cast up dust upon their heads; another expression of great distress and sorrow, proper to those countries, Joshua 7:6 Job 2:12 Lamentations 2:10 Jeremiah 6:26.

Wallow themselves in the ashes; which they used to do in their greatest mourning, as Micah 1:10 Jeremiah 6:26. As every country hath its peculiar manners and customs in mourning, so had these customs that expressed most vehement sorrows in gestures which we are not accustomed to.

Verse 31

It was the custom of the heathen, to either pull off with their hands, or cut off, the hair of their heads in great mournings, which God forbade to his people, Leviticus 21:5 Deuteronomy 14:1. Thus do Tyre’s mourners in baldness express their sorrow and despair. Gird them with sackcloth; another usual ceremony of mourners, well known to all.

With bitterness of heart; it shall be a hearty mourning, not a counterfeit one; this referring to the inward grief, the next bitter wailing refers to the outward expressing it.

Verse 32

In their wailing; in their sorrowful speeches of Tyre. Shall take up into their mouths, or with a composed, significant, and comprehensive form of speech, to show much grief in few words.

What city is like Tyrus? a few years since no city like her in beauty, riches, glory, and joy, now none like her in all the contraries.

The destroyed; now no more Tyre the flourishing, the renowned, the mart of nations, and the stately built; but now the destroyed, the silent, overwhelmed with grief, which was full of songs.

In the midst of the sea: alas! what was once her safeguard is now her grave, what enriched her once hath now swallowed all up at once.

Verse 33

Thy wares, brought home from all coasts.

Went forth out of the seas; were landed, brought on shore for the mart.

Thou filledst; there was enough to supply to the full.

Many people; numerous, stately, sumptuous nations, though their prodigality was great, thou furnishedst them, hadst wares rich and stately enough for all of them. Such influence had thy vast trade, that not only meaner men and subjects, but kings themselves, were made more wealthy by it.

Of the earth, i.e. all kings of the known world, or kings of nations far off as well as neighbouring kings.

The multitude of thy riches; the greatness of thy trade, the variety of thy wares brought from all parts were thy own riches, and enriched all thou didst trade with; kings were enriched by customs and tolls paid to them, by the enriching their subjects, who thereby were fitter to pay taxes, or by furnishing their treasuries with all the peculiar treasures of kings, the rare and precious jewels which they, esteem; and since we know some kings did trade too, by this Tyre increased their wealth.

Verse 34

In the time; so soon as, or ever after the unhappy day. Broken; shattered to pieces. The seas; the powers of the Babylonians, that, like seas, shall swell, roar, and break in upon thee. In the depths of the waters; in the deepest afflictions, and by sorest oppressions and violence. Thy merchandise; all thy trade. All thy company; the multitude of thy citizens, of thy hired soldiers, of thy allies abroad, and of those that came into thy markets for trade, shall cease, wither, and perish too.

Verse 35

The isles; strictly and in a larger sense the seacoasts.

Astonished; wondering it ever should be effected that Tyre should fall.

Sore afraid: knowing how they are much less able to resist and defend themselves, and not knowing where that mighty conqueror would next try his arms and fortune.

They shall be troubled; shall not be able to conceal the discomposure of their mind; but in their countenance a trouble made up of grief, fear, and indignation, grief for their friends, fear for themselves, against that cruelty and inhumanity which, without respect to any thing dear to mankind, ruined the glory of the world, destroyed what could not be repaired by all the riches, and wisdom, and bounty of the Babylonish kingdom.

Verse 36

Hiss: this usually is an expression of scorn and contempt poured forth on the person hissed at; if thus understood, the meaning is, there should be some among Tyre’s customers that would rejoice at her fall, and flout at her, either perhaps wronged by her in their trade, Ezekiel 28:16, or else with envy, and expectation of her trade to turn to them, return to her the wicked carriage she showed to Jerusalem fallen and sacked: if it be a sign of aught else, it is of wonder, as 1 Kings 9:8.

A terror; matter of many fears, and to many people, who do or shall hear how terribly thine enemies have raged against thee and prevailed. Never shalt be any more: see Ezekiel 26:14.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ezekiel 27". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.