Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
In the twenty-sixth chapter, Ezekiel sets forth:--(1) Tyre's sin; (2)
its doom; (3) the instruments executing it; (4) the effects produced on
other nations by her downfall. In the twenty-seventh chapter, a
lamentation over the fall of such earthly splendor. In the twenty-eighth
chapter, an elegy addressed to the king, on the humiliation of his
sacrilegious pride. Ezekiel, in his prophecies as to the heathen,
exhibits the dark side only; because he views them simply in their
hostility to the people of God, who shall outlive them all. Isaiah
on the other hand, at the close of judgments, holds out the prospect of
blessing, when Tyre should turn to the Lord.
1. The specification of the date, which had been omitted in the case
of the four preceding objects of judgment, marks the greater weight
attached to the fall of Tyre.
eleventh year--namely, after the carrying away of Jehoiachin, the year
of the fall of Jerusalem. The number of the month is, however, omitted,
and the day only given. As the month of the taking of Jerusalem was
regarded as one of particular note, namely, the fourth month, also
the fifth, on which it was actually destroyed
(Jer 52:6, 12, 13),
RABBI DAVID reasonably
supposes that Tyre uttered her taunt at the close of the fourth month,
as her nearness to Jerusalem enabled her to hear of its fall very soon,
and that Ezekiel met it with his threat against herself on "the first
day" of the fifth month.
literally, meaning "the rock-city," Zor; a name applying to the
island Tyre, called New Tyre, rather than Old Tyre on the
mainland. They were half a mile apart. "New Tyre," a century and
a half before the fall of Jerusalem, had successfully resisted
Shalmaneser of Assyria, for five years besieging it (MENANDER, from the Tyrian archives, quoted by JOSEPHUS, Antiquities, 9.14. 2). It was the
stronger and more important of the two cities, and is the one chiefly,
though not exclusively, here meant. Tyre was originally a colony of
Zidon. Nebuchadnezzar's siege of it lasted thirteen years
Though no profane author mentions his having succeeded in the siege,
JEROME states he read the fact in Assyrian
Aha!--exultation over a fallen rival
(Ps 35:21, 25).
she . . . that was the gates--that is, the single gate composed of two
folding doors. Hence the verb is singular. "Gates" were the place of
resort for traffic and public business: so here it expresses
a mart of commerce frequented by merchants. Tyre regards Jerusalem
not as an open enemy, for her territory being the narrow, long strip of
land north of Philistia, between Mount Lebanon and the sea, her interest
was to cultivate friendly relations with the Jews, on whom she was
dependent for corn
But Jerusalem had intercepted some of the inland traffic which she
wished to monopolize to herself; so, in her intensely selfish
worldly-mindedness, she exulted heartlessly over the fall of Jerusalem
as her own gain. Hence she incurred the wrath of God as pre-eminently
the world's representative in its ambition, selfishness, and pride, in
defiance of the will of God
she is turned unto me--that is, the mart of corn, wine, oil,
balsam, &c., which she once was, is transferred to me. The caravans
from Palmyra, Petra, and the East will no longer be intercepted by the
market ("the gates") of Jerusalem, but will come to me.
3, 4. nations . . . as the sea . . . waves--In striking contrast to the
boasting of Tyre, God threatens to bring against her Babylon's army
levied from "many nations," even as the Mediterranean waves that dashed
against her rock-founded city on all sides.
scrape her dust . . . make her . . . top of . . . rock--or, "a bare
rock" [GROTIUS]. The soil which the Tyrians had brought together upon
the rock on which they built their city, I will scrape so clean away as
to leave no dust, but only the bare rock as it was. An awful contrast to
her expectation of filling herself with all the wealth of the East
now that Jerusalem has fallen.
5. in the midst of the sea--plainly referring to New Tyre
6. her daughters . . . in the field--The surrounding villages,
dependent on her in the open country, shall share the fate of the mother
7. from the north--the original locality of the Chaldeans; also, the
direction by which they entered Palestine, taking the route of Riblah
and Hamath on the Orontes, in preference to that across the desert
between Babylon and Judea.
king of kings--so called because of the many kings who owned allegiance
God had delegated to him the universal earth-empire which is His
The Son of God alone has the right and title inherently, and shall
assume it when the world kings shall have been fully proved as abusers
of the trust
Re 17:12-14; 19:15, 16).
Ezekiel's prophecy was not based on conjecture from the past, for
Shalmaneser, with all the might of the Assyrian empire, had failed in
his siege of Tyre. Yet Nebuchadnezzar was to succeed. JOSEPHUS tells us that Nebuchadnezzar began the siege in
the seventh year of Ithobal's reign, king of Tyre.
9. engines of war--literally, "an apparatus for striking." "He
shall apply the stroke of the battering-ram against thy walls."
HAVERNICK translates, "His enginery of destruction"; literally, the
"destruction (not merely the stroke) of his enginery."
10. dust--So thick shall be the "dust" stirred up by the immense
numbers of "horses," that it shall "cover" the whole city as a cloud.
horses . . . chariots--As in
New Tyre on the insular rock in the sea (compare
Isa 23:2, 4, 6)
is referred to; so here, in
Old Tyre on the mainland. Both are included in the
prophecies under one name.
wheels--FAIRBAIRN thinks that here, and in
as "the wheels" are distinct from the "chariots," some wheelwork for
riding on, or for the operations of the siege, are meant.
11. thy strong garrisons--literally, "the statutes of thy
strength"; so the forts which are "monuments of thy strength."
MAURER understands, in stricter agreement with the
literal meaning, "the statues" or "obelisks erected in honor of the
idols, the tutelary gods of Tyre," as Melecarte, answering to the
Grecian Hercules, whose temple stood in Old Tyre (compare
12. lay thy stones . . . timber . . . in . . . midst of . . . water--referring to the insular New Tyre
(Eze 26:3, 5;
Eze 27:4, 25, 26).
When its lofty buildings and towers fall, surrounded as it was with the
sea which entered its double harbor and washed its ramparts, the
"stones . . . timbers . . . and dust" appropriately
are described as thrown down "in the midst of the water." Though
Ezekiel attributes the capture of Tyre to Nebuchadnezzar (see on
yet it does not follow that the final destruction of it
described is attributed by him to the same monarch. The overthrow of
Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar was the first link in the long chain of
evil--the first deadly blow which prepared for, and was the earnest of,
the final doom. The change in this verse from the individual conqueror
"he," to the general "they," marks that what he did was not the whole,
but only paved the way for others to complete the work begun by him. It
was to be a progressive work until she was utterly destroyed. Thus the
words here answer exactly to what Alexander did. With the "stones,
timber," and rubbish of Old Tyre, he built a causeway in seven months
to New Tyre on the island and so took it [CURTIUS,
4, 2], 322 B.C.
13. Instead of the joyousness of thy prosperity, a death-like silence
14. He concludes in nearly the same words as he began
(Eze 26:4, 5).
built no more--fulfilled as to the mainland Tyre, under Nebuchadnezzar.
The insular Tyre recovered partly, after seventy years
(Isa 23:17, 18),
but again suffered under Alexander, then under Antigonus, then under
the Saracens at the beginning of the fourteenth century. Now its
harbors are choked with sand, precluding all hope of future
restoration, "not one entire house is left, and only a few fishermen
take shelter in the vaults" [MAUNDRELL]. So
accurately has God's word come to pass.
15-21. The impression which the overthrow of Tyre produced on other
maritime nations and upon her own colonies, for example, Utica,
Carthage, and Tartessus or Tarshish in Spain.
isles--maritime lands. Even mighty Carthage used to send a yearly
offering to the temple of Hercules at Tyre: and the mother city gave
high priests to her colonies. Hence the consternation at her fall felt
in the widely scattered dependencies with which she was so closely
connected by the ties of religion, as well as commercial intercourse.
shake--metaphorically: "be agitated"
16. come down from their thrones . . . upon the ground--"the throne
of the mourners"
princes of the sea--are the merchant rulers of Carthage and other
colonies of Tyre, who had made themselves rich and powerful by trading
on the sea
clothe . . . with trembling--Hebrew,
"clothed with desolation";
In a public calamity the garment was changed for a mourning garb.
17. inhabited of seafaring men--that is, which was frequented by
merchants of various sea-bordering lands
with Peschito, "Thou inhabitant of the seas" (the Hebrew literal
meaning). Tyre rose as it were out of the seas as if she got thence
her inhabitants, being peopled so closely down to the waters. So Venice
was called "the bride of the sea."
strong in the sea--through her insular position.
cause their terror to be on all that haunt it--namely, the sea. The
Hebrew is rather, "they put their terror upon all her (the city's)
inhabitants," that is, they make the name of every Tyrian to be feared
18. thy departure--
Isa 23:6, 12
predicts that the Tyrians, in consequence of the siege, should pass
over the Mediterranean to the lands bordering on it ("Chittim,"
"Tarshish," &c.). So Ezekiel here. Accordingly JEROME says that he read in Assyrian histories that,
"when the Tyrians saw no hope of escaping, they fled to Carthage
or some islands of the Ionian and Ægean Seas" [BISHOP NEWTON]. (See on
GROTIUS explains "departure," that is, "in the day
when hostages shall be carried away from thee to Babylon." The
parallelism to "thy fall" makes me think "departure" must mean
"thy end" in general, but with an included allusion to the
"departure" of most of her people to her colonies at the fall of
19. great waters--appropriate metaphor of the Babylonian hosts,
which literally, by breaking down insular Tyre's ramparts, caused the
sea to "cover" part of her.
20. the pit--Tyre's disappearance is compared to that of
the dead placed in their sepulchres and no more seen among the living
Eze 32:18, 23;
Isa 14:11, 15, 19).
I shall set glory in the land--In contrast to Tyre consigned to the
"pit" of death, I shall set glory (that is, My presence symbolized
by the Shekinah cloud, the antitype to which shall be Messiah, "the
glory as of the only-begotten of the Father,"
Isa 4:2, 5;
of the living--as opposed to Tyre consigned to the "pit" of death.
Judea is to be the land of national and spiritual life, being restored
after its captivity
FAIRBAIRN loses the antithesis by applying the
negative to both clauses, "and that thou be not set as a glory
in the land of the living."
21. terror--an example of judgment calculated to terrify all evildoers.
thou shall be no more--Not that there was to be no more a Tyre, but she
was no more to be the Tyre that once was: her glory and name were to
be no more. As, to Old Tyre, the prophecy was literally fulfilled, not a
vestige of it being left.