Ezekiel 27:1-36

Submitted by admin on Thu, 2018-06-07 14:17.

Posted in | printer-friendly version »

kiel 27:1-36

YHWH’s “word” or message again came to Ezekiel. The Targum refers to this message as a “word of prophecy from before the Lord.” (27:1) As at other times, Ezekiel was addressed as “son of man,” a mortal in the service of the eternal God YHWH. The message from YHWH directed Ezekiel to raise a lament over Tyre (Sor). (27:2; see the Notes section.)

The message Ezekiel was to declare to Tyre identified the city as “residing at the entrances to the sea.” This could mean that the location of Tyre gave the city ready access for trade with the islands and coastlands of the Mediterranean Sea. Therefore, it was fitting for Tyre to be identified as a “merchant of the peoples” on many islands and coastlands. The Lord YHWH quoted the city as saying, “I [am] perfect in beauty.” (“I clothed myself with my beauty.” [LXX]). This prideful expression apparently was based on Tyre’s having become a prosperous city through trade. (27:3)

The description of Tyre as a city with territories “in the heart of the seas” could refer to having trading partners on islands in and areas on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. In her role as a significant maritime commercial power, Tyre is likened to a seaworthy ship that her builders or skilled craftsmen had made perfect in beauty. (27:4; see the Notes section.) “All the planks” were made of evergreen trees from Senir or Mount Hermon. The skilled workers used a “cedar from Lebanon” to construct the “mast.” (27:5) They fashioned the oars from big trees or oaks obtained from Bashan, a region in the northern part of the area on the west side of the Jordan and which was known for its thriving forests. Possibly the “board” made with “ivory” could describe the deck or the bridge as having sections that were beautified with inlays of ivory. The Septuagint identifies the items made of ivory as “holy things.” According to the Hebrew text, the “board,” deck, or bridge was constructed from the wood (possibly box-tree wood) obtained from the coasts of Kittim” or Cyprus. The obscure Septuagint rendering appears to refer to “wooden houses from the islands of the Chettiin.” (27:6)

Variegated or patterned fine linen from Egypt served as the sail of the ship that represented Tyre. This distinctive sail appears to be described as an “ensign” or banner that rose above the ship. The “covering” or awning for the deck of this vessel consisted of blue and purple material from the “islands” or “coasts” of Elishah (Italy [Targum]). (27:7; see the Notes section.)

Men residing in Sidon (an ancient major Phoenician city that has been linked to modern Saida) and Arvad (a location that has been identified with Arwad, a small island a short distance from the coast of northern Syria) were rowers of the ship, and sages or skilled men of Tyre piloted it. (27:8; see the Notes section.)

“Elders of Gebal” and sages or skilled men from there (considered to have been the ancient Byblos that has been linked to modern Jebeil on the Mediterranean coast) are described as the ones doing the caulking of the vessel’s seams or leaks. According to the Septuagint rendering, these men “strengthened” or supported the counsel of Tyre. The city itself was a major center of trade, with “all the ships of the sea and their mariners” there bartering for her merchandise. (27:9; see the Notes section.)

Tyre had the assistance of warriors from Persia (Paras), Lud (Lydians [LXX]), and Put (Libyans [LXX]). Individually, these mercenaries in the Tyrian military force from distant Persia to the east and north Africa to the southwest hung “shield and helmet” in Tyre and, as valiant fighters, added “splendor” or fame to the city. (27:10)

“Sons [or men] of Arvad,” besides serving as skilled rowers (27:8), were in position all around the walls of Tyre as part of the “army,” and “valorous men” (or “Gammadites” [“men of Gammad”]) were stationed in or on the towers. The warriors “hung their shields round about” the city walls. As valiant defenders of Tyre, the warriors perfected the beauty of Tyre. Another possible meaning is that, by hanging their shields on the walls, they made the beauty of Tyre complete. (27:11; see the Notes section.)

Ancient Tarshish has been linked to the Iberian Peninsula. Silver, iron, tin, and lead were mined there, and the merchants of Tyre traded goods for these metals. The Septuagint includes “gold” as another one of the metals and identifies those with whom Tyre engaged in commercial activity as Carthaginians, people living on the coast of northwestern Africa. (27:12)

Tyre traded with Javan, Tubal, and Meshech, receiving slaves (“souls of man”) and copper or bronze items from these regions. Javan has been identified with Greece, and the Septuagint rendering is “Hellas” or Greece. Tubal is considered to have been in eastern Asia Minor to the northeast of Cilicia, and Meshech also has been linked to Asia Minor. The Septuagint does not include a reference to Tubal and Meshech. It says, “Hellas [Greece] and the whole [of the land] and the adjacent [regions].” (27:13)

For their wares, the Tyrians received horses, horsemen or steeds, and mules from Beth-togarmah or the house of Togarmah. Greek manuscripts contain various spellings for “Togarmah” — Thergama, Thaigrama, Thorgama, and Thegram (P967). Togarmah has been associated with the Armenians who were anciently known for their horses and mules. (27:14)

“Sons [or people] of Dedan” traded with Tyre. Many islands or coastlands are identified as traders of Tyre’s “hand,” probably meaning in the service or under the control of the city. The people of Dedan appear to have resided in a region near Edom in the northwestern part of Arabia. They brought ivory tusks (literally, “horns of ivory”) and ebony (the black or dark brown inner heartwood believed to have been obtained from Diospyros ebenum) as a “gift” (tribute or payment) to Tyre. (27:15; see the Notes section.)

The Masoretic Text identifies “Aram” as a trading partner of Tyre “because of the abundance of [her] works” or the abundance of available wares that were the product of commercial activity. Instead of “Aram,” numerous Hebrew manuscripts say “Edom,” and the Septuagint rendering is “men” (evidently because the Hebrew noun was read as ’adhám). For the merchandise of Tyre, the Edomites or the Syrians traded emeralds or turqoise, material that was dyed purple, variegated cloth, fine linen, corals, and rubies. (27:16; see the Notes section.)

“Judah and the land [sons or people (LXX)] of Israel” (the former territory of the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel) were involved in trade with Tyre. For their merchandise, the Tyrians received “wheat of Minnith” (a place east of the southern end of the Jordan River), pannag (probably a food product, perhaps milled grain), honey, olive oil, and balsam. The Septuagint lists a number of other products — myrrh, cassia, and “first honey” (possibly honey of the best quality). (27:17)

Damascus, the Syrian city, participated in commercial activity with Tyre for the abundance of the city’s “works,” or the many products available there, and the greatness of all its wealth. The merchants from Damascus traded in “wine of Helbon” (Thebes [in Egypt], P967). Ancient Helbon (Chelbon [LXX]) has been linked to a site not far to the northwest of Damascus. There is uncertainty about the meaning of the Hebrew word tsachár that describes the wool. The word has been rendered “white,” “reddish gray,” and Zahar (a place that has not been identified with any known site, with the name itself being a transliteration of the Hebrew designation). The Septuagint says “wine from Miletus,” a city on the west coast of Asia Minor. (27:18; see the Notes section.)

“Vedan and Javan from Uzal” traded wrought iron, cassia, and calamus for the merchandise of Tyre. There is uncertainty about the location of Vedan. It has been linked to a site near Medina in the Arabian Peninsula. There also is a possibility that the rendering could be “And Dan.” One cannot be certain about the significance of the designation “Javan from Uzal,” for Javan is commonly associated with Greece. Perhaps the reference is to a Greek colony that was located in the Arabian Peninsula or in Syria (if Uzal is to be identified with the region of Izalla). Modern translations vary considerably in their renderings. “Javan exchanged wrought iron, cassia, and aomatic cane from Uzal for your wares.” (NAB, revised edition) “They offered wine from Helbon, wool from Zahar [27:18] and casks of wine from Izal in exchange for your wares: wrought iron, cassia and calamus.” (NIV) “Dan and Javan, from Uzal onwards, supplied you with wrought iron, cassia and reeds in exchange for your goods.” (NJB) (27:19; see the Notes section for the Septuagint rendering of verses 18 and 19.)

Dedan traded with Tyre for saddlecloths. (See verse 15.) According to the Septuagint, Tyre obtained choice animals for chariots from Dedan (Daidan). (27:20)

“Arabia” [or men from there] and all the princes [or chieftains] of Kedar” (probably a region in the northwestern area of the Arabian Peninsula) were traders in the “hand” of Tyre or closely associated with the city’s commercial enterprises. From them, the merchants of Tyre received lambs, rams, and goats. The Septuagint says, “camels and rams and lambs.” (27:21)

Merchants from Sheba (Saba [LXX]) and Raamah (Ragmah [LXX]) traded with Tyre. From them, Tyre received the best of all kinds of spices or aromatics (“first” spices or aromatics [LXX], likely meaning the best of these products), all sorts of precious stones, and gold. Sheba probably was a region in southwestern Arabia, and Raamah may have been in the same general area. (27:22)

Other merchants who came to Tyre included those from Haran, Canneh, and Eden, “traders of Sheba,” Asshur and Chilmad. Haran was located in upper Mesopotamia, as likely also were Canneh and Eden. “Traders of Sheba” are considered to have come from the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula. The location of Chilmad is unknown. It may have been situated in the same region as Asshur, a place that has been identified with a site on the west bank of the Tigris. (27:23; see the Notes section.) There is a measure of uncertainty about the specific items traders from the previously mentioned places brought to Tyre. This is evident from the various renderings found in modern translations. “These were your merchants in choice fabrics, embroidered cloaks of blue, and many-colored carpets tied up with cords and preserved with cedar.” (Tanakh [JPS, 1985 edition]) “They sold you luxurious clothing, purple cloth, and embroidery, brightly colored carpets, and well-made cords and ropes.” (TEV) “They were your dealers in choice stuffs: violet cloths and brocades, in stores of coloured fabric rolled up and tied with cords.” (REB) “They traded rich clothes, embroidered and purple cloaks, multi-coloured materials and strong plaited cords for your markets.” (NJB) “They gave you expensive clothing, purple and embroidered cloth, brightly-colored rugs, and strong rope.” (CEV) The Septuagint rendering indicates that the merchants brought hyacinth-colored material, choice treasures or specialties that were bound with cords, and cypress wood or products made from cypress wood. (27:24; see the Notes section.)

“Ships of Tarshish,” vessels fit for navigating the entire Mediterranean Sea to the distant Iberian Peninsula, sailed from Tyre. Apparently these ships were laden with goods to be traded and then would return with a full load of imports on the “heart of the seas” ([sea (LXX), likely meaning far out on the Mediterranean). According to the Septuagint, Carthaginians were the merchants in these ships. (27:25; also see verse 12 and the Notes section.)

Tyre is apparently represented as a ship, and the rowers of this ship have brought it into “great seas” (the high sea [many waters [LXX]). There “in the heart of the seas” (“sea” [LXX], likely meaning far out on the Mediterranean), the “east wind” wrecked the ship that represented Tyre. According to the Septuagint, it was the “south wind.” The “wind” may be understood to designate the strong military force that would be coming against Tyre. The warriors under the command of King Nebuchadnezzar did come from the east, and the hot searing wind from the east proved to be ruinous. It dried up the vegetation. The Targum interprets the reference to be to a “king as mighty as the east wind.” Possibly, because the book of Ezekiel was translated in Egypt, where the south wind is the destructive wind, “east wind” was changed to “south wind.” (27:26)

“In the day,” or at the time, Tyre would be overthrown or be wrecked like a ship during a violent storm, everything and everyone would be lost — riches, wares, merchandise, mariners, captains, pilots, or sailors, caulkers of seams or leaks (“counselors” [LXX]), traders in merchandise, all the warriors of Tyre, and all the company in the midst of the city. All this would “sink into the heart of the seas” (“sea” [LXX]) or like a vessel far out at sea. (27:27)

With Tyre becoming like a wrecked vessel that could no longer navigate, the trading partners in other regions would be impacted adversely. Captains, pilots, or sailors would cry out in great distress. Like a powerful earthquake, the very loud sound of their cry would rock the land along the coast. According to the Septuagint, the outcry would be that of Tyre, and it would cause the pilots, captains, or sailors to become terrified (literally, “fear with fear”). (27:28) Rowers, mariners, captains, pilots, or sailors would leave their ships and stand on the land or shore as unemployed men. (27:29) They would wail over Tyre, letting their voice be heard, and would cry out bitterly. In expression of their grief, they would “cast dust on their heads and wallow in ashes,” suggesting that they would seat themselves on ashes. (27:30) Other expressions of grief over Tyre would include shaving off the hair (literally, balding with baldness), putting on sackcloth (a coarse cloth that was worn around the loins over the bare skin), and weeping “in bitterness of soul” (a bitterness affecting their entire being), accompanied “with bitter wailing.” (27:31; see the Notes section.)

The “sons” of those who would mourn over the overthrow of Tyre are represented as raising a lament over the city, saying, “Who [is] like Tyre, like one silenced in the midst of the sea?” For Tyre to be brought to silence would mean the end of all activity in the city. It would be transformed into a desolate place. (27:32; see the Notes section.)

Wares from Tyre came to regions all around the Mediterranean Sea, supplying goods that many peoples wanted. Therefore, these peoples were satisfied with what they received. With the abundance of the wealth in Tyre’s possession and the mixed goods or the merchandise that was made available, Tyre enriched “kings of the earth,” or the rulers of the various regions where Tyrian merchants engaged in trade. (27:33; see the Notes section.)

The dirge continues regarding Tyre under the figure of a ship. “Now you are broken by the seas [in the sea (LXX)], in the depths of waters [depth of water (LXX)]. Your merchandise and all your company in your midst have fallen [or sunk].” The fate of Tyre was comparable to that of a ship that is wrecked during a severe storm and sinks with its entire cargo and crew. (27:34; see the Notes section.)

Everyone who would come to know about the overthrow of Tyre would be shocked and terrified. All those residing on the islands or in coastal regions would stare at fallen Tyre in astonishment. Kings or rulers would tremble in horror, recognizing that they were far more vulnerable to conquest than strongly fortified Tyre had been. The “faces” of everyone would take on a greatly troubled or fearful appearance. According to the Septuagint, tears ran down the faces of the kings (literally, “their face wept”). (27:35)

“Traders among the peoples” would whistle or hiss at fallen Tyre, doing so likely out of fear and shock. The overthrow of Tyre would be so unexpected that the fallen city would give rise to “horrors” or “terrors,” possibly because of making people aware that they could suffer the same fate. Tyre would cease to exist as the city it had once been. For all time to come, Tyre would never again function as the prominent trading center in the region. The Septuagint says regarding Tyre, “You have become destruction, and no longer will you be into the age [or in all time to come].” Numerous modern translations have similarly rendered the Hebrew word that may be translated “horrors.” “You have come to a horrible end.” (NIV) “Destruction has come on you.” (REB) “You have come to a dreadful end.” (NRSV) (27:36)


In verse 2, the oldest extant Greek text (P967) reads, “And you, son of man.”

The Septuagint rendering of verse 4 translates the Hebrew word that is understood to mean “territories” or “borders” as “Beelim.” (“In the heart of the sea of Beelim, your sons have clothed you with beauty.” [Or, according to another reading: “In the heart of the sea, your sons have clothed you with beauty for Beelim.”)

It is not possible to make a positive identification of the region that was called “Elishah.” (Verse 7) The Septuagint contains a transliteration of the Hebrew designation, but the wording departs from the reading of the extant Hebrew text. It indicates that the fine linen served as bedding or bed covering and that the hyacinth and purple material functioned as apparel for Tyre. Seemingly, both the fine linen and the hyacinth and purple cloth wrapped Tyre with “glory” or magnificence.

In verse 8, the Septuagint begins with the words “your rulers” or “the rulers” (P967), and they are then identified as men inhabiting Sidon.

Verse 9 of the Septuagint appears to indicate that “all the ships of the sea and their rowers” reached the remotest west (literally, “west of the west”).

Modern translations vary in their renderings of verse 11. Often the words that may be translated “and your army” (NRSV, footnote) and “valorous men” are rendered as proper nouns. “The sons of Arvad with their army manned your walls all round, while the Gammadians manned your towers; hanging their shields all round your walls, they completed your beauty.” (NJB) “Soldiers from Arvad guarded your walls, and men from Gamad guarded your towers. They hung their shields on your walls. They are the men who made you beautiful.” (TEV) “The men of Arvad and Helech were on your walls all around and Gamadites on your towers; they hung their shields around your walls, they made your beauty perfect.” (NAB, revised edition) “Men of Arvad and Cilicia manned your walls on every side, men of Gammad were posted on your towers; they arrayed their bucklers around your battlements, making your beauty perfect.” (REB) “Your guards came from Arvad and Cilicia, and men from Gamad stood watch in your towers. With their weapons hung on your walls, your beauty was complete.” (CEV) The wording of the Septuagint differs somewhat from the reading of the extant Hebrew text, but it does not support the renderings “Helech” or “Cilicia” and “men of Gammad.” “Sons of Aradians and your [military] force upon your walls were guards in your towers. They hung their quivers round about on your harbor walls. They perfected your beauty.”

Instead of “sons of Dedan,” the Septuagint (in verse 15) says “sons of Rhodians [Aradians (Codex Alexandrinus)].” This suggests that the translator read the initial Hebrew letter daleth as a resh. According to the Septuagint, the Rhodians were merchants of Tyre who increased the city’s trade. It appears that Tyre was involved in exchanging wages, or gain from commerce, for ivory tusks.

There is considerable uncertainty about the meaning of the Hebrew words that are rendered “emeralds” or “turquoise” and “rubies” in verse 16. The Septuagint wording departs significantly from the reading of the extant Hebrew text. It indicates that, besides dealing in numerous products of trade, Tyre was the market for “men,” evidently slaves. From Tharsis, Tyre received “oil of myrrh” and variegated material, and Ramoth and Chorchor supplied goods for her market.

For the wording of verses 18 and 19, Greek manuscripts vary and differ somewhat from the reading of the extant Hebrew text. “Damascus [was] your trader on account of the abundance of all your power. Wine [came] from Chelbon and wool from Miletus [27:18], and wine they delivered to your market. From Asel [came] iron for working [implements (or wrought iron)], and a wheel is [wheels are] among your sundries.” The oldest extant Greek manuscript (P967] refers to “wine from Asel.” A new sentence then starts with the words, “They delivered iron for working [implements] to your market …”

In verse 23, the Septuagint refers to traders from four locations — Charran (Haran), Channa (Canneh, but Chanaan [Canaan] in P967 and Codex Alexandrinus), Assour (Asshur) and Charman (Charma [P967]).

The reading of the oldest extant Greek manuscript links cypress wood (verse 24) to ships (“in cypress ships” [ships made from cypress wood]).

In verse 25, the Septuagint, after the reference to Carthaginians as merchants for Tyre, seems to represent the city as a ship that was filled with merchandise, “exceedingly loaded down in the heart of the sea.”

The words of verse 31 are missing from the Septuagint.

Modern translations (in verse 32) commonly do not retain the rendering “their sons.” Printed Hebrew texts on which they are based contain a footnote suggesting that “their sons” may be a gloss. The reason given for deleting “their sons” is, “on account of the metre.” The Septuagint, however, includes “their sons,” and the words are not omitted in the oldest extant Greek text (P967). It says, “And their sons will raise a lamentation over you and a wailing for you [Sor (Codex Vaticanus); Tyre (P967)].” It may be noted that the prophecy regarding Tyre had a progressive fulfillment. Therefore, “sons” or descendants of those who mourned over what befell Tyre during the siege of the warriors under the command of King Nebuchadnezzar could well have been among those who mourned after Alexander the Great and his military force conquered and devastated the island city of Tyre.

In the Septuagint, the wording of verse 33 begins with the question, “How great a wage did you find from the sea?” The reference apparently is to profit from trade conducted with ships loaded with goods and which plied the Mediterranean. Regarding Tyre, the verse continues, “You filled nations from your abundance, and you enriched all the kings of the earth from your mixed goods.”

Regarding Tyre, verse 34 in the Septuagint concludes with the words, “all your rowers,” indicating that they had fallen.