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Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
This prophecy, beginning here and ending in the twentieth verse of the twenty-eighth chapter, is a declaration of the judgments of God against Tyre, a very famous commercial city of antiquity, which was taken by Nebuchadnezzar after an arduous siege of thirteen years. The prophet begins with introducing Tyre insulting Jerusalem, and congratulating herself on the prospect of accession to her commerce now that this city was no more, Ezekiel 26:1, Ezekiel 26:2. Upon which God denounces utter destruction to Tyre, and the cities depending on her, Ezekiel 26:3-6. We have then a particular account of the person raised up in the course of the Divine providence to accomplish this work. We see, as it were, his mighty hosts, (which are likened to the waves of the sea for their multitude), raising the mounds, setting the engines, and shaking the walls; we hear the noise of the horsemen, and the sound of their cars; we see the clouds of smoke and dust; we see the sword bathed in blood, and hear the groans of the dying. Tyre, (whose buildings were very splendid and magnificent, and whose walls were one hundred and fifty feet in height, with a proportionable breadth), immediately disappears; her strong (and as she thought impregnable) towers are thrown down; and her very dust is buried in the sea. Nothing remains but the bare rock, Ezekiel 26:7-14. The scene is then varied. The isles and adjacent regions, by a very strong and beautiful figure, are represented to be shaken, as with a mighty earthquake by violent concussion occasioned by the fall of Tyre. The groans of the dying reach the ears of the people inhabiting these regions. Their princes, alarmed for themselves and grieved for Tyre, descend from their thrones, lay aside their robes, and clothe themselves with - sackcloth? - no, but with trembling! Arrayed in this astonishing attire, the prophet introduces them as a chorus of mourners, lamenting Tyre in a funeral song or dirge, as customary on the death of renowned personages. And pursuing the same image still farther, in the person of God, he performs the last sad office for her. She is brought forth from her place in solemn pomp; the pit is dug for her; and she is buried, to rise no more, Ezekiel 26:15-21. Such is the prophecy concerning Tyre, comprehending both the city on the continent and that on the island, and most punctually fulfilled in regard to both. That on the continent was razed to the ground by Nebuchadnezzar, b.c. 572, and that on the island by Alexander the Great, b.c. 332. And at present, and for ages past, this ancient and renowned city, once the emporium of the world, and by her great naval superiority the center of a powerful monarchy, is literally what the prophet has repeatedly foretold it should be, and what in his time was, humanly speaking, so highly improbable - a Bare rock, a place to spread nets on!
1And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
The eleventh year - This was the year in which Jerusalem was taken; the eleventh of the captivity of Jeconiah, and the eleventh of the reign of Zedekiah. What month we are not told, though the day is mentioned. There have been many conjectures about this, which are not of sufficient consequence to be detailed.
2Son of man, because that Tyrus hath said against Jerusalem, Aha, she is broken that was the gates of the people: she is turned unto me: I shall be replenished, now she is laid waste:
Tyrus hath said - From this it would appear that Jerusalem had been taken, which was on the fourth month of this year; but it is possible that the prophet speaks of the event beforehand.
She is broken that was the gates of the people - Jerusalem, a general emporium.
I shall be replenished - The merchandise that went to Jerusalem will come to me, (to Tyre.).
3Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Tyrus, and will cause many nations to come up against thee, as the sea causeth his waves to come up.
Will cause many nations to come up against thee - We have already seen that the empire of the Chaldeans was composed of many different provinces, and that Nebuchadnezzar's army was composed of soldiers from different nations: these may be the people meant; but I doubt whether this may not refer to the different nations which in successive ages fought against Tyre. It was at last finally destroyed in the sixteenth century of the Christian era.
4And they shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, and break down her towers: I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock.
I will also scrape her dust from her - I will totally destroy her fortifications, and leave her nothing but a barren rock, as she was before. This cannot refer to the capture of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar. It flourished long after his time.
5It shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD: and it shall become a spoil to the nations.
A place for the spreading of nets - A place for the habitation of some poor fishermen, who spent the fishing season there, and were accustomed to dry their nets upon the rocks. See on Ezekiel 26:11 (note).
6And her daughters which are in the field shall be slain by the sword; and they shall know that I am the LORD.
And her daughters - The places dependent on Tyre. As there were two places called Tyre, one on the main land, and the other on a rock in the sea, opposite to that on the main land, sometimes the one seems to be spoken of, and sometimes the other. That on the land, Palaetyre, was soon taken; but that in the sea cost Nebuchadnezzar thirteen years of siege and blockade. The two formed only one city, and one state.
7For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will bring upon Tyrus Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, a king of kings, from the north, with horses, and with chariots, and with horsemen, and companies, and much people.
Nebuchadrezzar - king of kings - An ancient title among those proud Asiatic despots shahinshah and padshah, titles still in use.
8He shall slay with the sword thy daughters in the field: and he shall make a fort against thee, and cast a mount against thee, and lift up the buckler against thee.
Thy daughters in the field - This seems to be spoken of Palaetyre, or Tyre on the main land; for forts, mounts, engines of war, horses, and chariots could not be brought to act against the other.
9And he shall set engines of war against thy walls, and with his axes he shall break down thy towers.
10By reason of the abundance of his horses their dust shall cover thee: thy walls shall shake at the noise of the horsemen, and of the wheels, and of the chariots, when he shall enter into thy gates, as men enter into a city wherein is made a breach.
11With the hoofs of his horses shall he tread down all thy streets: he shall slay thy people by the sword, and thy strong garrisons shall go down to the ground.
12And they shall make a spoil of thy riches, and make a prey of thy merchandise: and they shall break down thy walls, and destroy thy pleasant houses: and they shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the water.
And they shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the water - This answers to the taking of Tyre by Alexander; he actually took the timbers, stones, rubbish, etc. of old Tyre, and filled up the space between it and new Tyre, and thus connected the latter with the main land; and this he was obliged to do before he could take it.
13And I will cause the noise of thy songs to cease; and the sound of thy harps shall be no more heard.
14And I will make thee like the top of a rock: thou shalt be a place to spread nets upon; thou shalt be built no more: for I the LORD have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD.
Thou shalt be built no more - If this refer to Nebuchadnezzar's capture of the city, old Tyre must be intended: that was destroyed by him, and never rebuilt. But I doubt whether the whole of this prophecy do not refer to the taking of Tyre by Alexander, three hundred years after its capture by Nebuchadnezzar. Indeed it may include more recent conquests of this important city. It went through a variety of vicissitudes till 1289, when it and the neighboring towns were sacked and ravaged by the Mamelukes. Mr. Maundrell, who visited this place, says, "it is a Babel of broken walls, pillars, vaults, etc., there being not so much as one entire house left! Its present inhabitants are only a few poor wretches, harbouring themselves in the vaults, and subsisting chiefly on fishing; who seem to be preserved in this place by Divine Providence as a visible argument how God has fulfilled his word concerning Tyre, that it should be the top of a rock, a place for fishers to dry their nets on."
15Thus saith the Lord GOD to Tyrus; Shall not the isles shake at the sound of thy fall, when the wounded cry, when the slaughter is made in the midst of thee?
Ezekiel 26:15The isles shake at the sound of thy fall - All those which had traded with this city, which was the grand mart, and on which they all depended. Her ruin involved them all, and caused general wailing.
16Then all the princes of the sea shall come down from their thrones, and lay away their robes, and put off their broidered garments: they shall clothe themselves with trembling; they shall sit upon the ground, and shall tremble at every moment, and be astonished at thee.
The princes of the sea - The chief maritime states, such as Leptis, Utica, Carthage, Gades, etc. See Calmet.
17And they shall take up a lamentation for thee, and say to thee, How art thou destroyed, that wast inhabited of seafaring men, the renowned city, which wast strong in the sea, she and her inhabitants, which cause their terror to be on all that haunt it!
Wast strong in the sea - The strength of Tyre was so great, that Alexander despaired of being able to reduce it unless he could fill up that arm of the sea that ran between it and the main land. And this work cost his army seven months of labor.
18Now shall the isles tremble in the day of thy fall; yea, the isles that are in the sea shall be troubled at thy departure.
19For thus saith the Lord GOD; When I shall make thee a desolate city, like the cities that are not inhabited; when I shall bring up the deep upon thee, and great waters shall cover thee;
20When I shall bring thee down with them that descend into the pit, with the people of old time, and shall set thee in the low parts of the earth, in places desolate of old, with them that go down to the pit, that thou be not inhabited; and I shall set glory in the land of the living;
And I shall set glory in the land of the living - Judea so called, the land of the living God.
21I will make thee a terror, and thou shalt be no more: though thou be sought for, yet shalt thou never be found again, saith the Lord GOD.
Yet shalt thou never be found again - This is literally true; there is not the smallest vestige of the ancient Tyre, that which was erected on the main land. Even the ground seems to have been washed away; and the new Tyre is in nearly a similar state. I think this prophecy must be extended to the whole duration of Tyre. If it now be found to be in the state here described, it is sufficient to show the truth of the prophecy. And now it is found precisely in the state which the above prophetic declarations, taken according to the letter, point out! No word of God can ever fall to the ground.
Notwithstanding the former destructions, Tyre was a place of some consequence in the time of St. Paul. There was a Church there, (see Acts 21:3, Acts 21:4, etc.), which afterwards became famous. Calmet observes, it afforded a great number of martyrs for the Christian Church.