Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2003 James Melough
“The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying,”
“Now, thou son of man, take up a lamentation for Tyrus;”
The fact that God wished to have a lamentation made
for Tyre makes it clear that He had had no pleasure in having to destroy the
proud city; nor does He have any pleasure in the death of anyone, as it is
written, “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of
the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye
from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” Eze 33:11. See
also Eze 18:23,32.
“And say unto Tyrus, O thou that art situate at the entry of the sea, which
art a merchant of the people for many isles, Thus saith the Lord God; O Tyrus,
thou hast said, I am of perfect beauty.”
“Entry” is plural, the reference being to the
city’s two harbors.
The greatest seaport of its day, and the center
through which passed the merchandise of most of the world, Tyre considered
herself to be peerless, pride being her greatest sin; but as noted already,
that great city is also a type of Satan who aspired to be, not only the
greatest of all created things, but to be as God Himself, that vain pride
causing him to be cast down from his high place as the anointed cherub, to
become what he is now, Satan, the evil prince of darkness, whose ultimate end
will be consignment to the eternal torment of the lake of fire.
“Thy borders are in the midst of the seas, thy builders have perfected thy
Tyre’s commercial dominion extended across the seas
to embrace virtually all Mediterranean lands. Her builders had spared neither
effort nor expense to make her the most beautiful city of that day.
“They have made all thy ship boards of fir trees of Senir: they have taken
cedars from Lebanon to make masts for thee.”
The city is here likened to a magnificent ship in
the creation of which no expense has been spared. She had, as it were, been
built of the most costly timber: fir from Senir (Mount Hermon); and cedar from
the Lebanon mountains.
“Of the oaks of Bashan have they made thine oars; the company of the Ashurites
have made thy benches of ivory, brought out of the isles of Chittim.”
Bashan, an area northeast of Galilee, was famous
for its oak forests, this hard strong wood being used for oars. Benches is
better translated decks: they were made of boxwood, larch, pine, cypress, and
cedar inlaid with ivory. No expense was spared in making her ships vessels of
strength and beauty, those ships reflecting the magnificence of the city
“Fine linen with broidered work from Egypt was that which thou spreadest forth
to be thy sail; blue and purple from the isles of Elishah was that which
The sails were of costly embroidered Egyptian linen
rather than common canvas; and equally costly dyed linen was used to make the
deck awnings. Elishah is generally considered to have been the island of
“The inhabitants of Zidon (Sidon) and Arvad were thy mariners (rowers): thy
wise men, O Tyrus, that were in thee, were thy pilots.”
Zidon was a port about twenty miles north of Tyre,
and Arvad was another coastal city about a hundred miles further north.
“... thy wise men” is also translated skilled:
expert: sages. They represented Tyre’s governing men.
“The ancients of Gebal and the wise men thereof were in thee thy caulkers
(carpenters?): all the ships of the sea with their mariners were in thee to
occupy thy merchandise.”
Gebal (Byblos) was on the coast about sixty miles
north of Zidon.
The movement of the ship tended to loosen the
caulking, and the ships of Tyre had experts on board to recaulk the seams as
it traveled, rather than waiting for it to return to port, thus ensuring
minimum water damage to the cargo.
The latter part of the verse means that ships from
the world of that day were constantly coming and going to and from Tyre in
connection with its busy trading activities.
“They of Persia and of Lud and of Phut were in thine army, thy men of war:
they hanged the shield and helmet in thee; they set forth thy comeliness.”
This is the first biblical mention of Persia,
modern-day Iran; Lud (Lydia) was on the west coast of Asia Minor; and Phut is
of uncertain location, but believed to have been in present-day Libya.
Warriors from these countries constituted Tyre’s army, and added military
glory to her commercial splendor.
“The men of Arvad with thine army were upon thy walls round about, and the
Gammadims were in thy towers: they hanged their shields upon thy walls round
about; they have made thy beauty perfect.”
Arvad, about a hundred miles north of Tyre,
furnished soldiers for Tyre’s army, as well as sailors for her ships, see
Nothing is known about the Gammadims.
“Tarshish was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of all kind of riches;
with silver, iron, tin, and lead, they traded in thy fairs.”
Tarshish was a Phoenician smelting center thought
to have been located in Spain or Sardinia. It traded its metal goods in
“Javan, Tubal, and Meshech, they were thy merchants: they traded the persons
of men and vessels of brass in thy market.”
Javan, located in Ionia; and Tubal and Meshech, in
Asia Minor, also traded in Tyre, their merchandise being slaves and bronzeware.
“They of the house of Togarmah traded in thy fairs with horses and horsemen
Togarmah lay south of the eastern end of the Black
Sea in the region of the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, and
their merchandise was horses and mules.
“The men of Dedan were thy merchants; many isles were the merchandise of thine
hand: they brought thee for a present horns of ivory and ebony,”
Dedan was either a province located south-east of
Edom, or the name of an Arab-occupied territory in Edom . It and many island
traders brought ivory tusks, and ebony (a hard, dark wood used in the
manufacture of fine furniture), not as presents or gifts, but as articles of
“Syria was thy merchant by reason of the wares of thy making: they occupied
(traded) in thy fairs (markets) with emeralds, purple, broidered work, and
fine linen, and coral, and agate.”
Syria was the region lying east of Tyre, and
north-east of Lake Huleh. They traded in Tyre’s markets with precious stones,
purple dye, embroidered work, and fine linen.
“Judah, and the land of Israel, they were thy
merchants: they traded in thy market wheat of Minnith, and Pannag, and honey,
and oil, and balm.”
Minnith was a region about twenty miles east of the
north end of the Dead Sea, and was famous for its wheat.
Pannag is a transliterated word found only here in
Scripture. Its meaning is unknown, but some suggest that it may have been the
name of something edible, such as figs. Others understand it to have been
“Damascus was thy merchant in the multitude of the wares of thy making, for
the multitude of all riches; in the wine of Helbon, and white wool.”
Helbon, located about a hundred miles east of Tyre
and twelve miles north of Damascus, was an area famous for its wine.
“Dan also and Javan going to and fro occupied (traded) with thee in iron,
cassia, and calamus, were in thy market.”
Dan here has no reference to the tribe of Dan, but
is another name for a place also known as Uzal, believed by some to be
present-day Aden in Yemen. Javan was the name of a Greek colony in Arabia.
“Dedan was thy merchant in precious clothes for chariots.”
Dedan, not the same as Dedan of verse 15, was
located south-east of the Gulf of Aquaba. The “precious clothes” were coarse
woolen saddle cloths.
“Arabia, and all the princes of Kedar, they occupied (traded) with thee in
lambs, and rams, and goats: in these were they thy merchants.”
Kedar was a region in north-east Arabia, just south
of the River of Egypt (the small river which was the border between Egypt and
“The merchants of Sheba and Raamah, they were thy merchants: they occupied
(traded) in thy fairs with chief of all spices, and with all precious stones,
Sheba was a located in the extreme south-west
corner of Arabia; and Raamah lay just north of Sheba.
“Haran, and Canneh, and Eden, the merchants of Sheba, Asshur, and Chilmad,
were thy merchants.”
Haran lay in north-west Arabia near the source of
the Euphrates River. It was the city to which Terah took Abraham and the rest
of the family after leaving Ur of the Chaldees.
Canneh is unknown, but is believed to be identical
with Calah which lay about a hundred miles south-east of Nineveh on the east
side of the Tigris River.
Eden was a district in the vicinity of Haran. For
Sheba see verse 22. Asshur lay about a hundred miles south of Calah (see
Canneh above). Nothing is known of Chilmad.
“These were thy merchants in all sorts of things, in blue clothes, and
broidered work, and in chests of rich apparel, bound with cords, and made of
cedar, among thy merchandise.”
This verse requires no comment.
“The ships of Tarshish did sing of thee in thy market: and thou wast
replenished, and made very glorious in the midst of the seas.”
As noted in verse twelve, Tarshish was believed to
have been a smelting center located in Spain or Sardinia, but that is not the
sense in which the name is used here, as is stated in The Bible Knowledge
Commentary “‘Ships of Tarshish’ probably referred to large vessels
carrying cargo on the open sea.” The sailors sang of the glories of Tyre
during their visits there.
“... replenished” means that the city was being
continually filled with merchandise brought there by the heavily laden ships
coming from all lands, each ship load adding to her glory.
“Thy rowers have brought thee into great waters: the east wind hath broken
thee in the midst of the seas.”
Here Tyre is likened to a ship, and this is more
than a casual reference to the hazards of sea trade: it is the beginning of
the announcement of her doom, for everything points to the truth that what she
was about to be brought into, were not literal storm-whipped seas, but rather
the great waters of God’s judgmental wrath, which would destroy her. The
great “ship” was about to sink in the terrible storm of Divine fury, Babylon
being God’s instrument to accomplish Tyre’s destruction.
As already discussed, the wind is a symbol of the
Holy Spirit; and the east is the biblical direction that always has an evil
connotation, speaking as it does of sin and departure from God.
“Thy riches, and thy fairs, thy merchandise, thy mariners, and thy pilots, thy
caulkers (carpenters?), and the occupiers (traders) of thy merchandise, and
all thy men of war, that are in thee, and all thy company which is in the
midst of thee, shall fall into the midst of the seas in the day of thy ruin.”
The completeness of the destruction is indicated in
the catalog of those who would fall with Tyre. The effect of her ruin would
be felt throughout virtually the whole world of that day.
As well as being symbolic of God’s wrath, the seas
are also used as a metaphor for earth’s human masses, so that what is being
declared here is that all which had constituted the great commercial entity
that was Tyre, would simply disappear, being absorbed by those masses.
“The suburbs shall shake at the sound of the cry of thy pilots.”
Suburbs as used here describes all the lands having
business associations with Tyre; and while “pilots” certainly may be the
literal title of the men who guided the ships connected with the city’s trade,
it seems more likely in the present context that it applies to those business
leaders who directed the affairs of the great commercial enterprises of the
“And all that handle the oar, the mariners, and all the pilots of the sea,
shall come down from their ships, they shall stand upon the land;”
“And shall cause their voice to be heard against (on behalf of) thee, and
shall cry bitterly, and shall cast up dust upon their heads, they shall wallow
themselves in the ashes:”
“And they shall make themselves utterly bald for thee, and gird them with
sackcloth, and they shall weep for thee with bitterness of heart and bitter
This is a metaphoric description of the misery and
sorrow which would ensue from the widespread unemployment that would result
from Tyre’s destruction.
“And in their wailing they shall take up a lamentation for thee, and lament
over thee, saying, What city is like Tyrus, like the destroyed in the midst of
As Tyre’s greatness had evoked the admiring wonder
of the world, so would her destruction induce a corresponding measure of
sorrow and dread, for the well-being of multitudes was inseparably bound with
the city’s prosperity.
“When thy wares went forth out of the seas, thou filledst many people; thou
didst enrich the kings of the earth with the multitude of thy riches and of
The merchandise of Tyre, transported by ship, met
the needs of many nations and enriched kings.
“In the time when thou shalt be broken by the seas in the depths of the waters
thy merchandise and all thy company in the midst of thee shall fall.”
Tyre continues to be likened to a ship in the midst
of the seas, caught in a violent storm, wrecked, and sunk, the storm and the
seas being figures of the judgment of God destroying the proud city.
“All the inhabitants of the isles shall be astonished at thee, and their kings
shall be sore afraid, they shall be troubled in their countenance.”
The inhabitants of the isles were the nations which
had traded with Tyre. They would be appalled at her destruction, for their
own trade and wealth would be adversely affected. Kings likewise would be
panic-stricken, realizing that the very stability of their thrones would be
endangered, not just by the economic instability that would attend Tyre’s
fall, but by the very real possibility that they too would fall victim to
“The merchants among the people shall hiss at thee; thou shalt be a terror,
and never shalt be any more.”
To hiss is literally to whistle either in surprise,
pity, or in scorn, but in the present context it is generally taken to be the
expression of astonishment.
Its becoming a terror means that the fallen city
would become an object of horror or dread due to the fact that so many
business enterprises throughout the nations would also be adversely affected.
The dreadful finality of the city’s doom is
declared in the words, “and never shalt be any more.”