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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ezekiel 28


God's judgment upon the prince of Tyrus, for his sacrilegious pride. A lamentation of his great glory corrupted by sin. The judgment of Zidon. The restoration of Israel.

Before Christ 588.

Verse 2

Ezekiel 28:2. I am a god These words are an insolent boast of self-sufficiency; as if he had said, "I neither fear any prince, nor stand in need of any assistance; I am seated in a place of impregnable strength; the seas surround me; I am freed from the assaults of an enemy." See Isa 23:9 and Lowth.

Verse 8

Ezekiel 28:8. Thou shalt die, &c.— "Thou shalt die the deaths of those who perished in the flood:" deaths, in the plural, as intimating a still farther punishment even after death; such as that impious race experienced, and such as this haughty prince had well deserved by his mad pride and blasphemous impiety. And therefore with the same emphasis the prophet says, Ezekiel 28:10. Thou shalt die the deaths, the double death, of the uncircumcised;—that is, of unbelievers and enemies to God. This is not the only place in this prophesy where the destruction by the deluge is alluded to: for this, and the fall of angels, being two of the greatest events that ever happened, and the most remarkable of God's judgments; it is very natural for the prophets to recur to them, when they would raise their style in the description of the fall of empires and of tyrants. Thus we find a very beautiful allusion to both those great events in this same prediction of our prophet, of the downfal of Tyre and its haughty prince in the 26th and following chapter. As the style of this prophet is wonderfully adapted to the subject of which he treats, he compares the destruction of this famous maritime city to a vessel shipwrecked in the sea, and so sends them to the people of old time, as he calls them, chap. Ezekiel 26:20. (where it should certainly be so rendered) who were swallowed up in the universal deluge. Their prince he compares to the prince of the rebel angels, whose pride had given him such a dreadful fall. See chap. Eze 26:18-20 Ezekiel 27:26. See Peters on Job, p. 373 and the note on Ezekiel 28:14. Instead of, Them that are slain, Houbigant reads, Them who are wounded.

Verse 12

Ezekiel 28:12. Thou sealest up, &c.— Thou seal of likeness, full, &c. Houbigant. The prophet compares the king of Tyre to a valuable seal-ring worn on the finger.

Verse 13

Ezekiel 28:13. Thou hast been in Eden, &c.— Thou wast as Eden, &c. Houbigant. "As thy situation was pleasant, so wast thou plentifully supplied with every thing which could contribute to render thy life agreeable." A state of paradise, in the common acceptation, denotes a condition every way complete and happy. But this expression alludes to the felicity which Adam enjoyed in paradise before his fall. There is something, says Mr. Peters, in this prophesy of Ezekiel, which might incline one to think, that the garden of Eden, or paradise, was become by this time, with the Jews, the happy seat of good souls in their state of separation; for, describing the pride and vanity of the prince of Tyre, and his boasted happiness, he expresses it by this phrase, Thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God; as blessed and happy in thine own imagination, as the first man, in paradise, shall we say?—Or rather (for he seems to speak of it as a state of felicity still subsisting somewhere) as good souls in the regions of the blessed, the celestial paradise. This last seems the more probably to be the meaning, because the prophet ascends a step higher in the following verse, and places this ambitious prince where he had placed himself in his own thoughts, among the angels of God, and that in the superior orders. Thou art the anointed cherub, &c. Nay, we are told, Eze 28:2 that his heart was so lifted up as to say, I am a god, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas. See Dissert. p. 399. Instead of, Prepared in thee, we may read, Prepared for thee.

Verses 14-16

Ezekiel 28:14-16. Thou art the anointed cherub, &c.— Peters observes upon these verses, that the king of this proud city, who it seems affected divine honours, is compared to an anointed cherub, or one of the chiefs and rulers of the angelical host, thus remarkably described, as one that was perfect in his ways from the day that he was created, till iniquity was found in him. Eze 28:15 one who had his place of residence upon the holy mountain of God, and walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire, or among the stars. But now to be cast down, &c. See Ezekiel 28:16. Whoever compares this place in Ezekiel with the parallel place in Isaiah 14:12; Isa 14:32 where the downfal of the king of Babylon is foretold in the same prophetic language, will soon perceive that they throw a reciprocal light upon each other; and that the fall of angels is alluded to in both. The beauty and propriety of these allusions of the prophets will appear with greater lustre, when it is considered that the host of heaven were the objects of the heathen idolatry; both the visible and invisible host, as well angels, as the lights of heaven; for the superstition seems to have been originally the same, as the worship of the heavenly bodies terminated in the worship of those angels or intelligences who were believed to animate and conduct them: and hence we see a reason why the angels are called stars and morning stars in Scripture; as in Job 38:7 and so here the covering cherub is the same with Lucifer, son of the morning, in Isaiah. Thus, while the prophets describe the overthrow of an idolatrous prince or state by a fallen angel, or a falling star, they only make their gods to tumble with them. See Dissert. on Job, p. 374. Houbigant renders the 16th verse, From the multitude of thy merchandize, the midst of thee hath been filled with iniquity, and thou art become guilty. Therefore will I cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God, and I will take thee, O cherub, and thy shadow away from the midst of the sparkling stones.

Verse 18

Ezekiel 28:18. Therefore will I bring forth a fire, &c.— This was verified by Alexander the Great, who besieged, took, and set the city on fire. See Bishop Newton's Prophesies, vol. 1:

Verse 24

Ezekiel 28:24. And there shall be no more a prickling briar Nor shall the house of Israel have any more in all her neighbours who despise her, a pricking briar, or tormenting thorn. Houbigant. That is to say, "My people shall dwell quietly and securely in their own land, when the rest of their wicked neighbours are destroyed, who continually vexed them, and were as so many thorns in their sides." The following verse shews, that this promise relates chiefly to the general restoration of the Jews, when all the enemies of truth and of the church of the Almighty are vanquished. See Lowth and Calmet.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The prince of Tyre is next the subject of the prophetic word. Distinct from the general ruin of his country, a particular warning is given to him.

1. His pride was excessive. His heart was lifted up in high conceit of his own excellence, as if he could rival the monarch of the universe: he said, I am a god; boasted himself as a deity, and perhaps expected divine honours should be paid him. His throne seemed to be fixed firm as that of the Most High, and as glorious in the midst of the seas, which owned his sovereign sway. But he is told, Thou art a man, and not God, a poor, dependent, dying worm; though thou set thine heart as the heart of God, thinking his wisdom and dominion great as those of the eternal Jehovah, and himself as worthy to be feared, obeyed, and worshipped. Two things particularly he valued himself upon. [1.] His wisdom. Thou art wiser than Daniel, in his own opinion at least. The fame of Daniel had perhaps reached even to Tyre, as the most remarkable person for wisdom of all the wise men of the East: but the king of Tyre fancied that he far excelled him, and, with penetration approaching omniscience, would have it believed, there was no secret that could be hid from him. Thus often do we see knowledge puffed up, and the most precious gifts of God perverted to his dishonour. [2.] His wealth. By his wisdom he planned his schemes of commerce, and, riches flowing in as a river upon him, every acquisition filled his mind with loftier imaginations of his own importance: he ascribed his gains, not to God's providence, but his own prudence; and fancied himself thereby exalted above all danger. The boasts of antichrist, 2Th 2:4 are expressed nearly in the same language, of whom the prince of Tyre is the type and figure.

2. His doom is read. He boasted himself a god, but he must die as a man. The Chaldeans, the terrible of the nations, from a strange land shall come, and with drawn swords demolish the force of Tyre, defile her beauty, and lay all her proud palaces in the dust; and this vain prince, far from finding respect shewn to that majesty which he counted sacred, shall go to an ignominious grave, like those who are in a sea-fight slain and cast overboard without ceremony, a prey for fishes; and, worse still, he shall die under the curse of God, the deaths of the uncircumcised, eternally undone and lost. And sure is the doom pronounced, since the God of truth hath spoken it.

3. This will silence his arrogant pretensions. Such vengeance executed upon him will prove his frailty and vanity; and his boasts of godlike power and wisdom will vanish, when, in the hands of his murderers, he shall be found a weak and helpless worm. Note; Death, at farthest, will make the proudest know that they are but men.

2nd, We have a lamentation over the prince of Tyrus.
1. He was, to appearance, raised to the highest pitch of human prosperity. Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty, complete in every accomplishment of mind and person, and great as the wealth of this world could make him. Thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God, as happy, in appearance, as Adam in the delicious mansions prepared for him in the days of his innocence. Every precious stone adorned him, studded his crown, and glittered on his royal robes. The most curious and exquisite instruments of music were prepared to celebrate his birth or coronation day. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; alluding perhaps to the golden cherubim that covered the mercy-seat, or to the cherubim which guarded the tree of life in Eden, or rather to the angelic host (see the Notes): so beautiful he seemed, and so mighty to protect his people from every foe. And I have set thee so: to God he owed his advancement, and all the greatness that he possessed. Thou wast upon the holy mountain of God, thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire, adorned with jewels, as God's high-priest when he put on the precious breastplate. Which some interpret of antichrist, assuming infallible wisdom, seated on high in the church of God, dressed in most costly apparel, pretending the authority of Christ to be the head and protector of the church, the mount of God, and usurping authority over the people of God, the stones of fire, who shine bright in all holy conversation.

2. His iniquity brought him to destruction. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, prospered and wast successful, till iniquity was found in thee. [1.] There was iniquity in traffic. In the multitude of merchandize much fraud and violence were practised. For very hard it is to be engaged in a multiplicity of business with clean hands: the mystery of trade is too frequently a mystery of iniquity. [2.] He was proud and vain-glorious. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty; and, gazing on his own excellencies, his wisdom became foolishness: for those who are proud of their attainments, corrupt and spoil what otherwise would be praiseworthy. [3.] Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by idolatrous worship, or the lewd actions commonly practised there. For which multitude of iniquities God threatens to destroy him, utterly to cast him down from his high estate, and cut him off from all his possessions as profane; having abused his station, he justly forfeits it: in the dust the kings shall behold him lie, and take warning by his fall, or exult over him. A fire of divine wrath shall be kindled, consume his city to ashes, and himself in the midst of it; and the beholders, with terror and astonishment, shall wonder at his fearful fall, from which he shall never recover. All which is most applicable to the man of sin, whose coffers are filled with the gainful trade of priestcraft, pardons and indulgences; proud of his dignity, corrupt in his worship, defiling the sanctuary with image-worship and superstition: for which his day of ruin will come, when all his glory will be tarnished, when he shall be cast down with divine judgments, and at last doomed to the lake which burneth with fire for ever and ever. Note; Let all the workers of iniquity tremble: the same sins will assuredly produce the same destruction

3rdly, Two ways God will glorify himself,
1. In the destruction of Zidon. God is her enemy, will execute his judgments upon her, and be sanctified, make his holiness and justice appear in her ruin. The depopulating scourge of pestilence shall be sent upon her, and the wounded shall fall on every side. Thus will God make himself known in the vengeance that he executes.

2. In the restoration and prosperity of his Israel. God will bring them again to their own land, and cause them to dwell safely: the nations around, who despised and vexed them, as briars and thorns, shall be no more; and he will be sanctified in the sight of the heathen, who will be made to own his hand evidently displayed in behalf of his people: and with comfort they shall know him to be the Lord, experiencing his mercy and proving his faithfulness. And this restoration seems to look farther than their return from Babylon, after which they were still frequently beset with enemies; and to have respect to their last recovery, when they shall be admitted into the church; and all the faithful among them shall enter into that eternal rest, where the wicked will cease from troubling, and every tear be for ever wiped from their eyes.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Ezekiel 28". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.