Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 26

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary

Verse 1


1. First day of the month The number of the month has dropped out. Was it the fifth? (Jeremiah 52:6; Jeremiah 52:12.)

Verse 2

2. Tyrus Tyre was the chief city of Phoenicia, which was the leading naval power the Great Britain of the ancient world. It was but a small country, smaller even than Palestine, but its fame filled the whole earth. Phoenician credit and currency extended “from the coasts of Britain to those of Northwest India and probably to Madagascar… This trade tapped river basins as far apart as those of the Indus, the Euphrates, probably the Zambesi, the Nile, the Rhone, the Guadalquivir” (Smith, Isaiah, i, p. 390). In the eleventh century B.C. an Egyptian official was sent to Phoenicia for cedar wood (Pap. Golenischeff), as were Solomon’s agents one hundred years later. Tradition ascribes the invention of navigation to the Tyrians. Sennacherib (700 B.C.) boasts that he had builded at Nineveh, by Phoenician carpenters, “artful, great ships, according to their home manner,” and ordered as their sailors, prisoners of war, Tyrians, Sidonians, etc. It was during Ezekiel’s lifetime (600 B.C.) that a Phoenician sea captain circumnavigated Africa ( Herodotus, 4:42). For fifteen hundred years Phoenicia was the merchant of all nations. Her vast wealth made the mightiest kings of Egypt and Babylon look toward her as a possible prize, but because of her strategic position, unequaled navy, and shrewd diplomacy, she was enabled to maintain for many centuries her practical independence. In the fourteenth century B.C. Abimelki prostrates himself before the Pharaoh and calls Tyre the “handmaid of Egypt;” but the allegiance of Tyre to Egypt was entirely selfish and Egyptian power in Phoenicia was not great. Again and again in the ninth and eighth centuries B.C. the Assyrian king boasts: “I marched up to the great sea of the West. I cleansed my weapons in the great sea. I put tribute upon Damascus, Tyre, Sidon,” etc. But the frequency of these campaigns indicates how superficial were the conquests. On a tablet from Sinjerli, Baal, king of Tyre, is represented as kneeling before Esarhaddon with a ring through his lips attached to a cord in the hands of the great king; but the inscriptions do not even name Tyre as a vassal state, and certainly the picture does not represent the ordinary relations of the king of Tyre with the king of Assyria ( McCurdy, ii, p. 345). Phoenicia did not depend for victory upon her soldiers, but upon her gold, and rather than have her commerce interrupted she could well afford to give tribute. She made, of course, political alliances with the states lying between her and her enemies. During the prosperous reigns of David and Solomon, Phoenicia was a warm friend to Israel; but after the division of the kingdom she lost interest in her weak neighbor and “sold” her to the Greeks or the Edomites as her own advantages dictated (Amos 1:9; Joel 3:6). Previous to Assurbanipal (668-626 B.C.) the Assyrians seem to have been content with gifts from the chief cities of Phoenicia, but his successors urged campaign after campaign in the vain attempt to completely subjugate their small but doughty adversary. Nebuchadnezzar was determined to do this, but failed to get from Tyre the treasure that he had anticipated (see Ezekiel 29:18).

She is broken that was the gates of the people Literally, gate of the peoples. Jerusalem was the gateway opening from Egypt to Babylon and Phoenicia, and she had evidently been getting some of the trade of which Tyro wished the monopoly.

She is turned Rather, it. The gate of traffic now opens more freely toward Phoenicia since her rival is disposed of.

Verse 3

3. As the sea causeth his waves to come up This figure would be particularly vivid and frightful to the inhabitants of an island city. (See Ezekiel 28:2.)

Verse 4

4. Top of a rock Or, naked rock. (See Ezekiel 24:7-8.)

Verse 5

5. A place for the spreading of nets (also Ezekiel 26:14) The prophecy is that the merchant city of the world, the London of ancient times, shall lose its position and population and sink to the insignificance of a fishing village. When spoken, these words seemed as absurd as Macaulay’s suggestion concerning the forgotten ruins of London bridge; but they have been literally fulfilled.

Verse 6

6. Her daughters which are in the field Her subject or allied cities. (See Joshua 17:11, where “towns” is literally “daughters.)”

Verse 7

7. I will bring upon Tyrus Nebuchadrezzar See Daniel 2:37, and Introduction to Daniel, III, 3.

Verses 8-14

8-14. The description is startingly vivid, the outlying villages (“daughters”)

suffer first, then the well-known “fort” and “mount” are erected, and under cover of “the buckler” (a barricade of wickerwork covered with skins) the “engines of war” (R.V., “battering engines”) come into position and the axes (literally, swords) begin their deadly work. A breach is made in the wall, and then comes the charge of the cavalry and chariot force, the dust fills the air, and the fleeing people fall under the hoofs of the horses and the stroke of the swords. Even the temple of Baal is invaded and his sacred pillars (unfortunately translated “garrisons”) are cast to the ground. (Compare 2 Kings 10:26.) The city is sacked, and the riches of her temples, her pleasant palaces, and bazaars become the spoil of her conqueror. The city is destroyed, never to be built again, and the music for which she was famous (Isaiah 23:16) sinks into a groan. Now it is certain that a complete destruction of the city such as Ezekiel 26:12-14 contemplate was not wrought by Nebuchadnezzar, for after this campaign Tyre was able to sustain a very protracted siege under Alexander the Great (see also Ezekiel 29:17-21); but it seems most probable that the prophet’s description of the Nebuchadnezzar campaign melts into the more awful destruction, which he has formerly said would be wrought by “many nations,” which should dash up against the proud city “as I bring up the sea, wave after wave” (Ezekiel 26:3). This fusion of various events is not unusual in prophecy. (Compare particularly Matthew 24:0; Mark 13:0.)

Verses 15-16

15, 16. At the sound of the falling walls and the cries of the wounded the seacoasts (isles, Ezekiel 26:15; Ezekiel 26:18) tremble and shake, while the merchant princes of the sea (Isaiah 23:8) put away their royal robes and sit in the dust and clothe themselves with “tremblings” and act as mourners at this national funeral.

Verse 17

17. Of seafaring men Literally, from the seas.

Cause [rather, caused ] their terror That is, the fear of “the seas.”

All that haunt it Rather, all her inhabitants. (Compare Ezekiel 25:4.) Her transient visitors and her miscellaneous population of various nationalities (Ezekiel 27:8-11) were held in awe by a strong hand.

Verse 18

18. Troubled They mourn her downfall, either because she had not been oppressive in her commercial policy (Plumptre) or, more probably, because they feared a similar fate.

Verse 19

19. When I shall bring up the deep upon thee The ruins of the best parts of ancient Tyre are now under water.

Verse 20

20. When Rather, then.

In places Probably, like places. Sinking beneath the sea they drop at the same time into “the nether parts of the earth,” the underworld, where are the people of old time and all the ruined cities of the past. This picture of the dead in Sheol (the pit) is elaborated, Ezekiel 32:18, etc. (Compare Isaiah 14:9; Psalms 88:4-7.)

I shall set [rather, will set ] glory in the land of the living A very difficult phrase. Various readings are suggested, but in any case a contrast appears between the glorious life here and the shadow life in Sheol.

Verse 21

21. Terror Literally, destruction. I will entirely destroy thee (Ezekiel 27:36; Ezekiel 28:19).

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ezekiel 26". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.