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The first part of this chapter relates to a King of Tyre, probably the same who is called in the Phoenician annals Ithobalus. He seems to have been a vain man, who affected Divine honors. The prophet treats his foolish pretensions with severe irony, and predicts his doom, Ezekiel 28:1-10. He then takes up a funeral dirge and lamentation over him, in which his former pomp and splendor are finely contrasted with his fall, in terms that seem frequently to allude to the fall of Lucifer from heaven, (Isaiah 14), Ezekiel 28:11-19. The overthrow of Sidon, the mother city of Tyre, is next announced, Ezekiel 28:20-23; and the chapter concludes with a promise to the Jews of deliverance from all their enemies, and particularly of their restoration from the Babylonish captivity, Ezekiel 28:24-26.
Say unto the prince of Tyrus - But who was this prince of Tyrus? Some think Hiram; some, Sin; some, the devil; others, Ithobaal, with whom the chronology and circumstances best agree. Origen thought the guardian angel of the city was intended.
I am a god - That is, I am absolute, independent, and accountable to none. He was a man of great pride and arrogance.
Thou art wiser than Daniel - Daniel was at this time living, and was reputable for his great wisdom. This is said ironically. See Ezekiel 14:14; Ezekiel 26:1.
By thy great wisdom - He attributed every thing to himself; he did not acknowledge a Divine providence. As he got all by himself, so he believed he could keep all by himself, and had no need of any foreign help.
I will bring strangers upon thee - The Chaldeans.
Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee - Wilt thou continue thy pride and arrogance when the sword is sheathed in thee, and still imagine that thou art self-sufficient and independent?
The deaths of the uncircumcised - Two deaths, temporal and eternal. Ithobaal was taken and killed by Nebuchadnezzar.
Thou sealest up - This has been translated, “Thou drawest thy own likeness.” “Thou formest a portrait of thyself; and hast represented thyself the perfection of wisdom and beauty.” I believe this to be the meaning of the place.
Thou hast been in Eden - This also is a strong irony. Thou art like Adam, when in his innocence and excellence he was in the garden of Eden!
Every precious stone was thy covering - For a description of these stones see the note on Exodus 28:17.
Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth - The irony is continued; and here he is likened to the Cherub that guarded the gates of Paradise, and kept the way of the tree of life; or to one of the cherubs whose wings, spread out, covered the mercy-seat.
Thou mast upon the holy mountain of God - The irony is still continued; and now he is compared to Hoses, and afterwards to one of the chief angels, who has walked up and down among the stones of fire; that is, thy floors have been paved with precious stones, that shone and sparkled like fire.
Lucan, describing the splendor of the apartments of Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, speaks in nearly a similar language: -
Nec summis crustata domus, sectisque nitebat
Marmoribus, stabatque sibi non segnis achates,
Purpureusque lapis, totusque effusus in aula
Pharsal. lib. x.
Rich as some fane by slavish zealots reared,
For the proud banquet stood the hall prepared:
Thick golden plates the latent beams infold,
And the high roof was fretted o‘er with gold.
Of solid marble all the walls were made,
And onyx e‘en the meaner floor inlaid;
While porphyry and agate round the court
In massy columns rose, a proud support.
Of solid ebony each post was wrought,
From swarthy Meroe profusely brought.
With ivory was the entrance crusted o‘er,
And polished tortoise hid each shining door;
While on the cloudy spots enchased was seen
The trusty emerald‘s never-fading green.
Within the royal beds and couches shone,
Beamy and bright with many a costly stone,
The glowing purple rich.
Thou wast perfect in thy ways - The irony seems still to be kept up. Thou hast been like the angels, like Moses, like the cherubs, like Adam, like God, till thy iniquity was found out.
I will cast thee as profane - Thou shalt be cast down from thine eminence.
From the midst of the stones of fire - Some, supposing that stones of fire means the stars, have thought that the whole refers to the fall of Satan.
Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries - Irony continued. As God, as the angels, as the cherubim, thou must have had thy sanctuaries; but thou hast defiled them: and as Adam, thou hast polluted thy Eden, and hast been expelled from Paradise.
Thou shalt be a terror - Instead of being an object of adoration thou shalt be a subject of horror, and at last be destroyed with thy city, so that nothing but thy name shall remain. It was entirely burnt by Alexander the Great, as it had been before by Nebuchadnezzar.
I am against thee, O Zidon - Sidon for a long time had possessed the empire of the sea and of all Phoenicia, and Tyre was one of its colonies; but in process of time, the daughter became greater than the mother. It seems to have been an independent place at the time in which Tyre was taken; but it is likely that it was taken by the Chaldeans soon after the former.
And the wounded - חלל (chalal), the soldiery. All its supports shall be taken away, and its defenders destroyed.
There shall be no more a pricking brier - Nothing to excite Israel to idolatry when restored from their captivity. Perhaps there is an allusion to Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal, king of Sidon, and wife to Ahab, king of Israel, who was the greatest curse to Israel, and the universal restorer of idolatry in the land, see 1 Kings 16:31. Sidon being destroyed, there would come no encourager of idolatry from that quarter.
When I shall have gathered the house of Israel - In their long captivity, God had been preparing the land for them so as to make it a safe dwelling; and hence he executed judgments on all the heathen nations round about by means of the Chaldeans. Thus Tyre and Sidon were destroyed, as were the Ammonites and others who had been the inveterate enemies of the Jews. Judgment first began at his own house, then proceeded to the heathen nations; and when they were brought down, then he visited and redeemed his people. Thus God‘s ways are proved to be all equal; partialities and caprices belong not to him.