Ezekiel 27:6 MEANING

Ezekiel 27:6
(6) The company of the Ashurites have made thy benches of ivory.--The literal rendering of this clause (with two words of doubtful meaning left blank) is, they made thy . . . of tooth (ivory), daughter of . . . The sense will depend upon the filling up of these blanks. For the first there need be no difficulty. The word is used in Exodus 26:16 of the boards of the tabernacle, and here it is undoubtedly used of some planking about the ship; but it is in the singular number. It is hardly likely, therefore, to mean "benches" (i.e., seats for the oarsmen), since there were usually two or three tiers of these on each side of the ship. It is now generally taken collectively of the planking of the deck. If the Hebrew text, as it stands, is quite correct, we must read the other word "daughter of Ashurites," for there is no authority for rendering "daughter" by company. It is difficult or impossible to make any intelligible sense of this; but if the two Hebrew words now written separately be joined together, we shall have "in box-wood," the word being the same as in Isaiah 60:13. There will still be a little doubt, as there is so often in Scripture, as to the exact wood intended, whether box-wood or the sherbin-cedar; but the general sense is plain--" they have made thy deck of ivory, inlaid in box-wood."

Isles of Chittim.--Chittim is the Old Testament name for Cyprus, and hence "isles of Chittim" (as in Jeremiah 2:10) stands for the islands and coasts whose fleets, in coming to the East, made their rendezvous at Cyprus. Thither were brought both the ivory from the African coast and the precious woods from various quarters.

Verse 6. - The high plateau of Bashan, the region east of the sea of Galilee and the Jordan, now known as the Hauran, was famous then, as it is now, for its oak forests and its wild cattle (Psalm 22:12). The company of the Ashurites, etc.; better, with the Revised Version, they have made thy benches of ivory inlaid in boxwood. The Authorized Version follows the present Hebrew text, but the name of the nation there is not the same as that of the Assyrians, and corresponds with the Ashurites of 2 Samuel 2:9 - an obscure tribe of Canaanites, possibly identical with the Geshurites. A difference of punctuation or spelling (Bithasshurim for Bath-asshu-rim) gives the meaning which the Revised Version follows; thasshur being used in Isaiah 41:19 and Isaiah 60:13 for the box tree, or perhaps cypress, or larch, as forming part of the glory of Lebanon. The use of ivory in ship or house building seems to have been one of the arts for which Tyre was famous. So we have the ivory palace of Ahab, after he had married his Sidonian queen (1 Kings 22:39) and those of the monarch who had married a Tyrian princess in Psalm 45:8 (see also Amos 3:15). For the use of such inlaid wood in later times, see Virgil, 'AEneid,' 10:137. Either the ivory or the wood is said to come from the isles of Chittim. The word was about as wide in its use as the "Indies" in the time of Elizabeth. Josephus ('Ant.,' 1:06. 1) identifies it with Cyprus, which perhaps retains a memorial of it in Citium. The Vulgate, as in Numbers 24:24, identifies it here with Italy, and in Daniel 11:30 translates the "ships of Chittim" as trieres et Romani, while in 1 Macc. 1:1, it is used of Greece as including Macedonia. In Genesis 10:4 the Kittim appear as descended from Javan, i.e. are classed as Greeks or Ionians. The ivory which the Tyrians used probably came from Northern Africa, and may have been supplied through Carthage or other Phoenician colonies. A supply may have come also from Ethiopia through Egypt, or from the Red Sea ports, with which the Phoenicians carried on a trade with Arabia. Inlaid ivory-work, sometimes in wood, sometimes with enamel, is found both in Egyptian and Assyrian remains ('Dict. Bible,' s.v. "Ivory").

27:1-25 Those who live at ease are to be lamented, if they are not prepared for trouble. Let none reckon themselves beautified, any further than they are sanctified. The account of the trade of Tyre intimates, that God's eye is upon men when employed in worldly business. Not only when at church, praying and hearing, but when in markets and fairs, buying and selling. In all our dealings we should keep a conscience void of offence. God, as the common Father of mankind, makes one country abound in one commodity, and another in another, serviceable to the necessity or to the comfort and ornament of human life. See what a blessing trade and merchandise are to mankind, when followed in the fear of God. Besides necessaries, an abundance of things are made valuable only by custom; yet God allows us to use them. But when riches increase, men are apt to set their hearts upon them, and forget the Lord, who gives power to get wealth.Of the oaks of Bashan have they made thine oars,.... To row the ships with; for their ships probably were no other than galleys, which were rowed with oars, as were the ships of first invention. Bashan was a country in Judea where oaks grew; see Isaiah 2:13. The country of Judea in general was famous for oaks; it abounded with them in the times of Homer (t), who speaks of Typho being buried in a country abounding with oaks, among the rich or fat people of Judea; and he seems to design Bashan particularly, of which Og was king, whom he calls Typho, and of whose bed he makes mention in the same place; hence several places in Judea had their names from the oaks which grew, there, as Elonmoreh, Allonbachuth, Elonmeonenim, Elontabor, and Elonbethhanan, Genesis 12:6 and which one would have thought were fitter to make their ships of; but of these only their oars were made:

the company of the Ashurites have made thy benches of ivory, brought out of the isles of Chittim; the benches for the towers to sit on, or for others in the cabin and decks; but that these should be wholly of ivory is not very probable; nor was ivory brought from the isles of Chittim, but from other parts; nor is it easy to say who the company of the Ashurites were; some say the Assyrians; but why they should be so called is not plain. Jarchi makes to be but one word, which signifies box trees, as it is used in Isaiah 41:19 and he supposes that these benches, or be they what they will, were made of box trees covered or inlaid with ivory. So the Targum,

"the lintels of thy gates (the hatches) were planks of box tree inlaid with ivory;''

which box, and not the ivory, was brought from the isles of Chittim; either from Cyprus, where was a place called Citium; or from Macedonia, from whence box was fetched; or from the province of Apulia, as the Targum; where there might be plenty of it, as in Corsica, and other places, where particularly the best box grows, as Pliny (u) says. Jerom interprets Cittin of Italy; and Ben Gorion says (w) that Cittim are the Romans.

(t) ', . Homer. Iliad. 2. Vid. Dickinson, Delphi Phoenicix. c. 2. p. 13, 16. (u) Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 16. (w) Heb. Hist. l. 1. c. 1. p. 7.

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