Ezekiel

Notes on Ezekiel 1 to 37 by F. W. Grant, from the fourth volume of the Numerical Bible.

Notes on Ezekiel 38 to 48, with a Historical Chart of the Prophets, Plans illustrating the Temple, and the Future Division of the Land, by J. Bloore.

Division 2. (Ezekiel 25 — 32.)

The judgment upon the Gentile enemies.

Judgment is now executed upon Israel, God's special people, who owed their prominence to the privileges granted to them, as the apostle reminds us — "chiefly that unto them were committed the oracles of God." But this of necessity includes others also, in so far as these oracles have reached to others besides Israel. In God's mind His house was to be a house of prayer for all nations and Israel, with her miraculous history, whose land was on the highway of national intercourse, was to be wisdom's voice heard in the crossways in which God had appointed her stand. Could the nations around be guiltless, then? They were not in the simple ignorance which God could overlook, as the apostle states in his address to the Athenians (Acts 17:30). In fact, as we shall see, the message had in measure told upon them, but only to arouse, as to the mass of them, the natural enmity of the human heart to God. Accordingly, if Israel be judged, the nations around her must also be dealt with, and dealt with by the instrument which God uses in the judgment of Israel herself. Thus it is the nations in various degrees of relation to Israel that we find now summoned before the judgment-seat.

Seven of the nations around are thus made special representatives of such responsibility, and their attitude towards the chosen people of God stands at the forefront of the account. In principle we have here what will be repeated in the last days, in the judgment before the Son of Man (Matt. 25:31-46, see Notes). Ammon we find to be against the sanctuary and the land. Moab, in pride of heart, will see nothing in Israel but a nation like all the rest. Edom and Philistia have nursed a spirit of vengeance against her. Tyre finds her own gain in Israel's fall. Sidon has been a sting and a thorn to her and Egypt, always a staff of reed. Whatever difference there may be one from another, it is plain that God's word in Israel, which is necessarily for all His creatures, has been disregarded or refused. It may be said, and truly so, that there was not a missionary spirit in Israel, and that as yet there was no proper gospel to go out to others. Nevertheless, for the heart that seeks Him, there will be the consciousness that wherever He is to be found, He is the rewarder of those that seek Him out. His gifts, wherever appreciable to the carnal mind, will be easily recognized and sought after. At the time of Israel's deliverance, when judgment passed upon Egypt and upon all her gods, there was such a testimony as could not be mistaken, but it only brought out more fully the fact that there was no heart to respond to it — that their ignorance of God was a willing ignorance. Thus the opposition of surrounding nations to Israel in her after-course was, manifestly, largely due to a claim which these things pressed upon them, and to which they did not yield.

It has been remarked by some that the number of these nations — seven in all — is meant to be significant. Together they present an epitome of the world as a whole, in the different forms which this resistance takes. This surely should cause us to inquire into the particular significance of each of these, and what we are to learn by it but it has been little inquired into. If we examine it, however, we shall find that what is given us here is not simply the world in Israel's time, but the world in our time also. It is essentially the same — one in spirit all through and the lessons therefore abide for us today typically they are for spiritual lessons to us, having at the same time a prophetic meaning, manifesting itself everywhere to those who care to see. Let us take them up therefore in this manner, remembering the importance to apprehend God's mind in everything that He may communicate to us, and that true blessing to ourselves is not merely found in what is distinctly addressed to ourselves, but in the apprehension of what God would give us in the consideration of all His ways either in judgment or in grace. His steps everywhere, as we have said before, are always steps of revelation. His acts are of significance, as His words are and here, as elsewhere, all these things happened and were recorded for our admonition upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

Section 1 (Ezekiel 25:1-11).

Ammon-Moab, one in descent, in sin, and retribution. Their land given to the sons of the East.

First of all, the kindred peoples of Ammon and Moab are set before us: one in their origin, according to their well-known shameful history, and one in their sin, as we shall see directly; one also, therefore, in the retribution which comes upon their sin. Yet there is a difference between them, a difference fully recognized in what we find here.

1. Ammon faces us first. In him is marked opposition to the sanctuary and to the land of Israel. But the sanctuary is God's dwelling among men, the expression thus of grace — a grace which has been only more fully made known in after-times. In Christ we have had the fullest expression of it, dwelling amongst men in such a way as told out His delight in them; and this is a step which He will never take back. In Him, God and man are indissolubly joined, and with Him there is no repentance. The land of Israel is the portion which God in grace has given them, and in which He would make manifest the blessedness of those who draw near to Him. These are lessons which at all times are meant to speak to all; but as Israel on the one hand could take such privileges to glorify themselves with them, and despise others, so on the other hand, men could take them as the mere exhibition of a narrow partiality on God's part, and make Him but as one of the gods of the nations round about.

If in this way we look back at the history of Ammon it will have continual significance for us. Their first father's name, Ben-ammi, "son of my people," is significant, if we think of it as in opposition to the people of God. The land also, as we find in the history of the Judges, he covets for himself, though he can take possession really of nothing, being only the nomad ravager which everything shows him to be. Thus, as others have remarked, we have no cities of the land of Ammon; nothing that indicates the proper occupation of the soil or the care of the agriculturist. Rabbah is his one city, "numerous," as we may read the word, the hold of a motley host, as it were, but the stronghold of a Bedouin race; and the judgment which falls upon it is completely in character with this. In the congruous ways of God, the land of Ammon is given up to similar raiders, "the sons of the East;" the word for east signifying what is opposite to you, but which may easily acquire the character of what we find in the east wind — what is in opposition, or adverse. "The sons of the East," such as the Ishmaelites, were men whose hand was against every one, and every one's hand against them. Rabbah, under them, becomes itself broken up, and is but a habitation for camels, "the burden bearers" of the desert.

If we look further at Ammon, and in the light of his previous history, which has been elsewhere considered, we need have little difficulty in discerning the foe who makes his attack upon the things of primary importance for us; above all, upon the grace of God and the portion which grace has for His people. It is characteristic of the errorist of all time, in whom the power of Satan specially is at work, one who is ever against Christ, and necessarily, therefore, against His people. Nahash, "the serpent," the king of Ammon, is thus the figure of the great adversary of God and man. His attack upon the people in Saul's time has been already considered in its place. Heresy, as we know, takes away the portion of God's people, but it is able to do nothing with it. It cannot make the land fruitful in which it is simply a raider, and indeed cannot retain that upon which it may lay hold, as we see in Ammon's previous possession of the land of Sihon which they had lost to the Amorite.

All this is in the deepest way instructive for those who have learned in Scripture history to find not merely that, but prophecy also, bringing out, as prophecy ever does, the mind of God, His judgment of all the things that come into man's mind. It is not the place to dwell upon it here at length, but the history will be found in this way significant throughout, and not merely in a few points which a lively imagination may read things into. The history as such, with all its admonition, is the more confirmed, of course, as we realize it to be an inspired history; with the breath of the Spirit of God in them, the prophets wrote much better than they knew.

2. From Ammon now we turn to Moab, who is associated in the closest way with Ammon, and with Seir also, in whom one of the great lessons that we read is the gravity of the association. In all that is here Moab is scarcely seen alone. Moab is the company-lover, and not careful as to the company he keeps; he is the true child of Lot, as we see at once, if we remember him as with Abraham on the one hand, and on the other off into Sodom, drawn there by what gain he can find in it. Moab is thus the very type of the comfortable worldling who will keep company with the people of God until he can almost persuade himself, as he would others, that he is one with them, while on the other hand he can consort with what is in deadliest opposition to the people of God; he is not able to discern for himself what constitutes the difference.

Thus, "Moab and Seir say, Behold the house of Judah is like unto all the nations." Moab's character is thus as plainly marked as that of Ammon. In contrast with Ammon, he can win his land and have his cities, which are the glory of it. As mentioned specially here, he has a Beth-jeshimoth ("a house of the wastes") to redeem the wastes. He has a Baal-meon, or more fully, Beth-baal-meon ("the house of the possessor of a dwelling"), and he appreciates it, of course. Then he has a Kiriathaim, "a walled double city," in which security and the association which he loves, so favorable for polish and practical activities, are combined. These things stand for principles which men still glory in; and they come so near to what is true and right, that we find them taken up and adopted by Reuben, the typical child of God, as there is, no doubt, such transformation in them as that into which faith introduces him (Joshua 13:17-20. Compare Numbers 32:38, Notes).

In all this, Moab exemplifies typically the professor of religion, but always tending to go easily with the heretic; he makes Christianity itself, as Moab made Judaism, but one of the forms which illustrate the religious element in man. Every one knows what a favorite idea this is coming to be in these last days. Thus Moab, in full company with Ammon in his later history and in his spirit, becomes partaker of his doom. In other places of Scripture they are treated as if one. The company he keeps testifies of the man he is; this is a lesson as to association which is continually needful.*

{*Moab and Ammon, the children of Lot, as pointed out in the text, are by their close relationship to Israel types of profession. From the history in the book of Judges, we would gather that Moab represents profession closely coupled with the lusts of the flesh; Ammon with the lusts of the mind. The one brought God's people into slavery through their appetite; the other through the darkening of their minds. See Judges 3:12-30; Judges 11:4-28. We see the bondage of Moab in the worldliness, love of ease and pleasure of the day; of Ammon in the infidelity, higher criticism and general unbelief so common. — S. Ridout.}

Section 2 (Ezekiel 25:12-14).

Edom the unbrotherly enemy; the Lord's vengeance for his vengeance.

The judgment passes on to Edom, the typical enemy of Israel, who, according to what we have seen of it elsewhere, presents to us the world of the old man, as we may say — the natural fallen man — the most real enemy we have as Christians; none the less so for being akin to us all naturally, even as Edom was the unbrotherly brother of Israel. His enmity is characterized here as revenge. He had, as we know, a quarrel from the beginning — the primal loss of his birthright-blessing, his sale of which, for a mess of pottage, has passed out of his memory. Nothing is stated here as to the cause of his enmity, which is indeed inherent in his nature. The old man has had a quarrel with Cod from the beginning; having turned his back upon Him, and so lost paradise, he counts against God the evils of the place in which he finds himself now, which is indeed very much a wilderness, a "rugged" place, such as Seir was for Edom, according to its name. Yet he has acquired wisdom in it, the wisdom gathered from experience: "Necessity is the mother of invention," as the proverb says; and fallen man has sought out many inventions.

Teman, spoken of here, was noted for the wisdom of its inhabitants. It means "the right hand," which, according to Scripture usage, was the south, and as this, has many significant implications. The right hand is the place of dependence, yet of honor: it was the place of Reuben in the wilderness, and we may remember that he also was a first-born who had lost his birthright place, and yet found blessing in the loss itself. Typically he is the man of faith, essentially dependent, yet finding abundant resources in God who is for him — the refuge always of the destitute. This Reuben thus learns a wisdom of his own, the wisdom of faith; and in this way, as the book of Numbers shows us, falls heir to Sihon, the king of Heshbon, which he possesses and builds up afresh. The story has been told elsewhere. (See Notes, Numbers 32.) Heshbon means "device," and it is faith that restores the reason in man to its natural, dependent place, to find how much blessing in it! Teman's wisdom is dependent also, necessarily; it is Edomite, not Israelite — a fleshly dependence, therefore. He has no faith in God to keep him steady, to give him fixed points to reason from; he is born into a world where he must receive largely from others, inheriting the thoughts of men, fallible, in fact, often deceived, sinful, and capable of deception. Yet men pride themselves upon this godless wisdom, which so often assumes the name of science, though in its wilful ignorance of God it is necessarily ignorant of the sources and origin of all things.

And here we find another name in the prophecy which seems to have a relation and adds significance to all this. Dedan is given as meaning "progress" — the watchword of the day, we might say; but which, after all, has doubt thrown upon it, in its derivation from a word which means not exactly to go forward, but rather to go softly or slowly. Slow enough indeed has been man's progress through all these centuries of his possession of the earth, although the pace may be quicker now through the multiplication of experiences and experiments which he has been able to make. He has been variously assisted along the road, and by nothing so much as by the divine revelation which has lighted up every place in which it has shone, which he, nevertheless, is seeking to discredit as "unscientific." Discarding this, however, his science must necessarily lose knowledge of the beginning, and is unable to look onward to the end. Put human wisdom right, let it not be esteemed as opposed to faith, let faith not be thought unreasonable, but rather the highest character of reason, and then indeed we might see splendid work, with nature yielding its resources — spite of the fall yielding true blessings, in the bounty of God, which still it witnesses.

Stranger than this unbrotherly strife between Edom and Israel is that which is seen between the men of nature and the men of God. Yet it will continue, if we read Scripture aright, and Ezekiel's prophecy should throw light upon it and make us aware of what is coming. For power will assuredly put down those whom grace has not subdued; and if neither the witness of Scripture nor of nature have a right effect upon this pride of human wisdom, God Himself must interfere. There is nothing left but for Him to come in in necessary judgment. In the case of Edom, as given here, Israel will be God's instrument in this; for we know by the voice of prophecy everywhere that to Israel is given the inheritance of the earth, and through the seed of Abraham alone shall all the families of the earth be blessed. The gospel will not effect what men are looking for from it — though it does take out from the earth a people for heaven; but He to whom will be given the heathen for His inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession, will surely rule over the nations with a rod of iron, and as the vessels of a potter shatter them to pieces. This, and Israel's part in it, we find abundantly in the prophets elsewhere, but it is not the place here to take it up. (See Jer. 51:20, 23; Isa. 11:14, etc.)

Section 3 (Ezekiel 25:15-17).

The Philistines under ban.

The Philistines next come before us, as partakers of this inherent and perpetual enmity of Edom. They were intruders into a land promised to Israel, though with a conviction of their own prior right. They have given their name to the whole land (Palestine, from Phtlistia), which they claim, though they have never been able to take possession of more than its mere lowest border. We have seen them abundantly elsewhere, as typically natural men intruding into spiritual things. As Philistines they are "immigrants," but never Hebrews — that is, "passengers" or "pilgrims." They figure largely in the earlier historical books as far as Samuel, and must have a corresponding importance in their signification for us. As Christians, we should know these Philistines very well. They are seen today in what claims to be the Catholic, the Univer_ sal Church, but which spiritual judgment recognizes as but Judaism with a thin veil of Christianity drawn over its face, and with the full inheritance of Jewish enmity to the children of the free woman apparent through it. Into this also we cannot enter now, and need not, as any that will can find it fully where the interpretation naturally belongs. (See Notes on Gen. 20; 26:12; Joshua 13:2, 3; 1 Sam. 17, etc.)

We have but one class of these Philistines specially noticed here, the Cherethites, the "cutters off," which have been also elsewhere considered. (See Acts 27, Notes.) "Cutting off" naturally characterizes asceticism in its every shape, a remnant merely of the old heathenism, whatever its Christian dress. Externalism is manifest here, even in the most zealous forms of devotion. The Cherethites are taken by many, in certain passages at least, to mean "executioners," and in this form of cutting off, Philistinism has ever distinguished itself; and, doubtless, many who sacrificed in this way the deepest feelings of their nature have thought they were doing God service. But all through, the enmity against Israel (the literal as well as the typical enmity) is apparent in what is here, and God threatens the Cherethites in a special manner: "Behold, I will stretch out my hands upon the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethites, and destroy the remnant of the seacoast." Thus Philistia will perish in the day of God, and all that are with God will only rejoice over the judgment.

Section 4 (Ezekiel 26 — 28).

Tyre and Sidon, the world of mammon under the abasing hand of God.

We come now to Tyre, though in Tyre we find no direct enmity to Israel. Tyre, as we know, was in the days of David and Solomon ministering in friendly fashion to the Israelites; and in the day of their prominent blessing, under Christ their King, the daughter of Tyre will be there again with a gift. Tyre thus stands apart from Edom and Philistia. She is a Canaanite, however — of no good significance in this respect. The Canaanite was ever under the doom of being a servant of servants to his brethren, and in his proudest day he is still this. Tyre is essentially the merchantman; his professed object even is to serve. No doubt his aim is first of all to serve himself. He has not the true spirit of service for God, but finds in the necessity of man the opportunity for his own gain, and this is what we find as to the cause of his judgment here. Jerusalem has been judged — Jerusalem, in many ways a centre of attraction for the people around, "the gate of the peoples," as Tyre calls her. The rejoicing at her fall is Canaanite enough. She says against Jerusalem: "Aha, she is broken, the gate of the peoples; she is turned unto me. I shall be replenished now that she is laid waste." How naturally we understand it, alas! How natural it is! How common is such rejoicing on the part of merchantmen at all times! The habitual acquirement of riches from the need of others hardens the heart, there is little need to say; and thus with Tyre here: and for this she is judged. As we plainly see, Tyre is the world of mammon, and we need not wonder at the large place it has in Ezekiel's prophecy.

1. Tyre means "a rock." This island city was built upon a rock, and what it needed for its peculiar purposes was not productive power in the place it occupied, but a suitable gathering point where the products of other parts might come and be exchanged. In the immensity of its resources, Tyre might indeed look upon itself as a rock that could not be shaken. The greater the necessities of others, the more the streams of supplies from all quarters ministered to it. But God takes up its character in result, and pronounces that it shall be a rock — a rock and nothing more — "a bare rock," or "cliff," as the word which He uses means. The word for "bare," means rather, "dry," dried by the sun, in fact; barren enough, surely, in the idea of it, for few things can dry as the sun.

The point for us is that which we find in the first ancestor of all these Canaanites, who were Hamites; and Ham is "the sun-dried one." He is what man fallen from God and in conflict with Him necessarily is, darkened by the light itself. And this is the nature of all heathenism; not, as people imagine, a condition in which men are groping after God, but on the contrary, one in which they are doing their best to forget God, and turn away from Him. God did not leave man His creature without the primitive knowledge of Himself; and there is in him still a witness to God, however perverted. But if he turns from the true God, he must have a God of his own — make it out of a beast, or fashion it out of stone with a chisel, or hew down a tree, and fashion into some grotesque shape what he reserved from the fire. As the sun can darken, so it can dry. God's blessings, which all surrounding nature furnishes to man, are the very things which he takes to dry himself up into a being divested of every human sympathy. Not only Godward, but manward also, he thus becomes parched and barren. This was the process that was going on in Tyre: the process that makes men misers or usurers, and sometimes prodigals also for the luxury of prodigality — drawing remorselessly from others the means which they scatter again with lavish hands. This is what characterized Tyre, which God decrees shall in the end be just what it has made itself, a sun-dry cliff; or, as He puts it otherwise, a mere place of the spreading of nets; the device of poverty to lay hold upon the living being of which it makes merchandise.

(1) The date of the prophecy is in the eleventh year of Jehoiachin's captivity, on the first of the month; the month itself, if we have the true text here, not being given. What can we make of this eleventh year? Is it characterized by not being yet the full twelve, which speaks of the manifest government of God that shall be? In fact, all this judgment of which Ezekiel speaks, falls short of the full end which prophecy for the most part contemplates, though here assuredly there is the shadow of this. The blow has fallen upon Jerusalem, and Tyre is quite ready to take advantage of it. Proud of her position and counting upon her many sources of strength, she can sit apart, hoping to profit by that which she does not dread. But, as God declares to her, it is but a vain dream. The many nations whom she has seen constantly coming to replenish her, are now come up against her with the resistless force of the waves of the sea, to overtop her defences, destroy her walls, and break down her towers. She that hath so often profited by the spoil of the nations, shall be in turn a spoil for the nations; and the judgment of God, carrying further the judgment of man, as her history has fully shown, declares itself in that which has been fully accomplished: "I will scrape her dust from her, and make her a bare rock. She shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea; for I have spoken it, saith the Lord Jehovah." And her doom is to be the declaration of Jehovah's name — the Name which she has despised.

(2) In the first place the instrument of Tyre's destruction is declared to be Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon; but we must not confound with this the full end which Jehovah Himself makes of her, as in the 14th verse. The siege by Nebuchadrezzar was the beginning of the end. There was a revival after this, however, and another siege by the Grecian king Alexander. This brought down her strength effectually, although the remnant of a city remained for a long time, more and more wasting and drying up until the end was reached, when, as we see today, nothing but a bare rock was left, used for the spreading of nets only. Nebuchadrezzar is here, however, as all through this part of Ezekiel, the special instrument of the divine judgment.

The name is striking enough in connection with his own history, meaning "the god Nebo's prince;" Nebo being worshiped in Babylon as the interpreter of the gods — answering to the Greek Mercury. The word Nebo is but a form of the Hebrew nabi, "the prophet," and this strikingly connects with the heathen wise men's utter failure to interpret to Nebuchadrezzar the divinely-sent dream which Daniel alone was able to make known. Thus the discredit of Nebo was complete, and this witness of God to Nebuchadrezzer was natural and necessary for one whom God was taking up, in His dealings with the nations around, to make him himself the interpreter of the divine mind as to them; thus out of the dark north was the light to break out, but only as the flash from the storm-cloud. The proper meaning of divine revelation could not be given through him, as is plain; it belonged rather to those who were now under the rod for their sins, yet the recipients of promises which should be, and shall be, fulfilled when Babylon and all that has succeeded it should have passed away.

In the meantime no effectual resistance was possible; it only rendered the destruction of those that opposed themselves more complete. As the prophet speaks here, the breach in Tyre had already been made for him by their sins. Her stones, her timber and her dust were now to be laid in the midst of the waters; the noise of her songs was to cease, and all her pomp and glory were to perish together. As already said, however, the complete end would wait for many generations.

(3) The lessons of such a fall need hardly be dwelt upon. They are felt instinctively by all that are in the presence of them, while, as unwelcome, they are dismissed as quickly as possible. The lessons of God's school are too humiliating to man to be welcomed by him. He may perforce accept the sentence of condemnation upon himself, and the passing away of all the false glory which he would fain make true, but cannot. The sentence of God is upon it; but, as He says here, that He may set true glory in the land of the living. The earth is at present little like this; it is rather the sepulchre of the dead; what man conceives as glory is largely that of those who have been in an eminent way the destroyers of mankind: Blessed be God, all this has indeed to pass away; that which can be shaken is to be removed, in order that that which cannot be shaken may remain, and our kingdom is in that which cannot be shaken.

2. We have now an analysis of all the sources of greatness such as we see in Tyre, together with the announcement of its bereavement and desolation; in fact, its own rowers bringing it into the deep waters in which it is to find shipwreck. It is a picture which God has put before us in much detail, and had we eyes to see more into it, we should assuredly realize its meaning for ourselves; for while Tyre itself has passed away, no one can doubt that it has had many successors in the generations following, and that today the world is largely characterized by what we find in it. There are certain characteristics about it also which naturally enlist men's sympathies. Tyre was not a great conqueror as Assyria or Babylon. It does not express to us the despotic tyranny of man over man which we see so much of in the history of the world. The activities that we find in it have very much the character of ministry to the need of others; they are employed in making the best of all man's resources and spreading abroad everywhere the products of his hands and of his intellect. The merchants are in our day more and more realized as the princes of the earth, and the rule of commerce is looked at very much as meaning the rule of civilization and the elevation of the nations generally to more equality, causing the brotherhood of man to be more realized in that which gives each his place in service to the common good. It does not take deep looking into it to realize that it is self-interest which stirs everywhere in it, a motive which is at once intensely powerful and readily communicating itself also to others. Persuade a man that it is his own interest that you are seeking — how readily in general will he be accessible to such a motive! And in this sense only it is a civilizer as prompting men to follow that which is to be personal gain, and thus spreading abroad a civilization which, however, has been reached in another way. And the gain must be of a sort which the lowest can realize. However man may value intellect, with the mass, appeals to the intellect in any other way than personal gain have very little power. They are comparatively few who are much moved by intellectual appeals, save as it can be shown that it may be made to minister to the gratification of the lower senses. Religion again is that which it is evident should be most powerful in its appeal to man; and it is true that almost everywhere man's conscience responds to it. You do not find in the masses the casting off of God, but, on the other hand, you do not find in the masses anything like a spirit of real obedience to Him. He will make his bow, and go his own way; or he will give his money, and pay a good price to be allowed to do so; but a real religious nation has yet to be found.

Yet, after all, in the revelation of God to man's conscience is found the true springs of power for the proper development of man as man, such as is alone worth speaking of as civilization. Here, mind and heart go together, and under its influence is developed a man, not a monster. Here the mind of man fully wakes up, as we may see if we will, in the track of light which the Bible leaves behind it wherever it has been. What would not we attain were we only true with the truth and to Him who gave it to us! But we are not, alas! The children of light are everywhere but a small minority; and more than this, alas, as we have divine authority for saying, "The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light." These can concentrate themselves without distraction upon objects which appeal to them in the deepest way, and the power of worldly interests over the people of God themselves may well assure us, if we need any assurance, of what they must be to those with whom they are their all. The light once introduced will be true to its own nature; and as all the fruits of the earth develop only under the light of heaven, so the mind of man awakened by the truth manifests its God-given power in a way which wakes up others, who nevertheless are not themselves truly under its influence. These can discern just so much as serves their worldly interests, and even pursue further in this direction what those truly wiser let slip in mere carelessness out of their hands. And thus it is that unbelief can assert today that natural science belongs to it, while it gives at the same time that peculiar twist which turns it into the enemy of the truth itself.

So Christianity has manifested itself in such a way that today the great Powers of the earth have become "Christian nations." Yet this must be read in another way that it may be seen in its rightful aspect. Alas, we must say, that the "Christian" powers have become powers of the earth. Everywhere, what we see is, that instead of the grace which is really the Christian spirit — the grace which grace has taught and which makes gracious, the spirit of self-sacrifice for others, such as the cross is the great example of — there is in fact in every kingdom of the earth today the spirit of gain, the opposite of self-sacrifice, everywhere dominant. Men may talk of altruism in the same way as heathen philosophers themselves could read excellent moral lessons to their pupils, but if you expect the practice you must be sanguine indeed. We must expect nothing of this sort in the mass until Christ comes, or that any other principle will rule the world save the Canaanitish principle which is exemplified here in Tyre — of selfish gain. No doubt, with it all, a certain progress results; certain fruits even of Christianity itself, though plucked half-ripened from that which they grew upon, are made available to a continually increasing number, while the fruits of intellect merely are still more made to serve, as they are amply able to serve, the lust of acquirement. The way in which the Spirit of God in Ezekiel dwells upon all this in the prophecy before us, may assure us of what interest it should have for us in following it out; yet how little has been the interest! Commentators are mostly content to point out what has been plain enough upon the surface, how all the treasures of the earth are heaped up in Tyre, and how all the nations around are made to minister to her; little more indeed do they give us except scraps of geography and history, which may be good enough for the historian, but which for the prophet, we may be sure, could have little that was attractive. What we do find here is certainly a moral and spiritual analysis of what so much constitutes the world of today, the world of mammon; and if we profit rightly by it, we must look into our own hearts and search out what is there, for the lusts of the flesh are native to us, alas, and "all that is in the world," as the apostle tells us, is "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life;" fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind."

(1) The ship is used allegorically here as picturing Tyre for us, a most natural figure, which we use still when we speak of the "ship of state," thinking in this of the needed power and skill that must be put forth in human effort to make it prosper, to catch favoring winds and avoid shoals and rocks. We should surely expect to find this vividly pictured here, and the moral character of things brought out; this state in Tyre, being a commercial one, having its true image, therefore, in every vessel sailing from its port. We may say that man has been working at this ship ever since, doing his best to perfect its beauty; and how attractive it may be we realize in the exhibitions which it is continually affording us of all the productions of nature and of man which it brings together, and, as it were, embodies in itself the restless, ever-craving spirit of man, the untiring energy which works in him.

We have the materials of the vessel first, from which we go on to see the character of the crew that mans it; then its merchandise, the prizes which it holds up to others and for which it works itself.

We have first the material of the vessel's frame-work: "Of cypresses of Senir they have made all thy planks. Cedars from Lebanon have they taken to make masts for thee." The word for "cypresses" is not confined to what we now call cypress; it would apply to the whole fir tribe to which the cypresses belong, but Senir or Hermon was in fact renowned for these (Sirach 24:13), and their wood was of the best for the kind of work contemplated here. Hermon designated here by its Amorite name, means, as we have seen elsewhere, "the ban," the exterminating curse upon evil. It was the mountain which, with its white dome, dominated the land of Israel, and from which, in most expressive connection, the river Jordan, the river of death, ran down to the sea of judgment, the salt sea. It was that which marked out the tenure upon which Israel held the land, as seen in the extermination of the Canaanite out of it, which was the preservation of that awful purity of which its dome, rising like a great white throne above all else, naturally spoke. Notable it seems that Senir, the Amorite name, should be used here instead of Hermon. Senir is said to mean "cuirass," "coat of mail," from senar, "to clang, clatter," a notable comment, as it seems, of the Amorite talker upon that Israelitish ban. Senir, then, furnishes the funereal cypress as material for the ship of Tyre. No wonder if the issue is a funeral!

Lebanon, which means "white," is the range of which Hermon is the southern point; the same image would suggest the same solemn thought. This furnishes the cedar-masts upon which is hoisted the sail to carry the ship of commerce forward in its career. From Bashan come the oars, as the propelling force which alone could be duly trusted in those days: a strength not derived from God, but from native energy — "well fed," as was proverbial of that which came from Basilan. We need not wonder to find human energy emphasized in this way, almost at the outset.

After the oars comes the rudder, as the word probably means, though there is a doubt about it; but we would not expect it to be left out, as otherwise must be the case. The steering of a vessel is surely of the first importance; it must have lessons for us if lessons there be everywhere here. The word used, however, is keresh, "planking." A specific word for "rudder" there does not seem to be in the Hebrew. It is taken here collectively by most, perhaps, either for the benches for the rowers, or for the deck; but, in connection with what has immediately preceded it, this view would have little apparent significance. The suggestion that it is the thick plank work which forms the scaffold of the mast, argues no better for our purpose. Meyer suggests "table-work, wainscoting for the laying out of the ship." It is Rashi who suggests "the helm," which, says Schroeder, "recommends itself more than the others, on account of its importance for the vessel and its suitableness in respect to the adorning that follows." There is some difficulty also in connection with this, but it is generally taken. as meaning that it was of ivory inlaid in pine, box-wood, or cedar. That some kind of wood is intended, is obvious, and the word for it seems to intimate what is straight, as pine or cedar would be. It being from the isles of Chittim also, that is, from Cyprus, reminds us that the Cyprian pines were especially noted as ship-building material.

All this is serviceable for us, mainly in ascertaining, if we may, the spiritual significance; and if Chittim be Cyprus, as is generally allowed, then it stands for all that is fair and lovely in nature, the sweet influences which are apt to rule the heart, rigorously enough it may be, and be to it what Chittim means, "the breakers down," destroying the true response of the heart to Him from whom all natural blessings come. But how such influences do guide, in one way or another, the course of the ship of commerce, while there are master-needs indeed which must be met, and which must in a certain sense control. yet how much there is of ministry to pleasure merely, and to luxury! How much of all the material of trade goes to this end! And the guidance of the ship must be accord ingly.*

{*This influence of the pleasant, gentle and soft as a guide, is seen in the loosing of the ship in which Paul was carried as a prisoner to Rome, from Fair Havens, when "the south wind blew softly" (Acts 27:8, etc.). Such a "rudder" or guide resulted in the disastrous voyage and shipwreck of the ecclesiastical vessel of which the ship was a type. — S. Ridout.}

Next, we have either the sail or ensign, or most probably the sail which is at the same time the ensign; and this gives the fullest moral significance. Egypt provides for this the fine linen, which everywhere speaks of practical righteousness — necessarily here as the world recognizes it; while it is ostentatiously put forth as "embroidered," to attract the eye. Your personal interests, it would say, are to be cared for with all uprightness, and here is something quite needful to enable the vessel at the same time to catch the wind and minister to its own. Is it not, in fact, for its own interests to serve yourself? How can you sever these? Thus you have the best possible security that your interests will be served. This interweaving of argument is often very elaborate, as we know.

Last of all here the good ship needs a covering, and the idea is, to protect it from the sun. The isles of Elishah furnish this in the purple colors, which speak of earthly dominion, whether this may refer to the powers of the world, whose protection she may fairly claim as servant to all their interests, or whether it refer to the claim of dominion on her own part, her power rooting itself so firmly as it does in the interests of the many. In the language of the day, she is abundantly insured in this way; but, whether it be the men or the measures by which she insures herself, how much its motto finds adoption in the principle held secretly, if not openly, that "God has forgotten." This seems to be the meaning of Elishah here; and is not this the secret of the abundant care which everywhere the world must take of itself? — that which the serpent taught man in Eden; and the question as to God once raised, man's hand is immediately lifted to pluck for himself the fruit, though forbidden. That "God helps those who help themselves" means, in the ear of faith, that God can be trusted no more.

Next comes the manning of the vessel, in which, significantly, Zidon, "the taker of prey," and Arvad, "the runner loose," are the rowers. She will often have to trust this human energy and skill when the winds of heaven will do nothing for her. The motives and the character indicated do not commend themselves to heaven; so we need not wonder. The master-mind, the controlling power is that of Tyre herself. We have the repairers next; very necessary indeed when human machinery is so constantly wearing out. These are the elders of Gebal, from a word which means "to plait," "combine," "twist together." Plenty of this work has to be done for the stopping of leaks and much else in this way. Finally, we see in this ship of trade how common interests, as it is boasted, bring the world together. "All the ships of the sea" are in her, as if all were one vessel to serve her purposes and to carry on the civilization of the world upon the ground of the common brotherhood of man. and the conservation of the universal good.

Yet the vessel of commerce must be prepared for the conflict also, and it has many a battle to fight. And we see her armament for this: First of all, Pharas (Persia), "division," reminding us of the old motto, "Divide and conquer" — a very reliable one, surely. Next we have Lud (not the Shemite of Gen. 10:22, but the Mizraimite or Egyptian of Gen. 10:13), which may mean, as it is taken to mean, "strife." Thus if Pharas speaks of manoeuvering and diplomacy, Lud speaks of preparation for more open war; while Put (or Phut) is given either as "trampling down," or else "despising," or "rejection." One may be tempted to think here of the crowding out of all separate interests of those who do not belong to the combination which trade favors and which favors trade, a thing for which, in its extreme form, "boycotting" is the name today. Then the sons of Arvad are seen upon the walls round about, a careless and unscrupulous crowd, while the Gammadim, who are in her towers, may be "guards," as the Septuagint calls them, and thus speak of the constant spirit of watchfulness which in all this and at all times has to be maintained. This would give a consistent sense, but there are other conjectures which seem only that.

(2) Now, as to the merchandise. What can be said of it for edification, which all Scripture is to serve? Is it a mere catalogue, an inventory of where, as a matter of history, she found the goods with which she traded, and of the goods themselves? Little else seems ever to have been made of it, but are we not warranted to seek for something more? Certainly the difficulties are greater here than elsewhere, and any interpretation that may be proffered will doubtless be stamped as visionary by the many who shrink from allegory with the aversion that Israel themselves had to Ezekiel's parables. Yet if the choice is to be between an absolute giving up of such scriptures as these, or seeking in them what we are positively assured all Scripture has (2 Tim. 3:16, 17), what is the position for faith to take? Plenty of difficulties there are, of course. What we have here is, upon the surface, just a catalogue of lands or peoples with their produce with which they traded, and there seems no moral element in them, nor in the fact of the trading either. We are indeed to buy the truth and not to sell it; but this is not in question here. The wares embraced otherwise all kinds of material; for what is there a man will not sell who will sell his soul to satisfy the craving of a moment? To how much of all this should we be able to assign a spiritual meaning that shall stand the test of sober, judicial reflection? And if mistakes are too many or too serious, will it not cast doubt upon the whole inquiry? Yet, with all this, it would seem to some less serious than to own that in the word of God there are large portions here and there to which no spiritual meaning can be assigned — portions which might vanish entirely from the pages they occupy, and Scripture be rather bettered for their absence. If they are not "for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," then why should they be found in the word of God at all?which is not a mere history, but God's word, to which we must neither add, nor diminish from it.

Coming now to consider the commerce of Tyre and what it represents for us, we find Tarshish coming first and last in the list, apparently giving character to the whole. It is important therefore to know just what Tarshish means. The derivation is mostly understood to be from rashash, "to break down," or if in the hiphil, "to cause to break down;" but the word is usually taken as a noun, and as meaning "fortress," which involves another and apparently altogether conjectural meaning of rashash. The "breaker down" seems also to give nothing that plainly connects with what we have here. On the other hand, Tarshish may be a compound word, the first syllable from the verb tun "to go about," and thus "to explore," "search out," or even sometimes "to traffic." The second syllable may then be shesh, which means "white marble" or "white linen," the common element of which plainly is "white," or as it is suggested, "shining;" and here we find what at first sight seems singularly in keeping with all that is before us.

Tarshish was the second son of Javan, as Javan was the fourth son of Japheth, the typical Gentile by whose seed the isles of the Gentiles were divided. Javan is thus in character the wanderer from God, as the Gentile plainly was. There is not in him the positive opposition that we find in the sons of Ham, and in Noah's prophecy the two are widely distinguished in God's ways of dealing with them. "God will make room for Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem" — a partaker of the revelation of which Shem is the depositary. But in the meanwhile he is away from God, busy and making room for himself. He spreads abroad unfettered; but Javan, whose name in its root-meaning gives the thought of "boiling," "bubbling," or "fermentation," seems akin to yayin, "wine." Greece,* which Javan confessedly represents, was the land of wine, given over to the worship of Bacchus; and in its light-heartedness, its poetry, and even its philosophy, bears witness of a kind of intoxication of spirit which would answer to the name.

{*Literally, "Ionia." — S. Ridout.}

Javan's first-born is Elishah, "God has forgotten," which is always the thought in a soul which has forgotten Him. His second son is Tarshish; and, according to what has been already said as to the derivation, naturally speaks of one who goes out from the presence of God, a seeker on his own account, attracted by everything that is shining or conspicuous. He is seeking to satisfy himself with that which never satisfied any; but thus we can understand the energy that he puts into it, so that he is the ideal explorer, and the riches of the earth become his own. He has, as we see here, silver, the current money of the merchant; iron, the great material for manufacturing implements, and we have had enough talk about "the iron age," to recognize what it stands for. Then he has tin, which is literally "alloy," and which, however serviceable for men's ends, is in Scripture described as impurity, as much that seems very serviceable surely is. Lastly we have lead, which in Scripture scarcely stands for anything but dross or weight. There is no gold in this catalogue; but, on the other hand, while not noticed in this connection, there is in Tarshish a precious stone which we have had before us as the topaz, and which gives a similitude for the wheels of the cherubic vision. That it should not be noticed in this connection seems striking here. It is not part of his merchandise. Is it not rather a witness from God to himself? For with all his eager hunt after something that will satisfy, the stamp of vanity is upon it all, as the topaz wheel bears witness. How plain indeed the moral, and how significant, even, that it should be omitted here! Just the one thing, one might say, omitted from the inventory of the wealth of Tarshish. But Tarshish is the foremost contributor to Tyre's commerce, and gives, as what is introductory mostly does in Scripture, the character of all that follows. Here is the restless spirit of one adrift from God — a prodigal. How often are "the substantial gains of commerce," as they are called, but prodigal wasting of the Father's goods!

We have Javan next, with Tubal and Meshech, who belong to the same order, and are indeed brethren. Tubal means "issue." Tubal-Cain is but another Cain, a continuation of the one who first sought to take possession of the earth and build his city there. We may remember Tubal-Cain as the instructor of every artificer in brass and iron, who thus contributes to the civilization of the city which Cain has built. A similar thought we have in Ahab, whose name means "brother of his father," again one in whom heredity clearly holds its place and shows its full value. Thus Tubal here. Meshech, elsewhere associated with him in Scripture, means "a drawing out," as of seed from the basket of the sower hence, "a sowing." In connection, the two together look backward and forward; they tell — how surely! — as the beginning so shall be the end. Not that there is not progress; there truly is; but progress in this way, and in fallen man, is scarcely to be boasted in. So we find these three sellers here with their vessels of brass and human chattels also. We shall see how prominent these are in the great confederacy against Jehovah and Israel of which Ezekiel speaks later.

We have next Togarmah, which no doubt is Armenia, the third son of Gomer, Ashkenaz and Riphath being the other two. None of the three is known as to its derivation, and only Togarmah as the people for whom it stands. This vagueness makes all else about it doubtful for our purpose.

Next we have the sons of Dedan, which, if it has the meaning we have before ascribed to it, is of that "progress," such as it is, which the world can show. It is remarkable that what they trade in is in general what is used for purposes of veneer — an outside which does not truly indicate what is beneath. How much of what is called education goes for this, and how much of what is counted civilization consists in it!

Next we have Aram, child of Shem though he is, but fallen from the blessedness of this, and who, instead of speaking of Him whom God constantly exalts, and finding his own exaltation in Him, has learned the fatal habit of self-exaltation (see Judges 3:8, Notes); and who, enriched with many a precious thing from the divine goodness, would fain exchange them for Tyre's manufactured articles. Nophek, here, from a word which means "to blow up a fire," is thought to mean a precious stone of a glowing, ruddy hue, probably a carbuncle; thus it may speak of what One who suffered in the fire has produced in glory to God.

Purple speaks of the royal crown which followed the cross. Then the broidered work, which may well image the Spirit's embroidery of the new creature, far surpassing that of which the psalmist speaks (Ps. 139:15) when he applies the same word to the work of the old creation. Next we have the fine linen, which is ever in Scripture practical righteousness, or what stands for this. Then what is considered to be coral, literally, "heights" (surely not from the great price paid for it, as some suppose, but rather from its manner of growth), and which, as found in the sea, gives us heights out of the depths, as we may say; and how much more than can be expressed is implied here! Finally, we have kadkod, "the sparkler," another gem. Whatever it was, whether jasper, garnet, ruby, or agate, the Lord's promise to His people of making their windows "agates," shows that it was to some good extent transparent, and naturally suggests, as typical of a future blessing, the visions of glory that shall surely come. All this may be significant enough as the portion of a fallen Shemite, which, alas, he is ready to barter — for what? It is not said; and silence is surely more significant than speech — goods of Tyre's own manufacture, that is enough to say.

But Judah too is here in line with the rest; Judah too will barter her wheat of Minnith (her own "portion") and her dainties of honey and oil and balm. There needs little skill to interpret this; we need not emphasize the sorrowful way in which the people of God will barter away what is their own portion — and again, for what?

Damascus follows, as Aram preceded. It is but another form of Aram (see 2 Sam. 8:6, Notes), and speaks of elevation by activity, being itself a noted place of traffic. Its contributions are the wine of Helbon, "fatness" — the stimulus of successful self-enrichment, and the whiteness of its wool which has been shorn from the sheep.

The next sentence is again more or less doubtful. The merchandise, however, speaks strongly for Arabia, and Vedan may be Aden, which, although there is no full certainty about it, has come generally to be accepted: and Aden was celebrated as a commercial emporium from very ancient times. The wrought iron may remind us, as one has suggested, of the sword-blades of Yemen, as Uzal was the ancient name of Sanaa, its capital. Cassia and calamus are also Arabian products. If Javar and Uzal both speak in different ways of man's departure from God, it may remind us of what in Scripture is devoted to Him now turned aside to self-indulgence, while the wrought iron may speak of the many inventions which man attributes to necessity as their mother, but which God attributes to his departure from original uprightness, by which he has got into necessity (Ecc. 7:29).

Now comes again Dedan, though probably another, the Edomite, not the Arabian; as some have thought there may be also a connection between them. That the men of what is counted "progress" should furnish riding-cloths for others than themselves is not to be wondered at, and even as Edomites they may serve Israelites in this way. God is above all the world's ways to serve their own ends, and makes them serve Himself, and thus serve His people in some ways, after all.

Arabia and Kedar, "darkness," in their meaning are connected by ereb, "evening," the time of darkness, and thus of mixture when the forms of darkness are abroad. Naturally enough the two peoples sell sheep and lambs, though they may often quite rightly sell goats also.

Sheba and Raamah then come together. They are remarkable as being the first Cushite or indeed Hamitic people named, with the exception probably of one of the Dedans, in whom the opposition to God and to the light may be expected fully to show itself. Accordingly we find, first, Sheba, "captor," in whom we may read the great enemy of God and man. It would be strange if he who leads men captive made no more contribution than we have seen to Tyre's merchandise. Here he makes notable contribution by his merchandise, and with him is associated Raamah, "rumbling," "trembling," "agitation," "thunder," and Raamah is the father of Sheba, while named second here. In these two names together there is as much truth as one can find in what is often said, that fear is the parent of all religion. It will be readily allowed, of course, that there is a fear of God which is the beginning of wisdom, and that reverential fear is a very different thing from what these names would speak. In all heathenism and superstition fear is that which has completes control, and how much of the sway that Satan has over a soul is found in this! "We have not received the spirit of bondage unto fear," says the apostle to his fellow-Christians, but Satan, as the dread power which works by death, makes men "all their lifetime subject to bondage." Thus we can understand that Raamah is the father of Sheba here; the spirit of fear gives his place to him who holds man captive. God known, as He is in the gospel, and the soul brought into full liberty as in relationship to Him, how thoroughly and forever is the rule of Satan broken, and every form of superstition brought to an end!

It may seem strange to find here what Sheba can make merchandise of. The chief of spicery and all precious stones and gold are in the catalogue. But if this surprises us, we may look on to the book of Revelation and notice Babylon's array: "In purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand," and yet "full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication." But in truth, Satan is known by his selling these. He does not buy them, nor has he acquired them aright, nor will he enrich any with them. All through, he is the captor merely, and in his method, the deceiver. God. does not sell; He gives. Or if He invites to buy, that is, to come to His terms about that which is to be your own, He is careful to assure us that it is "without money and without price."

Next and really last in this catalogue, we have Haran, "the parched," "the dry," but he is associated with Kanneh, "the firm," "the upright," and also with Eden, the place of "delight" lost from earth; for, alas, these are still but the merchants of Sheba, doing his work with Asshur, the Shemite, who has lost his place in connection with the revelation of God, and is wandering among the perverted traditions of men, and with Chilmad who, as the word seems to mean, points out the "quasi learner." Their traffic is in rich apparel, by which the nakedness of the fall is done away, nay, covered over with adornment, and of which, as we see by the carefully packed bales that are noticed here, they evidently made much.

The analysis ends here, save only that we find how that the ships of Tarshish are the one great means to unite all these together. It is all indeed the fruit of a spirit away from God, which therefore explores the earth for whatever it can make gain of, but which, nevertheless, can yield no satisfaction. All is thus united together like their bales of merchandise, by which Tyre is made for the present very glorious, but in the midst of what is the very image of instability, "in the heart of the seas."

(3) Now comes the end of all this glory. The very hands by whose power the good ship has been carried on, bring her into great waters, and there the east wind of adversity breaks her helplessly "in the heart of the seas." No skilful management avails any more; no stoppage of leaks can be attempted any more. Useless are the men of war, and all that assemblage which has been gathered in and about her falls into the heart of the seas in the day of her ruin. The cry of the pilots is only one of despair the open places of the land that might give her refuge, are themselves shaking, and shut out hope, and those who stand afar off in fear for her judgment only recall the glory of the past as those who fain would be incredulous that it is past. So full of help to many, so abundant in the riches continually being distributed, all the inhabitants of the isles are astonished and their kings are horribly afraid, their countenance is troubled. Where shall any find a security that Tyre has not found? All this lamentation is sealed by one single and emphatic word from God: "Thou art become a terror, and thou shalt never be any more."

3. We have now an address to the prince of Tyre, in which we see the effect upon him of the abundance of wealth gathered together and the power implied by this, exalting his heart to a place more than human. "Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Because thy heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a god, I sit in the seat of God, in the heart of the seas; and thou art a man and not God, and thou settest thy heart as the heart of God." Monstrous as all this may be, it is yet, after all, the natural development of what took place in the Garden of Eden itself, when the temptation presented by the evil one was distinctly, "Ye shall be as God." No doubt this was to be a moral likeness — "knowing good and evil;" nevertheless, it was a place usurped, not given by God, and naturally leading to still more open and extreme usurpation. We see in it apparently also reminiscences of the dealings which we know Tyre had had with Israel in Solomon's time, when she had been permitted to contribute to the temple of God in Jerusalem. Solomon sat, as the inspired Word says, "on the throne of Jehovah in Israel" (1 Chron. 29:23), His representative in that place. This representative place was given him from God Himself. The prince of Tyre takes it in a carnal fashion, and in independence. With him it is no mere representative authority which might, in the fear of God, be realized by any of those "powers that be," of whom the apostle speaks as "ordained of God," so that obedience to the power becomes for the believer obedience to God Himself. In Tyre there was no such sense of responsibility, but the language is according to what we find concerning one who in the last days shall himself sit in the temple of God, "showing himself that he is God." It is the language of Antichrist, of whom the prince of Tyre here is, no doubt, to some extent, a shadow. But what is Antichrist himself except the full manifestation of fallen manhood, with the restraint upon it which God is exercising now, removed, so that the depths of the heart come out? Who that lifts himself up against God but becomes God to himself, in fact, robbing God of the glory which He will not give to another? Incredible it might indeed seem that any could go to the full length of what is here, when manifestly, as he is reminded, he is but a man — and what a nothing is man before God, even the wisest! As to his wisdom amongst men, no doubt he might claim much as searcher out of the secrets of all the earth, and knowing how to use for his purposes all that he acquired. He was "wiser than Daniel," as the prophet says to him and, as we see, the wisdom of Daniel had reached far already in those days. Daniel had shown himself wise as to the secrets of a monarch's chamber, and. could interpret to him. the thoughts of his heart, nevertheless it left Daniel in the place of entire subordination to the king to whom he ministered. Here was one who had learned to use his wisdom in his own behalf, to give himself a place amongst men, a greatness which was merely acquired, however, neither innate nor moral, and therefore no real greatness in the sight of God. He had gathered riches into his treasury and continually was increasing them, but to debase himself morally in a way that he was not competent even to estimate. He is incapable of receiving God's judgment of things as they really are, and thus God would have to teach him by men like himself, with a lesson of the sword, marring all his beauty and bringing his brightness to an end. God needed to put forth no manifest divine power against him, the power of men was enough. Would he maintain an argument for his own divinity in the face of the weapons of those who would put him to death? Uncircumcised as he was, having never learned the lesson of self-judgment, he would die the death of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers, and the Lord seals this as the doom which He has pronounced upon him.

4. Nevertheless, for such an one there is a lamentation. If God must execute judgment, He does not smite without recognizing the sorrow of this, which is always His "strange," if necessary, "work." Here was the man enriched with everything that his hand could acquire, nay, with all that God had filled the earth with in the way of beauty: and beauty there is in it, how much beyond any that we apprehend! Who could expect to come after the king in this way? He had "sealed up the sum" of perfection which it seemed impossible for mere man to transcend; full of wisdom he had shown himself; perfect in beauty he had come to be. True, it was for his own interests, and the beauty which he had acquired was but artificial, the result of all that he had heaped together of the world's goods. He had been, as it were, in another Eden, a garden like that of old, stored with everything pleasant to the eye. Nature had for him opened its resources to enrich him with its innermost secrets; nay, it had revealed beauties which are indeed the manifold reflections of perfect light, the source of which is in God Himself. Thus every precious stone was his covering — the exquisite beauty with which God has strewed the earth, and which the fall itself has not removed, although it has dimmed the lustre in which it was meant to shine — this covered him. You could not, as it were, think of the man himself for all the glory that was spread out over him. Moreover, in man himself what beauty is there, and what a capacity for awakening out of the things around him, over which he is sovereign, the hidden capacities everywhere existent, and which he alone has power to evoke to his Creator's praise! Thus the workmanship of his tabrets and of his pipes was in him. In the day that God had created him they were prepared. He was himself the chief of creation, more glorious in himself than all this glory; all the more humbly should he have learned it, as what was from God and therefore for God.

Thus he was "the anointed," that is, as it seems, the "king cherub." Ezekiel has already taught us how to understand this, for the cherubic forms of his vision are predominantly human; and these cherubim show us the working of all this living ministry ordained of God to work out His will and to fulfil His purposes upon the earth. The cherubim upon the mercy-seat, which we have seen interpreted for us by these living creatures, cover the throne of God, and this language is again and again used with regard to them. They emphasized the judgment and the justice which were the habitation of His throne; and, as transformed into the living creatures, the fire of God ran up and down amongst them. From this, in the tenth chapter, the linen-clothed man took the coals of fire to scatter over the city in judgment for the desecration of the sanctuary. Thus the stones that covered the cherub himself were, in fact, "stones of fire." In them, as we have many times seen, were the reflections of the divine attributes, which must be revealed in wrath therefore against all profanation of them. So had this king of Tyre been walking as "amidst the stones of fire." However ignorant and however careless, nevertheless his was the responsibility of such a position. His would be the judgment if he abused such a position. It should be plain that much more than the temporary ministry to the temple in Solomon's time is here intended. No doubt the connection of Tyre with the temple in this case was the connection with that revelation of God of which Israel was the depositary; it should have enlightened him fully as to the One with whom he had to do, and brought him consciously into that light in which henceforth he would have seen light.

But it is not merely knowledge that makes us responsible, but the lack of knowledge when we should have had it; how much more, therefore, the lack of availing one's self of the opportunity for knowledge which God is everywhere giving, is in fact pressing upon men! All the beauty of creation was in the temple upon the mountain of God, dedicated to the God of creation, seen in its proper place, and thus with all the beauty which such a place would give it; for the jewel is seen in the light, and God's jewels in the light of God. Yet in these relationships of Tyre with Israel, we have the anticipation of a time to come, when, under a greater than Solomon, "the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift." And as we think of Hiram, the Tyrian, the fashioner of things in the temple (the very name of the king of Tyre of that time being his own), how suggestive it is of privileges conferred, and at the same time of responsibilities incurred!

The Lord owns also the blamelessness of her ways in this respect, which in some sense, at least, might well be taken for the time of her creation, putting her as a nation in the place in which she might have availed herself of blessed opportunities, and united herself to the people of God in a way that certainly He on His part would have owned and perpetuated. But the attraction of the world was too great, and the history of man from the beginning repeated itself here. Deceit and violence quickly followed. How we misconceive often as uprightness in man that which is only lack of opportunity; or, let us say, lack of trial sufficient to reveal a man even to himself and certainly to others! How men can be taken thus with their own beauty, when it is but factitious, a glory with which circumstances only have surrounded one, like the halo of a traditional saint; and the God of truth cannot spare it, while the heart lifted up because of this external beauty is corrupted by it. All the sanctuaries of the soul, or what should be such, become profaned. It is the image of man that appears in them instead of God. Covetousness shows itself as idolatry and thus out of it comes forth the fire which shall surely and finally sweep it all away.

Many have seen in all this account a greater prince depicted than the king of Tyre, and we cannot refuse such application of prophecies which have their most obvious fulfilment near at hand; but this is only the pledge and anticipation of that final one which is always the great thing with God, while man is prone to lose sight of it in what is nearer and therefore larger to his eyes. In all this part of Ezekiel, the judgment at hand by Nebuchadnezzar has indeed a special place; but there are, nevertheless, many intimations in various places, both of final judgment and of final blessing. Here, where the glory of the world has been spread out so before our eyes, it seems fully in place that there should be seen a real prince of it, and in this way some of the things here speak with more fulness than in their first application: thus the fall, by self-occupation and the pride begotten by it — for it was in this way that he who was created an upright and glorious being became an apostate and a devil. The cherub character given him would be more difficult, spite of the common thoughts about angelic cherubs, if we were to take Ezekiel alone. But Daniel reveals the principalities of the earth as angelic, and as having a place in this way from which even their fall has not yet removed them. Thus it is, as the apostle tells us, "with spiritual wickedness in heavenly places" that we are in conflict still, and the book of Revelation shows this just at the time when Satan is cast down from heaven (Rev. 12). In Job also we are made to realize the cherub place he has. In his accusation of Job, which is all upon the ground of righteousness, as detecting what is false and unreal, he is, as it were, professedly covering the throne of God. And while in Ezekiel the human and other forms of the cherub seem to leave no place for the angelic, yet they in no wise conflict, with this, the thought itself of the cherub requiring naturally, as one would say, the angel also as the highest natural creature of God to supplement it. Thus also we may realize the application of what is said of Eden here, though it be gone from the earth, and the stones of fire. What to an angel must be the riches of the earth, which man, prodigal as he is, so little cares to estimate, while he is so busy squandering them! After all, we may well conceive here the great king of Tyre, whose judgment abides a future time, when he too shall be cast out of the mount of God and come to that end which, in the patience of God, so long has tarried.

5. We have now the judgment upon Sidon, as supplementary to the judgment upon kindred Tyre. It is of the briefest, but as the first-born of Canaan, he cannot be overlooked here. Sidon means not distinctively "the fisher," as some say, for which there is no word, but "the taker of prey." Sidon was a great mercantile power before Tyre was known, and thus Homer speaks exclusively of her. In general, Tyre represents the Canaanite character, and therefore Sidon requires briefer notice. But she has been a pricking brier and a grievous thorn in Israel's side; not very formidable, perhaps, through lack of power, but that was not her fault. It is the enmity that God judges here, as elsewhere. Israel has sinned and given occasion to what the malice of others might do and justify themselves in doing. Nevertheless, it was malice, and that against God in His people. Hence, Jehovah should be known by them in judgment simply. In Israel, spite of her terrible failure and sin, He will be known in final grace; it must be in grace, for she can claim nothing, as we know. Can any of us claim anything from God on any other ground? But this only makes it sure that God will cleave to this in which all the interests of man and His own glory are alike concerned. In us He is going to show "the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." Who shall forbid Him this? And how suited that this unrepenting grace should take up Israel also according to the angel's words to Zechariah (Zech. 3), in which her sin and just condemnation are alike owned: "Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?" True, it is this; but Satan is ever and only the adversary against God as he is against man. But if it is God's will to pluck a brand out of the fire, who shall say Him nay?

Section 5 (Ezekiel 29 — 32).

Egypt: the abasement of creature-pride for ever before God.

We have seen, then, the judgment of the world, as represented in Tyre, the merchantman, rich with all that man's energy can pillage from the earth and use with the lavishness of a prodigal who knows not its value — use it also as the prodigal away from his Father's house, and with no reference any more to that Father whom he has forgotten. We come now finally to look at the world in another way, in which however it closely connects with what we have had before. It is a fallen world in the one case and in the other, and the marks of the fall upon it are essentially similar. The soul away from God, having lost faith in Him., must needs have faith in itself, or there would be despair at once. Thus man's competency comes in to meet the defect of God's incompetency, and while taking freely what God has graciously bestowed upon him, he uses it to build himself up in pride and self-sufficiency. We see this unmistakably in Egypt, the lesson of which is as clear as it is fundamental.

Egypt is, as we have seen long since, the land of Mizraim — the double strip: that is, the strip on each side of the river, the overflow of which has formed and enriches it. Wherever we look at it, it is essentially the land of independence, as far as heaven is concerned. The rain seldom falls there; it is not expected. The sources of the river are necessarily in the heavens themselves, but so far off that they are no more thought of, or if speculated about, the speculations themselves are of no great consequence. The practical thing is that the river is there, always there, overflowing at a certain regular time most convenient for man's purposes, giving him little to think about, only how best to guide hither and thither the supply which is thus made his own. Indeed be values himself upon this, that he can direct this abundant water with great wisdom so as to meet with it his own needs. Thus Pharaoh can say, as we see him here doing: "My river is mine, and I have made it." Practically it is the reverse of this, it is the river that has made him. Even the name of the first father of the Egyptians, Mizraim, is given to him, as one would say, by the land to which he owes his all: which is after all but the narrow strip through a desert in constant conflict with it, blowing its sand upon it in such a way as would soon annihilate the whole strip if it were not for the constant overflow of the river. Life is thus in perpetual conflict with death, and the Egyptians, one would say, were in a position to value life and enjoy it. No doubt in a way they did — yet from the earliest times Egypt was, what the earth at large very much is, a place of death rather than of life. Egypt is emphatically the land of tombs. Its literary memorial is a book of the dead. Their great men built their sepulchres with more extravagance than their palaces, for they realized that they were to use them longer; and, almost as if in mockery of themselves, they had their bodies embalmed that they might enjoy their sepulchres!

Thus if death is the stamp upon man's fallen condition, it was not only over all the land of Egypt — it is everywhere — but was emphasized there in a most remarkable way. The very lesson that God would impress upon man, and would have him take to heart, he has taken to show how title his heart is impressed by it, for he remains the same vain, self-confident creature that he ever was. This, alas, is the fundamental moral condition of the fall. All blessing comes from keeping the creature-place, but there is this constant tendency to depart from it, God's mercy being abused to that very end, as we have seen. Thus, in very mercy, must judgment come to abase the pride of man and give him wisdom in the only way possible. This, then, is what we find in the section before us. Egypt is everywhere in Scripture the type of that fallen condition out of which we have been redeemed; in this condition, he who has been awakened by the life-giving Spirit of God finds himself in captivity, and out of it he must be redeemed as Israel was redeemed out of Egypt.*

{* Tyre seems to represent the world in its intercourse and traffic; Egypt in its isolation and authority — S Ridout.}

1. We have, first, the causes of the judgment; they are, mainly, two: First, that pride and self-sufficiency itself, of which we have already spoken. Second, that Egypt has been a breaking staff to Israel; a staff of reed, which offered much, but never fulfilled its promises, bringing only ruin to all that trusted it. The going down to Egypt for help was the constant snare of the people of God, though they had been delivered from that land, and seen God's judgment upon it in their own deliverance. Yet they could again and again turn back to it. Alas, it is an inconsistency which not one of us who knows himself can be a stranger to! Happy for those who are taught by any means at last to say, as the apostle says for Christians as such: "We are the circumcision who worship God in the Spirit, and glory in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." What blessing is implied in such a condition, but how slow we are in reaching it! God must, therefore, for Israel, Himself break this staff that they leaned upon; and although He show mercy in the end, and Egypt is not finally left to judgment, as with Edom or Babylon, yet it must be henceforth a "base," that is, a low kingdom, something that will invite no more the confidence which it has hitherto invited, and be trusted no more by those about it. The lesson is as plain as it is fundamental. It is the lesson, "Cease ye from man whose breath is in his nostrils, for wherein is he to be accounted of?"

(1) The date of the prophecy is the tenth year, and the tenth month, the number of responsibility and of judgment being thus emphasized for us. It is given on the twelfth day of the month, the number which speaks of the manifestation of divine government, as it is manifested here. On this day, says the prophet, "The word of Jehovah came unto me saying, Son of man, set thy face against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and prophesy against him and against all Egypt. Speak and say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh, king of Egypt, the great monster that lieth in the midst of his rivers, who hath said, My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself." Pharaoh is likened here to the crocodile of his rivers, the "long stretched," as the word "monster" here literally means; a creature whom one might think took shape by his river, as the king of Egypt does — an unclean creature at the best; an ungainly one, however huge he may be, and however much the scales which shut him in may give him defence against all that may be adverse. He lies there, in no really exalted position, as is plain, and with little ability to survey things beyond the banks which on either side enclose him. Yet he can derive matter of boasting out of all this: "My river is mine own," he says, "and I have made it for myself." The ditches, the canals, the embankments and sluices are of his own manufacture truly, and this he calls making the river just as we think so much of the little we do, and so little of all that God has done for us. What a sight for the angels that excel in strength, to see a creature pinned to the earth that bears him, as the crocodile to his river-bank, and yet boasting himself to be in the place of God, and be his own god! And it was not Pharaoh's boast alone, as we have sufficiently seen. A god to himself, he was a god also to his people, as is well known, whose fate is represented as identified with that of their king as the fish of the rivers sticking to his scales for all that he is to be brought out of his river, and in a way that will abase him utterly: "I will put hooks in thy jaws, and I will bring thee up out of the midst of thy rivers, and all the fish of thy rivers shall stick unto thy scales and I will cast thee forth into the wilderness, thee and all the fish of thy rivers thou shalt fall upon the open field thou shalt not be brought together nor gathered. I will give thee for food to the beasts of the earth and to the fowls of the heavens." No overthrow can be more complete. Thus, in another sense than that of Samson's riddle, "Out of the eater comes forth meat;" he becomes the prey of those upon whom hitherto he had preyed.

(2) We come now to the second cause of the judgment, and we see how God takes up the cause of His people, foolish and perverse as they may have been. Had they not been sufficiently warned that they must not trust in Egypt? Were they not fully accountable in doing this after all the care that God had taken to deliver them from it? This Pharaoh, then, who has invited their confidence in himself which he cannot justify, who, as thus leaned upon by Israel, has given way under them and rent all their shoulder and lamed all their loins, he must be put into the place where he belongs, and God Himself must break the staff that has broken to His people's hurt. The fertility of Egypt, proverbial as it was, must therefore be turned into deserts and desolation from one end of it to the other. Migdol was on the east border of lower Egypt, as Syene was on the border of upper Egypt, on the boundary between it and Cush, or Ethiopia. Not only would the desolation for a time be extreme, but the people would be scattered from the land, and the cities laid waste forty years.

The judgment here has raised an historical question of which the critics have naturally not been slow to avail themselves. We must remember, in thinking of it, that the reckoning of Scripture is not that in respect to time with which we are familiar. That the words here do not necessitate that the desolation must be complete, after the manner spoken here, for the whole forty years, is easily to be proved by what is undeniable elsewhere. In Genesis 15:13, God speaks to Abraham of his seed being strangers in a land that is not theirs, serving them, and to be afflicted by them 400 years. And again we have in Exodus 12:40, 41, the time more precisely stated: "Now the sojourning of the children of Israel who dwelt in Egypt was 430 years and it came to pass at the end of the 430 years, even the self-same day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt." Thus complete accuracy is asserted. Yet, when we turn to the epistle to the Galatians, we find from the pen of one who certainly could not be ignorant or mistaken in what he asserted, that the law came just 430 years after the promise which God had given (Gal. 3:17).

It is plain, therefore, that the 430 years are to be taken as from the promise, and that they define the time to which the captivity in Egypt lasted. Thus in the 15th of Genesis we must read this as meaning that the people should be captives to the Egyptians until 400 years from that time; the captivity is defined as to the end of it, instead of as we at first would naturally think, as to both ends. The forty years from the time of the prophecy here would reach to about the time of the overthrow of the Babylonian empire, the power of Nebuchadnezzar and his successors, until the Persian overthrew his city and his dynasty. That it is Nebuchadnezzar's hand which God uses to inflict this upon Egypt is plain from what follows almost immediately and while the critics have doubted whether Nebuchadnezzar himself ever was in Egypt, we have now the proof from Egyptian and from Babylonian records together, that he was there twice; and it is even stated that the land was scourged by him as far as to Syene. It was completely in his hand.

(3) At the end of the forty years, God announces a certain measure of restoration: "At the end of forty years will I gather the Egyptians from the place whither they were scattered; and I will bring again the captivity of Egypt, and will cause them to return to the land of Pathros, unto the land of their birth, and they shall be there a base kingdom. It shall be the basest of kingdoms, neither shall it lift itself up any more above the nations; and I will diminish them so that they shall no more rule over the nations, and shall be no more the confidence of the house of Israel." This has been, as is well known, Egypt's condition since. Under the Ptolemies, whether there might seem to be something more than this, it was the foreigner who had possession of the country, and Egypt has ever since been in the hand of foreigners; the more the power that reigned over them lifted itself up, the more was the burden upon the subject people.

2. We have now Nebuchadnezzar distinctly named as the instrument of this judgment, and this at a notable time. The prophecy, unlike the other prophecies with which this is connected, is stated to have been given in the twenty-seventh year, in the first month, the first day of the month. At that time, after thirteen years, siege at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, Tyre had just fallen; and the prophecy with regard to it which Ezekiel had thus made long before, was fully proved; God was manifested as He whose judgment it was, and in whose hand, therefore, the conqueror himself was. The "twenty-seventh year" may as a number refer to this. It is the number of divine manifestation cubed. The reality of God's government was made fully plain, and here we have one of the various ways in which God would speak to Nebuchadnezzar himself, as is so manifest in the book of Daniel. As the head of the new Gentile power that God had raised up, Nebuchadnezzar as king of kings owed all to the Hand that raised him, and God would have him learn the lesson of this.

Thus, with the seal upon God's word in what he had already accomplished, Nebuchadnezzar was to carry with him into Egypt an assurance which every step towards his full exaltation would thus confirm. Egypt was to be the spoil given him for his lack of wages in his service against Tyre. It was God's work that he had been doing, whether he regarded it as such or no, and yet in the thirteen years of the siege in which "every head was made bald, and every shoulder peeled," he found in the end, very naturally indeed, nothing but a ruin left. Thus the land of Egypt would be given him as his recompense: "He shall carry away her multitude, and take her spoil and take her prey, and it shall be wages for his army."

The prophecy ends here, as far as Nebuchadnezzar is concerned, and the voice to him in it is unmistakable. In that day God would cause the horn of the house of Israel to bud forth, and He would give Ezekiel the opening of his mouth in the midst of them. The budding of the horn speaks but of partial and more or less slow revival for the people of God, which shows itself, in its beginning, in what the end of the book of Kings supplies as to the altered treatment of Jehoiachin, from whose captivity, let us remember, these prophecies are all dated, and who was brought out of his prison by Nebuchadnezzar's successor and given a place above all the subject kings that surrounded him. Later, we have also Daniel's exaltation, after a period seemingly of forgetfulness under Belshazzar and Darius, which was soon followed by the return of the people to the land under Cyrus. Thus the horn of Israel was indeed budding. In the prophets of that period, as Haggai and Zechariah, we have intimations of a further and more wondrous budding of the horn in the announcement of Messiah's coming. Israel's sins still hindered, as we know, and Messiah Himself came only to be rejected; but that belongs not to God's side, if we may so speak, but to the people's. The final visions of Ezekiel (Ezek. 40 — 48) had been uttered just before the prophecy which we are now looking at, the fulfilment of which, however, would now cause them to speak in such a way as to be heard, though, as we know, only by a remnant.

3. We have now still another prophecy, which is, however, but the detailed announcement of that judgment upon the land already declared. The day of Jehovah is at hand, a day of sorrow and distress: "A day of clouds shall it be, the time of the nations;" that is, the full time is at hand in which the judgment will be accomplished by Nebuchadnezzar's hand which, as we have already seen, prepares the way for the full establishment of the universal Gentile empire. Egypt seems to have been the last of these nations to experience this; but with and in Egypt it comes upon Ethiopia, Phut and Lud, and all the mingled people, "the children of the land of the covenant" — apparently those Israelitish colonists of whom Jeremiah speaks, and whose judgment he also emphatically announces. Thus Egypt is desolate in the midst of the countries that have been made desolate, and her cities in the midst of the cities that have been wasted. Egypt's end is the full tale told, and Nebuchadnezzar is again clearly announced as the one by whose hand it is to be executed. The points that are marked out here are naturally those which either set before us the idolatry, in Egypt so monstrous, and which God could never forget, or on the other hand, the symbols of her power and might, and her capitals upper and lower (No or Thebes, and Noph or Memphis) Zoan also, which God had plagued of old in Moses, time, having its place among these: the strongholds are gone and the land is open to all assailants. The picture speaks for itself, hardly needing a word of explanation. The purpose is here, as everywhere — whether men will listen or whether they will forbear — that they may know that He is Jehovah.

4. We have now another distinct, short prophecy, with regard to the incurableness of the breach which God has already made upon Egypt, evidently when they were defeated at the battle of Carchemish — a blow from which they never recovered. The prophecy is to forbid all revival of hope on account of the activity and energy which Egypt for the time was again showing. The effort to relieve the siege of Jerusalem is of course specially in view, and God announces that no bandage should be applied to bind up the arm that has been broken, so that it should be able to hold the sword again. On the contrary, He would break that and the other arm also, and cause the sword to fall out of Pharaoh's hand. The Egyptians should be scattered among the nations and dispersed through the countries the king of Babylon is once more named as the instrument of this. It is striking how these prophecies follow one another, which shows the urgency, on God's part, that His people should encourage themselves in no false hope. We can see how every blow upon such hopes was intended to fasten their hope upon God Himself; but how little will man listen to anything short of experience itself, hard teacher though it is owned to be! How we have again and again to hear the word "Cease ye from man," affirmed and emphasized by the event itself. How slow are we to come to that to which we must come finally, and which will have such abundant recompense for us!

5. We have now God's governmental ways with the Assyrian as another lesson for Egypt. There was a strong link of connection between the lands themselves. Assyria, like Egypt, was as an oasis in the desert track which stretches across nearly the whole breadth of Africa and Asia, from the Atlantic to the China Sea; an oasis which for Assyria was made by its two rivers, to which it owed its all, as Egypt did to the Nile. Thus essentially dependent, as it might be seen to be, yet it was self-exaltation and not the sense of dependence that grew out of it. Thus in the end abasement had to follow, for God's law is: He that exalteth himself shall be abased.

(1) The prophecy in this case is in the eleventh year, as was the last, and scarcely two months after it, On the first day of the third month, the word of Jehovah comes to Ezekiel, saying, "Son of man, say unto Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and to his multitude: Whom art thou like in thy greatness?" How gladly would we make ourselves the one exception, so that that which applies to others should not apply to us! God therefore points them to Assyria, a power as strong as Egypt itself. The rivers that had made him great were the rivers of that old Eden which had passed away, but which might seem to have revived again in him and such as he — though just such as he among the neighboring powers there was not. In Tyre, one might have seen again, as it were, the precious stones of Eden. In Assyria and the neighboring powers, the trees of the Garden of God might seem to have reproduced themselves in another manner, but all alike dwelt under the shadow of the one preeminent power which was the envy of them all. Like a cedar in Lebanon was he, with fair branches and a shadowing thicket, and of high stature. All the fowls of the heavens made their nests in his boughs, and under his branches all the beasts of the field brought forth their young so under his shadow dwelt all the great nations. No tree in this Garden of God was like him in his beauty. But, thus made great by the fostering care of God, it was only to repeat the old story; for what gift of God is there that man will not abuse? And what hope is there, one would say, for the being with whom God's mercies are turned to evil instead of good? It is a terrible lesson, but so constantly to be learned, that the wonder of it is sadly lessened by familiarity.

(2) The contrast of his humiliation was now correspondingly great. He too had been given into the hand of Babylon, one who would make thorough work with him for when God has work to be done, He will see that it is done. As a consequence, instead of seeking his protection, the birds and the beasts would dwell among his ruins. All the peoples of the earth had gone down from his shadow and had left him and this was no inexplicable calamity, but a warning which the sure government of God preaches everywhere against pride, and which, if it were but for the moment, was felt by all around. In fact, were they not all following in the same path which could only emphasize the claim of Sheol upon them? — the claim of the unseen world which gathers men on every side. For the wheel surely turns, as Ezekiel has over and over again assured us, and he that is lifted up is exalted but for the moment, then must come down to the lower parts of the earth. True it is that, if we follow this out, we shall find that in God's thought there is a resurrection also, and that whatever is permanent in blessing lies in this for us. But man's view in general does not reach thus far, and where the lesson is not accepted, the blessing itself is not reached. God therefore challenges Pharaoh here. Sheol had its rights over him also, rights which in God's judgment were already conceded, but he must "lie in the midst of the uncircumcised with those slain by the sword. This is Pharaoh and all his multitude, saith the Lord Jehovah."

6. We now come to the twelfth year and the twelfth month, a period which speaks of the full manifestation of God's governmental ways. But with this, in which there should be only blessing, there comes instead a voice of lamentation, a reminder for us of those tears actually wept on earth by One who was the manifestation of God Himself in flesh, over those that had despised His gracious invitations, and would not be gathered under the wings that would so safely have covered them. The creatures that God has made must ever be objects of interest to Him — such interest as we little realize who confound so much the clouds and darkness that are about Him with the One who is distinct from the cloud and from the darkness, in whom is no darkness at all, and who has now made Himself known to us for that which indeed He ever was. Nevertheless, man may make void all this as far as he is concerned, and with his back upon God he sees Him but as reflected in the depths of his own heart, in imaginations darkened by a guilty conscience.

Pharaoh is seen in this prophecy in a double character. He is not simply now the crocodile lying in the waters; he has broken forth as a young lion of the nations, as for some time past Egypt had been showing unwonted activity in this way, and Pharaoh sought to imitate the action of his predecessors of old, and to make himself an imperial power after the fashion of Assyria, and now of Babylon. But in this, as we know, he was doomed not to succeed. Like the restless monster which represents him, he could only trouble his own waters with his feet, and foul his streams. God, in fact, was spreading His net over him, and the human instruments were but means in His hands by which He would bring him up out of his streams and cast him upon the open field, and fill the birds of heaven and the beasts of the earth with his great bulk; his flesh would lay upon the mountains and fill the valleys; his blood would water the land, and his dead bodies would fill the rivers wherein he had been swimming. All the bright lights of heaven would be made black over him, and darkness be upon the land through the darkening of sun and moon. This is the constant figure for the destruction of the powers which God has ordained for the preservation of order upon the earth. The darkness in which one could hardly find one's way was the fitting representation of ensuing anarchy, and consternation would come upon all beholders; his fall would make all the nations around to tremble for their own lives.

Again it is announced that the sword of the king of Babylon is to do this, by reason of which the land of Egypt should be but a desolation, stripped of its plenteous fulness, its inhabitants smitten that they might know — if even yet they would know — that it was Jehovah's hand. The prophecy closes as it began, with a lamentation.

7. One final prophecy now, a dirge over Egypt as gone down to the pit. We have still the twelfth year; and, as we may suppose, the twelfth month, and the fifteenth of the month, numbers in which the full government of God is seen displayed in judgment, for, alas, there is a monotony of judgment here. Nothing else can there be, for man's wickedness permits nothing else! Sheol and the grave are now seen as receiving their claim, and the nations that have already passed into the shadow are those with whom Pharaoh and Egypt are now to be joined. Among these nations Tyre is not seen as yet; but Assyria, Elam, Meshech and Tubal, Edom, the Sidonians, are all seen as involved in one hopeless ruin. It is a judgment, as we see, not of individuals, but of nations — the judgment of the whole world, so far as it had yet come, as we may say, into the light of revelation — the circumcised with the uncircumcised; for Egypt was externally a circumcised people, but for whom it meant nothing; and now all together made equal in that which merges all distinctions, the common nervelessness and shadow of death. This monotonous dirge, the same for all of them, is part of the lesson meant by it — meant to impress us with the common blank and desolation in which so many energies, so many varieties of human character and activity, all come into one undistinguishable ruin. This is the lesson of death from which none is exempt, which God pressed upon man in that law which was the ministration of it, the common death and condemnation which man must accept in order to find blessing. It is therefore the natural end of all this part of the prophecy.

Thank God, we are going to emerge now into brighter things! But God's lessons must be learned, and in their own order. There is no escape from this, and we have to have the sentence of death in ourselves, that we may not trust in ourselves but in Him who raiseth the dead. Resurrection is all of God. Here it is plain that man has no ability whatever; he is out of account, and thus God has freedom to manifest Himself as He desires to do; then the grave itself is no hindrance to Him, but rather the means of brighter display of His divine glory. Thus among the names here, Egypt herself is to have her resurrection and blessing in the coming day, and Assyria also, as Isaiah witnesses (Ezek. 19:23-25): "In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria; and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria; and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians. In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the Lord of Hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance."