Sinking the S.S. TzorBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
G-d told Ezekiel to sing a dirge about Tzor. Tzor, city of the sea and busy port of merchants, considered themselves the city of perfection and beauty. They were surrounded by the ocean and her architects built from the most beautiful materials. Her wood was from juniper, cedar, oaks and cypress adorned with ivory, all from the best lands for these types of lumber. Their linen came from Egypt and they imported blue and purple cloth. This chapter compares Tzor to a ship and her wise men to sailors; they did not have to import “mariners” from other nations. Her elders were like builders who would repair any cracks in the ship that was Tzor and her sailors would take care of all of her needs. Other nations, including Persia, would aid Tzor in wars against her enemies. She was so wealthy that all seafaring nations were her trading partners, bringing any wares they had, from copper to slaves. From Germamia (possibly Germany) they would bring skilled slaves, fit to be horsemen. Nations would bring expensive gifts such as horns, ivory, and peacocks. The nation of Aram would trade Tzor precious stones and expensive clothes, which were popular among her ruling class. The two Jewish nations, Judah and Israel, would trade wheat, balsam, honey and oil. Damascus would bring white wine and wool. Arabia would trade sheep and goats. Sheba would bring spices, gold and precious gems. Tzor became full from all the wealth that was brought to her, so full, in fact, that it was sinking her metaphorical ship.
When the ship that is Tzor finally “sinks,” the neighboring lands will tremble from the cry let out by her “sailors.” The traders from other lands will disembark from their ships, saying “without Tzor what reason is there to go to sea?” They will let out a bitter cry and tear out their hair in mourning. They will put on ashes and sackcloth and wail bitter dirges saying, “Who is like Tzor in the middle of the sea?” When Tzor came around, the needs of many nations were met. Their abundance of riches made the kings of the Earth rich. All the island nations will be amazed and their kings will be afraid. Merchants of the nations will mourn the loss of their marketplace and Tzor will never reappear.