What is the meaning of “pipes prepared in thee”?


In the book of Ezekiel 28:13, what is the meaning of "pipes prepared in thee"? Did Satan have musical instruments as part of him? Did he have a harp as part of his body?


"Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created" (Ezekiel 28:13 KJV).

God had made the King of Tyre and Satan both beautiful, wise and powerful. "Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre and say to him, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "You had the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty"'" (Ezekiel 28:12). But they both became prideful, thinking their wisdom, beauty, and splendor would outshine the splendor of God. "Therefore, behold, I will bring strangers upon you, the most ruthless of the nations. And they will draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom and defile your splendor. … Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, that they may see you" (Ezekiel 29:7,17).

In a figure of speech, physical ideas, such as the beauty of stones, are used to symbolize what they had and what will be taken away. The king of Tyre was not made of various stones. Neither was Satan, as he is a spiritual being and not a physical one (Ezekiel 28:13). For Satan to be made of a physical harp or pipes would be impossible.

This verse is translated in two ways:

"The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created" (Ezekiel 28:13 NKJV).

"and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared" (Ezekiel 28:13 ESV).

The difference comes from how to translate neqev in Hebrew. Most believe that it refers to a jeweler's work based on a related word, naqav which means "to pierce." Neqev only appears in this one verse and the King James translators thought it was related to timbrels, so they translated it as "pipes." Most other translations translate it as settings or engravings, but this leads to a problem with the word for timbrels, tuppekha. It appears that those leaning toward the engraving meaning, assume that timbrels are another jeweler term, even though this would be the only instance of it being translated this way in the Bible.

A second problem arises in the King James Version. They translated the Hebrew word bakh, which is a generic preposition, as "in thee." Perhaps it made sense in older English, but in modern English, "on you" or "for you" is a better translation.

The idea is that on the days the King of Tyre and Satan were created they were both given wisdom, power, beauty, perfection, and splendor by God. These gifts should have been used to praise the God who gave them and not themselves. If instruments were intended, then they represent giving praise to God. If it is jeweler terms, then it just further emphasizes the beauty of the gifts God gave each of them.

A similar idea is presented about the King of Babylon and comparing him to Satan. "Your pomp and the music of your harps have been brought down to Sheol; maggots are spread out as your bed beneath you and worms are your covering" (Isaiah 14:11).

God gives positions of power to people. He clothes them in wisdom, beauty, and splendor. And He gives them charge and authority over people and the things of His creation. However, many people use these gifts to glorify themselves instead of the Giver.

by Alan Feaster and Jeff Hamilton

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