With kings and counsellors of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves;
With the kings and counsellors of the earth,.... From whom he might descend, he being a person of great distinction and figure; and so, had he died, he would have been buried in the sepulchres of his ancestors, and have lain in great pomp and state: or rather this he says, to observe that death spares none, that neither the power of kings, who have long hands, nor the wisdom of counsellors, who have long heads, can secure them from death; and that after death they are upon a level with others; and even he suggests, that children that die as soon as born, and have made no figure in the world, are equal to them:
which built desolate places for themselves; either that rebuilt houses and cities that had lain in ruins, or built such in desolate places, where there had been none before, or formed colonies in places before uninhabited; and all this to get a name, and to perpetuate it to posterity: or rather sepulchral monuments are meant, such as the lofty pyramids of the Egyptians, and superb mausoleums of others; which, if not built in desolate places, yet are so themselves, being only the habitations of the dead, and so they are called the desolations of old,
Ezekiel 26:20; and this is the sense of many interpreters q; if any man desires, says Vansleb r, a prospect and description of such ancient burying places, let him think on a boundless plain, even, and covered with sand, where neither trees, nor grass, nor houses, nor any such thing, is to be seen.
q Pineda, Bolducius, Patrick, Caryll, Schultens, and others. r Relation of a Voyage to Egypt, p. 91.