Ezekiel 26 (ESV)
Prophecy Against Tyre
This was the great and ancient city of the Phoenicians on the Mediterranean coast north of Israel (in modern-day Lebanon). Tyre and her sister city Sidon (about 20 miles north of Tyre) were important seaports for the whole region.
“Tyre was an ancient city of the Phoenicians, appearing for the first time in the Bible in Joshua 19:29…. The city was actually composed of two parts, one on the mainland and the other on a rocky island about a half mile from the coast.”
–Charles L. Feinberg
“As a commercial centre, Tyre was famous for her glassware and for her dyed materials, using the purple dye made from the local murex shell-fish.”
–John B. Taylor
In the eleventh year, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, because Tyre said concerning Jerusalem, ‘Aha, the gate of the peoples is broken; it has swung open to me. I shall be replenished, now that she is laid waste,’
This enmity was not always the policy of Tyre towards Jerusalem. Hiram, the King of Tyre, was a true friend of King David (2 Samuel 5:11) and helped David and later Solomon with supplies and expertise in building the temple.
But times change. Now Tyre was happy at the fall of Jerusalem because it was good for her trading business.
Proverbs 17:5 (ESV)
He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.
3 therefore thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against you, O Tyre,
When God is against you, none can help. “Neither can thine Apollo help or deliver thee out of my hands; no, though thou chain that idol and nail him to a post, that thou mayest be sure of him; for so these Tyrians did when Alexander besieged their city and took it.”
and will bring up many nations against you, as the sea brings up its waves. 4 They shall destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her towers, and I will scrape her soil from her and make her a bare rock.
God was faithful to bring many nations against Tyre in successive waves of conquest and destruction:
- ·Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Tyre for 13 years and eventually conquered them (about 586-573 BC).
- ·The Persians conquered and brought Tyre to submission around 525 BC.
- ·Alexander the Great destroyed the city in 332 BC.
- ·Antiochus III conquered and subjugated Tyre.
- ·Rome conquered and subjugated Tyre.
- ·The Saracens in the 14th century AD finally obliterated the city of Tyre.
5 She shall be in the midst of the sea a place for the spreading of nets, for I have spoken, declares the Lord God. And she shall become plunder for the nations, 6 and her daughters on the mainland shall be killed by the sword. Then they will know that I am the Lord.
The many villages and small cities allied with Tyre would also be destroyed. Her colony cities scattered around the broader world would be crippled. Judgment would be complete.
“The colonies of Phoenicia were in Cyprus, Rhodes, Malta, Spain, Sicily, Sardinia, the Balearic Islands and Africa, with all looking to Tyre as their headquarters, and sending annual gifts to the Tyrian Heracles.”
–Charles L. Feinberg
7 “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will bring against Tyre from the north Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses and chariots, and with horsemen and a host of many soldiers. 8 He will kill with the sword your daughters on the mainland. He will set up a siege wall against you and throw up a mound against you, and raise a roof of shields against you. 9 He will direct the shock of his battering rams against your walls, and with his axes he will break down your towers.10 His horses will be so many that their dust will cover you. Your walls will shake at the noise of the horsemen and wagons and chariots, when he enters your gates as men enter a city that has been breached. 11 With the hoofs of his horses he will trample all your streets. He will kill your people with the sword, and your mighty pillars will fall to the ground.
Nebuchadnezzar laid siege against the mainland portion of Tyre for 13 years and conquered that part of the city, subjugating all of Tyre under his rule.
“Nebuchadnezzar now turned his attention to Tyre, which held out on its island for thirteen years. It is now known from inscriptions that Nebuchadnezzar eventually forced its submission and put a puppet king on the throne. Ezekiel 29:18 records that he did not obtain enough spoil from the city to pay for all the efforts he had made.”
— Christopher Wright
12 They will plunder your riches and loot your merchandise. They will break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses.
“Commentators have long noticed the change of pronoun from the ‘he’ of the previous verses to the ‘they’ of verse 12. It is rightly understood that Ezekiel was carrying the picture beyond Nebuchadnezzar to other invaders as well who would complete what he began.”
–Charles L. Feinberg
Your stones and timber and soil they will cast into the midst of the waters.
When Alexander the Great came against Tyre, most of the people retreated to the island portion of the city which even Nebuchadnezzar could not conquer. In a remarkable feat of engineering and vision, Alexander’s armies took the rubble of the mainland city and built a causeway, a solid road built up through the water out to the island part of the city and conquered it – just as Ezekiel prophesied.
13 And I will stop the music of your songs, and the sound of your lyres shall be heard no more. 14 I will make you a bare rock. You shall be a place for the spreading of nets. You shall never be rebuilt, for I am the Lord; I have spoken, declares the Lord God.
There is a modern city of Tyre, but it isn’t really built on the same spot as the ancient city – and has never come close to reaching the grandeur and importance of ancient Tyre.
15 “Thus says the Lord God to Tyre: Will not the coastlands shake at the sound of your fall, when the wounded groan, when slaughter is made in your midst? 16 Then all the princes of the sea will step down from their thrones and remove their robes and strip off their embroidered garments. They will clothe themselves with trembling; they will sit on the ground and tremble every moment and be appalled at you. 17 And they will raise a lamentation over you and say to you,
“‘How you have perished,
you who were inhabited from the seas,
O city renowned,
who was mighty on the sea;
she and her inhabitants imposed their terror
on all her inhabitants!
18 Now the coastlands tremble
on the day of your fall,
and the coastlands that are on the sea
are dismayed at your passing.’
Oh, how the mighty have fallen!
19 “For thus says the Lord God: When I make you a city laid waste, like the cities that are not inhabited, when I bring up the deep over you, and the great waters cover you, 20 then I will make you go down with those who go down to the pit, to the people of old, and I will make you to dwell in the world below, among ruins from of old, with those who go down to the pit, so that you will not be inhabited; but I will set beauty in the land of the living. 21 I will bring you to a dreadful end, and you shall be no more. Though you be sought for, you will never be found again, declares the Lord God.”
Verse 3 contains a chilling comment from God — “I am against you.” What hope is there then? But such is not the case for those who have put their trust in the Lord Jesus. Romans 8:31 assures us, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” HERE is Chris Tomlin singing that truth in “Our God.”
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.