Bible Study: Ezekiel 26 – Prophecy against Tyre

The book of Ezekiel is one of the major prophets in the Old Testament. It was authored by Ezekiel who was set as a watchman to the house of Israel.

Ezek 3:17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me:

The twenty-sixth chapter of Ezekiel is about prophecy against Tyre.

Why Tyre?

Ezek 26:1-6 And it came to pass in the eleventh year, on the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, because Tyre has said against Jerusalem, ‘Aha! She is broken who was the gateway of the peoples; now she is turned over to me; I shall be filled; she is laid waste.’ Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Behold, I am against you, O Tyre, and will cause many nations to come up against you, as the sea causes its waves to come up. And they shall destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her towers; I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock. It shall be a place for spreading nets in the midst of the sea, for I have spoken,’ says the Lord GOD; ‘it shall become plunder for the nations. Also her daughter villages which are in the fields shall be slain by the sword. Then they shall know that I am the LORD.’

The 11th year of King Zedekiah is 586 BC. This is the same year when kingdom of Judah went to exile.

As we saw in the previous chapter, similar to other nations, Tyre also says “Aha! Jerusalem is broken who was the gateway of the peoples; now she is turned over to me; I shall be filled; she is laid waste.”.

  • God will cause many nations to come against Tyre.
  • They shall destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her towers
  • God will scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock.
  • Tyre shall be a place for spreading nets in the midst of the sea
  • Tyre shall become plunder for the nations.
  • Villages in the fields shall be slain by the sword.

When God had executed His judgments, Tyre shall know that He is the LORD

To fully understand the prophecy, we need to know the historical background of Tyre as well because the prophecy is not a single event. Tyre itself consists of two cities. One is a mainland and the other is an island. The many nations who came up against Tyre are as waves of the sea are:

  • Babylonians (586–573 BC)
  • Persians (539 BC)
  • Alexander the great (332 BC)

The mainland Tyre was captured by Babylonians and Persians to whom they paid tribute. However, it was Alexander who conquered and razed the island Tyre some 250 years later by building a kilometer long causeway.

Babylonians (586–573 BC)

Ezek 26:7-14 “For thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Behold, I will bring against Tyre from the north Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses, with chariots, and with horsemen, and an army with many people. He will slay with the sword your daughter villages in the fields; he will heap up a siege mound against you, build a wall against you, and raise a defense against you. He will direct his battering rams against your walls, and with his axes he will break down your towers. Because of the abundance of his horses, their dust will cover you; your walls will shake at the noise of the horsemen, the wagons, and the chariots, when he enters your gates, as men enter a city that has been breached. With the hooves of his horses he will trample all your streets; he will slay your people by the sword, and your strong pillars will fall to the ground. They will plunder your riches and pillage your merchandise; they will break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses; they will lay your stones, your timber, and your soil in the midst of the water. I will put an end to the sound of your songs, and the sound of your harps shall be heard no more. I will make you like the top of a rock; you shall be a place for spreading nets, and you shall never be rebuilt, for I the LORD have spoken,’ says the Lord GOD.

 

After the destruction of Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar engaged in a thirteen-year siege of Tyre (circa 586–573 BCE) which ended in a compromise, with the Tyrians accepting Babylonian authority. History  doesn’t say much about the Babylonian siege of Tyre.

Alexander the great (332 BC)

Ezek 26:15-18 “Thus says the Lord GOD to Tyre: ‘Will the coastlands not shake at the sound of your fall, when the wounded cry, when slaughter is made in the midst of you? Then all the princes of the sea will come down from their thrones, lay aside their robes, and take off their embroidered garments; they will clothe themselves with trembling; they will sit on the ground, tremble every moment, and be astonished at you. And they will take up a lamentation for you, and say to you: “How you have perished, O one inhabited by seafaring men, O renowned city, Who was strong at sea, She and her inhabitants, Who caused their terror to be on all her inhabitants! Now the coastlands tremble on the day of your fall; Yes, the coastlands by the sea are troubled at your departure.”

The siege of Tyre by Alexander was one of the well documented event in history because of his famous causeway for a kilometer.

siege_tryre

Reference: Siege_of_Tyre_(332_BC), Wikipedia

It is so important that today’s city of Tyre is mostly living on the silt deposited on the causeway which Alexander built.

alexander2

Ref: archaeology.org

The above picture will show the coastline had changed since Alexander. The differences between the old city of Type, the Island city of Tyre and the modern city of Tyre must be fully known to understand this prophecy.

Yet to be fulfilled? No!

Ezek 26:19-21 “For thus says the Lord GOD: ‘When I make you a desolate city, like cities that are not inhabited, when I bring the deep upon you, and great waters cover you, then I will bring you down with those who descend into the Pit, to the people of old, and I will make you dwell in the lowest part of the earth, in places desolate from antiquity, with those who go down to the Pit, so that you may never be inhabited; and I shall establish glory in the land of the living. I will make you a terror, and you shall be no more; though you are sought for, you will never be found again,’ says the Lord GOD.”

The above shows the devastation of the city of Tyre. However, Jesus Himself shows us the prophecy was already fulfilled when He is showing it as an example for Chorazin and Bethsaida.

Matt 11:20-23 Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent: Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.”

Conclusion

God is punishing Tyre simply because Tyre rejoiced in the destruction of Jerusalem. Because it said,  “Aha! Jerusalem is broken who was the gateway of the peoples; now she is turned over to me; I shall be filled; she is laid waste”, the LORD makes it a desolate city with attacks from many nations as waves of the sea.