Bible Study: Ezekiel 27 – Lamentation for 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-seventh chapter of Ezekiel is about a lament for Tyre.

Lamentation from God

Ezek 27:1-4 The word of the LORD came again to me, saying, Now, son of man, take up a lamentation for Tyre,  and say to Tyre, ‘You who are situated at the entrance of the sea, merchant of the peoples on many coastlands, thus says the Lord GOD: “O Tyre, you have said, ‘I am perfect in beauty.’ Your borders are in the midst of the seas. Your builders have perfected your beauty.

Tyre was situated at the entrance of the sea, merchant of the peoples on many coastlands.

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There is a reason for Tyre’s success is because of it’s location as the Bible says. It is an island city, very close to the mainland. It is impossible to attack a highly fortified island city from sea. When required, it can easily access mainland which is just less than a kilometer. Hence, this island city was not defeated and flourished until Alexander destroyed it as we saw in the previous chapter.

Ezek 27:5-7 They made all your planks of fir trees from Senir; They took a cedar from Lebanon to make you a mast. Of oaks from Bashan they made your oars; The company of Ashurites have inlaid your planks With ivory from the coasts of Cyprus. Fine embroidered linen from Egypt was what you spread for your sail; Blue and purple from the coasts of Elishah was what covered you.

The ships of Tyre are built as follows:

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Adapted from greece.mrdonn.org/greek_boat.gif

  • Planks of fir trees from Senir
  • Mast of cedar from Lebanon
  • Oars of oaks from Bashan

Deut 3:8-9 “And at that time we took the land from the hand of the two kings of the Amorites who were on this side of the Jordan, from the River Arnon to Mount Hermon (the Sidonians call Hermon Sirion, and the Amorites call it Senir),

Deut 4:48 from Aroer, which is on the bank of the River Arnon, even to Mount Sion (that is, Hermon),

1Chr 5:23 So the children of the half-tribe of Manasseh dwelt in the land. Their numbers increased from Bashan to Baal Hermon, that is, to Senir, or Mount Hermon.

Senir was actually an Amorite name. It is called as Hermon Sirion by Sidonians and Israelite people called it as Mount Hermon or Mount Sion.

 Now therefore, command that they cut down cedars for me from Lebanon; and my servants will be with your servants, and I will pay you wages for your servants according to whatever you say. For you know there is none among us who has skill to cut timber like the Sidonians.

In the ancient world, Lebanon was famous for cedar (1Kgs 5:6) and Bashan is famous for oaks (Isa 2:13; Zec 11:12). The ships from the island city of Tyre was built with the best wood from the region.

Ezek 27:8-11 “Inhabitants of Sidon and Arvad were your oarsmen; Your wise men, O Tyre, were in you; They became your pilots. Elders of Gebal and its wise men Were in you to caulk your seams; All the ships of the sea And their oarsmen were in you To market your merchandise. Those from Persia, Lydia, and Libya Were in your army as men of war; They hung shield and helmet in you; They gave splendor to you. Men of Arvad with your army were on your walls all around, And the men of Gammad were in your towers; They hung their shields on your walls all around; They made your beauty perfect.

  • Sidon & Arvad – Oarsmen
  • Tyre  – wise men who became pilots
  • Gebal – counsel of the elders
  •  Persia, Lydia, Libya, Arvad & Gammad – men of war

Tyre was filled with immigrants who worked for it and made its beauty perfect.Tyre was a island of opportunities in the ancient middle-east.

Trade of Tyre

tyre_phoenicia_10thcenturybc

Ezek 27:12-25 “Tarshish was your merchant because of your many luxury goods. They gave you silver, iron, tin, and lead for your goods. Javan, Tubal, and Meshech were your traders. They bartered human lives and vessels of bronze for your merchandise. Those from the house of Togarmah traded for your wares with horses, steeds, and mules. The men of Dedan were your traders; many isles were the market of your hand. They brought you ivory tusks and ebony as payment. Syria was your merchant because of the abundance of goods you made. They gave you for your wares emeralds, purple, embroidery, fine linen, corals, and rubies. Judah and the land of Israel were your traders. They traded for your merchandise wheat of Minnith, millet, honey, oil, and balm. Damascus was your merchant because of the abundance of goods you made, because of your many luxury items, with the wine of Helbon and with white wool. Dan and Javan paid for your wares, traversing back and forth. Wrought iron, cassia, and cane were among your merchandise. Dedan was your merchant in saddlecloths for riding. Arabia and all the princes of Kedar were your regular merchants. They traded with you in lambs, rams, and goats. The merchants of Sheba and Raamah were your merchants. They traded for your wares the choicest spices, all kinds of precious stones, and gold. Haran, Canneh, Eden, the merchants of Sheba, Assyria, and Chilmad were your merchants. These were your merchants in choice items–in purple clothes, in embroidered garments, in chests of multicolored apparel, in sturdy woven cords, which were in your marketplace. The ships of Tarshish were carriers of your merchandise. You were filled and very glorious in the midst of the seas.

Some places and tribes are identifiable but most of these ancient cities are very unclear on their location. Hence, without going to details of each items, Tyre was an emporium island city.

Fall of Tyre

 Ezek 27:26-36 Your oarsmen brought you into many waters, But the east wind broke you in the midst of the seas. Your riches, wares, and merchandise, Your mariners and pilots, Your caulkers and merchandisers, All your men of war who are in you, And the entire company which is in your midst, Will fall into the midst of the seas on the day of your ruin. The common-land will shake at the sound of the cry of your pilots. All who handle the oar, The mariners, All the pilots of the sea Will come down from their ships and stand on the shore. They will make their voice heard because of you; They will cry bitterly and cast dust on their heads; They will roll about in ashes; They will shave themselves completely bald because of you, Gird themselves with sackcloth, And weep for you With bitterness of heart and bitter wailing. In their wailing for you They will take up a lamentation, And lament for you: ‘What city is like Tyre, Destroyed in the midst of the sea? When your wares went out by sea, You satisfied many people; You enriched the kings of the earth With your many luxury goods and your merchandise. But you are broken by the seas in the depths of the waters; Your merchandise and the entire company will fall in your midst. All the inhabitants of the isles will be astonished at you; Their kings will be greatly afraid, And their countenance will be troubled. The merchants among the peoples will hiss at you; You will become a horror, and be no more forever.’ ”

The glory of Tyre was explained in the below passage similar to Solomon’s glory.

Zech 9:3 For Tyre built herself a tower, Heaped up silver like the dust, And gold like the mire of the streets.

1Kgs 10:27 The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and he made cedar trees as abundant as the sycamores which are in the lowland.

As we saw in the previous chapter, Tyre was destroyed by Alexander in 332 BC. He created a blockade on two ports of Tyre with 223 galleys under his command.

Luke 10:14 “But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you.

Tyre became a byword as Jesus quoted it to compare its destruction.