Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
Ezekiel 26:1-21. A lengthy prophecy concerning Tyrus is found in this and in the chapters which follow. These great predictions have found a startling fulfilment. History confirms all that Ezekiel spoke should come to pass. In Ezekiel 26:1-14 we have the overthrow of the powerful city predicted.
The city of Tyrus (which means rock) was partly built upon an island off the mainland in the Mediterranean Sea. It was an ancient Phoenician city and is mentioned in Scripture for the first time in Joshua 19:29, where it is called “the strong city.” It had a wonderful commerce, a description of which in its variety, we find in the twenty-seventh chapter. It was inhabited by seafaring men, and the prophet Isaiah describes this wealthy and influential city as “the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honorable of the earth” Isaiah 23:8. We read in the next chapter how Syria, Persia, Egypt, Spain, Greece and every quarter of the ancient world laid their choicest and most precious things at the feet of Tyre, who sat enthroned on ivory, covered with blue and purple, from the isles of Elishah. Her beauty was perfect Ezekiel 27:11. During the reign of David and Solomon, Tyre came into great prominence, playing an important role in the commercial, political and religious history of Israel. Hiram, King of Tyrus, sent cedar trees to Jerusalem, as well as workmen, who built David a house 2 Samuel 5:11. How Tyrus aided in the construction of the temple and the palace under Solomon’s reign, may be learned by consulting the following passages:1 Kings 5:1-18; 1 Kings 7:13-51; 1 Chronicles 14:11, 2 Chronicles 2:3; 2 Chronicles 2:11. When the ships of Solomon sailed away to Ophir, “Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon, and they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to King Solomon” 1 Kings 9:27-28). She sinned against Jerusalem and the people of God. Joel and Amos, Isaiah, and Jeremiah mention her and her well-deserved judgment Joel 3:4-21; Amos 1:9-15; Isaiah 23:1-18; Jeremiah 47:4.
In the third verse of our chapter, we read the divine announcement of Tyre’s fate: “Behold I am against thee, O Tyrus, and will cause many nations to come up against thee, as the sea causes its waves to come up. And they shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, and break down her towers; I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock.” It was to become a place for the spreading of nets and a spoil to the nations. This great judgment was not all at once carried out. Nebuchadnezzar came first against her as predicted in Ezekiel 26:7-11. He besieged Tyre on the mainland and after thirteen years took the city; while that part of Tyrus which was built upon the island in the sea, protected by the fleet of Tyrus, escaped. Then came for her seventy years when she was forgotten, as predicted by Isaiah (Isaiah 23:15). After these years had passed Tyrus saw a startling revival. The island city became more powerful and wicked than before; “she committed fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth” Isaiah 23:17. The continental Tyrus, however, remained in ruins.
Centuries passed and it seemed as if Ezekiel’s prophecy concerning Tyre’s complete overthrow would remain unfulfilled. It was about 240 years after when the literal fulfillment of this prophecy was accomplished. Alexander the Great came against the city built on the island. After seven months the city was taken by means of a mole, by which the forces of Alexander could enter the city. In constructing this mole, Alexander made use of the ruins of the old city. The stones, timber and the very dust of the destroyed city was laid into the sea to erect the causeway which accomplished the utter ruin of the wealthy city. And thus Ezekiel’s prophecy was fulfilled. “And they shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the water.” The complete end of Tyrus had come. “And thou shalt be no more, though thou be sought for, yet shalt thou never be found again” (Ezekiel 26:21). So completely was the work done by Alexander, depositing the debris of the ruins of Tyrus on the mainland into the sea, that its exact site will remain undeterminable. And Alexander the Great fulfilled still another prophecy. Before he came on his mission, directed by God, to make an end of the proud and wicked city, Zechariah, the great post-exilic prophet, had once more announced the fate of Tyrus. “And Tyrus,” said the Lord through Zechariah, “did build herself a stronghold, and heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the ruin of the streets.” This was after Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed the Tyrus on the mainland and she became the great island city. “Thus,” said Zechariah, “behold, the Lord will cast her out, and He will smite her power in the sea, and she shall be devoured with fire” Zechariah 9:3-17). Alexander did this: he laid proud Tyrus in ashes. What an evidence that all these words are divine!
The effect of the fall of Tyrus and a lamentation over that fall are revealed in Ezekiel 26:15-21. There is a description of the descent of Tyrus into the pit (Ezekiel 26:19-20). The last sentence of Ezekiel 26:20, “And I shall set glory in the land of the living,” means the coming glory of the earthly Zion, the glory in store for Israel.
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