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Wednesday, July 17th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 26

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-21

Tonight turn in our Bibles to Ezekiel chapter 26.

According to verse Ezekiel 26:1 , this prophecy came to Ezekiel in the eleventh year of the king Zedekiah's reign, which would make it the year 586 B.C., the year in which Jerusalem was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.

So it came to pass in the eleventh year, the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, because Tyrus has said against Jerusalem, Aha, she is broken that was the gates of the people; she is turned unto me; I shall be replenished, now she is laid waste: Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Tyrus, and will cause many nations to come up against thee, as the sea causeth his waves to come up ( Ezekiel 26:1-3 ).

It is interesting to me that God does not like the wicked rejoicing in the judgments of His people. There is a quality of love in First Corinthians 13 that rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. And here God brings His judgment against Tyre because Tyre was rejoicing in the judgment of God that He brought against His people, against the city of Jerusalem. Thinking that somehow they were going to prosper from the devastation of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.

So God declares that, first of all, there will be many nations that will be used in the judgment of Tyre, not Nebuchadnezzar only. So that the prophecy would not be completed with just Nebuchadnezzar's conquering of Tyre, but God would bring other nations against it for its destruction. And speaking of the total destruction first, and then dropping back to give us details. First of all, the overall destruction:

They shall destroy [that is, the many nations] the walls of Tyrus, break down the towers: will scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock. It shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD: and it shall become a spoil to the nations. And her daughters which are in the field shall be slain by the sword; and they shall know that I am the LORD. For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will bring upon Tyrus Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, a king of kings, from the north, with horses, and with chariots, and with horsemen, and companies, and much people. He shall slay with the sword thy daughters in the field: and he shall make a fort against thee, and cast a mount against thee, and lift up the buckler against thee. And he ( Ezekiel 26:4-9 )

Notice the personal pronouns, he, Nebuchadnezzar,

shall set engines of war against thy walls, and with his axes he shall break down thy towers. By reason of the abundance of his horses their dust shall cover thee: thy walls shall shake at the noise of the horsemen, and of the wheels, and of the chariots, when he shall enter into thy gates, as men enter into a city wherein is made a breach. With the hoofs of his horses shall he tread down all thy streets: he shall slay thy people by the sword, and thy strong garrisons shall go down to the ground ( Ezekiel 26:9-11 ).

And thus is described that destruction of Tyre that would come about by Nebuchadnezzar.

Now, one year after the prophecy was written, or in the year 585 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar began his siege of Tyre. The common practice of the Babylonian army was to, and of course, in warfare in those days, was to lay siege upon a city by surrounding the city and cutting off all outside supplies. And by cutting off all the outside supplies, they could soon deplete the city of its food resources. Once the food resources were depleted, the people began to starve to death. With a shortage of water, shortage of food, with a famine usually would come pestilence, disease. And then when the people were weakened by the pestilence and by the famine, then they would move in. And it would be much easier to take the city, because the people had been so weakened as the result of the siege.

But because Tyrus was on the seacoast and it was a beautiful port city, in fact, it was one of the major ports of the ancient world. A very rich city of merchandise, and from Tyrus, of course, were the Phoenicians and the Phoenician navy of historic lore. He was not able to totally cut off the supplies; the city of Tyrus was continually supplied by her navies from the sea, so that the people were able to live under the siege of Nebuchadnezzar. And so the siege went on for thirteen years. During which time the majority of the city moved from the mainland to the island that was about a half mile offshore. And that became then the major city of Tyre, this island offshore. So that by the time Nebuchadnezzar finally made the onslaught against the city, there was only a small garrison and a small part of the population left within the city there on the mainland. The majority of the people had moved to the island along with the wealth of the city. So that there was no spoils to be taken by Nebuchadnezzar in the conquering of the city of Tyre.

So it was a very empty and hollow victory by Nebuchadnezzar inasmuch as there was no spoil for Nebuchadnezzar from the destruction. But as is described here, the destruction by Nebuchadnezzar did come to pass, beginning one year after the prophecy and continuing for the next thirteen years in his siege of the city of Tyre.

But now as we get into verse Ezekiel 26:12 , there is a change of pronoun significantly. Because the prophecy was that many nations would come against Tyre. Its destruction was not to be fully accomplished by Nebuchadnezzar. So the city of Tyre went on prospering for 240 years; now an island city. And it became extremely strong and powerful. Especially now that it was an island city just a half-mile offshore, it was almost impregnable as far as any enemy was concerned. Unless you would try to attack by sea, but the Phoenician navy ruled the seas in those days. And so Tyrus became a very powerful, well-defensed city because it was on this island a half-mile offshore.

So they shall make a spoil ( Ezekiel 26:12 )

Change of pronoun from he, Nebuchadnezzar, to they shall make a spoil

of thy riches, and make a prey of thy merchandise: and they shall break down thy walls, and destroy thy pleasant houses: and they shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the water ( Ezekiel 26:12 ).

An extremely interesting and yet a bizarre prophecy. Because unparalleled in history, to my knowledge, is any city when destroyed the stones the timbers and the dust were put in the midst of the water.

And I will cause the noise of thy songs to cease; and the sound of thy harps shall be no more heard. And I will make thee like the top of a rock: thou shalt be a place to spread nets upon; thou shalt be built no more: for I the LORD have spoken it ( Ezekiel 26:13-14 ),

Now that's a pretty powerful statement, "I the Lord have spoken it, saith the Lord God." I have spoken it; this is what's going to be.

Now, did God really speak that? Is this really the Word of God to the prophet Ezekiel, or is Ezekiel making calculated guesses? Well, did it really come to pass? In 322 B.C. when Alexander the Great began his move towards Persia, he was fearful that if he moved all of his troops in a war against Persia that the Phoenicians would take advantage of it and that the Phoenician navy would then attack Greece. So he felt essential to his moving further against Persia was the conquering of Tyrus. And so he moved down the coast to Tyrus and gave an ultimatum to the city of Tyrus to surrender to him or he would destroy them. The people of Tyrus scoffed at Alexander's ultimatum, because they knew that it would be difficult for any army to besiege their city. Alexander went up to Sidon and to some of the other port cities in the area and confiscated many ships. And he attempted a naval assault against Tyrus, which was defeated. He next decided that he would take the rubble of the ancient city of Tyre which had not been rebuilt on the mainland and with the rocks and the timbers, the ruins of the ancient city, he would make this wide causeway out to the island. Taking first and throwing the rocks and the timbers into the Mediterranean beginning to form this causeway, and then putting and scraping the dirt and putting it over the top of the rocks. So he made this wide causeway out to the island.

As he began to get near the island, the people of Tyre began to heat sand until it was almost molten and then shoot this molten sand on his troops. And so they built kind of defenses against that, special types of towers and all to defend the workers against this hot sand and oil that they began to shoot over at them from the city. And he began to move up these towers and these weapons of war, and finally with a combined naval assault and the assaulting of the walls themselves, Alexander the Great was able to conquer the city of Tyre in 322 after about an eight-month siege of Tyre.

Because Tyre had resisted him, he sought to make an example of the city of Tyre to strike fear in the hearts of the neighboring areas. And so he really devastated and destroyed the city of Tyre. A tremendous slaughter and destruction. As the result, the other nations, the other cities and kingdoms around were terrified. They opened their doors to Alexander the Great. They began to capitulate one after another including Jerusalem. And Alexander the Great was of course a very religious person. Not godly--religious. And there's a difference. There are a lot of people that are religious, but not really very godly, but very religious. And he was an extremely religious person. And he did come to Jerusalem and was received by the Jews and the city was open to him. And he gave sacrifices unto the priests in Jerusalem to offer for him unto their gods. And he was actually... many cities opened to him after the conquest of Tyre.

Now, in his taking the stones, the timbers, and the dust and scraping it, he caused the prophecy of Ezekiel to be literally fulfilled some 240 years after the prophecy was made. So the prophecy was made by Ezekiel; 240 years later it was literally fulfilled. God is not in a hurry. Ezekiel prophesied it; he never lived to see the fulfillment of it. But yet, we, now in looking back, have that advantage of seeing how that history finally confirmed the fact that it evidently was God speaking to Ezekiel. It would have been impossible for him to have made these predictions just out of his own mind or head. The things that he declared were too impractical.

Now, "it will make it like the top of a rock." It is impossible to accurately determine the actual site of the original city of Tyre on the mainland because it was so totally devastated and destroyed by the dirt even being scraped and cast into the sea. We can only guess that this area which is barren rock today was no doubt somewhere in these perimeters, and in this area was the ancient city of Tyre. But there are no ruins, no walls, nothing to indicate where the city itself might have been. And so the place of it has never been found or discovered, nor can we ascertain it with any certainty at all. Which, of course, is another fulfillment here.

But because the dirt was scraped, the rocks are an excellent place for the fishermen to dry their nets. And if you go to that area today, you will find even today fishermen drying their nets on these rocks which were once the great city of Tyre, the nemesis of the ancient world because of the power of their navy. A city that was great in glory and power. But God pronounced His judgment because they rejoiced in the judgment of God upon Jerusalem.

Thus saith the Lord GOD [verse Ezekiel 26:15 ] to Tyrus; Shall not the isles [or the coasts] shake at the sound of your fall, when the wounded cry, and when the slaughter is made in the midst of thee? Then all the princes of the sea shall come down from their thrones, and lay away their robes, and put off their broidered garments: they shall clothe themselves with trembling; they shall sit upon the ground, and shall tremble at every moment, and be astonished at thee ( Ezekiel 26:15-16 ).

And so the great fear that did come into the other neighboring cities and areas.

And they shall take up a lamentation for thee, and say to thee, How art thou destroyed, that wast inhabited of seafaring men, the renowned city, which was strong in the sea, she and her inhabitants, which cause their terror to be on all that haunt it! Now shall the isles tremble in the day of thy fall; yea, the isles that are in the sea shall be troubled at thy departure. For thus saith the Lord GOD; When I shall make thee a desolate city, like the cities that are not inhabited; when I shall bring up the deep upon thee, and great waters shall cover thee; When I shall bring thee down with them that descend into the pit, with the people of old time, and shall set thee in the low parts of the earth, in places desolate of old, with them that go down to the pit, that thou be not inhabited; and I shall set glory in the land of the living; I will make thee a terror, and thou shalt be no more: though thou be sought for, yet shalt thou never be found again, saith the Lord GOD ( Ezekiel 26:17-21 ).

Such is the case. We can't tell exactly where the city was because it was so totally devastated and all you have is barren rock in that area where Tyre once existed.

Now, there is a modern city of Tyre which is a Palestinian stronghold in southern Lebanon. However, it is a few miles from the site of the ancient city. So though it bears the name of Tyre, it has not been built again in the area where the original Tyre once existed. There is however a spring there in Tyre known as Ras El Ain, which the engineers have measured a water flow of ten million gallons a day. So it would be a very likely spot for a city to be built because of this abundant supply of fresh water. And yet in spite of that, the city has never been built on that site again.

So God's Word holding to the present day. And you can go over there today and walk on that peninsula and see the causeway that was built by Alexander the Great looking down into the water seeing the stones that were thrown and the timbers. Well, the timbers, of course, have since have gone. But you can still see the stones, and you can see the fishermen drying their nets, and you can see the barren rocky area that was once the city of Tyre. But God's Word still holding true to the present time.

Tyre, of course, was a city of tremendous merchandise. It was almost the commercial center of the world, because the navy, the powerful navy, carried the goods from Tyre all over the Mediterranean. And they supplied all of the nations around the Mediterranean as far as England with all of the merchandise and the goods and so forth. And thus because of the commercial aspects was an extremely wealthy city. But it is interesting that God had a dislike for commercialism as such. People taking advantage of people. And in the book of Revelation, chapter 18, we find the judgment of God that is yet to come against the commercial system that has enslaved men's souls. How many people have become slaves to the whole commercial system. That is, most of your paycheck is going out on the various credit accounts and all, and you're really a slave in a sense. You're laboring to pay the commercial accounts. And so God speaks against commercialism in Revelation 18 , but also in the lamentation now against Tyre that is taken up by the prophet. And it is interesting and important for you that when you get a chance this week, you read Revelation 18:0 in the light of Ezekiel 27 . And you will find the very same things that God is saying against the commercial system of the last days that is being destroyed was said at the destruction of Tyre. In fact, there are similar parallel passages that are here in twenty-seven that are also found in Revelation, chapter 18. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ezekiel 26". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/ezekiel-26.html. 2014.
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