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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Ezekiel 27

The LORD is not yet finished with Tyre. As a result of the pride and complacency of Tyre and the fall that follows, Ezekiel is to take up a lamentation over Tyre. This lamentation is followed up in Ezekiel 28 with the lamentation over the king of Tyre.

Verses 1-3

The Haughtiness of Tyre

The word of the LORD comes to Ezekiel (Eze 27:1). He is commanded to take up a lamentation over Tyre (Eze 27:2). That instead of a jubilation a lamentation over the fall of Tyre is to be heard shows that God is not pleased with the death of the sinner. Ezekiel is to tell Tyre what the occasion for this lamentation is (Eze 27:3). First He mentions the place of settlement and then her occupations. Her place is very strategic and her occupations are in keeping with it. Tyre is the center of world trade in those days.

The location and occupations of Tyre serve only one thing and that is the honor and glory of Tyre herself. Full of haughtiness, she beats her breast and boasts of being “perfect in beauty” (cf. Eze 27:3; 4; 11; Eze 28:7; 12; 17). She moderates attributes that God bestows on Jerusalem (Psa 48:1-2; Psa 50:2; Eze 16:14). Where bystanders say of Jerusalem that she is “the perfection of beauty” (Lam 2:15), Tyre says this about herself. Therefore, God must judge Tyre, for “God is opposed to the proud” (Jam 4:6).

Verses 4-11

Description of the Ship

In these verses, the LORD describes the wealth of Tyre in a parable. He compares Tyre and her development to a beautifully rigged, luxurious ship sailing on the high seas with the wind full in its sails. This picture fits well with the city built on a rocky island. No expense was spared in building the ship to make her “beauty perfect” (Eze 27:4). It is a beautiful ship. However, there is a fatal lack: the LORD is not on board. That is why it suffers shipwreck, despite all the solid and beautiful materials and all the skilled helmsmen and ‘maintenance technicians’.

The wood for the floors comes from cypress trees from Senir (Eze 27:5). The masts are made of cedar from Lebanon. Cedar wood was used by King Solomon for paneling the inner walls of the temple and for the construction of his own house (1Kgs 6:15; 1Kgs 7:2). All building materials are chosen and used with care. Oak wood from Bashan is used for the oars, while ivory is used for the planks, which are inlaid with cypress wood from the coastlands of Cyprus (Eze 27:6).

The famous Egyptian linen is used for the sails (Eze 27:7). That colorfully embroidered fine linen is normally used for costly clothing. It makes the sails a banner, a gracefully flapping flag, which increases the distinguishedness of the ship. The deck tents or staterooms, the sleeping quarters for the common sailor, are also furnished with the most magnificent fabrics from the coastal lands of Elishah.

The rowers were also recruited with care (Eze 27:8). The people of Sidon and Arvad are known at this time as excellent pilots. The pilots are men who sail the seas with wisdom. They know the best sailing routes like no other. Even the maintenance department on board consists of experienced and skilled people (Eze 27:9). If there is a leak, they know how to plug it immediately and adequately. All the ships and their crews are eager to come alongside and trade with the flagship Tyre. To protect its flourishing trade and prosperity, Tyre also employs soldiers (Eze 27:10-11). By doing so, they believe they can ensure their perfect beauty.

Verses 12-25

The Trade Relations

These verses give an impressive list of countries and cities with which Tyre had trade relations. It shows the enormous influence of Tyre in a wide area. In the middle of that list are also Judah and Israel (Eze 27:17). The merchandise consists of every possible commodity from which something can be earned, such as food, spices, fabrics, (precious) metals, animals and even people (cf. Rev 18:3).

Trading as an occupation or profession is not wrong. The Lord Jesus exhorts us to do business with our means (Lk 19:12-13). This is true in both material and spiritual terms. For us, it is about not to store up for ourselves “treasures on earth” but “treasures in heaven” (Mt 6:19-20).

The whole impressive exhibition of luxury and prosperity in the above verses seems to indicate that nothing can disturb Tyre’s happiness. Her prosperity can only get more and better. However, Tyre will experience how foolish it is to rely on the uncertainty of wealth (1Tim 6:17a). We also see this foolishness in the world, where high stakes are placed on economic growth. The pursuit of more will be punished mercilessly one day.

We see in the detailed listing of trade activities that God knows all the ways and all the actions of Tyre. He knows where she has been and what she has done there. In the enumeration, He holds up to Tyre that He has seen everything and also that she has done everything purely for her own sake and with an attitude as if she were God. Thus God will confront each person with his actions and with his mind and judge him accordingly (Rev 20:12).

Verses 26-36

The Shipwreck

In these verses the LORD also uses the picture of the ship for Tyre to represent judgment on her. The downfall of Tyre is represented by a shipwreck caused by an east wind (Eze 27:26). The east wind is a picture of Nebuchadnezzar coming to destroy Tyre. The contrast in this verse is striking. The first part describes the actions of man, to what the rowers of Tyre were capable of. In the second part, we see God’s hand coming on Tyre in judgment that strikes her right in the heart of her pride.

Because of the shipwreck, the ship and its entire cargo will perish (Eze 27:27). There will be desperation among all those who labored on the ship for the prosperity of Tyre (Eze 27:28-34). There will be dismay among all who traded with her (Eze 27:35), while the competitors will show their disgust with gloating (Eze 27:36).

The wise men of Tyre (Eze 27:8) who steered the ship were unable to prevent the shipwreck. Only God can give wisdom to go through this life without suffering shipwreck. In a spiritual sense, Christians can suffer shipwreck concerning their faith if they reject a good conscience (1Tim 1:19; Acts 24:16).

Faith will suffer shipwreck if material prosperity takes hold of us and we silence our conscience. Economic growth is also today the highest goal in the lives of countless people. This leads to a life of independence from God, which is essentially pride. And “pride [goes] before destruction” (Pro 16:18).

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Ezekiel 27". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.