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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 26

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Ezekiel 26:0


Oracles Against the Nations(vv. Ezekiel 25:1-32)
Oracles Against Tyre(vv. Ezekiel 26:1-19)
Judgment On TyreProclamation Against TyreTyre To Be Destroyed by NebuchadnezzarProphecy Against TyreAgainst Tyre
Ezekiel 26:1-6Ezekiel 26:1-14Ezekiel 26:1-6Ezekiel 26:1-2Ezekiel 26:1
(vv. Ezekiel 26:2-6)Ezekiel 26:2-6
Ezekiel 26:3-6
Ezekiel 26:7-14Ezekiel 26:7-14Ezekiel 26:7-14Ezekiel 26:7
(vv. Ezekiel 26:8-14)Ezekiel 26:8-14
(vv. Ezekiel 26:8-14)
Lament Over Tyre
Ezekiel 26:15-18Ezekiel 26:15-18Ezekiel 26:15-18Ezekiel 26:15-18Ezekiel 26:15-16
Ezekiel 26:17-18
(vv. Ezekiel 26:17-18)(vv. Ezekiel 26:17-18)(vv. Ezekiel 26:17-18)(vv. Ezekiel 26:17-18)
Ezekiel 26:19-21Ezekiel 26:19-21Ezekiel 26:19-21Ezekiel 26:19-21Ezekiel 26:19-21

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the four modern translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

Verses 1-6

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 26:1-6 1Now in the eleventh year, on the first of the month, the word of the LORD came to me saying, 2”Son of man, because Tyre has said concerning Jerusalem, 'Aha, the gateway of the peoples is broken; it has opened to me. I shall be filled, now that she is laid waste,' 3therefore thus says the Lord GOD, 'Behold, I am against you, O Tyre, and I will bring up many nations against you, as the sea brings up its waves. 4They will destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her towers; and I will scrape her debris from her and make her a bare rock. 5She will be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea, for I have spoken,' declares the Lord GOD, 'and she will become spoil for the nations. 6Also her daughters who are on the mainland will be slain by the sword, and they will know that I am the LORD.'“

Ezekiel 26:1 Ezekiel dates his prophecies (cf. Ezekiel 1:1; Ezekiel 8:1; Ezekiel 20:1; Ezekiel 26:1; Ezekiel 29:1, Ezekiel 29:17; Ezekiel 30:20; Ezekiel 31:1; Ezekiel 32:1, Ezekiel 32:17; Ezekiel 33:21). Surprisingly, the month is not named here. His book is not in chronological sequence, which implies an editor. It must be admitted that moderns do not know how or when the OT was written and edited in its current form.

Ezekiel 26:1 through 28:19 forms a literary unit denoting Phoenicia's judgment and total destruction. See note at Ezekiel 26:11! The subdivisions are identified by the literary marker “the word of the LORD came to me saying” (cf. Ezekiel 26:1; Ezekiel 27:1; Ezekiel 28:1, Ezekiel 28:11).

Ezekiel 26:2 “I shall be filled” This VERB (BDB 569, KB 583, Niphal COHORTATIVE) expresses the joy of the Phoenicians at the demise of Judah (“she is laid waste,” BDB 351, KB 349, Hophal PERFECT, implying it was permanent).

“because Tyre has said” Chapters 26-28 form a literary unit of judgment (a funeral dirge, cf. Ezekiel 19:1-14; Ezekiel 26:17-18; Ezekiel 27:2-9, Ezekiel 27:25-36; Ezekiel 28:12-19; Ezekiel 32:2-8) against the Phoenician maritime nations of Tyre and Sidon (cf. Isaiah 24:0; Jeremiah 47:4).

“Aha, the gateway to the peoples is broken” Jerusalem is located on a major international highway between the powerful nation of Egypt and the powerful nations of Syria, Anatolia, and Mesopotamia. Because of her strategic location, Judah charged a tax on all of the caravans who passed this way. Tyre, also a commercial center, was glad that one more middleman was eliminated.

Ezekiel 26:3 These nations who gloated over Judah's fall were judged by YHWH (e.g., Micah 4:11).

“as the sea brings up its waves” This is a play on the fact that Tyre was an island fortress. Most of the city was located on the mainland, but the citadel was located on a rocky island about one-quarter mile off shore. During ancient times it proved to be one of the most impregnable fortresses in the Near East.

Ezekiel 26:4 This is another reference to the island fortress (cf. Ezekiel 26:17). The city was finally captured by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C.

Ezekiel 26:5 This curse is repeated in Ezekiel 26:14. There were two types of fishing nets used.

1. casting nets, Ezekiel 12:13; Ezekiel 32:3

2. dragnets, Ezekiel 26:5, Ezekiel 26:14; Ezekiel 47:10

Ezekiel 26:6 “her daughters who are on the mainland” This refers to the part of the city which surrounded the harbor. Only the walled citadel was on the island. It was the walls of the houses and buildings that Alexander used to build a causeway to the islands (cf. Ezekiel 26:12).

Verses 7-14

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 26:7-14 7For thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will bring upon Tyre from the north Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses, chariots, cavalry and a great army. 8He will slay your daughters on the mainland with the sword; and he will make siege walls against you, cast up a ramp against you and raise up a large shield against you. 9The blow of his battering rams he will direct against your walls, and with his axes he will break down your towers. 10Because of the multitude of his horses, the dust raised by them will cover you; your walls will shake at the noise of cavalry and wagons and chariots when he enters your gates as men enter a city that is breached. 11With the hoofs of his horses he will trample all your streets. He will slay your people with the sword; and your strong pillars will come down to the ground. 12Also they will make a spoil of your riches and a prey of your merchandise, break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses, and throw your stones and your timbers and your debris into the water. 13So I will silence the sound of your songs, and the sound of your harps will be heard no more. 14I will make you a bare rock; you will be a place for the spreading of nets. You will be built no more, for I the LORD have spoken,” declares the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 26:7 “from the north” This compass direction became a proverb (e.g., Jeremiah 4:6; Jeremiah 6:1, Jeremiah 6:22; Jeremiah 10:22; Jeremiah 13:20; Jeremiah 15:12; Jeremiah 46:20, Jeremiah 46:24) for evil because this was the only land route for invasion from the Fertile Crescent (i.e., Assyria in Isaiah 14:31; Babylon in Jeremiah 1:13-15).

“Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon” The name is spelled differently (BDB 613) here than in most places in the OT (Nebuchadrezzar). There is an “r” instead of an “n” in the closing part of the name. This seems to relate to the Babylonian's spelling of this king's name “Nabu-kudurri-usur,” which means “Nabu, protect my boundaries” or “Nabo, protect my lands.” See Special Topic: Kings of Mesopotamia

“kings of kings” This title reflects the conquests of the Neo-Babylon Empire under Nebuchadnezzar II (cf. Jeremiah 27:6-7; Daniel 2:37). It was also later used of Artaxerxes, the Persian king in Ezra 7:12. It came to be a title for the Messiah (cf. 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:16). A similar title was used of YHWH in Deuteronomy 10:17 and I Enoch 9:4. It is a phrase that emphasizes sovereignty!

“a great army” The Babylonian army grew by including the defeated armies into their ranks as mercenaries.

Ezekiel 26:8 “siege walls against you, cast up a mound” This may refer to two separate siege tactics or just to one (cf. 2 Samuel 20:15; 2 Kings 19:32; Isaiah 37:33; Jeremiah 6:6; Ezekiel 4:2; Ezekiel 17:17; Ezekiel 21:22; Ezekiel 26:8). These ramps allowed soldiers and siege machines (i.e., battering ram, BDB 867) to approach the stone walls of a city in order to loosen the stones and cause the wall to fall.

“raise up a large shield against you” This is a technical term (BDB 857, cf. 1 Kings 10:16) for what was known as “the roof,” which was raised as a shield to protect the attacking soldiers from being pelted by stones from the walls of citadels. We know that Nebuchadnezzar began this siege in 587 B.C., and it lasted until 574 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar never defeated the main citadel (cf. Ezekiel 29:18), but it apparently surrendered. There is no record of the city's capture in the Babylonian chronicles.

Ezekiel 26:9 Nebuchadnezzar's siege machines never reached the island citadel of Tyre, but Alexander's did in 332 B.C.

“blow of his battering rams” This is a rare term (BDB 562 II). In Numbers 34:11 it is translated “border” (KB 568 or “to run along beside”), but that meaning does not fit this text in Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 26:11-12 There is a switch from the PRONOUN “he” (Ezekiel 26:11) to “they” (Ezekiel 26:12) in these verses. Some have assumed a theological significance that this refers to subsequent besiegers of Tyre, like Alexander the Great, to whom the city fell in 332 B.C. See Gleason L. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, pp. 276-278.

Ezekiel 26:11 Some would read these words and assert that the Bible is in error at this point. We must remember that prophecy is hyperbolic literary genre. One book that has really helped me in my understanding of both prophecy and apocalyptic literature is D. Brent Sandy, Plowshares and Pruning Hooks: Rethinking the Language of Biblical Prophecy and Apocalyptic.

“your strong pillars” From the historian, Heroditus (II. 44), we understand there were two famous obelisks in the city of Tyre. One was gold and the other was emerald and they were dedicated to the god Melqart (“King of the City”), probably the Ba'al brought into Israel by Jezebel (cf. 1 Kings 16:21-32).

Ezekiel 26:13 This is an idiomatic way of asserting their society will cease (i.e., Isaiah 23:16; Isaiah 24:8, Isaiah 24:9). Tyre may have been renowned for her musicians (cf. Isaiah 23:16).

Ezekiel 26:14 “a place for the spreading of nets” The citadel will be so completely destroyed that all it will be good for is drying fishermen's nets (cf. Ezekiel 26:5). This was historically fulfilled in Alexander's conquest.

Verses 15-18

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 26:15-18 15Thus says the Lord GOD to Tyre, “Shall not the coastlands shake at the sound of your fall when the wounded groan, when the slaughter occurs in your midst? 16Then all the princes of the sea will go down from their thrones, remove their robes and strip off their embroidered garments. They will clothe themselves with trembling; they will sit on the ground, tremble every moment and be appalled at you. 17They will take up a lamentation over you and say to you, 'How you have perished, O inhabited one, From the seas, O renowned city, Which was mighty on the sea, She and her inhabitants, Who imposed her terror On all her inhabitants! 18Now the coastlands will tremble On the day of your fall; Yes, the coastlands which are by the sea Will be terrified at your passing.'“

Ezekiel 26:15 “groan” This VERB (BDB 60, KB 72) occurs three times in Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 1:9:4, those who sigh and groan over Judah's sins

2. 24:17, Ezekiel groans quietly over the death of his wife

Ezekiel 3:26:15, the dying of Tyre groan loudly at their approaching death (cf. Job 24:12; Jeremiah 51:52; Ezekiel 30:24). It occurs only one other time in the OT, Jeremiah 51:52. The NOUN (BDB 60) occurs in Psalms 12:5; Psalms 79:11; Psalms 102:20; Malachi 2:13.

Ezekiel 26:16 “they will sit on the ground” This is a sign of mourning (e.g., Lamentations 2:10, esp. for a king, cf. Isaiah 47:1). See Special Topic: Grieving Rites.

“trembling. . .tremble” This term (BDB 353, KB 350) denotes great fear. It is used twice (VERB and NOUN) in this verse. The ones trembling are the colonies which the Phoenicians had started all around the Mediterranean. These outposts of Phoenician culture were dependant on Tyre.

“be appalled at you” This VERB (BDB 1030, KB 1563, Qal PERFECT) denotes astonishment at YHWH's judgment (cf. Leviticus 26:32; Job 17:8; Isaiah 52:14; Jeremiah 50:13; Ezekiel 26:16; Ezekiel 27:35; Ezekiel 28:19; Ezekiel 32:10; Daniel 8:27). This fear at the fall of a powerful commercial nation is used in Revelation 18:0.

Ezekiel 26:17-18 This is a lamentation (BDB 884, cf. Ezekiel 2:10; Ezekiel 19:1, Ezekiel 19:14; Ezekiel 27:2, Ezekiel 27:32; Ezekiel 32:2, Ezekiel 32:16) in poetic form.

Ezekiel 26:17

NASB, NKJV, PESHITTA“O inhabited one” LXX, NRSV, NJB“vanished”

The MT reflects option 1 (נושבת). The second option is from the Septuagint and involves an emendation (נשבת). The UBS Hebrew OT Text Project gives option 1 a “B” rating (some doubt).

Verses 19-21

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Ezekiel 26:19-21 19For thus says the Lord GOD, “When I make you a desolate city, like the cities which are not inhabited, when I bring up the deep over you and the great waters cover you, 20then I will bring you down with those who go down to the pit, to the people of old, and I will make you dwell in the lower parts of the earth, like the ancient waste places, with those who go down to the pit, so that you will not be inhabited; but I will set glory in the land of the living. 21I will bring terrors on you and you will be no more; though you will be sought, you will never be found again,” declares the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 26:19 “the deep over you and the great waters” This refers to the chaotic waters of creation (cf. Genesis 1:2, Genesis 1:6-7, Genesis 1:9-10), which became known as Sheol or the holding place of the dead (i.e., “the pit,” Ezekiel 26:20; Ezekiel 31:16; Psalms 28:1; Psalms 30:3; Psalms 40:2; Psalms 88:4; Psalms 143:7; Proverbs 1:12; Isaiah 14:15; Isaiah 38:18). See Special Topic at Ezekiel 3:18.

“The deep” is the Hebrew term tehom (BDB 1062 #3, KB 1690-91). A similar, but different, Hebrew root is personified as Tiamat in the Sumerian and Babylonian creation myths as the monster of chaos and the mother of the gods, wife of Apsu. She tried to kill all lesser gods that came forth from her. Marduk killed her. Out of her body Marduk fashioned heaven and earth in the Babylonian Genesis account called Enuma Elish. The Hebrews believed that water was the beginning element of creation (cf. Psalms 24:1; Psalms 104:6; 2 Peter 3:5). It is never said to have been created. However, the Hebrew term is masculine, not feminine and it is unrelated etymologically to Tiamat. See Special Topic: Ancient Near East Creation and Flood Myths

There are passages in the OT which describe YHWH in conflict with personified watery chaos (cf. Psalms 74:13-14; Psalms 89:9-10; Psalms 104:6-7; Isaiah 51:9-10). However, these are always in poetical, metaphorical passages. Water is a crucial aspect of creation (cf. Ezekiel 1:2b, Ezekiel 1:6-7), but its creation is never mentioned.

Ezekiel 26:20 “I shall bring you down with those who go down to the pit” This refers to Sheol, the holding place of the dead until judgment day. The rabbis speculated that it was divided into two sectionsthe righteous dead and the wicked dead. See Special Topic: The Dead, Where Are They? (Sheol/Hades, Gehenna, Tartarus).

This three-level worldview (earth for the living, below the earth for the dead, and heaven above, e.g., Psalms 139:8; Amos 9:2) was based on the burial practice of the Jews. The dead were buried, so they were in the ground (cf. Ezekiel 31:14, Ezekiel 31:16, Ezekiel 31:18; Ezekiel 32:18, Ezekiel 32:24). Smoke from the sacrifices and incense altars rose to God so heaven was up. This is metaphorical, not literal (e.g., Isaiah 14:9-10). In reality Scripture reveals very little about the afterlife (heaven or hell), but focuses on choices, actions, and consequences of current reality!

NASB, NKJV“I shall set glory in the land of the living” NRSV“or have a place in the land of the living” TEV“and take your place in the land of the living” NJB“or be restored to the land of the land of the living” LXX“nor rise (or stand) upon a land of life” PESHITTA“and I will not cause your resurrection in the land of the living” REB“or take your place in the land of the living”

The MT has “and I will give beauty (BDB 840) in the land of the living,” which does not make sense in this context, unless it is a statement of pride, like Ezekiel 28:2, Ezekiel 28:12. So, most modern English translations follow the Septuagint. The Syrian (Aramaic) text relates the phrase to Judah's restoration.

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Ezekiel 26". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/ezekiel-26.html. 2021.
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