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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Ezekiel 26

 

 

Verse 1

And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

In Ezekiel 26:1-21, Ezekiel sets forth:

(1) Tyre's sin;

(2) Its doom;

(3) The instruments of executing it;

(4) The effect produced on other nations by her downfall. In Ezekiel 27:1-36, a lamentation over the fall of such earthly splendour. In Ezekiel 28:1-26, an elegy addressed to the king on the humiliation of his sacrilegious pride. Ezekiel, in his prophecies as to the pagan, exhibits the dark side only; because he views them simply in their hostility to the people of God, which shall outlive them all. Isaiah (Isaiah 23:1-18), on the other hand, at the close of judgments, holds out the prospect of blessing when Tyre should turn to the Lord.

In the eleventh year, in the first day of the month. The specification of the date, which had been omitted in the case of the four preceding objects of judgment, marks the greater weight attached to the fall of Tyre.

The eleventh year - namely, after the carrying away of Jehoiachin, the year of the fall of Jerusalem. The number of the month is, however, omitted, and the day only given. Since the month of the taking of Jerusalem was regarded as one of particular note-namely, the fourth month-also the fifth, on which it was actually destroyed (Jeremiah 52:6; Jeremiah 52:12-13), Rabbi-David reasonably supposes that Tyre uttered her taunt at the close of the fourth month, as her nearness to Jerusalem enabled her to hear of its fall very soon, and that Ezekiel met it with his threat against herself on "the first day" of the fifth month.


Verse 2

Son of man, because that Tyrus hath 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:

Tyrus - (Joshua 19:29, "the strong city of Tyre;" 2 Samuel 24:7) literally meaning 'the rock-city.' [ Tsor (Hebrew #6865)] - a name applying to the island-Tyre, called New Tyre, rather than Old Tyre on the mainland. They were half a mile apart. New Tyre, a century and a half before the fall of Jerusalem, had successfully resisted Shalmanneser of Assyria, for five years besieging it (Menander, from the Tyrian archives, quoted by Josephus, 'Antiquities,' 9: 14: 2:) It was the stronger and more important of the two cities, and is the one chiefly, though not exclusively, here meant. Tyre was originally a colony of Zidon. Nebuchadnezzar's siege of it lasted 13 years (Ezekiel 29:18; Isaiah 23:1.) Though no profane author mentions his having succeeded in the siege, Jerome states he read the fact in Assyrian histories. Aha!-exultation over a fallen rival (Ps. 25:21,25 ).

She is broken that was the gates of the people - i:e., the single gate, composed of two folding doors. Hence, the verb is singular. "Gates" were the place of resort for traffic and public business: so here it expresses a mart of commerce frequented by merchants. JERUSALEM was such a mart in relation to the inland traffic. Tyre regards Jerusalem not as an open enemy, for her territory being the narrow, long strip of land, north of Philistia, between mount Lebanon and the sea, her interest was to cultivate friendly relations with the Jews, on whom she was dependent for grain (Ezekiel 27:17, "Judah, and the land of Israel, they were thy merchants: they traded in thy market wheat," etc.; so Solomon supplied Hiram king of Tyre with "food for his household," 1 Kings 5:9; and "they of Tyre and Sidon came with one accord to Herod, and, having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king's country," Acts 12:20). But Jerusalem had intercepted some of the inland traffic, which she wished to monopolize to herself; so, in her intensely selfish worldly-mindedness, she exulted heartlessly over the fall of Jerusalem as her own gain. Hence, she incurred the wrath of God as preeminently the world's representative in its ambition, selfishness, and pride, in defiance of the will of God (Isaiah 23:9).

She is turned unto me - i:e., the mart of corn, wine, oil, balsam, etc., which she once was, is transferred to She is turned unto me - i:e., the mart of corn, wine, oil, balsam, etc., which she once was, is transferred to me. The caravans from Palmyra, Petra, and the East, will no longer be intercepted by the market ("the gates") of Jerusalem, but will come to me.


Verse 3-4

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.

I ... will cause many nations to come up against thee, as the sea causeth his waves to come up. In striking contrast to the boasting of Tyre, God threatens to bring against her Babylon's army, levied from "many nations," even as the Mediterranean waves that dashed against her rock-founded city on all sides.

I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock - or 'a bare rock' (Grotius). The soil which the Tyrians had brought together upon the rock on which they built their city I will scrape so clean away as to leave no dust, but only the bare rock as it was. An awful contrast to her expectation of filling herself with all the wealth of the East, now that Jerusalem has fallen.


Verse 5

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.

It shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea - plainly referring to New Tyre (Ezekiel 27:32).


Verse 6

And her daughters which are in the field shall be slain by the sword; and they shall know that I am the LORD.

Her daughters which are in the field shall be slain by the sword - i:e., the surrounding villages dependent on her in the open country shall share the fate of the mother-city.


Verse 7

For thus saith the Lord GOD Behold, I will bring upon Tyrus Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, a king of kings, from the north, with horses, and with chariots, and with horsemen, and companies, and much people.

I will bring upon Tyrus Nebuchadrezzar ... a king of kings, from the north - the original locality of the Chaldeans; also the direction by which they entered Palestine, taking the route of Riblah and Hamath on the Orontes, in preference to that across the desert between Babylon and Judea.

A king of kings - so called because of the many kings who owned allegiance to him (2 Kings 18:28). God had delegated to him the universal earth-empire, which is His as being "Lord of kings" (Daniel 2:47). The Son of God alone has the right and title inherently, being not merely "a king of kings," as was Nebuchadnezzar, but "the King of kings." He shall assume the kingdom when the world-kings shall have been fully proved as abusers of the trust (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:12-14; Revelation 19:15-16). Ezekiel's prophecy was not based on conjecture from the past, for Shalmaneser, with all the might of the Assyrian empire, had failed in his siege of Tyre. Yet Nebuchadnezzar was to succeed. Josephus tells us that Nebuchadnezzar began the siege in the seventh year of Ithobal's reign, king of Tyre.


Verse 8

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.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 9

And he shall set engines of war against thy walls, and with his axes he shall break down thy towers.

He shall set engines of war against thy walls - literally, 'an apparatus for striking.' 'He shall apply the stroke of the battering-ram against thy walls.' Havernick translates, 'His enginery of destruction;' literally, the 'destruction (not merely the stroke) of his enginery.'

With his axes - literally, swords.


Verse 10

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.

By reason of the abundance of his horses their dust shall cover thee - so thick shall be the "dust" stirred up by the immense numbers of "horses," that it shall "cover" the whole city as a cloud.

Thy walls shall shake at the noise of the horsemen ... and of the chariots. As in Ezekiel 26:3-5, New Tyre, on the insular rock in the sea (cf. Isaiah 23:2; Isaiah 23:4; Isaiah 23:6), is referred to; so here, in Ezekiel 26:9-11, Old Tyre on the mainland. Both are included in the prophecies under one name.

And of wheels. Fairbairn thinks here, and in Ezekiel 23:24, as "the wheels" are distinct from the "chariots," some wheelwork for riding on, or for the operations of the siege, are meant.


Verse 11

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.

And thy strong garrisons shall go down to the ground - literally, the statues of thy strength; so the forts which are 'monuments of thy strength' [ mats


Verse 12

And 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.

They shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the water - referring to the insular New Tyre (Ezekiel 26:3; Ezekiel 26:5; Ezekiel 27:4; Ezekiel 27:25-26). When its lofty building and towers fall, surrounded as it was with the sea, which entered its double harbour and washed its ramparts, the "stones ... timbers ... and dust" appropriately are described as thrown down "in the midst of the water." Though Ezekiel attributes the capture of Tyre to Nebuchadnezzar (note, Ezekiel 29:18), yet it does not follow that the final destruction of it described is attributed by him to the same monarch. The overthrow of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar was the first link in the long chain of evil-the first deadly blow which prepared for, and was the earnest of the final doom. The change in this verse from the individual conqueror, "he," to the general, "they," marks that what he did was not the whole, but only paved the way for others to complete the work begun by him. It was to be a progressive work until she was utterly destroyed. Thus, the words here answer exactly to what Alexander did. With the "stones, timber," and rubbish of Old Tyre he built a causeway in seven months to New Tyre on the island, and so took it (Quintus Curtius, 4: 2), 322 BC


Verse 13

And I will cause the noise of thy songs to cease; and the sound of thy harps shall be no more heard.

I will cause the noise of thy songs to cease - instead of the joyousness of thy prosperity, a death-like silence shall reign (Isaiah 24:8, "The mirth of tabrets ceaseth," etc.; Jeremiah 7:34).


Verse 14

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, saith the Lord GOD.

I will make thee like the top of a rock. He concludes in nearly the same words as he began (Ezekiel 26:4-5).

Thou shalt be built no more - fulfilled as to the mainland Tyre under Nebuchadnezzar. The insular Tyre recovered partly after 70 years (Isaiah 23:17-18), but again suffered under Alexander, then under Antigonus, then under the Saracens at the beginning of the 14th century A.D. Now its harbours are choked with sand, precluding all hope of future restoration: 'Not one entire house is left, and only a few fishermen take shelter in the vaults' (Maundrell). So accurately has God's word come to pass!


Verses 15-21

Thus saith the Lord GOD to Tyrus; Shall not the isles shake at the sound of thy fall, when the wounded cry, when the slaughter is made in the midst of thee?

Shall not the isles shake at the sound of thy fall? The impression is herein noticed which the overthrow of Tyre produced on other maritime nations and upon her own colonies, e.g., Utica, Carthage, and Tartessus or Tarshish in Spain.

The isles - maritime lands. Even mighty Carthage used to send a yearly offering to the temple of Hercules at Tyre; and the mother-city gave high priests to her colonies. Hence, the consternation at her fall felt in the widely-scattered dependencies, with which she was so closely connected by the ties of religion, as well as commercial contact.

Shake - metaphorically: be agitated (Jeremiah 49:21, "The earth is moved at the noise of their fall").

Verse 16. All the princes of the sea shall come down from their thrones ... they shall sit upon the ground - "The throne of the mourners" (Job 2:13; John 3:6). The "princes of the sea" are the merchant rulers of Carthage and other colonies of Tyre, who had made themselves rich and powerful by trading on the sea (Isaiah 23:8).

They shall clothe themselves with trembling - Hebrew, 'tremblings.' (Compare Ezekiel 7:27, "Clothed with desolation;" Psalms 132:18. In a public calamity the garment was changed for a mourning garb.)

Verse 17. How art thou destroyed that wast inhabited of seafaring men - i:e, which wast frequented by merchants of various sea-bordering lands (Grotius). Fairbairn translates [ nowshebet (Hebrew #3427) miyamiym (Hebrew #3220)], with Peshito, 'Thou inhabitant of the seas.' The Hebrew literally means either this, or else 'inhabited on account of the seas,'-namely, on account of the facilities afforded for traffic by the seas on which it was situated. Tyre rose as it were out of the seas, as if she got thence her inhabitants, being populated so closely down to the waters. So Venice was called 'the bride of the sea.'

Which wast strong in the sea - through her insular position.

She and her inhabitants, which cause their terror to be on all that haunt it! - namely, the sea. The Hebrew is rather, 'they put their terror upon all her (the city's) inhabitants' - i:e., they make the name of every Tyrian to be feared (Fairbairn).

Verse 18. The isles ... shall be troubled at thy departure - Isaiah 23:6; Isaiah 23:12, predicts that the Tyrians, in consequence of the siege, should pass over the Mediterranean to the lands bordering on it, ("Chittim," "Tarshish," etc.) So Ezekiel implies here. Accordingly Jerome says that he read in Assyrian histories that, 'when the Tyrians saw no hope of escaping, they fled to Carthage or some islands of the Ionian and AEgean seas' (Dr. Newton). (See the note at Ezekiel 29:18.) Grotius explains "departure," - i:e., 'in the day when hostages shall be carried away from thee to Babylon.' The parallelism to "thy fall" makes me think "departure" must mean 'thy end' in general, but with an included allusion to the "departure" of most of her people to her colonies at the fall of the city.

Verse 19. Great waters shall cover thee - appropriate metaphor of the Babylonian host, which literally, by breaking down insular Tyre's ramparts, caused the sea to "cover" part of her. Verse 20. When I shall bring thee down with them that descend into the pit. Tyre's disappearance is compared to that of the dead placed in their sepulchre and no more seen among the living (cf. Ezekiel 32:18; Ezekiel 32:23; Isaiah 14:11; Isaiah 14:15; Isaiah 14:19).

I shall set glory in the land of the living. In contrast to Tyre consigned to the "pit" of death, I shall set in Judah glory (i:e., my presence, symbolized by the Shekinah cloud of glory, the antitype to which shall be Messiah, "the glory as of the only begotten of the Father," John 1:14; Isaiah 4:2; Isaiah 4:5; Zechariah 6:13, "He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne, and He shall be a priest upon His throne").

Of the living - as opposed to Tyre consigned to the "pit" of death, Judea is to be the land of national and spiritual life, being restored after its captivity (Ezekiel 47:9, "They shall be healed; and every thing shall live where the river cometh"). Fairbairn loses the antithesis by applying the negative to both clauses, 'and that thou be not set as a glory in the land of the living.'

Verse 21. I will make thee a terror - an example of judgment, calculated to terrify all evil-doers. What a contrast to the time when "she caused her terror to be on all that haunt the sea"! (Ezekiel 26:17.)

Thou shalt be no more - not that presently there was to be no more a Tyre, but she was no more to be the Tyre that once she was: her glory and name were to be no more. As to Old Tyre the prophecy was literally fulfilled, not a vestige of it being left.

Remarks:

(1) The sin of commercial nations, such as Tyre was anciently and England is in our days, is not merely the frauds practiced by some, or even many, but mainly the spirit of selfishness and worldliness which is almost universal in such communities. Thus, in the instance of Tyre, while she had maintained friendly relations with Judah and Jerusalem, as suited her interest, in the time of their prosperity, yet when their calamity came she rejoiced over their fall, as that of a rival in respect to the commerce of the East. Jerusalem had intercepted some of the inland traffic which she wished to monopolize wholly to herself, and therefore, with the intense selfishness which characterizes the worldly mind, she heartlessly exulted over Jerusalem's misery as her own gain. Though men may, like Tyre, do their fellow-men no direct injury, yet if they are secretly glad at the downfall of others, and especially of the people of God, they incur grievous guilt. To cherish a feeling of pleasure at the misfortunes or death of a rival, or of any one by whose fall we think to rise or be gainers, is not an uncommon feeling, and is but little censured in the world. But in the eyes of God it is a very serious provocation of His displeasure; because it is of the essence of the pride, selfishness, and love of the world as our portion, which the love of God is utterly incompatible with. Therefore, Tyre is made an awful example of, as being the embodiment of the self-seeking ambition and covetousness of the world which God abhors.

(2) The Lord hath said, "He that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished" (Proverbs 17:5). Impregnable as New Tyre seemed to herself, being surrounded by the sea and founded a rock, she nevertheless fell before the "many nations" which the Lord "caused to come up against her" as the waves that washed her ramparts (Ezekiel 26:3). Since God was "against her" (Ezekiel 26:3), what defense could avail for her? She had thought to scrape all the wealth of the East together through the fall of Jerusalem; but God was about to dismantle her of everything. yea, even to scrape her very dust from her, and leave the rock on which she was built in its primitive nakedness (Ezekiel 26:4). Many of the maxims and ways of the trading world are against the laws of God; therefore God is also against them. Let us beware of the love of gain and a selfish regard to our worldly interest, which harden the heart and blind the conscience and moral perceptions, and at last destroy the soul interest, which harden the heart and blind the conscience and moral perceptions, and at last destroy the soul forever.

(3) When Ezekiel uttered his prophecy, nothing seemed more improbable than that Tyre should fall; because she had some time before withstood Shalmaneser and the powerful armies of Assyria, and there was every human reason to think she would similarly withstand Nebuchadnezzar and the forces of Babylon. But God had revealed to the prophet His decree which delegated the universal world-empire under God to the Babylonian king as "a king of kings" (Ezekiel 26:7). No defense of Tyre, therefore, should avail against Nebuchadnezzar. Her "riches," in which she trusted, should be the very cause of her fall, by tempting his cupidity. Her "merchandise," the pursuit of which had led her to exult over the fall of Jerusalem as that of a rival, should be "a spoil" and "a prey." Her pleasant houses should be laid, "stones, timber, and dust, in the midst of the water" (Ezekiel 26:12). Her music and mirth should cease; and the site of her palaces should become "a place to spread nets upon" (Ezekiel 26:14). By a series of successive overthrows in different ages all this has exactly come to pass. Hence, let us learn that no word of the Lord shall ever fail, however unlikely the event may seem to man. Every fresh fulfillment of Scripture prophecy should confirm our faith. Let us avoid the sins of Tyre, that we may escape her punishment.

(4) The fall of Tyre spread consternation among her dependencies far and near, which had been connected with the mother-country by the ties of commerce and a common idolatry, as Tartessus, Utica, and Carthage. All earthly greatness is passing away; and all whose sole or chief portion is the world she ere long, like Tyre's "princes of the sea," come down from their eminence to the ground, and instead of robes of state "shall clothe themselves with trembling" (Ezekiel 26:16). The ties which combine earthly potentates, nations, and families shall soon be snapped asunder. Let us see that we as united with the family of God by the tie of faith and love, which shall never be dissolved.

(5) Tyre, once so strong that she "caused her terror to be on all that haunt the sea" (Ezekiel 26:17), was made to become "a terror" herself, to warn all of the evil consequences of her sins (Ezekiel 26:21). Brought down to the pit of destruction (Ezekiel 26:20), she teaches us how little cause we have for glorying in gain and riches, which cost anxiety in the getting and the keeping, and which excite the envy and cupidity of others, and often are the sources of sin and sorrow to the possessor.

(6) In contrast to Tyre's transitory glory, and her very existence brought to a perpetual death, stands Yahweh's promise, "I shall set glory in the land of the living" (Ezekiel 26:20). Judah, restored hereafter to political and religious life in her own land, shall have Yahweh as "a wall of fire round about, and the glory in the midst of her" (Zechariah 2:5). That this blessed consummation may soon come to pass, should be our constant prayer, while we for ourselves are careful that, by a living faith in Him who is the brightness of the Father's glory, we may be numbered among the saints in glory everlasting!

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ezekiel 26:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/ezekiel-26.html. 1871-8.

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