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Bible Commentaries

The Biblical Illustrator

Ezekiel 26

 

 

Verses 1-21

Verses 7-14

Ezekiel 26:7-14

Behold, I will bring upon Tyrus Nebuchadrezzar King of Babylon.

The prophecy against Tyre

I. What were the grounds of her judgment. She was judged for her sins.

1. She abused the privilege of civilisation. Tyre was the most cultivated state of antiquity, invented letters, weights and measures, money, arithmetic, the art of keeping accounts. She made her painting and sculpture and architecture and music and letters, all her skill and learning and refinement, instruments of corruption.

2. Tyre abused also the privilege of commerce. The Tyrians were a nation of merchants. But there are two classes of merchants. There are those who aim to develop new countries, to introduce new crops and arts and industries, to elevate races, to make commerce the servant of God. There are others who make everything bend to gain. A prince or an entire people may thus abuse the privilege of commerce. So Tyre abused her privilege.

3. She abused the privilege of her intimate connection with the Jewish people. In the enjoyment of this distinction she stood alone. Tyre was a bulwark of Israel, covering Zion as the wing of the cherub covered the altar. In the unscrupulousness of her lust of empire and gain she broke the “brotherly covenant,” and when Jerusalem fell she rejoiced in her overthrow. To her unscrupulousness nothing was too sacred to be turned to profit.

II. The delay of the judgment. The method of God, sometimes, is swift retribution, as with Sodom and Gomorrah, sometimes slow, as with Tyre. She was long in filling her measure of guilt. Over two hundred years before the siege of Nebuchadnezzar, Joel prophesied against her. A few years later Amos took up the prophecy, then Isaiah in 712 B.C., Ezekiel in 590, Zechariah in 487. Yet the judgment delayed. She suffered calamities, but always rose above them. The prophecies were not literally fulfilled. The Christian era came in. Tyre still stood; Shalmaneser had besieged it; Nebuchadnezzar had invested it by sea and land for thirteen years, and conquered it; Alexander the Great, in 332 B.C., after a frightful siege of six months, had stormed, captured, and destroyed it, massacring thousands of its inhabitants, and selling thirty thousand into slavery. But after each disaster it had arisen anew, In the days of Jerome, in the fifth century, it was still standing, e city powerful and opulent. It was still flourishing eight hundred years later, in the times of the Crusades. It was the seat of a Christian bishopric. It had stood over twenty-five hundred years. The prophecies against it were nearly two thousand years old. Was the Bible, then, which had proved true in prophecies against Egypt and Nineveh, and Edom and Judah, to be found at fault here?

III. The literal fulfilment of judgment. In the year 1291 the Sultan of Egypt laid siege to the strong city of Ptolemais or Acre. Terror spread through the crusaders’ kingdom. Tyre shared it. Capture meant massacre and slavery. Ptolemais fell on the very day on which the evil news reached Tyre. At vespers the people in mass forsook their city. In panic and haste they embarked upon their galleys, and went out never to return. The Mahometan came. He overthrew the city. He choked one of the matchless harbours with the ruins. He cast into the sea, statues and columns and the huge stones of warehouses and palaces. He set the last fire to her splendour. He scraped the rock. Standing amid the ruins we may see the dust and ashes of her conflagration, the broken marble columns beneath the sea and scattered upon the shore, the fishers’ nets spread upon the rock, and feel, with every traveller who thus stands, that the last prophecy concerning her must also prove true, “That shalt be built no more.”

1. The fate of Tyre is a warning to those engaged in traffic. Beware of the iniquity of traffic, of the pride, the luxury, the unscrupulousness, the atheism.

2. The fate of Tyre exalts the Word of God. If we look upon its ruins simply as a record of fulfilled prophecy, they force the conviction, This is the accomplishment of the Word of God, the one thing on earth amid the vast mutations of time, as passes unceasingly the glory of the world, which is unchangeable. (Sermons by Monday Club.)


Verse 12

Ezekiel 26:12

And they shall make a spoil of thy riches.

Spoliation of treasure is a moral gain

Scholars and artists have mourned for ages over the almost universal destruction of the works of ancient genius. I suppose that many a second-rate city, in the time of Christ, possessed a collection of works of surpassing beauty, which could not be equalled by all the specimens now existing that have been discovered. The Alexandrian library is believed to have contained a greater treasure of intellectual riches than has ever since been hoarded in a single city. These, we know, have all vanished from the earth. The Apollo Belvidere and the Venus de Medicis stand in almost solitary grandeur to remind us of the perfection to which the plastic art of the ancients had attained. The Alexandrian library furnished fuel for years for the baths of illiterate Moslems. I used myself frequently to wonder why it had pleased God to blot out of existence these magnificent productions of ancient genres It seemed to me strange that the pail of oblivion should thus be thrown over all to which man, in the flower of his age, had given birth. But the solution of this mystery is found, I think, in the remains of Herculaneum and Pompeii. We discover that every work of man was so penetrated by corruption, every production of genius was so defiled with uncleanness, that God, in introducing a better dispensation, determined to cleanse the world from the pollution of preceding ages. As when all flesh had corrupted his way, He purified the world by the waters of the flood, so, when genius had covered the earth with images of sin, He overwhelmed the works of ancient civilisation with a deluge of barbarism. It was too bad to exist: and He swept it all away. (F. Wayland.)


Verse 13

Ezekiel 26:13

And I will cause the noise of thy songs to cease.

Sin silencing song

The classics tell of a lake called Avernus, which means “birdless.” A poisonous vapour arises from its foul waters. Birds attempting to fly across it fall stupefied into its bosom. The eagle’s wing becomes powerless, and gradually the proud bird sinks down, until its lifeless body floats upon the dark waters. The nightingale loses by degrees her power of song, and at length the sweet singer falls trembling into the waves of death. This may be a fiction; it is nevertheless a picture of life. There is a lake of sinful pleasure lying along our path. Heedless of it, many spread their wings of strength and beauty upon its outer shore. They think to go a little beyond its margin, and then return. But the spell is on them. Before they are aware the wing has lost its strength and the voice its charm. The momentum gained bears them onward and down until they sink in the dark and fatal flood. (Monday Club Sermons )


Verse 15

Ezekiel 26:15

Shall not the isles shake at the sound of thy fall?

Tyre’s fall awakens alarm in others

As when a great merchant breaks, all that he deals with are shocked by it, and begin to look about them. Or when they see one fail and become bankrupt, of a sudden, in debt a great deal more than he is worth, it makes them afraid for themselves, lest they should do so too. Thus the isles, which thought themselves safe in the embraces of the sea, when they see Tyrus fall, shall tremble and be troubled, saying, What will become of us?” And it is well, if they make this use of it, to take warning by it not to be secure, but to stand in awe of God and His judgments. (M. Henry.)


Verse 21

Ezekiel 26:21

I will make thee a terror, and thou shalt be no more.

The humiliation of Tyre

All prophecy is moral, is based on moral considerations. What the prophet aims his threats against is not the prosperity of Tyre, but its pride of heart, which was rebellion against Jehovah--God over all. The humiliation of Tyre was morally as good as its ruins, in so far as it showed that there were higher forces in the world than itself. (A. B. Davidson.)
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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Ezekiel 26:4". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/ezekiel-26.html. 1905-1909. New York.

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