Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 26

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Verses 1-14


After the LORD has pronounced His judgments on the enemies east and south of Israel, He now turns to the north. There lies Tyre, in present-day Lebanon. The prophecy about Tyre is divided into three chapters. Each chapter shows a particular feature of the megalomania and pride of Tyre. The judgment deals with:
1. her joy at the breaking of Jerusalem (Ezekiel 26);
2. her haughtiness and self-indulgence (Ezekiel 27);
3. her wisdom and insight (Ezekiel 28).

We may wonder why Tyre is getting so much attention. The reason is that Tyre bears a great resemblance to the great Babylon, the great spiritual power (Ezekiel 27:1-Zephaniah :; Revelation 17:1-Job :; Revelation 18:1-Jeremiah :). Tyre refers to that great power. Following on from Babylon is Rome, also a trading city. Rome is the great successor to Tyre. Behind the king of Tyre we see the person of Satan himself (Ezekiel 28). We also see that person with the restored Roman Empire. With Tyre, prophetically, we are dealing with the great power of Satan in the end times, both religiously and politically and economically.

Judgment on Tyre

The prophecy about Tyre is dated (Ezekiel 26:1). This eleventh year is the year Jerusalem is taken by the Chaldeans, the year of the destruction of Jerusalem (2 Kings 25:2-Leviticus :). Over that destruction Tyre rejoices greatly (Ezekiel 26:2). She calls Jerusalem “the gateway of the peoples”. Jerusalem is a formidable trade competitor of Tyre, for Jerusalem controls the overland trade routes from Egypt and Arabia to Tyre.

Now that this obstacle has been removed, Tyre can make even greater profits. Tyre boasts that control of the trade routes that Jerusalem possessed has now passed to her. Tyre sees the full benefits coming her way. She will become full of all riches because Jerusalem has fallen. Here we see that love of money, which is a root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10), destroys the good relations of old (1 Kings 5:1). Love of money here even causes joy at the severance and destruction of a former friend.

A behavior like that of Tyre is hated by the LORD (Proverbs 17:5). Because Tyre is so full of selfishness and greed for money, the LORD will judge the city (Ezekiel 26:3). In four prophecies, four extremely detailed and accurate predictions follow. Each of these prophecies begins with the words “thus says the lord GOD” (Ezekiel 26:3-Joshua :; Ezekiel 26:7-2 Chronicles :Ezekiel 26:15-Job :; Ezekiel 26:19-Ecclesiastes :).

With the threatening words, “Behold, I am against you, O Tyre”, God predicts that He will bring up many nations against Tyre, as the sea brings up its waves. He compares the bringing up of these nations to a flood or a tsunami: the bringing up the waves of the sea. As God controls the waves of the sea, so He controls the nations. Those nations come this time not with peaceful intentions, to trade with Tyre, but to destroy her (Ezekiel 26:4). The protection of Tyre will be broken down and turned to dust. The proud mercantile city, built on a rock in the midst of the sea, teeming with people and boasting of its treasures, will become a barren rock where no one can live.

The only thing the rock in the midst of the sea can still serve for is to dry nets there (Ezekiel 26:5). So it will happen, for the LORD has spoken it. What wealth has been piled up there will be taken as spoil by the nations. Those who live on the mainland, the daughters who feast on the commercial prosperity obtained, will be killed with the sword (Ezekiel 26:6). Thus they will know that He is the LORD.

In the second prophecy, the LORD tells us who He is sending as enemies upon Tyre: the troops of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon (Ezekiel 26:7). This king with so much power that God calls him “the king of kings” (Daniel 2:37), is nothing but an instrument in His hand, one who can do nothing but carry out His will. This king will move against Tyre from the north with a huge fighting force. The first thing he will do is “slay your daughters on the mainland with the sword”. By the “daughters” is meant the cities and towns on the mainland that are near Tyre and dependent on her (Ezekiel 26:8). Then he will besiege Tyre with heavy artillery. After that siege, he will break through the defenses by force and tear down the watchtowers (Ezekiel 26:9).

The multitude of horses he has will raise so much dust that Tyre will be covered by it (Ezekiel 26:10). When Nebuchadnezzar storms into the gate of the city with thundering violence, the thumping of the horses’ hooves and chariots will make the walls tremble. The city will fall like an open city into the hands of the king of Babylon and his armies. When they are in the city, the streets will be broken up by the horses (Ezekiel 26:11). No passable road will remain. The inhabitants will be killed and every strength where people have holed up will come crashing down to the earth.

The accumulated wealth will be made a spoil and all the merchandise will be plundered (Ezekiel 26:12). Nothing of their treasures will remain for them. The walls they have built around their homes to protect their precious villas from burglars will be destroyed. Then their coveted abodes, of which they are so proud, will be razed to the ground. The debris will be dumped in the sea. That is the end of all their luxury.

This will also be the end of their songs, which they sing out (cf. Amos 5:23) and in which they praise how wonderfully they have prospered (Ezekiel 26:13). The harps with which they accompany their singing are silent, forever. God has put an end to their bellowing.

So the LORD will make Tyre a bare rock, where there is nothing left and no one lives (Ezekiel 26:14). The only thing left to do is to lay nets to dry. Never again will anything of Tyre rise up. Because the LORD has said so, it will be so.

Verses 15-21

Reaction to the Fall of Tyre

The third prophecy of the LORD deals with the reactions of the trading partners to the fall of Tyre (Ezekiel 26:15). The coastlands, that is, the islands in and the countries around the Mediterranean with which Tyre trades, will react with dismay to the news of the slaughter wrought in Tyre. The princes of the coastlands will mourn deeply (Ezekiel 26:16). It does make clear the extent of Tyre’s influence as a trading partner. These coastlands owe their prosperity to Tyre, and now they suddenly see that prosperity disappear.

They will express their selfish grief by singing a lamentation over Tyre (Ezekiel 26:17). In the song, they first give high praise of Tyre’s past fame, power, and wealth in order to make the contrast with the current situation all the more pronounced. The city that has disappeared from the everyday picture of the seas is famous. Many people have lived there. Its wealth has been its strength. Everyone in the area has been in awe of her. How totally different the situation is now (Ezekiel 26:18). The contrast with the past is enormous. The fall and ruin of the city have a shock effect on the coastlands. The sight is desolate. In similar terms, the New Testament describes the fall of Babylon (Revelation 18:15-Psalms :).

In the fourth and final prophecy, God tells us that He Himself determined the fate of Tyre (Ezekiel 26:19). The nations (Ezekiel 26:3) and Nebuchadnezzar (Ezekiel 26:7) are merely instruments in His hand. God will cover Tyre with water as through a flood and submerge the city under the flood. The waters which she sails with her proud ships, and which are the source of her wealth and prosperity, will become her ruin. God will add Tyre to the people and nations who have long been dead and whose bodies are buried in the pit (Ezekiel 26:20). They no longer play any role in the land of the living. Their souls “dwell in the lower parts of the earth”, the realm of the dead, in Hebrew sheol or in Greek hades, where they are united with all who have died in unbelief.

Tyre will be utterly destroyed (Ezekiel 26:21). The city will not recover from that destruction. Tyre will only live on in memory as a terrifying example. The time will never come when the city will again become a factor of importance in world society. Those who seek to rebuild and restore Tyre will not find any starting point for that. There will be nothing left of Tyre to be found. Thus “declares the Lord GOD”.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Ezekiel 26". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.