Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 26

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

Verses 1-21

THE FALL OF TYRE. (Chap. 26)

EXEGETICAL NOTES.—“In four sections, commencing with the formula, ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ Tyre, the mistress of the sea is threatened with destruction. In the first strophe (Ezekiel 26:2-6) there is a general threat of its destruction by a host of nations. In the second (Ezekiel 26:7-14), the enemy is mentioned by name, and designated as a powerful one; and the conquest and destruction emanating from him are circumstantially described. In the third (Ezekiel 26:15-18), the impression which this event would produce upon the inhabitants of the islands and coast-lands is depicted. And in the fourth (Ezekiel 26:19-21), the threat is repeated in an energetic manner, and the prophecy is thereby rounded off.”—(Keil).

Ezekiel 26:1. “In the eleventh year, in the first day of the month.” The year is that of Jerusalem’s capture, B.C. 588. The month is not named. Probably it was the woeful “fourth” month (2 Kings 25:3; Ezekiel 3:15).

Ezekiel 26:2. “The gates of the people.” The plural noun denotes one gate, as the verb is in the singular. Jerusalem was named “the gate of the peoples” on account of the many nations which would flow into it (Isaiah 2:2; Micah 4:1). Jerusalem was also to Tyre the gate of communication with the East. “She is turned unto me.” The rendering should be, “it is turned unto me,” i.e., the gate of the peoples. “Tyre considers herself the heiress of Jerusalem. The fall of the spiritual centre presents to view the enhanced importance of the secular.”—(Hengstenberg.)

Ezekiel 26:3. “As the sea causeth his waves.” Tyre suffered from successive waves of invasion, chiefly those of Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander, the Crusaders and the Saracens. It was not finally overthrown till the thirteenth century, yet it never recovered from the blow which the King of Babylon inflicted upon it.

Ezekiel 26:4. “I will also scrape the dust from her.” “The destruction here referred to was that of the towers, walls, and other edifices, destroyed by the besiegers. Not a vestige was to remain. In place of splendid edifices and impregnable bulwarks nothing was to be seen but bare rocks, fit only for fishermen to spread their nets on.”—(Henderson.)

Ezekiel 26:5. “The spreading of nets.” According to Dr. Robinson, the southern side of the rock of Tyre is still used by fishermen for this purpose.

Ezekiel 26:6. “Her daughters.” Her daughter-cities, such as Gebal, Beyrout, &c. “By the ‘field’ we are to understand the open country, i.e., the towns and villages dependent upon her and lying back from and along the coast. These were to be involved in the same catastrophe with the mother-city, their fate was bound up in hers.”—(Henderson.)

Ezekiel 26:8. “The buckler.” “Here obviously denotes the testudo, or vaulted roof of large united shields employed by an attacking enemy for protection in siege-operations.”—Henderson.

Ezekiel 26:11. “Strong garrisons.” The proper meaning of the word is “pillars,” such as were erected in honour of the idol-gods. In the temple of Melkarth at Tyre, there were two famous pillars; one of topaz, the other of emerald.

Ezekiel 26:14. “Thou shalt be built no more.” “This was literally fulfilled with respect to the continental city. That part which lay on the island recovered itself after the lapse of seventy years, as predicted by the prophet Isaiah (Ezekiel 23:17-18), and was in a very flourishing condition in the time of Alexander, by whom a causeway was constructed between the shore and it, by means of which he reached the city, and took it by storm after a siege of seven months.”—Henderson.

Ezekiel 26:15. “The isles.” “This term is frequently used so as to embrace the coast lands of the Mediterranean Sea; we have therefore to understand it here as applied to the Phoenician colonies on the islands and coasts of that sea.”—(Keil). Her numerous maritime colonies looked up to Tyre as the mother city. Even Carthage sent her a yearly offering.

Ezekiel 26:16. “The princes of the sea.” “These are not kings of the islands, but, according to Isaiah 23:8, the merchants presiding over the colonies of Tyre, who resembled princes. ‘Their thrones,’ not royal thrones, but chairs, as in 1 Samuel 4:13, etc. The picture of their mourning recalls the description in Jonah 3:6. The antithesis introduced is a very striking one: clothing themselves in terrors, putting on terrors in the place of the robes of state which they have laid aside. The thought is rendered still more forcible by the closing sentences of the verse. They tremble ‘by moments,’ i.e., as the moments return—actually, therefore, ‘every moment’ (Isaiah 27:3).”—(Keil).

Ezekiel 26:17. “Strong in the sea.” “This feature of the description must be referred to the insular part of the city, which had been strongly fortified as the port for the protection of the warehouses and the shipping. The concluding clause is descriptive of the despotic rule which the merchant-princes of Tyre exercised over the inhabitants, whether regular citizens or those who were there temporarily on business.”—Henderson.

Ezekiel 26:20. “With them that descend into the pit.” “The disappearance of Tyre is compared to that of the dead, who, placed in their sepulchre, are no more seen among the living. While this was to be the fate of that renowned city, Jehovah promises to set glory in the land of the living. Some refer this to the restoration of the Jewish polity. And if this is meant to include the Messiah and His spiritual kingdom, for whose introduction that restoration was designed to be preparatory, the interpretation may readily be admitted.”—Henderson.

Ezekiel 26:21. “I will make thee a terror, and thou shalt be no more.” “The desolation of Tyre was to be so complete that it should be an object of terror to all who approached the spot where it had stood. Not a vestige of it was to remain: a prophecy which was literally fulfilled, for though insular Tyre afterwards rose into notice, the ancient continental city never recovered from her ruin.”—Henderson.



Tyre rose to her greatest eminence under the reign of Hiram, the friend of David and of Solomon. The time, therefore, of her highest prosperity corresponded with that of Jerusalem. If each of these two cities had been faithful to its high calling, the issue would have been glorious. The Bride of the Messiah would have been worthy of her Lord, and the daughter of Tyre would have brought her gifts sincere and acceptable. But both cities fell, Jerusalem by aspiring after worldly splendour, and Tyre by pride gendered by her commercial greatness. In this Chapter, the overthrow of Tyre is foretold, and in the two following chapters, her world-wide commerce and the nature of her sin are more particularly described. As described in this chapter, we consider:—

1. Her crowning sin. The judgment of Tyre was the result of many forms of sin, but there were two leading sins on which the prophet here dwells.

1. The sin of insulting the chosen people. Tyre rejoiced over the fall of Jerusalem, instead of reading the lessons of a warning example.

2. The sin of intense selfishness. Tyre glories in the prospect of becoming great through the downfall of Jerusalem, “I shall be replenished, now she is laid waste” (Ezekiel 26:2). To feast upon the prospect of becoming rich through the ruin of others, is the vilest form of selfishness.

II. Her judgment. God was against Tyre (Ezekiel 26:3), and whatsoever He opposes must come to nought. Mark the special features of her judgment.

1. She is taken at her own word. Tyre expected that the nations would come to her, now that the gateway of her communication with the East is thrown open. But they shall, indeed, come to her, yet in a way in which she least expected. “I will cause many nations to come up against thee” (Ezekiel 26:3).

2. That in which she most trusted becomes the chief source of her terror. The sea was the great source of her wealth, and to it she looked for her future stability and prosperity. Yet on the sea would God work His wonders of judgment for her destruction (Ezekiel 26:5; Ezekiel 26:14).

3. The judgment on her would be awful in its completeness. Tyre would become like the bare rock upon which nothing was left (Ezekiel 26:4-5), like dead cities and nations of the earth (Ezekiel 26:20). She was to be “no more,” but the memory of her would be a “terror” to after ages (Ezekiel 26:21). Her destruction would not be the work of one sharp moment, but would be like the successive waves of the sea, slow but irresistible, which would be a lengthening of her calamity (Ezekiel 26:3). Tyre had mocked Jerusalem, but she herself shall be mocked in turn (Ezekiel 26:17). God’s retribution is visited often in kind as well as in degree. Her goods are to be destroyed, and her pleasures, and all her glory laid in the dust (Ezekiel 26:12-13). What a picture of the end of all things on earth! The believer has the enduring substance, which cannot be taken by the spoiler nor corroded by the tooth of time.

4. The instrument of the judgment. Nebuchadnezzar, who for this purpose was the servant of God. And God can use what instruments He pleases in His works of judgment or of mercy.

5. Yet God would bring glory out of the judgment. “I shall set glory in the land of the living” (Ezekiel 26:20). The “beauty” of Tyre should disappear like that of Moab (Ezekiel 25:9), like that of ancient Israel (Ezekiel 20:6; Ezekiel 20:15), like that of Babylon (Isaiah 13:19); yet from their ashes a higher and a better life should spring. The Redeemer of the world came upon the wreck of the world’s hopes. Human history is a continued example of growth out of corruption and decay. When pagan Rome was destroyed, then Christian Rome arose; and when Christian Rome became corrupt, then God raised His church out of it, once more investing her with the glory of that liberty wherewith Christ hath made her free.

(Ezekiel 26:15-21.)

1. God, by His destructive judgments upon great states makes others to tremble that were secure. When the Lord drowned the Egyptians in the Red Sea, it caused the nations to fear. (Exodus 15:14). And when he brought destruction upon Babylon, it made all hearts melt, and they were full of fears and pains, as a woman in travail. (Isaiah 13:6-8.)

2. Great cities have their periods, they abide not for ever. As they have a time to come into the world, so a time to go out of it; as they have a time to get up on high, so a time to descend low. Tyre had her day to fall, her day of departure (Ezekiel 26:18), she descended into the pit with the people of old time (Ezekiel 26:20.) Babylon had its time to begin (Genesis 11:8), and its time to cease (Isaiah 14:4.) You may read of Nineveh’s raising (Genesis 10:11.), and of her desolation (Nahum 3:7; Zephaniah 2:13.) Hence we may see the instability of human things. Learn not to trust in strong holds, neither think it any great privilege to be citizens, of such perishing cities, but labour to be citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, which is the city prepared of God, and hath foundations which shall never be razed (Hebrews 11:10-16).

3. God’s people are glorious, and the glory of the land. They are His glory (Isaiah 4:5; Zechariah 2:8). The godly ones were the glory of Zion (Isaiah 6:13). The saints are a holy seed, the substance and the glory of any nation.

4. There is a difference of lands in the world, all are not alike. There is “the land of the living.” In Canaan there were the living waters, the ordinances and means of grace and salvation which other lands had not. David judged himself even among the dead when he was shut out from the people, the worship, and the ordinances of God; his soul fainted and he was almost gone (Psalms 84:2).

5. God’s people may be deprived of their privileges and comforts for a season, but He will in due time restore them to the enjoyment of the same. “I shall set glory in the land of the living.” God’s glory, His people were in Babylon, but He would not lose nor leave His glory there, He brought them back again, and “set them in the land of the living.” He gave them another temple, all those ordinances and privileges they had before. “I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory” (Isaiah 46:13).—(Greenhill.)

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Ezekiel 26". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.