The Word Made Fresh
1The LORD’s word came to me on the first day of the month in the eleventh year: 2“Son of man, Tyre has said of Jerusalem,
‘Yes! The gateway of the nations is broken!
It is now open to me, and now that it is broken
I will be enriched.’
3The LORD God says:
“I am against you, Tyre.
I will send many countries against you
as the sea sends its waves.
4They will demolish Tyre’s walls and crumble its towers.
I will sweep away the dirt from its ruins
and turn it into bare stone.
5It will become a place to toss nets,
for it will be tossed into the midst of the sea.
I have spoken it,” says the LORD.
“The other nations will plunder it,
6and its daughters – the villages in the countryside –
will be slaughtered by the sword.
And then they will know that I am the LORD.”
7This is what the LORD God says: “From the north I will bring King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the king of kings, with horses, chariots, cavalry, and a large and powerful army. 8Your daughter villages in the countryside will be cut down. He will lay a siege against you and build ramps against your walls and raise a mass of shields against you. 9He will aim his battering rams against your walls and smash your towers. 10He will bring so many horses against you that you will be covered by the dust they kick up. Your walls will quake at the noise of the cavalry and the wheels and the chariots. He will come through your gates, an invading army against an exposed city. 11His horses will trample your streets and his army will attack your people with swords, and your sturdy pillars will crumble to the ground. 12They will steal all your wealth and haul off everything of value. They will bash in the walls of your houses and destroy them. All the building materials will be thrown into the water.
13“And I will silence your songs. Your lyres will be heard no more. 14I will turn you into a barren stone, a place for spreading nets. You will never be rebuilt, for I have spoken it,” says the LORD God.
15The LORD God says to Tyre: “Won’t the coastlands tremble at the sound of your fall – the groaning of the wounded, the slaughter that takes place in your towns? 16Then all the princes of the coastlands will leave their thrones. They will take off their robes and official garments and be clothed with terror. They will sit on the ground, trembling uncontrollably, shocked at what has happened to you. 17They will raise a lament for you, and say:
‘How you have disappeared from the seaside,
a renowned city once mighty beside the sea –
you and your people, the ones who once terrorized the whole mainland.'”
19The LORD God says: “When I destroy your city and leave it uninhabited; when I bring the waves from the sea over you, 20then I will cast you down with all the others, the people of long ago, who have fallen into the Pit. I will cause you to live in the world below among its primitive ruins, among all those cosigned to go down to the Pit. Then you will not have a place to be inhabited by those still living. 21I will bring a dreadful end to you and you will cease to exist. Some will seek you, but you will never be seen again, says the LORD God.
We have no way of knowing how current the news was coming to the exiles from Babylon, but we know from 2 Kings 25:2 that the siege of Jerusalem, which began in the 9th year of Zedekiah’s rule, on the 10th day of the 10th month, lasted until the 9th day of the 4th month. In other words, the siege lasted for eighteen months. The oracles in this and the next chapter were given to Ezekiel shortly before the end of the siege.
1-6: This is the first of seven oracles against Tyre. It is hard to explain why so much more ink should be spilled about Tyre than the other surrounding nations. Tyre was a seafaring city on a promontory off the coast of Lebanon about 80 miles north of Mt. Carmel in Israel. The early kings of Israel, particularly David and Solomon, traded with Tyre (see 2 Samuel 5:11, 1 Kings 5:1) and the two countries were great allies. In time Israel and Judah’s fortunes diminished while Tyre’s fortunes never waned. This first oracle says that Tyre exhibited a haughty attitude when Jerusalem fell, and that is the cause of the punishment that will come to them.
7-14: The second oracle states that Nebuchadnezzar would come and lay waste to the city of Tyre. Nebuchadnezzar did indeed come and lay siege to Tyre, but it was not a quick victory. Tyre reportedly had walls 150 feet high and, according to the ancient historian Josephus, Nebuchadnezzar’s siege lasted 13 years, from 585 B.C to 572 B.C. In spite of the sentiment in verse 14, Tyre was rebuilt and is one of Lebanon’s largest cities today.
15-18: Tyre was often at war with the coastlands opposite its location, but they were also trading partners. The fall of Tyre will cause those on-again off-again enemies/allies to tremble with fear.
19-21: The utter destruction pictured here apparently did not take place, although Tyre was certainly put out of commission for awhile.
Ezekiel sees that everything happening in the world of his time was taking place according to will of God. When we face calamities and woes, it is always instructive to ask what God wants of us in each circumstance.