Ezekiel 26:1-21 . THE JUDGMENT ON TYRE THROUGH NEBUCHADNEZZAR (TWENTY-SIXTH THROUGH TWENTY-EIGHTH CHAPTERS).
In the twenty-sixth chapter, Ezekiel sets forth:--(1) Tyre's sin; (2) its doom; (3) the instruments executing it; (4) the effects produced on other nations by her downfall. In the twenty-seventh chapter, a lamentation over the fall of such earthly splendor. In the twenty-eighth chapter, an elegy addressed to the king, on the humiliation of his sacrilegious pride. Ezekiel, in his prophecies as to the heathen, exhibits the dark side only; because he views them simply in their hostility to the people of God, who 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.
1. 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.
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. As 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 Jeremiah 52:13 ), 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.
2. Tyre--( Joshua 19:29 , 2 Samuel 24:7 ), literally, meaning "the rock-city," Zor; 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 Shalmaneser 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 thirteen years ( Ezekiel 29:18 , Isaiah 23:1-18 ). 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 ( Psalms 35:21 Psalms 35:25 ).
she . . . that was the gates--that is, 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. 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 corn ( Ezekiel 27:17 , 1 Kings 5:9 , 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 pre-eminently 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--that is, the mart of corn, wine, oil, balsam, &c. 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.
3, 4. nations . . . as the sea . . . waves--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.
scrape her dust . . . make her . . . top of . . . 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.
5. in the midst of the sea--plainly referring to New Tyre ( Ezekiel 27:32 ).
6. her daughters . . . in the field--The surrounding villages, dependent on her in the open country, shall share the fate of the mother city.
7. 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.
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 uersal earth-empire which is His ( Daniel 2:47 ). The Son of God alone has the right and title inherently, and shall assume it 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 Revelation 19:16 ). 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.
9. engines of war--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."
10. dust--So thick shall be the "dust" stirred up by the immense numbers of "horses," that it shall "cover" the whole city as a cloud.
horses . . . chariots--As in Ezekiel 26:3-5 , New Tyre on the insular rock in the sea (compare 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.
wheels--FAIRBAIRN thinks that 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.
11. thy strong garrisons--literally, "the statutes of thy strength"; so the forts which are "monuments of thy strength." MAURER understands, in stricter agreement with the literal meaning, "the statues" or "obelisks erected in honor of the idols, the tutelary gods of Tyre," as Melecarte, answering to the Grecian Hercules, whose temple stood in Old Tyre (compare Jeremiah 43:13 , Margin).
12. lay thy stones . . . timber . . . in . . . midst of . . . water--referring to the insular New Tyre ( Ezekiel 26:3 Ezekiel 26:5 , Ezekiel 27:4 Ezekiel 27:25 Ezekiel 27:26 ). When its lofty buildings and towers fall, surrounded as it was with the sea which entered its double harbor 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 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 [CURTIUS, 4, 2], 322 B.C.
14. He concludes in nearly the same words as he began ( Ezekiel 26:4 Ezekiel 26:5 ).
built no more--fulfilled as to the mainland Tyre, under Nebuchadnezzar. The insular Tyre recovered partly, after seventy years ( Isaiah 23:17 Isaiah 23:18 ), but again suffered under Alexander, then under Antigonus, then under the Saracens at the beginning of the fourteenth century. Now its harbors 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.
15-21. The impression which the overthrow of Tyre produced on other maritime nations and upon her own colonies, for example, Utica, Carthage, and Tartessus or Tarshish in Spain.
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 intercourse.
shake--metaphorically: "be agitated" ( Jeremiah 49:21 ).
16. come down from their thrones . . . upon the ground--"the throne of the mourners" ( Job 2:13 , Jonah 3:6 ).
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 ).
clothe . . . 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.
17. inhabited of seafaring men--that is, which was frequented by merchants of various sea-bordering lands [GROTIUS]. FAIRBAIRN translates with Peschito, "Thou inhabitant of the seas" (the Hebrew literal meaning). Tyre rose as it were out of the seas as if she got thence her inhabitants, being peopled so closely down to the waters. So Venice was called "the bride of the sea."
strong in the sea--through her insular position.
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," that is, they make the name of every Tyrian to be feared [FAIRBAIRN].
18. 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," &c.). So Ezekiel 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 Ægean Seas" [BISHOP NEWTON]. GROTIUS explains "departure," that is, "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.
19. great waters--appropriate metaphor of the Babylonian hosts, which literally, by breaking down insular Tyre's ramparts, caused the sea to "cover" part of her.
20. the pit--Tyre's disappearance is compared to that of the dead placed in their sepulchres and no more seen among the living (compare Ezekiel 32:18 Ezekiel 32:23 , Isaiah 14:11 Isaiah 14:15 Isaiah 14:19 ).
I shall set glory in the land--In contrast to Tyre consigned to the "pit" of death, I shall set glory (that is, My presence symbolized by the Shekinah cloud, 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 ) in Judah.
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 ). 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."
21. terror--an example of judgment calculated to terrify all evildoers.
thou shall be no more--Not that there was to be no more a Tyre, but she was no more to be the Tyre that once 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.