Scripture reading – Ezekiel 27
Tyrus, also known as Tyre, was the ancient sea capital of Phoenicia and is the subject of God’s judgment in Ezekiel 27. The fact Tyrus took such a prominent role in Ezekiel’s prophecy is indicative of not only its significance in the prophet’s day, but as you will see in our next study, its prophetic importance as well (Ezekiel 29). Like the prior nations whom Ezekiel predicted would be judged by the LORD and fall to Babylon, the same would be true of Tyrus (28:1-19).
Ezekiel 27 – A Funeral Dirge for Tyrus
The LORD came to Ezekiel instructing him to “take up a lamentation for Tyrus” (27:2). This lamentation foretold God’s sorrow that He must exercise justice. Tyrus would suffer not only for her wickedness and idolatry, but also for the joy she expressed when Jerusalem was “laid waste” (26:2).
Tyrus was the crossroads of trade in the ancient world. The island city was not only a fortress of the Phoenicians, but with two ports, was essentially the “World Trading Center” of the day. Boasting, “I am of perfect beauty” (27:3b), Ezekiel described the splendor and self-sufficiency of Tyrus by comparing it to a beautiful ship that boasted the best of everything (27:4-7).
In addition to being a trade hub, Tyrus was also an intersection of humanity (27:8-11). The vast number of trade ships passing through Tyrus made it necessary for the city to hire sailors from other places to strengthen their security on the coastline. Her army boasted mercenary soldiers from Persia, and Lud and Phut (believed to be ancient African tribes). Adding to the beauty of the city were the shields and helmets of her soldiers that adorned the walls of the city (the Phoenicians are believed to have begun that practice, and it was followed by Solomon, 1 Kings 10:16-17).
Ezekiel 27:12-25 gives a detailed description of the nations and city-states whose ships and goods passed through Tyrus. Tarshish (ancient Spain, 27:12), Javan (ancient Greece), Tubal and Meshech (believed to be regions of the Black and Caspian Seas, 27:13). The list included the ancient city of Rhodes (Dedan, 27:15), cities of Mesopotamia (27:16), Judah and Israel (known for grain, honey, oil, and balm, 27:17). Arabia and Kedar with its lambs, rams, and goats (27:21), and spices, jewels, and gold from Sheba and Raamah (27:22). Finally, all the major city-states of Mesopotamia supplied beautiful garments of blue, embroidered cloth, and rugs (27:23-25).
For all her wealth, might, and splendor, Tyrus was not spared the judgment of God. Sadly, that city was portrayed as a sinking ship (27:26-31). Babylon, described as “the east wind,” would break upon Tyrus as the seas break upon and sink a ship (27:26). The city, its people, commerce, and wealth were to “fall into the midst of the seas in the day of [her] ruin” (27:27).
The “suburbs” of Tyrus (cities along the mainland) would “shake at the sound of the cry” of her leaders (27:28). Her sailors would abandon ship (27:28), and watch in horror and disbelief as the city was destroyed (27:29). Neighboring nations would wail at the news, and bemoan the death of the city (27:30-31). Recalling her former glory and how they had been enriched by her trade, the cries of her neighbors would express their shock at her fall (27:32-33).
Closing thoughts (27:34-36) – What an amazing story! Tyrus was a great and powerful city-state, epitomized as perfection and beauty (27:3-4). Her people believed she was invincible, for her “builders [had] perfected [her]beauty” (27:4). Yet, God had sentenced Tyrus for judgment, and no man could save her.
The fall of Tyrus plunged the region into a financial collapse (27:34), eventually leading to the fall of her trade partners (27:35). Nebuchadnezzar conquered Tyrus, and in 332 BC, Alexander the Great destroyed her (27:36).
No nation will stand when the LORD has set Himself against it.
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