The Sin and Doom of Tyre
Ezekiel 26:1-21
And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came to me, saying,…

And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the first day of the month, that the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, etc.

I. THE SIN OF TYRE. "Son of man, because that Tyre hath said against Jerusalem, Aha! she is broken that was the gate of the peoples; she is turned unto me: I shall be replenished, now that she is laid waste." The sin which is here charged against Tyre is extreme and cruel selfishness. There is no evidence in this chapter that the Tyrians were animated by any hostile feelings towards the Jews, as the Ammonites, Edomites, and Philistines were. But Tyre was a great and prosperous commercial city, and the inhabitants thereof rejoiced in the destruction of Jerusalem because they thought that they should profit thereby. This is made quite clear in the verse before us. The Tyrians are represented as speaking of Jerusalem as "she that was the gate of the peoples." The plural expresses the fact, says the 'Speaker's Commentary,' "that many peoples passed through Jerusalem as the central place on the highway of commerce. This was eminently the case in the reign of Solomon, when for the time Jerusalem became the mart to which was gathered the trade of India and of the far East. The fame of its early greatness as the emporium of Eastern commerce still clung to Jerusalem, and this city, even in decadence, kept up enough of its original trade to be viewed with jealousy by Tyre, who owed her greatness to the same cause, and in the true spirit of mercantile competition exulted in the thought that the trade of Jerusalem would now be diverted into her markets." Their greed of gain had rendered them unfeeling and even cruel in their attitude towards their suffering neighbors, with whom in former times they had been in friendly relations. They rejoiced at the calamity of others because they believed it would contribute to their prosperity. They exulted in the downfall of others if it was likely to promote their own rise. This spirit is unbrotherly, selfish, mean, cruel. It is utterly opposed to the Divine will, and awakens the stern displeasure of the Almighty. Here is solemn admonition to persons, companies, societies, and nations, who would secure prosperity without regarding the means which they employ to do so. Are there not many today who care not who is impoverished if only they are enriched, who suffers if only they succeed, or who sinks provided that they rise? However their spirit may be tolerated or even approved by men, it is abhorrent unto God.


1. Its Author. "Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, O Tyre, and will cause many nations to come up against thee, as the sea causeth his waves to come up." God himself in his providence brought upon Tyre the punishment of her extreme selfishness and cruel boastings against fallen Jerusalem. Ill fares it with any city which has the Lord against it.

2. Its instruments. "I will cause many nations to come up against thee... I will bring upon Tyre Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon," etc. (Ver. 7). Nebuchadnezzar had conquered many kingdoms. He was a "king of kings," and the army which he led against Tyre was recruited from "many nations." He was the first instrument employed by God to punish Tyre for her sin. And ages afterwards, Alexander and his forces inflicted terrible sufferings and losses upon the people of the proud city.

3. Its nature. Several features of the punishment of Tyre are exhibited by the prophet.

(1) Siege. "They shall destroy the walls of Tyre, and break down her towers... and he shall make forts against thee," etc. (Vers. 8-10). Nebuchadnezzar besieged insular Tyre for thirteen years. Very great must have been the miseries of the people during those weary years.

(2) Spoliation. "She shall become a spoil of the nations... and they shall make a spoil of thy riches, and make a prey of thy merchandise," etc. (Ver. 12). The riches in which they had prided themselves, and in the hope of the increase of which they had exulted in the downfall of Jerusalem, would be seized and possessed by others. The beautiful houses of their merchant-princes would be destroyed and their city ruined. (3) Slaughter. "Her daughters which are in the field shall be slain with the sword... he shall slay thy people with the sword." The daughters in the field are the cities on the mainland which were dependent on Tyre, or submitted to her supremacy, with special reference, perhaps, to Palaetyrus, or Old Tyre, "the suburb of the insular Tyre, standing on the shore." We are not aware of any record of the extent of the slaughter by Nebuchadnezzar and his army. Probably it was very great. When Alexander besieged Tyre, fearful was the slaughter of the inhabitants thereof. "Besides eight thousand men slain in the attack, two thousand were crucified after the city was taken" (Kitto). (4) Complete and irretrievable overthrow. "They shall destroy the walls of Tyre, and break down her towers: I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her a bare rock," etc. (Vers. 4, 5,14, 19-21). This part of the prophecy was not fully accomplished until centuries had passed away. Nebuchadnezzar, as we have said, besieged Tyre for thirteen years. He would be able soon to take Palaetyrus, on the mainland, which was dismantled, if not entirely destroyed, by him. Whether at the end of the thirteen years he took the island-city is uncertain. The suggestions of the 'Speaker's Commentary' on the point seem to us very probably correct: "Nebuchadnezzar was indeed determined not to leave this city, once the vassal of the Assyrian, independent, and persevered until Tyre gave in. Nebuchadnezzar may then have insisted upon his right, as a conqueror, of entering the island-city with his army; but the conquest was probably barren of the fruits he had expected so far as spoil was concerned (cf. Ezekiel 29:18), and Nebuchadnezzar, having asserted his majesty by reducing the city to vassalage, may have been content not to push matters further, and have willingly turned his forces in another direction." More than two centuries later, Alexander besieged Tyre. At that time the city "was completely surrounded by prodigious walls, the loftiest portion of which, on the side fronting the mainland, reached a height of not less than a hundred and fifty feet." The island on which it was built was nearly half a mile from the mainland. And as Alexander had no fleet, its situation made his task a difficult one. The difficulty was thus overcome: The harbor of Tyre to the north being "blockaded by the Cyprians, and that to the south by the Phoenicians," afforded Alexander an opportunity for constructing the enormous mole, or breakwater, which joined the island to the mainland. This mole was two hundred feet wide, and was composed of the ruins of Palaetyrus, the stones and the timber and the dust of which were thus laid in the midst of the waters (Ver. 12). Across the mole Alexander marched his forces, and soon made himself master of insular Tyre. Having done so, in addition to the ten thousand who were slain, thirty thousand of the inhabitants, including slaves, free women, and free children, were sold for slaves. But even after the Chaldean invasion under Nebuchadnezzar, Tyre" never regained independence, but was great and wealthy under Persian, Greek, and Roman masters.... It was never again a world-power, capable of raising itself again in its own might against the kingdom of God. In the present condition of Tyre we note the fulfillment of Ezekiel's predictions. In A.D. it formed part of the conquests of Khalif Omar, who, however, dealt leniently with the inhabitants, and the city for many years enjoyed a moderate degree of prosperity. The ruin of Tyre was due to the Sultan of Egypt, who, in the year A.D. , took possession, the inhabitants (who were Christians) having abandoned it without a struggle. The Saracens thereupon laid it in ruins, and did not allow the former inhabitants to return. In the first half of the fourteenth century it was visited by Sir John Mandeville, who found it in that state of desolation in which it has remained ever since" ('Speaker's Commentary'). Of modern travelers we quote the testimony of M. Renan as to its present state: "No great city which has played so important a part for centuries has left fewer traces than Tyre. Ezekiel was a true prophet when he said of Tyre,' They shall seek for thee, and thou shalt be no more' (Ezekiel 26:21). A traveler who was not informed of its existence might pass along the whole coast, from La Kasmie to Ras-el-Ain, without being aware that he was close to an ancient city.... Tyre is now the ruin of a town built with ruins."


1. The deep and widespread impression made by her destruction. "Thus saith the Lord God to Tyre; Shall not the isles shake at the sound of thy fall," etc.? (Ver. 15). The coasts and islands of the Mediterranean are represented as shaking at the fall of the proud city, because her fall would denote the instability of all things. When Tyre is overthrown, what place can be deemed secure?

2. The consternation produced by her destruction. "Then all the princes of the sea shall come down from their thrones," etc. (Ver. 16). By "the princes of the sea," we should probably understand the chief men in "the settlements of the Phoenicians in the Sidonian and Tyrian period along the various coasts, in Cyprus, Rhodes, Malta; in Spain, Sicily, Sardinia," etc. These are represented as changing their splendid robes for the garb of mourners, as coming down from their exalted and luxurious seats and sitting upon the ground. Persons in great affliction or sorrow are frequently represented as seated or prostrate upon the ground (cf. Job 2:8, 13; Isaiah 3:26; Isaiah 47:1; Lamentations 2:10). Shakespeare, in 'King John,' makes Constance say -

"My grief's so great,
That no supporter but the huge firm earth
Can hold it up: here I and sorrow sit
Here is my throne, bid kings come bow to it." These great men, moreover, were seized with amazement and continual trembling.

3. The lamentation awakened by her destruction. "And they shall take up a lamentation for thee, and say to thee, How art thou destroyed," etc.! Thus would the fall of the prosperous island-city be bewailed by neighboring peoples.

CONCLUSION. Certain lessons stand out with impressive clearness and force.

1. The insecurity of worldly greatness, glory, and power.

2. The heinousness of the sin of selfishness.

3. The evanescence of the prosperity which is attained without regard to the rights or interests of others. - W.J.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

WEB: It happened in the eleventh year, in the first [day] of the month, that the word of Yahweh came to me, saying,

Collision Between Man's Plans and God's Plans
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