Day 247: Wait, Why is Tyre on the List? (Ezekiel 25-27)

The Siege of Tyre depicting the causeway being built, from the book Ancient Siege Warfare by Duncan B. Campbell, via

therefore thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against you, O Tyre, and will bring up many nations against you, as the sea brings up its waves. They shall destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her towers, and I will scrape her soil from her and make her a bare rock. She shall be in the midst of the sea a place for the spreading of nets, for I have spoken, declares the Lord God. 

Ezekiel 26:3-5

Ezekiel 25 marks a new section of the book. Skip Heitzig, pastor of Calvary Church in Albuquerque, NM, has identified the outline of Ezekiel as:

  • Personal (Ezekiel 1-3): These chapters are about Ezekiel himself—his circumstances, his calling from God, etc.
  • National: (Ezekiel 4-24): These chapters are about Judah: how she sinned, why she sinned, what’s going to happen because of her sin. This section culminates with the destruction of the temple.
  • International (Ezekiel 25-32) Here you’ll see judgments against Ammon, Moabi, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon, Egypt, and Assyria.
  • Eschatological (Ezekiel 33-48): This is about the ultimate destiny of Israel, the return to Jerusalem, the restoration of the city, and the reunification of Israel and Judah.

So the section we begin is similar to Jeremiah 46-52 Amos 1-2, and other collections of prophecies against Israel’s neighbors. With one exception:

Ezekiel talks about Tyre more than any other prophet. Consider that Isaiah talks about Tyre in only a few verses scattered in 23:1-17. Tyre gets three verses in Jeremiah, one in Joel, two in Amos, and two in Zechariah. But Ezekiel devotes three entire chapters–seventy-six verses–to the city of Tyre. And it isn’t just a few lines of judgment. It’s almost three entire chapters. Ezekiel describes its downfall, its sinking, and its king. Then he laments for its king.

There’s something else about Tyre that distinguishes it from all the other nations mentioned by Ezekiel, and for the most part all the prophets: Tyre and Israel had basically good relations throughout the Old Testament. The website GotQuestions (an excellent go-to for just about any question you have about Scripture), summarizes their relationship:

By the time of King David’s reign, Israel had formed a friendly alliance with Hiram king of Tyre. David used stonemasons and carpenters from Tyre, along with cedars from that region to build his palace (2 Samuel 5:11). Peaceful relations with King Hiram continued into Solomon’s reign, with the construction of the temple in Jerusalem relying heavily on supplies, laborers, and skilled artisans from Tyre (1 Kings 5:1–149:112 Chronicles 2:3). Israel continued to share close ties with Tyre during King Ahab’s reign. 

“What is the Significance of Tyre in the Bible?”

The relationship started to go south during the prophetic ministries of Amos and Joel. Amos condemns Tyre for “forgetting their covenant of brotherhood” with Israel and “delivering a whole people up to Edom” (Amos 1:9-10). Joel makes a similar accusation; that Tyre and Sidon had “sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks in order to remove them far from their own border” (Joel 3:5-6). But neither of these events are mentioned in the books of history (1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles), so we are left to read between the lines in the Prophets to figure out what happened.

So why does Ezekiel judge Tyre so harshly? Unlike so many other nations, Tyre wasn’t judged for its enmity toward Israel. Tyre was condemned for its enmity toward God. While they were by no means the only Canaanite city where idolatry ran rampant, they were some of the most zealous; and because of their vast wealth they influenced every nation around them. Jezebel; the wicked wife of Ahab, Israel’s most wicked king, came from the region of Tyre and Sidon (1 Kings 16:31). She did more to promote the worship of Baal, which included cult prostitution and child sacrifice in Israel.

As a result, God poured out his wrath on the city of Tyre, ultimately through Alexander the Great in 332 BC. Alexander leveled the Old City of Tyre, and used the rubble in order to build a causeway to New Tyre, the island harbor out in the sea. He immobilized the Phoenician army and took control of the Mediterranean Sea. Remember Ezekiel’s prophecy that Tyre was be scraped down to the bare rock (Ez. 26:4)? That is exactly what Alexander did. There may be no more specific fulfilled prophecy than this one.
1934 photograph of Tyre, taken during a flyover by the French military. Wikimedia Commons

So what’s the lesson for us today? It is that God didn’t just punish the nations that fought against Israel. God punished sin, and he still does. Much has been written about why Christians must stand with Israel today. and a lot of it seems to imply that our own protection as a nation hinges on how we support Israel. And please don’t misunderstand me. I absolutely support Israel. But know this: simply being an ally of Israel doesn’t protect a nation from being judged for its sin.

Just ask Tyre.

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