posted on May, 19 2017 @ 05:02 PM
The kingdom of David and Solomon was in close alliance with Hiram, king of Tyre.
The kingdom of Tyre supplied the timber for building the Temple, and also the master-craftsman who worked the bronze vessels.
Over the following centuries, the relationship may have weakened..
The northern kingdom of Israel interposed between the Phoenicians and the dynasty in Jerusalem, so geography alone would have reduced contact.
Ahab of Israel, however, allied his kingdom with Sidon, Tyre’s nearest rival, which could be a reason for Tyre to give preference to Jerusalem.
Another complicating factor would have been the friction within Israel between the prophets of the Lord and the worshippers of the Phoenician Baal.
Yet nothing in this previous history prepares us for the hostility against Tyre which breaks out after the Fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians.
Ezekiel devotes three chapters to gloating over the potential downfall of the kingdom of Tyre,.
The only direct explanation offered is;
“Because Tyre said concerning Jerusalem; Aha, the gate of the peoples is broken, it has swung open to me; I shall be replenished, now that she is
laid waste” (Ezekiel ch26 v2).
Two slightly different explanations are available in the other prophets.
In Amos, the complaint against Tyre (and against the Philistines) is that they gave assistance to the depredations of Edom;
“For three transgressions of Gaza and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,
Because they carried into exile a whole people to deliver them up to Edom”.
And the punishment of Tyre is because “they delivered up a whole people to Edom and did not remember the covenant of brotherhood” (Amos ch1
So here the coastal areas are given a subsidiary role in the callous exploitation of the vulnerability of the surviving Jews.
Joel’s complaint makes the coastal areas active on their own account.
“What are you to me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia?
Are you paying me back for something? If you are paying me back, I will requite your deed upon your own head swiftly and speedily.
For you have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried my rich treasures into your temples.
You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, removing them far from their own border” (Joel ch3 vv4-6).
So they were not just taking part in the general looting of the land.
That last line is the smoking gun which identifies the king of Tyre and his fellow-merchants as initiating the dispersal of Jewish slaves through the
They were ultimately responsible for the presence of the Jews in Europe, and thus helped to create the conditions which led to Auschwitz.
With the benefit of this hindsight, Ezekiel’s hostility is more understandable.
Ezekiel places the blame on the king of Tyre’s blasphemous pride (just as Isaiah ch14 blames the pride of the king of Babylon).
“Because your heart is proud, and you have said ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of the gods, in the heart of the seas’,
Though you are but a man and no god, though you consider yourself as wise as a god…
By your great wisdom in trade you have increased your wealth, and your heart has become proud in your wealth” (ch28 vv2-5).
Ezekiel admits that the kings of Tyre had once been very close to God, and the wealth he gave them had been one of the symptoms of that;
“You were in Eden, the garden of God, and every precious stone was your covering…
You were on the holy mountain of God” (vv14)
Here, I think, we see a reference to the remembered golden age, of the “special relationship” between Hiram king of Tyre and Solomon.
That’s why the conduct of Tyre after the catastrophe in Jerusalem (“not remembering the covenant of brotherhood”) came as such a great shock.
“You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till iniquity was found in you.
In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned;
So I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God” (vv15-16).
In practice, this means the destruction of the kingdom;
“Therefore, behold, I will bring strangers upon you, the most terrible of the nations…
They shall thrust you into the pit, and you shall die the death of the slain in the heart of the seas” (vv7-8).
The mock “lament” in ch27, from the trading-partners of Tyre, serves as a model for the mourning over Babylon in Revelation ch18.
We're given a detailed description of the commerce of Tyre, which builds up into a very instructive "trade map" of Ezekiel's world.
For example, Judah and Israel are the source of "wheat and olives and early figs; honey, oil, and balsam".
This shows, amongst other things, the decline of the pastoral tradition of that land; anyone looking for lambs and rams and goats will be trading with
We learn that the Edomites are good for embroidered work, that the merchants of southern Arabia (Sheba and Raamah) will bring you spices, probably
from India, and that Spain (Tarshish) is the place to go for any kind of metal ore.
The Lord threatens to bring down Nebuchadnezzar against the city, and Ezekiel paints a dramatic picture of what will happen when the city is taken and
Similarly Isaiah, warning that Tyre will be laid waste and the inhabitants sent into exile, says “Behold the land of the Chaldeans. This is the
people; it was not Assyria” (Isaiah ch23 v13).
This seems to refer to a previous expectation that one of the Assyrian sieges would be the successful.
As it happened, it was not the Chaldeans either.
The task of capturing Tyre (which involved building a causeway out to the island), and permanently ending its existence as an independent nation
state, was left to be accomplished by Alexander the great.
Nevertheless, the job was done, one way or another.
Yet this is not necessarily the end of the story.
Ezekiel threatens that the city will never be rebuilt, and certainly it never recovered any status as an independent and powerful state.
However, the prophet Isaiah offers a lifeline of hope.
The city will lie “forgotten” for seventy years. We may take this to be a symbolic number, like the “seventy years” during which Jerusalem
will be under the chastisement of Babylon. It combines “seven”, the number of God, with “ten”, the number of completeness, and thus it
represents the fullness of the time which God has appointed.
At the end of that time, “the Lord will visit Tyre, and she will return to her hire and will play the harlot with all the kingdoms of the world upon
the face of the earth.
Her merchandise and her hire will be dedicated to the Lord… will supply abundant food and fine clothing for those who dwell before the Lord”
(Isaiah ch23 vv17-18).
In other words, Tyre will be back in business, but working for the Lord instead of against him.
Thus Tyre will experience a double fate in the end, like Egypt and Assyria.
In one sense, to be subdued; in another sense, to be reconciled.
Here is another version of the prophetic theme that the Gentiles will at last be brought into the community of God’s people.