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Ezekiel 28:1 The word of Yahweh came again to me saying- This prophecy is specifically intended to be given to the prince of Tyre (:2). We noted in Ez. 27 the allusions to Jonah. The ship of Tyre was to sink, but repentance was possible to avert this.

Ezekiel 28:2 Son of man, tell the prince of Tyre, Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Because your heart is lifted up, and you have said, I am a god, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet you are man, and not God, though you set your heart as the heart of God- For an asylum seeking exile like Ezekiel in Babylon to tell the king of Tyre that he was going to perish unless he repented... was a hard mission. And our witness is likewise not so easy, in the proud, secular world in which we are to make it. We note that the primary issue with the king of Tyre was not his idolatry, but his pride and playing God. This is what is so utterly abhorrent to God. And we must have that same perspective. Throughout this chapter and on Ez. 27 we note that Tyre is portrayed as having a fake tabernacle and temple, an imitation Zion; and her prince was therefore enthroned there as if he were Yahweh. He consciously "set his heart" on this fantasy. The Ugaritic documents reveal that the kings of that time considered themselves to be Divine, the human reincarnation of a god who had died and was now rising again. But this king, perhaps Itobaal II or Azemilcus, was consciously impersonating the Yahweh religion of Zion.  

Ezekiel 28:3 Behold, you are wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that is hidden from you- He was not in fact wiser than Daniel nor did he know all secrets [which in Daniel's context referred to his understanding of the prophecies]. But this is how the prince of Tyre thought of himself, and so he is addressed in his own terms. The reference to his supposed wisdom is no proof that a super-human being is referred to; this is an illustration of Lk. 16: 8: “And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light”.

Ezekiel 28:4 By your wisdom and by your understanding you have become rich, and have gathered gold and silver into your treasures- This is another way of saying that the prince's wisdom was not actually that of Daniel (:3). For this was all the result of secular wisdom rather than spiritual. It has been suggested that these verses here are alluding to or even quoting a hymn to the prince of Tyre. The later allusions to a story of Adam's fall may likewise be alluding not so much to the Genesis account but to some Tyrian religious myth. For God likes to speak to people within the terms of their own reference, as we should in our sharing of the Gospel.

Ezekiel 28:5 By your great wisdom and by your traffic you have increased your riches, and your heart is lifted up because of your riches- Wealth and pride go together. God wants us to be humble, and that is likely the reason why "to the poor the Gospel is preached", and wealthy people find the humility required by the Gospel so difficult.

Ezekiel 28:6 Therefore thus says the Lord Yahweh: Because you have set your heart as the heart of God- For all the things that the prince of Tyre could have been condemned for, his state of heart was the essential issue. And this is typical of the prophets- to focus, as did the Lord Jesus, upon the state of human hearts as the critical issue in God's judgment of men.

Ezekiel 28:7 Therefore, behold, I will bring strangers on you, the terrible of the nations; and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom, and they shall defile your brightness- The language of brightness recalls the cherubim vision of Ez. 1. Tyre was a fake Zion, appearing to even have the cherubim presence around their central temple and prince. Perhaps he is called "the prince" rather than the king to draw a similarity with how the true Zion is to have a "prince". His beauty and brightness may refer to the temple in the centre of Tyre which was the obsessive pride and joy of her prince. This was to be desecrated by strangers. "The terrible of the nations" refers to the Babylonian confederacy in Ez. 30:11; 31:12. But ultimately it was the Greeks and not Babylonians who brought Tyre down. Again we see how the prophecies about Tyre were transferred from one possible fulfilment to another, and the ultimate, final transference will be to the destruction of the last days.

Ezekiel 28:8 They shall bring you down to the pit; and you shall die the death of those who are slain, in the heart of the seas- This particularly refers to the prince of Tyre personally, who claimed he was God (:9). But Azemilcus, the king of Tyre when the city finally fell to Alexander the Great, was spared by Alexander. Again we see that the prophecy didn't come true exactly. The ultimate best fit fulfilment will therefore be in the last days. See on Ez. 27:21,29. The predictions in Ez. 26-28 about the king of Tyre personally are one of the biggest reasons to think that they did not come true as intended at the hands of the Babylonians or Greeks; and therefore these prophecies are to be transferred for their final fulfilment to some other figure.

Ezekiel 28:9 Will you yet say before him who kills you, I am God? But you are man and not God in the hand of him who stabs you- The Babylonians besieged Tyre for 13 years under Nebuchadnezzar and failed to capture island Tyre. This didn't happen, as noted on :8. The ultimate best fit fulfilment will therefore be in the last days. See on Ez. 27:21,29.

Ezekiel 28:10 You shall die the death of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers: for I have spoken it, says the Lord Yahweh- The person was to “die the deaths of the uncircumcised” (Ez. 28;10), but angels cannot die (Lk. 20:35,36). There is no reference here therefore to any sinful Angel in Eden. He was a man (:9). The reference to death by the uncircumcised could suggest that Tyre in their mock imitation of Yahweh worship also practiced circumcision.


Ezekiel 28:11 Moreover the word of Yahweh came to me saying- The words “devil” , “satan” and “angel” do not occur in this chapter, nor in the rest of Ezekiel. The context shows this is a prophecy about the King of Tyre; the preceding chapter 27 is an oracle against Tyre, and now chapter 28 speaks specifically about the King of Tyre. Ezekiel chapters 27 and 28 clearly hold together as a literary unit. The city of Tyre and the King of Tyre are described in similar terms, e.g. "perfect in beauty" (compare Ez. 27:3 and Ez. 28:12; Ez. 27:16,17 with Ez. 28:13; Ez. 27:33 with Ez.  28:16). The passage plainly speaks of the King of Tyre, not anything that happened at the beginning of the world.

Ezekiel 28:12 Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre and tell him- As noted on :7-10, no king of Tyre was actually killed neither by Nebuchadnezzar nor Alexander. This funeral lamentation over him therefore looks ahead to the last days; see on Ez. 27:21,29. There must therefore arise an individual similar to some historical king of Tyre who sets himself up as if he is in Zion, sitting in the throne of God. This is the latter day antichrist figure of 2 Thess. 2:4 who sits as God in the temple.

Thus says the Lord Yahweh: You seal up the imitation, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty- The same phrase "perfect in beauty" is used of Jerusalem (Lam. 2:15; Ez. 16:14). Clearly Tyre considered herself as the holy city of God, and in the next verses there are many allusions to the tabernacle. It seems Tyre was envious of Jerusalem's claim to be Yahweh's holy city, and rejoiced at the demise of Jerusalem and its temple, thinking that she would then replace it. She considered herself the "imitation" of Zion and Yahweh worship; but the simple message was that Tyre was to be destroyed, and God's plan was to restore Zion rather than transfer Zion to Tyre. I have explained above that the final fulfilment of the destruction of the "prince of Tyre" will be in the last days, when it will be as it were transferred to the destruction of Babylon and her "man of sin" leader who will likewise create a false sanctuary in imitation of Yahweh worship, perhaps literally in Jerusalem.

Ezekiel 28:13 You were in Eden, the garden of God- I suggested on :4 that this section may be part of an allusion to a Tyrian religious myth rather than to the Hebrew account in Gen. 2. But the text here refers to where the king of Tyre was in place, not in time. Pharaoh and Assyria are similarly described as being a “cedar in Lebanon”, no “tree in the garden of God was like unto him in his beauty... all the trees of Eden envied him... yet shalt thou be brought down with the trees of Eden unto the nether parts of the earth: thou shalt lie in the midst of the uncircumcised” (Ez. 31:2,3,8,9,16,18). Thus "You have been in Eden" has similarities with the language used by Ezekiel about Egypt in Ez. 31. Egypt is described in language which recalls the trees in the garden of Eden, watered by many waters- and then cut down. In the same way as the Garden of Eden was ended, so would Egypt be.

The trees in Eden are not to be taken literally, they represent the nations whom Pharaoh and Assyria conquered, possibly referring to the fact that they were all within the old geographical boundaries of the garden of Eden. Pharaoh being the greatest of the trees in Eden and the most appealing maybe, suggests that he was taking to himself the place of the tree of knowledge, which was in the midst of Eden and probably the most attractive of them all, seeing that it fascinated Eve so much with its tempting fruit. Pharaoh was not literally that tree, but in the parable he was making himself like it. Similarly the king of Tyre is likened in this parable to the cherubim in Eden.


Every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz, emerald, chrysolite, onyx, jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and beryl. Gold workmanship of tambourines and of pipes was yours. In the day that you were created they were prepared- These were the stones in the high priestly breastplate; as noted on :12, Tyre pretended to being an "imitation" of Zion, Yahweh's holy city. David and Hiram of Tyre  had been close friends (2 Sam. 5:11; 1 Kings 5:1,6,7,10), and Hiram and Solomon had made a league in which Hiram supplied materials for the building of the temple (1 Kings 5:12,17,18). But this was now abused by Tyre in creating an imitation sanctuary in Tyre rather than Zion.


With Hiram’s knowledge of the true God, it seems that subsequent Kings of Tyre came to put themselves in the position of God, presenting themselves as seated between the cherubim on Mount Zion, in the same way as the king of Assyria effectively aspired to the same thing - Phoenician inscriptions have been uncovered calling the king of Tyre “Lord of the Heavens”. Even more amazingly, the jewels described in :13 were all found embedded in the sphinx-cherubim unearthed in Tyre. The three jewels of the breastplate missing from the list in :13 were also missing from the sphinx. Inscriptions also describe Tyre as the “garden of God”, and reliefs of cherubim guarding Tyre as they did Eden have been found. Thus the king of Tyre had set up a blasphemous system of worship copying that of the temple and of Eden, with himself as God in the midst of it. Harry Whittaker makes a distinction between "the prince of Tyre" (Ez. 28:2) and "the king of Tyre" (Ez. 28:12). which he sees as a reference to the Tyrian god Melkart ("King of the city"). He suggests that Tyre had installed a system of Yahweh worship similar to that which was in Jerusalem (perhaps a result of Hiram's relationship with Solomon and assistance in building Yahweh's temple)- but this had become mixed with the worship of Melkart (H.A. Whittaker, The Very Devil (Wigan: Biblia, 1991) p. 33.). God is saying that He is aware that this replica ["imitation", :12] of His system of worship has been pushed by the king of Tyre as far as it can go - no wonder a prophecy like Ezekiel 28 was necessary to expose his sin!

According to the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary: "This feeling of superhuman elevation in the king of Tyre was fostered by the fact that the island on which Tyre stood was called "the holy island" [Sanconiathon], being sacred to Hercules and Melkart, so much so that the colonies looked up to Tyre as the mother city of their religion". "The city was thought of as rising from the waters like the rock-throne of God" (Ralph Woodrow, Was Satan Once An Angel In Heaven? (Riverside, CA: Ralph Woodrow Evangelistic Association, 1968) p. 7. Woodrow was one of the few, if not the only, popular American Evangelical preacher of the 20th century who spoke out against the popular view of Satan). This would explain why the King of Tyre is criticized for saying "I am a God, I sit in the seat of God" (Ez. 28:2). It would also explain all the allusions to Israelite worship- he was setting himself up as a rival to Zion, dressing himself in clothing featuring all the jewels in the High Priestly breastplate (Ex. 28:15-20); the word used for his "workmanship" with those jewels in Ez. 28:13 is used in Ex. 31:3,5; 35:31 of the workmanship of the tabernacle and associated garments. Note how Ez. 27:22 says that Tyre traded in "all precious stones". The King of Tyre claimed to be "perfect in beauty" (Ez. 28:12)- just as Zion was described earlier in Ezekiel in the same terms (Ez. 16:14).


Ezekiel 28:14 I put a terrifying messenger there to guard you- "Guard" is related to the term used for the cherubim overshadowing the ark. The suggestion may be that Tyre as a great mercantile power was privileged to cast its ‘wings’ over Israel. It was the abuse of this exalted position that was a factor in the ruin of Tyre (: 4,5). God is clearly superior to the prince of Tyre. God was in control of the cherub.

The king of Tyre is likened to a cherub dwelling in Eden, the garden of God. However, the Genesis record stresses that the cherubim dwelt not in the garden, but east of it. It would therefore seem that Ez. 28:11-19 is alluding to some pagan story of the garden of Eden (see on :4), and re-focusing the myth upon a real, known human being on earth- i.e. the king of Tyre. 

Cassuto points out that the Ezekiel reference to the cherub 'walking in the midst of the stones of fire' is an allusion to Ugaritic poetry which speaks of 'stones of fire'. Ezekiel does the same thing in Ez. 31:8,9, where he references pagan ideas about Eden, the cherubim etc., and re-focuses them upon Pharaoh, king of Egypt. It could even be argued that Ezekiel's detailed visions of the cherubim in Ez. 1 and 10 are a deconstruction of Babylonian and underlying Canaanite myths about the cherubim- showing who the cherubim really are.

A number of sphinx have been discovered, which appear to be a Canaanite pagan rendition of the cherubim described earlier in Ezekiel chapters 1 and 10. “A sphinx is merely a pagan cherub. The sphinx often depicted a king's head, and an animal's body—the animal was usually regarded as a god. Head and body were a composite god: the deification of the king” (Arthur Gibson, “The Diabolical Prince of Tyre”, The Testimony Vol. 46 (1976) p. 174).

A large cherub-sphinx with a king’s head and animal’s body set on a base of sculptured mountains was discovered in nearby Sidon, apparently a deification of a king of Tyre who is here described as being “upon the holy mountain of God” (Ez. 28:14). Phoenician and Ugaritic texts record the King of Tyre pronouncing that “I am El”- exactly what we read him doing in Ez. 28:2, proclaiming that “I am God, I sit in the seat of God” (Descriptions of the sphinx-cherubim discovered and the references to the King of Tyre’s claim to be “El” are to be found in R. D. Barnett, "Ezekiel and Tyre", Eretz-Israel Vol. 9  (1969), p. 9 (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society). The King of Tyre claiming to be El is also referenced in W. F. Albright, Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan (London: Athlone Press, 1968) p. 49).

You lived on My holy mountain and walked among sparkling gems- This holy mountain is Mt. Zion, on the earth, not symbolically in heaven as the Watchtower asserts (see Ez. 20:40). This is an allusion to the stones set in the breastplate of the high priest of Israel (Ex. 39:10-14).They were ‘stones of fire’ because of the way they would shine when exposed to the brilliance of the Shekinah glory of the sanctuary. They symbolized the twelve tribes of Israel (Ex. 39:14). Hiram the earlier king of Tyre walked in the midst of these stones of fire when he moved among the children of Israel (as in the preparation of the materials for the temple). But now Tyre had as it were created a similar sanctuary and breastplate in Tyre.

Ezekiel 28:15 You were perfect in your ways- “You were perfect in your ways” is no proof that a super-human person is being spoken of, seeing that the word is applied to Noah, Abraham, Job and David (Gen. 6: 9; 17:1; Job 1:1; Ps. 18:23 & 25). Those who believe in a personal devil are faced with a contradiction- was the devil originally a sinner, or, was he once perfect but fell?

From the day that you were created- “Perfect” (upright) from the time of his spiritual birth - which is how the word “created” is used in Ezekiel 21:30 and Psalm 102:18 (cp. 2 Cor. 5:17). Perhaps this refers to how under Hiram, Tyre had become a proselyte state of Israel. 

Until unrighteousness was found in you- There may be allusion to the falling out between Hiram and Solomon.

Ezekiel 28:16 By the abundance of your trading they filled the midst of you with violence, and you have sinned; therefore I have cast you as profane out of the mountain of God; and the angel who guarded you drove you away from the midst of the stones of fire- Tyre was no longer accepted by God as a proselyte state with the right to worship at the Jerusalem temple; and perhaps in protest at this, Tyre had created their own imitation temple and Yahweh cult in Tyre. “The king of Tyre” (:12) is the subject of this prophecy. Verses 4 and 5 describe him as getting rich by his trading in silver and gold, and getting proud because of this - much more applicable to a human king than to an angel. His sin is defined in Ez. 28:15,16: "The iniquity of your trading... by the multitude of your trading... you have sinned". The sin in view wasn't some Angelic rebellion against God; it was specifically his trading and avarice, which have been described in detail in the last two chapters, and refer to the king of Tyre rather than to anything in the garden of Eden. I suggested on :4 that this section may be part of an allusion to a Tyrian religious myth rather than to the Hebrew account in Gen. 2.

Ezekiel 28:17 Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you have corrupted your wisdom by reason of your brightness. I have cast you to the ground; I have laid you before kings, that they may see you- It appears that the prophecy of the fall of Tyre is being consciously framed to mirror the fall of Adam, e.g. :2: “you are a man”; “man” is Adam in Hebrew, as if God is saying to the prince of Tyre, “You are like Adam in this parable”. Verse 17 tells how he will be brought to the ground - as Adam had to return to the dust. The passage is often skim read, leading to the assumption that the King of Tyre is being likened to the serpent in the Garden of Eden, or to some Satan figure who fell from Heaven at that time. But careful reading shows that the King of Tyre is being likened to Adam in Eden, not to the serpent.

Ezekiel 28:18 By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trading, you have profaned your sanctuaries; therefore have I brought forth a fire from the midst of you; it has devoured you, and I have turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all those who see you- As noted on :16, the sin of the prince was his trading, which has been explained in the previous two chapters. This is what was in view rather than the sin of some supposed angel in Eden. Like Adam, the prince of Tyre was to return to the dust.

This verse may imply that Tyre had set up forms of worship similar to that of Israel. Hiram was ‘ever a lover of David’ and rejoiced with Solomon in the building of the temple ( 1 Kings 5: 1-12). The king of Tyre would so doubt have learned about God’s kingdom in Israel from these two kings of Israel. Or, the verse may be interpreted this way: Tyre’s sanctuaries were in Israel when the divine presence and favour were manifest. But Tyre failed to appreciate its privileged association with Israel. When Nebuchadnezzar came down into Jerusalem (586 B.C.), the prince of Tyrus said: ‘Aha, the gate of the peoples is broken, it has swung open to me; I shall be replenished, now that she is laid waste’ (Ez. 26:2 R.S.V.). In so saying, Tyre had spoken her own nemesis according to the decree of Genesis 12: 3: ‘I will... curse him that curseth thee’. Tyre, in her self-centred, mercantile interests, had profaned the sanctuaries and was herself to be reduced to ashes.

Tyre could not with impunity violate her privileged relationship with Israel. When Nadab and Abihu treated the sacred as secular, ‘there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD’ (Lev. 10:2). Similarly, Tyre had failed to make a difference between the holy and unholy. It was, therefore, to be reduced to ashes - devoured like Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:24,25).

Ezekiel 28:19 All those who know you among the peoples shall be astonished at you. You have become a terror, and your life shall end evermore- This would be axiomatic if it spoke simply of the personal prince of Tyre. Clearly enough Tyre politically is in view. She revived many times after the Babylonian and Greek attacks upon her. So the final fulfilment is yet future, in the last days.

Ezekiel 28:20 The word of Yahweh came to me saying- Now we have a brief judgment upon Sidon, a neighbour of Tyre. This underlines how the previous passage concerns Tyre, a literal entity on earth, and has no reference to the fall of any angel in Eden.

Ezekiel 28:21 Son of man, set your face toward Sidon, and prophesy against it- Whilst Tyre was in ruins after the surrender to Babylon and lost power, nearby Sidon apparently revived in power. This prophecy was therefore to preclude any conclusion that Tyre was reviving in the form of Sidon nearby. She too was to fall.

Ezekiel 28:22 And say, Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Behold, I am against you Sidon. I will be glorified in the midst of you; and they shall know that I am Yahweh when I shall have executed judgments in her, and shall be sanctified in her- Again we have the Divine hope that the judged nations around Judah would repent and sanctify Yahweh as their God. This didn't happen, and so the prophecies have been transferred and reapplied to the last days.

Ezekiel 28:23 For I will send plague into her and blood into her streets. The wounded shall fall in the midst of her, with the sword on her on every side; and they shall know that I am Yahweh- This repeats the language concerning Judah's judgment (Ez. 5:12; 6:12). Judah was to be punished like the Gentiles because of her Gentile heart; that was the immediate lesson for the first audience of these words as they sat in Babylonian captivity.

Ezekiel 28:24 There shall be no more a pricking brier to the house of Israel, nor a hurting thorn of any that are around them, that scorned them; and they shall know that I am the Lord Yahweh- As noted on :22, we see here Yahweh's intention that the judged nations around Judah would repent and sanctify Yahweh as their God. This didn't happen, and so the prophecies have been transferred and reapplied to the last days. Sidon was clearly a thorn and brier to Israel, alluding to the calamity upon Eden which happened due to Adam's sin. This prophecy will only be fulfilled when paradise is restored at the Lord's return to earth.

Ezekiel 28:25 Thus says the Lord Yahweh: When I shall have gathered the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and shall be sanctified in them in the sight of the nations, then shall they dwell in their own land which I gave to My servant Jacob- They were gathered back [although they resisted this in that many preferred to stay in the soft life of Babylon], but they hardly dwelt safely or confidently in their land. They planted vineyards, but received a poor harvest due to their lack of attention to God’s house; their enemies destroyed their fruits, and their vine “cast her fruit before the time” (Hag. 1:6; Mal. 3:10,11). Haggai and Malachi criticized Israel for this, saying it could be rectified by their obedience: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Mal. 3:10). Yet in Nehemiah’s time, Judah refused to pay tithes properly; but even then, if they had thoroughly repented, the Kingdom conditions were still possible. Such was God’s desire to continue working with His hopeless people.  

Consider the use of the word pus, 'scatter'. It was God's intention that mankind should scatter abroad in the earth and subdue it (Gen. 1:28); but it required the judgment of the tower of Babel to actually make them 'scatter' (Gen. 11:4). Thus even in judgment, God worked out His positive ultimate intentions with humanity. And this word pus is the same word used with reference to Judah's 'scattering' from the land into Babylonian captivity (Ez. 11:17; 20:34,41; 28:25). The intention, surely, was to show the captives that they had been scattered as the people had at the judgment of Babel / Babylon, but even in this, God was working out His purpose with His people and giving them the opportunity to fulfil His original intentions for them.

Ezekiel 28:26 They shall dwell securely therein; yes, they shall build houses, and plant vineyards, and shall dwell securely, when I have executed judgments on all those who do them despite all around them; and they shall know that I am Yahweh their God- After Tyre and Sidon would be judged, then Israel would plant vineyards and dwell “securely”. It seems that this was potentially possible; Judah could have become Yahweh’s battle axe against Tyre, the nations brought to fear Him, and then the Kingdom conditions would have begun. This would then have led to the Ez. 38 invasion with Israel dwelling "securely". But all these things have been reapplied to the last days.


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