Read Ezekiel 27
A Lament Over Tyre
27 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, take up a lamentconcerning Tyre. 3 Say to Tyre, situated at the gateway to the sea, merchant of peoples on many coasts, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“‘You say, Tyre,
“I am perfect in beauty.”
4 Your domain was on the high seas;
your builders brought your beauty to perfection.
5 They made all your timbers
of juniper from Senir;
they took a cedar from Lebanon
to make a mast for you.
6 Of oaks from Bashan
they made your oars;
of cypress wood from the coasts of Cyprus
they made your deck, adorned with ivory.
7 Fine embroidered linen from Egypt was your sail
and served as your banner;
your awnings were of blue and purple
from the coasts of Elishah.
8 Men of Sidon and Arvad were your oarsmen;
your skilled men, Tyre, were aboard as your sailors.
9 Veteran craftsmen of Byblos were on board
as shipwrights to caulk your seams.
All the ships of the sea and their sailors
came alongside to trade for your wares.
10 “‘Men of Persia, Lydia and Put
served as soldiers in your army.
They hung their shields and helmets on your walls,
bringing you splendor.
11 Men of Arvad and Helek
guarded your walls on every side;
men of Gammad
were in your towers.
They hung their shields around your walls;
they brought your beauty to perfection.
12 “‘Tarshish did business with you because of your great wealth of goods;they exchanged silver, iron, tin and lead for your merchandise.
13 “‘Greece, Tubal and Meshek did business with you; they traded human beings and articles of bronze for your wares.
14 “‘Men of Beth Togarmah exchanged chariot horses, cavalry horses and mules for your merchandise.
15 “‘The men of Rhodes traded with you, and many coastlands were your customers; they paid you with ivory tusks and ebony.
16 “‘Aram did business with you because of your many products; they exchanged turquoise, purple fabric, embroidered work, fine linen, coral and rubies for your merchandise.
17 “‘Judah and Israel traded with you; they exchanged wheat from Minnithand confections, honey, olive oil and balm for your wares.
18 “‘Damascus did business with you because of your many products and great wealth of goods. They offered wine from Helbon, wool from Zahar19 and casks of wine from Izal in exchange for your wares: wrought iron, cassia and calamus.
20 “‘Dedan traded in saddle blankets with you.
21 “‘Arabia and all the princes of Kedar were your customers; they did business with you in lambs, rams and goats.
22 “‘The merchants of Sheba and Raamah traded with you; for your merchandise they exchanged the finest of all kinds of spices and precious stones, and gold.
23 “‘Harran, Kanneh and Eden and merchants of Sheba, Ashur and Kilmad traded with you. 24 In your marketplace they traded with you beautiful garments, blue fabric, embroidered work and multicolored rugs with cords twisted and tightly knotted.
25 “‘The ships of Tarshish serve
as carriers for your wares.
You are filled with heavy cargo
as you sail the sea.
26 Your oarsmen take you
out to the high seas.
But the east wind will break you to pieces
far out at sea.
27 Your wealth, merchandise and wares,
your mariners, sailors and shipwrights,
your merchants and all your soldiers,
and everyone else on board
will sink into the heart of the sea
on the day of your shipwreck.
28 The shorelands will quake
when your sailors cry out.
29 All who handle the oars
will abandon their ships;
the mariners and all the sailors
will stand on the shore.
30 They will raise their voice
and cry bitterly over you;
they will sprinkle dust on their heads
and roll in ashes.
31 They will shave their heads because of you
and will put on sackcloth.
They will weep over you with anguish of soul
and with bitter mourning.
32 As they wail and mourn over you,
they will take up a lament concerning you:
“Who was ever silenced like Tyre,
surrounded by the sea?”
33 When your merchandise went out on the seas,
you satisfied many nations;
with your great wealth and your wares
you enriched the kings of the earth.
34 Now you are shattered by the sea
in the depths of the waters;
your wares and all your company
have gone down with you.
35 All who live in the coastlands
are appalled at you;
their kings shudder with horror
and their faces are distorted with fear.
36 The merchants among the nations scoff at you;
you have come to a horrible end
and will be no more.’”
The previous chapter detailed Ezekiel’s prophecy over the city of Tyre. This chapter opens with a lament for Tyre. A prophecy is defined as the act of proclaiming a message from God. A lament, on the other hand, is to express deep regret, grief, or sorrow.
Ezekiel 27 describes Tyre as a beautiful ship and gives us intricate details of the magnificence of this ancient city. The description given to us in verses 4-6 tell us that this city had superior construction. We learn in verse 7 that it had impressive decoration. The list of the crew and their origins in verses 8-11 tell us that it had first class personnel. Ezekiel 27:11 says that all of these things “they made perfect your beauty.” The city of Tyre was perfectly constructed, perfectly decorated, and perfectly staffed…just like a mighty, beautiful, well-run ship!
Verses 12-26 detail out an impressive list of people and places that Tyre traded with. If we were to mark all of these on a map, we would understand that although small in territory, Tyre had a far-reaching impact on the world and could be considered an economic powerhouse. So why the call for lament? Why would Ezekiel express regret, grief, or sorrow over a mighty, beautiful, and economically successful place?
It’s important for us to note that as we read about the beauty, strength, and success of the city of Tyre, there is no mention anywhere of God. The people of Tyre cared a lot about their business and appearance but gave little or no regard to God. In addition to being a famous commercial center, Tyre was known for its wickedness and idolatry. Ezekiel was not the first prophet to predict its destruction (Isaiah, Joel, Amos, and Zechariah did as well!).
Deuteronomy 8:18 says “You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your father, as it is this day.” The people of Tyre were more concerned with acquiring wealth and success and stature than they were with remembering God. The very next verse in Deuteronomy says “And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish.”
This is exactly what happened to Tyre. The entire city perished. This chapter ends with a very solemn statement: “You have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more forever.” God desired their obedience. He gave them more than one chance to repent. But they consistently chose the superior construction, the impressive decoration, and the first class personnel over the provision that the creator of the universe was willing to give them in exchange for their hearts. That choice grieves the heart of God and is worthy of lament.
- What does this chapter teach you about God? What does it teach you about humanity?
- Do you ever stop and lament the broken state of the world? Why or why not?
- How can you ensure that your heart is marked by obedience and repentance (unlike Tyre’s)?
By the Way
Ezekiel 27:26b says “The east wind has wrecked you in the heart of the seas.” There are numerous scriptures that tell us that God controls the wind, but specifically Psalm 48:7 tells us “By the east wind you shattered the ships of Tarshish”. We can know with confidence that God was in control of the destruction of Tyre!