A Celebration of Remarkable Prosperity
Ezekiel 27:1-36
The word of the LORD came again to me, saying,…

The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying, Now, thou son of man, take up a lamentation for Tyrus, etc. "We have here," says Hengstenberg," the lamentation over the fall of Tyre, announced in the foregoing chapter. First, its present glory is presented at full length to the view (Vers. 1-25); then its fall, the importance of which can only be understood from the knowledge of its glory. We must profoundly know the gloria mundi if we are to take to heart the sic transit gloria mundi." So the prophet sketches the riches and luxury, the power and glory, of the island-city. We have before us -

I. A CELEBRATION OF REMARKABLE PROSPERITY. Ezekiel exhibits several distinct features of the prosperity of Tyre.

1. Her advantageous situation. "Thou that dwellest at the entry [Hebrew, 'entrances'] of the sea... thy borders are in the heart of the seas." Being built on an island, the sea was accessible from every side of Tyre, and its ships might go forth into all seas with their merchandise. Those towns which are situated on navigable rivers, or on seaports, generally become rich and prosperous. The situation of Tyro was favorable both to its safety and to its commercial prosperity.

2. The grandeur of her buildings. "Thy builders have perfected thy beauty." In the architecture and construction of her edifices, Tyre occupied a distinguished position amongst the cities of her age (cf. Ezekiel 26:12, 17).

3. Her great riches, important handicrafts, and extensive commerce. In Vers. 5-9 the riches of the proud city are indicated. In these verses "the state of Tyre appears under the figure of a splendid ship In the Tyrian state," says Hengstenberg, "the representation by the symbol of a ship was the more natural, as it was a maritime power. The capital lay like a ship in the midst of the sea, and was surrounded with a forest of masts." All the materials and fittings and furniture of this ship were of the best and richest materials, indicating the wealth and luxury of the Tyrians. Persons from other Phoenician cities are represented as serving in subordinate offices in the ship, while the chief offices were held by the Tyrians themselves, thus indicating that the powers of those cities were used to advance the prosperity of Tyre, while the Tyrians retained authority in their state in their own hands. Tyre was also famous for, and her prosperity was advanced by, her handicraftsmen. In both Ver. 16 and Ver. 18 we read of "the multitude of her handiworks." The prophet does not mention the nature of these arts and manufactures. But the Tyrians were skilful in the mechanical arts. Much beautiful artistic work in brass or copper in the temple which Solomon built was executed by Tyrian workmen (1 Kings 7:13-45). Moreover, Tyre was celebrated for the manufacture of costly robes, jewelry, etc. The wide extent of the trade of the island-city is exhibited by Ezekiel in this chapter (Vers. 12-25). Without entering into the details of that account here, it will be clear to any one who will examine it that Tyre "traded with every part of the then known world, either immediately or through the medium of other nations." So great was her prosperity, riches, etc.

4. Her strong fortifications and military defenses. (Vers. 10,11.) Here are walls and towns manned by mercenary soldiers for the protection of the city. There was a general tendency in commercial cities to employ mercenaries for their military service, "on account of the high wages which may be obtained by artisans in a thriving community compared with the ordinary pay of a soldier." To this tendency Tyre had conformed. In her service there were hardy mountaineers from Persia, Africans obtained through the commerce of Egypt, Phoenicians from Arvad, and the Gammadim, or valorous men, or bold champions - a designation, probably, of a troop eminent for bravery. Thus was Tyro favorably situated, splendidly built, abundant in riches, prosperous in trade, and efficiently guarded.

II. A CELEBRATION OF REMARKABLE PROSPERITY INORDINATELY GLORIED IN. "Thou, O Tyre, hast said, I am perfect in beauty" (Ver. 3; cf. Isaiah 23:5, 9). The Tyrians boasted themselves in their riches, prosperity, and power. In the next chapter this proud boasting is very strikingly exhibited (Vers. 2-5). Pride, self-confidence, and sinful boasting the Tyrians had grown into by reason of their position, prosperity, and power. Babylon in the height of her glory and strength manifested a similar spirit. She said in her heart, "I shall be a lady forever... I am, and there is none else beside me," etc. (Isaiah 47:7, 8). There is grievous sin and great danger in such pride of heart and presumption of speech. It is worse than vain for either a community or an individual to boast of worldly power or prosperity; for commanding power may soon be reduced to abject weakness, and conspicuous prosperity to deplorable destitution. "Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might," etc. (Jeremiah 9:23, 24).

III. A CELEBRATION OF REMARKABLE PROSPERITY WITH A SIGNIFICANT OMISSION. In recounting the glories of Tyre, nothing is said of her religion or righteousness. The prophet makes no mention of her piety towards God, or her kindness or justice towards men. He praises her "for all that she had that was praiseworthy. He has nothing to say of her religion, her piety, her charity, her being a refuge to the distressed, or using her interest to do good offices among her neighbors; but she lived great, and had a great trade, and all the trading part of mankind made court to her." A nation is in a sad plight when its only glories are temporal and material, when it is not established and exalted by reverence and righteousness. In such case its glories are likely to be evanescent, its prosperity fleeting, and its power insecure.

IV. A CELEBRATION OF REMARKABLE PROSPERITY DISASTROUSLY TERMINATED. "Thy rowers have brought thee into great waters," etc. (Vers. 26, 27). The figure of a ship, which was dropped while narrating the trade of Tyre, is here resumed, and her fall is depicted as a shipwreck. The great waters and the east wind, which in that district was marked by violent and continued blasts, indicate the sufferings and perils which issued in the overthrow of the proud city. Notwithstanding her secure situation, abundant riches, extensive commerce, and strong defenses, she has been reduced to ruins. "Nothing human," says Greenhill, "can protect a sinful city and people from the judgments of God. Tyrus was as strong a place as the world had; her walls, towers, ships, wise, strong men, could not do it. Tyrus was as rich a place as any under heaven - she had a multitude of riches; yet these kept her not from being brought into great waters. What power or art of man can keep off the wind from a ship when it is at sea? It is not in the power of all the seamen or mariners in the world to do it; neither can any number of men, or all men, keep off a judgment of God when it is coming upon a sinful place."


1. With lamentation. "At the sound of the cry of thy pilots the suburbs shall shake," etc. (Vers. 28-33). They bewail the fall of the island-city, not merely because of that catastrophe, but also because of its significance. If the queen of the sea is ruined, what city upon earth can be safe? (See our homily on Ezekiel 26:15-18.)

2. With affright. "All the inhabitants of the isles are astonished at thee, and their kings are horribly afraid, they are troubled in their countenance" (Ver. 35). Alarm for their own safety would be joined with their amazement at the downfall of Tyre.

3. With scoffing. "The merchants among the peoples hiss at thee" in malicious joy. They who had been her rivals in commerce, and they who had envied her prosperity, would look upon the ruin of Type with rejoicing and scorn. Type had exulted in the destruction of Jerusalem, and when her evil day came there were those who exulted in her destruction. "The Lord is a God of recompenses, he shall surely requite."

CONCLUSION. Our subject has an impressive message to a nation like our own. In some respects we resemble the proud queen of the sea, particularly in our insular situation, our world-wide commerce, and our great power. Let us take heed that we do not resemble her in her sins - her selfishness, her self-sufficiency, her pride, her boasting. Only as our life as a nation is marked by righteousness and the fear of God have we any reliable guarantee for our continued permanence and prosperity. - W.J.

Parallel Verses
KJV: The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,

WEB: The word of Yahweh came again to me, saying,

The Humiliation of Tyre
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