Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2003 James Melough
It may be helpful before discussing this chapter,
to give a brief review of Tyre’s history from the time of Nebuchadnezzar.
There were two Tyres: one on the mainland coast, and the other on an island
about half a mile off shore. After a thirteen year siege Nebuchadnezzar in
572 BC destroyed the mainland Tyre, but not the island city. It was rebuilt,
but in 332 BC was destroyed again by Alexander the Great, who then used the
debris to build a causeway to the island city which he also destroyed. In 314
BC the mainland city was again rebuilt, but never recovered its former glory.
The Lord ministered in the vicinity of the city, see Mt 15:21. It was
conquered by the Moslems in 638 AD; taken by the Crusaders in 1124 AD, but
destroyed by the Saracens in 1291 AD, and today exists merely as an
insignificant fishing village.
“And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the first day of the month, that
the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,”
“Son of man, because that Tyrus hath said against Jerusalem, Aha, she is
broken that was the gates of the people: she is turned unto me: I shall be
replenished, now she is laid waste:”
The “eleventh year” was that of Jehoiakim’s exile,
i.e., 586 BC. The month isn’t given.
Tyre had mocked exultingly when Jerusalem fell to
Nebuchadnezzar in that same year; “she is turned unto me” meaning that
Jerusalem was thrown open to the Tyrians, their being “replenished” meaning
that they, the Tyrians, would prosper, grow even richer, as a result of
Jerusalem had been the great center of the caravan
trade that was carried on between Egypt and Asia, but with Jerusalem
destroyed, much of that trade would be diverted to sea traffic, to Tyre’s
great gain since she controlled that commerce.
“Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, O Tyrus, and
will cause many nations to come up against thee, as the sea causeth his waves
to come up.”
Little did Tyre suspect that her own doom was being
planned by God because of her delight at Jerusalem’s calamity. It is one
thing for God to chastise His own, but woe betide the man or nation which
rejoices in that chastisement. As the sea churns up its waves so was God
about to stir up the nations against Tyre.
“And they shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, and break down her towers: I will
also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock.”
“It shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea: for I
have spoken it, saith the Lord God: and it shall become a spoil to the
Nebuchadnezzar, after destroying Jerusalem,
advanced upon Tyre in 585 BC, but at the end of thirteen years in which he
devastated mainland Tyre and her satellite towns, the island Tyre still stood,
though there is some evidence that it also finally surrendered to him.
The city was rebuilt, however, but in 332 BC was
attacked and sacked by Alexander the Great, who then used the rubble of the
city to built a causeway out to the island city which he then also destroyed.
The removal of the ruins of the mainland city, to build the causeway, left it
as described here in verses 4-5: scraped bare like the top of a rock, while it
and the causeway are still used today by the fishermen as places on which to
dry their nets, eloquent testimony to the exact detail with which God fulfills
“And her daughters which are in the field shall be slain by the sword; and
they shall know that I am the Lord.”
The “daughters” here are a synonym for the mainland
towns and villages in the vicinity of Tyre, their being slain referring to
their destruction and the slaughter of the inhabitants. And again, as so
often throughout this book, the fulfillment of His Word would cause the people
- too late to save them - to know that He Who gave the prophecy was the
omnipotent Jehovah Whose every word will be fulfilled to the very letter.
“For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will bring upon Tyrus Nebuchadrezzar
king of Babylon, a king of kings, from the north, with horses, and with
chariots, and with horsemen, and companies, and much people.”
This describes the irresistible might of the nation
God had chosen to be His instrument for the destruction of proud Tyre.
“He shall slay with the sword thy daughters in the field: and he shall make a
fort against thee, and cast a mount against thee, and lift up the buckler
The “daughters,” as already noted, were the
surrounding towns and villages whose inhabitants would be slain by the
invader. “a fort” was a siege-tower; “a mount,” was a mound or ramp built
against the city wall; and the buckler was a soldier’s shield.
“And he shall set engines of war against thy walls, and with his axes he shall
break down thy towers.”
“... engines of war” were battering-rams used to
demolish the city walls.
“By reason of the abundance of his horses their dust shall cover thee: thy
walls shall shake at the noise of the horsemen, and of the wheels, and of the
chariots, when he shall enter into thy gates, as men enter into a city wherein
is made a breach.”
So numerous would be the horses that the dust
raised by their prancing hoofs would cover everything, while the rumbling of
the chariot wheels would cause the walls to tremble.
“With the hoofs of his horses shall he tread down all thy streets: he shall
slay thy people by the sword, and thy strong garrisons (pillars) shall go down
to the ground.”
Everything and everyone in the streets would be
trampled down by the mounted horses whose riders would slay mercilessly
everyone in their path. The garrisons (pillars) were the statues of their
idols in which they trusted, but they too would be toppled and smashed.
“And they shall make a spoil of thy riches, and make a prey of thy
merchandise: and they shall break down thy walls, and destroy thy pleasant
houses: and they shall lay thy stones and thy timbers and thy dust in the
midst of the water.”
Here the singular he (Nebuchadnezzar) of the
preceding verses gives place to the plural they (future conquerors), in
the present context Alexander the Great.
The city would be plundered of all valuables and
merchandise, while the walls would be broken down, and the luxurious houses
demolished, the debris being used to build a causeway to the city on the
island half a mile from shore, a project that occupied Alexander for seven
months, and resulted in his capturing it.
“And I will cause the noise of thy songs to cease; and the sound of thy harps
shall be no more heard.”
Joy would be but a memory in the minds of the few
who would survive the slaughter. Music would cease to be heard in the ravaged
“And I will make thee like the top of a rock:
thou shalt be a place to spread nets upon; thou shalt be built no more: for I
the Lord have spoken it, saith the Lord God.”
So great would be the demand for material with
which to build the causeway to the island city that the site of the once great
mainland metropolis would be left as bare as the top of a rock, and would be
used by the local fishermen as a drying place for their nets.
“Thus saith the Lord God to Tyrus; Shall not the isles shake at the sound of
thy fall, when the wounded cry, when the slaughter is made in the midst of
“... the isles” is literally “the surrounding
coast-lands and islands.” As news of Tyre’s destruction reached them, they
would tremble in fear that a similar fate would overtake them.
“Then all the princes of the sea shall come down from their thrones, and lay
away their robes, and put off their broidered garments: they shall clothe
themselves with trembling; they shall sit upon the ground, and shall tremble
at every moment, and be astonished (appalled, horror-stricken, terrified) at
The “princes of the sea” were the rulers and
merchants of all the maritime cities and towns that had benefitted by their
trade with Tyre. The destruction of the city must have been a devastating
blow to them, for Tyre had been the principal center of virtually all the
commerce of the Mediterranean basin.
“And they shall take up a lamentation for thee, and say to thee, How art thou
destroyed, that was inhabited of seafaring men, the renowned city, which was
strong in the sea, she and her inhabitants, which cause their terror to be on
all that haunt it!”
All who had had any connection with Tyre - and that
meant virtually every merchant in the world of that day - had cause to lament,
for it was through Tyre that the greater part of the world’s commerce passed.
Her fall would have very far-reaching repercussions, for her power and
influence extended not only over all maritime trade: it affected also all the
lands whose goods were transported by sea. The powerful city had been feared
by virtually every other Mediterranean country.
“Now shall the isles tremble in the day of thy
fall; yea, the isles that are in the sea shall be troubled at thy departure.”
The economic fallout from Tyre’s destruction was
great, for it affected virtually every country of the world of that day.
“For thus saith the Lord God; When I shall make thee a desolate city, like the
cities that are not inhabited; when I shall bring up the deep upon thee, and
great waters shall cover thee;”
“When I shall bring thee down with them that descend into the pit, with the
people of old time, and shall set thee in the low parts of the earth, in
places desolate of old, with them that go down to the pit, that thou be not
inhabited; and I shall set glory in the land of the living;”
“I will make thee a terror, and thou shalt be no more: though thou be sought
for, yet shalt thou never be found again, saith the Lord God.”
These three verses may certainly be the poetical
description of Tyre’s fall, but since chapter 28:12-19 makes it clear that
Tyre is a symbol of Satan, it may be that we are meant to see here in the fall
of this great earthly city the symbolic picture of the ultimate end of the
devil and his evil kingdom. For example “the deep ... and great waters” may
be symbolically descriptive of the invaders who destroyed Tyre, but they may
be also descriptive of the literal seas and oceans beneath which, in the heart
of the earth, lies hell, which with Satan, the Beast, and the false prophet,
are ultimately to be cast into the lake of fire, see Re 20:10,14.
The twice repeated mention of “the pit,” and “the
low parts of the earth,” in verse twenty, certainly leaves room for the
inference that more than just the demise of an earthly city is being
“... and I shall set glory in the land of the
living.” The glory of Tyre had been great, but it pales into nothingness
compared with the Divine glory that will luster the millennial earth.