THE BOOK OF EZEKIEL
Part III: Judgment of the Nations
Chapter 25-27: Prophecies Against Seven Nations
The influence of men and women and the actions of nations in Your divine plan are a mystery to us. But we know that You control the destinies of people and nations. The destruction of ancient Jerusalem serves as a warning to us on this side of salvation history that Your divine justice must prevail if the Church is to remain a force for good in the world. Each of us has a part to play in Your plan. For some of us, our mission is to pray that the forces of good will prevail against the forces of evil. For others of us, there is an active role in carrying the Light of Jesus Christ into the dark corners of our neighborhoods, our nations and the world. Send us righteous priests to lead us, and we will do our part to cover them in prayer as they continue the battle against evil in preparing Your people for the glorious return of Christ the King. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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prophesied against all the nations... Look, for a start I am bringing disaster on
the city that bears my name, so are you likely to go unpunished? You certainly
will not go unpunished, for next I shall summon a sword against all the
inhabitants of the land, Yahweh declares.
Jeremiah 25:13b, 29
... for on the
fifth year after the destruction of Jerusalem, which was the twenty-third of
the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, he made an expedition against Celesyria; and when
he had possessed himself of it, he made war against the Ammonites and Moabites,
and when he brought all those nations under subjection, he fell upon Egypt, in
order to overthrow it...
Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 10.181-182
Ezekiel directs his prophecies against the nations who were Israel's immediate neighbors. The series of oracle pronounce divine judgment moving from north to south in the Transjordan and then east to the Mediterranean coast. Each oracle begins with the word-formula: "The word of Yahweh was addressed to me as follows," repeated thirteen times (25:1; 26:1; 27:1; 28:1, 11, 20; 29:1, 17; 30:1, 20; 31:1; 32:1, 17). The oracles are against seven nations moving in a clockwise pattern from Ammon (25:1-7) and Moab (25:8-11) across the Jordan River to the east, to Edom in the southeast (25:12-14), to Philistia in the west (25:15-17), to the Phoenician city-states of Tyre (26:1-28:19) and Sidon to the northwest (28:20-23). Then, breaking the pattern, the prophecy of destruction is finally addressed to Egypt in the south (29:1-32:32). The dates in 26:1; 29:1; 30:20; 31:1; 32:1 and 17 range from 587 to 585 BC, during and after the siege of Jerusalem. There is also a date associated with Tyre in 29:17-21, dating to 571 BC and the end of Ezekiel's prophetic ministry. Ezekiel's oracles against the seven nations recall Jeremiah's judgment of the nations in Jeremiah 46:1-51:64 and Amos' oracles against the nations in Amos 1:3-2:5 that are also geographically arranged.1
Chapter 25 has four short oracles:
Yahweh condemns these four nations surrounding Judah for having exploited Judah's fall. Yahweh addressed the Ammonites directly through His prophet, but the other three are spoken about and not directly addressed. Yahweh indicts the Ammonites and Moabites for insulting speech, malicious glee in Jerusalem and Judah's destruction, and for insulting Yahweh's authority. The purpose of His divine judgment against them is so they will experience Yahweh's divine justice and "will know that I am Lord Yahweh" (25:7b, 11). He indicts Edom and Philistia for the hatred that motivated them to vengeful acts against Jerusalem and Judah. Their vengeance against Yahweh's covenant people will result in Yahweh's vengeance against them (25:14, 17). All four nations at one time or another either lost land to Israel or had to accept vassal status.
Chapter 25 ~ Prophecies Against Israel's Neighbors: Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Philistia
Ezekiel 25:1-7 ~ Against the Ammonites
1 The word of Yahweh was addressed to me as follows, 2 "Son of man, turn towards the Ammonites and prophesy against them. 3 Say to the Ammonites, Hear the word of the Lord Yahweh. The Lord Yahweh says this: "Since you gloated over my sanctuary when it was profaned, and over the land of Israel when it was ravaged, and over the House of Judah when it went into exile, 4 I shall let the sons of the East take possession of you; they will pitch their camps inside you, they will make their home in you. They will be the ones to eat your produce and drink your milk. 5 I shall turn Rabbah into a camel yard and the towns of Ammon into sheepfolds. And so you will know that I am Yahweh.' 6 The Lord Yahweh says this: Since you have clapped your hands and danced for joy, full of malicious delight at Israel's fate, 7 my hand will be against you for this; I shall hand you over to be looted by the peoples, obliterate you as a nation and wipe you out as a country. I shall reduce you to nothing, and you will know that I am Yahweh.'"
Question: Who were the Ammonites? See Gen 12:5; 19:30-38.
Answer: They were the descendants of Abraham's nephew Lot and his incestuous union with his younger daughter. The younger daughter gave birth to a son whom she named Ben-Ammi, and he became the ancestor of all the Ammonites. The Ammonites were therefore distant relatives of the Israelites.
The Ammonites occupied the territory on the east side of the Jordan River between the Arnon and Jabbok rivers. They first encountered the Israelites during the Exodus (Num 21:24-35; Dt 2:16-37). Later, they joined an alliance with the Moabites and Amalekites against the Israelites during the era of the Judges, but the Judges Ehud and Jephthah led the tribal armies of Israel and defeated them (Judg 3:13-23; 11:32-33).
During the period of the United Monarchy, the Israelite army of King Saul defeated the Ammonites (1 Sam 11:1-15). Later, King David captured their chief city, Rabah of the Ammonites (2 Sam 12:26-31). They were probably tributary to the kingdoms of Israel and Judah until the Assyrian conquest (2 Chr 26:8; 27:5). The Babylonians sent the Ammonites to raid Judah during King Jehoiakim's revolt against Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kng 24:2). After the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BC, King Baalis of Ammon sent Ishmael to murder the Babylonian governor of Judah, Gedaliah, and later gave the assassin sanctuary. Nebuchadnezzar and the "sons of the East" defeated the Ammonites in 582-581 BC, and their defeat marked the end of the Ammonites as a political force (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 10.181-82). The "sons of the east" probably refers to nomadic Arab tribes in alliance with Babylon (Num 24:21; Is 11:14; Jer 49:28).
Question: For what three reasons does God condemn
the Ammonites in verse 3?
The Ammonites gloated over the profanation of Yahuwah's Temple and the disaster that fell upon His special possessions: the holy land of Israel and its people. There was a prohibition against gloating over a fallen enemy while the Ammonites violated: Should your enemy fall, do not rejoice, when he stumbles do not let your heart not exult: for fear that Yahweh will be displeased at the sight and turn his anger away from him (Prov 24:17-18).
It isn't surprising that the Babylonians should turn their attention to the Ammonites after the fall of Jerusalem since, at the crossroads in Ezekiel 21:23-32, King Nebuchadnezzar had to decide between going to attack Jerusalem or Rabah-of-the-Ammonites. The announcement of the decision to take the road to Jerusalem was followed by a judgment oracle against the Ammonites in Ezekiel 21:33-37. Years earlier the Ammonites joined with Judah in an alliance to revolt against the Babylonians. Then they deserted their allies and took both pleasure and profit from Jerusalem's destruction.
Question: What prophetic promise concerning Israel
and nations that opposed Israel finds fulfillment in the judgment against the
Ammonites and the other nations listed in the judgment against the nations?
See Gen 12:3; Num 24:9b.
Answer: God promised to bless the nations that blessed Israel and to curse nations that cursed Israel.
4 I shall let the
sons of the East take possession of you; they will pitch their camps inside
you, they will make their home in you. They will be the ones to eat your
produce and drink your milk. 5 I
shall turn Rabbah into a camel yard and the towns of Ammon into sheepfolds. And
so you will know that I am Yahweh.
The prophecy in verses 4-5 that the "sons of the East" would take possession of the land of the Ammonites took place when Arab tribes established the Nabatean Kingdom that included what had formerly been the kingdoms of Ammon, Moab, and Edom.
I shall reduce you to nothing, and you will know that
I am Yahweh
With the fulfillment of the curse-judgment against Ammon, they should come to know that Israel's God is the one, true God.
Ezekiel 25:8-11 ~ Against Moab
8 The Lord Yahweh says this: "Since Moab and Seir have said: Look at the House of Judah; it is no different from any other nation; 9 very well, I shall expose Moab's heights; its cities will no longer be cities throughout the land, the jewels of the country, Beth-Jeshimoth, Baal-Meon and Kiriathaim. 10 I shall let the sons of the East and the Ammonites take possession of them, so that they will no longer be remembered by the nations. 11 I shall bring Moab to justice, and they will know that I am Yahweh.
Question: Who were the Moabites? See Gen 12:5;
19:30-38; Ruth 4:13-17.
Answer: They were the descendants of Abraham's nephew Lot and his incestuous union with his elder daughter. The elder daughter gave birth to a son whom she named Moab, and he became the ancestor of all the Moabites. The Moabites were, therefore, distant relatives of the Israelites and the Davidic kings since King David's great-grandmother was the Moabitess Ruth, the wife of Boaz of the tribe of Judah.
The Moabites occupied territory in the Transjordan east of the Dead Sea and south of the Arnon River. The books of Isaiah and Jeremiah have oracles against Moab (Is 15-16; Jer 48). King David defeated the Moabites (2 Sam 8:2) and made Moab a vassal of Israel. Assyrian texts imply that Moab fell under Assyrian domination during the 8th century BC along with the rest of the Levant. The Moabites and other states in the Levant and Transjordan came under Babylonian domination when the Babylonians defeated the Assyrians at the Battle of Carchemish in 605 BC. The Moabites joined Judah's other neighbors in plundering the defeated nation and seizing its territory. Five years after the destruction of Jerusalem, the Babylonian destroyed the cities of Moab in 581 BC (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 10.181-82). The "sons of the east" refer to nomadic Arab tribes as in verse 4 (Num 24:21; Is 11:14; Jer 49:28). Modern-day Jordanians are the descendants of tribal nomads out of the Arabian Desert, and they live in the lands once occupied by Ammon and Moab.
Question: As in the case of the Ammonites, what is
the purpose of Yahweh's judgment against Moab?
Answer: I shall bring Moab to justice, and they will know that I am Yahweh.
Ezekiel 25:12-14 ~ Against Edom
12 The Lord Yahweh says this: "Since Edom has taken revenge on the House of Judah and committed great crimes in doing so, 13 very well, the Lord Yahweh says this: My hand will be against Edom and denude it of human and animal. I shall lay it waste, from Teman as far as Dedan they will be put to the sword. 14 I shall take vengeance on Edom by means of my people Israel. They will treat Edom as my anger and fury dictate, and they will know this is my vengeance, declares the Lord Yahweh.
The keyword in the oracles against Edom and Philistia is
"vengeance" (verses 14 twice and 17 twice). Teman was a southerly part of Edom
but sometimes also refers to Edom as in Jeremiah 49:20. Dedan was an Arab
tribe southeast of Edom (Is 21:13; Jer 49:8).
Question: What was the origin of the Edomites? See Gen 25:19-28; 36:21, 31.
Answer: Edom was the twin brother of Jacob-Israel. The Edomites are also a people who are historically related to Israel.
Yahweh's fury against the Edomites is a result of the part they played sending troops to assist the Babylonian army in the sack of Jerusalem, incurring blood-guilt and forgetting their blood ties to God's covenant people. They supported Nebuchadnezzar's campaign against Jerusalem and celebrated the fall of Judah (Ps 137:7; Lam 4:21-22). The prophets Amos, Isaiah, and Jeremiah prophesied the divine judgment against them (Amos 1:11-12; Is 11:14; 21:11, 2; 34:5-17; Jer 49:7-22).
14 I shall take
vengeance on Edom by means of my people Israel. They will treat Edom as my
anger and fury dictate, and they will know this is my vengeance, declares the
Jewish King John Hyrcanus I conquered the Edomites in 129 BC. For the first time in the history of Israel, he initiated forced conversion, compelling the non-Jewish population to be circumcised (1 Mac 4:36-59; 2 Mac 10:1-8). The territory that was once Edom is part of the modern state of Israel.The Edomites no longer exist as a people. Of all the different ethnic groups named in the judgment of these seven nations, only the Israelites still exist as a people.
Ezekiel 25:15-17 ~ Against the Philistines
15 The Lord Yahweh says this, "Since the Philistines have acted in revenge and, motivated by malice, have taken revenge, doing their best to destroy because of their long-standing hatred, 16 very well, the Lord Yahweh says this: My hand will be against the Philistines; I shall exterminate the Cherethites and destroy the rest of the coastal peoples. 17 I shall perform frightful acts of vengeance and inflict furious punishments on them; and they will know that I am Yahweh, when I exact my vengeance on them."
The Philistines were allies of Judah in the revolt against the Babylonians, but they also had a long history of enmity against Israel. They were a maritime people, related ethnically to the ancient Greeks who migrated out of the Aegean basin and into Canaan during the turbulent period of the early 12th century BC. They established five major cities along the coastal strip of southwestern Canaan that belonged to Egypt until the end of the 19th Egyptian Dynasty (ended 1185 BC).3
The Philistines were the chief enemies and oppressors of Israel in the era of the Judges (Judg 3:4), and their wars with Israel continued into the period of the United Monarchy. The Philistines were responsible for the deaths of King Saul of Israel and his sons (1 Sam 31:1-2). King David defeated the Philistines (2 Sam 5:25), establishing Israel a power in the Levant (2 Sam 8:1; 1 Chr 18:1). Some Philistines entered into David's service as mercenaries, including the Cherethites and Pelethites who served as David's royal bodyguard (2 Sam 8:18; 15:18; 20:7, 23; 1 Kng 1:38, 44; 1 Chr 18:17). The Cherethites evidently defected from their alliance with Judah, and therefore are named in the judgment. God probably singled them out because David saved their women, children, and elderly from the Amalekites and returned their families to the Cherethities warriors serving the Philistine army. It was an act of mercy that perpetuated their ethnic identity. In gratitude, they faithfully served David all of his life (1 Sam 30:14-20).
The Babylonians brought an end to the nation of Philistia in the 6th century BC. In compliance with the Babylonian policy for rebellion, the entire population was deported because of the alliance between Philistia and Egypt to resist Babylonian domination (Jer 25:17-20; 47:2-7; Zech 9:5-6). What was once Philistia is now part of modern Israel except for the city of Gaza that is controlled by the Arab Palestinian Authority. The word "Palestine," referring to the "land of the Philistines," was coined for the region that had been Israel/Judah by Roman Emperor Hadrian (117-138 AD) after the second Jewish Revolt in an attempt to remove the name "Israel/Judah" from the history of the region. There has never been a nation called "Palestine."
Chapters 26:1-28:19 ~ The Judgment Against Tyre
this to me, "Make yourself thongs and yokes and put them on your neck. Then
send them to the king of Edom, the king of Moab, the king of the Ammonites, the
king of Tyre, and the king of Sidon, through their envoys accredited to
Zedekiah king of Judah in Jerusalem ...Yahweh Sabaoth, God of Israel, says this:
... For the present, I have handed all these countries over to Nebuchadnezzar
king of Babylon, my servant ..."
The section devoted to the judgment against the Phoenician city-state of Tyre divides into four parts:
Ezekiel 26:1-14 ~ Against Tyre
1 In the eleventh year, on the first of the month, the word of Yahweh was addressed to me as follows, 2 "Son of man, since Tyre has said of Jerusalem: Aha! She is shattered, the Gateway to the Nations; she now gives way to me. Her riches are ruined!' 3 Very well, the Lord Yahweh says this, "Now, Tyre, I am against you, 4 I shall raise many nations against you as the sea raises its waves. They will destroy the walls of Tyre, they will demolish her towers; I shall sweep the dust of her away and reduce her to a naked rock. 5 She will be a drying-ground out to sea for fishing-nets. For I have spoken, declares Lord Yahweh. She will be the prey of the nations. 6 As for her daughters on the mainland, these will be put to the sword, and they will know that I am Yahweh." 7 For the Lord Yahweh says this, "From the north, I shall bring Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, king of kings, down on Tyre with horses, chariots, cavalry and an enormous army. 8 He will put your daughters on the mainland to the sword. He will build siege-works against you, cast up a siege-ramp against you, raise a screen against you; 9 he will pound your walls with his battering-rams, and demolish your towers with his siege-engines. 10 His horses are so many that their dust will hide you. The noise of his horsemen and his chariot-wheels will make your walls tremble as he enters your gates as though storming into a city through the breach. 11 With his horses' hoofs he will trample through all your streets; he will put your people to the sword, and throw your massive pillars to the ground. 12 Your wealth will be seized, your merchandise looted, your walls razed, your luxurious houses shattered, your stones, your timbers, your very dust, thrown into the sea. 13 I shall put an end to the sound of your songs; the sound of your harps will not be heard again. 14 I shall reduce you to a naked rock, and make you into a drying-ground for fishing-nets, never to be rebuilt; for I, Yahweh, have spoken," declares the Lord Yahweh.
The eleventh year, on the first of the month, is March/April 587 BC (according to the Liturgical calendar). However, the Greek Septuagint reads "the twelfth year" and the "first month," which is March/April 586 BC, a year after the burning of Jerusalem and the exile of most of the survivors. We have been assuming all the dates are based on the Liturgical calendar since Ezekiel is a priest. The first month in the liturgical calendar is March/April (Ex 12:1-2). See a chart on the liturgical and civil calendars of Israel
Question: Why was Israel "the Gateway to the
Nations"? Locate Israel on a map of the ancient world and identify the two
great trade highways of "The Way of the Sea" and "The King's Highway."
Answer: Located on a land bridge between continents, the land of Israel connected Africa to Asia Minor and Mesopotamia. Two great trade routes bordered Israel. "The Way of the Sea" ran from Egypt north and south along the Mediterranean coast on Israel's western border into Asia Minor. The other great trade route was "The King's Highway," running up the east side of the Jordan River, north-south on Israel's eastern border into Mesopotamia.
Question: What is Tyre's crime against Jerusalem?
Answer: Tyre intended to profit from Jerusalem's destruction by claiming her material wealth as a trading capital in the region. However, her greater crime is her hubris in thinking that she could control or influence God's divine plan for Israel and the region.
In its ancient Greek context, hubris typically describes behavior that defies the norms of behavior or challenges the gods, and which in turn brings about the downfall, or nemesis, of the perpetrator of hubris. The Phoenicians were the remnants of the old Canaanite civilization; therefore, they may have envisioned the opportunity to reclaim the land Yahweh gave the Israelites and claiming the dominance of their gods over Israel's God.
The Phoenician city-states of Tyre and Sidon were wealthy and influential trading powers on the Mediterranean coast. Sidon founded Tyre in the 2nd millennium BC. It was a walled city built on an island just off the coast and considered impregnable. Nebuchadnezzar's victory over the Egyptians and Assyrians in 605 BC changed the political map of the region (2 Kng 24:7). From that time until the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus of Persia (539 BC), the city-state of Tyre was the chief foe of Babylon in the region.
In the past, there were frequent peaceful contacts between Tyre, Sidon, and Israel, including Tyre's aid to King Solomon in providing materials and technical expertise in the building of Yahweh's Temple in Jerusalem in the 10th century BC (1 Kng 5:1-25). There was also a royal marriage between King Ahab of Israel and Jezebel the daughter of the King of Sidon in the 9th century BC (1 Kng 16:29-31). However, Tyre was jubilant when Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians in 587 BC (Ez 26:2). The rulers of Tyre and Sidon did not recognize the immediate danger. Too late they recognized the political and strategic motivation of Nebuchadnezzar, who, after the fall of Jerusalem, turned to Tyre, destroying her "daughter" towns on the mainland (verse 8) and besieging the city to safeguard his lines of defense for the ultimate goal that was the conquest of Egypt. He couldn't risk having an enemy who could advance against his rear as he took the campaign to Egypt.
Flavius Josephus quotes the Phoenician archives (Against Apion, 1.156) and also Philostratus' history (Antiquities of the Jews, 10.228), which record that Nebuchadnezzar besieged Tyre for thirteen years (585-573 BC). Ezekiel mentions the siege in 29:17-18. He also writes that Nebuchadnezzar will carry off an abundance of treasures from Egypt as a recompense for his failure to take Tyre (Ex 29:19) since the long siege ended in a treaty.2 However, the prolonged siege completely diminished Tyre monopoly as a trading center, and she was surpassed by the city of Sidon that rose to greater prominence in the region.4
Ezekiel 26:15-21 ~ First Lament Over Tyre
15 The Lord Yahweh says this to Tyre, "Will not the islands quake at the sound of your fall, while the wounded groan and the slaughter takes place inside you? 16 All the princes of the sea will leave their thrones, lay aside their cloaks, take off their embroidered robes. Dressed in terror they will sit on the ground trembling incessantly, stunned at your fate. 17 They will raise the lament for you as follows: You are destroyed then, vanished from the seas, famous city, former sea-power, who with her citizens, used to spread terror all over the mainland! 18 Now the islands are trembling on the day of your fall; the islands of the sea are terrified by your end.' 19 For the Lord Yahweh says this: "When I make you a ruined city like other deserted cities, when I raise the deep against you and the ocean covers you, 20 when I fling you down with those who go down into the abyss, with the people of long ago, and put you deep in the underworld, in the ruins of long ago with those who sink into oblivion, so that you can never come back or be restored to the land of the living, 21 I will make you an object of terror; you will not exist. People will look for you but never find you again," declares the Lord Yahweh!
Tyre was one of the most, if not the most, important of the trading centers on the Mediterranean. Therefore, any reversal in fortune for Tyre meant a reversal of fortune for her trading partners: 18 Now the islands are trembling on the day of your fall; the islands of the sea are terrified by your end.
While the city suffered during the siege of Nebuchadnezzar's army, composed of warriors from his vassal states across the Levant and Mesopotamia, Tyre was not, as far as the historical record relates, conquered by the Babylonians who made a treaty with the city and ended the siege. The prophecy of Tyre's destruction was not historically fulfilled by Nebuchadnezzar but by Alexander the Great. In 332 BC, Alexander the Great built a causeway from the mainland to the island, breached the walls, massacred the citizens, and razed the city's walls as an example for the rest of the cities of the Levant and Mesopotamia not to resist his Greek army.
Ezekiel 27:1-9 ~ Second Lament Over Tyre
1 The word of Yahweh was addressed to me as follows, 2 "Son of man, raise the lament for Tyre. 3 Say to Tyre, "City enthroned at the gateway of the sea, agent between the peoples and the many islands, Lord Yahweh says this: Tyre, you used to say: I am a ship perfect in beauty. 4 Your frontiers were far out to sea; those who built you made you perfect in beauty. 5 Cypress from Senir they used for all your planking. They took a cedar from Lebanon to make a mast above you. 6 From oaks of Bashan they made your oars. They built you a deck of cedar inlaid with ivory from the Kittim isles. 7 Embroidered linen from Egypt was used for your sail and for your flag. Purple and scarlet from the Elishah islands formed your deck-tent. 8 The people of Sidon and Arvad were your oarsmen. The sages of Tyre were aboard, serving as sailors. 9 The elders and craftsmen of Gebal were there to caulk your seams."
This part of the lament compares the city to a magnificent trading vessel, built with precious goods from the different ports on the Mediterranean with whom Tyre traded:
Verses 8-9 claim that people from the sister city of Sidon and Arvad were her oarsmen and the elders guided the ship of state that was Tyre along with craftsmen from Gebal who made sure Tyre was sea-worthy.
Seir or Hermon was the mountain that terminates the Anti-Lebanon Range in the south. According to Deuteronomy 3:9, its Phoenician name was Sirion and its Amorite name Seir. At one time, it was the northern boundary of Amorite kingdom (Dt 3:8; 4:48).
Lebanon means "white" and probably refers to the snows that cover the upper slopes of the Lebanon Mountains most of the year. The chain of mountains extends north and south along the Syrian coast through the modern country of Lebanon.
Bashan means "fertile plain," and refers to a region of the Upper Transjordan, east of the Sea of Galilee that extended from the foot of Mt. Hermon (Mt. Seir) on the north to the Yarmuk River on the south.
The Kittim isles: According to the Table of Nations in Genesis Chapter 10, the Kittim were the descendants of Javan who settled on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus and mainland Greece (Gen 10:4; 1 Chr 1:7). However, after the return from the exile, the Kittim were identified more broadly with other Mediterranean peoples like the Greeks (1 Mca 1:1) and the Romans (Dan 11:30, and also in the Dead Sea Scrolls).
Egypt is the great nation and ancient civilization along the Nile River in northeast Africa. According to the Table of Nations in Genesis Chapter 10, Egypt/Mizraim was Ham's second son and the grandson of Noah (Gen 10:6, 13).
The Elishah islands: According to the Table of Nations, Elishah was the grandson of Japheth and great-grandson of Noah (Gen 10:4; 1 Chr 1:7). His descendants were believed to have settled the islands of the Aegean.
8 The people of Sidon and Arvad were your oarsmen. Sidon was the sister city of Tyre to the north. Arvad was a small Phoenician city located on a small island just off the Syrian coast, known as a commercial center and its people as superb sailors (Ez 27:8, 11). According to the Table of Nations, the people of Arvad were considered Canaanites (Gen 10:18; 1 Chr 1:16).
Gebal was a Phoenician seaport located on the Mediterranean coast north of Sidon whose people were known as excellent shipbuilders and superb stone-cutters (1 Kng 5:18; 6:32). It was known to the Greeks as Byblos.5
Ezekiel 27:9b-24 ~ The Second Lament Continued:
Tyre's Trading Partners
9b "Every sea-going ship and crew frequented you to guarantee your trade. 10 Men from Persia, Lud and Put served as warriors in your army; hanging up shield and helmet in you, they displayed your splendor. 11 The sons of Arvad with their army manned your walls all round, while the Gammadians manned your towers; hanging their shields all round your walls, they completed your beauty. 12 Tarshish traded with you because of your abundant resources and exchanged your merchandise for silver, iron, tin and lead. 13 Javan, Tubal and Meshech traded with you. For your merchandise they traded slaves and bronze artefacts. 14 The people of Beth-Togarmah traded your horses, chargers, mules. 15 The people of Dedan traded with you; many islands were your customers and paid you in ivory tusks and ebony. 16 Edom traded with you for the sake of your many manufactured goods, exchanging garnets, purple, embroideries, fine linen, coral and rubies for your goods. 17 Judah and the land of Israel also traded with you, bringing corn from Minnith, pannag, honey, oil and balm. 18 Damascus traded with you, for quantities of your manufactured goods and other goods of all kinds, furnishing you with wine from Helbon and wool from Zahar. 19 Dan and Javan, from Uzal onwards, supplied you with wrought iron, cassia and reeds in exchange for your goods. 20 Dedan traded with you in saddle-cloths. 21 Arabia and all the sheikhs of Kedar were your customers; they paid in lambs, rams and he-goats. 22 The merchants of Sheba and Raamah traded with you; they supplied you with the finest spices, precious stones and gold for your merchandise. 23 Haran, Canneh and Eden, the merchants of Sheba, Asshur and Chilmad traded with you. 24 They traded rich clothes, embroidered and purple cloaks, multi-colored materials and strong plaited cords for your markets.
Tyre's influence was international; men and nations from the islands and city-states across the Mediterranean and the city-states and nations of Africa, Asia Minor, Europe, and Mesopotamia made alliances or trade agreements with her. Locate these different cities and peoples on a map of the ancient world:
Ezekiel 27:25-36 ~ Tyre's Judgment
25 Ships of Tarshish sailed on your business; you were full and heavily loaded far out to sea. 26 Out to the open sea your oarsmen rowed you. The east wind has wrecked you far out to sea. 27 Your riches, your goods, your cargo, your seamen, your sailors, your caulkers, your commercial agents, all the warriors you carry, and all the passengers who are aboard will founder far out to sea on the day of your shipwreck. 28 When they hear the cries of your sailors the coasts will tremble. 29 Then the oarsmen will all desert their ships. The sailors and seafaring people will stay ashore. 30 They will raise their voices for you and weep bitterly. They will throw dust on their heads and roll in ashes; 31 they will shave their heads for you and put sackcloth round their waists. With heartfelt bitterness they will weep for you, bitterly wail. 32 Wailing, they will raise the lament for you, they will lament over you: Who is like Tyre, far out to sea? 33 When you unloaded your goods to satisfy so many peoples, you enriched the kings of the earth with your excess of wealth and goods. 34 Now you have been wrecked by the waves, by the depths of the sea. Your cargo and all your passengers have foundered with you. 35 All those who live in the islands will be stunned at your fate. Their kings will quake with horror, with downcast expressions. 36 The merchants of the nations will whistle at your fate. You will be an object of terror, gone forever."
Tyre's judgment was to lose her status as the greatest commercial port on the Mediterranean. The thirteen years the army of the Babylonians besieged Tyre destroyed her wealth in trade, and severely diminished the wealth of her trading partners. The trading partners, who helped to make Tyre wealthy and for whom she brought great wealth in trade-goods, mourned her fate as well as their significant losses in revenue. Although Tyre survived the Babylonian siege, she never regained the wealth and influence she had previously known as the premier trading center of the Mediterranean. In the absence of Tyre's fleet of trading vessels visiting ports on the Mediterranean and caravans carrying away the goods unloaded at her port, other port cities took her place. When she resumed her trading and shipping activities, she no longer had a monopoly in trade on the Mediterranean.
1 Jeremiah's judgments were against Egypt, Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Edom, towns of Syria, Elam, and Babylon. Amos' judgments were against Damascus, Gaza and Philistia, Tyre and Phoenicia, Edom, Ammon, Moab, Judah, and Israel.
2 In the treaty with Tyre, the Tyrian royal house had to reside in Babylon and a Tyrian king could rule in Tyre but only with a Babylonian commissioner.
3 The five Philistine cities were Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath.
4 In the New Testament, people from Tyre and Sidon came to the Galilee to hear Jesus preach (Mk 3:8). He also visited the territory of Tyre and healed the daughter of a Gentile woman (Mk 7:24-30). St. Paul visited a Christian community in Tyre and stayed a week with them while on his way to Jerusalem (Acts 21:3-6).
5 The Greek name for the city "Byblos" derives from the Greek word for "book." The inhabitants of the city made paper from papyrus reeds imported from Egypt. The paper was exported across the Mediterranean into Mesopotamia and Asia Minor and used for official documents, state correspondence, and literary texts. The word "Bible" is derived from the word "byblos."
Questions for discussion or reflection:
Why does Yahweh instruct Ezekiel to deliver judgments against Judah's neighbors and other nations that were part of her history? How are these pagan nations also part of God's divine plan for Israel/Judah's return from exile and humanity's salvation?
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