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Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament

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EZEKIEL 28

PROPHECY AGAINST TYRE CONCLUDED;

AGAINST TYRE'S RULER;

AGAINST TYRE'S KING;

AGAINST SIDON;

AGAINST THE PRINCE OF TYRE (Ezekiel 28:1-10)

Ezek. 28:1-5


 
Verses 1-5
The word of Jehovah came again unto me, saying, Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyre, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because thy heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a god, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art man, and not God, though thou didst set thy heart as the heart of God;-- behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that is hidden from thee; by thy wisdom and by thine understanding thou hast gotten thee riches, and hast gotten gold and silver into thy treasures; by thy great wisdom [and] by thy traffic hast thou increased thy riches, and thy heart is lifted up because of thy riches;--

Say unto the prince of Tyre…
(Ezekiel 28:2). This paragraph contrasts with the paragraph beginning in v. 11, which is addressed to the king of Tyre. Cooke noted that the words prince of Tyre refer to the actual ruler of Tyre, namely, Ithbaal I; and from this the conclusion is mandatory that the king of Tyre is a different person from Ithbaal. Those scholars are therefore in error who treat this whole chapter as a prophecy against the king of Tyre. Two different persons are most surely addressed in this chapter.

"Eichrodt noted that these first ten verses directed against Ithbaal do not reveal any personal details either about his character or his political activity that betray any exceptional wickedness. The things mentioned are in such general terms that any Tyrian king might have qualified as the target. Therefore, it is the kingship per se that is being prosecuted and sentenced here in the person of Ithbaal its representative."F1

This horribly wicked self-deification of Tyre was directly related to the satanically induced rebellion of mankind in the matter of the construction of the Tower of Babel, where such humanistic self-deification began; and Tyre, being an outstanding representative of the same thing, in all likelihood prompted the special attention God gave to the disaster that happened to Satan in Ezek. 28:11-19. The great deduction being required from this is that, "If Satan himself failed to get away with it, who are mortal men that they should follow his shameful example into certain disaster."

I am a god…
(Ezekiel 28:2), This arrogant and conceited boast was repeated in Ezek. 28:6,9. It was the type of atheism which God was certain to punish. Herod Agrippa I had himself installed as a god down at Caesarea; but an angel of God executed him within the same hour (Acts 12).

God's reply to the conceited boast of godhead on the part of Tyre's ruler was simple enough. "Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I am god? but thou art man, and not God; I have spoken it, saith the Lord Jehovah." (Ezekiel 28:9-10). As Thompson stated it, "God always has the last word!"F2

Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel…
(Ezekiel 28:3). This Daniel is not the Biblical Daniel, but may have been the Daniel mentioned in the pagan literature of Ugarit, who lived about 1400 B.C.F3 A comment like this is totally untrue, there being no evidence whatever to sustain it. It resulted only from the evil prejudice of radical scholars against the Book of Daniel, which was so vigorously endorsed and approved by the Son of God Himself. The current crop of commentators who parrot this old shibboleth of the radical critics are simply not doing any thinking at all for themselves. As Thompson noted, It is quite impossible to say dogmatically that the Daniel here is the same as the Daniel in the Ugaritic Daniel.F4

In the year 588 when Ezekiel wrote this, Daniel had already been hailed by no less an authority than the king of Babylon as "the wisest man on earth." Nebuchadnezzar actually fell upon his face and worshipped Daniel, and stated before the whole world that, "I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and that no secret troubleth thee" (Dan. 2:46; 4:9). Daniel was, in fact the deputy king of Babylon; he sat in the king's gate; he was the second ruler in the kingdom; and all of this had already been known throughout the whole world of that period for fourteen years at the time Ezekiel wrote.F5

Notice that Ezekiel here used almost the same words of these passages in Daniel, such as, "no secret is hidden from thee," almost identical with the words of Nebuchadnezzar, "no secret troubleth thee." In the light of these stubborn facts, what thoughtful person can possibly imagine that the name "Daniel" could possibly have called to mind any person who ever lived upon the earth, other than the mighty Daniel at the fight hand of Nebuchadnezzar. Of all the foolish canards the radicals ever came up with, we shall nominate this one as one of the worst. (See my commentary on Daniel, Vol. IV of our Major Prophets Series, regarding the integrity and authenticity of the Book of Daniel.)

Thy heart is lifted up…
(Ezekiel 28:5). This was no light offense. Man had here gone beyond the limits set by God Himself for man's self-glorification.F6


 
Verses 6-10
therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because thou hast set thy heart as the heart of God, therefore, behold, I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations; and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy brightness. They shall bring thee down to the pit; and thou shalt die the death of them that are slain, in the heart of the seas. Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I am God? but thou art man, and not God, in the hand of him that woundeth thee. Thou shalt die the death of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord Jehovah.

THE PUNISHMENT ASSIGNED

Here we have the verdict awaiting Ithbaal the ruler of Tyre and his wicked city. He would die a shameful and disgraceful death, "the death of the uncircumcised." "God here mocked his claim of being `a god,'"F7 pointing out that he certainly would not claim any such thing in the hands of those who would slay him. "The strangers" referred to were the hosts of the armies of Nebuchadnezzar.

Thou shalt die the death…
(Ezekiel 28:8). The words here are literally die the deaths, as reflected in some of the older versions. The plural was for emphasis, meaning a death so painful as to be the equivalent of dying many times.F8


 
Verses 11-17
Moreover the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou wast in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, the topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was in thee; in the day that thou wast created they were prepared. Thou wast the anointed cherub that covereth: and I set thee, [so that] thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till unrighteousness was found in thee. By the abundance of thy traffic they filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore have I cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God; and I have destroyed thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thy heart was lifted up because of thy beauty; thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I have cast thee to the ground; I have laid thee before kings, that they may behold thee.

THE EXAMPLE OF SATAN, HERE CALLED "KING OF TYRE" (Ezekiel 28:11-19)

There is not a line of this that can be applied to any other being who ever lived, except Satan! The ridiculous allegation of some that, "Ezekiel here refers to a legend,"F9 or to "A Phoenician version of the account in Genesis,"F10 or to some alleged `myth' concerning a divine garden, an abode of bliss. As Cooke pointed out, however, "Such a myth has not been discovered!"F11 Thus there is no evidence whatever, except in the imaginations of wicked men, of any such mythological tale as the radical critics love to find here. We do not believe there is any such myth, or that there ever has been. Besides that, we shall show, shortly, that every line of the prophecy here has its application in the Genesis account of the existence of Satan in the Garden of Eden, not as a resident there, but as an intruder.

As Canon Cook noted:

"Idolatrous kings in the eyes of God's prophets were antagonists of God. In them was embodied the principle of evil opposing the divine government of the world. Therefore some of the Fathers saw not merely a hostile monarch upon the throne, but the prince of this world, even Satan."F12

The very sin which resulted in the casting of Satan out of heaven and down to the earth was that of "pride"; and therefore the pride of the Tyrian kings afforded a marvelous opportunity for the prophet to call up from the Word of God the example of what happened to Satan, as a sufficient warning to all the proud kings who every lived.

Thou wast in Eden…
(Ezekiel 28:13). No student of God's Word can be ignorant of the meaning of Eden. It was that garden where Adam and Eve had been placed by the Lord, and into which Satan appeared as an intruder to seduce Eve and precipitate the fall of the human race. After this clause, the rest of the description must be applied to Satan before his appearance in Eden.

Every precious stone was thy covering…
(Ezekiel 28:13). This description applies to Satan before he appeared in Eden, before he was cast down to earth (Ezekiel 28:17). because he appeared to Eve, not in such a covering as that mentioned here, but as a serpent.

Thou wast the anointed cherub…
(Ezekiel 28:14). The clear meaning of this is that the character spoken of was an angel of God, the word cherub cannot mean anything else. The theory of the myth disappears in this verse. God tell us who the King of Tyre here was. He was a perfect angel in whom unrighteousness was found, after which God threw him out of heaven and down to earth. The critics have done their best to get rid of this verse, rendering it, Thou wast with the cherubs;F13 but as McFadyen admitted that does not get rid of the meaning, which would then be, Among the cherubs was thy dwelling,F14 certainly indicating his place among the angels of God, and as one of them.

Thou wast upon the holy mountain of God…
(Ezekiel 28:14). Most of the scholars we have consulted misread this as another name for the Garden of Eden. This is not correct. Going all the way back to Ezek. 28:13, the description must be applied to Satan before his appearance in Eden. The mountain of God therefore applies to the status of Satan while he was with the cherubs. It is our opinion that the mountain of God here is the equivalent of The Majesty on High, (Hebrews 1:3), certainly not the garden of Eden. Satan's being in Eden came later, after God removed him from the Majesty on High by casting him to the ground (earth).

Perfect from the day that thou wast created…
(Ezekiel 28:15). Such a statement as this was never made concerning any human being who ever lived on earth. Only of an angel of God, or some other super-human being could this have been spoken. As Howie said, Obviously, this is no description of any ordinary flesh-and-blood human being.F15

They filled the midst of thee with violence. and thou hast sinned ..…
(Ezekiel 28:16). These words return to Ithbaal, the literal ruler of Tyre, but only for the purpose of making the application from the life of Satan.

Therefore have I cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God; and I have destroyed thee, O covering cherub…
(Ezekiel 28:16). The application is clear enough. Just as Satan lost his place in the mountain of God, the king of Tyre, and all other proud kings, shall lose their place in the destruction God prepares for them.

Amidst the stones of fire…
(Ezekiel 28:14,16). This further confirms our view that the very presence of God is meant by the mountain of God, and by the place where Satan was at first. In the earlier symbols of the presence of God found in Ezekiel, the appearance of the Lord's feet as though heated to a glorying brightness in a furnace, the lightnings, etc. fit this mention of the stones of fire.

Before leaving this narrative, we present the opinions of Tertullian and Origen as altogether reasonable and intelligent explanations of our text.

"This description, it is manifest, properly belongs to the transgression of the angel, and not to the prince's; for none among human beings was either born in the Paradise of God, not even Adam himself, who was rather translated thither; nor placed with a cherub on God's holy mountain, that is to say, `the Heights of Heaven,' from which the Lord testifies that Satan fell. It is none else than the very author of sin!"F16

"This paragraph cannot at all be understood of a man, but of some superior power which had fallen away from a higher position and which had been reduced to a lower and worse condition. Seeing then that such are the words of the prophet, who is there who can so enfeeble these words as to suppose that the reference is to some man or saint? We are of the opinion, therefore, that these words are spoken of a certain angel."F17

However, the advocates of the position which we believe to be correct on this chapter are not confined to ancient times. We are happy indeed to report that C. L. Feinberg, a current scholar of the greatest ability, writing as recently as 1884 has the following:

"We cannot follow those views which inject into this chapter without support a foreign and false mythology, a legendary atmosphere, or a hypothetical ideal personality. The importation into this chapter of mythology or some pagan legend must be resisted. The grand lesson of the chapter is that, `If Satan, who was far greater than Ithbaal of Tyre received just punishment for the arrogation unto himself of divine prerogatives, then the proud ruler of Tyre cannot expect to escape the consequences of his own declaration that, "I am a god."'"

In our own view, any other interpretation of this narrative is founded upon the unchristian assumption that Ezekiel here used some pagan tale and that God is not the author of these verses. The text flatly declares that God is the author of this chapter, and we believe it.


 
Verses 18, 19
By the multitude of thine iniquities, in the unrighteousness of thy traffic, thou hast profaned thy sanctuaries; therefore have I brought forth a fire from the midst of thee; it hath devoured thee, and I have turned thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the peoples shall be astonished at thee: thou art become a terror, and thou shalt nevermore have any being.

A fire from the midst of thee…
(Ezekiel 28:18). Significantly, it was fire from within the king of Tyre himself that devoured him. This is the way it is with the vast majority of sinful men; it is the fires of ambition, pride, and lust from within themselves which eventually issues forth in their destruction.

Thus, we find that the narrative here is not merely founded upon the Genesis account of Satan's having been in Eden, but it anticipates portions of Rev. 12 in the fact of a cherub having cast Satan out of heaven. In Revelation, the name of that cherub was revealed as that of the archangel himself, namely, Michael! Thus, as F. F. Bruce noted, "This passage in Ezekiel has contributed some details to the picture of the fall of Satan."F18


 
Verses 20-26
And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face toward Sidon, and prophesy against it, and say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I am against thee, O Sidon; and I will be glorified in the midst of thee; and they shall know that I am Jehovah, when I shall have executed judgments in her, and shall be sanctified in her. For I will send pestilence into her, and blood into her streets; and the wounded shall fall in the midst of her, with the sword upon her on every side; and they shall know that I am Jehovah. And there shall be no more a pricking brier unto the house of Israel, nor a hurting thorn of any that are round about them, that did despite unto them; and they shall know that I am the Lord Jehovah. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: 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. And they shall dwell securely therein; yea, they shall build houses, and plant vineyards, and shall dwell securely, when I have executed judgments upon all those that do them despite round about them; and they shall know that I am Jehovah their God.

PROPHECY AGAINST SIDON

Prophesy against it (Sidon)…
(Ezekiel 28:21). There were many things in Sidon that called for the judgment of God against them, not the least of which was Jezebel's outrageous establishment of the entire apparatus of Baal worship in the very heart of Israel itself.

"Thus the Sidonian `brier' had indeed pricked Israel";F19 but God here promises judgments against Sidon that will remove such a nuisance from the harassing position they had enjoyed so long in their dealings with God's people.

Also, the last two verses here indicate the return of Israel to Palestine and God's gathering of them from all the nations into which they had been scattered.

"All of these Phoenician cities had been a constant source of temptation and annoyance to God's people for ages; and the promise here is that as soon as God shall have restored the captives to Palestine and has executed judgments upon the pagan nations which had gloated over their captivity, the Israelites should again enjoy all of their ancient privileges; and the nations would be compelled to ascribe to Jehovah, as the covenant God of Israel, all of the honor and glory that were due him."F20

The fact that very little of this ever actually came to pass as prophesied here was due to the widespread failure of the Jews to live up to the solemn terms and conditions upon which such glorious promises rested. Jer. 17:7:10 should be read in connection with every wonderful promise that God made to Israel or to any other nation.

By the times of Jesus Christ, racial Israel had totally departed from the God of their fathers; and, as spelled out by the apostle Paul in the first two chapters of Romans, the hardening of the apostate people had become final; and from the racial stock of the old Israel Jesus Christ was able to rescue only a small remnant from which nucleus the New Israel, that is, the Church of Jesus Christ was launched with the life-giving gospel of the New Dispensation. Because of this near-universal sinfulness of the Old Israel, many of the glorious things God promised and had intended to do for them never occurred at all.


Footnotes for Ezekiel 28
1: WE, p. 390.
2: J. B. Thompson, p. 196.
3: International Critical Commentary, p. 314.
4: J. B. Thompson, p. 196.
5: George Barlow, The Preacher's Complete Homiletic Commentary (New York: Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1891), p. 311.
6: WE, p. 391.
7: RHA, p. 880.
8: George Barlow, The Preacher's Complete Homiletic Commentary (New York: Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1891), p. 312.
9: J. R. Dummelow's Commentary, p. 510. <10> F. F. Bruce in the New Layman's Bible Commentary, p. 886
11: International Critical Commentary, p. 316.
12: Albert Barnes' Commentary, p. 369.
13: J. E. McFadyen, Peake's Commentary on the Bible (London: T. C. and E. C. Jack, Ltd., 1924),, p 514
14: Ibid.
15: Carl G. Howie in the Layman's Bible Commentary, p. 62.
16: Tertullian in Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III, p. 306.
17: Origen in Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV, p. 259.
18: F. F. Bruce in the New Layman's Bible Commentary, p. 886.
19: George Barlow, The Preacher's Complete Homiletic Commentary (New York: Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1891), p. 313.
20: Ibid.

Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Ezekiel 28". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=eze&chapter=028>. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.  

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