Ezekial and the City of Tyre

Ezekial and the City of Tyre

Question

Ezekiel 26:14 states that Tyre will never be rebuilt. Tyre is presently a city and has over 200,000 people in it. Isn't this a false prophecy?

Answer

In the Old Testament, Tyre was a wealthy ancient Phoenician port city located in what is now called Lebanon. In Ezekiel 26:1-28:19 we read a prophecy against it because of its exploitation of God's covenant people, and other sins. According to this prophecy (c. 593-570 B.C.) judgment was coming against Tyre, and Ezekiel 26:3-6 and 14 give details of some of God's judgment. It reads:

Therefore thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against you, O Tyre, and will bring up many nations against you, as the sea brings up its waves. They shall destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her towers, and I will scrape her soil from her and make her a bare rock. She shall be in the midst of the sea a place for the spreading of nets, for I have spoken, declares the Lord God. And she shall become plunder for the nations, and her daughters on the mainland shall be killed by the sword. Then they will know that I am the Lord… I will make you a bare rock. You shall be a place for the spreading of nets. You shall never be rebuilt, for I am the Lord; I have spoken, declares the Lord God (Ezekiel 26:3-6,14).

God did bring numerous nations against Tyre. We see Babylon's siege of it under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar in 586-573 BC. Greece, under Alexander the Great, besieged it in 332 BC. The Muslims conquered Tyre in AD 638, and the city was again taken over in AD 1124 by the Crusaders from Europe. Then in AD 1291, Muslim Mamluks captured and destroyed it. Tyre never regained its former importance. True to Ezekiel's prophecy, Tyre became “a bare rock” and “a place for the spreading of nets” (Ezek. 28:14).

In context, the term “rebuilt” doesn't mean there wouldn't ever be another city or other inhabitants there. If that were the case then there wouldn't have been any cause or reason to “bring up many nations" against it (Ezek. 26:3). The phrase “many nations” implies at least some type of ongoing city over a period of time. So its being rebuilt actually refers to its former glory—its former prominence, influence, beauty and splendor (Ezek. 27:3-9), strength (Ezek. 27:10-11) and prosperity (Ezek. 27:12-27, 33). The golden age of Tyre would be gone forever!

Ezekiel, through the Holy Spirit, didn't get it wrong. Modern Tyre is nothing like the former city. And it never will be.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).