They will plunder your wealth and loot your merchandise; they will break down your walls and demolish your fine houses and throw your stones, timber and rubble into the sea. I will put an end to your noisy songs, and the music of your harps will be heard no more. I will make you a bare rock, and you will become a place to spread fishnets. You will never be rebuilt, for I the Lord have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord . “This is what the Sovereign Lord says to Tyre: Will not the coastlands tremble at the sound of your fall, when the wounded groan and the slaughter takes place in you? Then all the princes of the coast will step down from their thrones and lay aside their robes and take off their embroidered garments. Clothed with terror, they will sit on the ground, trembling every moment, appalled at you. Then they will take up a lament concerning you and say to you: “ ‘How you are destroyed, city of renown, peopled by men of the sea! You were a power on the seas, you and your citizens; you put your terror on all who lived there. Now the coastlands tremble on the day of your fall; the islands in the sea are terrified at your collapse.’ “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: When I make you a desolate city, like cities no longer inhabited, and when I bring the ocean depths over you and its vast waters cover you, then I will bring you down with those who go down to the pit, to the people of long ago. I will make you dwell in the earth below, as in ancient ruins, with those who go down to the pit, and you will not return or take your place in the land of the living. I will bring you to a horrible end and you will be no more. You will be sought, but you will never again be found, declares the Sovereign Lord .” – Ezekiel 26:12-21
Today’s passage is a continuation of the description of the coming calamity for the city of Tyre, which is in modern-day Lebanon. I did a little investigation in to this location because I was curious about all the talk in the previous passages, and this passage, about this location being under the sea in the future (“you will become a place to spread fishnets”).
When I investigated the location in Google Earth I learned two interesting things: 1) the ruins of the Phoenician City of Tyre described here are still quite visible along the southern shore of a peninsula in modern day Lebanon (33°16’06.62″ N 35°11’43.68″ E); 2) These ruins appear to extend out into the ocean almost as if part of the city was submerged.
God promises in this passage that the city will never be rebuilt after it is destroyed. Now there does appear to be a city of Tyre on the map which would imply that a city was rebuilt, but there is also the presence of the ruins of the older city which are still there. Perhaps God meant that the city would not be able to exist at the location described here, which may be accurate. Either way it is interesting that there is abundant evidence still at this location to examine.
God goes on to talk about how this destruction of Tyre will impact those who live there and the surrounding towns. The “princes” are going to be freaked out by whatever happens so much that they will “sit on the ground, trembling every moment, appalled”. What is interesting is in the next couple of verses the very coast is said to “tremble on the day of your fall”.
This could be completely metaphorical or describing an emotional rather than a physical reality, but I find three things interesting about the description of this event as a geologist: 1) the surrounding towns were apparently affected in some way (“all the princes of the coast will step down from their thrones and lay aside their robes”); 2) the coastline was “trembling” (“coastlands tremble”); 3) the location of the town was submerged (“I bring the ocean depths over you and its vast waters cover you”).
All of these events are consistent with an earthquake, widespread chaos and damage, and associated land subsidence. Now all of these things could also be describing a battle or some other human event, but I do find to description odd for that sort of calamity.
I am not sure what larger message I can glean from this passage other than that God is God and we are not. If he chooses to allow a town to be submerged under the sea, whether it be from an earthquake or some other event, so be it. In this case it seems the reason was that the people of Tyre were taking advantage of the people of Israel while God was disciplining them. Sort of like when you break up a fight and one of the parties takes a cheap shot while you have the other party restrained. Never a good place to be – between God and the subject of His wrath.
Prayer: God make your plans clear to us so that we do not get between You and those You are trying to correct.