Having predicted the total destruction of Tyre (chapter 26), the Lord tells Ezekiel to “raise a lamentation over Tyre” (27:1). Unlike some laments recorded in Scripture that are filled with emotion and distress from the outset, this lamentation is more “business like” for the first two-thirds of the lament. Verses 1-25 read like a business ledger, detailing Trye’s impressive list of international trading partners.
Almost forty nations or regions are specifically mentioned as doing business with Tyre. The list is impressive, including powerful nations (Egypt) and exotic destination (Arabia, Persia). Tyre is the broker for global trade. It connects nations with a wide array of goods—from horses to human slaves, from expensive gems (16) to ivory and ebony (15). Even Judah and Israel are listed as Tyre’s trading partners.
Beginning in verses 26, the lamentation turns from reading like a business ledger to a funeral dirge. The nation, which is pictured as a well-outfitted ship (5-8), is said to be “wrecked” by an “east wind” so that it sinks in the “heart of the seas” (26, 34). The “east wind” is likely a reference to the Babylonians who are coming, as the first of a wave of nations, to destroy Tyre.
The trading partners who did business with Trye are seen stunned and devastated. “They cast dust on their heads and wallow in ashes” (30). Their economies are adversely impacted and their leaders (kings—35; merchants—36) react with “horror” (35) and hissing (36). Tyre comes to a “dreadful end and shall be no more forever” (36).
Visions of God
The Lord raises a lamentation for nations He judges. Ezekiel’s lament for Tyre is not his own idea; the Lord instructs him to “raise a lamentation over Tyre” (1). Again, we see the God’s heart. He is the righteous judge who brings down the proud (3), yet still joins the grief when judgment falls. His heart is both just and merciful.
The Lord can change global economics as He wills. The list of nations doing business with Trye is impressive for its breadth and depth. Even in the ANE, there were glimpses of a global economy. The Lord’s judgment on Tyre impacts a multitude of nations. He can change the economic equation at will. Those who presume that our current global economy is relatively stable should take note.
Words to Watchmen
Watchmen are to grieve, not gloat, over the downfall of nations. Ezekiel is not allowed to privately or publicly celebrate when a proud nation gets brought down. Unlike Tyre, who saw Judah’s destruction as bringing increased economic opportunities for it (26:1), Ezekiel (and Judah) lament over Tyre’s downfall. God’s people are to mirror His heart for others, even those who are competitors or enemies.
Watchmen for God’s people are not unaware of the wider global realities. Ezekiel’s lament shows considerable understanding of global economics and trade patterns. He is no parochial prophet who focused only on God’s people. Instead, he evidences awareness of the broader world dynamics that surround God’s people. As such, Ezekiel reminds current watchmen to be world aware.