Agnosticism, Atheism, Bible Geography, Bible Study, Christianity, Faith, God, Religion, Truth

An Examination of Ezekiel’s Prophecy of Tyre: Part 1

In the last few weeks, I’ve had to delve back into a subject that I haven’t spent much time researching since my initial deconversion. Ezekiel’s prophecy of Tyre, which can be found in Ezekiel 26-28, was a major piece of evidence for me in showing that the Bible was not as accurate as I had always thought. I’ve written about it twice before: first in a rather matter-of-fact manner, and later with a touch of sarcasm. The blog Thomistic Bent has recently done a 3-part series on Ezekiel’s prophecy of Tyre (1, 2, and 3), and my own posts on the subject have seen a lot of recent activity as well, so I think it’s time that I do a new series on the prophecy in as thorough a fashion as I know how. This will be a lengthy study, so I’ve decided to break it up into several parts.

At Face Value

I think it’s important to state up front that this prophecy simply fails at face value. To me, that’s significant, since God would be powerful enough to ensure that no matter what the prophecy stated, events would unfold exactly as predicted. In the prophecy, Ezekiel states that Tyre would be destroyed:

3 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. 4 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. 5 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, 6 and her daughters on the mainland shall be killed by the sword. Then they will know that I am the Lord.
— Ezek 26:3-6

13 And I will stop the music of your songs, and the sound of your lyres shall be heard no more. 14 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.
— Ezek 26:13-14

21 I will bring you to a dreadful end, and you shall be no more. Though you be sought for, you will never be found again, declares the Lord God.”
— Ezek 26:21

And as you can see, in addition to being destroyed, it’s prophesied that Tyre will never be rebuilt or found again. But this is simply not true. We’ll get into the details later, but the simple fact is that once Tyre was finally destroyed, it was immediately rebuilt. Instead of being a bare rock, or even a ruin, it remained an extremely important trade hub in the region for centuries. And it’s the 4th largest city in Lebanon today.

So the events haven’t worked out exactly as the prophecy claimed they would. And for many people, myself included, that’s enough. I view this prophecy as a failure. Nevertheless, there’s much more that can be said by digging into the details of this prophecy, as well as the geography and history of Tyre and its surroundings. A number of people have found ways to claim that this prophecy has been fulfilled by focusing on the minutiae. I don’t find their arguments persuasive, however, and the next several posts will go into my reasons why.

Part 2

165 thoughts on “An Examination of Ezekiel’s Prophecy of Tyre: Part 1”

  1. I look forward to further posts wherein you deal with specific counter-arguments and why you don’t find them persuasive…though I’m tempted to call PETA on account of you continuing to beat this dead horse (lol), but I’m too curious to see what crops up, so I’ll let you slide on this one.

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  2. Prophecy always makes me laugh. Take a step back. If an omnimax godfellow wished to provide evidence for its greatness i’m pretty sure there are better ways to deliver on that desire/need than via hopeless, pathetic ambiguity.

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  3. Thanks Eric. You’re right that this horse is quite dead. 🙂

    Still, there were some comments made on one of my older posts that I wanted to address more fully than I could do in a comment. Plus, my friend Ryan (portal001) asked me to comment on those posts at Thomistic Bent that I referenced.

    The stars aligned, so to speak. We’ll see how well it pans out. 🙂

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  4. Yeah, I have to agree with you John. There was a time when I thought it was excellent evidence, but I note see just how weak it is.

    Anyway, thanks for the comment!

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  5. I also think this horse is dead, but i am surprised at how often believers still try to ride it.

    I disagree with UnkleE’s link, in that I don’t think both sides have equal footing, but it is correct in that the jury is still out on which side is right in the eyes of many.

    Regarding the “many nations” from Ezekiel and discussed in EnkleE’s link, i think it could be said that the many nations refers to Neb’s army – but admittedly, it’s ambiguous. Either way, I think this “prophecy” fails.

    If in fact this is a true prophecy and if in fact god was the ultimate author of it, it obviously wasnt intended to convince the nonbelievers, so no one should be astonished at the naysayers.

    If it were meant to convince the nonbeliever it would have been written in very specific language, with very specific timelines and dates. It would have been written in a way that would be indisputable as to when it was foretold, which to convince the nonbeliever would require it to be written ahead of time. It would have named Alexander or at least the Macedonians.

    Without specifics and without literal fulfillments, i just do not see how this is any more convincing or miraculous than the prophecies of Nostradamus.

    In light of current events, I think a similar prophecy could me made for Baghdad. I foresee that it will be attacked by ISIS and nations will sack Baghdad because god is angry with them Baghdad will be no more and the president of Iraq will be crucified and shamed.

    Of course, since ISIS is attacking all sorts of cities (similar to babylon) it’s a reasonably safe prediction that they will at least try to attack Baghdad at some point. Since I didnt give a timeline or any dates, no one can say i’m wrong, as i’ll just say it hasnt happened yet… and if it happens 800 years later, by anyone who has any type of tie to ISIS, or any similar ideology to ISIS, i’ll claim victory, or I would if i werent dead.

    Also, if Baghdad is attacked at all, whether destroyed or not, i’ll claim victory by saying that “destroyed” was a figurative term and meant Baghdad’s will or status, or whatever.

    And the president? if he dies, then i was speaking literally and if he doesnt die, it was of course figurative. If anyone asked me which it was now, i’d only say that i can only recite the words of god – they mean what he wants them to mean.

    it’s just far from convincing to me. But you’re all welcome to join my cult when Baghdad is attacked – except if you lack the faith to believe me now, you may only join after castration. Your balls are required to atone for your lack of faith.

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  6. William – while it’s certainly a possibility that you or your God (or perhaps You and Him are one and the same) may eternally punish me for not joining your cult I’m thinking the better choice at this point is to keep my balls and never join your cult even if absolutely everything you said about Baghdad happens. And it’s not just my balls. My life here on earth along with that of my wife and kids are very meaningful to me and even if your prediction coming true may raise the probability a little that the very meaning I have is actually derived from You I still think it’s better not to waste those lives we have here and now chasing after something that doesn’t seem very likely. Capisce? So sorry to offend you. 😉

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  7. Howie, you disappoint me. my god loves you so much that he was willing to accept you now with your balls, or later without them… and this is how you repay his invitation? Such arrogance.

    I hope you and your balls will be happy in hell…

    oh wait… I guess now I can see that threats of castration and eternal damnation may be off putting… and besides that, i guess I even outlined how ambiguous, and therefore meaningless, my prediction was…

    Now I wish i had not castrated myself and thought this through before I signed on… oh well, it’s not like I was using them.

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  8. But you’re all welcome to join my cult when Baghdad is attacked – except if you lack the faith to believe me now, you may only join after castration. Your balls are required to atone for your lack of faith.

    I’m guessing you didn’t intend for women to join at any point. It’s just as well. I’m done with cults.

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  9. True. And perhaps William was implying that women don’t need faith to join his cult? *shrug*

    I don’t have the required sacrifice. 😉

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  10. Ruth, women have no balls, so you’re welcome at anytime.

    I would continue this joke further but i’d hate to detract anymore from the real issue and i’d like to avoid stepping over more lines – and i would if this continued…

    In all seriousness, my tongue in cheek ball/cult remark was really just trying to illustrate another take on the “consequences for not believing something that has little evidence” as being believable.

    I think these threats are attempts at compelling a person to act on little evidence out of fear; and not based on knowledge or reason, but fear which is then spun into really being love.

    Of course in my illustration I deliberately tried to make it more evident to display the absurdity of it all. But since I’m half idiot, it may not have worked as well as i had hoped.

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  11. I dont know howie, only the very faithful will have balls and there will be an over abundance of women, so only the faithful would reproduce – and that can be a big incentive for a lot of people to walk the staright and narrow.

    Plus, I’ll think about allowing concubines – of course, god wants me to have the first selection…

    It’s not me. I dont even want that, but I’d do it for god.

    aw, man, i’m doing… crossing lines… I’ll just stop.

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  12. I think these threats are attempts at compelling a person to act on little evidence out of fear; and not based on knowledge or reason, but fear which is then spun into really being love.

    I agree with you, William. It is extremely difficult to think objectively or clearly about reality when you are being threatened or are afraid.

    This exact thing kept me from delving into the questions I had for a very long time. My fear of being disloyal to the God who supposedly created me, my fear of disappointing this God, my fear of being literally tortured, all kept me from examining the the questions and doubts objectively. Anytime a doubt or question would arise, I’d find some way it was possible for God to still be right, and file it away in my mind.

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  13. Oh it’s definitely a Friday! Not sure about you but I do notice that I tend to get a bit more sarcastic on Fridays. Probably the energy of looking forward to a good weekend.

    Even if your analogy may have crossed some lines, we all know that no analogy is perfect – I think sometimes these things are good to come up with just to at least illustrate some part of why we don’t see the reasoning of some religions as useful enough to become followers. The vast majority of believers won’t see from these analogies but every once in a while some open minded ones might at least get some gist of why we feel the way we do, even if it doesn’t convince them to change their minds at all.

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  14. I’m going to call this one 50/50. It WAS destroyed by many different groups, but it then it WAS rebuilt which wWASN’T supposed to happen. I think that is a fair assessment. Now wether this makes an infallible god and his word fallible that is a better question and one that requires more thought.

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  15. aye, ruth. That’s one reason I often refer to the “Emperor’s New Clothes.” I loved that story as a kid and as i discovered the truth of religion, I realized I had been living it.

    yes, was I questioning god? Was i turning my back on him? was he disappointed in me? was he testing me? was i going to hell?

    I once read someone describe it as waking up out of the matrix. I agree. It was such a shock, but at the same time it made the most sense and I actually felt like I was really “seeing” for the first time.

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  16. well, some people may find a 50% correct god to be good enough for a god that’s supposed to be perfect. I just dont.

    I wonder how many christians would give that sort of benefit of the doubt to prophecies of other religions?

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  17. Great point for sure William, most Christians cling to prophecy as 100% correct and make the argument that other religions have no fulfilled prophecy as proof that they are fake.

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  18. And it’s the 4th largest city in Lebanon today.

    It was interesting that one of those articles that unklE referenced said of today’s Tyre that it’s industry(tourism) is somehow less noble than the industry it had at the time of Neb’s invasion. As if that somehow made today’s Tyre less-than. The point is that it’s still a city.

    If Yahweh did not intend “all” when he had Ezekiel pen this prophecy he sure did engage in a lot of seeming smack-talk. Which seems kind of petty of a god.

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  19. Nate, I’m far, far from being a bible scholar, plus my interest is more in the NT than the OT. That being said, I personally don’t think ANY of the writings of the OT were meant as “prophecies,” at least as defined today (knowledge of the future; a prediction uttered under divine inspiration).

    Wikipedia says this (and I tend to agree) about the word “prophet”: In religion, a prophet is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and to speak for them, serving as an intermediary with humanity. It further states: “The English word prophet comes from the Greek word προφήτης (profétés) meaning advocate.

    Deuteronomy 18:18: I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee; and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.

    In simplest terms, IMO, the “prophets” were simply individuals (notably men …) who believed they had an inside connection with Yahweh. I believe their utterances were not so much foretelling the future as they were warnings to the Jewish people to mind their P’s and Q’s if they hoped to please Yahweh AND/OR to warn surrounding nations that if they tried to stomp on Yahweh’s people, they would be squashed. When Ezekiel wrote about Tyre, I believe it was an example of the latter.

    After Christianity was established, everything changed and the prophets of the OT were seen as “seers” (An authoritative person who divines the future) and were used, as unkleE wrote, to make an argument for the divine authorship of the bible.

    Like I said, this is just my take on things.

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