Monday, July 09, 2018

Oracle against Tyre

A few years ago I did a post on Ezekiel's oracle against Tyre:

Here's a supplementary article:

With that in mind, I'd like to make a few additional points:

i) There were two distinct but interrelated Tyres: mainland Tyre and the island-city.

ii) Nebuchadnezzar sacked mainland Tyre. Later, Alexander used the rubble from mainland Tyre to construct a bridge from the mainland to the island, enabling him to use battering rams against the fortified island city. In that respect, Alexander's conquest of the island was an extension of Nebuchadnezzar's conquest of the mainland. 

iii) In Scripture, when one party acts on behalf of a second party, the action may be attributed to the party on whose behalf the action is taken. Take a king who sends a general. The king may get the credit. 

iv) The fulfillment was multistaged. A short-term oracle along with a long-term oracle. 

v) Ezekiel says: 

I will bring many nations against you, like the sea casting up its waves Ezk 26:3.

Notice that the destruction of Tyre isn't attributed solely to Nebuchadnezzar. Rather, it will suffer a series of devastating attacks, from different adversaries, like successive waves.  

vi) Scripture contains two prophetic allusions to Alexander the Great: Ezk 26 and Dan 8:5-8; 11:2-4. 

vii) Naming individuals in long-range prophecy is dicey. Isaiah is exceptional in that regard (Isa 44:28; 45:1).

On the one hand, the identity of the referent is incomprehensible to the seer and his contemporaries, since he won't be born for generations. In addition, if an oracle is too specific, that carries the risk of a self-fulfilling prophecy or evasive maneuvers. 

On the one hand, the prediction in itself may be a contributing factor in making the prediction come true if someone plays that role or people respond accordingly. If, say, there's a prediction that a Fortune 500 company is in financial straits, that very forecast may precipitate a massive sell-off, which causes the company to go broke. 

Conversely, someone might take preemptive measures to thwart the prediction. Consider Herod's reaction to the messianic oracle (Mt 2). Or the reaction of Joseph's siblings to his prophetic dream (Gen 37). 

Therefore, Biblical prophecy is generally framed in ways that are recognizable after the fact, but not in advance of the fact. 

viii) For Jews living in the intertestamental period, at the mercy of pagan rulers (Rome, Persia) or persecutors (Antiochus), it would be encouraging to recognize their ordeal described in prophecies (Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel). That reassures them that Yahweh is still in control. He hasn't deserted them. 

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