This passage in Ezekiel speaks of the “prince of Tyrus”, but is it also a reference to Adam, or Satan? Either way it makes no real difference to the text, but some are adamant it must refer to Satan. However, this is questionable, for commentators come down on either side, proving indecision. This article, then, is merely for interest’ sake. My own view is that if it has symbolism at all, it refers to Adam.
As we find in the previous chapter, Tyrus was ‘full of itself’, thinking itself to be beautiful and rich (27:3), which it was. God, though, sees it differently, calling on Ezekiel to utter words of woe and lamentation upon it. Tyrus, Tsor (‘a rock’), was a Phoenician city on the eastern Mediterranean coast. It is also known to us as Tyre.
The ships and buildings were made of the finest woods, and like modern city councils, Tyre glorified itself, thinking it was something. And so it was – but not before God. The city was protected by Persian, north African and Libyan soldiers, whose presence further gave the city great prominence. Chapter 27 contains great historical detail. Despite its riches and prominence, God warned that none of it would save the city when it fell to Nebuchadnezzar.
Chapter 28 continues this godly anger against Tyre, and we are told why: The prince of Tyre was puffed up because his city was so powerful and rich. He thought he was a god and acted as if he was God Himself. But, God said – he is NOT a god, but is simply a man. God, probably scornfully, says the prince was “wiser than Daniel”. He also says that through good business acumen, he increased the riches of Tyre, which in turn increased his own self-pride.
Because the prince/king thought his riches made him a god, the One True God said he would bring down Tyre by the hand of enemies. Will the prince proclaim his deity before the attackers? It would make no difference because, as God said, “Thou (shalt be) a man, and no God, in the hand of him that slayeth thee.” He and his people, by denying glory to God would “die the deaths of the uncircumcised”2.
The king/prince of Tyre “hast been in Eden the garden of God”. The king (via the city) was adorned with precious stones and beautified by music “in the day that thou wast created”. Obviously, the king had not personally been to Eden, so the statement must have some kind of symbolic meaning. He was the “anointed cherub that covereth”, as planned by God. (Satan was not a cherub. Here it symbolically means a guardian who obeys God). He had been on the “holy mountain of God” and was perfect (that is, doing what was right) in his ways from the day he was created… until he sinned 4. The sheer riches corrupted the king, bringing violence upon the city and judgment from God, Who would bring the king down with the city, before the eyes of his enemies 5. And the enemies and others would be astonished.
Who Is the Prophecy For?
Now – this prophecy is definitely meant for the king of Tyre. If there is any reference at all to anyone else, as a ‘type’, I am not fully convinced; but if there is a type, it has to be Adam. Let me explain why: all the reference numbers, 1 to 5, concern humanity, not Satan as the most powerful of all angels, now a leader of demons.
- Was not Adam promised by Satan that he would be like a god once he ate the forbidden fruit?
- The “death of the uncircumcised” can only apply to human beings, not to Satan, whose end is specifically planned by God to occur after judgment day.
- The prince had been in the garden of God, Eden. Coupled to the fact that the city was adorned with many beautiful precious stones, some think the allusion is to Satan, the most beautiful of creatures, but this does not make sense as the prophecy speaks of the city not the prince. ‘Eden’ means ‘pleasure’, and ‘garden’ is self-explanatory. It was the “garden of God”. So – was this referring to Adam or to Satan? Possibly it does not refer to either! However, if anything it refers to Adam, for we are later told that Israel would be restored… and Satan will never, ever be restored; but Adam in his descendants were/are, through the Christ. Also, Adam was created on earth – Satan was created before that time, in Heaven.
- Like Satan, Adam was perfect until the day he sinned.
- Satan’s downfall was initiated by Jesus Christ when He arose again, but the final downfall is reserved for the Day of Judgment, when he will be cast into the pit with his demons. On that day everyone will watch and fear, because those who are his will share the same fate. On the other hand, the king of Tyre would fall in full view of his enemies, who would be astonished. The only onlookers to Adam’s fall were the holy angels, who must surely have been astonished that God’s creature would so easily destroy his own perfection, but they were onlookers all the same. They had already witnessed the fall of Satan and his followers, so it cannot refer to Satan.
If the passage has any allusion at all to something else, it must be to Adam, for the references are all to humanity and not to angelic beings. Why, then, was it said that the king of Tyre had been in the garden of God, Eden? It means that, like Adam, he had enjoyed the blessings of God, but then destroyed them by his sin. What God allowed as a blessing for true rulers (the beauty and riches) was ascribed to the cleverness of the king and not to the grace of God. Hence the judgment.
What of reference to the “mountain of God”? This is God’s abode, Heaven, which is also called ‘Paradise’…which is also called the garden, or Eden. And the three terms can, at times, refer to the ‘mountain of God’. Of course, the earthly Paradise was later subsumed in the Paradise in which the dead will be sent (as with the thief who died with Jesus).
The above is my current, but legitimate, interpretation of the texts.
© September 1993
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