Re: Tyre

Murphy (
Mon, 03 Mar 1997 08:48:45 -0500

Glenn Morton wrote:

> Thank you for this George. This is a good tough problem.

Glad you appreciate it. I don't regard this simply as a
"problem" of the traditional sort - i.e., "The Bible said so-&-so would
happen & it didn't." Here the Bible (in 29:17-20) _recognizes_ that it
didn't happen & seems to be able to absorb that fact without getting
greatly upset. I see this more as a challenge to develop better ways
of thinking about prophecy & fulfillment than it is a problem to be
solved using old-fashioned prediction models.

> Admittedly, I am getting far from what I believe my area of expertise is,
> but let me note something. From Ez 26:3-6 the prophecy is to many nations.
> The pronoun "they" is used throughout this section. The statement to the
> scraping of the rock bear and the spreading of fishnets was attributed to
> the many nations in 26:3. It does not say which nation would scrape the rock
> bare.
> From Ez 26:7-11 it is clearly speaking of Nebuchadnezzar. The pronouns "he"
> and "his" predominate with the only occurrence of "they' referring to 'his
> horses' in verse 10. In this section it is clear that it is the mainland
> which will be destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. Suddenly in verse 12, the
> pronouns go back to "they" and a repeat of the scraping and throwoing things
> into the sea and finally the statement in this last part to the effect that
> Tyre would not be rebuilt. Both sections, the one using the pronoun 'they'
> and the one referring to Nebuchadnezzar say that the mainland will be taken.
> Both in Nebuchadnezzar's conquest and Alexander's the mainland section of
> Tyre fell. If these pronouns are reflected in the hebrew,then I would say
> that this is good evidence that the prophecy about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled.
> Tyre was divided into two, with a mainland burough and an island burough.
> Josephus (Against Apion, bk 1 section 21) says that Nebuchadnezzar besieged
> them for 13 years. But since the Tyrians were able to move most of their
> wealth offshore to the island, Nebuchadnezzar was unable to get a lot of it
> for the 13 year seige, in spite of having won the mainland. So that
> explains the statements in Ez 29:17-20.
> > Biblical prophecy apparently is sometimes more subtle than
> >straightforward prediction. (& most of the prophetic writings of the OT
> >have nothing to do with prediction at all - but that's another matter.)
> So is the Biblical use of pronouns subtle. I had never noticed the detail
> that the pronouns shift from plural to singular to plural before. Such
> things can alter an interpretation significantly.

Yes, but one can be too subtle. As head of the Babylonian
empire, N's army contained troops of "many nations". So it is not
necessary to see any real division between what "he" does & what "they"
do here. Anyway, vv.8b-11 refers to Tyre, not its "daughters" on the
mainland, already dealt with in v.8a. (The conquest of these
"daughters" was a pretty straightforward matter, but the "Rock" itself
[which is what "Tyre" means] was a far different matter.)
Note also how this begins, with reference to Tyre's exultation
over the impending fall of Jerusalem in 26:2 as a reason for God
bringing seige against it. Again, the force of this is lost if the fall
of Tyre is actually centuries in the future.
IMO what we should do is take seriously what the biblical text
says & then adapt our ideas of prophecy-fulfillment, & simply of
_truth_, to that rather than vice versa.