Re: Tyre (was Re: try two/missing day)

Rodney Dunning (
Tue, 4 Mar 1997 23:36:53 -0500 (EST)

On Wed, 5 Mar 1997, Bob Manweiler wrote:

> I also have noted some of the comments on Tyre. Long ago I could read some
> Hebrew and worked through Ezek Ch 26. Indeed the change in articles is
> distinct between he (Nebuchadnezzar) and they (many nations).
> As I worked through this, it would seem that a characteristic of biblical
> prophecy is that it is often complex in its temporal fulfilment -- why sould we
> expect things to be so simple and punctiliar?

I'm not an expert on prophecy (or anything really), and I can't read a
character of Hebrew, but I did have this thought. One reason we might
expect some degree of simplicity and punctuality is the prophet's
general desire to elicit some kind of response on the part of the people.
People tend to respond to simple messages that have some meaning for
their lives. (To us, of course, removed by considerable time and
distance, the messages may seem anything but simple and meaningful.) If
Ezekiel's message was this subtle in its use of pronouns, and not to be
actualized for centuries, it's difficult to imagine anyone taking him
seriously. This assumes they could have figured out what he was saying. If
they didn't, and made the same mistake some of us are making (that Ezekiel
was talking about Nebuchadnezzar the whole time), then their response
wouldn't have been based on the truth of the message. It seems unbecoming a
prophet of God to elicit a response based on anything but the truth of
his message.

It seems then that if the interpretation is true, the citizens of Tyre
either could not have responded to the truth of the message, or wouldn't
have cared about it in the least. Neither is very satisfying.

> I then noted that some critical comentaries emphasized that Ezekiel simply got
> it wrong, and we should expect no less. However if we stand back a bit, I
> would conclude that Ezekiel could not have gotten it much closer to the target,
> even though the exegesis of the passage is difficult and necessitates
> interpretation from our historical perspective.
> So my conclusion is that this is one way -- certainly not the best -- that we
> can put to the test the claims of a prophet and test his veracity. I don't
> want to claim too much, but certainly the possibility that we have something
> quite profound in these writing is plausable.

I tend to agree with you here, and the interpretation does deserve
some thought. But if the interpretation is true it seems to follow that
Ezekiel's contemporaries would have found nothing at all profound in
his words (assuming they got what he meant). Does it sound reasonable
that we, removed by oceans of time and distance, discover the profound
meaning the original audience probably could not have grasped?

Rodney Dunning
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fax: 910.759.6142