Prophecy in the Bible?

This article examines the famous prophecy of Ezekiel 26 about the destruction of Tyre.

Ezekiel 26 prophesied that Nebuchadnezzar would destroy the city of Tyre. Ezekiel 26:14 says 'You will never be rebuilt...' Verse 21 says 'I will bring you to a horrible end and you will be no more. You will be sought, but you will never again be found, declares the Sovereign Lord.'.

In chapter 29, Ezekiel conceded that Nebuchadnezzar never conquered Tyre at all, a fact confirmed by history. Verse 18 says 'Yet he and his army got no reward from the campaign he led against Tyre.'.

How do people who believe the Bible is always true get around the fact that chapter 29 says that the prophecy in chapter 26 never came true?

They simply say that chapter 26 was about Alexander the Great and not Nebuchadnezzar, even though Alexander is not mentioned in Ezekiel.

Alexander the Great conquered Tyre, but Tyre was always rebuilt.

How do people who believe the Bible is always true get around the fact that Tyre has been rebuilt when Ezekiel says it was not rebuilt?

They simply deny that Tyre has been rebuilt.

I should point out that the Tyre of Nebuchadnezzar consisted of an island fortress and mainland colonies or surburbs. Nebuchadnezzar conquered the mainland parts, but he could not conquer the island fortress. Alexander the Great conquered the island fortress.

Here is an ancient description of how the island fortress of Tyre was besieged, using stones from the cities on the mainland, cities which had been rebuilt after Nebuchadnezzar conquered them.

The king saw that the city could hardly be taken by sea because of the engines mounted along its walls and the fleet that it possessed, while from the land it was almost unassailable because it lay four furlongs away from the coast. Nevertheless he determined to run every risk and make every effort to save the Macedonian army from being held in contempt by a single undistinguished city. Immediately he demolished what was called Old Tyre and set many tens of thousands of men to work carrying stones to construct a mole two plethra in width. He drafted into service the entire population of the neighbouring cities and the project advanced rapidly because the workers were numerous.

There is a link to this extract here

People who deny that Tyre has been rebuilt say that the modern city of Tyre is not on the original site.

Here is a picture of modern day Tyre.


Here is a picture of modern day Tyre, showing the many buildings right on the site where the old city stood .


Over the course of the last two and a half thousand years the coastline has changed slightly, so that the island is now connected to the mainland. As you can see, the (ex)island site and mainland parts are heavily built up.

Ezekiel said that Tyre would never be rebuilt and would never be found. Can you find a city in the picture? Did Ezekiel's prophecy come true, even if we grant that he was really talking about Alexander the Great when he mentioned Nebuchadnezzar.

The Encyclopedia Britannica says 'Excavations have uncovered remains of the Greco-Roman, Crusader, Arab, and Byzantine civilizations, but most of the remains of the Phoenician period lie beneath the present town'

So the present town was built on the remains of the Phoenician town.

The Tourism in Lebanon page states ' Near the market you will see a busy fisherman's port, in Phoenician times referred to as the "Sidonian" port because it faced north towards Sidon' and 'The walk to Area Three takes you through a residential part of Tyre called Hay Er-Raml or the Quarter of Sand. You are in fact walking on what once was Alexander the Great's causeway.'

So the port is in the same place as the ancient port and a residential part of Tyre is built right on the scene of the fighting.

Surely even Christians must believe that the town of Tyre has been rebuilt on the same site as the ancient town of Tyre?

For reference, here is the full text of Ezekiel 26
1.And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, because that Tyrus hath said against Jerusalem, Aha, she is broken that was the gates of the people: she is turned unto me: I shall be replenished, now she is laid waste:
3. Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Tyrus, and will cause many nations to come up against thee, as the sea causeth his waves to come up.
4. And they shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, and break down her towers: I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock.
5. It shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD: and it shall become a spoil to the nations.
6. And her daughters which are in the field shall be slain by the sword; and they shall know that I am the LORD.
7. For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will bring upon Tyrus Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, a king of kings, from the north, with horses, and with chariots, and with horsemen, and companies, and much people.
8. He shall slay with the sword thy daughters in the field: and he shall make a fort against thee, and cast a mount against thee, and lift up the buckler against thee.
9. And he shall set engines of war against thy walls, and with his axes he shall break down thy towers.
10. By reason of the abundance of his horses their dust shall cover thee: thy walls shall shake at the noise of the horsemen, and of the wheels, and of the chariots, when he shall enter into thy gates, as men enter into a city wherein is made a breach.
11. With the hoofs of his horses shall he tread down all thy streets: he shall slay thy people by the sword, and thy strong garrisons shall go down to the ground.
12. And they shall make a spoil of thy riches, and make a prey of thy merchandise: and they shall break down thy walls, and destroy thy pleasant houses: and they shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the water.
13. And I will cause the noise of thy songs to cease; and the sound of thy harps shall be no more heard.
14. And I will make thee like the top of a rock: thou shalt be a place to spread nets upon; thou shalt be built no more: for I the LORD have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD.
15. Thus saith the Lord GOD to Tyrus; Shall not the isles shake at the sound of thy fall, when the wounded cry, when the slaughter is made in the midst of thee?
16. Then all the princes of the sea shall come down from their thrones, and lay away their robes, and put off their broidered garments: they shall clothe themselves with trembling; they shall sit upon the ground, and shall tremble at every moment, and be astonished at thee.
17. How art thou destroyed, that wast inhabited of seafaring men, the renowned city, which wast strong in the sea, she and her inhabitants, which cause their terror to be on all that haunt it!
18. Now shall the isles tremble in the day of thy fall; yea, the isles that are in the sea shall be troubled at thy departure.
19. For thus saith the Lord GOD; When I shall make thee a desolate city, like the cities that are not inhabited; when I shall bring up the deep upon thee, and great waters shall cover thee;
20. When I shall bring thee down with them that descend into the pit, with the people of old time, and shall set thee in the low parts of the earth, in places desolate of old, with them that go down to the pit, that thou be not inhabited; and I shall set glory in the land of the living;
21. I will make thee a terror, and thou shalt be no more: though thou be sought for, yet shalt thou never be found again, saith the Lord GOD.

Responses to this article (My replies in bold)

Excellent page Steven. You have huge amounts of info on a vast array of topics. I have some comments about Ezekiel's prophesy about the destruction of Tyre. I'm trying to research it myself to see what conclusions I can draw.

First, it would seem that we must accept that Alexander the Great could fullfil the prophesy. Ezekiel never says that fullfilnment must come from Nebuchadnezzar. The prophesy actually says in verse 3, 'Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Tyrus, and will cause [MANY NATIONS] to come up against thee, as the sea causeth his waves to come up.' We know that many nations will assail Tyre.

Why didn't he mention other attackers? Well, why does he have to. He's not giving a detailed account of Tyre's future history, that's not his purpose. Nothing says that he must mention others. Why did he mention Nebuchadnezzar? I wish I could ask him, but he is dead. It certainly seems reasonable though. He is the first and Nebuchadnezzer is explicitly discussed elsewhere in the Bible. If Ezekiel was inclined to mention anyone, it would be King Neb.

What bothers me, is the old island of Tyre. That is the focus of Gods contention. What bothers me is that Tyre appears to occupy that area. But it got me thinking and I noticed verse 19, "For thus saith the Lord GOD; When I shall make thee a desolate city, like the cities that are not inhabited; when I shall bring up the deep upon thee, and great waters shall cover thee;" What is key here is "great waters shall cover thee". Perhaps what is really the island is actally under water beyond, as the end of the isthmus is the end of Alexander's causeway. After 2500 years, this is a distinct possibility. Many islands groups rise and fall in the oceans. To me, if you look at the picture, that end doesn't look like it is big enough. Even with a swelled causeway that has collected earth over the centuries. That jutting of land looks like the causeway.

What do you think? If you know for sure, could you please tell me how you found out and I source I can check. This is interesting to say the least. I'll dig up what I can as well.

(About the 'many nations' claim)

Christians have indeed come up with this ingenious quibble to 'prove' that when Ezekiel was talking about Nebuchadnezzar, he was not talking about Nebuchadnezzar.

The snag is , of course, that the Bible itself refers to the army of Nebuchadnezzar as 'many nations'.

The Bible regarded Nebuchadnezzar's army as being the 'many nations'

Second Kings 24:1-2 is an example of where various nations were mentioned as the parts of the invading force that Nebuchadnezzar brought against Jerusalem in the time of Jehoiakim.


24:1  In his days King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came up; Jehoiakim became his servant for three years; then he turned and rebelled against him.

2  Yahweh sent against him bands of the Chaldeans, bands of the Arameans, bands of the Moabites, and bands of the Ammonites; he sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of Yahweh that he spoke by his servants the prophets.


Jeremiah 25:8-9 is another passage that shows that Nebuchadnezzar's army was understood to consist of more than just Babylonians.

25:8  Therefore thus says Yahweh of hosts: Because you have not obeyed my words,

9 I am going to send for ALL the tribes of the north, says Yahweh, even for King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring THEM against this land and its inhabitants, and against all these nations

around; I will utterly destroy them, and make them an object of horror and of hissing, and an everlasting disgrace.


Notice the example of parallelism in verse 9.'All the tribes of the north  were even King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon '


King Nebuchadrezzar was therefore all the tribes of the north. The two were the same. The Babylonian empire had been formed from conquests of different tribes, nations, and territories, so Nebuchadrezzar's army was literally an army of many nations and it was quite accepted to refer to Nebuchadnezzar with the royal plural. He could be them quite easily.



Earlier Jeremiah had predicted that Yahweh would bring all the tribes of the north against Jerusalem.


1:14  Then Yahweh said to me: Out of the north disaster shall break out on all the inhabitants of the land.

15  For now I am calling ALL the tribes of the kingdoms of the north, says Yahweh; and THEY shall come and ALL OF THEM shall set their thrones at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its surrounding

walls and against all the cities of Judah.



Fundamentalists like to say that 'them' and 'many nations' in Ezekiel 26 can't possibly  refer to Nebuchadnezzar, when that is just exactly how the Biblical authors liked to refer to Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar had an army,

which the Biblical authors point out correctly, was made up of many tribes and many different nations.

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