Dissonant Prophecy in Ezekiel 26 and 29 -- By: Dean R. Ulrich

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 10:1 (NA 2000)
Article: Dissonant Prophecy in Ezekiel 26 and 29
Author: Dean R. Ulrich

Dissonant Prophecy in Ezekiel 26 and 29

Dean Ulrich

Baden, Pennsylvania

Ezek 26:1-21 and 29:17-21 present a formidable challenge to the deuteronomic criterion for a true prophet. In the former passage Ezekiel predicted that Nebuchadnezzar’s army would conquer Tyre and plunder its wealth. In the latter passage, written 16 years later, Ezekiel admitted that Nebuchadnezzar’s army obtained no plunder from its campaign against Tyre. He issued a corrective prophecy that promised Egyptian booty as a consolation. For the most part scholarship has considered the historical problem the key to the first prophecy. Whereas some interpreters appeal to multiple historical fulfillments, others allow the evidence to impugn Ezekiel’s integrity. By appealing to the function of mythological imagery in Ezekiel’s oracles against the nations, this article proposes an alternate approach to the impasse.

Key Words: Tyre, dissonance, oracles against the nations, theophany, judgment

In Ezek 26:7-14, Ezekiel prophesied that Nebuchadnezzar and his army would besiege Tyre and utterly destroy it. After razing the walls and buildings, the troops would kill the residents and plunder the city. The devastation would be so sweeping that Tyre would never be rebuilt. According to 26:1, Ezekiel made this prediction in the 11th year of Jehoiachin’s captivity (586 bc), sometime after Nebuchadnezzar’s second invasion of Jerusalem. Through the agency of Nebuchadnezzar, Yhwh was judging Tyre for gloating over Jerusalem’s misfortune.

According to Josephus, Nebuchadnezzar besieged Tyre for 13 years but never conquered the insular fortress.1 Although there is some evidence that Tyre became a Babylonian vassal, the prolonged fighting left little booty for Nebuchadnezzar’s troops.2 Moreover, Tyre

eventually recovered from the damage and continued to flourish until Alexander the Great successfully conquered the insular fortress in 332 bc. Even then Tyre remained a fishing village, although this historical fact may correspond with Ezek 26:14. From a historical perspective Ezekiel’s prophecy did not come true. By the 27th year of Jehoiachin’s captivity (571), Ezekiel himself realized the apparent failure of his earlier prediction and uttered a corrective prophecy. According to Ezek 29:17-21, Nebuchadnezzar would conquer Egypt as compensation for his unrewarded effo...

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