Ezekiel 28:11-19 – Lament over the King of Tyre or Fall of Satan?
SummaryEzekiel prophesies the fall of the king of Tyre in a highly symbolic lament. Some think this is an allegory of the fall of Satan.
AnalysisIn a long set of prophecies about Tyre and its king, predicting their fall and destruction, Ezekiel creates this lament over the fall of the king of Tyre. The prophet symbolizes the arrogance and conceit of the king in mythological terms. He is compared to the beautiful, perfect, first human in paradise (28:12-13). The translation of 28:14 is difficult, and the king may be compared to a guardian angel (cherub), or perhaps he may have been appointed a guardian cherub. In any case, he is privileged to walk on the holy mountain of God, among the stones of fire. The point of these symbols is that the man had direct access to the presence and glory of God.
While we may be tempted to see Satan in these verses, as many ancient commentators did, the actual reference is to the king of Tyre. The king's arrogance and self-understood greatness is described in mythological terms, drawn from the Bible and the surrounding culture. These mythological attributes emphasize in striking visual symbols the greatness of his fall from the heights of power. The symbolism draws from the fall of Adam and other sources, and not from the fall of Satan, which comes much later in Jewish religion. Compare 31:8-9, which describe the pharaoh of Egypt in terms of Eden also.