Four Problems with the Common Interpretation of Ezekiel 26:13

October 6, 2018

I recently read through Ezekiel and was again struck by what God said that He would do when He would judge Tyre:

Ezekiel 26:13 And I will cause the noise of thy songs to cease; and the sound of thy harps shall be no more heard.

Based on conversations that I have had online with some other believers, it seems that the common interpretation of this text is that it is not revealing that there was anything bad or sinful about the music of Tyre; rather, the text communicates that God would bring to an end the enjoyment of music in Tyre.

I have never found this interpretation tenable. I think that there are at least the following four problems with it:

1. If the point of verse were that God would bring an end to their enjoyment of music when He would destroy them, why does the text elaborate by speaking of both their vocal music and their instrumental music instead of just saying that He would cause their music to end?

2. When a nation becomes wicked to the extent that God determines to destroy it, we do not have any good reason to think that their wickedness would not also express itself in what they sing, how they sing what they sing, what they play on musical instruments, and how they play what they play on those instruments.

3. In the immediately surrounding context of this statement, God’s judgment on many other nations surrounding His people is related, but none of the passages that relate His judgment of all those other nations speaks of His bringing their enjoyment of music to an end:

Ammonites (25:1-7); Moab & Seir (25:8-11); Edom (25:12-14); Philistines (25:15-17);
Tyre (26:1-28:19);
Sidon (28:20-26); Egypt (29:1-32:32)

Why is the cessation of music only said about the people of Tyre and not about any of the other nations that God was going to destroy at that time?

4. If the point is that destroying them will bring about the denial of their enjoyment of all good things, why does the passage mention explicitly both their vocal and instrumental musical activities instead of their art, dancing, literature, drama, sports, etc.? To put it differently, according to the denial-of-enjoyment-of-good-things view, how do you explain that the cessation of their music is specifically mentioned but there is no mention of the cessation of their enjoyment of any of these other cultural activities that people also enjoy?

Rajesh

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