Thoughts to Ponder: Chapter 30
Chapter 30: Daniel—A Righteous and Wise Man of God ~ Ezekiel 14:12-20; 28:1-3
Q1 – Why do you suppose God specifically named Noah, Daniel and Job in these scriptures? (See Ezekiel 14:12-20.)
A1 – In the passage in Ezekiel 14, God lists four different means He can use to punish a country for being unfaithful to Him: 1) famine to cut off its food supply; 2) wild beasts to kill the people; 3) the sword, or having other countries wage war against it; and 4) a plague or disease to kill the people. As He names each disaster which He could employ, He states that once He decides on such a punishment, not even Noah, Daniel or Job would be able to change His mind.
God mentions these three men to emphasize His point, that once He takes action against a country, not even Noah, Daniel or Job would be able to save anyone else other than themselves. His judgement against that country would be inescapable.
Contrast God’s stance in this passage to the way he responded to Abraham’s pleading with Him to spare Sodom in Genesis 18:
“Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:23b-25, NIV).
Recall that back when Lot and Abram had separated because their herds were too large for them to stay together, Lot had chosen the area near Sodom (Genesis 13:10-13). So now in the passage above, Abraham is begging God to spare that city in order that any righteous people who lived there might not be killed along with the wicked. He bargained with God first for the sake of 50 righteous people, then 45, 40, 30, 20, and finally 10.
Evidently not even that few were found, because only Lot, his wife and their two daughters were spared. Not even the men who were pledged to marry Lot’s daughters made it out, because they thought Lot was joking when he urged them to flee the city (Genesis 19:14). Even so, the messenger angels had to grab Lot and his family by the hand and essentially drag them out in order for their lives to be saved (Genesis 19:15-17).
The Jewish people would have been familiar with this historical account of Abraham pleading for Sodom and of God’s promise to spare the city if enough righteous people could be found. But now, He’s letting them know things are different. This time, God is unequivocally stating that He cannot be bargained with. Not even some of the most righteous men who ever lived would be able to save anyone other than themselves. His reference to Noah, Daniel, and Job, further emphasizes His point.
Q2 – What does it say about Daniel that he is named along with Noah and Job? (See Ezekiel 14:12-20.) What does it say about him that he is mentioned in the prophecy against the king of Tyre? (See Ezekiel 28:1-3.)
A2 – God certainly elevated Daniel when he named him along with Noah and Job. (See Ezekiel 14:12-20.) Daniel was a contemporary of Ezekiel, and both were exiled into Babylonian captivity. Daniel was taken in the first wave, while Ezekiel was taken in the second. The scriptures don’t tell us if these two men personally knew one another or not, as they were settled in different areas. However, both of them were likely known among the Jewish people who were captive in Babylonia.
Noah and Job were both men of old and men of renown. It’s likely everyone in the Jewish community would have studied about them since childhood. While it’s unknown when Job lived, it’s likely that he, like Abraham, lived before the time of Moses. So for God to name Daniel, a relative newcomer, along with these men of legend further shows the high regard God held for Daniel.
The prophecies against Tyre are quite interesting. (See Ezekiel 28:1-3.) The book of Ezekiel itself can be roughly divided into three sections: 1) Chapters 1-24—judgments against the Jewish people; 2) Chapters 25-32—judgments against other nations; 3) Chapters 33-48—promises for the future. (This article, “The Book of Ezekiel,” by Dennis Bratcher, gives an overview and outline of the book of Ezekiel.)
Most of the judgments that God proclaimed against other nations are contained in only a few verses—except for those against Tyre and Egypt. God had much to say about those two! The judgments against Tyre can be found in Chapters 26 and 27, with the rulers of Tyre receiving special admonitions in Chapter 28:1-19.
In the first 10 verses of Chapter 28, God address a person who is called a ruler, prince or leader, depending on the version of the Bible. (This person seems to be different from the king of Tyre, who is addressed in verses 11-19.) God particularly admonishes this person because of his pride and arrogance. Even worse, he considers himself a god: “In the pride of your heart you say, ‘I am a god; I sit on the throne of a god in the heart of the seas’” (Ezekiel 28:2b, NIV).
God lets him know that he is a mere mortal. Although he considers himself to be so wise, God asks him if he is wiser than Daniel. Then God tells him foreigners will come against him and kill him. “They will bring you down to the pit, and you will die a violent death in the heart of the seas” (Ezekiel 28:8, NIV).
It’s likely Daniel would have been known throughout the entire region, including Tyre. The kingdom of Babylonia was quite powerful during that time, and Daniel held a very high position in the government. Additionally, Daniel was held in high regard for interpreting the dreams of the Babylonian kings. So God, in mentioning Daniel in His judgment on this ruler, affirms that Daniel is well known for his wisdom, not only among his own people, but among other nations as well.
Q3 – For an interesting study, read Ezekiel’s prophecies against Tyre in chapters 26-28 and then research the history of the city and the region. Look at the maps of ancient Tyre and see how Alexander the Great permanently altered the area.
A3 – Tyre was an extremely ancient city which had stood the test of time and is mentioned in secular history as well as the Bible. Here’s one such reference from the article, “3 Good Reasons to Believe the Bible is from God”: “During a visit to the temple of Heracles in Tyre in the fifth century B.C., the historian Herodotus inquired about the age of the temple, to which the inhabits replied that the temple was as old as ‘Tyre itself, and that Tyre had already stood for two thousand three hundred years’ (Herodotus, 2:44).”
The location of Tyre on an island off the mainland helped make it impregnable, or so its residents and rulers believed. If you pull up this “Historical Map of Tyre,” you can see the island that was home to the ancient city of Tyre, the mainland where Alexander the Great tore down the buildings, and the causeway he created to the island using that vast amount of rubble. Through the centuries, silt has continued to build up along the causeway, effectively turning Tyre from an island into a peninsula. Note the dotted lines on the map showing where the coastline now lies. To further understand how the topography of Tyre was permanently altered by Alexander the Great, go to maps.google.com and search on Tyre, Lebanon, to view a current map of the area.
God decreed through the prophet Ezekiel that Tyre should be destroyed. The reason why can be found right at the beginning of God’s judgment against Tyre in Ezekiel 26:2b (NIV): “…because Tyre has said of Jerusalem, ‘Aha! The gate to the nations is broken, and its doors have swung open to me; now that she lies in ruins I will prosper…’” Tyre sought to capitalize on Jerusalem’s misfortunes, and this displeased God greatly. In the remainder of that chapter, God went on to describe exactly how Tyre would be destroyed. These articles further discuss how all that God had decreed came to pass through the centuries that followed: “Tyre in Prophecy” and “The Fall of Tyre.”
Another interesting account concerning the fate of Tyre can be found in the writings of Benjamin of Tudela (see the quote given in this lesson). This Jewish traveler from what is now Spain spent over ten years traveling around Europe, Asia, and Africa, documenting his findings as he went. He published his diary, The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela, in approximately AD 1170. This link takes you to a photocopy of the translation of his book, which is quite interesting to examine. Right inside the front cover, before the title page and table of contents, is an ancient map dating back to the time of the writing of his book. To read what Benjamin wrote about Tyre, go to pp. 18-19 of this text and look in the side margins for p. 30 and p. 31 (you will have to flip through the pages, as the link just takes you to the book itself).