King or Prince of Tyrus-Figurative Interpretation
The Problem with taking a "Literal" approach to this passage is that the prophet doesn't take a literal approach.
In the previous chapter, where we must begin if we are to understand this passage, it says,(Ezek. 27:1-4)
The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying , 2 Now, thou son of
man, take up a lamentation for Tyrus; 3 And say unto Tyrus, O thou
that art situate at the entry of the sea, which art a merchant of the
people for many isles, Thus saith the Lord GOD; O Tyrus, thou hast
said , I am of perfect beauty. 4 Thy borders are in the midst of the
seas, thy builders have perfected thy beauty.
Since Ezekiel is speaking to a person who is named 'Tyrus', how do you 'speak' to an individual named Tyrus? This would be in "Modern Terminology" the same as Ezekiel speaking to "United States". *Therefore, since we cannot address any one individual and call him "Tyrus", we must understand this passage "Figuratively"(representative of another reality) and not "an address to an actual individual".
God is using Ezekiel to direct His Word toward the nation of Tyrus/Phoenicia, and He is addressing them as if they were 1 man, although in reality they are many people. Therefore the Context of Ezekiel's prophecy is not of addressing a particular sin of a particular individual, rather He is addressing "Tyrus" as a "type", or representative of what the nation of Tyrus is. It would be the same if the prophet had said "America", and then went on to describe what "America" was like.
Interpretation of Prophetic Message
So when we get to Chapter 28, God is still addressing "types" but now the "type" is the ruler of Tyrus, better known as the "Prince of Tyrus" This "type" of the rulers of Tyre proclaim they are "God". Because of their merchandising they have become very wealthy, and because of their interaction with many other peoples they have become very 'wise' or knowledgeable. It is important to note the prophet doesn't single out any particular ruler of Tyre, rather these are the characteristics of the "Prince of Tyre".
So when we get to Ezek. 28:11 we see a dramatic shift. We are 'used' to seeing types, but now we have a different type:
Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying , 12 Son of man,
take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus
saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and
perfect in beauty. 13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every
precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond,
the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and
the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy
pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created . 14 Thou
art the anointed cherub that covereth ; and I have set thee so: thou
wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in
the midst of the stones of fire. 15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from
the day that thou wast created , till iniquity was found in thee.
This text has been much debated, by both Hebrew and Christian scholars. Since there is no 'clear view' of ha-Satan(the opposer) as seen in Job 1, the view most prevelent amonst Jewish sources is that he's God's 'prosecuting attorney' for which we constantly need to call on God to prevail against. A reference can be found here.
The Christian view, on the other hand, sees Satan as the "Prince of Darkness". Jesus says in John 8:44,
"Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it".
In "Against Marcion"(Book II, Ch. 10) Tertullian, referring to Ezek. 28:14 says,
This description, it is manifest, properly belongs to the
transgression of the angel, and not to the prince's: for none among
human beings was either born in the paradise of God, not even Adam
himself, who was rather translated there; nor placed with a cherub
upon God's holy mountain, that is to say, in the heights of heaven,
from which the Lord testifies that Satan fell; nor detained among the
stones of fire, and the flashing rays of burning constellations,
whence Satan was cast down like lightning.(From here)
One 'may' have made a case for "Ithobaal" III, as being the "Prince of Tyre", but in order to make a case for Ithobaal III as the King of Tyre, one has to accept that:
1) He was in Eden, the Garden of God
2) Every precious stone was your covering the day you were created,
3) You were the anointed cherub that covereth, and I have created you so;
4) You were upon the holy mountain of God, and walked up and down the mountain of fire;
5) You were perfect from the day you were created, until iniquity were found
6) The result was that you were cast out of the mountain of
God, and God will(in the future) destroy thee o covering cherub."
Early church fathers, and most commentaries agree, from the language references that it cannot with certainty be Ithobaal III, as he was 'not in the Garden of Eden', not upon the Holy Mountain of God(as viewed by the Children of Israel in Mount Sinai, 'did not' walk on the mountain of fire, was not 'the anointed cherub'-this one is important because 'anointing in the Old Testament signified God's specific charism(or oil) poured out on an individual to fulfil a particular purpose(prophet, priest, or king). Since there is no record of any prophet 'anointing' Ithobaal III, there can be no mistake in identifying him as 'the anointed cherub'.
The Prince of Tyre, as Opposed to the King of Tyre
Since we understand from the context of the King of Tyre that God is speaking about Satan, how do we understand the "Prince of Tyre"? These are 2 different individuals: one of the is the "Prince of Tyre", and the other is the "King of Tyre". To further understand the role of Satan as described in the prophetic books, and to draw a distinction between "King" and "Prince", it is important that we look at Isa. 14:13-14, which says,"
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will
exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount
of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the
The context is the prophet is told to "take up this proverb against the King of Babylon" and yet it's clear He is not talking about "the King of Babylon", but who is 'directing' the KIng of Babylon, which is,(vs 12)
"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how
art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!"
We see in both the instances the same pattern of prophetic interpretation: the "King of Tyre" and the one directing the "King of Babylon" are one in the same. He is talking about Satan, although "Satan-The Opposer", was once "Lucifer-The Light Bearer". We must understand God DID NOT 'create' evil, everthing He created was good. Because this "cherub" dared oppose God, he was cast out of heaven, and Lucifer(Light Bearer) became ha-Satan(The Opposer) who influences both the "Prince of Tyre and the "King of Babylon" to oppose God.
Since we have been taken in this direction in regards to the "King of Tyre", what does it say about the "Prince of Tyre"?(Ezek. 28:2)
"He is a man, and not God, yet he exalts himself as God".
"thou hast said , I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst
of the seas;
We find this same figure in Dan. 11:37,
"Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of
women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.
Moreover, it also says,"(vs 45)
And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in
the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none
shall help him".
Antichrist-Figurative Understanding of the Prince of Tyre
To understand the Prince of Tyrus, we have already established that it is to be "Figuratively" understood; since we have in the same passage understood the "King of Tyrus" figuratively. The "Prince" is a "type" of the Antichrist; "The King of Tyrus"(Satan) is "empowering him", so that he may 'appear' to men as "God", though he is just a man. 2 Thess. 2:3-4 says,"
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come,
except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be
revealed, the son of perdition;
4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or
that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God,
shewing himself that he is God.
Satan empowers him;(Rev. 13:4)
And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and
they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is
able to make war with him?
This is the same dragon who is called Satan, and bound by the angel for a thousand years,(Rev. 20:2)
And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil,
and Satan, and bound him a thousand years.
To draw the inference to the Antichrist from the Ezek. 28:14 passage, we see:
1) There is no correlation to a contemporary king(Ithobaal III),
2) Ezekiel has described Satan, and his creation, rise and fall, which certainly did not occur during his immediate lifetime(or shortly thereafter), rather occurs in the timeless dimensions of God(before the Garden of Eden),
3) There is a subordination of "Prince(man)" to "King(Satan)" in Ezekiel, just as in Isaiah which compares to "King of Babylon(man)" to Lucifer, who empower him, just as in Revelations the "dragon(Satan)" empowers the "Beast(man)"
So we see then, that the "Prince of Tyrus" can rightly be called the "Antichrist".