Theodoret: Commentary on Ezekiel 28

(PG 81.1092-1100.)
[1092, l. 43] "And the word of the Lord came to me saying: Son of Man take up a lament against the prince of Tyre. And say to him, thus says Adonai the Lord, You are a seal of likeness, filled with wisdom, and (you are) a beautiful crown. And you came into being in the luxury of the paradise of God,girded with every costly stone: carnelian, [1093] topaz, and emerald, and sapphire, and ruby, and lapis lazuli, and jasper, and silver, and ligurion, and agate, and amethyst, and chrysolite, beryllium, and onyx, and you filled up your treasuries full of gold and your storehouses in your midst from the day of your creation."

Forcing the text, someone might apply these things even to the historical prince of Tyre, but the text truly and properly corresponds to that demon which produces sinfulness.

Applying these things to the prince of Tyre--that is the historical one--we will consider the text in this way: "you are a seal of likeness," for the human being was formed in the image of God, "full of wisdom," that is a rational being and honored with reason. Also a "beautiful crown," in that he is better than all the irrational creatures, four-footed, winged, and aquatic and amphibious. "And you came into being in the luxury of the paradise of God." For the species descends from the forefather, who once he was completely formed was placed in the paradise of luxury, to work and to guard it. Yet, Scripture also suitably calls Jerusalem, which is named the sacred and divine city, "paradise" since it has the descendants of the prophecy of God and of high-priesthood, the things able to bring life and salvation. Also, in ancient times there was an alliance between the king of Tyre and the king of the Israelites, and there was also a certain degree of intermarriage between them, and this is easily learned from the books of Kings. Now, "bound with every costly stone" is clearly to be understood literally, and to be applied to a king. For I have adorned you with countless good things, and have brought to you diverse materials from everywhere. And though I fashioned from them diadems and crowns, buckles and belts, and rings, and filled the treasury, you accomplished the opposite with respect to the abundance and suitability of these things.

Applying the text to the devil, we will not perceive these things in this fashion, but the text "You are a seal of likeness" we will refer to the rule and authority formerly given to him. For the divine apostle says: " according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit which now operates in the sons of disobedience." (Eph. 2:2) So that it is clear to say that he was entrusted formerly with the management of this air, but after having fallen from (this) authority through pretentiousness, he demonstrates his own activity among those who do not believe the word of proclamation. "Full of wisdom, and a beautiful crown, and you came into being in the luxury of the Paradise." His former virtue is hinted at through these words. For Scripture says," God saw everything which he had made, and behold it was very good" (Gen. 1:31). But even this creature was one of the created things, he had not yet shown the change of his mind for the worse. Scripture signifies his diverse wisdom and knowledge through the stones that are mentioned. Indeed, the chief priest, bearing on his breast the oracle of judgment, which encased those very stones, used to enter the holy of holies. But the breast is a kind of treasury and guard-house of the heart. And everything that follows corresponds not to the perceptible prince of Tyre, but to the imperceptible one.

14. For Scripture says: "You, being anointed, were furnished with the Cherub, who resides beside God." For (you were) together with those holy and awesome powers. For here, the Scripture calls the act of sanctification, "anointing", which is supplied by the spirit of God to the incorporeal and holy powers. "And I placed you in the holy mountain of God, you came into being in the midst of burning stones." Holy mountain of God means the height of knowledge, and burning stones the holiest powers, which have both preciousness and the form of light. Indeed, divine Scripture often sees fit to call pious people holy stones: for, it says "holy stones roam about the earth" (Zech. 9:16). But these ones, while holy, are not burning. Let us hear what the inspired David says concerning the higher powers: "Who makes his angels spirits and his servants whips of fire" (Ps. 104:4). None of these correspond to the perceptible prince of Tyre, even if certain people yearning for matters of contention should say ten thousand times that the burning stones are the Jews, and their intercourse with the Tyrians. For the Jews are not burning stones. But if someone should call the prophets among the Jews "burning stones," the meaning still will not stand. For the Tyrians, who lived together in impiety, used to have no relations with the prophets, but rather made commercial intercourse with those among the Jews who were of low and humble estate. No one in his right mind would dare to call them "burning stones," who transgressed the divine law and who against its decrees engaged in commerce with the nations. But the text that "I set you in the holy mountain of God" can be seen not to correspond to this, for he (the prophet) did not spend his life among the Jerusalemites, so that we might grant that this was said concerning Mount Zion, and the following details show this clearly.

15. For, he says, "You walked blameless in your days, from the day on which you were created until when injustices were found in you." For such was the devil before the fall, but we have heard concerning humans: "None is pure of uncleanness, not even should his life on earth last one day" (Job 14:4). Yet this incorporeal creature was blameless in the beginning, but since he indulged an inclination to the inferior, he walked in the diametrically opposite path.

16. "For from the whole of your orbit you have filled your treasuries with iniquity and sin and you have been wounded." For it was not sufficient for you to be given both wisdom and authority, but because you lusted for greater things, you first became filled with iniquity and then you showed the wounds of sin. These things the prophet Isaiah says concerning him: "How have you fallen from the heavens, O Day-Star, who brings forth the morning? The one who is sent to all the nations has trampled [you] on the earth." (Isa 14:12). For having all things subject [to himself], he fell from tyranny through the cross of the Savior. Then he describes the prior madness and exceeding pretentiousness: "But you said in your mind, I will ascend into the heavens, I will set my throne above the stars of heaven, I will sit on the highest mountain above the high mountains in the north, I will ascend above the clouds, I will be like to the Most High." (Isa. 14:13-14) He calls the mountains to the north the origin of evil. For from the north, according to the prophet, will be kindled the evils against all the inhabitants of the earth. Thus laying bare his conceit, the prophet proceeds to his deposition: "But now you will descend to Hades in the foundations of the earth." (Isa. 14:15) This also the divinely inspired Ezekiel is taught by God to say: For, he says, "from the mountain of God the thickly-shaded cherub has brought you down out of the midst of the burning stones." The [text] distinguishes between that very cherub who previously had been worthy to bear the divine glory and those (other) holy powers who are named "burning,(stones)." And now those who, on account of their purity of soul, are worthy of the divine approach, for whom the ascent to God is in their hearts, receive, according to the prophet, authority to trample him under foot.

17. "Your heart was magnified because of your beauty." You were presumptuous, he says, when you considered the good things supplied to you by me. "Your knowledge was corrupted with your beauty." You were stripped, he says, of everything, when you abandoned the rank given to you. "Because of the abundance of your sins, I have cast you to the earth, I have given you to be an example in the presence of kings." Since you have indulged, he says, in great evil, you have not only fallen from your high rank, but I also have cast you down below, that you might be ridiculed by those who have kept the rank given to them, and that you might rightly be king over those skilled in causing suffering in them.

18. "Because of the abundance of your sins, and the injustices of your market, you have profaned your consecration." Let those who object tell us, what sort of consecration the profane king of Tyre had. But they have nothing to show. Now this one, concerning whom the text now speaks, since he was one of the holy archangels, participated in all holiness, but profaned the consecration by indulging in evil commerce and desiring ever-more he lost even that which was given to him. [1100] Moreover, he also contrived for humans to suffer. For though that man came into being as the image of God, yet he was led away by needless chatter and desired to become God, and so the image of God that was [in him] perished as well.

"And fire will go out from your midst." This applies to both, that is, both the one who produces evil and the one who was made king of Tyre. For both exhibited the origins of punishment imposed upon them. For such a thing is said through the prophet Isaiah: "Behold, all of you kindle a fire, and you strengthen flames, you walk by the light of your fire, and by the flame which you have kindled" (Isa. 50:11). And there he says accordingly, "fire will go out from your midst." This will consume you. That is, I will use your own unlawful materials for the punishments against you.

"And I will give you into the ashes in your land, before all who see you." This also fits both, for both the man, falling in his own land, became ashes, and the devil, though seeming to rule the world, and having been undone by our God and Savior, is trampled upon by the pious, which is the punishment of ashes.

(v. 19) "And all who knew you among the nations will lament over you." For those who yet remain in servitude to you, seeing the end of the idols, and the complete destruction of their sacred precincts, losing heart and troubled without cease, they carry on in dejection.

"You will come into destruction, and you will be no more into eternity." Scripture shows his complete destruction through these words. Thus completing the lament over Tyre, he passes on to Sidon, which was the neighboring city, and concisely foretells the things which will happen to it.