(Ezek. 28:1ff) Does this passage describe Satan?

CLAIM: Commentators are divided on their understanding of this passage. Some claim that this refers to the king of Tyre during Ezekiel’s day, and there is no reason to believe that a fallen angel like Satan is in view. Is this the case?

RESPONSE: We will exposit this passage verse by verse to gain a clarity:

1 The word of the LORD came again to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, say to the leader of Tyre, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Because your heart is lifted up And you have said, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods in the heart of the seas’; yet you are a man and not God, although you make your heart like the heart of God— 3 Behold, you are wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that is a match for you. 4 “By your wisdom and understanding you have acquired riches for yourself and have acquired gold and silver for your treasuries. 5 “By your great wisdom, by your trade you have increased your riches and your heart is lifted up because of your riches— 6 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Because you have made your heart like the heart of God, 7 Therefore, behold, I will bring strangers upon you, the most ruthless of the nations. And they will draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom and defile your splendor. 8 ‘They will bring you down to the pit, and you will die the death of those who are slain in the heart of the seas. 9 ‘Will you still say, “I am a god,” In the presence of your slayer, though you are a man and not God, in the hands of those who wound you? 10 ‘You will die the death of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers, for I have spoken!’ declares the Lord GOD!”’”

While the leader of Tyre thought that we was divine, God tells him that he is “a man.” This is a human figure, who is killed by the Pagan nations (v.10). Clearly, this is describing the human leader of Tyre who was killed—not Satan. However, the next periscope is different.

11 Again the word of the LORD came to me saying,

There is a change of context here. This is a different vision that is dissimilar from before.

12 “Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.

The genre of this section is not a taunt (like Isaiah 14); instead, it’s a lamentation. Moreover, the title of this person changes from the leader or prince of Tyre to the king of Tyre. The city of Tyre worshipped Melquart, which was a demon whose name means “King of the City.”[1] Thus, this prophecy may mean that there is a demon behind the earthly ruler in Tyre.

Moreover, God would never describe a human leader in this way (e.g. “perfection” “perfect in beauty”).

13 “You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: The ruby, the topaz and the diamond; the beryl, the onyx and the jasper; the lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; and the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, was in you. On the day that you were created they were prepared.

Note that the text doesn’t say that the figure thought he was in Eden. Instead, it says that he really was in Eden. How could a human figure from the 6th century BC fit this language? Moreover, why does the text say that this figure was created? Why doesn’t it say that he was born, instead?

14 “You were the anointed cherub who covers (or “guards”), and I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked in the midst of the stones of fire.

The term “anointed” means specially chosen. Since a cherub is a high-ranking type of angel, this must mean that Satan is the highest ranking angel among the cherubs. He is immeasurably powerful.

15 “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you. 16 “By the abundance of your trade you were internally filled with violence, and you sinned; therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.

The Bible repeatedly teaches that humans are born sinful. So, this is very strange language to use of a human being—especial when it seems to say that he began to sin at some point in his life.

17 “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, that they may see you.

Satan fell because he was conceited.

18 “By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries. Therefore I have brought fire from the midst of you; it has consumed you, and I have turned you to ashes on the earth in the eyes of all who see you. 19 “All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have become terrified and you will cease to be forever.”’”

Satan doesn’t live in hell, as American folk religion teaches. Instead, Satan lives on Earth (2 Cor. 4:4; 1 Jn. 5:19). This passage concurs, stating that Satan was cast down to Earth.

What does this tell us about Satan?

1. He is an incommensurably great being—maybe second only to God himself.

2. He was in Eden before he fell. This might explain why he hates humans so much.

3. Pride was the original sin. The seed of Satan’s destruction came from within himself (v.18).


[1] McCallum, Dennis. Satan and His Kingdom: What the Bible Says and How It Matters to You. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2009. 22.