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What, exactly, is pride?

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, thus says the LORD God: “Because your heart is proud, and you have said, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of the gods, in the heart of the seas,’ yet you are but a man, and no god, though you make your heart like the heart of a god— you are indeed wiser than Daniel; no secret is hidden from you; by your wisdom and your understanding you have made wealth for yourself, and have gathered gold and silver into your treasuries; by your great wisdom in your trade you have increased your wealth, and your heart has become proud in your wealth— therefore thus says the Lord God: Because you make your heart like the heart of a god, therefore, look and see, I will bring foreigners upon you, the most ruthless of the nations; and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom and defile your splendor. They shall thrust you down into the pit, and you shall die the death of the slain in the heart of the seas. Will you still say, ‘I am a god,’ in the presence of those who kill you - though you are but a man, and no god - in the hands of those who slay you? You shall die the death of the uncircumcised by the hand of foreigners; for I have spoken, declares the LORD God.” Ezekiel 28: 1-10

 
Ezekiel (who wrote the words in bold above) is an interesting but enigmatic character. He was born and brought up in Jerusalem in present-day Israel but, in 597 BC, when he was in his twenties his nation was defeated by the Babylonian Emperor Nebuchadnezzar. With other Israelites, he was deported to Babylonia where he married and lived for at least another 22 years. 

Ezekiel was recognized to be a “prophet” – a person who spoke on behalf of the LORD God. The book which carries his name has been preserved as part of the Jewish national archives and is also now included in the Christian Bible because it is part of the Scriptures which relate to the Lord Jesus Christ.

There in Babylon Ezekiel spoke – and wrote – on behalf of the LORD God. He was meticulous in recording the exact dates when he spoke. The words in bold above were first spoken in BC 586. 

 
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‘The proud hate pride in others.’ (Benjamin Franklin, US Founding Father and polymath, 1705-1790) 
These words are especially interesting because they describe corporate pride – not individual pride (at least not directly individual pride, although Tyre is referred to (above) as a “man”. Corporate pride was detected by the LORD God as an attribute of the city of Tyre. And the LORD God had decided to act.

Perhaps, like me, you have had a slight fascination with the Phoenicians. These highly successful traders developed a civilization of their own in the Mediterranean between BC 1500 and 300. One of their principal cities was Tyre – the subject of Ezekiel’s message to it from the LORD God. “Because your heart is proud …. Because you make your heart like the heart of a god …. therefore, look and see, I will bring foreigners upon you, the most ruthless of the nations; and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom and defile your splendour."

Wikipedia reports: - The city of Tyre was particularly known for the production of a rare and extraordinarily expensive sort of purple dye, produced from the murex shellfish, known as Tyrian purple. The colour was, in ancient cultures, reserved for the use of royalty or at least the nobility. In fact, the word “Phoenicia” is actually derived from the Greek word translated “purple” – the “purple” for which Tyre was famous.

What happened to proud Tyre? Wikipedia again: - From 586 until 573 BC, the city was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon until it agreed to pay a tribute. In fact, Nebuchadnezzar completely destroyed the mainland part of Tyre leaving only the island part - offshore - untouched.  That island was itself razed to the ground by Alexander the Great in BC 322.

 
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‘A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, when you are looking down you can’t see something which is above you.’ (C S Lewis, novelist and academic, 1898-1963) 
The interesting thing however is Ezekiel’s description of corporate pride – pride of a group of people in their economic success, in their trading profits. This is what Tyre thought about itself: - you are indeed wiser than Daniel; no secret is hidden from you; by your wisdom and your understanding you have made wealth for yourself, and have gathered gold and silver into your treasuries; by your great wisdom in your trade you have increased your wealth, and your heart has become proud in your wealth.

Following that self-assessment, Tyre corporately concluded, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of the gods, in the heart of the seas.’ Their own heart held one supreme certainty described by the LORD God: - you make your heart like the heart of a god …. Autonomous to the end – to the conclusion of their conclusion. 

 
Sinner Syvret

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