“Who?” you say.
Yes, at first glance this name is pretty far out. But stay with me. There is actually an Ethbaal in your Bible, I Kings 16:31. He is the father of Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, the wickedest woman our Scriptures have ever recorded. This was no doubt a marriage for politics. For, Ethbaal, as you may know, was certainly not a Jew. Ethbaal was king of a nation that was already corrupt, and would one day be swept away by history.
I speak of Phoenicia, and its great city Tyre, located roughly in the area of today’s Lebanon and Syria. “Phoenicia was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1500 BC to 300 BC,” according to Wikipedia.
“Also, as Canaanites, they were unique in their remarkable seafaring achievements… The Phoenicians were among the greatest traders of their time and owed much of their prosperity to trade.”
The prophecy of Ezekiel indeed mentions this trading aspect of the Phoenician way, showing how it corrupted this civilization.
But until their demise, to rule these cities was to be a man of worldwide power and glory and riches. Their influence spread all over the world. Though they were not technically an empire, they were surrounded by and connected to Empires, and the greatness of these connections became an integral part of Phoenicia.
Ethbaal is called “king of the Sidonians” in the Kings passage, and Josephus adds that he was also king of Tyre, the twin city to Sidon. These were the main cities of the Phoenician culture.
“Ethbaal”, by the way, means “with Baal.” Baal was the predominant god of the enemies of Israel, and Ahab sold out to Baal worship to please his evil queen. Ethbaal and his daughter were two of the reasons that the curse of God came on the northern kingdom in 721 BC.
The name “Ethbaal” was used by other kings of Tyre over the generations to come. One of them, Ethbaal (or Itto-Baal) III, seems to be the subject of the startling prophecy given by Ezekiel in his 28th chapter. Josephus says that he was the one reigning at the time of the fall of Jerusalem. Hence the words of Ezekiel 28 would apply to him, as judgment was soon coming at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar (570 BC).
I list this man as one of the “seven” kings of Revelation 17:11, not exclusively because of any of the above facts. I list him because of that prophecy in Ezekiel to which I have referred. There is possibly no more clear description anywhere in the Bible of a man so totally given to Satan’s program for this planet. He and Satan are cursed simultaneously, just as Satan and the serpent share a curse in Genesis 3. Listen carefully to the main points of this prophecy, paraphrased. God is speaking to the prince of Tyre, Ethbaal III:
• You are proud.
• You say “I am a god.”
• Your riches have been gained by your superior knowledge and wisdom.
• Your success in trade has made your heart exalted.
• Strangers are coming against you.
• You will be thrown into a Pit.
But keep listening as God now speaks to the king – the real ruler – of Tyre, Satan himself, embodied in this wicked man:
• You were indeed perfectly wise and beautiful.
• You were in Eden.
• You were the first of the created angels.
• By being involved with trading on earth you became violent, and entered into sin.
• I cast you out.
• You were still proud.
• I cast you to the ground.
• I allowed you (inside Ethbaal) to be burned to ashes.
• You shall be no more.
Some of this prophecy seems to speak of Satan’s final judgment in the Lake of Fire.
We compare what we have seen here to others of his kind, and to the final model called antichrist and we ask, is this the one that shall be resurrected in the last days? Note his characteristics compared to antichrist’s:
• Exalted above God, wanting to be God
• World ruler
• As a descendant of Canaanites, truly an enemy of Israel
• Filled with Satan and cursed with him
• A violent end
Yes, he seems to qualify, does he not? Could he return, and attempt to complete his work against Israel and Israel’s God? I believe so.