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Fausset's Bible Dictionary


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Joshua 19:29; 2 Samuel 24:7; Isaiah 23:1; Ezekiel 26-28. In Phoenicia, E. of the Mediterranean, 20 miles S. of Sidon. Justin says the Sidonians founded Tyre after having been defeated by the king of Ascalon, 1209 B.C. according to the Parian marble. A double city, part on the mainland, part on an island nearly one mile long, and separated from the continent by a strait half a mile broad. Justin (xi. 10) records the tradition of the inhabitants that there was a city on the mainland before there was one on the island. Ezekiel represents the mainland city as besieged by Nebuchadnezzar's horses and chariots, and its walls assailed with "engines of war, forts, and mounts," and its towers broken down with axes; but the island city as sitting "in the heart of the seas" (Ezekiel 28:2, margin). The former, Old Tyre, stretched along the shore seven miles from the river Leontes on the N. to the fountain Ras el ain on the S., the water of which was brought into the city by aqueducts.

Pliny (N. H., v. 17) says the circuit of both was 19 Roman miles, the island city being only 22 stadia. The difficulty is that the name "Tyre," meaning a "rock," belongs properly to the island city, there being no "rock" in the mainland city to originate the name; yet the mainland city is called "Old Tyre." Probably the Phoenician name of the mainland city resembled in sound but not sense the Greek Palaeo-Tyrus, and the latter name was given from a misunderstanding. Tyre is not mentioned in the Pentateuch, but first in Joshua 19:29 "the strong city Tyre." From tsor came its two names, Tyre, and Sara, now Sur (Arabic). Joshua implies it was on the shore, but the city and chief temple of Hercules (Melkarth, the tutelary god of Tyre) was probably on the island. Unlike other oriental cities, space being limited on the island, the houses were built in stories. The majority of the population was on the mainland. Hiram by substructures enlarged the eastern and southern sides, so as to afford room for a public place, Eurychorus.

The northern or Sidonian harbour was 900 ft. long, 700 wide, protected by walls. The southern or Egyptian was formed by a great breakwater; the barbours could be closed by a boom; a canal through the city joined the harbours. "Tyre did build herself a strong hold" (Zechariah 9:3); so Diodorus Siculus (xvii. 40), "Tyre had the greatest confidence, owing to her insular position, fortifications and abundant stores." A double wall, 150 ft. high, besides the sea, secured island Tyre. "Her merchants were princes, and her traffickers the honourable of the earth" (Isaiah 23:7-8). Hiram, as friend and ally, supplied David with timber and workmen for his palace (2 Samuel 5:11), and Solomon with cedars of Lebaron conveyed by floats to Joppa, 74 geographical miles, after having been hewn by Hiram's Sidonian hewers unrivaled in skill (1 Kings 5:6). (See HIRAM; SOLOMON.) The Tyrian skill in copper work appears in the lilies, palms, oxen, lions, and cherubim which they executed for Solomon.

Tyrian colonists founded Carthage 143 years and eight months after the founding of Solomon's temple. (Josephus, contra Apion 1:18). Asher never possessed Tyre; though commanded to exterminate the Sidonians along with the other Canaanites, Israel never had war with them (Judges 1:31-32). The census takers in going to Tyre under David seem merely to have counted the Israelites resident in Tyre (2 Samuel 24:7). Joshua (Joshua 11:8; Joshua 19:28) designates Sidon "great." In David's time Tyre assumes the greatness above Sidon. So secular history represents Sidon as mother city of Phoenicia, which see (Justin, Hist. xviii. 3; Strabo Geegr. 1:2, section 33). (See PHOENICIA.) Old Egyptian inscriptions give Sidon the first place. Homer often mentions Sidon, never Tyre. The reason for his and the Pentateuch's silence as to Tyre is, Tyre, though existing, was as yet subordinate. Secular history accords with the Bible in dating the accession of Tyre to greatness just before David's reign.

Unlike other independent commercial cities Tyre was a monarchy, not a republic (Jeremiah 25:22; Jeremiah 27:3). The friendly relations between Tyre and Israel (Solomon supplying grain and oil in return for Hiram's timber, metals, and workmen) were again renewed when Ahab married the Sidonian king Ethbaal's (or Ithobal king of Tyre, according to Menander, in Josephus Ant. 8:13, section 2) daughter. Joel (Joel 3:4-8) denounces Tyre for selling children of Judah and Jerusalem as slaves to the Greeks, Amos threatens Tyre with devouring fire for "delivering the whole captivity (captive Israelites) to Edom, and remembering not the brotherly covenant" (Amos 1:9-10), between David and Hiram which guaranteed safety, religious privileges, and the undisturbed exercise of their faith to the Jews sojourning in Tyre.

Hiram's successors were Baleazar, Abdrastatus (assassinated by his nurse's four sons, the elder of whom usurped the throne; then Hiram's line after a servile revolt was restored in), Adrastus, Aserymus, Phales (who slew his brother Aserymus and was slain by), Ithobaal, priest of Astarte and father of Jezebel, Ahab's unscrupulous, cruel, and idolatrous queen. Tyre's annals record the three years' drought of 1 Kings 17-18. Then Badezor, Matgen, Pygmalion; he slew Acerbas, Hercules' high priest, and the husband of Elissa or Dido. She fled with many of the aristocracy and founded Carthage. Her self immolation on a funeral pyre is essentially oriental. The next certain event after some interval is Elulaeus' reign and Shalmaneser's invasion. Shalmaneser, after taking Samaria, turned his arms against Tyre, then mistress of Sidon, and Cyprus with its copper mines ("copper" derives its name from Cyprus), 721 B.C. Menander, the translator of the Tyrian archives into Greek (Josephus Ant. 9:14, section 2), says Elulseus king of Tyre subdued a revolt in Cyprus.

The Assyrian king then, assailed Pnoenicia; Sidon, Akko (Acre), and Palaeo-Tyrus submitted, and helped him with 60 ships and 800 rowers against 12 ships of Tyre. The Tyrians dispersed their opponent's fleet, but he besieged them for five years, apparently without success. Isaiah (Isaiah 23) refers to this siege; Sargon probably finished the siege. The reference to "the Chaldaeans" (Isaiah 23:13) implies an ulterior prophetic reference also to its siege under Nebuchadnezzar which lasted 13 years. "Behold," says the prophet, calling Tyre's attention to the humiliating fact that upstart Chaldees, subordinate then to Assyria and only in later times about to become supreme, should first as mercenaries under the Assyrian Shalmaneser, then as Nebuchadnezzar's army, besiege the ancient city Tyre. (See CHALDEES.)

Alexander the Great destroyed new Tyre after a seven months' siege. Nebuchadnezzar, having no vessels to attack the island city, besieged the mainland city, but the heart of the city was on the island. To this latter God's threat applies, "I will scrape her dust from her and make her like the top of a rock" (Ezekiel 26:2; Ezekiel 26:4, etc.); instead of her realizing her exulting expectation on Jerusalem's downfall, "I shall be replenished now she is laid waste," the very soil which Tyre brought together on the rock on which she built I will scrape so clean away as to leave no dust, but only the bore rock as it was; "it (island Tyre) shall be a place for spreading of nets in the midst of the sea." Ezekiel (Ezekiel 27:10-11) informs us that, like her daughter Carthage, Tyre employed mercenaries, "of Persia (the first mention of Persia in ancient literature), Lud, Phut, and Arvad"; a frequent occurrence and weakness in commercial cities, where artisans' wages exceed a soldier's pay.

Merchants of Sheba and Raamah, i.e. Arabia. and the Persian gulf, brought Tyre gold (Ezekiel 27). (See SHEBA; RAAMAH.) Tarshish supplied Tyre with silver, iron, tin (from Cornwall), and lead; Palestine supplied Tyre with wheat, oil, and balm (1 Kings 5:9; Acts 12:20); whence the two nations were always at peace. Tyre got the wine of Helbon (Aleppo), not Judah's wines though excellent (Genesis 49:11). (See TARSHISH.) The nomadic Bedouin Kedar supplied lambs, rams, and goats; Egypt, linen; the isles of Elishah (Greece, the Peloponnese, and Elis especially), blue and purple dyes; (latterly Tyre extracted her famous purple from her own shell fish the Μurex trunculus (See SCARLET); Pliny ix. 60-61, Pausanias iii. 21, section 6; the shell fish were crushed in round holes found still by travelers in the solid sandstone there: Wilde, Voyage along Mediterr.); and Dedan on the Persian gulf, ivory and ebony.

The exultation of Tyre at Jerusalem's overthrow by Nebuchadnezzar might seem strange; but Josiah's overthrow of Solomon's altars to Ashtoreth or Astarte, the Tyrian queen of heaven, which for 350 years had been a pledge of the goodwill between Jerusalem and Tyre (2 Kings 23:13), had alienated the Tyrians; the selfishness of commercial rivalry further made them regard Jerusalem's fall as an opening for Tyre to turn to herself the inland traffic of which Jerusalem had hereto been the "gate"; Tyre said against Jerusalem, "Aha, she is broken that was the gates (the commercial mart) of the people, she is turned unto me" (Ezekiel 26:2); the caravans from Petra, Palmyra and the East instead of passing through Jerusalem, will be transferred to me. Tyre is thus the world's representative in its phase of intense self seeking, which not so much opposes directly God's people as exults in their calamity when this subserves her schemes of gain, pride, and ambition, however ostensibly heretofore on friendly terms with them.

But Tyre experienced the truth "he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished" (Proverbs 17:5). Nebuchadnezzar's siege of 13 years followed; "every head was made bald, and every shoulder peeled, yet had he no wages nor his army, for Tyre, for the service that he had served against it" (Ezekiel 29:18-19). Jerome states that Nebuchadnezzar took Tyre, but had no wages for his pains since the Tyrians had removed in ships from Tyre everything precious. So God gave him Egypt in compensation; his success is implied in Tyre receiving a king from Babylon, probably one of the Tyrian hostages detained there, Merbal (Josephus, Apion 1:21, on the authority of Phoenician annals). Tyre probably submitted on mild terms, for no other authors mention its capture. Josephus quotes Phoenician records as stating that "Nebuchadnezzar besieged Tyre 13 years under their king Ithobal." Its capture accords with Pharaoh Hophra's expedition against Tyre not long after, probably in self defense, to prevent Tyre's navy becoming Babylon's weapon against Egypt.

Under Persia Tyre supplied cedar wood to the Jews for building the second temple (Ezra 3:7). Alexander the Great, in order not to have his communications with Greece cut off, wished to have the Phoenician fleet at command; the other Phoenician cities submitted. Tyre stood a "seven months'" siege, the Cyprians blockading the northern harbour, and the Phoenicians the southern harbour, so that Alexander was enabled to join the island to the mainland by a vast artificial mole constructed of the ruins of mainland Tyre remaining after Nebuchadnezzar's siege; while Carthage, through internal commotions, was unable to help the mother city. The conqueror slew 8,000 of the brave defenders, crucified 2,000 in revenge for the murder of some Macedonians, and sold into slavery 30,000 of the inhabitants. Ezekiel (Ezekiel 26:11-12) says: "Nebuchadnezzar shall slay, ... They shall break down thy walls, and shall lay thy stones and timber and dust in the midst of the water." The overthrow of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar was the first link in the long chain of evil, and the earnest of its final doom.

The change from "he" to "they" marks that what he did was not the whole, but paved the way for other's completing what he began. It was to be a progressive work until Tyre was utterly destroyed. Alexander did exactly as Ezekiel 26:12 foretells; with the "stones, timber," and rubbish of mainland Tyre he made the causeway to island Tyre (Q. Curtius iv. 2), 322 B.C. "Thou shalt be built (re-established as a commercial queen and fortress of the seas) no more." Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander, Antigonus, the crusaders in A.D. 1124, and the Saracens in the 13th century, A.D. 1291 (before whom the Tyrians vacated their city, fulfilling Isaiah 23:7), all contributed to make Tyro what she is, her harbours choked up, her palaces and fortresses in ruins and "built no more," only a few fishermen's humble abodes, Tyre only "a place to spread nets upon." In Hasselquist's day (Voyages in Levant, A.D. 1751) there were "about ten inhabitants, Turks and Christians, living by fishing." Its present population is 3,000 or 4,000.

It was for long a Christian bishopric. Ithobaal was king at the beginning of Nebuchadnezzar's siege, and Baal his son at its close. Then the form of government changed to that of judges (Suffetes, Hebrew shophetim ). Tyre is a vivid illustration of vicissitudes of fortune, so that Lucan calls her "unstable Tyre." During Tyre's existence Thebes, Nineveh, Babylon, and Jerusalem have fallen, and Carthage and Rome have risen and fallen; she "whose antiquity is, of ancient days" (Isaiah 23:7), who heaped up silver as dust and fine gold as the mire of the streets" (Zechariah 9:2), is now bore and poverty stricken. Greed of gain was her snare, to which she sacrificed every other consideration; this led her to join the wicked confederacy of seven nations constituting the main body, with three accessories, which sought to oust Jehoshaphat and God's people out of their inheritance (Psalms 83:7).

Psalms 87:4 foretells that Tyre personified as an ideal man shall be in Messianic days spiritually born in Jerusalem. Her help to Solomon's temple foretypified this, and the Syrophoenician woman's faith (Mark 7:26) is the firstfruit and earnest. Isaiah's (Isaiah 23:18) prophecy that "her merchandise shall be holiness to the Lord ... it shall be for them that dwell before the Lord to eat sufficiently and for durable clothing," was fulfilled in the consecration by the church at Tyre of much of its wealth to God and the support of Christ's ministry (Eusebius Hist. 10:4). Paul found disciples there (Acts 21:3-6), a lively instance of the immediate and instinctive communion of saints, though previously strangers to one another. What an affecting picture of brotherly love, all bringing Paul's company on their way "with wives and children until they were out of the city, then kneeling down on the shore" under the canopy of heaven and praying!

Psalms 45:12, "the daughter of Tyre shall entreat thy favor (so supply the omission) with a gift, even the rich (which Tyre was preeminently) among the people shall entreat thy favor," begging admission into the kingdom of God from Israel (Isaiah 44:5; Isaiah 60:6-14; Psalms 72:10). When Israel "hearkens" to Messiah and "forgets her own people (Jewish ritualism) and her father's house (her boast of Abrahamic descent), the King shall greatly desire her beauty," and Messiah shall become "the desire of all nations," e.g. Tyre (Haggai 2:7). On the other hand Tyre is type of (See ANTICHRIST) (Ezekiel 28) in her self deifying pride. "I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas ... yet thou art a man and not God. Though thou set thine heart as the heart of God, behold thou art wiser than Daniel ... no secret, can they hide from thee; with thy wisdom thou hast gotten riches" (compare Daniel 7:1-25; Daniel 11:36-37; 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 13:1; Revelation 13:6; 2 Timothy 3:1-9).

The "seas" answer to the political disturbed sea of nations out of which antichrist emerges. Tyre's "holy island," sacred to Melkart (Sanchoniathon) answers to antichrist's mimicry of God's throne in the temple of God. Her self-vaunted wisdom (Zechariah 9:2) answers to the "eyes of a man" in the little horn (Daniel 7:8; 1 Corinthians 1:19-31) and the second beast's "great wonders." Man in our days by discoveries in science hopes to be so completely lord of the elements as to be independent of God, so that "no secret can be hidden from him" in the natural world, which is the only world that self-willed fools recognize. When just at the summit of blasphemous self glorification, God shall bring these self deceivers with their masters, antichrist, the false prophet, and Satan, "down to the pit," as. Tyre (Ezekiel 28:8; Revelation 16; 17; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10).

In Tyre's king another example was given of man being put on his trial under most favorable circumstances, with all that beauty, sagacity, and wealth could do for man, like Adam and Eve in Eden (Ezekiel 28:13-14). No "precious stone" was withheld from Tyre; like the overshadowing cherubim, its king overshadowed Tyre; as the beau ideal of humanity he walked up and down "in the midst of the stones of fire" like "the paved work of sapphire" (Exodus 24:10; Exodus 24:17) under the feet of the God of Israel. But, whereas Hiram feared the God of Israel and helped forward His temple, "iniquity" even pride was found in Tyre. Therefore, God "cast her to the ground" (Ezekiel 28:17; Isaiah 23:9), "sacred and inviolate" (hiera kai asulos ) though she calls herself on coins. The Lord Jesus entered the coasts of Tyre, but it is uncertain whether He entered Tyre itself (Matthew 15:21; Mark 7:24; Mark 7:26).

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Tyre'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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Monday, June 1st, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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