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The ancient city of Tyre in Bible history

Updated on November 26, 2010

The coast of Tyre

TYRE, one of the most famous cities of ancient times

Tyre was the capital of Phoenicia, and. the seat of enormous wealth and power. It was situated on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, within the limits assigned the tribe of Asher by Joshua (Josh. xix. 29). It was originally a colony of Zidon, but rapidly became the most powerful and opulent city of the East. It possessed large fleets, and controlled the trade of the Mediterranean. Tyre does not begin to figure in the Bible until the reign of David, who formed a close alliance with the famous Tyrian monarch Hiram, which was con­tinued by Solomon. The Tyrians rendered important aid in the construction of David's Palace, and Solomon's Temple and royal residence at Jerusalem. The Tyrians were gross idolaters, and the marriage of Ahab King of Israel with a princess of this nation brought many woes upon Israel. The prophecies of the Old Testament abound in de­nunciations of Tyre for her wickedness, and predic­tions of her punishment. In Ezekiel 26:3-21, specific predictions were made against the city of Tyre. The prophecy stated that this city would be destroyed as many nations came against it. The passage states that The walls and the towers would be destroyed and Tyre would be laid bare. Fishermen would spread their nets over the site, its debris would be scraped clean, and Tyre would be left barren. This very specific prediction was made at the height of Tyre’s power and importance.

The servants of Hiram of Tyre bring presents to King Solomon

Nebuchadnezzar laid a 13-year siege

Three years after the prophecy was given, Nebuchadnezzar laid a 13-year siege on mainland Tyre. The city was taken and destroyed by Nebuchad­nezzar, as had been fore­told but when he finally entered the city; he found that the great body of the inhabitants had fled from the mainland to an island opposite, about 1/2 mile off the coast. They had fortified a city on this island with powerful walls reaching to the very edge of the sea. 

A new Tyre founded on the Island

Here a new Tyre was founded, which at length rivaled its prede­cessor in riches, magnifi­cence, and power. It was strongly fortified, and over 200 years later in b. c. 332, when Alexander the Great laid siege to the island city of Tyre it was able to hold out against him for seven months.

Alexander the Great attacked in BC 332

Since Alexander had no fleet for a naval assault he built a land route to the Island by demolishing the old city of Tyre and casting the debris into the sea, using the rubble to construct a causeway from the mainland. By doing this, Alexander was able to move his army across this land bridge and take the city. Tyre’s story doesn’t end here. Many subsequent attempts were made to rebuild Tyre, but sieges always destroyed the city.

Later years

After various changes, Tyre at length became a possession of the Romans. It was taken by the Christians during the Crusades, and subsequently recaptured by the Turks. It began to decline as a commercial point after the city of Alexandria was founded. Our Saviour once journeyed into the region of Tyre and Sidon (Matt. xv. 21). 


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