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Meaning: a rock (referring to the rocky jut-out from the coast on which Tyre was built)
also known as: צוֹר —Tsor, צֹר —Ṣōr, Τύρος —Týros, Tyrus, Sour, Sur, Ṣur, Ṣūr, es-Sur, Ushu—the oldest name
Inhabitants of this city were called Tyrians. The city of Sidon is the oldest Phoenician city, but Tyre had a longer and more illustrious history and was one of the Middle East’s most important cities. Tyre was pivotal in Phoenician colonization throughout the Mediterranean. Its golden age of wealth and influence was in the 900s B.C.
Tyre became a major seaport. The Phoenicians sailed far and wide. The commerce of much of the world was gathered into Tyre’s warehouses. On the shores were villages of murex shell collectors, and the city controlled a fertile coastal area of farms and fields.
Modern Tyre is in Lebanon and is its 4th largest city.
Notable skilled trades of ancient Tyre
Tyre was crowded with glass-shops, dyeing works (particularly Tyrian purple produced from murex shellfish) and weaving establishments. Among their most ingenious craftsmen were those who worked with precious stones (2 Chronicles 2:7, 14).
Tyrian purple was a color reserved for royalty and nobility.
Nearly impenetrable fortress
The more ancient Tyre was a fortress built on a strategic rocky peninsula and surrounded with a substantial defensive wall and towers. It was a place of great strength. It was besieged for 5 years by King Shalmaneser, who was assisted by Phoenicians from other cities. Even greater seiges came later.
Wickedness and idolatry of Tyre
The wickedness and idolatry of this city were frequently denounced by the prophets, and its final destruction was predicted and fulfilled (Isaiah 23:1; Jeremiah 25:22; Ezek. 26; 28:1-19; Amos 1:9, 10; Zechariah 9:2-4).
After the Tyrians attacked and penetrated the gates of Jerusalem, and pridefully congratulated themselves for their pillaging, destruction and killing of God’s people. This, and their continued wickedness and idolatry, drew the curse of God upon Tyre through the prophet Ezekiel (500s B.C.).
King Nebuchadnezzar came against Tyre as prophecied. For 13 years, Tyre’s mighty defenses held back the great seige (B.C. 586-573). And then Tyre was totally destroyed.
New island city of Tyre
Survivors moved to a small, rocky island off the coast. Here they built a wholly new city and named it Tyre. However, the king of Cyprus came with a mighty fleet and conquered them on that island (370s B.C.).
In later years, the ruined island city was rebuilt and the defense strengthened. A new conqueror came, who brilliantly collected forces from many nations and states in a great coalition army (including mercenaries)—Thracians, Macedonians, Greeks, Cretans, Agrianians, Phoenician city-states (Aradus, Byblos, and Sidon), and fleets from Cyprus, Enylos, Lycia, Mallos, Rhodes, and Soli. That new Tyre on the island was also destroyed after a terrible 7 month seige, under the command of Alexander the Great. He displayed his military might and genius by scraping all the rubble and debris from the ruins of the old mainland Tyre—down to the rock. He threw old Tyre into the sea, probably following a natural sand spit. Thus, he built an incredible kilometer-long causeway (mole) through the water, all the way to the island, using it in his plan to defeated the island city defenses (B.C. 332).
Later, both the island and the causeway were swallowed by the sea.
The prophecy was fulfilled; those 2 ancient Tyres were totally destroyed and submerged beneath the sea.
Eventually fishermen built villages on the coast, fishing nets were spread (perhaps even from the ideal position of the old Tyre debris causeway, before it submerged). Shells were harvested.
Commerce continued and a wholly new city coalesced on the mainland, with importance during the Roman and Christian era. Some of the ruins of this new city (including a large arch (see photo) and hippodrome (see satellite view) were excavated in modern times and are visibile to tourists today.
The New Testament Tyre
The new Tyre is referred to in the New Testament. Jesus Christ mentioned it in speaking of the hundreds (or thousands) of miracles He did in Galilee to prove his Divinity to the people, to little avail, due to their hard hearts and closed minds. The failed to acknowledge or follow their Messiah.
King Herod Agrippa I was furious with the people of Tyre. Since he controlled their food supply, the Tryrians came to him in Caesarea (just after Peter’s miraculous release from prison and Herod’s immediate execution of the guards).
A church was founded in Tyre soon after the death of Stephen, whose martyrdom was witnessed and encouraged by Saul (Paul). Long after his conversion, Paul visited these Christians on returning from his 3rd missionary journey. He spent a week in discussions with the disciples here (Acts 21:4).
Here the scene at Miletus was repeated on Paul’s leaving the Christians of Tyre. They all, with their wives and children, accompanied him to the seashore. The sea-voyage of the apostle terminated at Ptolemais, about 38 miles from Tyre. From there, he proceeded to Caesarea (Acts 21:5-8).
Ultimate destruction and abandonment
In 1291 A.D., even the newest mainland city was taken (by the Saracens) and totally destroyed, remaining a desolate ruin for many centuries.
Article Version: September 21, 2017