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By Jared Zipparo


But why should Tyre be of interest to us today?  The city of Tyre was not only a prosperous city but it also has a rich history.  In addition to this, the Bible refers to Tyre a quite a few times, not only in actual dealings with Israel but also in prophetic pronouncements against this prosperous city.  Finally, given its strategic location and economic wealth, Tyre became an object of attention by Assyria, Babylon and Greece.  The thesis of this paper will look at each of these different aspects of Tyres place in history.


Biblical Reference


The first mention of the city of Tyre is given for us in Joshua 19: 24, 25.  From this passage we can locate where Tyre was approximately located.  Later on in history when King Hiram I was ruling Tyre, 969-936 B.C.E. (Aubet, 27), King David, who was King Hiram’s contemporary (Flemming, 17), received from Hiram, skilled workers in wood, stone as well as cedar timbers in great quantity (2 Sam. 5: 11; 1 Ch. 14: 1; 22: 1-4) to build David’s palace as well as to make preparations to build the temple in Jerusalem.


When Solomon became king of Israel, 960-930 B.C.E. (Aubet, 35), he requested from Hiram I to send cedars, juniper and algum from Lebanon, and skilled workers in metal, engraving and fabrics (1 Ki. 5:6; 2 Ch. 2: 7, 8).  As payment of these goods and services Solomon promised to give twenty thousand cors of wheat and barley, and twenty thousand baths of wine and oil (2 Ch 2: 10; Ahlstrom, 516).  A cor is a dry measure and is equivalent to 10 bath measures (Insight I, 506).  A bath, on the other hand, is a tenth of a cor and has been estimated that a bath measure would equal 5.81 gal. (Insight I, 263).


In reply King Hiram sent to Solomon a half Tyrian worker who was skilled in the required trades and was most likely placed in charge of all the technical production (2 Ch 2: 13, 15; Anchor VI, 688).  It is also most likely to conclude that Hiram sent architectural assistance in the construction of the temple (Ahlstrom, 531, 532; Aubet, 36; Mazar, 379).


Even after the construction of the temple in Jerusalem, trade routes were established between Solomon and Hiram I to import gold whose demand began to increase in the Asian Near East (1 Ki. 9: 26-28; 10: 11, 22; 2 Ch. 9: 21; Fleming, 20; Aubet, 65-66).  This trade route continued in existence until Pharaoh Sheshonq (Shishak in the Bible) of Egypt attacked Palestine and took Jerusalem in c. 930 B.C.E. (Aubet, 66).


Prophecies By Isaiah that Foretell Tyres Destruction


The prophet Isaiah was stationed in Jerusalem as evidenced in 7: 3.  “He served during the time of at least four kings of Judah” starting in “ 778 B.C.E. and continuing at least till after 732 B.C.E.” (All Scripture, 118).  It is during this time that Isaiah prophesied against the city of Tyre stating that the people of the Chaldeans will strip her dwelling towers bare and be forgotten seventy years (Isaiah 23: 13, 15; cw. Jere. 25: 11).


Prophecies By Ezekiel and Jeremiah that Foretell Tyres Destruction


The prophet Ezekiel, who was in the land of the Chaldean’s by the river Chebar (Eze. 1: 1-3), wrote for us a prophecy that foretold the fall of Tyre at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar (Eze. 26: 7, 8).  This prophecy was thought to have been written by some around 586 B.C.E. (Aubet, 98) and others think that the entire book of Ezekiel was completed by c. 591 B.C.E. (All Scripture, 132).


According to Josephus, Nebuchadnezzer besieged the city of Tyre for 13 years while Ithobal (Ethbaal II) was its king (AgAp, 868[21]; Flemming, 44; cw. Aubet, 49), and that Ithobal ruled from 585-572 B.C.E. (Flemming, 44).  Given this information this prophecy was well written before the Babylonians were at the doors of Tyre.


The political situation changed to a certain degree in Babylon in 595 B.C.E.  An uprising occurred there during the winter of that year.  Possibly due to this uprising Phoenicia (Tyre and Sidon), Ammon, Moab and Edom formed a coalition against Babylon (Ahlstrom, 791, 792).  From this Jeremiah was instructed by Yahweh (Jehovah in English) to put bands and a yoke bar upon his neck to symbolize what the result would be (Jer. 27: 2, Ahlstrom, 792).  This coalition soon came to an end since Nebuchadnezzar appeared again in Hatti in 594 B.C.E. (Ahlstrom, 792).


Even though there are schools of thought that Tiglath-pileser III destroyed Tyre in his fight against a united opposition in 738 B.C.E., Tyre resisted the expansion by Assyria whose aim it was to control the Eastern Mediterranean.  By remaining independent Tyre, along with Gaza, ended up paying a heavy tribute (Anchor VI, 689; Flemming, 32; Anet, 282.66, 283.150-157).  It is more likely that Tyre fell to the Babylonians in 572 B.C.E. while Ithobal was its king.


Greece’s Dealings with Tyre


Shortly before 334 B.C.E. Alexander III succeeded his father Philip II as ruler of Greece.  After uniting the entire empire of Greece, Alexander crossed the Hellespont and met Darius III, ruler of Persia, at the river Granicus in 334, on the plain of Issus in 333 and again in 331 (October) at Gaugamela near Arbela beyond the Tigris River.  At each of these three meetings Alexander defeated Darius, thus marking the end of the Persian Empire (Ahlstrom, 894; Finegan, 159).  The only Phoenician city that was not under his control, as of yet, was Tyre.


Azemilcus, king of Tyre, upon seeing that the Persian Empire was finished and that the rest of Phoenicia was under Alexander’s control, decided to meet Alexander to present him with a crown of gold and other rich gifts (Fleming, 55).  Azemilcus thought that Alexander would be content with a nominal submission of Tyre and then would press on to Egypt.  Alexander thought differently, he blockaded Tyre with his fleet of over 200 ships and laid siege for seven months until it collapsed (Fleming, 55; Ahlstrom, 895).















The question that now remains to be answered is, why did Yahweh want to destroy Tyre?  Part of the answer may lie in what god’s the Tyrian’s worshiped and their relationship and influence on Israel.


The Sidonians power and influence can be inferred that their main deity, Melqart (Baal), was worshiped in Sidon and then spread to Samaria and Jerusalem (Anchor VI, 688; 1 Ki. 16: 32; 2 Ki. 11: 18, cf.; 1 Ki. 18-21).  The spread of the worship of Melqart started with the alliance between Tyre and Israel, that was sealed upon the marriage of Jezebel and Ahab of Israel (Anchor VI, 688; 1 Ki. 16: 31) and later with the marriage of Athaliah, princess of Israel, to Joram, King of Judah (Anchor VI, 688: 2 Ki. 8: 18-27).


The other part of the answer lies with the prophet Amos.  The prophet Amos, centuries later, accused Tyre of having broken a covenant of brotherhood.  This occurred when Tyre delivered the entire population of Aram (Damascus), thus ignoring the alliance (Anchor VI, 689; Amos 1:9).


Thus in conclusion, because of Tyre’s dealings with Israel, Yahweh foretold, through his prophet’s years in advance, the coming of the destruction of Tyre by Babylon and Greece.




Ahlström, Gosta W. The History of Ancient Palestine.  Minneapolis, MN:  Fortress Press, 1993.


Anet: J. B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament. 3rd ed., 1969.


Aubet, Maria-Eugenia The Phoenicians and the West.  New York, NY:  Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, 1993.


Finegan, Jack Archeological History of the Ancient Middle East.  New York, NY:  Dorset Press, 1986.


Fleming, Wallace B. The History of Tyre.  New York , NY:  AMS Press, Inc., 1966.


Josephus, Flavius The Life and Works of Flavius Josephus.  Philadelphia, PA:  The John C. Winston Company.


Mazar, Amihai Archeology of the Land of the Bible.  New York, New York: Bentam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, 1992.


The Anchor Bible Dictionary: Volume VI.  New York, New York: Bentam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, 1992.


Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.


International Bible Students Association.  All Scripture is Inspired of God and Beneficial.  Brooklyn, NY:  1963, 1990.


Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania


International Bible Students Association.  Insight on the Scriptures Volume 1, 2.  Brooklyn, NY:  1988.


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It was during this seven month siege that Alexander built a mole from the mainland to the isle of Tyre with the remains of the land city of Tyre (Ahlstrom, 895).  Interestingly enough the prophet’s Zachariah and Ezekiel, c. 518 and c. 591 respectively, foretold the destruction in their books.


Ezekiel mentions that Yahweh will “scrape her dust away from her and make her a shining, bare surface of a crag” (Ch. 26: 4) and that her stones, woodwork and dust will be placed in the “midst of the water” (vs. 12).  Where as Zechariah mentions that Yahweh will dispossess her and that her military forces will be struck down into the sea (Zec. 9: 4).



Tyre, an ancient city located on the border of the tribe of Asher near the city of Ramah (Joshua 19: 24, 29).  According to Wallace B. Flemming, Tyre covered an area of 15 miles between the River Litany (Leontes) and the headland of Ras al-Abiad (Flemming, 3).  In the middle of this plain, about 20 miles south of Sidon, an island of rock stands out of the sea.  On this island Tyre was first founded (Flemming, 3).


Herodotus tells us that when he visited Tyre in 450 B.C.E., “he heard the priests in the temple of Malqart say that the…city was founded, about 2,300 years previously (Aubet, 19).”  This brings us to the year of c. 2,750 B.C.E. (cw. Flemming, 3).


Biblical City of Tyre

Tyre is a Phoenician city located on the border of the tribe of Asher along the Mediterranean Sea.  It was founded around 2750 B.C.E. and became the object of attention by Assyria, Babylon and Greece due to its economic wealth.  You will find  “Tyre” informative as it discusses (with Biblical reference)...Tyre’s place in history!

View of Tyre (19th century engraving)  



T     Y     R     E

Aerial photo of Tyre made by France air force before 1934


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