Easton's Bible Dictionary
a rock, Now es-Sur; an ancient Phoenician city, about
23 miles, in a direct line, north of Acre, and 20 south of Sidon. Sidon was the
oldest Phoenician city, but Tyre had a longer and more illustrious history. The
commerce of the whole world was gathered into the warehouses of Tyre. "Tyrian
merchants were the first who ventured to navigate the Mediterranean waters; and
they founded their colonies on the coasts and neighbouring islands of the AEgean
Sea, in Greece, on the northern coast of Africa, at Carthage and other places,
in Sicily and Corsica, in Spain at Tartessus, and even beyond the pillars of Hercules
at Gadeira (Cadiz)" (Driver's Isaiah). In the time of David a friendly alliance
was entered into between the Hebrews and the Tyrians, who were long ruled over
by their native kings ( 2 Samuel 5:11 ; 1 Kings 5:1 ; 2 Chronicles 2:3 ).
Tyre consisted of two distinct parts, a rocky fortress on the mainland, called
"Old Tyre," and the city, built on a small, rocky island about half-a-mile distant
from the shore. It was a place of great strength. It was besieged by Shalmaneser,
who was assisted by the Phoenicians of the mainland, for five years, and by Nebuchadnezzar
(B.C. 586-573) for thirteen years, apparently without success. It afterwards fell
under the power of Alexander the Great, after a siege of seven months, but continued
to maintain much of its commercial importance till the Christian era. It is referred
to in Matthew 11:21 and Acts 12:20 . In A.D. 1291 it was taken by the Saracens,
and has remained a desolate ruin ever since.
"The purple dye of Tyre had a worldwide celebrity on account of the durability
of its beautiful tints, and its manufacture proved a source of abundant wealth
to the inhabitants of that city."
Both Tyre and Sidon "were crowded with glass-shops, dyeing and weaving establishments;
and among their cunning workmen not the least important class were those who were
celebrated for the engraving of precious stones." ( 2 Chronicles 2:7 , 2:14 ).
The wickedness and idolatry of this city are frequently denounced by the prophets,
and its final destruction predicted ( Isaiah 23:1 ; Jeremiah 25:22 ; Ezekiel 26
; 28:1 - 19 ; Amos 1:9 , 1:10 ; Zechariah 9:2 - 4 ).
Here a church was founded soon after the death of Stephen, and Paul, on his return
from his third missionary journey spent a week in intercourse with the disciples
there ( Acts 21:4 ). Here the scene at Miletus was repeated on his leaving them.
They all, with their wives and children, accompanied him to the sea-shore. The
sea-voyage of the apostle terminated at Ptolemais, about 38 miles from Tyre. Thence
he proceeded to Caesarea ( Acts 21:5 - 8 ).
"It is noticed on monuments as early as B.C. 1500, and claiming, according to
Herodotus, to have been founded about B.C. 2700. It had two ports still existing,
and was of commercial importance in all ages, with colonies at Carthage (about
B.C. 850) and all over the Mediterranean. It was often attacked by Egypt and Assyria,
and taken by Alexander the Great after a terrible siege in B.C. 332. It is now
a town of 3,000 inhabitants, with ancient tombs and a ruined cathedral. A short
Phoenician text of the fourth century B.C. is the only monument yet recovered."
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
A celebrated commercial city of Phoenicia, on the coast of the Mediterranean.
Its Hebrew name, Tzor, signifies a rock; which well agrees with the site of Sur,
the modern town, on a rocky peninsula, formerly an island. There is no doubt that,
previous to the siege of the city by Alexander the Great, Tyre was situated on
an island; but, according to the tradition of the inhabitants, there was a city
on the mainland before there was a city on the island; and the tradition receives
some color from the name of Palaetyrus, or Old Tyre, which was borne in Greek
times by a city on the continent, thirty stadia to the south.
Notices in the Bible. --
In the Bible Tyre is named for the first time in the of Joshua, ch. ( Joshua 19:29
) where it is adverted to as a fortified city (in the Authorized Version "the
strong city") in reference to the boundaries of the tribe of Asher, But the first
passages in the Hebrew historical writings, or in ancient history generally, which
actual glimpses of the actual condition of Tyre are in the book of Samuel, ( 2
Samuel 6:11 ) in connection with Hiram king of Tyre sending cedar wood and workmen
to David, for building him a palace; and subsequently in the book of Kings, in
connection with the building of Solomons temple. It is evident that under Solomon
there was a close alliance between the Hebrews and the Tyrians. Hiram supplied
Solomon with cedar wood, precious metals and workmen, and gave him sailors for
the voyage to Ophir and India, while on the other hand Solomon gave Hiram supplies
of corn and oil, ceded to him some cities, and permitted him to make use of some
havens on the Red Sea. ( 1 Kings 9:11 - 14 ; 26 - 28 ; 10:22 ) These friendly
relations survived for a time the disastrous secession of the ten tribes, and
a century later Ahab married a daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, ( 1
Kings 16:31 ) who, according to Menander, was daughter of Ithobal king of Tyre.
When mercantile cupidity induced the Tyrians and the neighboring Phoenicians to
buy Hebrew captives from their enemies, and to sell them as slaves to the Greeks
and Edomites, there commenced denunciations, and at first threats of retaliation.
( Joel 3:4 - 8 ; Amos 1:9 , 1:10 ) When Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, had taken
the city of Samaria, had conquered the kingdom of Israel, and carried its inhabitants
into captivity, he laid siege to Tyre, which, however, successfully resisted his
arms. It is in reference to this siege that the prophecy against Tyre in Isaiah,
( Isaiah 23:1 ) ... was uttered. After the siege of Tyre by Shalmaneser (which
must have taken place not long after 721 B.C.). Tyre remained a powerful state,
with its own kings, ( Jeremiah 25:22 ; 27:3 ; Ezekiel 28:2 - 12 ) remarkable for
its wealth, with territory on the mainland, and protected by strong fortifications.
( Ezekiel 26:4 , 26:6 , 26:8 , 26:10 , 26:12 ; 27:11 ; 28:5 ; Zechariah 9:3 )
Our knowledge of its condition thenceforward until the siege by Nebuchadnezzar
depends entirely on various notices of it by the Hebrew prophets; but some of
these notices are singularly full, and especially the twenty-seventh chapter of
Ezekiel furnishes us, on some points, with details such as have scarcely come
down to us respecting any one city of antiquity excepting Rome and Athens.
Siege by Nebuchadnezzar . --
In the midst of great prosperity and wealth, which was the natural result of extensive
trade, ( Ezekiel 28:4 ) Nebuchadnezzar, at the head of an army of the Chaldees,
invaded Judea and captured Jerusalem. As Tyre was so near to Jerusalem, and as
the conquerors were a fierce and formidable race, ( Habakkuk 1:6 ) It would naturally
he supposed that this event would have excited alarm and terror amongst the Tyrians.
Instead of this, we may infer from Ezekiels statement, ( Ezekiel 26:2 ) that their
predominant feeling was one of exultation. At first sight this appears strange
and almost inconceivable; but it is rendered intelligible by some previous events
in Jewish history. Only 34 years before the destruction of Jerusalem commenced
the celebrated reformation of Josiah, B.C. 622. This momentous religious revolution,
( 2 Kings 22:1 ; 23:1 ) ... fully explains the exultation and malevolence of the
Tyrians. In that reformation Josiah had heaped insults on the gods who were the
objects of Tyrian veneration and love. Indeed, he seemed to have endeavored to
exterminate their religion. ( 2 Kings 23:20 ) These acts must have been regarded
by the Tyrians as a series of sacrilegious and abominable outrages; and we can
scarcely doubt that the death in battle of Josiah at Megiddo and the subsequent
destruction of the city and temple of Jerusalem, were hailed by them with triumph
and retribution in human affairs. This joy, as instances of divine retribution
in human affairs. This joy, however, must soon have given way to other feelings,
when Nebuchadnezzar invaded Phoenicia and laid siege to Tyre. That siege lasted
thirteen years, and it is still a disputed point whether Tyre was actually taken
by Nebuchadnezzar on this occasion. However this may be, it is probable that,
on some terms or other, Tyre submitted to the Chaldees. The rule of Nebuchadnezzar
over Tyre, though real, may have been light, and in the nature of an alliance.
Attack by the Persians; Capture by Alexander . --
During the Persian domination the Tyrians were subject in name to the Persian
king and may have given him tribute. With the rest of Phoenicia they had submitted
to the Persians without striking a blow. Toward the close of the following century,
B.C. 332, Tyre was assailed for the third time by a great conqueror. At that time
Tyre was situated on an island nearly half a mile from the mainland; it was completely
surrounded by prodigious walls, the loftiest portion of which on the side fronting
the mainland reached a height of not less than 150 feet; and notwithstanding the
persevering efforts of Alexander, he could not have succeeded in his attempt if
the harbor of Tyre to the north had not been blockaded by the Cyprians and that
to the south by the Phoenicians, thus affording an opportunity to Alexander for
uniting the Island to the mainland by an; enormous artificial mole. (The materials
for this he obtained from the remains of old Tyre scraping the very dust from
her rocks into the sea, as prophesied by Ezekiel, ( Ezekiel 26:3 , 26:4 , 26:12
, 26:21 ) more than 250 years before.) The immediate results of the capture by
Alexander were most disastrous to Tyre, as its brave defenders were put to death;
and in accordance with the barbarous policy of ancient times, 30,000 of its inhabitants,
including slaves, free females and free children, were sold as slaves. It gradually,
how ever, recovered its prosperity through the immigration of fresh settlers,
though its trade is said to have suffered by the vicinity and rivalry of Alexandria.
Under the Macedonian successors of Alexander it shared the fortunes of the Seleucidae.
Under the Romans, at first it enjoyed a kind of freedom. Subsequently, however,
on the arrival of Augustus in the East, he is said to have deprived both Tyre
and Sidon of their liberties for seditious conduct. Still the prosperity of Tyre
in the time of Augustus was undeniably great. Strabo gives an account of it at
that period, speaks of the great wealth which it derived from the dyes of the
celebrated Tyrian purple which, as is well known were extracted from shell-fish
found on the coast, belonging to a species of the genus Murex .
Tyre in the time of Christ and since. --
When visited by Christ, ( Matthew 15:21 ; Mark 7:24 ) Tyre was perhaps more populous
than Jerusalem, and if so, it was undoubtedly the largest city which the saviour
is known to have visited. At the time of the crusades it was still a flourishing;
city, when if surrendered to the Christians on the 27th of June 1144. It continued
more than a century and a half in the hands of Christians, but was deserted by
its inhabitants in A.D. 1291 upon the conquest of Acre (Ptolemais) by the sultan
of Egypt and Damascus. This was the turning-point in the history of Tyre, which
has never recovered from the blow. Its present condition is a fulfillment of Ezekiels
prophecy ( Ezekiel 28:5 ) It contains, according to Volney, 50 or 60 poor families,
who live in part by fishing; and is, as Bruce describes it, "rock whereon fishers
dry their nets."
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
tir (tsowr. tsor, "rock"' Turos, "Tyrus"; modern Sur):
1. Physical Features:
The most noted of the Phoenician cities situated on the coast, lat. 33? 17 minutes,
about 20 miles South of Sidon and about 35 North of Carmel. The date of its foundation
is uncertain, but it was later than that of Sidon. It is mentioned in the travels
of the Egyptian Mohar, dating probably from the 14th century BC, and in the Tell
el-Amarna Letters of about the same period. Herodotus describes the temple of
Hercules at Tyre and says it was built 2,300 years before his time, which would
carry back the beginning of the city to more than 2700 BC. It was a double city,
one part on an island, a short distance from the shore, and the other on the mainland
opposite. The island city had two harbors, connected by a canal, one looking North
and the other South. The island was rocky and the city was fortitled on the land
side by a wall 150 ft. high, the wall being of less elevation on the other sides.
It was an exceedingly strong position, and is referred to in the Bible as the
"strong" or "fortitled" city (Joshua 19:29). The space within the walls was crowded
with buildings, and is said to have contained 40,000 inhabitants. The town on
the mainland was situated in a plain extending from the Ras el-'Abyad, on the
South to Sarepta on the North, a distance of about 20 miles. It was fertile and
well watered, the river Leontes (Litany) passing through it to the sea, about
5 miles N. of Tyre, and the copious fountain of Ras el-'Ain, 3 miles to the South,
furnishing an abundant supply both for the city and the gardens.
|(1) Tyre was for centuries subordinate to Sidon, but when
the Philistines subdued the latter city, probably in the 12th century. (see SIDON),
Tyre received an accession of inhabitants from the fugitives which gave it the
pre-eminence. From this time dates its great commercial and colonial activity.
Its mariners pushed boldly out to the West and founded colonies in Spain and North
Africa, some of which, like Gades, Abdera and Carthage, became famous. They extended
their commerce more widely than Sidon had ever done and ventured into the Atlantic
and reached the coasts of Britain and West Africa. They reached out to the East
also, and had their ships in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, and their land
routes threaded all Western Asia (see PHOENICIA). Tyre, like all the Phoenician
cities, became subject to Egypt under Thothmes III in the first half of the 15th
century BC, and remained so for some 300 years, but it enjoyed practical autonomy
under native kings, being only subject to tribute and to furnishing contingents
of ships when the Egyptian kings made their expeditions to the North. In the Tell
el-Amarna Letters, dating from the first half of the 14th century, we find a certain
Abi-melek (or Abi-milki) writing from Tyre to the king of Egypt asking for aid
against the Amorite leader, Aziru, and the king of Sidon, who had joined the rebels.
The name is Phoenician, and we know that it was the policy of the Egyptian kings
to leave the native dynasts on the throne.
(2) After the decline of Egypt, Tyre regained her independence and exercised the
hegemony over most of the Phoenician towns, at least as far North as Gebal (Byblus),
as appears in the control that Hiram had over the Lebanon forests in the time
of David and Solomon. Hiram was evidently desirous of an alliance with Israel,
since he sent messengers to David and furnished cedar and workmen to build him
a house, apparently without solicitation. The friendly connection between the
two kingdoms was advantageous to both, since David and Solomon needed the timber
and the skilled artisans that Hiram could furnish, and Hiram needed the food products
of the land of Israel (1 Kings 5). Tyre was at this time noted for the skill of
its artificers, and its manufactured products were famous throughout the world
(see PHOENICIA, 4). The purple dye and works in bronze were especially famous,
and Hiram, the Tyrian artisan, was engaged by Solomon to cast the bronzes required
for the temple (1 Kings 7:13). Hiram, the king, enlarged and beautified his capital.
He united the two small islands on which the city was built by filling up the
space between, where he made an open square and built a splendid temple to Melkarth
and Astarte. He engaged in commercial enterprises with Solomon (1 Kings 9:26 -
28 ; 10:22), both in pursuance of the friendly alliance and also for the advantage
of having the use of the port of Ezion-geber on the Red Sea. His brilliant reign
lasted 43 years.
(3) The list of kings who succeeded him contains the names of Baal-azar, Abd-ashtoreth,
murdered by his brothers, the eldest of whom succeeded him, followed by Astartus
and Aserymus murdered by his brother, Pheles, who was overthrown by the high priest
Eth-baal, showing how disturbed the period was. Eth-baal, or Ithobal, was the
king who made an alliance with Ahab and gave him Jezebel, his daughter, in marriage,
which proved most disastrous both to her and the country because of the introduction
of the Baal-worship into Israel. Eth-baal was an energetic monarch, and is said
to have rounded Botrys (Batrun). He reigned 32 years, and was followed by Badezor
and Mattan, who gave his daughter, Elissa (Dido), in marriage to her uncle Sicharbas
and transferred the throne to them; but they were set aside by an uprising of
the people, and Pygmalion, son of Mattan, was placed on the throne, and Sicharbas
put to death. Elissa fled with a party of nobles, by sea, to Africa and founded
the city of Carthage. This happened about the middle of the 9th century BC, Josephus
putting it at 860 BC.
(4) In the first half of this century Tyre became subject to Assyria, and her
hegemony in Phoenicia came to an end, but her prosperity was not seriously checked
as we may infer from Isaiah 23:8, which was written a century or so later. Assyria
was satisfied with the payment of tribute until the time of Tiglath-pileser III
(745-727), who laid a heavier hand upon her, and this led Elulaeus, king of Tyre,
to form a confederacy of the Phoenician cities against Assyria. Shalmaneser IV
subdued all except Tyre, which he distressed by cutting off her water-supply.
But the people dug wells and obtained enough to subsist upon for five years, when
Shalmaneser was killed and Elulaeus recovered control of his territory. He was
not molested by Sargon, but Sennacherib advanced against him with 200,000 men,
and Elulaeus fled to Cyprus. The citizens made a successful resistance and Sennacherib
did not take Tyre, but it submitted to Esar-haddon, and its king, Baal, obtained
the special favor of the Assyrian king, who made him ruler of all the coast cities
from Dor to Gebal, and the Lebanon was placed under his control (680-673 BC).
It is rather surprising that Baal refused to assist him in his attack upon Egypt
and that Esar-haddon did not punish him, probably because he was too much occupied
with Egypt. Ashur-banipal, however, did compel him to submit and to give him his
daughter, and those of his brothers, as secondary wives, but left him as king
(5) On the decline of Assyria, Tyre regained its independence, and its greatness
is indicated by the fact that it resisted Nebuchadnezzar 13 years (598-585); it
is uncertain whether the island city was taken, but it evidently came to terms
with the king of Babylon (compare Ezekiel 27:26 ; Josephus, Ant, X, xi, 1 and
see The Expository Times, 1899, pp. 378, 430, 475, 520). After this siege Sidon
took the lead and Tyre was in a disturbed state: the monarchy was overthrown and
suffetes, or judges, took its place for six years, when the old order was restored.
The decline of Babylon enabled Tyre to regain her independence for a short period
until its submission to the Persians about 525 BC, and thenceforth it was a vassal
state during the continuance of the Persian empire.
(6) It was by no means hindered in its commercial prosperity, and its great strength
is seen in the brave and energetic resistance it made to Alexander the Great.
All Phoenicia submitted to him without resistance, and Tyre was willing to admit
his suzerainty, but declined to receive him into the city. This so angered Alexander
that he at once commenced a siege that proved the most difficult undertaking in
all his wars. He had no fleet and was obliged to build a mole (causeway) from
the mainland to the island, but before he could finish it the Tyrians destroyed
it and beat back their assailants handily. Alexander had to do the work all over
again, and since he was convinced that without a fleet he would not be able to
take the city, he procured ships from the Phoenician towns that had submitted,
and with the aid of these was able to blockade the port and prevent the besieged
from issuing forth to destroy the new causeway. This was at length pushed up to
the very wall of the city, which was finally breached, and the troops of Alexander
forced their way in. But even then the defenders would not yield, and the king
himself had to lead the assault upon them with his bodyguard and put them all
to the sword. Those who died with arms in their hands were 8,000, and the survivors,
women, children and slaves, to the number of 30,000, were sold in the open market.
He placed over the ruined city, into which he introduced some colonists, a certain
Abd-elonim, and left it after having spent about seven months in subduing it.
(7) After the death of Alexander, Tyre passed into the hands of Ptolemy Lagi,
and when Antigonus, in 314 BC, took Phoenicia from him, Tyre resisted, and he
had to blockade it 15 months before it would yield, showing how quickly it had
recovered from its previous disaster. It became a part of the Seleucid kingdom
when Antiochus III drove the Ptolemies from Syria (198 BC), and the Seleucid kings
regarded it of importance and gave it the right of asylum, and it was allowed
the status of a free city by the Romans, Antony recognizing the magistrates and
council of Tyre as allies. When the Parthians attacked and took Syria, in 40 BC,
Tyre would not submit and was left untouched, being too strong for them. Augustus
deprived it of its freedom, but it was given the status of a "metropolis" by Hadrian,
and this title appears on its coins.
(8) Tyre is mentioned in the New Testament several times:
Christ visited its territory (Matthew 15:21 ; Mark 7:24), and people from there
came to hear Him (Luke 6:17). Herod Agrippa I had trouble with Tyre, and a deputation
came to visit him at Caesarea (Acts 12:20). Paul visited Tyre on his journey from
Asia to Jerusalem (Acts 21:6 - 7).
Christianity was accepted by the people of Tyre, so that the 2nd century AD saw
a bishopric established there, and in the 4th a council was held there to consider
charges against Athanasius, by the party of Arius; he was condemned, a decision
which brought the Tyrian church into disrepute. Tyre was already obnoxious to
Christians because the anti-Christian philosopher Porphyry was from there. Tyre
continued a commercial center, and Jerome says that it was the noblest and most
beautiful of the Phoenician cities and an emporium of commerce for almost the
whole world (Commentary on Ezekiel). It was of considerable importance in the
Crusades and continued so until toward the end of the 13th century, when its trade
declined, and it has now dwindled to a town of some 5,000 inhabitants.
For "literature" see PHOENICIA.
33.2700, 35.2000; bible commentary, bible reference, bible study, commercial city, define, destruction prophecy, es-sur, fortress, history, idolatry, phoenician city, rock, siege by alexander the great, siege by nebuchadnezzar, sur, tyre, tzor