City of Tyre - Prophecy Fulfilled
Updated: May 3, 2019
Tyre and Sidon are two cities mentioned often in the Bible. Both were part of the Phoenician civilization and were located on the Mediterranean coast in what is now Lebanon. The Phoenicians were famous as merchants, traders and for manufacturing royal purple dye. The name “Phoenician” translates as “dyers of purple” or simply “purple”.
The location of the city of Tyre made it an ideal shipping and trading port. It was built on the coast and spread onto a nearby island. The island part of the city of Tyre was heavily fortified and designed to withstand siege warfare. At the height of its glory, Tyre was one of the wealthiest cities in the ancient world.
King Hiram of Tyre was an ally of King David and King Solomon and provided fine cedar wood for the construction of David’s palace and Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. But this friendly relationship did not last. In later centuries, Tyre sold Jewish captives into slavery and broke a covenant with Israel. (Amos 1:9).
The king of Tyre had been happy to see the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians and was expecting to make a profit because of it. He was also an extremely arrogant man who considered himself to be a god. Because of this betrayal and the arrogance of Tyre’s king, the prophet Ezekiel predicted the destruction of the city:
…therefore thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against you, O Tyre, and will bring up many nations against you, as the sea brings up its waves. They shall destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her towers, and I will scrape her soil from her and make her a bare rock. She shall be in the midst of the sea a place for the spreading of nets, for I have spoken, declares the Lord God. And she shall become plunder for the nations, and her daughters on the mainland shall be killed by the sword. Then they will know that I am the Lord.-- Ezekiel 26:3-5 (ESV) (emphasis mine)
The first “wave” of nations to come against Tyre was Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar. Babylon laid siege to Tyre for 13 years, but eventually conquered it. This occurred in roughly the mid-580s to 570s B.C.
“For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will bring against Tyre from the north Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses and chariots, and with horsemen and a host of many soldiers. He will kill with the sword your daughters on the mainland. He will set up a siege wall against you and throw up a mound against you, and raise a roof of shields against you. He will direct the shock of his battering rams against your walls, and with his axes he will break down your towers. His horses will be so many that their dust will cover you. Your walls will shake at the noise of the horsemen and wagons and chariots, when he enters your gates as men enter a city that has been breached. With the hoofs of his horses he will trample all your streets. He will kill your people with the sword, and your mighty pillars will fall to the ground. -- Ezekiel 26:7-11 (ESV) (emphasis mine)
Two hundred and fifty years later, Tyre fell to Alexander the Great and the Greeks. The total destruction of the city was prophesied in detail by Ezekiel:
They will plunder your riches and loot your merchandise. They will break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses. Your stones and timber and soil they will cast into the midst of the waters. And I will stop the music of your songs, and the sound of your lyres shall be heard no more. -- Ezekiel 26:12-13 (ESV) (emphasis mine)
When under attack, the people of Tyre would evacuate the coastal city and flee to the island portion of the city. This is what happened when Alexander attacked. The Greek army literally fulfilled Ezekiel’s prophecy when they demolished the mainland city and threw the stones, timber and soil into the sea. The rubble was used as a bridge for the army to attack the island city and conquer it.
Several times, Ezekiel mentions the killing of “your daughters on the mainland”. Anyone who did not make it to the island fortress during evacuation was killed.
The city was conquered and destroyed in several more “waves” over the centuries but was finally completely wiped out by the Saracens in the 14th Century A.D. It became “a place for the spreading of nets”, a barren rock used by fishermen.