Reference: Tyre Or Tyrus
A rock, the celebrated emporium of Phoenicia, the seat of immense wealth and power, situated on the coast of the Mediterranean, within the limits of the tribe of Asher, as assigned by Joshua, Jos 19:29, though never reduced to subjection. Tyre was a "daughter of Zidon," but rapidly gained an ascendancy over this and all the other cities of Phoenicia, which it retained with few exceptions to the last. It is mentioned by neither Moses nor Homer; but from the time of David onward, reference is frequently made to it in the books of the Old Testament. There was a close alliance between David and Hiram king of Tyre, which was afterwards continued in the reign of Solomon; and it was from the assistance afforded by the Tyrians, both in artificers and materials, that the house of David, and afterwards the temple, were principally built, 2Sa 5:11; 1Ki 5; 1Ch 14; 2Ch 2:3; 9:10. The marriage of Ahab king of Israel with Jezebel, a royal princess of Phoenicia, brought great guilt and endless misfortunes on the ten tribes; for the Tyrians were gross idolaters, worshippers of Baal and Ashtoreth, and addicted to all the vices of heathenism. Secular history informs us that Tyre possessed the empire of the seas, and drew wealth and power from numerous colonies on the shores of the Mediterranean and Atlantic. The inhabitants of Tyre are represented in the Old Testament as filled with pride and luxury, and all the sins attendant on prosperity and immense wealth; judgments are denounced against them in consequence of their idolatry and wickedness; and the destruction of their city by Nebuchadnezzar is foretold, which is also described as accomplished, Isa 23:13; Eze 26:7; 27:1-28:19; 29:18. After this destruction as it would seem, the great body of the inhabitants withdrew to "insular Tyre," on an island opposite the former city, about thirty stadia from the main land. This had been a sort of port or suburb of the main city, but was soon enlarged into a new Tyre, and became opulent and powerful; it was fortified with such strength, and possessed resources so abundant, as to be able to withstand the utmost efforts of Alexander the Great for the space of seven months. It was at length taken by him in 332 B. C., having been first united to the mainland by an immense causeway, made of the ruins of the old city, the site of which was thus laid bare, in remarkable fulfillment of prophecy: "And they shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the water;" "and thou shalt be no more; though thou be sought for, yet shalt thou never be found again," Eze 26:12,21. The ships of Tyre returned from long voyages to find it not only taken but "devoured with fire," Isa 23:1,14; Zec 9:4. After many subsequent reverses of fortune, and various changes of masters, Tyre at last fell under the dominion of the Romans, and continued to enjoy a degree of commercial prosperity, though the deterioration of its harbor, and the rise of Alexandria and other maritime cities, have made it decline more and more. Savior once journeyed into the region of Tyre and Sidon, Mt 15:21; and a Christian church was here established before A. D. 58, Ac 21:3-7. Compare Mt 11:21-22. The church prospered for several centuries, and councils were held here; and during this period Tyre was still a strong fortress, as it was also in the age of the crusaders, by whom it was only taken twenty-five years after they had gained Jerusalem. Since its reconquest by the Turks, it has been in a ruinous condition, and often almost without inhabitants. At present it is a poor town, called Sur, slightly defended by its walls, and having a population of less than three thousand. It occupies the east side of what was formerly the island, one mile long and half a mile from the shore, thus enclosing two so-called harbors separated by Alexander's causeway, which is now a broad isthmus. The only real harbor is on the north; but even this is too shallow to admit any but the smallest class of vessels. It is filled and the north coast of the island lined with stone columns, whose size and countless number evince the former magnificence of this famous city. But its old glory is gone for ever, and a few fishermen spread their nets amid its ruins, in the place of the merchant princes of old.