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by Wayne Blank
Tyre was originally founded on an island and the adjacent mainland, probably as a colony of Sidon (modern name, Sayda). Sidon was the oldest Phoenician city, but Tyre would eventually exceed Sidon in fame and prosperity.
According to one ancient account, "Tyrian merchants were the first who ventured to navigate the Mediterranean waters; and they founded their colonies on the coasts and neighboring 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." Tyre became a grand city, as evidenced today by the remains of its Arch of Triumph (in photo).
In the time of King David, the Israelites and Tyrians were on friendly terms. King Hiram of Tyre sent cedar lumber, carpenters, and stonemasons to help David build his palace in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:11). Later, when Solomon succeeded his father David as king, King Hiram continued his alliance with Israel. All of the cedar and pine for the original Temple in Jerusalem came from Tyre (1 Kings 5:1-10).
Tyre consisted of two sections, a fortress on the mainland, and the main city which was constructed on a small island about 1,000 yards/meters from the shore. This arrangement provided it with good defensive capability - it withstood a siege by King Shalmaneser of Assyria for 5 years during the time of the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel in 721 B.C., and another by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon for 13 years at the time the fall of the southern kingdom of Judah in 586 B.C. It eventually did fall to Greek warlord Alexander the Great who built a causeway out to the island in 332 B.C., but it still maintained much of its economic prominence well into the New Testament era under the Romans before its final destruction.
Jesus Christ used Tyre in His denouncement of the people of Korazin and Bethsaida for their refusal to repent -
"Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you." (Matthew 11:21-22)
Fact Finder: Tyre eventually fell and became a ruin because of its wickedness and idolatry. Was its destruction repeatedly spoken of by numerous Old Testament prophets?