Tyre (Arabic: صور‎, Ṣūr; Phoenician: 𐤑𐤅𐤓, Ṣur; Tiberian Hebrew צֹר‎, Ṣōr; Akkadian: 𒀫𒊒, Ṣurru; Greek: Τύρος, Týros; Latin: Tyrus, Armenian: Tir), is a city in the South Governorate of Lebanon. Tyre was a principal Phoenician seaport in ancient times and is now identified with present-day Sur. It is situated about 50 km (30 mi) N of Mount Carmel and 35 km (22 mi) SSW of Sidon.[1] Tyre juts out from the coast of the Mediterranean. Its name meaning "rock"[2] after the rocky formation on which the trading post was originally built.

As an ancient Phoenician city, Tyre was particularly known for the production of a rare and extraordinarily expensive sort of purple dye, produced from the murex shellfish, known as Tyrian purple. The colour was, in ancient cultures, reserved for the use of royalty or at least the nobility.[3]

Biblical TyreEdit

According to the Hebrew Scriptures, Tyre is first mentioned after the conquest of the Promised Land in about 1467 BCE, and at that time it was a fortified city. This mention of Tyre was in connection with the boundaries of Asher’s tribal territory. From the start, and all through its history, Tyre apparently remained outside Israel’s borders as an independent neighbor (Jos 19:24, 29; 2Sa 24:7).[1]

Friendly relations existed at times between Tyre and Israel, notably during the reigns of David and Solomon. Skilled Tyrian workmen engaged in building David’s royal palace with cedar timber sent by Hiram the king of Tyre. (2Sa 5:11; 1Ch 14:1) The Tyrians also supplied David with cedar later used in the temple’s construction.—1Ch 22:1-4.[1]

After David’s death King Hiram of Tyre furnished Solomon with materials and assistance for the construction of the temple and other government buildings. (1Ki 5:1-10; 7:1-8; 2Ch 2:3-14) A half-Israelite son of a Tyrian worker in copper, who himself was a skilled craftsman, was employed in the construction of the temple. (1Ki 7:13, 14; 2Ch 2:13, 14) For their assistance the Tyrians were paid with wheat, barley, oil, and wine. (1Ki 5:11, 12; 2Ch 2:15) In addition, Solomon gave the king of Tyre 20 cities, though the Tyrian monarch was not overly pleased with the gift.—1Ki 9:10-13. Tyre in time became one of the great sea powers of the ancient world, and her mariners and commercial fleet of “Tarshish” ships were famous for their voyages to faraway places. Solomon and the king of Tyre cooperated in a joint shipping venture for the importing of precious things including gold from Ophir.—1Ki 9:26-28; 10:11, 22; 2Ch 9:21.[1]

Tyrians were racially Canaanites,[1] and religiously they practiced a form of Baal worship, their chief deities being Melkart and Astarte (Ashtoreth). When Ethbaal was king of the Sidonians (including Tyre), his daughter Jezebel married Ahab, the king of the northern kingdom of Israel. Jezebel was infamous in her determination to blot out worship of Jehovah (Biblical Hebrew: יהוה, YHWH; Tiberian Hebrew: Yahweh).—1Ki 16:29, 31; 18:4, 13, 19.[1]

Ancient TyreEdit

Tyre was often attacked by Egypt and was besieged by Assyrian king Shalmaneser V, who was assisted by the Phoenicians of the mainland, for five years. From 586 until 573 BCE, the city was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon until it agreed to pay a tribute.[4] According to the Jewish historian Josephus, the siege lasted 13 years (Against Apion, I, 156 [21]), and it cost the Babylonians a great deal.[1] By 539 BCE, the Achaemenid Empire then conquered the city and kept it under its rule until 332 BCE.[5]

Classical TyreEdit

In 332 BCE, Alexander the Great marched his army across Asia Minor and, in his sweep southward, paused long enough to give his attention to Tyre. When the city refused to open its gates, Alexander in his rage had his army scrape up the ruins of the mainland city and throw it into the sea, thus building a causeway out to the island city. With his naval forces holding the Tyrian ships bottled up in their harbor, Alexander set about constructing the highest siege towers ever used in ancient wars. Finally, after seven months the 46-m-high (150 ft) walls were breached. In addition to the 8,000 military men killed in battle, 2,000 prominent leaders were killed as a reprisal, and 30,000 inhabitants were sold into slavery. According to Hebrew Scriptures, Ezekiel and Zechariah pronounced Tyre's destruction (Eze 26:4, 12; Zec 9:3, 4). However, despite the city’s destruction by Alexander, it was rebuilt during the Seleucid period, and by the first century it became a prominent port of call on the Mediterranean.[1]

Tyre was allowed to keep much of its independence, as a "civitas foederata",[6] when the area became a Roman province in 64 BCE.[7] Tyre continued to maintain much of its commercial importance until the Common Era.

The Christian Greek Scriptures state that during Jesus’ Galilean ministry, a number of people from around Tyre and Sidon came to hear his message and to be cured of their diseases. (Mr 3:8-10; Lu 6:17-19) Some months later Jesus personally visited the region around Tyre, on which occasion he cured the demon-possessed child of a Syrophoenician woman. (Mt 15:21-29; Mr 7:24-31) Jesus observed that, had he performed in Tyre and Sidon the powerful works that he did in Chorazin and Bethsaida, the pagans of Tyre and Sidon would have been more responsive than those Jews.—Mt 11:20-22; Lu 10:13, 14.[1]

The famous "Arch of Hadrian" and one of the best hippodromes in the region were constructed during the Roman empire.[8]

Medieval TyreEdit

In the Revolt of Tyre (996–998), the populace of the city rose against Fatimid rule, led by an ordinary sailor named 'Allaqa - but were brutally suppressed in May 998. During the Crusades, after the first failed siege in 1111, Tyre was captured during the First Crusade in 1124 and became one of the most important cities of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. It was part of the royal domain, but there were also autonomous trading colonies there for the Italian merchant cities. The city was the site of the See of Tyre, whose archbishop was a suffragan of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem; its archbishops often acceded to the Patriarchate. The most notable of the Latin archbishops was the historian William of Tyre. After the loss of the First Crusader Kingdom in the wake of the 1187 Battle of Hattin and the reconquest of Acre by Richard I of England on July 12, 1191, the seat of the kingdom moved there, but coronations were held in Tyre. In the 13th century, Tyre was separated from the royal domain as the Lordship of Tyre. In 1291, Tyre was retaken by the Mamluk Sultanate.

Colonial TyreEdit

The Ottoman Empire conquered the region in 1516-17 and held it until World War I.

Modern TyreEdit

Today it is the fourth largest city in Lebanon after Beirut, Tripoli and Sidon.[9] and houses one of the nation's major ports. Tourism is a major industry. The city has a number of ancient sites, including its Roman Hippodrome which was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1979.[10][11]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Insight (1988) Vol.2, pp.1135-1136, Tyre
  2. (Bikai, P., "The Land of Tyre", in Joukowsky, M., The Heritage of Tyre, 1992, chapter 2, p. 13)
  3. Bariaa Mourad. "Du Patrimoine à la Muséologie : Conception d'un musée sur le site archéologique de Tyr",(Thesis); Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle (MNHN), Study realised in cooperation with the Unesco, Secteur de la Culture, Division du Patrimoine Culturel, Paris, 1998
  4. Bement, R B. Tyre; the history of Phoenicia, Palestine and Syria, and the final captivity of Israel and Judah by the Assyrians. Ulan Press. p. 48. 
  5. "Tyre in the early Persian period (539-486 B.C)". Retrieved on 9 November 2014. 
  6. E. G. Hardy, Roman Laws and Charters, New Jersey 2005, p.95
  7. 64 B.C. – events and references
  8. Video showing the Roman hippodrome of Tyre
  9. Tyre City, Lebanon
  10. Resolution 459
  11. Lebanon's Archaeological Heritage
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