Saturday, May 14

Fulfilled Prophecy: Tyre

Often, when individuals examine Scripture, prophecy is left by the wayside. This is typically due to a misunderstanding: it is a widely held idea by some, but not by all, that prophecy is simply too difficult to comprehend and that each prophecy is not specific, too vague, not providing enough details. As a result, this leads to many ignoring the sections of Scripture which deal heavily with prophecy, whether it is the prophecies of Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, or the prophecies of Jesus, or even the prophecy of Revelation, among others. One such prophecy that stands out concerns the city of Tyre, which has already been fulfilled. (Photo credit: Britannica, "advent christmas epiphany")

Understand that when we read through the Bible, we cannot simply gloss over prophecy. Prophecy makes up approximately one-third of Scripture, it is evidently there for a reason, otherwise the Creator would not have divinely guided the authors to convey the prophecies through their works. Tyre (meaning: "a rock") was once a powerful city, north of Acre, but south of Sidon, and was part of the ancient Phoenician empire. According to Driver's Isaiah:

"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 (Cadiz)."[1] Tyre itself was made up of two parts, "Old Tyre," which was a rocky fortress on the mainland, and the second, the city, which was built upon a small rocky island approximately half a mile away from the shoreline. Around ca.586-573 BC, for thirteen years, King Nebuchadnezzar of the Babylonian Empire besieged Tyre, but with little success.[2]

This sea-port and city-state on the coast of Lebanon was also home to Hiram of Tyre, who supplied both King David and King Solomon with the timber as well as the materials for the construction of the Temple in Jerusalem. According to Harper's Encyclopedia of Bible Life, "Commercial ties were developed with Tyre, and were controlled by the state. For his building activities in Jerusalem, Solomon exchanged grain, oil, and wine with Hiram, the king of Tyre, for the necessary timber (1 Kings 5:6-11; 2 Chron. 2:15). Solomon also relied on Tyrian skill in order to build a fleet of ships at the port of Ezion-geber on the Gulf of Aqabah (1 Kings 9:26-27; 10:11, 2 Chron. 8:17-18)."[3]

Credit: Britannica
"Moreover, Solomon obtained horses from the north and chariots from Egypt and sold them to kings of Syria (1 Kings 10:28-29). The evidence for foreign trade during the period of the divided monarchy is less extensive. It appears that there were Syrian merchants in Samaria and Israelite merchants in Damascus during the reign of Ahab (1 Kings 20:34)."[4] Tyre and Sidon contained many glass shops, dyeing and weaving shops, as well as stone engravers and other such things. Tyre was well-known for its purple dye, which was partly due to the durability of its beautiful tints. This provided an abundant source of wealth to the occupants of Tyre.

Tyre is infamous for its prophetic importance: it was frequently denounced by the prophets. (Isaiah 23:1; Jeremiah 25:22; Ezekiel 26, 28:1-19; Amos 1:9, 10; Zechariah 9:2-4). Isaiah 23:1 conveys, "A prophecy concerning Tyre: Wail, you ships of Tarshish! For Tyre is destroyed and left without house or harbor. From the land of Cyprus word has come to them." Amos 1:9 says, "For three sins of Tyre, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath. Because she sold whole communities of captives to Edom, disregarding a treaty of brotherhood. I will send fire on the walls of Tyre that will consume her fortress."

Zechariah 9:2-4, another prophecy concerning Tyre, reads, "and on Hamath, too, which borders on it, and on Tyre and Sidon, though they are skillful. Tyre has built herself a stronghold; she has heaped up silver like dust, and gold like the dirt of the streets. But the LORD will take away her possessions and destroy her power on the sea, and she will be consumed by fire."But perhaps the most important and revealing passage concerning Tyre is found in Ezekiel 26.

Verses 3-5 read, "I am against you, Tyre, and I will bring many nations against you, like the sea casting up its waves. They will destroy the walls of Tyre and pull down her towers; I will scrape away her rubble and make her bare rock. Out of the sea she will become a place to spread fishnets, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign LORD." Verses 7-9 continue, "From the north I am going to bring against Tyre Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses and chariots, with horseman and a great army. He will ravage your settlements on the mainland with the sword; he will set up a siege works against you, build a ramp up to your walls and raise his shields against you. He will direct the blows of his battering rams against your walls and demolish your towers with his weapons."

Ezekiel 26:12-14 goes on to say, "They will plunder your wealth and loot your merchandise; they will break down your walls and demolish your fine houses and throw your stones, timber and rubble into the sea. I will put an end to your noisy songs, and the music of your harps will be heard no more. I will make you a bare rock, and you will become a place to spread fishnets. You will never be rebuilt, for I the LORD have spoken, declares the Sovereign LORD." Verse 21 concludes, "I will bring you to a horrible end and you will be no more. You will be sought, but you will never again be found, declares the LORD."

Before we continue to examine, permit me to draw your attention to verse 21, "You will be sought, but you will never again be found." Critics level their claims at this specific phrase, believing the prophecy invalid because Tyre is a known location, and people do visit the location. However, after careful examination, a better translation of this word is not "found," but "revived." The better translation would be as follows: "You will be sought, but you will never again be revived, declares the LORD." Now, what can we determine from this passage?

We can determine that Nebuchadnezzar will destroy the mainland city of Tyre (verse 8), that there will be many nations against Tyre (verse 3), that Tyre would become bare rock, flat like the top of a rock (verse 4, 14), that fishermen would spread their nets over this site (verse 5, 14), that Tyre would never be rebuilt, and would never be revived (verse 14, 21). The book of Ezekiel was written ca.592-570 BC, which was several centuries before most of these prophecies were fulfilled. This is significant because it illustrates the Bible's prophetic fulfillment in history, supporting the uniqueness and veracity of God's Word.

When Nebuchadnezzar broke the gates of Tyre down, he found the city nearly empty. Most of the inhabitants had moved via ship to an island about half a mile off the coast and there, fortified a city. Just as Ezekiel prophesied in Ezekiel 26:8, the mainland city was destroyed (573 BC), but the city of Tyre on the island still remained a powerful force.[5] The Encyclopedia Britannica writes, "In his war with the Persians, Alexander III, after defeating Darius III at the Battle of Issus (333), marched southward toward Egypt, calling upon the Phoenician cities to open their gates, as it was part of his general plan to deny their use to the Persian fleet. The citizens of Tyre refused to do so, and Alexander laid siege to the city. Possessing no fleet, he demolished old Tyre, on the mainland, and with the debris built a mole 200 ft. (60 m.) wide across the straits separating the old and new towns, erecting towers and war engines at the farther end."[6]

Philip Myers, a secular historian (and not a theologian by any means) made an intriguing quote, which can be found in a history textbook, "Alexander the Great... reduced it to ruins (332 BC). She recovered in a measure from this blow, but never regained the place she had previously held in the world. The larger part of the site of the once great city is now bare as the top of the rock - a place where the fisherman that still frequent the spot spread their nets to dry."[7] Note that in saying this, Myers reveals an important truth to the reader: Tyre never regained its former place, it now lays bare as the top of rock - and it is a place where fisherman spread their nets to dry, all of which was prophesied by Ezekiel hundreds of years before, and all of which has been fulfilled.

However, John C. Beck also points out an important truth, "The history of Tyre does not stop after the conquest of Alexander. Men continue to rebuild her and armies continue to besiege her walls until finally, after sixteen hundred years, she falls never to be rebuilt again."[8] Nina Jidejian, in Tyre Through the Ages, relates the Persian traveler, Nasir-i-Khusrau's visit and description of 1047 AD, "They have rebuilt the city on a rock (that is in the sea) after such a manner that the town hall for one hundred years only, is upon the dry land, and the remainder rises up from the very water. The walls are built out of hewn stone, their joints being set in bitumen in order to keep the water out. I estimated the area of the town to be a thousand arsh [that is, 18 inches] square, and its caravanserais are built of five and six stories, set one above the other. There are numerous fountains of water, bazaars are very clean; also great is the quantity of wealth exposed..."[9]

The city was captured by Muslims later on, which consequently led Crusaders to reclaim the island. It was retaken, and it became an important base during the Crusades. As history will show us, the Sidonian port of Tyre is still in use today, and small fishing vessels harbor there. It is a large fishing area now. According to the prophets in God's Word, Tyre would become a place where fisherman would spread their nets. Understand that there is in existence a city of Tyre. However, this is not the original city, this city is actually built down the coast from the original, and does not, in biblical terms, qualify as the biblical Tyre. Tyre was destroyed, never to be revived again, and to date, it never has, not in its original format. 

Jidejian concludes in her book, "[Tyre's] stones may be found as far away as Acre and Beirut. Yet evidences of a great past are abundant and recent excavations have revealed successive levels of this proud Phoenician seaport... The great ancient city of Tyre lay buried under accumulated debris. The ruins of an aqueduct and a few scattered columns and the ruins of a Christian basilica were the only remains found above ground... Looking down into the water one can see a mass of granite columns and stone blocks strewn over the sea bottom. Until recently the ruins of Tyre above water were few."[10]

Tyre is mentioned in Matthew 11:21 and Acts 12:20. Also, a church was founded soon after the death of Stephen, and Paul, upon returning from his third missionary journey, spent a week with the disciples there (see Acts 21:4). Tyre has played an important role in history. But what of its prophetic significance? First off, Nebuchadnezzar, as Ezekiel had prophesied, did destroy the old mainland city of Tyre. Many nations have also been against Tyre - the text indicated that, like waves, Tyre would be subject to a series of invaders over a prolonged amount of time. Alexander also scraped the old site of Tyre clean when he had build the causeway out to the island city and left only "bare rock."

There have also been numerous references (even by secular observers) to the spreading of nets, the occupancy of fisherman, in that area. Also, just as Ezekiel prophesied, Alexander the Great had the debris thrown into the water in order to build the causeway. When Alexander the Great's engineers built the mole, utilizing the remains of ancient Tyre, they laid them in the midst of the water. The prophecy also states that Tyre would never be rebuilt. Floyd Hamilton, in The Basis of Christian Faith, states:

Modern-Day Tyre
"It is also written, 'thou shalt be built no more'. (26:14) Other cities destroyed by enemies had been rebuilt; Jerusalem was destroyed many times, but always has risen again from the ruins; what reason was there for saying that Old Tyre might not be rebuilt? But twenty-five centuries ago a Jew in exile over in Babylonia looked into the future at the command of God and wrote the words, 'thou shalt be built no more!' The voice of God has spoken and Old Tyre today stands as it has for twenty-five centuries a bare rock, uninhabited by man! Today anyone who wants to see the site of the old city, can have it pointed out to him along the shore, but there is not a ruin to mark the spot. It has been scraped clean and has never been rebuilt."[11]

Beck evaluates the final stipulation of the prophecy, which stated that the city was never to be found again, "Most commentators say that the actual site of the ancient city would be forgotten or lost because of destruction. A better interpretation of this verse is that the seeking by men would be for the purpose of elevating Tyre to her former position of wealth and splendor. It is difficult to believe that the actual location of the city could be lost when it formerly occupied completely the island with walls built to the water's edge."[12] Yet some still have difficulty in accepting the fulfillment of this part in the prophecy.

Understand that the spreading of nets is part of the prophecy as well. This indicates that there must be fishermen, which have to live somewhere. Typically, if they spread their fishing nets on the site of the ancient city (which prophecy states has and will continue), the fisherman likely will not live several miles down the coast, they would be more likely to live where the spread their nets, which is near Tyre. As Peter M. Stoner so eloquently and succinctly points out, "If Ezekiel had looked at Tyre in his day and had made these... predictions in human wisdom, these estimates mean that there would have been only one chance in 75,000,000 of their all coming true. They all came true."[13]

The fulfillment of biblical prophecy concerning Tyre even to the most minute detail is significant in that, as aforementioned, it gives credence to the Biblical record and provides support for the veracity, divine inspiration, and reliability of the Bible. The archaeological, historical, and geographical findings and discoveries concerning Tyre confirm the prophecies of Tyre found in Scripture. Tyre's irrevocable destruction at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar (the Babylonians), Alexander the Great (the Greeks), and many other nations has ultimately led to a final conclusion: Tyre is now nothing more than a mere sea-port, usually used for fishing.

Thank you for taking the time to read this entry of "The Truth." We recognize that not all readers will draw the same conclusions nor will all agree with our conclusions or claims, this we understand. However, we ask that you carefully consider everything before jumping to conclusions based on a presuppositional basis, not in a fallacious manner but in a careful and calculated fashion. Feel free to comment below (yet remain civil, or your comment will not be posted), email vexx801@yahoo.com or The Truth Ministries team at thetruth.ministryweb@gmail.com, visit our facebook page, or visit the ministry website. Take care, and may God bless you! Troy Hillman

Sources:
[1] "WebBible™ Encyclopedia." Christian Answers. Christian Answers Network, n.d. Web. 12 May 2011. .
[2] Ibid.
[3] S., Madaleine, and J. Lane Miller. HARPER'S Encyclopedia of Bible Life. 3rd Rev ed. Edison, New Jersey: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 1996. 226. Print.
[4] Ibid.
[5] McDowell, Josh. Evidence That Demands A Verdict. 1st ed. Arrowhead Springs, California: Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc., 1972. 286-291. Print.
[6] Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1970. Print.
[7] Myers, Philip Van Ness. General History for Colleges and High Schools. Boston: Ginn and Company, 1889. Print.
[8] Beck, John Clark, Kr. The Fall of Tyre According to Ezekiel's Prophecy. Unpublished Master's Thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1971. Print.
[9] Jidejian, Nina. Tyre through the Ages. Beirut: Dar El-Mashreq Publishers, 1969. Print.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Hamilton, Floyd E. The Basis of Christian Faith. New York: George H. Doran Company, 1927. Print.
[12] Ibid, [8].
[13] Stoner, Peter W. Science Speaks: An Evaluation of Certain Christian Evidences. Chicago: Moody Press, 1963. Print.

2 comments:

  1. You are so interesting! I don't think I've truly read anything like this
    before. So nice to find another person with some unique thoughts on
    this subject matter. Really.. many thanks for starting this up.
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    ReplyDelete
  2. This is good stuff, I do think it is best to say Tyre ended with Alexander's siege. E.g.

    Thomas Summers: "Having cleared the city of its former inhabitants, the Macedonian conquerer endeavored to repeople it by colonies from other parts, and styled himself as the founder of Tyre, for the former city had been destroyed. It might be sought, but none could find it. It had passed away." [Tyre: Its Rise, Glory, and Desolation, With notices of the Phoenicians Generally (E. Stevenson & F.A. Owen, 1856), 131.]

    See more here: http://treesearch.org/tyre/tyre-rebuilt

    ReplyDelete

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