Joseph P. Duggan writes a fascinating article on “Tyre and the Poets” in The American Spectator. Notice a few excepts. I have added some of the pertinent Scripture references within the article in brackets.
For $50 a family can take a safe, radio-call taxi from the congested heart of Beirut to the uncluttered ancient waterfront of Tyre, a few miles north of the border with Israel. Lush banana plantations line the coastal route.…
The Western literary imagination is attracted to Tyre because it swirls amid the turbulent confluence of Biblical history and prophecy, Homeric and Virgilian epic, Ovidian mythology, and imperial extravagances of luxury and vindictive warfare. Tyre is the birthplace of real or fabulous personages including Cadmus, Europa, and Dido, the latter of whom colonized Carthage as others were to plant the Tyrian standard in Mediterranean ports as far west as Cádiz. The men who sailed with Columbus and colonized the Americas were descendants of long-ago colonists from Tyre.
With its expensive purple dye made from a local mollusk, the murex, Tyre was the center for the Versaces and Givenchys of the ancient world. Paris took Helen of Troy here on a shopping expedition to drape in sumptuous fabric the frame and face that launched a thousand ships.
King Hiram of Tyre was an ally and trading partner of Jerusalem’s King Solomon. Hiram sold Solomon the cedar timber for the great Temple. [1 Kings 9:11]
The Jerusalem-Tyre relationship was rocky then as now. The old Hebrew prophets inveighed against the wealthy city and its neighbor, Sidon, as hotbeds of heathenism and vice. Jezebel, a Tyrian princess (and Dido’s great-aunt) who married Israel’s King Ahab, came to an unhappy end. [Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians. 1 Kings 16:31]
Egypt’s pharaohs many times made war against Tyre. Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar battered Tyre in the 6th century B.C. [Ezekiel 26:7; 29:18] Some 250 years later, Alexander the Great already had established effective mastery over the entire Levant when he demanded to offer sacrifice at Tyre to its principal god, Melqart. Alexander maintained that he himself was divine because, he said, he was a descendant of divine Herakles, of whom Melqart was only an avatar. The Tyrians didn’t cotton to that.
When diplomacy failed, Alexander mounted a costly siege whose success resulted in the slaughter of thousands of Tyrians, deportation into slavery for the survivors, and ruin of the splendid city. Modern historians say there was no strategic rationale for Alexander’s destruction of Tyre and its people. The impulse for the genocide was something like the rage of a deranged, spurned lover. Is “education” the answer to war and the world’s other problems? Consider that the Macedonian sociopath had for his personal tutor the serene and rational Stagirite who wrote the Nicomachean Ethics.
When Jesus walked up the short road from Galilee to Tyre, [Matthew 15:21] preaching to the people and driving a demon out of a local woman’s daughter, [Mark 7:26] he saw what Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander had done to the place, fulfilling the prophecies of, inter alia, Amos, Ezekiel [26-28], Zechariah and Jeremiah. He instructed his disciples to say to Galilean towns that rejected them and their preaching: “It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for thee.” [Matthew 11:21-22]
The entire article may be read here.
Our photo was made in the harbor of the island city of Tyre in 2002.
I will make you a bare rock. You shall be a place for the spreading of nets. You shall never be rebuilt, for I am the LORD; I have spoken, declares the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 26:14 ESV)