The Judgment of Tyre

Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I am against you, O Tyre, and will bring up many nations against you, as the sea brings up its waves” (v. 3).

- Ezekiel 26

Located on the Mediterranean Coast in Lebanon, we sometimes hear of Tyre in news reports from the Middle East. This makes sense given the city’s history as a major regional power and a key ancient Near Eastern commercial center that greatly influenced Mediterranean shipping lanes and overland trade between the coast and Arabia. Originally, the main city was on an island, which kept it safe from conquest. In the fourth century BC, however, Alexander the Great’s army built a land bridge to the city and conquered it, reducing ancient Tyre to rubble. Silt build-up has since created new land around the bridge and island, so modern Tyre sits on a peninsula. To complicate matters further, the related city of “Old Tyre” once sat on the mainland near the island city-fortress of Tyre. Old Tyre is now mainly underwater.

Tyre was very friendly to Israel during Israel’s united monarchy (2 Sam. 5:11). Indeed, King Hiram of Tyre “always loved David” (1 Kings 5:1). By the sixth century BC, however the two powers were at odds, as the judgment oracle of Ezekiel 16 reveals. Verse 2 alludes to Tyre rejoicing at Jerusalem’s fall, much as Edom rejoiced at Judah’s fall (see Obad. 1–21). The reason for rejoicing apparently involved turning a greater profit on trade. Jerusalem exercised influence on many of the same trade routes as Tyre, but with its competitor city of Jerusalem gone, Tyre could “be replenished” via more tariffs and so forth.

Due to Tyre’s pleasure in Jerusalem’s pain, the city would suffer at the hands of “many nations” (Ezek. 26:3). It was one thing for Tyre to recognize the Lord’s justice in abandoning Jerusalem to the Babylonians but quite another to rejoice in the city’s fall and to think God would not do the same to a disobedient Tyre. In fact, the whole point of Ezekiel 26 is to show that Tyre could not sin with impunity but would be destroyed by God via Nebuchadnezzar (v. 7) and plundered by other nations as they came against the city (v. 12). After this, Tyre would “not be inhabited” (v. 20).

Bible critics point to this passage as an example of a Scriptural error because Ezekiel himself says Nebuchadnezzar did not utterly destroy the city (29:18). This assumes he was to destroy the island city-fortress, but since other nations were predicted to be involved in Tyre’s fall, Nebuchadnezzar did not have to destroy the island city himself. He did crush the mainland city of Old Tyre, casting its remains into the water, where they sit today.

Coram Deo

Bible critics read Scripture superficially and find “errors” that do not reflect a fair reading of all the evidence. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Old Tyre, and it remains uninhabited. Moreover, the island city-fortress of Tyre has never been the same since Alexander’s conquest. History confirms biblical prophecy, and good apologetic resources demonstrate this. Therefore, it is a good idea for us all to own solid apologetic helps so that we may be prepared when others ask about the faith.

Passages for Further Study

Jeremiah 47
Luke 10:13–16

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