Bible Meaning: To distress, a rock
Strong's Concordance #H6865
The city of Tyre is also spelled Tyrus in many King James Old Testament verses. The city was considered part of Phoenicia, which in the Old Testament stretched from its location to Arvad in the north.
Ancient Tyre, like the Palestine city of Sidon situated twenty miles from it, is located in modern Lebanon. Even at the time of Israel's entrance into the Promised Land of Canaan it was known as a "strong city" (Joshua 19:29).
Tyre, although part of the tribe of Asher's inheritance in the Promised Land (Joshua 19:28 - 29), was never conquered by Israel.
Tyre was an immensely rich city (Zechariah 9:3) mostly from her commerce (Ezekiel 27) which included a flourishing slave trade (Amos 1:9).
The city was incredibly proud of its wealth and status as a premier merchant of the seas (Isaiah 23). It was a "crowning city" in that it created several dependent cities, colonies and kingdoms in Spain, Cyprus, Africa and other locations. Its merchants were considered princes whose reputation was known throughout the world (Isaiah 23:8).
Relationship with Israel
One of Tyre's kings, named Hiram, was an ally and trading partner of Israelite kings David and Solomon. He was instrumental in providing building materials for David's royal palace (2Samuel 5:11) and generously offered materials and skilled craftsmen to build Jerusalem's Temple (2Chronicles 2:3 - 16).
The city's relationship with Israel would later sour, however, especially when it began selling Kingdom of Judah captives to the Greeks (Joel 3:4 - 6).
Ezekiel the prophet not only condemned those in Tyre but also prophesied the city's destruction (Ezekiel 26:1 - 6).
The fulfilling of Ezekiel's prophecy concerning Tyre took place in two main phases. Babylon's Nebuchadnezzar warred against the city's mainland presence for thirteen years (Ezekiel 26:7 - 11, 29:18) beginning in 585 B.C. During this period He destroyed the city's mainland presence but was robbed of Tyre's riches, however, when they were moved to the city's occupied island (29:18 - 20).
In 332 B.C. Alexander the Great laid siege to Tyre's island fortress during his campaigns against the Persians. After a protracted battle, he overcame the island city and destroyed much of it. Alexander was so enraged at the defense Tyre put up, as well as the deaths it cost to take it, that he crucified 2,000 survivors and sold another 30,000 residents, mostly women and children, into slavery.
New Testament mentions
Jesus visited the area near Tyre during his ministry (Matthew 15:21, Mark 7:24). Those who lived in this Palestine coastal city were willing to travel to the shores of Galilee to hear him preach (Mark 3:8, Luke 6:17).
The Apostle Paul visited the city during his third missionary journey where he met with local Christians for one week (Acts 21:1 - 3). See our article on Paul's relationship with Tyre for more information.
Joshua 19:24, 29
And the fifth lot came out for the tribe of the children of Asher according to their families . . . And then the coast turneth to Ramah, and to the strong city Tyre: and the coast turneth to Hosah: and the outgoings thereof are at the sea from the coast to Achzib . . .
And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters, and masons: and they built David an house.
And Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants unto Solomon: for he had heard that they had anointed him king in the room of his father: for Hiram was ever a lover of David.
Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honourable of the earth?
Ezekiel 26:3, 7
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD: Behold, I am against thee, O Tyrus, and will cause many nations to come up against thee, as the sea causeth his waves to come up.
For thus saith the Lord GOD: Behold, I will bring upon Tyrus Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, a king of kings, from the north, with horses, and with chariots, and with horsemen, and companies, and much people.
Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord GOD: Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas: yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God . . .
Matthew 11:21 - 22
Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases:
Acts 21:3, 7
Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre: for there the ship was to unlade her burden.
And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day.