Principal city of Phenicia. By "the strong city Tyre," mentioned in Josh. xix. 29 and II Sam. xxiv. 7 as marking the frontier of Israel (Asher), is evidently meant not the main city, but an outpost in the mountains protecting the road to it and to the coast (the Septuagint furnishes in Joshua an interesting variant, making that point a "fountain" in place of a "city").Under King Hiram.
Tyre is first heard of under King Hiram, who furnished to his friends David (II Sam. v. 11) and Solomon (I Kings v. 1), for their building operations, wood from Mount Lebanon and skilled working men ("Sidonians," ib. v. 6), for which aid he received not only payment in grain (ib. v. 11), but also land concessions in Galilee (ib. ix. 11). Solomon's chief architect, Hiram, also, was a Tyrian (ib. vii. 13=II Chron. iv. 11). Tyrian ships in Solomon's service sailed even from the ports on the Red Sea (ib. ix. 27-28).
Tyre became immensely rich (Zech. ix. 3) by her commerce (Isa. xxiii. 2-3; comp. the elaborate description in Ezek. xxvii.); and the curses of the Prophets refer especially to its flourishing slave-trade (Amos i. 9; Joel iii. 4). Tyrian merchants—if the term "Tyrians" did not include all Phenicians at that period—furnished the timber for Ezra's Temple also (Ezra iii. 7), and "brought fish and all manner of ware" to Jerusalem (Neh. xiii. 16).
Ps. xlv. 2, lxxxiii. 7, and lxxxvii. 4 treat the city as representative of all Phenicia; elsewhere, however, the Tyrians and the Zidonians are identified in a way which seems to indicate that "Zidonians" was the earlier name for the Phenicians (comp. I Kings v. 6; Judges xviii. 7; Isa. xxiii. 2; and the Homeric use). "Ethbaal king of the Zidonians," the father of Jezebel (I Kings xvi. 31), is identical with Ithobalos of Tyre (Josephus, "Ant." viii. 13, § 2), who, however, may have possessed both cities. This earlier usage dates from a time when Zidon was preponderating among the Phenician cities (comp. the reference in Gen. x. 15 to Sidon, the first-born of Canaan; Tyre is not even mentioned in verse 18 of the same chapter).Its Predominance.
Zidon always claimed that Tyre was merely a later colony. However, the Egyptian inscriptions of the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties, which hardly mention Zidon, seem to show that even then Tyre ("Ṣa-ru," "Ṣa-ra") predominated (W. M. Müller, "Asien und Europa," p. 185), although in the El-Amarna tablets (ed. Winckler, Nos. 149-156) King Abimilki of "Ṣurri" seems to have been inferior to his adversary, Zimrida of Ziduna. This predominance of Tyre is shown also in the fact that the greatest Phenician colony, Carthage, claimed to have been founded from Tyre (probably much before the problematic date assumed by the Greeks, i.e., 826 or 814
Josephus (l.c.) gives a list of ten Tyrian kings from 969 (Hiram!) to 774 (for some kings of Ṣurru in later Assyrian time see Delitzsch, "Wo Lag das Paradies?" p. 284). The long siege by the Assyrians, reported by the local historian Menander (in Josephus, l.c. ix. 14) to have taken place under Shalmaneser (IV.), is by modern critics considered as a confusion of several Assyrian attacks under Sennacherib, Esarhaddon, and especially Assurbanipal (see Winckler, "Altorientalische Forschungen," 2d ed., ii. 65). Finally, Tyre submitted to Assyria, but kept always her own kings (comp. Jer. xxv. 22, xxvii. 3; Ezek. xxviii. 2), as also under Persian rule. A naval battle against the Egyptian king Apries (Herodotus, ii. 161) seems to indicate that this independence sought to maintain itself against the two rivals Egypt and Babylonia, but Nebuchadnezzar (comp. Ezek. xxvi. 7) obtained, after a siege of thirteen years, a certain submission in 574
Nevertheless, the city soon regained great importance. It enjoyed a certain liberty until Augustus, and under the Romans was the most populous of the Phenician cities (frequently mentioned in the New Testament). During the Crusades it was important owing both to its unusually strong fortifications and to its factories of glass, sugar, etc. The Christians under Baldwin II. took it in 1124 and held it to 1291 (Frederick Barbarossa was buried in the cathedral in 1190). The place degenerated afterward into a miserable village, especially after the Shi'itic sect of the Matawilah had taken possession of it; now Ṣûr has from 5,000 to 6,000 inhabitants.Its Temple.
The name seems to have meant "rock"; the Greek form "Tyros" suggests to some Semitists the preservation of the earlier "ẓ" for "ṣ." The earlier Latin form was "Sar(r)a." Now a peninsula by the accretion of sand to Alexander's dam, the city was originally an island (Ezek. xxvii. 3, 4) of limited space (how much of its former area has now been submersed by the sea is a subject of dispute),so that the large population was crowded together in very high houses. Nevertheless it contained a large and magnificent temple of Melḳart (comp. II Macc. iv. 18 on games held every fifth year in honor of Hercules). The local female divinity was Astarte. On the mainland was a considerable city, Palætyrus, which seems to have had the earlier name "Usû" (so El-Amarna tablets; comp. "Oṭu" in the hieroglyphics, Assyrian, "Ušu; Talmudic, "Usha," which, however, may be another city); from this place, before the Roman time, Tyre was provided with water. The island had two harbors: one to the north; the other, now sanded, to the south. Strabo (xvi. 223) reports that the purple-factories filled the island with an unpleasant smell from the crushed shells of which the purple was made.
- R. Pietschmann, Gesch. der Phönizier, pp. 61 et seq., Leipsic, 1889;
- F. Jeremias, Tyrus bis zur Zeit Nebukadnezars;
- Winckler, Altorientalische Forschungen, ii. 65;
- Prašek, Forschungen zur Geschichte des Altertums, ii. 21.
- See also Phenicia.