Was Tyre rebuilt?

  • Clarifying the question

    In Ezekiel 37, it was prophesied that “I [God] will bring terrors on you [Tyre] and you will be no more.” In 332 B.C., Tyre was assaulted by nations united under Alexander the Great: Macedon, Cyprus, Rhodes, etc. After this occurred, was the city of Tyre rebuilt? This would help us determine whether Ezekiels' prophecy on tyre was fulfilled or not.

“No, after all…
  • Alexander replaced Phoenician Tyre

    Alexander replaced everything, intentionally making a new city.1 By 332 B.C., the city which boasted against God was annihilated. (Experts regularly call it a new city,2 and rightfully so.3

    Regarding Phoenician Tyre (i.e. the city prophesied against):

    • The empire was erased.
    • The structures were left in waste.
    • The people were replaced.

    This is relevant because these seem to be the most essential features of what makes a city a city; it is most likely, or at least very plausibly, what the author meant would be destroyed.

    1. Shoshee Chunder Dutt: “After treating Tyre with the greatest atrocity, Alexander rebuilt and replanted it, that future generations might regard him as the founder of a new city.” [Historical Studies and Recreations (Trübner & Co, 1879), 503.]
    2. Encyclopedia Brittanica 8th ed.: “Alexander replaced the population by a colony of Greeks or Carians (Quin, Curt. iv; Arrian II.; Diod. Sic. xvii.). With this memorable siege terminated the glory of Phoenician Tyre;” [vol XXI (Neil and col.), 406.]
      Thomas Summers: “Having cleared the city of its former inhabitants, the Macedonian conqueror 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.]
    3. “Alexander ordered all but those who had fled to the temples to be put to death and the buildings to be set on fire [These are just the buildings on the small island; virtually all of Tyre's structures were _already _thrown into the sea]…he repopulated Tyre with Greek emigrants and loyal Phoenicians, together with a permanent Macedonian garrison… [and the place was] redesigned as a Greek city, with a colonnaded street…” (Quotes from livius.org here, here, and here). For this and other reasons, it seems more appropriate to say a new city rose from the ashes of the old city (allowing scholars to speak of “Alexander's destruction of _Phoenician _Tyre...”). [John Gibson Warry, Warfare in the Classical World (Salamander, 2000), 115.] After all, despite being given the same name (for convenience), what rose up “in propriety of speech, was another city.” [From "Wesley's Notes on the Bible", made available by Wesleyan Heritage Publishing]
“Yes, after all…
  • Tyre has about 35,000 inhabitants today

    As it happens, “Tyre has been rebuilt on the peninsula and has 35,000 inhabitants today.”1 This is relevant because the prophecy is clear that Tyre would not survive the assault.

    By way of response, however, Ezekiel's prophecy directly requires new settlers on the land of Tyre (in order for it to be described as a future place for the drying of nets [see v.5, 14]). But Phoenician Tyre was deliverately annihilated.

    1. Full quotes:
      Chris Sandoval (author): “Contrary to Ezekiel's prophecy, Tyre has been rebuilt on its original site …Tyre has been rebuilt on the peninsula and has 35,000 inhabitants today.” [The Failure of Biblical Prophecy (Trafford, 2010), 64-65.]
      Richard Carrier: “[Tyre] was rebuilt immediately after Alexander's attack, and remained a powerhouse of trade for the next two thousand years” [Review of 'In Defense of Miracles' available online at infidels.org]
      I should confess that, in my studies, I often did see certain scholars speaking of Tyre's recovery, even when on a previous page they confessed that it was technically a new city. It seems very easy for people to revert back into talking as if Tyre had somehow survived (and I noticed myself slipping into this during my discussions, perhaps just in virtue of the land and name being the same). Interestingly, even Ezekiel slips when noting that this Tyre which was destroyed, and which would never be rebuilt, would nevertheless become a place for the spreading of nets. If Tyre was destroyed, then is it really Tyre that the nets are spread over? Of course, one explanation for this is that it is easy to identify Tyre with the land, the people, or the structures, leading to a lot of Theseus's ship type debate (“When is it a new city?”). Re-reading the prophesy, however, it is easy enough to discern that Phoenician Tyre would be destroyed, and yet the place would need to be re-occupied to allow fisherman. But in what sense is it still the same place, if the essential city-features are destroyed? Plausibly, the relevant vestige that remains is something like the name itself: Tyre.