« PreviousContinue »
Afterwards, however, the Phænicians sold Jewish children into captivity. (Joel iii. 6–8.)
Carthage was planted as a colony of Tyre 869 B.C.
There was a Temple at Tyre in honor of Hercules, in which he was worshiped as a god, under the name of Melkarth; and Arrian, the historian (B.c. 150), says that it was the most ancient Temple in the world.
Ashtoreth was also worshiped there, who is called Diana, and Queen of Heaven. Solomon built a shrine in honor of this goddess on the Mount of Olives, opposite Jerusalem, as a token of his friendship for Hiram of Tyre.
At the time of the Assyrian invasion under Shalmaneser, Tyre had acquired such vast opulence, and splendor, as to be declared by inspiration “the joyous city, the crowning city, whose merchants were princes, whose traffickers were the honorable of the earth."
But while this mart of nations was still in the full blaze of its magnificence, at least 125 years before it met with any serious disaster, or anything had occurred to humble it, a series of prophetic denunciations began to be recorded against it by the inspired messengers of heaven, that it should be captured and destroyed by the Chaldeans, etc.-prophecies which were literally fulfilled. The history of Tyre from the commencement of its disasters till the period of its final overthrow, is replete with interest, both on account of its verifying the complete fulfillment of the prophesies against it, and of its moral lesson.
After Shalmaneser had conquered the kingdom of Israel, and carried its inhabitants into captivity, he turned his arms against the Phænician cities. At
this time Tyre had reached a high point of prosperity ; it possessed Cyprus, and had planted the splendid colony of Carthage, but notwithstanding its powerful condition, several of its dependencies revolted and joined Shalmaneser, furnishing him sixty ships, and 800 rowers. Against this fleet the Tyrians sailed with only twelve vessels, but with these they completely dispersed the enemy, taking 500 prisoners. After this engagement the King of Assyria withdrew the main body of his army, leaving only a small detachment to guard the great aqueduct, hoping to bring them to terms by this means, but failed, as the inhabitants supplied themselves with water from their wells.
At a latter period, Nebuchadnezzar besieged the whole city, and nearly destroyed Old Tyre. Afterwards, Alexander the Great besieged the city, and destroyed what remained of the old town, but the island city offered such stout resistance that he was compelled to build a causeway out to it from the main land, and used for materials the ruins of the old city. When this causeway was nearly completed, a sortie from the besieged, followed by a storm nearly destroyed his works; to repair the damages, and complete the causeway, he scraped together the remaining rubbish, and even the very earth of Old Tyre; thus fulfilling this part of the prophecies.—" And they shall lay thy stones, and thy timber, and thy dust in the water."
The island city was at this time surrounded by a strong wall 120 feet high, and was otherwise strongly fortified, but notwithstanding this, and the great dif
ficulties Alexander encountered in building the causoway, he succeeded after a period of seven months in taking this insular stronghold. He then set fire to it : 15,000 of the inhabitants escaped in ships, multitudes were slain, and 30,000 were sold into slavery: Subsequently the island city was partially rebuilt, and continued to be a stronghold under the dominion of the Seleucidæ; it then stood a siege of fourteen months from Antigonus. On the conquest of Syria by the Romans, it came under their
power, and is described by
: Strabo as being at this time a flourishing trading city, with two ports, the old harbor having become permanently bisected by the mole of Alexander. Jerome speaks of it in the fourth century as the most beautiful city in Phæncia, and as still trading with all the world. In the seventh century it was taken by the Saracens, and in the twelfth by the Crusaders, and remained nearly 170 years in possession of the Christians; during their occupation it continued to be opulent andpowerful. At this time it was fortified on the land side by strong quadruple walls, and on the sea side by a citadel with seven towers, yet notwithstanding these strong fortifications the city fell suddenly and in a singular manner. In A.D. 1291, the Sultan of Egypt invested Ptolemais (Acre) and took it by storm, after a siege of two months. On the same day on which Ptolemais was taken, the Tyrians embarked in their ships, and abandoned the city, leaving it empty; and thus the Egyptians found it the next day. From this blow it never recovered, but continued to sink deeper, and deeper, until travelers of the sixteenth century describe it as being only a heap of ruins, broken arches and
vaults, tottering walls, and towers, with a few miserable inhabitants living in the vaults among the rubbish. But in 1776 some Metualis from Lebanon took possession of Tyre, built up the present walls, and thus laid the foundation for its partial revival. Twenty years later, according to Volney it consisted of poor huts, but which covered nearly a third of the peninsula. Some little trade with Egypt has given it an impulse during the present century; but the close proximity of the flourishing city of Beyroot, will at present, at least, prevent it from attaining any considerable enlargement.
Mr. Bartlet when passing Tyre on board a steamer in 1842, thus alludes to it, “Tyre soon appeared, a low rocky point projecting into the sea, and for the cry from her thousand ships, and crowded port, there is nothing now but silence and a few fishing boats; and we should have sailed past the spot without noticing it had we not known that a great commercial city once existed there—the London of the old world.”
The present town stands at the junction of the island, and the isthmus formed by Alexander's causeway, and the eastern wall includes a portion of the isthmus. On the north and west, towards the sea, the walls are so far broken away, as to be scarcely discernible. The inner port or basin on the north was formerly enclosed by a wall running from the north end of the island in a curve towards the mainland. Fragments of this wall still remain, sufficient to mark its course. The western shore is a ledge of rugged picturesque rocks from 15 to 20 feet high, upon
which the waves of the Mediterranean dash in