NEARLY a hundred miles north of Jerusalem, on the seacoast of Phoenicia, stood a city "of perfect beauty," called by the prophet "the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, and whose traffickers are the honorable of the earth." This city, Tyre, was of no mean parentage; it was settled by the people of "great Sidon" before Joshua's time, and even then was called "a strong city."

There were two cities by the name of Tyre, one standing on the mainland, and the other on an island opposite from the shore and half a mile away.

The former was called Old Tyre, and the latter New Tyre. The Tyrians possessed great wealth, which they had obtained by trading. Their ships—frail, crazy crafts they were, compared with the steamships of modern times—sailed to every part of the Mediterranean, and even ventured out on, the Atlantic in search of precious things. Their principal Manufacture was a purple dye made from an inexhaustible supply of shellfish found near the coast. Although this ‘dye' was made by other nations, that manufactured by the Tyrians sold more readily than any other, and commanded a higher price, on account of its more brilliant hue.

Tyre was a dissolute and idolatrous city. A large part of the inhabitants were slaves, who had been obtained by stealth and fraud, the merchants and sailors carrying away all who came in their power.

In Solomon's day, Hiram, the king, seems to have been on the most friendly terms with the Israelites, furnishing them 'with beams of cedar for the temple’, and a workman "skillful to work in gold, and in silver, in brass, in stone, in purple, and in graving."

The city was strongly fortified by high walls and towers, and her "borders were in the midst of the seas."

Yet these fortifications, which were deemed well-nigh impregnable, and her boasted wealth, caused her heart to be lifted up, and she brought down upon her guilty head the most scathing denunciations of prophecy. Says the prophet Ezekiel, "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; . . . behold, I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations: and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy brightness. . . . Thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas."  720 years before Christ, the king of Assyria destroyed Old Tyre, and laid siege to New Tyre, which, after a persevering effort of five years, he was unable to conquer. Later, Nebuchadnezzar besieged it thirteen years, but history gives no account of the result. From these attacks it recovered, regaining nearly all its former- splendor.

Still later, Alexander the Great, king of Macedon, in his career of war and bloodshed, found Tyre in his path to glory. Bent on conquering the world and becoming sole monarch, he razed Old Tyre to the ground, and then laid siege to the island city.

It was surrounded on all sides by a wall one hundred and fifty feet high. This wall reached down into the water, and extended out in such a way as to make it impossible for a fleet to come near enough the walls to tear them down. Notwithstanding the -danger and difficulties attending such an undertaking, Alexander determined to lay siege to the place, knowing that if he left unconquered so important a maritime city, he would have serious difficulty in subduing Egypt.

So he made a causeway from the mainland to the island. Large cedars were hewn down and brought from Lebanon, and cast into the midst of the sea; on these were placed stones, and then more trees and stones, with a soft earth that cemented the whole together. The Tyrians at first mocked the army, flinging darts and taunting speeches from the city walls; but as they saw the vastness of the work, they became alarmed, and invented every means of hindering the men. Their divers swam under the water, and with grappling-irons tore away the trees cast into the sea. Boats full of archers came near, and hurled javelins and arrows, and even fire among the workmen. It was impossible to ward off these blows, on account of the swiftness and ease with which the boats darted over the water. As the work neared the city, all manner of deadly weapons were hurled from the wall on the workmen below. Large shields heated-red hot and filled with burning sand were cast down. The sand penetrated every crevice of the armor, causing the workmen to tear off their clothes, so that they were exposed to the darts of the enemy.

To obtain stones and earth sufficient to carry on so great an undertaking, Alexander took the walls and ruins of Old Tyre, thus literally fulfilling the words of the prophet, "They shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, and break down her towers; I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock. It shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea. They shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the water."

Several times the conqueror was on the point of raising the siege; yet; impelled by a power higher than any of earth, he, with increased energy,

pushed forward the work, and at the end of seven months stood victor over "the mistress of the seas." -

The town he burned with fire, and took captive those who had not escaped, as predicted by the prophet: "I will bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth;" and (Joel 3) "I will return your recompense upon your own head; and I will sell your sons and your daughters."

Yet after this, Tyre was rebuilt, and became a city of some importance. The apostle Paul, finding disciples in that city, tarried there several days. After his time it fell into the hands of the Turks, and has gradually sunk into insignificance.

Says one who has visited this place, "I was at every point struck with the aspect of desolation: broken columns half-buried in the sand, huge fragments of sea-beaten ruins, and confused heaps of rubbish; with a solitary fisherman actually spreading his net upon the rocks.

And this is all we see of the once mighty Tyre. Her columns are cast into 'the midst of the waters;' the sites once occupied by her palaces have been made bare 'as the top of a rock;' her harbors are filled up by drifting sand, and her commerce and her wealth have long deserted her. What city is like Tyrus the destroyed in the midst of the sea?'"




W. E. L.