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Ancient Jewish Cities & Regions: Tyre

Tyre is a Phoenician city about 30 miles north of Ptolemaïs, built on a rocky island that Alexander the Great connected to the mainland with a half-mile causeway [333 BCE]. As the first Canaanite city to attain independence from Egypt [12th c. BCE] it took the lead in the Phoenician colonization of the Mediterranean including the founding of Carthage.

Tyrian purple dye from shellfish was so-highly prized in ancient times that it gave these seafaring traders their name: Phoenician ["purple people"]. Hiram [mid-10th c. BCE] built a breakwater that gave Tyre the best harbor on the eastern Mediterranean coast & established a mutually beneficial trade-alliance with David and Solomon. Hiram supplied the craftsmen and cedar wood for the temple at Jerusalem and other building projects of Solomon. But a century later the marriage of Jezebel, the daughter of Eshba'al of Tyre, to Ahab provoked a cultural crisis in Israel that challenged Mosaic tradition and led Elijah to launch a holy war.

Tyre's island location made it hard for ancient empires to subdue, until Alexander conquered it [333 BCE]. Under Hellenistic and Roman empires, Tyre continued to flourish. Tyrian silver coinage was so pure that it was the only currency accepted in the temple at Jerusalem. According to the synoptic gospels [Mark 7], Jesus traveled through the region around Tyre & found supporters among its inhabitants. According to Acts 21, Paul landed there & stayed with local Christians on his way to Jerusalem.

Sources: Into His Own