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3. That the city should be restored after seventy years, and return to her gain and her merchandize.
4. That it should be taken and destroyed again.
5. That the people should, in time, forsake their idolatry, and become converts to the true religion and worship of God; and
6. That the city should be totally destroyed, and become a place only for fishers to spread their nets upon.
On a proper examination into these respective particulars we shall find that they were not only distinctly foretold, but likewise exactly fulfilled.
The city should be taken and destroyed by the Chaldeans. This is expressly foretold by the prophet Ezekiel, who says, Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will bring upon Tyrus, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, a king of kings from the north, with horses, and with chariots, and with horsemen, and companies, and much people; he shall slay thy people by the sword, and thy strong garrisons shall go down to the ground, Ezek. xxvi. 7-11. Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, had besieged Tyre without success; but Nebuchadnezzar was to prevail. The prophet Ezekiel not only foretold the siege, but he likewise mentions it afterwards as a past transaction, Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon caused his army to serve a great service against Tyrus; every head was made bald, and every shoulder was peeled, Ezek. xxix. 18.
We are informed by Josephus (whose authority is founded on the Phoenician annals translated by Menander the Ephesian) that Nebuchadnezzar besieged Tyre thirteen years when Ithobal was king there, and that he subdued all Syria and Phoenicia. As the siege continued so long, the soldiers must consequently have endured many hardships, so that hereby we better understand the justness of Ezekiel's expression, that Nebuchadnezzar caused his army to serve a great service against Tyrus; every head was made bald, and every shoulder was peeled -such light doth profane history cast upon sacred. It farther appears, from the Phoenician annals quoted by the same historian, that the Tyrians received their kings afterwards from Babylon, which plainly evinces that
some of the blood royal must have been carried thither captives. The Phoenician annals likewise (as is clearly shewn by the learned Dr. Prideaux) agree exactly with Ezekiel's account of the time and year wherein the city was taken. Tyre, therefore, according to the prophecies, was subdued and taken by Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans; after which we hear little more of that part of the city which stood upon the continent.
2. That the inhabitants of Tyre should pass over the Mediterranean into the islands and countries adjoining, and even there should find no quiet settlement. This is plainly signified by the prophet Isaiah, Pass ye over to Tarshish (that is, to Tartessus in Spain) howl ye inhabitants of the isle, Is. xxiii. 6. And again, Arise, pass over to Chittim, (that is, the islands and countries bordering upon the Mediterranean) there also shalt thou have no rest, ver. 12. What the prophet here delivers by way of advice is to be understood as a prediction. Ezekiel intimates the same thing, The isles that are in the sea shall be troubled at thy departure, Ezek. xxvi. 18.
The Phoenicians were the best navigators of antiquity, and the Tyrians in particular were celebrated for their shipping, and having colonies in different parts of the world. In this respect Tyre exceeded Sidon; she sent forth colonies into Africa and Spain, and Quintus Curtius saith, that her colonies were diffused almost over the whole world. The Tyrians, therefore, having planted colonies at Tarshish, and upon the coasts of Chittim, it was natural for them, when they were pressed with dangers and difficulties at home, to fly to their friends and countrymen abroad for refuge and protection. That they really did so is asserted by St. Jerome, whose authority is founded on the Assyrian histories, which have been since lost. "We have read (says he) in the histories of "the Assyrians, that when the Tyrians were besieged, "after they saw no hope of resisting the enemy, they "went on board their ships, and fled to Carthage, or to "some islands of the Ionian and Egean Sea." And in another place he saith, "when the Tyrians saw that the "works for carrying on the siege were perfected, and the "foundations of the walls were shaken by the battering
"of the rams, 'whatsoever precious things in gold, silver, "clothes, and various kinds of furniture the nobility had, "they put them on board their ships, and carried to the "islands; so that the city being taken, Nebuchadnezzar "found nothing worthy of his labors."
It must certainly have been very mortifying to Nebuchadnezzar, after so long and laborious a siege, to be disappointed of the spoil of so rich a city; and therefore Ezekiel was commissioned to promise him the conquest of Egypt for his reward: Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon caused his army to serve a great service against Tyrus: every head was made bald, and every shoulder was peeled: yet had he no wages, nor his army for Tyrus, for the service that he had served against it. Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold I will give the land of Egypt unto Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he shall take her multitude, and take her spoil, and take her prey, and it shall be the wages for his army, Ezekiel xxix. 18, 19.
But though the Tyrians should pass over to Tarshish and to Chittim, yet even there they should find no quiet settlement, there also shalt thou have no rest. Megasthenes, who lived about 300 years before Christ, and was employed by Seleucus Nicator in an embassy to the king of India, wrote a history of that country, in which he mentions Nebuchadnezzar as a man of the most distinguished valor and military prowess. This historian is quoted by several ancient authors, and he is particularly cited by Strabo and Josephus, for saying that Nebuchadnezzar surpassed Hercules in bravery and great exploits; that he subdued great part of Africa and Spain, and that he proceeded as far as the pillars of Hercules.
It is reasonable to suppose that after Nebuchadnezzar had subdued Tyre and Egypt, he carried his arms farther to the westward, and if he proceeded so far as Megasthenes reports, the Tyrians might well be said to have no rest, the conqueror pursuing them from one country to another. But besides this, and after this, the Carthagniians and other colonies of the Tyrians, lived in a very wretched state. Their history consists of little more than wars and tumults. Sicily and Spain, Europe and Africa, the land, and their own element the sea, were theatres of
their calamities and miseries, till at length not only the New, but Old Carthage likewise, was utterly destroyed. As the Carthaginians sprang from the Tyrians, and the Tyrians from the Sidonians, and Sidon was the first-born of Canaan (see Gen. x. 15.) so the curse upon Canaan seemeth to have pursued them to the most distant parts of the earth.
3. The city should be restored after seventy years, and return to her gain and her merchandize. This circumstance is expressly foretold by the prophet Isaiah, And it shall come to pass in that day that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years, according to the days of one king: (or kingdom, meaning the Babylonians, which was to continue seventy years) after the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing as an harlot. Take an harp, go about the city, thou harlot that hast been forgotten, make sweet melody, sing many songs that thou mayest be remembered. And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the Lord will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth, Isaiah xxiii. 15, 16, 17. The plain meaning of these figurative expressions is, that Tyre should lie neglected of traders and merchants for seventy years, as long as the Babylonian empire lasted, and after that she should recover her liberties and her trade, and draw in several of all nations to deal with her, and particularly the kings of the earth to buy her purples, which were worn chiefly by emperors and kings, and for which Tyre was more famous than any other place in the universe.
The time prefixed for the duration of the Babylonian empire was seventy years. So long were the nations to groan under that tyrannical yoke, though these nations were subdued, some sooner and some later than others. These nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years; And it shall come to pass when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the Lord, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations, Jer. xxv. 11,12. And accordingly, at the end of seventy years, Cyrus and the Persians subverted the
Babylonian empire, and restored the conquered nations to their liberties.
Tyre was taken by Nebuchadnezzar in the 32d year of his reign, seventy years from which time brings us down to the 19th of Darius Hystaspes. At that time it appears from history that the Ionians had rebelled against Darius, and the Phoenicians assisted him with their fleets: and consequently it is reasonable to conclude that they were now restored to their former privileges. In the succeeding reign we find that they, together with the Sidonians, furnished Xerxes with several ships for his expedition into Greece. And by the time of Alexander the Great, the Tyrians were grown to such power and greatness, that they stopped the progress of that rapid conqueror longer than any part of the Persian empire besides. But all this is to be understood of the insular Tyre; for as the old city flourished most before the time of Nebuchadnezzar, so the new city flourished most afterwards, and this is the Tyre that henceforth is so much celebrated in history.
4. The city should be taken and destroyed again. Howl ye inhabitants of the isle, Isaiah xxiii. 6. What city is like Tyrus, like the destroyed in the midst of the sea? Ezek. xxvii. 32. They shall bring thee down to the pit, and thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas, xxviii. 8. These expressions can imply no less than that the insular Tyre should be destroyed as well as that upon the continent; and as the one was accomplished by Nebuchadnezzar, so was the other by Alexander the Great. But the same thing may be inferred more directly from the words of Zechariah, who prophesied in the reign of Darius (probably Darius Hystaspes) many years after the former destruction of the city, and consequently he must be understood to speak of this latter. His words are these: And Tyrus did build herself a strong hold, and heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the mire of the streets. Behold the Lord will cast her out, and he will smite her power in the sea, and she shall be devoured with fire, Zech. ix. 3, 4. That Tyrus did build herself a strong hold is very certain; for her situation was exceeding strong in an island, and