TYRE (Heb. צוֹר), port in Lebanon, S.S.W. of Beirut. An ancient competitor of *Sidon, Tyre by 1200 b.c.e. became the leading port of Phoenicia and is mentioned in the *El-Amar na Letters. By the 10th century Tyre had founded the colonies of Uttica, Godes, and perhaps Carthage. Tyre was famous for its temple and craftsmen, and *Hiram of Tyre supplied Solomon with wood for the Temple (i Kings 5). A later Hiram built a huge breakwater in front of the port, then situated on an impregnable island, making Tyre one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean.
In 332 b.c.e. Alexander marched on Tyre for refusing to submit to him as the other Phoenician towns had done. After a siege of seven months Alexander took Tyre by building a mole, which joined the island to the mainland for the rest of its history. Tyre was destroyed and its inhabitants killed or enslaved (Arrian, Anabasis 2:5–21). The town rapidly recovered and was ruled by a native dynasty under Ptolemid suzerainity until 274 b.c.e. (Era of Tyre), when power was passed to the suffetes. Conquered by the Seleucids in 200 b.c.e. (Justinian 18:3:18), Tyre gained independence in 126 b.c.e. It expanded its silk, glass, and purple dye industry for which it was famous in the ancient world. During the Maccabean wars Tyre joined Sidon and Ptolemais (Acre) in attacking the Jews of Galilee, only to be repulsed by Simeon (Jos. Ant. 12:331; i Macc. 5:16).
In 63 b.c.e. Tyre came under Roman rule and Mark Antony demanded the restoration of Jewish property taken by the Tyrians during the wars of Hyrcanus and forbade damage to it (ibid. 14:313–22). Cleopatra begged him to grant her Tyre as a gift with the other territories south of R. Eleutherus that she received. Antony refused as Tyre was a free city (ibid. 15:95). There was a Jewish community at Tyre but the Tyrians were bitter enemies of the Jews (Jos., Apion 1:70). Like Sidon, Tyre under Augustus lost her rights because of some disturbances, but she administered territories up to the Jordan until Byzantine times. Tyre established centers for commerce at Puteoli and Rome, but when Ostia was rebuilt by Trajan they began to fail (cig, 5853; cil 10: 1601). By this time Tyre was the richest town of the eastern provinces. In the second century *Simeon b. Yoḥai lived there.
Excavations by P. Bikai in 1973–1974, on behalf of the Lebanese Department of Antiquities, produced a sequence of architecture and pottery from the site dating from between 2700 and 1600 b.c.e. The visible archaeological remains from the city are essentially from the Roman and Byzantine periods, notably a colonnaded street, a monumental archway, a large Roman bath, and a hippodrome that could seat some 60,000 spectators. A fourth-century basilica and a large Crusader cathedral represent some of the later remains in the city.
In the Middle Ages
In the Middle Ages Tyre was a rich and well-fortified city with a large Jewish community, whose high economic and cultural standard made it one of the most important communities in the Near East. The *Genizah and other sources contain a wealth of material on the community in the 11th and 12th centuries. It transpires from these records that the Jews of Tyre derived their income mainly from the manufacture of glass and the export of glass products. They also traded in spices and flax with Jews from Egypt and the Maghreb, who came there on business. According to the testimony of an Italian Jew who settled in Ereẓ Israel in the 11th century, many Jews came to settle in Tyre during that period. During the great Bedouin revolt against *Fatimid rulers in the 1030s the Jewish community in Tyre was spared the sufferings that afflicted most of the other communities in Ereẓ Israel and southern Syria. It was the center of religious scholars who engaged in literary works and maintained close contacts with the Ereẓ Israel academy; in 1071, when Jerusalem was conquered by the *Seljuqs, the academy moved to Tyre. In 1081 the rosh yeshivah*Elijah ha-Kohen traveled to Haifa to ordain his son Abiathar as his successor, honoring the principle that ordination is not to be carried out beyond the confines of Ereẓ Israel. Ten years later a violent controversy broke out between the ḥakhamim of the academy and *David b. Daniel, when the latter demanded recognition as nasi by the Jews of Ereẓ Israel and Syria. As a result, Abiathar, the gaon of the academy, was forced to leave Tyre, and was followed by the av of the academy, *Solomon ha-Kohen. The controversy was finally settled in 1094, when the nagid*Mevorakh succeeded in gaining the upper hand over David b. Daniel; the academy was reestablished and Abiathar returned to resume his office. After the Crusader conquest of Tyre in 1124, Italian merchants, led by Venetians, established trade colonies in the city. The Jews lived in the Venetian quarter, which was under the direct control of the Venetian republic, and attempts by the last of the Frankish kings of Jerusalem to wrest jurisdiction over the Jews from their Venetian over-lords were of no avail. *Benjamin of Tudela, who visited Tyre in the second half of the 12th century, reports on having found about 400 Jews in the city; they were engaged mainly in glass manufacture, but also included shipowners, i.e., international traders. The rabbis of Tyre in this period addressed numerous inquiries to *Maimonides. In the 13th century the community seems to have declined since there is an absence of reports dating from that period. After the *Mamluk conquest in 1291, the Tyre Jewish community ceased to exist.
in the middle ages: S. Schechter, Saadyana (1903), 88ff.; S.A. Wertheimer, Ginzei Yerushalayim 3 (1902), 15–16; Mann, Egypt, 1–2 (1920–22), index; S. Assaf, in: Tarbiz, 9 (1938), 196–9; idem, Mekorot u-Meḥkarim (1946), 134–7; idem, in: Ereẓ-Israel 1 (1951), 140–4; Teshuvot ha-Rambam ed. by J. Blau, 3 (1961), index; I. Ben-Zvi, She'ar Yashuv (1965), index; S.D. Goitein, in: jqr, 49 (1958–59), 40ff. add. bibliography: H. Katzenstein, The History of Tyre: From the Beginning of the Second Millenniumb.c.e.until the Fall of the Neo-Babylonian Empire in 538 b.c.e. (1973, 19972); M.S. Joukowsky (ed.), The Heritage of Tyre: Essays on the History, Archaeology and Preservation of Tyre (1992); W.A. Ward, "Tyre," in: The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East, vol. 5 (1997), 247–50.
Throughout its history, Tyre (now Sur), which is located fifty-two miles (83 km) from Beirut, has known several invasions and occupations. In the eighth century b.c.e., Tyre rebelled against the Assyrians, and in the sixth century b.c.e., the population of Tyre organized a revolt against the Chaldeans. In 333 b.c.e., following his defeat of the Persians, Alexander the Great was welcomed by all Phoenician cities with the exception of Tyre.
Tyre has also had a golden age (especially under the Romans) because of its flourishing glass and purple dye manufacturing. It was under the Romans that Christianity reached Tyre in the person of Saint Paul, who visited the city and stayed for ten days. In 638 c.e., Tyre fell under the control of the Fatimids, where it remained until 1124. In that year Tyre was besieged by the Crusaders and was incorporated in the kingdom of Jerusalem, as a part of which it grew prosperous. The city was recaptured and destroyed by the Mamluks in 1291.
Oranges, citrus, bananas, and sugar cane are the major fruits and vegetables produced in Tyre. Some of the inhabitants of the city and the surrounding region also make their living as fishermen. The old Phoenician city today has a large number of banks and financial institutions, several educational and humanitarian institutions, and hospitals and health centers to serve its population of 30,000 (1996). In a city that also has an active sport life, soccer clubs are especially popular.
george e. irani