Tyre’s Destruction

Ezekiel 26—”Here it says that Nebuchadnezzar would destroy Tyre, but Alexander the Great was the one who destroyed Tyre.”

The prophecy makes no indication that Nebuchadnezzar would exclusively carry it out, but it says the exact opposite. The prophecy opens by predicting that God would “bring up many nations” to destroy Tyre, which informs us that the subsequent prophecy would be fulfilled by more than one nation. If Nebuchadnezzar alone had completed Tyre’s destruction, then indeed this prophecy would be proved false.

The ancient city of Tyre actually had two parts; one parent settlement on the mainland, and one island fortress about a mile out to sea. Nebuchadnezzar did attack Tyre and destroy the mainland settlement, clearly fulfilling verses 7-11. Ezekiel knew full well that Nebuchadnezzar wouldn’t destroy the whole city, for he himself records this in 29:18. Ezekiel trusted that the remainder of the prophecy would be fulfilled after his death by another of the ‘many nations’.

When we examine the historical account of Alexander’s attack on Tyre, we find that Ezekiel’s prophecy was miraculously fulfilled. The nations thought Tyre was impregnable, and none would believe it could be utterly destroyed. Ezekiel makes the unusual prediction that the city would not be left in rubble, but even the rubble and soil would be scraped away. We read that Alexander the Great defeated Tyre by building a remarkable siege causeway out to the island, scraping clean every movable bit of Tyre’s rubble to construct it. What a remarkable prophecy! Alexander then totally destroyed the island city, so it lost its former glory as “Queen of the Seas.” It was partially rebuilt a number of times, but for five hundred years after 1290AD, the site was abandoned. The grand city of Tyre forever lost its position as seafaring capital of the world, and never was rebuilt to its former splendor.

The Qur’ān contains a somewhat more perplexing prophecy: “”The Roman Empire has been defeated – in a land close by: But they, after (this) defeat of theirs, will soon be victorious – within a few years” (Al-Rum 30:2-4). According to reputed Qur’ānic scholar Yusuf Ali, the Arabic word for “a few” (بِضع bidh’un ) signifies a period of three to nine years; or according to the Islamic Foundation Qur’ān footnote #1330 it refers to three to ten years; Mohammed (pbuh) himself stated that the ‘small number’ predicted is between three and nine years (Al-Baizawi). The Persians defeated the Byzantines and captured Jerusalem at about 614/615 AD. Yet renowned Muslim historian Al-Tabari and scholar Al-Baizawi place the defeat 13-14 years later in 628AD. It would seem that this passage is at least as problematic as Genesis 4:12.

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