I’ve shared with you my thoughts on whether New York City, Jerusalem, and Babylon, Iraq are potential candidates to be Babylon the Great City mentioned in the Book of Revelation. In this article, I will share my thoughts on the potential for Tyre, Lebanon to represent Babylon the Great City mentioned in the Book of Revelation.
The Debate about Tyre
Debate exists about whether the prophecies concerning Tyre have been fulfilled yet. Many believe the prophecies have been fulfilled while others think some prophecies remain unfulfilled. While examining some information in preparation for this article, I encountered two articles that make a compelling case that Ezekiel’s prophecies concerning Tyre may have been fulfilled despite there being a city named Tyre in Lebanon today. One of the articles cites an 12th century traveler known as Benjamin of Tudela, who recorded what he saw when he visited Tyre. Benjamin of Tudela wrote:
“From Sidon it is half a day’s journey to Sarepta (Sarfend), which belongs to Sidon. Thence it is a half-day to New Tyre (Sur), which is a very fine city, with a harbour in its midst…. There is no harbour like this in the whole world. Tyre is a beautiful city…. In the vicinity is found sugar of a high class, for men plant it here, and people come from all lands to buy it. A man can ascend the walls of New Tyre and see ancient Tyre, which the sea has now covered, lying at a stone’s throw from the new city. And should one care to go forth by boat, one can see the castles, market-places, streets, and palaces in the bed of the sea.“
A common argument found in both articles I read is that the modern day city of Tyre is not located at the same site as ancient Tyre. The articles I read can be found at the following links in case you are interested in reading them:
I won’t dispute the belief that Ezekiel’s prophecies concerning ancient Tyre have been fulfilled. However, I would not completely dismiss the possibility that there may be some prophecies concerning an end time Tyre that remain unfulfilled for the following reasons:
Isaiah 23:9 is part of a chapter that focuses a lot on the downfall of Tyre. Verse 9 of the chapter suggests that the downfall of Tyre is part of an effort to “stain the pride of all the glory, and to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth”. This detail is significant because it is a development consistent with what will transpire globally during the Day of the Lord. The following series of passages include references to the Lord bringing down the pride of people, including two verses (Isaiah 2:11 and Isaiah 13:11) that definitely relate to the Day of the Lord:
“The LORD of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth.” (Isaiah 23:9)
“The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.” (Isaiah 2:11)
“Behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, shall lop the bough with terror: and the high ones of stature shall be hewn down, and the haughty shall be humbled.” (Isaiah 10:33)
“And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.” (Isaiah 13:11)
Another reason why I would not completely dismiss the possibility that there may be some prophecies concerning an end time Tyre is that Tyre’s name appears in Joel 3:4, which is part of a chapter that many people view as relevant to the end times:
“(1) For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, (2) I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land. (3) And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink. (4) Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? will ye render me a recompence? and if ye recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompence upon your own head;” (Joel 3:1-4)
A third reason why I would not completely dismiss the possibility that there may be some prophecies concerning an end time Tyre is that the “inhabitants of Tyre” are mention in Psalm 83, which is a chapter that many people believe is very relevant to the end times
“(5) For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee: (6) The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes; (7) Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre;” (Psalm 83:5-7)
This article is written for those who think that there are some prophecies relating to an end time Tyre. If you believe that every prophecy concerning Tyre has been fulfilled, then just skim over the rest of this article since you probably will have already ruled out Tyre as a Babylon the Great City candidate.
Proponents of Tyre represents Babylon the Great City theory view some of the verses concerning Tyre in the Book of Ezekiel as having relevance to a future Tyre. Although I won’t dispute the belief that Ezekiel’s prophecies concerning ancient Tyre have been fulfilled, I will cite verses from the Book of Ezekiel to critique the argument of those who argue that Tyre represents Babylon the Great City.
The Renowned City
One reason why one might think that Tyre could be Babylon the Great City is that the two are described similarly. Babylon the Great is given the title: the “great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth” in Revelation 17:18. Meanwhile, Tyre is described in Ezekiel 26:17 as the “renowned city”:
“And they shall take up a lamentation for thee, and say to thee, How art thou destroyed, that wast inhabited of seafaring men, the renowned city, which wast strong in the sea, she and her inhabitants, which cause their terror to be on all that haunt it!” (Ezekiel 26:17)
Similarly, Isaiah 23:8 refers to Tyre as the “crowning city”.
“Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honourable of the earth? ” (Isaiah 23:8)
Enriches the Kings of the Earth
Another reason why one might think that Tyre represents Babylon the Great City is that Tyre is described as a city that “enriched the kings of the earth”, which is a characteristic of Babylon the Great City. The following table illustrates the strong parallel between Tyre and Babylon the Great City with respect to this detail and illustrates the parallel between the sadness people feel following the destruction of Tyre & the sadness people feel following the destruction of Babylon the Great City:
|Mourning||Kings of the Earth|
|Ezekiel 27:30-33: (30) And shall cause their voice to be heard against thee, and shall cry bitterly, and shall cast up dust upon their heads, they shall wallow themselves in the ashes: (31) And they shall make themselves utterly bald for thee, and gird them with sackcloth, and they shall weep for thee with bitterness of heart and bitter wailing. (32) And in their wailing they shall take up a lamentation for thee, and lament over thee, saying, What city is like Tyrus, like the destroyed in the midst of the sea? (33) When thy wares went forth out of the seas, thou filledst many people; thou didst enrich the kings of the earth with the multitude of thy riches and of thy merchandise.”|
|Revelation 18:9, 18-19: (9) And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,…(18) And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city! (19) And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.|
A third reason why one might think that Tyre represents Babylon the Great City is that the description of each city’s downfall is similar. The similarities are highlighted in the following passages:
“(19) For thus saith the Lord GOD; When I shall make thee a desolate city, like the cities that are not inhabited; when I shall bring up the deep upon thee, and great waters shall cover thee; (20) When I shall bring thee down with them that descend into the pit, with the people of old time, and shall set thee in the low parts of the earth, in places desolate of old, with them that go down to the pit, that thou be not inhabited; and I shall set glory in the land of the living; (21) I will make thee a terror, and thou shalt be no more: though thou be sought for, yet shalt thou never be found again, saith the Lord GOD.” (Ezekiel 26:19-21)
“(21) And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. (22) And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;” (Revelation 18:21-22)
Other Items to Consider
Tyre and Babylon the Great City are both described as centers of commerce (compare Ezekiel 27 and Revelation 18) and both view themselves in a high regard:
“And say unto Tyrus, O thou that art situate at the entry of the sea, which art a merchant of the people for many isles, Thus saith the Lord GOD; O Tyrus, thou hast said, I am of perfect beauty.” (Ezekiel 27:3)
“How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.” (Revelation 18:7)
No Calls to Flee from Tyre
The Lord urges His people to flee from Babylon the Great City just prior to its destruction.
“And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4)
The call to flee is noteworthy because Jeremiah 50, which some people believe relates to end time Babylon, includes a call to flee from Babylon:
“(8) Remove out of the midst of Babylon, and go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans, and be as the he goats before the flocks. (9) For, lo, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country: and they shall set themselves in array against her; from thence she shall be taken: their arrows shall be as of a mighty expert man; none shall return in vain.” (Jeremiah 50:8-9)
The call to flee is also noteworthy because the Lord does not tell His people to flee from Tyre in the passages concerning Tyre. The lack of a call to flee from Tyre could be cited as evidence that Tyre does not represent Babylon the Great City.
A Difference in Mourning
The destruction of Babylon the Great City will be followed by a period of mourning by the kings of the earth, the merchants of the earth, and the sailors who profited from the city’s commerce.
“(9) And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,…(11) And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: […] (17) For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,” (Revelation 18:9, 11, 17)
In contrast, a period of mourning by the princes/kings of the isles, the inhabitants of the isles, and the sea merchants who profited from Tyre’s commerce will follow the destruction of Tyre.
“(16) Then all the princes of the sea shall come down from their thrones, and lay away their robes, and put off their broidered garments: they shall clothe themselves with trembling; they shall sit upon the ground, and shall tremble at every moment, and be astonished at thee. (17) And they shall take up a lamentation for thee, and say to thee, How art thou destroyed, that wast inhabited of seafaring men, the renowned city, which wast strong in the sea, she and her inhabitants, which cause their terror to be on all that haunt it!” (Ezekiel 26:16-17)
“(26) Thy rowers have brought thee into great waters: the east wind hath broken thee in the midst of the seas. (28) The suburbs shall shake at the sound of the cry of thy pilots. (29) And all that handle the oar, the mariners, and all the pilots of the sea, shall come down from their ships, they shall stand upon the land; (30) And shall cause their voice to be heard against thee, and shall cry bitterly, and shall cast up dust upon their heads, they shall wallow themselves in the ashes:…(35) All the inhabitants of the isles shall be astonished at thee, and their kings shall be sore afraid, they shall be troubled in their countenance.” (Ezekiel 27:26-30, 35)
The difference is that the mourning of Tyre is confined to the region around Tyre (the isles) instead of entire world like the mourning of Babylon the Great City will be.
Tyre: A Millennium Trading Center?
Revelation 18 mentions that Babylon the Great City will be “found no more at all” after it is destroyed.
“And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.” (Revelation 18:21)
Meanwhile, Isaiah 23:15-18 mentions that Tyre shall return to prominence after seventy years and that its merchandise will be “for them that dwell before the LORD”.
“(15) And it shall come to pass in that day, that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years, according to the days of one king: after the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing as an harlot. (16) Take an harp, go about the city, thou harlot that hast been forgotten; make sweet melody, sing many songs, that thou mayest be remembered. (17) 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. (18) And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the LORD: it shall not be treasured nor laid up; for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the LORD, to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing.” (Isaiah 23:15-18)
Proponents of Tyre represents Babylon the Great City theory need to address the fulfillment of this passage: whether it was fulfilled in the past or will it be fulfilled in the future, and if in the future, how can it be reconciled with Revelation 18:21? I believe Isaiah 23:15-18 may describe the nature of Tyre during the Millennium. Psalm 45 is a chapter that concerns the Millennium, and mentions “the daughter of Tyre” presenting the Lord a gift in verse 12:
“(6) Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. (7) Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. (8) All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad. (9) Kings’ daughters were among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir. (10) Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house; (11) So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him. (12) And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour.” (Psalm 45:6-12)
Although the close parallel between Tyre’s ability to enrich people and Babylon the Great City’s ability to enrich people as centers of commerce are noteworthy, I do not believe Tyre represents Babylon the Great City because the entire world will not mourn following the destruction of Tyre and the Lord does not call for His people to flee from Tyre just prior to its destruction like He calls His people to flee from Babylon the Great City. Also, any speculation is moot if Ezekiel’s prophecies concerning ancient Tyre are fulfilled because the Tyre represents Babylon the Great City theory depends a lot Ezekiel 26 and Ezekiel 27 having some future application.