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Tyre and Sidon


Tyre and Sidon are twenty miles apart and are now in Lebanon, north of Galilee. The inhabitants of Sidon must be the descendants of Sidon, who was the firstborn son of Canaan, the grandson of Noah (Gen 10:15). Saida in Arabic means “fishing.” Sidon was the northern border of the ancient Canaanites (Gen 10:19). Tyre is twenty miles south of Sidon and built on a rock island on the east coast of the Mediterranean sea. The name Tyre came from the Semitic word “sr” meaning rock.

Tyre and Sidon were the principal cities of Phoenicia, which lay on the coast of Galilee. Though Joshua had allotted these cities also to the tribe of Asher (Josh 19:28-29) during the conquest of Canaan, the Israelites never conquered the people there (Judg 1:31-32). “So the Israelites settled among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. They took their daughters in marriage, and gave their own daughters to their sons in marriage, and served their gods” (Judg 3:5-6).

Tyre had a significant contribution to providing supplies and personnel for the construction of the palace of David in Jerusalem. “Hiram, king of Tyre, sent envoys to David along with cedar wood, and carpenters and masons, who built a house for David” (2 Sam 5:11). “The Sidonians and Tyrians brought great stores of cedar logs to David” (1 Chr 22:4).

The Assyrians attacked the ten tribes of Israel around 740 BC and exiled them to various parts of their empire. The tribe of Asher was also among the lost ten tribes of Israel. Anna, the prophetess who met the Holy Family at the Temple at the presentation of Infant Jesus, was from the tribe of Asher (Lk 2:34). Jeremiah (27:3–11) and Ezekiel (26:7–14) had prophesied the surrender of Tyre and Sidon to Nebuchadnezzar. The Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar besieged Tyre for 13 years (585–572 BC).

After returning from the Babylonian exile, when the Jews started construction of the second Temple in Jerusalem (521-516 BC) under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah, they sought the help from Tyre and Sidon for construction materials for the Temple. “Then they hired stonecutters and carpenters, and sent food and drink and oil to the Sidonians and Tyrians that they might ship cedar trees from the Lebanon to the port of Joppa, as Cyrus, king of Persia, had authorized” (Ezr 3:7).

People from Tyre and Sidon had only rare opportunities to see the mighty works of Jesus and listen to him, which was minimal compared to his ministry in the Jewish areas like Judaea and Galilee. “Hearing of what he was doing, a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon” (Mk 3:8). What attracted the people were his miracles. Jesus went to the gentile area of Tyre and Sidon to be free from the crowd that gathered around him in Galilee (Mk 7:24). While he was there, a Canaanite woman asked of him a favour, viz. to heal her demon- possessed daughter. Jesus was amazed at her faith because she addressed Jesus as “Lord, Son of David!” By the end of his discussion with her, Jesus said to her, “O woman, great is your faith!” (Mt 15:21-28) Hence, Jesus knew the receptivity and faith of the gentile and sinful areas better than the conservative and stiff-necked Jewish population.


The tribe of Asher did not conquer Tyre and Sidon and expel the Canaanites from them. Instead, they made peace with them and lived together and had inter-marriages. That led to idolatrous worship. When the Israel split into North and South, few families migrated to the South for worship of the true God of Israel. Their sacrifices were worth to gain blessings from God. Let us be faithful to Jesus even at the expense of the comforts and worldly achievements to attain the eternal reward.

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