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Tyre and Sidon, two ancient cities now part of modern-day Lebanon, are located north of Galilee and approximately twenty miles apart. These cities hold considerable historical and biblical significance. Sidon, identified as the northern boundary of the ancient Canaanites, derives its name from Sidon, the firstborn son of Canaan and grandson of Noah (Gen 10:15, 19). The Arabic name for Sidon, “Saida,” translates to “fishing.” Tyre, situated twenty miles south of Sidon, was built on a rocky island along the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The name “Tyre” comes from the Semitic word “sr,” meaning rock.

Tyre and Sidon were principal cities of Phoenicia, located on the coast of Galilee. Despite being allotted to the tribe of Asher during the conquest of Canaan (Josh 19:28-29), the Israelites never conquered these cities or their inhabitants (Judg 1:31-32). This led to significant consequences: “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 played a notable role in providing supplies and personnel for the construction of King David’s palace 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 also contributed great stores of cedar logs (1 Chr 22:4).

The Prophecies and Historical Events

Around 740 BC, the Assyrians attacked the ten tribes of Israel and exiled them to various parts of their empire, including the tribe of Asher, which became one of the lost ten tribes. Anna, the prophetess who met the Holy Family at the Temple during the presentation of Infant Jesus, was from the tribe of Asher (Lk 2:36). Prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel foretold the surrender of Tyre and Sidon to Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 27:3-11; Ezek 26:7-14). Indeed, the Babylonian King besieged Tyre for 13 years (585-572 BC).

After the Babylonian exile, when the Jews began constructing the second Temple in Jerusalem (521-516 BC) under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah, they sought assistance from Tyre and Sidon for construction materials. “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” (Ezra 3:7).

Jesus’ Interaction with Tyre and Sidon

The inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon had rare opportunities to witness the mighty works of Jesus compared to those in Judea and Galilee. Nevertheless, people from these regions, hearing of Jesus’ deeds, sought Him out. “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). Jesus’ miracles attracted many.

Jesus visited the gentile area of Tyre and Sidon to escape the crowds in Galilee (Mk 7:24). During this visit, a Canaanite woman implored Jesus to heal her demon-possessed daughter. Impressed by her faith, Jesus acknowledged her plea, remarking, “O woman, great is your faith!” (Mt 15:21-28). This encounter demonstrated Jesus’ recognition of the faith found in these gentile regions, contrasting with the often rigid and skeptical Jewish populace.


The history of Tyre and Sidon and their interactions with Israel offer valuable lessons. The tribe of Asher failed to conquer Tyre and Sidon, leading to a peaceful coexistence and intermarriages with the Canaanites, which resulted in idolatrous worship. However, the story of a few faithful families who migrated to the South to worship the true God of Israel is a testament to the blessings that come from faithfulness and sacrifice.

As Christians, we are called to remain steadfast in our faith, even at the expense of worldly comforts and achievements. Like the Canaanite woman who demonstrated great faith in Jesus, we too must exhibit unwavering faith in Christ. Our sacrifices and faithfulness will ultimately lead to eternal rewards. Let us, therefore, prioritize our commitment to Jesus above all else, trusting that our faith will be rewarded with eternal blessings.

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