🔼The name Tyre: Summary
- From the noun צור (sur), rock.
🔼The name Tyre in the Bible
Tyre is the Greek/Latin name for the famous Phoenician city often mentioned together with Sidon (Joshua 10:29). It still exists today, being situated south on the coast of Lebanon, just north of Israel. Famous Biblical Tyrians (צרי) are Hiram, the builder of the temple of Solomon, and Jezebel the wife of king Ahab. Another famous Phoenician was Hannibal of Carthage, which was a Tyrian colony.
The name Tyre could be considered a Hebrew equivalent of the Greek name Peter, and when Jesus said that upon this "rock" he would build his church (Matthew 16:18), his original audience doubtlessly remembered how Solomon built the temple of YHWH on the rock of Phoenician knowledge and resources (1 Kings 5:1-12).
In New Testament times the city of Tyre was still a booming town (spelled in Greek as Τυρος, Turos). Jesus referred to it (Matthew 11:21), preached to visitors from it (Luke 6:17) and retreated to its region (Matthew 15:21). The apostle Paul spent seven days there while the ship he was travelling with was unloading (and probably also loading) cargo (Acts 21:3). And when a delegation of Tyrians (Τυριος) and Sidonians sang their glorious praises to Herod, the latter subitaneously succumbed to a combination of pride, worms and the smite of an angel (Acts 12:20).
Tyre is mentioned 12 times in the New Testament; see full New Testament concordance.
🔼Etymology of the name Tyre
The Semitic, and thus original, name for Tyre is pronounced Zor or Zur. In Biblical Hebrew this name looks exactly like words coming off the צור and צרר root-groups. More specifically, scholars assume that the Hebrew name for Tyre, צור, equals the regular word צור (sur) meaning rock (Jeremiah 21:13, Job 14:18). In Deuteronomy 32:31 the author compares the gods of the nations to the living God and says, "Indeed, their rock is not like our Rock":
- Verb צור (sur I) probably means to lean or incline. Noun צואר (sawwa'r) means neck and צורון (sawwaron) means necklace.
- Verb צור (sur II) means to confine, secure or besiege. Noun מצור (masor) means siege and מצורה (mesura) means stronghold. This verb relates to verb צרר (sarar I).
- Verb צור (sur III) means to be an adversary. It relates to צרר (sarar II).
- Verb צור (sur IV) means to form or fashion. Noun צורה (sura) means form and noun ציר (sir) means image. This verb relates to יצר (yasar).
- Verb צור (sur V) probably relates to verb צרר (sarar III) and probably means to be sharp. The important noun צור (sur) means rock, and is equivalent to the Greek noun πετρα (petra), from which comes the name Peter.
- Verb צרר (sarar I) means to bind and relates to צור (sur II). Adjective צר (sar) means narrow. Nouns צר (sar) and צרה (sara) mean distress and yield denominative verb צרה (sara), meaning to suffer distress. Noun צרור (seror) means bundle or parcel. Noun מצר (mesar) means distress.
- Verb צרר (sarar II) means to show hostility and relates to verb צור (sur III). Noun צר (sar) means adversary. Noun צרה (sara) means vexer or rival-wife. Denominative verb צרר (sarar) means to create a rival wife.
- Verb צרר (sarar III) probably means to be sharp and relates to צור (sur V). Nouns צר (sar), צר (sor) and צרור (seror) mean flint or pebble.
Verb יצר (yasar) means to fashion or form and relates to צור (sur IV). Noun יצר (yeser) denotes that what is formed, and noun יצרים (yesurim) means forms or members.
Verb צרה (srh) probably describes the bleeding of an odoriferous tree. Noun צרי (sari) denotes a kind of costly balsam.
For a meaning of the Hebrew name for Tyre, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Rock. NOBSE Study Bible Name List does not translate.