Prophecy is PROOF the Bible is True
“Declare the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods” (Isa. 41:23). "I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the END (of history) from the BEGINNING (of time), and from ANCIENT TIMES the things that are NOT YET DONE, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure ... yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it" (Isa. 46:9-11). "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables ... For the PROPHECY came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet. 1:16-21). “Let them bring them forth, and declare unto us WHAT SHALL HAPPEN: declare ye the former things, what they are, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or show us the THINGS TO COME” (Isaiah 41:22). "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). "I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I shewed it thee: lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them" (Isa. 48:5).
Closing the Golden Gate
"Then said the LORD unto me; This gate shall be SHUT, it shall NOT BE OPENED, and no man shall enter in by it; because the LORD, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be SHUT. It is for the Prince; the Prince, he shall sit in it to eat bread before the LORD; he shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate, and shall go out by the way of the same" (Ezekiel 44:2-3). The Golden Gate is the eastern gate of Jerusalem, through which Christ made his triumphal entry on "Palm Sunday" before the crucifixion (Matthew 21). Ezekiel predicted its closing and in 1541 Sultan Suleiman closed the gate and WALLED IT UP, not knowing he was fulfilling prophecy. It remains sealed to this day exactly as the Bible predicted.
Prophecy of Cyrus
The father of Cyrus was Cambyses, king of Persia; his mother's name was Mandane, daughter of Astyages, king of Media (Xenophon. Cyropaedia, 1:1.). Isaiah predicted the Babylonian Empire would fall to the Medes and the Persians (Isaiah 13; 21:1-10). He also called Cyrus by name (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1-5), and said the protective waters of the Euphrates would "dry up" (Isa. 44:27) (Herodotus 1. 185–191) and Babylon's "two-leaved gates" would "not be shut" (Isa. 45:1). "That I may open before him the valves; and the gates shall not be shut" - The gates of Babylon within the city descending from the streets to the river, were providentially left open, when Cyrus's forces entered the city in the night through the channel of the river, in the general disorder occasioned by the great feast which was then celebrated. Otherwise, says Herodotus, 1:191, the Persians would have been shut up in the bed of the river, and taken as in a net, and all destroyed. And the gates of the palace were opened imprudently by the king's orders, to inquire what was the cause of the tumult without; when the two parties under Gobrias and Gadatas rushed in, got possession of the palace, and slew the king (- Xenoph., Cyrop. 7:22-23 p. 528). Herodotus, i, 179 says, "In the wall all round there are a hundred gates, all of brass; and so in like manner are the sides and the lintels." "The gates likewise within the city, opening to the river from the several streets, were of brass; as were those also of the temple of Belus" (Herod. i., 180, 181).
Amazingly, Isaiah’s prophecy was made roughly 150 years before Cyrus was born (Isaiah prophesied in about 700 B.C.; Cyrus took the city of Babylon in 539 B.C.). To add to Cyrus’ significance, Isaiah predicted that Cyrus would act as the Lord’s “shepherd” (44:28) to return Israel to their land a second time (Isa. 11:11-12; Isa. 51:9-11). The Exodus from Egypt was the first. Justin (Hist. ex Trogo 1:5) says, he had this name given him, while he was among the shepherds, by whom he was brought up, having been exposed in his infancy. Shepherd was an epithet which Cyrus took to himself. Cyrus himself compares a king to a shepherd, and observes a likeness between them (Xenophon, Cyropaedia, 8:18). In fact, Isaiah recorded these words of the Lord concerning Cyrus: “And he shall perform all My pleasure, even saying to Jerusalem, you shall be built; and to the temple, thy foundation shall be laid" (44:28). This is said with great exactness since only the foundation was laid in Cyrus's time; the Jews being discouraged and hindered by their enemies from going on with the building in his reign, until the times of Darius, king of Persia. (See Ezra 1:1).
In 1879, Hormoz Rasam found a small clay cylinder (about nine inches long, and now residing in the British Museum) in the ancient city of Babylon. Upon the clay cylinder, King Cyrus had inscribed, among other things, his victory over the city of Babylon and his policy toward the nations he had captured, as well as his policy toward their various gods and religions. Price recorded a translation of a segment of the cuneiform text found on the cylinder:
...I returned to [these] sacred cities on the other side of the Tigris, the sanctuaries of which have been in ruins for a long time, the images which [used] to live therein and established for them permanent sanctuaries. I [also] gathered all their [former] inhabitants and returned [to them] their habitations. Furthermore, I resettled upon the command of Marduk the great lord, all the gods of Sumer and Akkad whom Nabonidus has brought into Babylon to the anger of the lord of the gods, unharmed, in their [former] chapels, the places which made them happy. May all the gods who I have resettled in their sacred cities ask daily Bel and Nebo for long life for me and may they recommend me...to Marduk, my lord, may they say thus: Cyrus, the king who worships you and Cambyses, his son, [...] all of them I settled in a peaceful place (pp. 251-252).
The policy, often hailed as Cyrus’ declaration of human rights, coincides with the biblical account of the ruler’s actions, in which Cyrus decreed that the temple in Jerusalem should be rebuilt, and that all the exiled Israelites who wished to join in the venture had his permission and blessing to do so (Ezra 1:1-11). The little nine-inch-long clay cylinder stands as impressive testimony—along with several other archaeological finds—to the historical accuracy of the biblical text. Cyrus was a type of our Lord who is our "shepherd" and "anointed" (Isaiah 44:28).
The Fate of Egypt
Ezekiel 29:14-15 says, "And I will bring again the captivity of Egypt, and will cause them to return into the land of Pathros, into the land of their habitation; and they shall be there a BASE kingdom (tributary). It shall be the BASEST of the KINGDOMS; neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations: for I will DIMINISH them, that they shall NO MORE RULE OVER the nations."
1. Egypt became tributary to the Babylonians under Amasis.
The captivity of the Egyptians (Ez. 29:14), though not taken notice of by Herodotus, is mentioned by Berosus, in one of the fragments of his history, quoted by Josephus, Antiq., 50. 10. chap. 11, and published with notes by Scaliger, at the end of his books, De Emendatione Temporum, whose remark upon the place is very observable, namely, “The calamities that befell the Egyptians are passed over by Herodotus, because the Egyptian priests would not inform him of any thing that tended to the disgrace of their nation.”
The Destruction of Babylon
Isaiah 13:17-22 says, “Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, who will not NOT REGARD SILVER; and as for gold, they will NOT DELIGHT IN IT. Also their bows will dash the young men to pieces, and they will have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye will not spare children. And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God OVERTHREW Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall NEVER BE INHABITED, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged."
1. In 539 B.C., Cyrus’ army laid siege against Babylon. The Euphrates River ran through the midst of Babylon. Part of Cyrus' army went north of Babylon and dug a trench from the Euphrates River to a nearby marsh. When the army connected the trench to the Euphrates River, much of the water in the river flowed toward the marsh, while only a little water continued to flow toward Babylon. While the Babylonians were celebrating their feast, the strong river and moat protecting the city became very shallow, and the Medes and Persians were able to enter the city by night (Herodotus 1.191). They waded through the channel, captured the city without a battle, and Darius the Mede was put in charge (Daniel 5:31). The river being never restored afterward to its proper course, overflowed the whole country, and made it little better than a great morass; this and the great slaughter of the inhabitants, with other bad consequences of the taking of the city, was the first step to the ruin of the place.
4. When Alexander the Great defeated the Persians 150 years later, much of Babylon was still destroyed (Arrian 3.16.4). However, many people still lived in Babylon. Alexander decided to rebuild Babylon’s temples and make Babylon a marvelous city again, BUT HE DIED before he could accomplish his plan.
Prophecy of Tyre Confirmed
The date of the Tyre prophecy is the eleventh year after 597 which was 586 B.C. About half a mile off the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea stood a small rocky island on which the original city of Tyre was most likely founded. Some time after the founding of this island city, the mainland city of Tyre was founded, which was called Old Tyre by the Greeks (Fleming, Wallace B. (1966), The History of Tyre (New York, NY: AMS Press, p.4). “Because Tyre has said against Jerusalem, ‘Aha! She is broken who was the gateway of the peoples; now she is turned over to me; I shall be filled; she is laid waste.’ Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Behold, I am against you, O Tyre’” (26:2-3). Apparently, in an attitude of commercial jealousy and greed, the city of Tyre exulted in Jerusalem’s misfortunes and expected to turn them into its own profit. The prophet Joel noted that Tyre had taken the people from Judah and Jerusalem and sold them to the Greeks so that the Tyrians could “remove them far from their borders” (Joel 3:6). Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against you, O Tyre, and will cause many nations to come up against you, as the sea causes its waves to come up. And they shall destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her towers; I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock. It shall be a place for spreading nets in the midst of the sea, for I have spoken,” says the Lord God; “it shall become plunder for the nations. Also her daughter villages which are in the fields shall be slain by the sword. Then they shall know that I am the Lord.”
For thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I will bring against Tyre from the north Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses, with chariots, and with horsemen, and an army with many people. He will slay with the sword your daughter villages in the fields; he will heap up a siege mound against you, build a wall against you, and raise a defense against you. He will direct his battering rams against your walls, and with his axes he will break down your towers. Because of the abundance of his horses, their dust will cover you; your walls will shake at the noise of the horsemen, the wagons, and the chariots, when he enters your gates, as men enter a city that has been breached. With the hooves of his horses he will trample all your streets; he will slay your people by the sword, and your strong pillars will fall to the ground.
They will plunder your riches and pillage your merchandise; they will break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses; they will lay your stones, your timber, and your soil in the midst of the water. I will put an end to the sound of your songs, and the sound of your harps shall be heard no more. I will make you like the top of a rock; you shall be a place for spreading nets, and you shall never be rebuilt, for I the Lord have spoken,” says the Lord God.
For thus says the Lord God: “When I make you a desolate city, like cities that are not inhabited, when I bring the deep upon you, and great waters cover you, then I will bring you down with those who descend into the Pit, to the people of old, and I will make you dwell in the lowest part of the earth, in places desolate from antiquity, with those who go down to the Pit, so that you may never be inhabited; and I shall establish glory in the land of the living. I will make you a terror, and you shall be no more; though you are sought for, you will never be found again,” says the Lord God (Ez. 26:1-14,19-21).
The prophet predicted: (1) many nations would come against Tyre; (2) the inhabitants of the villages and fields of Tyre would be slain; (3) Nebuchadnezzar would build a siege mound against the city; (4) the city would be broken down and the stones, timber, and soil would be thrown in “the midst of the water;” (5) the city would become a “place for spreading nets;” and (6) the city would never be rebuilt.
In chronological order, the siege of Nebuchadnezzar took place within a few months of Ezekiel’s prophecy. "Nebuchadnezzar took all Palestine and Syria and the cities on the seacoast, including Tyre, which fell after a siege of 13 years (573 B.C.)" (E. A. Wallis Budge, Babylonian Life And History, p. 50). Josephus asserts, upon the authority of the Phenician Annals, translated by Menander, the Ephesian, into Greek, “that Nebuchadnezzar besieged Tyre thirteen years, when Ithobal was king there, and began the siege in the seventh year of Ithobal’s reign, and that he subdued Syria and all Phenicia" (Against Apion, 1.21). That is 586 to 573 B.C. The length of the siege was due, in part, to the unusual arrangement of the mainland city and the island city. While the mainland city would have been susceptible to ordinary siege tactics, the island city would have been easily defended against orthodox siege methods (Fleming, p. 45). The historical record suggests that Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the mainland city, but the siege of the island “probably ended with the nominal submission of the city” in which Tyre surrendered “without receiving the hostile army within her walls” (p. 45). The city of Tyre was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar, who did major damage to the mainland as Ezekiel predicted, but the island city remained primarily unaffected.
Ezekiel began his prophecy by stating that “many nations” would come against Tyre (26:3). Then he proceeded to name Nebuchadnezzar, and stated that “he” would build a siege mound, “he” would slay with the sword, and “he” would do numerous other things (26:7-11). However, in 26:12, the pronoun shifts from the singular “he” to the plural “they.” It is in verse 12 and following that Ezekiel predicts that “they” will lay the stones and building material of Tyre in the “midst of the waters.” The shift in pronouns is of vast significance, since it shifts the subject of the action from Nebuchadnezzar (he) back to the many nations (they).
Regarding the prediction that “many nations” would come against Tyre, history records the following: After Nebuchadnezzar’s attack of the city “a period of great depression” plagued the city which was assimilated into the Persian Empire around 538 B.C. (Fleming, p. 47). In 392 B.C., “Tyre was involved in the war which arose between the Persians and Evagorus of Cyprus” in which the king of Egypt “took Tyre by assault” (p. 52). Sixty years later, in 332, Alexander the Great besieged Tyre and crushed it (see below for further elaboration). Soon after this defeat, Ptolemy of Egypt conquered and subjugated Tyre until about 315 B.C. when Atigonus of Syria besieged Tyre for 15 months and captured it (Fleming, p. 65). In fact, Tyre was contested by so many foreign forces that Fleming wrote: “It seemed ever the fate of the Phoenician cities to be between an upper and a nether millstone” (p. 66). Babylon, Syria, Egypt, Rome, Greece, Armenia, and Persia are but a sampling of the “many nations” that had a part in the ultimate destruction of Tyre. Thus, Ezekiel’s prophecy about “many nations” remains as a historical reality that cannot be successfully gainsaid.
Ancient historian Diodorus Siculus, who lived from approximately 80-20 B.C., wrote extensively of the young Greek conqueror’s dealing with Tyre. It is from his original work that much of the following information on Tyre’s destruction derives (see Siculus, 1963, 17.40-46).
In his dealings with Tyre, Alexander asserted that he wished to make a personal sacrifice in the temple of Heracles on the island city of Tyre. Apparently, because the Tyrians considered their island refuge virtually impregnable, with war machines covering the walls, and rapidly moving water acting as an effective barrier from land attack, they refused his request. Upon receiving their refusal, Alexander immediately set to work on a plan to besiege and conquer the city. He set upon the task of building a land bridge or cause way (Siculus calls it a “mole”) from the mainland city of Tyre to the island city. Siculus stated: “Immediately he demolished what was called Old Tyre and set many tens of thousands of men to work carrying stones to construct a mole” (17.40). Curtius Rufus noted: “Large quantities of rock were available, furnished by old Tyre” (4.2.18) Rufus, Quintus Curtius (2001), The History of Alexander, trans. John Yardley (New York, NY: Penguin). This unprecedented action took the Tyrians by complete surprise. Fleming noted: “In former times the city had shown herself well nigh impregnable. That Alexander’s method of attack was not anticipated is not strange, for there was no precedent for it in the annals of warfare” (p. 56). The mainland city was demolished and all her stones, timber, and soil were thrown into the midst of the sea.
In spite of the fact that the Tyrians were taken by surprise, they were not disheartened, because they did not believe that Alexander’s efforts would prevail. They continued to maintain supremacy on the sea, and harassed his workers from all sides from boats that were equipped with catapults, slingers, and archers. These tactics were effective in killing many of Alexander’s men. But Alexander was not to be outdone. He gathered his own fleet of ships from nearby cities and was successful in neutralizing the Tyrian vessels’ effectiveness.
With the arrival of Alexander’s sea fleet, the work on the land bridge moved much more rapidly. Yet, when the construction of the bridge was nearing completion, a storm damaged a large section of the mole. Refusing to quit, Alexander rebuilt the damaged structure and continued to move forward. In desperation, the Tyrians sent underwater divers to impede construction by attaching hooks to the rocks and trees of the causeway, causing much damage (Rufus, 4.3.10). Yet, these efforts by the Tyrians could not stop Alexander’s army and eventually the bridge spanned the distance from the mainland city to the island. Huge siege machines bombarded the walls of Tyre. Siculus’ description of the fight is one of the most vivid accounts of a battle in ancient history (17.43-46).
Eventually the Tyrians were defeated, their walls penetrated, and Alexander’s forces entered the city and devastated it. Most of the men of Tyre were killed in continued fighting. Siculus recorded that approximately 2,000 of the men in Tyre who were of military age were crucified, and about 13,000 “non-combatants” were sold into slavery (17.46) [Others estimate the number even higher.] In describing the devastation of the city by Alexander, Fleming wrote: “There was general slaughter in the streets and square. The Macedonians were enraged by the stubborn resistance of the city and especially by the recent murder of some of their countrymen; they therefore showed no mercy. A large part of the city was burned” (p. 63).
One of the most disputed aspects concerning Ezekiel’s prophecy is the statement that the city of Tyre would “never be rebuilt” (26:14), and “be no more forever” (28:19). The skeptic points to modern day Tyre on a map and claims the Bible is wrong.
But it is clear from the ancient and modern coastlines of the island (see above), that the southern section of the island of Tyre is UNDER WATER today. Later earthquakes caused this area to SLIP INTO THE SEA. But the line of rocks still poking above the water marks where the ancient walls of the city once stood. In approximately A.D. 1170, a Jewish traveler named Benjamin of Tudela published a diary of his travels. “Benjamin began his journey from Saragossa, around the year 1160 and over the course of thirteen years visited over 300 cities in a wide range of places including Greece, Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia and Persia” (Benjamin of Tudela, n.d.). In his memoirs, a section is included concerning the city of Tyre.
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 (1907, emp. added.).
"But as for the island city, it apparently SANK BELOW the surface of the Mediterranean…All that remains of it is a series of BLACK REEFS offshore from Tyre, which surely could not have been there in the first and second millennia b.c., since they pose such a threat to navigation. The promontory that now juts out from the coastline probably was washed up along the barrier of Alexander’s causeway, but the island itself broke off and SANK AWAY when the subsidence took place; and we have no evidence at all that it ever was built up again after Alexander’s terrible act of vengeance. In the light of these data, then, the predictions of chapter 26, improbable though they must have seemed in Ezekiel’s time, were duly fulfilled to the letter—first by Nebuchadnezzar in the sixth century, and then by Alexander in the fourth." (Archer, “Tyre,” Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties)
Verse 19 says, "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." Many island groups rise and fall in the oceans. If you look at the picture, that island today is missing the southern section at least.
Furthermore, the Island of Tyre was a world power Phoenician city-state. The Island of Tyre was fortified with a double wall that was 150 feet high and 20 feet thick surrounded by a half-mile mote of water. The present fishing village called Sur has no fortifications and is on a peninsula. Second, while it is true that a town does currently exist on the "island" part of the peninsula (Sur), that town is on the north side of the "island" while original Tyre was on the south side. The Temple of Melkart was located in a vast park on the north side anciently. A village of Sur has no real connection to the city condemned by Ezekiel. Third, it could be the case that the bulk of Ezekiel’s prophecy dealt with the mainland city of Tyre, the location of which has most likely been lost permanently and is buried under the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. In his monumental work on the city of Tyre, Katzenstein mentioned several ancient sources that discussed the position of “Old Tyre.” He wrote: “Later this town was dismantled by Alexander the Great in his famous siege of Tyre and disappeared totally with the change of the coastline brought about by the dike and the alluvial deposits that changed Tyre into a peninsula” (1973, p. 15, emp. added).
It very likely is the case that the specific site of ancient Tyre has been buried by sand and water over the course of the last 2,500 years and is lost to modern knowledge. That the prophet was speaking about the mainland city in reference to many aspects of his prophecy has much to commend it. It was to that mainland city that King Nebuchadnezzar directed most of his attention and destructive measures described in Ezekiel 26:8-11. Furthermore, it was the mainland city that Alexander destroyed completely and cast into the sea to build his causeway to the island city. In addition, Katzenstein noted that the scholar H.L. Ginsberg has suggested that the name “Great Tyre” was given to the mainland city, while the island city was designated as “Little Tyre” (p. 20). He further noted 2 Samuel 24:7, which mentions “the stronghold of Tyre,” and commented that this “may refer to “Old Tyre,” or the mainland city (p. 20).
If the history of Tyre is traced more completely, it becomes evident that even the island city of Tyre suffered complete destruction. Fleming noted that in approximately A.D. 193. “Tyre was plundered and burned after a fearful slaughter of her citizens” (1966, p. 73). Around the year 1085, the Egyptians “succeeded in reducing Tyre, which for many years had been practically independent” (p. 85). Again, in about 1098, the Vizier of Egypt “entered the city and massacred a large number of people” (p. 88). In addition, the city was besieged in A.D. 1111 (p. 90), and again in April of 1124 (p. 95). Around the year 1155, the Egyptians entered Tyre, “made a raid with fire and sword...and carried off many prisoners and much plunder” (p. 101).
In addition to the military campaigns against the city, at least two major earthquakes pummeled the city, one of which “ruined the wall surrounding the city” (p. 115). And ultimately, in A.D. 1291, the Sultan Halil massacred the inhabitants of Tyre and subjected the city to utter ruin. “Houses, factories, temples, everything in the city was consigned to the sword, flame and ruin” (p. 122). After this major defeat in 1291, Fleming cites several travel logs in which visitors to the city mention that citizens of the area in 1697 were “only a few poor wretches...subsisting chiefly upon fishing” (p. 124). In 1837, another earthquake pounded the remains of the city so that the streets were filled with debris from fallen houses to such a degree that they were impassable (p. 128).
Taking these events into consideration, it is obvious that many nations continued to come against the island city, that it was destroyed on numerous occasions, and that it became a place for fishing, fulfilling Ezekiel’s prediction about the spreading of nets. Furthermore, it is evident that the multiple periods of destruction and rebuilding of the city have long since buried the Phoenician city that came under the condemnation of Ezekiel. The Columbia Encyclopedia, under its entry for Tyre, noted: “The principal ruins of the city today are those of buildings erected by the Crusaders. There are some Greco-Roman remains, but any left by the Phoenicians lie underneath the present town” (“Tyre,” 2006, emp. added).
Concerning Tyre’s present condition, other sources have noted that “continuous settlement has restricted excavation to the Byzantine and Roman levels and information about the Phoenician town comes only from documentary sources” (“Ancient Tyre...,” n.d., emp. added). Another report confirmed, “Uncovered remains are from the post-Phoenician Greco-Roman, Crusader, Arab and Byzantine times.... Any traces of the Phoenician city were either destroyed long ago or remain buried under today’s city” (“Ancient Phoenicia,” n.d., emp. added).