Were the prophecies about Tyre in Isaiah 23 and Ezekiel 27, 28 actually fulfilled? i.e., that the City of Tyre was destroyed never to be rebuilt. What about the Island of Sur sometimes called Sur?
Were the prophecies in Isaiah and Ezekiel about Tyre actually fulfilled?
The answer is "Yes"
The Chaldeans laid siege of the mainland city, the siege lasted 13 years (Wikipedia). The island part of the city about 0.5 miles/0.8 km from the mainland escaped the siege and was never captured by the Babylonians. The bulk of the wealth of the city was transferred to the island city, that is why the prophecy of Ezekiel says the Chaldeans received no wages from Tyre for the labor that they had.
Isaiah 23:13-14 (NASB)
13 Behold, the land of the Chaldeans—this is the people that did not exist; Assyria allocated it for desert creatures—they erected their siege towers, they stripped its palaces, they made it a ruin. 14 Wail, you ships of Tarshish, For your stronghold is destroyed
Ezekiel 29:18 (NASB)
18 “Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon made his army labor [a]hard against Tyre; every head [b]had a bald spot and every shoulder was rubbed raw. But he and his army acquired no wages from Tyre for the labor that he had [c]performed against it.”
Where is the ancient city of TYRE located today?
Tyre, modern Arabic Ṣūr, French Tyr or Sour, Latin Tyrus, Hebrew Zor or Tsor, town on the Mediterranean coast of southern Lebanon, located 12 miles (19 km) north of the modern border with Israel and 25 miles (40 km) south of Sidon (modern Ṣaydā).
This is a fairly complicated question.
In the prophecies of Isaiah, we do not have much knowledge about this time period. Thus, I will focus on Ezekiel.
To begin, in Ezekiel chapter 33 it says "וּבְאָמְרִ֥י לָֽרָשָׁ֖ע מ֣וֹת תָּמ֑וּת וְשָׁב֙ מֵֽחַטָּאת֔וֹ וְעָשָׂ֥ה מִשְׁפָּ֖ט וּצְדָקָֽה׃ חֲבֹ֨ל יָשִׁ֤יב רָשָׁע֙ גְּזֵלָ֣ה יְשַׁלֵּ֔ם בְּחֻקּ֤וֹת הַֽחַיִּים֙ הָלַ֔ךְ לְבִלְתִּ֖י עֲשׂ֣וֹת עָ֑וֶל חָי֥וֹ יִֽחְיֶ֖ה לֹ֥א יָמֽוּת׃ כָּל־חטאתו [חַטֹּאתָיו֙] אֲשֶׁ֣ר חָטָ֔א לֹ֥א תִזָּכַ֖רְנָה ל֑וֹ מִשְׁפָּ֧ט וּצְדָקָ֛ה עָשָׂ֖ה חָי֥וֹ יִֽחְיֶֽה׃" "When I say to the wicked man 'you shall die' and he repents and does what is just and right--if the wicked man restores a pledge, returns what he has stolen, follows the laws of life and does not do iniquity. He shall surely live. All sins which he has done will not be remembered to him for he has done what is just and right and he shall live." (Ezekiel 33:14-16). The meaning of these passages is clear that when Ezekiel or any prophet declares a sentence against a place, and the place repents, then the punishment will be revoked. We also see this in the book of Jonah.
With this understanding, we have two ways of understanding these decrees:
- Tyre and its king repented.
- Tyre and its king did not repent and the punishment still stands.
Under the first understanding, these punishments will not occur. This is a possible understanding; however, it seems from the text that Tyre did not repent.
Now, for the second understanding, we have to look deeper in the text. The beginning of this passage reads "לָכֵ֗ן כֹּ֤ה אָמַר֙ אֲדֹנָ֣י יְהוִ֔ה הִנְנִ֥י עָלַ֖יִךְ צֹ֑ר וְהַעֲלֵיתִ֤י עָלַ֙יִךְ֙ גּוֹיִ֣ם רַבִּ֔ים כְּהַעֲל֥וֹת הַיָּ֖ם לְגַלָּֽיו׃ וְשִׁחֲת֞וּ חֹמ֣וֹת צֹ֗ר וְהָֽרְסוּ֙ מִגְדָּלֶ֔יהָ וְסִֽחֵיתִ֥י עֲפָרָ֖הּ מִמֶּ֑נָּה וְנָתַתִּ֥י אוֹתָ֖הּ לִצְחִ֥יחַ סָֽלַע׃" "Thus, declares the Master G-d, here I am against you Tyre, and I will bring against you many nations like the sea brings its waves. They shall destroy the walls of Tyre and demolish its towers and I will scrape its soil off of it and I will make it a bare rock" (Ezekiel 26:3-4). Thus we understand that many nations are to come against Tyre, not just one, and after all these nations come, then Tyre will be a bare rock.
Some people understand these "many nations" as being the army of Nebuchadnezzar as it says "כִּ֣י כֹ֤ה אָמַר֙ אֲדֹנָ֣י יְהוִ֔ה הִנְנִ֧י מֵבִ֣יא אֶל־צֹ֗ר נְבוּכַדְרֶאצַּ֧ר מֶֽלֶךְ־בָּבֶ֛ל מִצָּפ֖וֹן מֶ֣לֶךְ מְלָכִ֑ים בְּס֛וּס וּבְרֶ֥כֶב וּבְפָרָשִׁ֖ים וְקָהָ֥ל וְעַם־רָֽב׃" "Thus says the Master G-d, behold, I am going to bring Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon from the north, a king of kings, with horses, chariots, horsemen, and עם רב (many people/a numerous nation)" (Ezekiel 26:7). They claim that this עם רב (many people/a numerous nation) is the same as the גוים רבים (many nations). To explain what these words mean, עם can mean nation or a mass of people. It is grammatically singular. It would mean "many nations" if it was in the plural, but not in the singular. Given the adjective רב, it means a numerous nation or many people. גוים רבים specifically means many nations. Thus, these words cannot be the same as if they were supposed to be the same, עם would be in the plural and it would be עמים רבים. Also if all these nations were to come in one wave, it would contradict the "many waves" passage.
Furthermore, we see that in Ezekiel 26:12 the text switches from the singular to the plural implying a switch from Nebuchadnezzar to all the nations which are to attack Tyre. If this was to be discussing Nebuchadnezzar's army it would still use the singular and the preposition ב which means with in this case. Thus this prophecy is really saying that at some future time, Tyre will become a bare rock and will remain as a bare rock.
Now if we turn to the king of Tyre, we see from history that he was either killed in the siege or taken captive to Babylon. If he was killed in the siege, we know this prophecy was fulfilled; however, if he was taken captive to Babylon, we can understand that he repented from thinking he was a god.
The short answer is: Ezekeiel's prophecy was not fulfilled, Isaiah's prophecy maybe.
Ezekiel prophesied against Tyre and said it would be completely destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, but this actually never happened, after 13 years of siege the babylonians gave up unable to conquer Tyre by military means. Actually Ezekiel himself gives a stunning admission in his book chapter 29 that babylon wasn't able to take control of Tyre, and that this prophecy failed:
In the twenty-seventh year, in the first month on the first day, the word of the Lord came to me: 18 “Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon drove his army in a hard campaign against Tyre; every head was rubbed bare and every shoulder made raw. Yet he and his army got no reward from the campaign he led against Tyre. 19 Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to give Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will carry off its wealth. He will loot and plunder the land as pay for his army. 20 I have given him Egypt as a reward for his efforts because he and his army did it for me, declares the Sovereign Lord.
21 “On that day I will make a horn[c] grow for the Israelites, and I will open your mouth among them. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”
Isaiah's prophecy in chapter 23 is bit different from Ezekiel's prophecy as the former seem to be prophesying about its downfall through the hands of Assyria not babylon. This is what v. 13. would certainly seem to suggest, i.e., just like Assyria conquered Chaldea and laid it to waste so will they lay waste to Tyre:
Behold the land of the Chaldea! This is the people that has ceased to be; Assyria, which founded it for ships, which raised its watchtowers, erected its ramparts, has now turned it into a ruin. (NJPS)
(Note: NJPS suggest emending the text from Chaldea [כּשדים] to Kittim [כּתים], as it would fit the context much better. But whatever it is, the comparison between Chaldea/Kittim's fate to Tyre's by the hands of Assyria is clear enough)
But there's some uncertainty to the extent of devastation. Isaiah never clearly speaks of Tyre's utter destruction, all Isaiah is speaking of is the defilation of Tyre's glory, splendor and beauty (which are ambiguous terms), and that it will plundered and many people killed. That could very well mean that Tyre's independency and autonomy will be taken away and will become a vassal kingdom of Assyria, something which we know has happened many times over over the course of history. So it's hard to judge this particular prophecy.
However complete destruction of Tyre has not occured until the days of Alexander the Great in 332 BCE, but even then the city wasn't entirely deserted until many hundreds of years later.