Why Jesus Visited Tyre and the Blessed Virgin Mary's Priestly Lineage, Like all Phoenician Kings

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City of Tyre, Phoenicia
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In order to understand the subjects presented herewith, the following background information on the Horites and ancient biblical accounts need to be understood. They tie the subjects together and help clarify why the need exists in the first place.

Who Were the Horites?

To understand why Christ visited Tyre, some light must be shed on the Horites. They were ancient people who were cave dwellers from the hill country of Canaan. They were a caste of rulers who controlled the trade routes from the Sahara to India, and originally, controlled the major waters systems.

The Horites served as river shrine and temple attendants. They interceded for others, offered sacrifice and were asked to pray for people because they were recognized as especially holy people. Job offered sacrifice daily for the sins of his own family. At the end of the book, God tells Job to pray for his kinsmen Eliphaz, Zophar and Bildad. This is reminiscent of Abraham praying for Abimelech (who had Phoenician blood on his mother's side) and his whole household (Gen. 20:17,18). So the Horite priest's work involved intercessory prayer. That prayer sometimes involved sacrifice long before Judaism emerged as a distinct world religion, or even before Israel can be identified as a nation.

Purity was an essential trait of the Horite priest. Hors is the archetype by which Abraham's descendants would recognize Jesus as the promised Seed of the Woman (Gen. 3:15). His authentication was His rising from the dead on the third day, in accordance with Horite expectation. Abraham's ancestors believed in the resurrection of the body and awaited a deified king who would rise from the grave and deliver his people from death.

Horite belief in a deified son who would embody kindness and unite the peoples found fulfillment in Jesus Christ, a descendant of the Horite ruler-priests, the divine son of the Virgin Mary, daughter of the priest Joachim of the line of Nathan. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham's Horite ancestors in Eden (Gen. 3:15). This is why one cannot avoid the conclusion that the God of Israel is the God of the Horites.

Abraham and Isaac
Abraham and Isaac

Horite does not designate a race or ethnicity. It designates a caste of rulers and priests. Jews are one group that descended from the Horites. That is why Jews call their ancestors horim. The ancient world was structured along caste lines. Typical of castes, the Horite lines exclusively intermarried (endogamy). The genealogies of the Bible reveal that intermarriage of the ruler-priests lines continued to the time of Jesus. Jesus is the culmination of the Horim's expectation of the fulfillment of the Edenic Promise. (Gen. 3:15) It is from the Horite priesthood that the priesthood of Israel developed, as well as the kingship and priesthood of the Canaanite Phoenician rulers. Moses' two brothers, Korah and Aaron, were Horite priests before Judaism emerged as a distinct world religion, even before Israel can be identified as a nation. Horite priests served in the temple in Jerusalem on a rotating schedule. I Chronicles 4:4 lists Hur (Hor) as the "father of Bethlehem". They carried the censor to offer incense before God. The Horite priest was to be purified before entering the temple. The purification ritual involved shaving their heads and bodies. The author of Chronicles knew that Bethlehem was originally a Horite settlement in the heart of Horite territory. Further, Zadok was a Canaanite priest in the old shrine of Jebus which became the city of David, Jerusalem.  When David conquered that city, Zadok was already there as an established priest of the Canaanite religion.  David did not disrupt the city or its shrine, but became its king, that is, king of the Canaanite city.  David exercised two different roles, king over the Israelite tribes and king over the Canaanite city-state.  That dual role signaled in the dual priesthood of Abiathar and Zadok, the priest." (Brueggemann, W. The Word That Redescribes the World: The Bible and Discipleship. Page 78) Thereafter, Zadok the Priest, and Nathan the Prophet anointed Solomon King, as David commanded. (1 Kings 1:34)

Horite men married only Horite women and according to a pattern which was tied to ancient tradition. It is not a coincidence that Joseph of the Old Testament married Asenath, the daughter of "the priest of On" (Gen. 41:45). The exclusive intermarriage between Horite lines requires that we take these words quite literally: "For me you shall be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation." (Ex. 19:6)

The Horite Priesthood

We have no evidence that Horite priests performed the Canaanite practices condemned by the Biblical prophets, who were their descendants. Horite priests were concerned about purity, especially when preparing for their time of service in the temple.

Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the fulfillment of the Edenic Promise of Genesis 3:15. He is able to conquer death and deliver sinners from the curse of death. This is the core of Christian belief. Surrounding this are attendant beliefs which logically follow.

When Abraham went to the land of Canaan he did not abandon the tradition of his ancestors. He continued the marriage pattern of his Horite people, believing the promise made to them in Eden that the Seed of the Woman would be born of their bloodlines. That is why Abraham married his half-sister (Sarah) and his patrilineal cousin (Keturah), following the pattern of his ruler-priest ancestors. The Horites anticipated the coming of the Son of God to earth and believed that He would be born of their priestly bloodlines.

It needs to be noted that the Nabateans of Petra were descendants of the Horites who earlier inhabited the hill country of Canaan/Phoenicia.

The Blessed Virgin Mary's Ruler-Priest Lineage

Jesus and the Canaanite/Phoenician woman
Blessed Virgin Mary and baby Jesus

The Blessed Virgin Mary is without doubt the most honored woman of the Bible. She is called Mother of God and Theotokos which means God-Bearer because she brought forth Jesus Christ, whom Christians worship as the promised Son of God who came into the world to save sinners, to make void the curse of death, and to restore Paradise. Further, when the Blessed Virgin Mary went the city of Judah to visit her cousin Elizabeth. "When Elizabeth heard Mary's greetings, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud voice, 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why is it that the mother of my Lord should come to me?' " Luke 1.39-43

Through the Blessed Virgin’s faithfulness, God fulfilled the promise in Genesis 3 that the Serpent would be defeated (his head crushed) by the Seed of the Woman. This promise, preserved through thousands of years, came to focus on the Tribe of Judah and then more narrowly on a descendent of King David, the anointed of God.

Such religious expectation would have been preserved through the generations by priests and prophets. We have in the story of the Woman and the Serpent a type of Theotokos and Satan. For Satan to be defeated, the Woman’s Seed would have to be of God, not of man, and so Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God, not the son of Saint Joseph.

The expectation of the Messiah was preserved through a priestly lineage that was carefully guarded, following the kinship pattern of Abraham’s people. As we have seen in our study of the kinship of Abraham’s people, rulers and priests were careful in the selection of their brides and married according to a unique pattern. Priests married priest’s daughters. Priests were brothers or half-brothers and they married women who were cousins or half-sisters. This is what is alluded to in Mishna Taanith1: “Four-score pair of brethren-priests took to wife fourscore pair of sister-priestesses in Gophne, all in one night.”

The people of Abraham took great care in the selection of wives for their priests since the offspring would trace their blood lines through their mothers. This kinship pattern enables us to understand the relationship of Mary and Joseph, both of priestly houses.

Blessed Virgin’s Lineage

According to Holy Tradition, the Virgin’s parents were Joachim2 and Anne. Joachim was a priest and his wife Anne was probably a daughter of a priest. Mary is said to have been born in the grotto under the Church of St. Anne which would have been adjacent to the Temple, in an area where the Temple priests lived.

Mary’s husband was Joseph. Before his marriage to Mary, he was an elderly widower with children of his own. Joseph’s father was Heli (also spelled Eli), a priest.

Mary’ father was the brother of Joseph’s father. Mary and Joseph were therefore first cousins, and both descendents of David. This means that Jesus was a direct descendent of King David by blood (through Mary) and by status (through Joseph)3.

Hippolytus writing in the early third century, records that Saint Mary’s mother was one of three daughters of a priest named Matthan4 and his wife Mary, the Blessed Virgin's grandmother. The eldest sister, Mary, was the mother of Salome; the second sister, Sobe, married a Levite and was mother of Elizabeth; the third sister was Saint Anne, the Blessed Virgin Mary’s mother. Mary’s cousin Elizabeth was the mother of John the Baptist. Elizabeth and Mary were cousins, and both daughters of priestly houses.

Mary is "Miriam Daughter of Joachim Son of Pntjr (Panther) Priests of Nathan of Beth Lehem." It is certain that Mary was of the ruler-priest class because even those who hated her admit this. Sanhedrin 106a says: “She who was the descendant of princes and governors played the harlot with carpenters.” It is said that she was so despised that some Jews tried to prevent the Apostles from burying her body.

I Chronicles 4:4 lists Hur (Hor) as the "father of Bethlehem." The author of Chronicles knew that Bethlehem was originally a Horite settlement in the heart of Horite territory. The prophets foretold Bethlehem as the birth place of the Son of God.

Joseph's family lived in Nazareth which was the home of the eighteenth division of priests, that of Happizzez (1 Chronicles 24:15).

What the New Testament Genealogies Tell Us

The genealogies in New Testament show recurrence of names, suggesting cousin brides who named their first-born sons after their fathers. The name Er appears in the 7th generation from Judah. This suggests that Judah's son Er, who married Tamar, had another wife besides Tamar. This may explain why Er refused to produce a son to be the heir of his deceased brother (levirate marriage) with Tamar. He would not have wanted his brother's heir to compete over territory with his own heir.

When we consider these Patriarchs in Mary's lineage, we observe some common features. They were chiefs or kings over their territories. They kept flocks, dug wells, and built up their households through  two wives. One was a half sister, as was Sarah to Abraham.  The other was a patrilineal cousin or niece, as was Keturah to Abraham. Both firstborn sons ascended to thrones.  The firstborn sons of concubines served the ruling sons.  All other sons were given gifts and sent away to establish their own territories.

The Protoevangelium of James5 says that Mary’s father had flocks as did all priests of the Bible. Moses tended the flocks of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. A common image of God in the Old Testament is as the Shepherd of Israel (Ps 80:1) and the priests of Israel are referred to as “shepherds.”  The Good Shepherd leads His flocks to the "still waters" because He controls the waters. They are his possession, just as the ruler-priests of Abraham's people controlled the ancient water systems.

What could be more natural than for priests to maintain a source of animals for sacrifice? Their lives were such that they would naturally learn the skills of a good priest. The shepherd makes a good priest because he must:

  • watch for those who prey on the sheep
  • defend the sheep from attackers
  • heal the wounded and sick sheep
  • find and save lost or trapped sheep
  • call them by name and know their individual quirks
  • and earn their trust

This is why Jesus is referred to as Good Shepherd, High Priest and “the Anointed [Messiah] of God”, the term applied to David, a king-shepherd who, according to 2 Samuel 24, offered acceptable burnt sacrifice at the threshing floor of Araunah, the Jebusite7.

So the Blessed Virgin Mary, in fulfillment of the first biblical promise (Gen. 3), was chosen by God to bring forth the High Priest, Good Shepherd, Messiah and Eternal Son of God. None other can claim this great honor. No other woman deserves the Church's highest acclaim.

Why Jesus Visited Tyre but Specifically its King

Arch of Tyre

"Son of Man, raise a lament over the king of Tyre and say to him: Thus says the Lord God: You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and flawless beauty. You were in Eden, in the Garden of God; every precious stone was your adornment... and gold beautifully wrought for you, mined for you, prepared the day you were created." (Ezekiel 28:11-18)

This is one of the rare references to Eden outside Genesis and it deserves closer inspection. Here the 'Son of Man' is the prophet Ezekiel through whom God declares judgement on the King of Tyre who is pictured as adorned with jewels and exalted. Ezekiel uses the exile from paradise to describe the king's fall from glory. But is there more here?  Yes, there is a Messianic message.

Ezekiel is told to prophecy against the King of Tyre because he was no longer “perfect.”  The ruler who was once full of wisdom in the Garden has fallen into sin and is being judged. Here we have a glimpse of God's economy by which guidance is always delivered in the proper order. The Father first sends the Son to those whose ancestors were in Eden and the people of Tyre recognized Him. Likewise, the angels first appear to the shepherd kings of Bethlehem, David’s people, to declare the coming of the Son, and the shepherds went straight away to worship Him.

Another example involves Jesus at Capernaum on the northwestern edge of the Sea of Galilee (formerly Lake of Chinnereth). The Sea of Galilee was between the territory of the Aramaeans (descendants of Nimrod) and that of the descendants of Joktan, Peleg’s brother. In Peleg’s time, they became separate kingdoms. Joktan’s holding extended from Jok-neam in the hill country southwest of the Sea of Galilee to Jok-deam, in the hill country just south of Hebron. Peleg’s holding extended north from the Sea of Galilee to Damascus. By the time we meet Abraham in Genesis 12, the Aramaeans controlled the water systems of Mesopotamia. Terah’s holding extended the length of the Euphrates, from Haran in the north to Ur in the south.

The Sea of Galilee sat between the two kingdoms and was controlled by the rulers on both sides. The two ruling houses intermarried. At Capernaum Jesus comes as Immanuel to all people, not to the Jews exclusively. All are his people since His ancestry is traced by both lines. So Jesus is first known at Capernaum. Mark and Matthew agree on this point, though they present their material differently.

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus' true identity is recognized in the ancient island city of Tyre, not on a mountain as in Matthew's Gospel. For Mark, the Messiah’s appearing means the beginning of the restoration of Paradise. Perhaps the evangelist was thinking of this passage from Ezekiel 28. That would explain why Mark makes so much of Jesus’ visit to Tyre.

Tyre was the home of Hiram I, the father of the Tyrian king who helped to build Solomon’s temple. Hiram I was of priestly lineage and a kin to David and sent skilled artisans to help David build a palace in Jerusalem, “the city of the Great King” (Matt. 5:35). Hiram is also known as "Huram" and "Horam", which are versions of the names Hur, Hor and Harun (Aaron), as in Jabal Harun, the Mountain of Aaron. According to Midrash, Hur was Moses’ brother-in-law, Miriam’s husband. Hur’s grandson was one of the builders of the Tabernacle. I Chronicles 4:4 lists Hur as the "father of Bethlehem", a settlement in the heartland of Horite territory.

In other words, the common ancestors of Hiram I and David were Horites, a caste of ruler-priests who anticipated the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15 because their Horite lineage went back to Eden. The Horites believed that the promised Seed of the Woman would be born of their blood and they expected Him to visit them. In Mark 7:24, this expectation was fulfilled when the Son of God visited Tyre, where we are told Jesus “could not pass unrecognized.”

With the above in mind, the specific incident which we read in the New Testament about Jesus visiting Tyre is better expressed as Jesus visiting the King of Tyre, Sidon and all the other Phoenician cities.

Jesus and the Canaanite/Phoenician woman
Jesus and the Canaanite/Phoenician woman

The competition between rulers and their deities is reflected in the Old Testament where we find different names for God. However, all the ancient peoples, which includes Sargon the Great, were henotheists. That is, they believed in one supreme creator God who was ruler over the universe and served by lesser divine powers, such as angels.

Jesus and the Canaanite/Phoenician Woman

Christ's visit to Tyre should not ignore his discourse and cure of the Canaanite/Phoenician woman's daughter. In Matthew 15:21-28 we read:

"A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession." ...The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said. He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." "Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.


  1. God sacrificed an animal to cover the nakedness of the man and the woman.
  2. Mishna Taanit deals with the public fasts observed in ancient Palestine. Go here: http://www.archive.org/stream/mishnatractateta00greeiala/mishnatractateta00greeiala_djvu.txt
  3. Hervey, Bishop A.,“Genealogies of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
  4. Joachim means “God will establish”. Joseph means “God will increase”.
  5. The name Matthan/Mattai and its linguistic equivalents appear 5 times in Luke’s list. The name come from the word “gift” and can also refer to the “giving’ of Torah. Mattaniah means “gift of God”.

  6. The Protoevangelium of James states that the “brethren of the Lord” were sons of Joseph by another wife. Here: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/480056/Protevangelium-of-James
  7. Araunah was a Jebusite. Jerusalem (Salem) was a Jebusite/Canaanite city and one of the priests of Salem was Melchizedek.
  8. Parts of this article were adapted by kind permission from Alice C. Linsley Just Genesis.
  9. IMPORTANT NOTE: Since most of the references used in this article come from the Bible, they must be taken with a grain of salt because Biblical History cannot be trusted for its historicity and mythology.

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