Phoenicia and it’s Historical – Biblical Significance
Where is Phoenicia?
Phoenicia, from the Greek word phoinix, “a palm”, the land of palm-trees, was an ancient civilization centered in the north of ancient Canaan. With its heartland along the coastal regions of modern day Lebanon, coastal Syria, and northern Israel. Date-palm abundantly grew in the region opposite Cyprus, from Gabala (city of Gebal) to Aradus and Marathus. And so the name Phoenicia was first applied to these areas that later expanded to further South as date-palm was also found growing there. It was from 1200 BC (where is can be found on the Biblical Timeline with world history)that Phoenician cities emerged as sovereign bodies with apparent identity – Aradus, Byblos, Berytus, Sidon, Sarepta and Tyre, were situated along the coastal strip between sea and mountains of Lebanon. Moreover, there were two great cities of Phoenicia: Tyre, the center of the purple dye industry and Sidon, the center of the glass industry.
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Biblical References to Phoenicia
* Acts 11:19; 15:3; 21:2 – the land being generally designated as the “coast” * Matthew 15:21; Mark 7:24, 31, Luke 6:17 – “borders of Tyre and Sidon” *Genesis 10:19; 49:13; Josh 11:8; 1 Kings 17:9 – the land belonging to the Canaanites or to Sidon
What was the role of Phoenicians in the Bible?
Alphabet (Psalm 119). Perhaps the most significant contribution of the Phoenicians was a syllabic writing, developed in about 1000 BC at Byblos. From this city’s name come the Greek word “biblia” (books) and the English word Bible. Hebrew alphabet known as “Ketav Ivri or Paleo-Hebrew” was nearly identical to the Phoenician alphabet. Biblical Hebrew contains 22 letters (all of which are consonants), as noted in Psalm 119. This form of writing was spread by the Phoenicians in their travels and influenced the Aramaic and Greek alphabets. (from http://history-world.org/phoenicians.htm)
Phoenician trade connected with the Israelites (2 Samuel 5:11, 1 Kings 5:9, 1 Kings 17-18). From the time that David had conquered Edom, an opening for trade was afforded to the Israelites. Solomon continued this trade with its king, obtained timber from its territory and employed its sailors and workmen.
(Ezekiel 27:3 – 4). Trade routes from all Asia converged on the Phoenician coast, entry point to the sea, where Phoenicians were the greatest merchants of the entire Mediterranean world. Preparations for Building the Temple (1 Kings 5:6) and Temple’s Furnishings (1 Kings 7:21-23). King Hiram rendered important service to Solomon in connection with the planning and building of the temple. Massive Masonry (1 Kings 5:17 – 18). Huge carved stones, forming the sanctuary wall’s foundation, with Phoenician fragments of pottery. And Phoenician marks painted on the massive blocks found by the Royal Engineers suggest that the stones were prepared in the quarry by the cunning workmen of Hiram, the king of Tyre. (Eastons Bible Dictionary: Phenicia).