Identifying the Phoenicians
Classical & Biblical Records Identifying the Phoenicians
Archaeology as we know it today is a rather young science, which has developed under the burden of many assumptions concerning history which are commonly held, but not necessarily correct. It is also a very inexact science, where various interpretations may be disputed concerning each new discovery. Yet archaeology is not history, archaeologists are not historians, and their field came into its present form only after outgrowing the lesser position it once held as part of the anthropology department in the typical university.
While many archaeologists have a good understanding of the history of the region which they study, such is not at all true of the Near East. Especially in Palestine, the history of the region has been distorted not only due to the incorrect identification of the ancient inhabitants, but also due to its politicization resulting from ‘zionism’ and the Arab-Jewish conflict of recent decades. The Jews have controlled the archaeology of the region very tightly, especially since the 1960’s. Typically, whatever archaeological discovery which suits the Jewish view of ancient Israel is labeled as Israelite, while anything which does not appear to be Jewish is considered to be Canaanite, Hittite, or Philistine, et al. An example of this is found in a review of Dan II. A Chronicle of the Excavations and the Late Bronze Age “Mycenaean” Tomb in the journal Near Eastern Archaeology, 67:3 (2004), p. 176, where it is evident that the authors of this study of the findings at Tel Dan in Palestine are quite oblivious to the fact that the Mycenaean (Danae) Greeks and the Israelite tribe of Dan were indeed one and the same people. It would not suit the Jews to discover that this branch of the “Indo-European”, Aryan Greeks were indeed Hebrews, although on occasion such a discussion has not been avoided. Of course, all of the archaeologists mentioned in connection with the study are Jews.
Today’s archaeologists, and many ‘scholars’ in other fields, consider the Philistines and the Hittites – and some even include the tribe of Dan also – to have been “Indo-European” interlopers in the land of Canaan, and this is done in spite of the fact that the Hebrew Bible places Philistines in Canaan before the Israelites existed as a nation (Genesis chapters 21 and 26), and also attests that the Hittites are a branch of the Canaanite race (I.e. Gen 10:15). These same ‘scholars’ also often label the Canaanites as a branch of the Shemites, yet the Bible attests that both the Philistines and the Canaanites descended from the Hamites (Gen. 10:6-29). Additionally, the ancient Israelites are commonly believed to have been Jews, who are therefore considered to be Shemites. The mixed-race non-Adamic Arabs are also errantly considered to be Shemites. In actuality, the Hebrew Bible itself shows that the original Shemites were White people, in the few places where notice is made of racial characteristics (I.e. 1 Sam. 16:12; 17:42; Song of Sol. 5:9-16; Lam. 4:7). It is the separate field of linguistics which is probably most responsible for many of today’s errant viewpoints. Language should not be used as a primary means of identifying race, as we in America today should certainly be aware!
So while the Jews have abused both archaeology and language studies in order to maintain the false claims made concerning their own identity, the actual historical records, including the Hebrew Bible, are dismissed as error or propaganda, or both, or even as a concocted fiction (as the school of “Biblical Minimalists” often asserts), in various and parallel attempts to rewrite history in a manner which suits the various Jewish factions. To this writer, there is no topic in which such practices are more evident, from the earliest applications of the field of archaeology, than in the discussions concerning one of ancient Europe’s most illustrious people: those whom the Greeks called Phoenicians. Here we shall examine the identity of this great people, from the Bible and from supporting historical sources.
Because the same races of people did not always occupy any particular city, but entire cities or countries often completely changed hands (as is especially evident in the Bible), when discussing any region it is necessary to establish chronological parameters. Before the Israelite Exodus, historical documents show that Egypt exerted authority over the lands of the Levant. In early Egyptian documents, such as inscriptions of the Pharaohs Ahmose I and Thutmose III, and The Story of Si-nuhe which dates to the days of Isaac, a place called “the lands of the Fenkhu”, apparently on the northern Levant, was mentioned (see Ancient Near Eastern Texts, James B. Pritchard, ed., Princeton Univ. Press, 1969 [hereinafter ANET] pp. 21, 234 and 241). While many point to this and conjecture that these are the people later called Phoenicians by the Greeks, the connection is very tenuous, and any similarity in the names is a mere coincidence. The 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica under “Phoenicia” also disclaims the derivation of Phoenicia from the Egyptian word, which it says “was apparently used of Asiatic barbarians in general”. Rather, Phoenician in Greek has a meaning and a definitely discernible etymology. Yet in the Hebrew Old Testament and other documents of the post-Exodus period, there are no people mentioned having any of these names, Phoenician or Fenkhu.
While it is clear that many of the inhabitants of the Levant and the “Phoenician” coast were called Canaanite in ancient Egyptian records (i.e. ANET p. 246) and their own (the Amarna letters), in the Hebrew records and in those of other nations both before and after the Israelite occupation of Palestine (ca. 1400-586 B.C.), Phoenicia is a Greek term of which our first records are in Homer, who in the 7th century B.C. wrote of events – particularly the Trojan War – which took place just after 1200 B.C. The Classical Greek writers who followed Homer wrote of the Phoenicians almost as if they were a people passed on. While there were still people in Phoenicia who were excellent ship-builders and sailors, they were well past the apex of their culture. And while Phoenician colonies in the west thrived, notably in Carthage and Iberia, the “golden age” of the Phoenicians clearly eclipsed with the demise of Biblical Israel. The Classical writers never mentioned Israel, so far as I have found, but called the people of the region Phoenicians or Syrians. Tyre and Syria both came into Greek from the same Hebrew word Tsor (6865). The Phoenicians of the Greek writers of the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. were already said to have colonized nearly all of the Mediterranean, the coasts of northern Africa, the Iberian (Hebrew) peninsula, the British isles (the Cassiterides or Tin Islands), large parts of Anatolia, the isles of the Aegean, and even parts of Greece itself, at a time well before their own, for which the historical citations are quite numerous. They also credited the Phoenicians with the spread throughout the Mediterranean of all sorts of crafts and skills, in addition to the use of letters and writing. All of this occurred, more or less, in the centuries just before the Trojan War continuing throughout a “dark age” in Greek history: those centuries which followed the Dorian conquest of Greece from about 1150 B.C., a period of which very little is known. All of the surviving Greek historical writings date from only the 5th century B.C. It is this coinciding period of Israelite occupation of Palestine which we are interested in here, considering the “golden age” of Phoenicia and the spread of a more advanced culture throughout the Mediterranean. For this reason alone, it is of the utmost importance that Biblical scholars properly identify the “Phoenicians”.
Speaking briefly of geography, Phoenicia to the Greeks was more than just the small swath of coast in the northern Levant depicted on many Bible maps today. That demarcation is from later Roman times and closely represents the Roman-era administrative region. For example, Strabo (ca. 63 B.C. - 25 A.D.), an authority on the topic, in his Geography described Phoenicia as practically the entire eastern Mediterranean coast, from the northern parts and the coast of modern Syria all the way south to the edges of the Nile river, including even Gaza and the coast of the Sinai (16.2.21, 33). This alone should call into question the description of the Phoenicians as merely Canaanites, for in Biblical times it is clear that both Philistines and Israelites occupied those coasts.
While the Greek Septuagint (LXX) is superior to the jewish Masoretic Text of the Old Testament in many respects, it is not without errors in translation which affect even this topic. In the LXX, the Hebrew word for Canaanite was sometimes errantly translated as Phoenician, which reflects the composition of the area and the geographical labeling in use when the LXX was translated from Hebrew, during the Hellenistic period following the conquests of Alexander, but which is not historically accurate in the context of the much earlier Israelite period of occupation in Canaan. After the deportations of the Israelites by the Assyrians and Babylonians in the 8th to 6th centuries B.C., most of the people who remained in the area which became known as Phoenicia were Canaanites, along with others of Israel’s ancient enemies. Along with the new peoples brought into the region by its conquerors (i.e. Ezra 4:9-10), these Canaanites, Hittites and others occupied nearly all the land once belonging to Israel (i.e. Ezra 9:2), including the lands of Asher (later “Phoenicia”), Ephraim and Manasseh (later Samaria), and much of Judaea, but not Jerusalem nor most of Galilee. Where “In historical times the Phoenicians called themselves Canaanites and their land Canaan”, as the 9th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica reads citing surviving fragments of the Greek historian Hecataeus of Miletus, the Biblical student should expect Hecataeus, who wrote in the very late 6th and early 5th centuries B.C., to have found Canaanites in Phoenicia, most of the Israelites having been removed years earlier. The Greeks continued to call these non-Israelite peoples “Phoenicians”, but only because they dwelt in the land which they called “Phoenicia”. Hence where Mark (7:26) calls a certain woman “Syro-Phoenician”, Matthew (15:22) more accurately identifies that same woman as a Canaanite. Yet the Israelite historical books in the LXX are more reliable than their counterparts in the Masoretic Text (and so the A.V.) in many respects, and as much is realized by comparing them to the writings of Josephus or to their counterparts among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The preeminent “Phoenician” cities were Tyre and Sidon. Homer, the earliest and most famous of Greek poets, never even mentioned Tyre, but often Sidon (Strabo, 16.2.22). That these cities existed before the Israelite occupation of Canaan is clear in the Biblical record. Byblos, the Gebal of Ezek. 27:9 in the A.V., another famous Phoenician city, also existed in the remotest times, and is mentioned in The Story of Si-nuhe and other ancient documents (ANET pp. 19 ff., 228 et al.). While Canaanites occupied these cities in antiquity (see for example, the Amarna letters, i.e. ANET p. 484), that does not mean that they did so during the later Israelite Judges and Kingdom periods.
Upon the conquest of the land of Canaan by the Israelites, the entire land was divided amongst the twelve tribes (Josh. 11:23), as described in Joshua chapters 13 through 21. While many of today’s ‘scholars’ deny it (most likely because they haven’t found many jews in their archaeological diggings), the Biblical record shows with certainty that the various Israelite tribes did for some time occupy the lands which they were given, even if from that time forward they were often identified by geographical location, the district or town which they inhabited, more often than by the name of their tribe (hence Ruth the “Moabite”, David the “Ephrathite”, Jephthah the “Gileadite” et al.). Strabo, speaking of Moses and the Israelite conquest of Canaan (and the terms which he uses are later geographic labels), says that under Moses’ successors the Israelites “seized the property of others and subdued much of Syria and Phoenicia” (16.2.37), exactly as they were commanded to do (i.e. Deut. 11:8, 23-24), even if Strabo thought meanly of it – obviously not understanding the circumstances (like most ‘scholars’ of today).
Yet not all of each Israelite tribe remained in the lands given them, and neither were they truly expected to (i.e. 2 Sam 7:10). For instance, Zebulon was prophesied to “dwell on the coast, and he shall be by a haven of ships, and shall extend to Sidon” (Gen. 49:13, LXX). While the territory in Israel proper allotted to Zebulon does not border Sidon, nor any sea (Josh. 19:10-16), Isa. 9:1 surely indicates that Zebulon indeed fulfilled this prophecy (for which see my earlier essay on this topic, Galilee of the Gentiles?). Dan is also found at sea, as the prophetess Deborah tells us at Judges 5:17, where she also said that Asher dwells on the seashore and inlets of the coast. Asher’s territory included both Tyre and Sidon (Josh. 19:24-31), the core territory of historical “Phoenicia” on any map. Why do even Bible students doubt that the Asherites inhabited their own lands?
Joshua 11:8; 13:4, 6 and 19:28-29 all make it clear that the children of Israel were very active in, and inhabited, the land of “Phoenicia” encompassing Tyre and points north, and Judges chapters 1 and 3 show that the Israelites at this early period were dwelling among Canaanites whom they failed to remove from the land, enslaving them instead. Tyre is not mentioned among the list of cities in Judges 1 where Canaanites were said to have remained. Tyre, which soon after became the foremost “Phoenician” city, and the city out of which came the Phoenician colonies of the west, was indeed an Israelite city during this period. Strabo says: “Now although the poets have referred more repeatedly to Sidon than to Tyre (Homer does not even mention Tyre), yet the colonies sent into Libya [i.e. Carthage] and Iberia, as far even as outside the Pillars, hymn rather the praises of Tyre” (16.2.22).
Actually there were two cities called Tyre, the older mainland city (Ushu in Assyrian records), and the island city a short distance off the coast. In the A.V. Josh. 19:29 says “the strong city Tyre” (where the LXX has only “and the Tyrians”) is a part of Asher’s territory. The LXX , speaking of the inheritance of Naphtali, also gives to that tribe at Josh. 19:35: “... the walled cities of the Tyrians” along with Tyre itself. While the land of Naphtali was not near the coast, these cities were listed among Naphtali’s inheritance. Since there were two cities named Tyre, palaeo-Tyre and the island city not distinguished in the Bible, there may not be a conflict here. Isaiah 9:1 indicates that along with Zebulon, Naphtali was also a sea-going tribe. (“Galilee” in this verse should rather have been translated “the region”, comparing Strong’s #’s 1551 and 1552 and noting that the words are identical in palaeo-Hebrew, the vowel points being an invention of the later Masoretes.) It may well be that Naphtali inherited, or took for themselves, the island Tyre, which is technically outside of Israel proper, by which reason it may also be that Tyre had its own king, who later controlled parts of the mainland (cf. 1 Kings 9:10-14). Discussing Hiram the artificer, who was from Tyre (cf. 1 Kings 7:13 ff.), Josephus the historian states that “he was by birth of the tribe of Naphtali, on the mother’s side (for she was of that tribe); but his father was Ur, of the stock of the Israelites”, whose tribe was evidently not known to the historian (Antiq. 8.3.4), yet here it is seen that there were people of Naphtali in Tyre. Later kings of Tyre also ruled Sidon (Antiq. 8.13.1), surely helping to fulfill Gen. 49:13.
As time progressed, the Israelites strengthened in their possession of the land of Canaan, as the Biblical records suggest, and Canaanites remained their slaves (cf. Antiq. 8.6.3). When David had his census of Israel, Tyre and Sidon were among the places where it was conducted, and here both of these cities are distinguished from “the cities of the Hivites, and of the Canaanites”, and so they must have been Israelite cities (2 Sam 24:6-7), which Yahshua Christ also attests at Matt. 11:21-22 & Luke 10:13-14. The lamentation of Tyre by Ezekiel (chap. 27) shows that it was an Israelite city. At 27:6 we see the tribe of Asher (“Ashurites”, #843) in Cyprus (“Chittim”), an island of famous Phoenician colonies which was subject to Tyre before the Assyrian conquest (Antiq. 9.14.2). At 27:12 we see that the tribes of Dan (Danaan Greeks) and Javan (Japhethite Ionian Greeks) brought trade to Tyre. The LXX adds a line to 27:18 not found in the A.V.: “... and wool from Miletus; and they brought wine into thy market”. Miletus was an ancient Carian-Phoenician settlement in southwest Anatolia. Thales of Miletus, an early famous “Greek” philosopher, was said to be “of Phoenician descent” (Herodotus 1:170).
Concerning the prophecies which forecast the destruction of Israel and the Assyrian deportations, we find two mentions of Tyre which are wanting in the A.V. At Amos 3:11 where the A.V. states “An adversary there shall be even round about the land” the LXX has a less ambiguous “O Tyre, thy land shall be made desolate round about thee”, the rest of the verse agreeing except that the LXX has “countries” where the A.V. has “palaces”. Micah 7:12 in the LXX reads: “And thy cities shall be leveled, and parted among the Assyrians; and thy strong cities shall be parted from Tyre to the river, and from sea to sea, and from mountain to mountain.”
Surely Tyre was an Israelite city, and the historian Josephus acknowledges as much again in his Against Apion (1:22), where he quotes a Greek writer Theophrastus and his writings concerning laws: “the laws of the Tyrians forbid men to swear foreign oaths”, and Josephus tells us that he was speaking of Israelites, and then goes on to cite Herodotus (from Histories 2:104), who stated that the Phoenicians and the “Syrians of Palestine” (which is what Herodotus called the Judaeans - cf. 2:159, 3:5 and 7:89) were circumcised, and Josephus points out that “there are no inhabitants of Palestine that are circumcised excepting the Judaeans [meaning Israelites]; and therefore it must be his knowledge of them that enabled him to speak so much concerning them”. That the Tyrians had such laws, and brought them to their colonies, is evident in a statement of Strabo’s in his Geography at 3.1.6: “The Turdetanians are ranked as the wisest of the Iberians; and they make use of an alphabet, and possess records of their ancient history, poems and laws written in verse that are six thousand years old, as they assert”, and a footnote in the Loeb Library edition states that “Some think the text should be emended to read ‘six thousand verses in length’.” In either case, it is apparent that these Iberians, “Phoenician” Hebrews, surely had copies of the Scriptures.
Many of the Greek gods and heroes were admitted to be Phoenician, including Heracles (who was said to have saved Andromeda from a sea monster at Joppa in Palestine), Dionysus, Cadmus “the Phoenician” (called “the Tyrian” by Herodotus, 2:49), Semele, the Cabiri, Oedipus, Phoenix, and many others. From Phoenix were descended the Greek heroes Minos, Sarpedon, Rhadamanthys, Phineus, Adonis, and his daughter Europa. That Minos was indeed considered to be a Greek see Josephus, Against Apion 2:17. Phoenicia is a very important part of many of the earliest Greek myths, along with much of the Greek language. Citing all of this would be impossible here. One may begin with the poems of Homer, Hesiod and Euripides. Wherever such Phoenicians are described by the Greek writers, they were absolutely a White, fair-haired, fair-skinned people. Even the Roman poet Virgil in his Aeneid described the Carthaginian queen Dido, a Phoenician, as being blonde and beautiful. While such may not have represented the norm, it certainly was the ideal expressed consistently throughout the poets.
The “Phoenicians” made many settlements in Greece at an early time, nearly as early as the conquest of Canaan itself, namely in Boeotia and Thessaly, in addition to the islands. The largest was named Thebes. Cadmus “the Phoenician” and Danaus “the Egyptian” were even said to have left for Greece from Egypt at the same time that Moses led the Israelites in the Exodus (Diodorus Siculus 40.3.1-3), a myth which certainly holds elements of truth. There is evidence both circumstantial and linguistic (from the Egyptian names for them) that the “Sea Peoples” who invaded Egypt in the late 13th century were actually a group of confederate Israelite and Philistine tribes (for which see www.crystalinks.com/philistia.html). The Phoenicians were obviously an important component in early Greek development, even if the Classical Greek writers, whose perspectives were most often Athenian (Ionian), didn’t always admit as much themselves.
Both the 9th and 11th editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica, in the article “Phoenicia”, explain that the word is properly derived from φοινός (phoinos), as any Greek scholar should find plainly evident. Liddell & Scott define φοινός as “blood-red”. I must assert that term is therefore a Greek translation of the Hebrew adam (Strong’s #’s 119-122), which the Israelites consistently used to describe themselves throughout their own books written during this same period!
The 9th edition of Britannica also states that “... in spite of their purely Semitic language, the Phoenicians were a distinct race from the Hebrews”, and this is only true under the false assumptions that the Hebrews were jews, and the Phoenicians were Canaanites. It continues: “... their political organization and colonizing habits ... find no analogies among the Semites”, and the 11th edition notes their “strangely un-Semetic love for the sea”, statements also true only under another false assumption: that by “Semites” the jews and arabs are meant, both of whom are actually mixed-race Canaanites. The Biblical and historical records clearly show that the ‘scholars’ are wrong, and that the Phoenicians were White, and Israelites!
Galilee of the Gentiles?
This phrase “Galilee of the Gentiles” appears at Matt. 4:15, and is a quote of Isa. 9:1 (where the A.V. has “Galilee of the Nations”). Matt. 4:14 infers that Isaiah’s prophecy would be fulfilled when Yahshua left Nazareth (Matt. 4:13) for “Galilee of the Gentiles.” But was that alone the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy? And Matt. 4:16, which quotes Psalm 23:4? Certainly NOT! Rather it was only the commencement of the fulfillment of the prophecy, which would take quite some time to fulfill.
Matthew next describes the calling of the apostles by Yahshua (4:18 ff.), 11 of which were of the tribe of Benjamin. Discussion of the twelfth, Judas Ish Kerioth, is beyond the scope of our purpose here. Many of Benjamin and Levi settled in Galilee after the return from Babylon, which is evident from the Scriptures. Saul of Tarsus, called much later, was also of Benjamin (Rom. 11:1). When the ancient Kingdom of Israel was divided after Solomon’s death, Benjamin was left with the Tribe of Judah for this very purpose (1 Kings 11:9-13, 36). The apostles of this tribe were fulfilling their duties as the lightbearers to Israel.
Galilee did not originally belong to Benjamin, however. When the land was divided originally, towns in the territory of Naphtali were said to be in “Galilee”, i.e. Josh. 20:7. Would Isaiah say that the region of Galilee in Palestine was of (belonging to) “gentiles”, or even non-Israel “nations”, knowing that the land belonged to Israel? Such is highly unlikely. Reading Isaiah 9:1, however, there is still much more to “Galilee of the Nations” than this.
How could Zebulun and Naphtali be afflicted by “... way of the sea beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the Nations”? That truly does not describe the sea of Galilee at all, and there is no discussion in the Old Testament describing any shipping traffic by Zebulun or Naphtali in that small sea. Even in the time of Christ, the sea of Galilee was plied by little more than small fishing craft. So what else may this statement mean?
The word “beyond” in Isaiah 9:1, the Hebrew ‘eber (Strong’s #5676), may also mean “opposite”, among other things. It is the word from which the names Eber and Hebrew are derived. In the A.V. the word is represented by a wide range of meanings, “from, over, passage, quarter, other side, this side, straight”, etc. according to Strong’s, and many of them quite proper in the contexts in which the word appears. The word is, for instance. “over” in the phrase “over against” at Exod. 25:37, which the Thomas Nelson King James Study Bible I have footnotes “in front of”, and is “this side” at Num. 22:1; 32:19 and 32. So use of the word at Isa. 9:1 does not necessitate that the “sea” or the “way of the sea” referred to there is east of the Jordan River, or is the sea of Galilee, which is actually the source of the river and not “beyond” it at all.
The word “Galilee” (Strong’s #1551) is derived from the Hebrew word geliylah (#1552) which means “a circuit or region.” In Hebrew the proper noun and the noun which it is derived from are spelled with the same characters, but with slightly different vowel points. In the Palaeo-Hebrew of Isaiah’s time, without vowels or modern Hebrew vowel points, and in all upper-case letters as was the custom, these two words are indistinguishable. It is evident that they could easily be confused.
The “sea of Galilee” was never called such in the Old Testament Kingdom period. The name “Galilee” appears only at Josh. 20:7; 21:32; 1 Kings 9:11; 2 Kings 15:29; 1 Chron. 6:76 and Isa. 9:1. “Galilee” was instead only the name of an undefined region in northern Israel, at least part of which lied in the land of Naphtali. The “sea of Galilee” is always called the “sea of Chinnereth” (or Chinneroth, Strong’s #3672), mentioned at Num. 34:11; Deut. 3:17; Josh. 11:2; 12:3; 13:27 and 19:35. Additionally, it is quite clear from Scripture that half of the coastline of the Sea of Galilee was adjoined by land belonging to the Tribe of Naphtali, with the balance adjoined by the lands of the Geshurites and Maachathites (Deut. 3:14; Joshua 13:7-13). Geshur was considered a part of the land of Aram, or Syria. The Aramaeans were Semites and related to the Israelites. The Maachathites were apparently also related to the Israelites (Gen. 22:24) though they remained a distinct kingdom (1 Chron. 19:6-7).
Genesis 49:13 states that Zebulun would dwell among ships bordering Sidon, “... at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for a haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon.” Zebulun’s inherited land was neither near Sidon, nor was it near any sea (Josh. 19:10-16)! Yet it should surely be manifest by this point, that “Galilee of the Gentiles” need not indicate the “Sea of Galilee” at all. In fact, “Galilee of the Gentiles”, or even “Galilee of the Nations”, makes no sense at all.
However, if one is knowledgeable concerning Israel’s early migrations into Europe, then reading Isaiah 9:1 “... and afterward did more grievously afflict them by the way of the sea opposite Jordan, in the region of the Nations” makes perfectly good sense! And where did the lightbearers of Benjamin go after the Passion, upon leaving Palestine? To the people who walked in darkness – in Europe and Asia Minor.
Most so-called “scholars”, and especially the “Jews”, would have us believe that the sea-faring Phoenicians of Tyre, Sidon and elsewhere were a people distinct from the Israelites, and were Canaanites at that. If that were so, then when the Phoenicians settled what are today Spain and Portugal, they should have called the place “Sidonia” or “Canaania” and not Iberia (Eber-land, i.e. “Hebrew-land”). An examination of Scripture, and especially the Septuagint, reveals that the people whom the Greeks called “Phoenicians” (and the word does not appear at all until it appears in Homer, who was probably a contemporary of Hosea and Isaiah) were certainly Israelites. Yet even the Septuagint in its translation sometimes confused Canaanites with the “Phoenicians”, somewhat true in 280 B.C. when the edition was translated. For long after all of the Israelites who were deported by the Assyrians were gone, the Greeks continued to call the land “Phoenicia”, and the Canaanites who remained to inhabit it, along with whatever remnant of Israelites remained, they continued to call “Phoenicians.”
Joshua 11:8 in the A.V. states: “And Yahweh delivered them [the Canaanite army] into the hand of Israel, who smote them, and chased them unto great Zidon, and unto Misrephoth-maim, and unto the valley of Mizpeh eastward; and they smote them, until they left none remaining.” At Joshua 13:6 we read: “All the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon unto Misrephoth-maim and all the Sidonians, them will I drive out from before the children of Israel: only divide thou it by lot unto the Israelites for an inheritance, as I have commanded thee.” The name “Sidon”, or “Zidon” at times, described both a city on the coast of Palestine, and the region around it. It also described the Canaanite descendants of Sidon (Gen. 10:15) who inhabited it.
Later we find that although the Israelites surely did inhabit this region, they failed to drive off all the Canaanite and other tribes: “Now these are the nations which Yahweh left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan ... Namely, five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites that dwelt in mount Lebanon, from Baal-hermon unto the entering in of Hamath.” (Jdgs. 3:1-3). The region and city of Sidon became a part of the territory of the tribe of Asher, as described at Joshua 19:24-31, and we are informed also at Jdgs. 1:31 that Canaanites continued to dwell in the city. But Tyre, which quickly became the prominent “Phoenician” city, was also in the territory of Asher – or at least the mainland city was, since there is not yet mention of the island off the coast – and note that there is no mention anywhere of Canaanites remaining in Tyre.
The Septuagint (LXX) says at Joshua 19:28-29, of Asher’s inheritance: “And Elbon, and Raah, and Ememaon, and Canthan to great Sidon. And the borders shall turn back to Rama, and to the fountain of Masphassat, and the Tyrians ...”. But a little further on, describing Naphtali’s inheritance at 19:35: “And the walled cities of the Tyrians, Tyre, and Omathadaketh, and Kenereth ...”, quite different than the version found in the A.V. Although not within Naphtali’s territory, did Naphtali inherit Tyre, on the coast of the territory of Asher? Or did this refer to the island off the coast? Such can not be told with the data I have presently. Reading the accounts given at 1 Kings 9:11-13 and 2 Chron. 8:2, it is evident that Naphtali did not inhabit all of the territory in Galilee which they inherited, for Solomon had to repopulate many of those cities in his time.
That Asher inhabited the coasts of the Mediterranean, and not the “Canaanites”, can be discerned in the A.V. at Judges 5:17: “Asher continued on the seashore, and abode in his breaches”, where “breaches” is the Hebrew miphrats (#4464) and may be translated “havens” or “inlets”, the word meaning “a break (in the shore), i.e. a haven” (Strong’s). In the Egyptian records of the 18th dynasty, which predates the Israelite conquest of Canaan, Tyre is called “T’aru the haven”, and it is said of the island off the coast “water is carried to it in barks, it is richer in fish than in sands” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 9th edition, p 817).
And so the Israelite presence in Tyre and Sidon, at about the same time that the so-called “Phoenicians” began their rise to supremacy over the seas, is absolutely undeniable. At 2 Sam. 24:2-7, for instance, King David sends Joab to number the tribes of Israel. Tyre and Sidon were among the places to which Joab journeyed. Elsewhere on the seacoast, Elijah visited the widow of Zarephath, and neither was that noble woman a Canaanite.
Amos 3:11, part of a prophecy against Israel, where the A.V. states “An adversary there shall be even round about the land ...” the LXX has “O Tyre, thy land shall be made desolate round about thee ...”. Micah 7:12, in another prophecy directed at Israel, reads in the LXX “And thy cities shall be leveled, and parted among the Assyrians; and thy strong cities shall be parted from Tyre to the river, and from sea to sea, and from mountain to mountain.” And so the prophets also testify that the Israelites inhabited Tyre, yet these citations are wanting in the A.V.
It is only well after the deportations of the Israelites that Greek writers tell us of “Canaanites” in Phoenicia, yet the Israelites were long removed from the land. The inhabitants of the island city of Tyre, however, never were deported by the Assyrians or the Babylonians, although the mainland portion of Tyre was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar (Ezek. 26). After the beginning of the Persian period, the Tyrians were subject to Persia and had spread themselves back to the mainland. The island city was destroyed for good by Alexander the Great circa 330 B.C. Yet it is evident that many of the Israelites did remain in the area and maintained their identity for quite some time, as we have Anna the prophetess, of the Tribe of Asher, in Jerusalem during the birth of Christ (Luke 2:36).
Much more can be said, drawn not only from Scripture but from history and archaeology, to demonstrate that the Israelites were one and the same with the Phoenicians of history, who were the people who settled not only much of the North African coasts and Spain, but also the British Isles, the northern coasts of Europe, the coasts of Anatolia (Turkey today), and also made up much of the original “Greek” and “Roman” populations, all of these having their roots in both Israelite, other Semite, and the Japhethite tribes of Genesis 10. Yet hopefully enough has been said to illuminate the true meaning of the expression “Galilee of the Gentiles”, actually “the region of the Nations”, found at Isaiah 9:1 and Matt. 4:15.
Note: Two other places contain the phrase “Galilee of the Nations”, in English versions. Joel 3:4 in the LXX (the A.V. has here “all the coasts of Palestine”) and 1 Macc. 5:15 in both the LXX and the A.V. Apocryphae. However in the LXX Greek in both places the phrase reads Γαλιλαίας ἀλλοφύλων (Galilaias allophulôn) or literally “Galilee of the other tribes”, “the region of the other tribes”, the LXX translators long ago making the same error of “Galilee” for “galilee” which I hope to have illustrated above
Phoenicians, or "Fenicians" as the Early Irish Called
The Odyssey Revisited
Perhaps of interest to students of both history and literature is a book about Homer’s The Odyssey, written by Dr. Christine Pellech. She makes the claim that Odysseus sailed around the world before returning home from the battle at Troy. Her contention is as follows:
Later in this same chapter, we will show a similar belief by Gawler regarding the Grecian Hercules, both indicating generic Phoenicians rather than specific persons.
More Phoenician Evidence
Although not as numerous or famous as the Michigan shafts, many inexplicable mining pits are scattered along the rivers and tributaries of America’s Northeast, with personal amulets and inscribed stones surrounding these copper, iron, and lead mines. The writing system of these inscriptions has been found to be Celtiberic, an offshoot of the Carthaginian Punic, itself an offshoot of Phoenician, whose parent language we know to have been Hebrew.
Trento says Herodotus (ca. 480 BCE) told of Phoenician trading customs beyond the Pillars of Hercules. Avienus (ca. 450 BCE) mentioned the journeys of the Carthaginians Himilco and Hanno. Plato (ca. 400 BCE) wrote dialogues of Atlantis and other continents beyond [italics added]. Aristotle (ca. 360 BCE) said the country outside the Pillars of Hercules was fertile, well-wooded, fruitful, and had navigable rivers. Diodorus (ca. 21 BCE) described a great country many days’ voyage through the Atlantic, with navigable rivers, big houses, forests, and fruits. He said the Phoenicians had discovered the country long ago but had kept its whereabouts a secret. Much later, Plutarch (70 CE) wrote that, "Far west in the ocean in the latitude of Britain lie islands, beyond which stretches a great continent. Greek language is spoken there." Pausanias (ca. 150 CE) said that west of the Atlantic are a group of islands whose inhabitants are red skinned and whose hair is like a horse. Aelianus (ca. 200 CE) reported that among the Phoenicians of Cadiz it was common knowledge that a huge "island" existed out in the Atlantic. Finally, Proclus (ca. 440 CE) claimed that the new land had stones and pillars erected by Egyptians and that inscriptions often found on the pillars told of the history of the people.24
Barry Fell identified the language of some of the Algonquian Amerindians as Greek, and he translated many other petroglyphs in America as Phoenician, Punic, Celtiberian, Celtic, Greek, and Roman, as well as Coptic, Semitic, and Arabic. Most of these languages are Israelite-based, or Hebrew. Gawler said, "The Phoenician language was identical with the Hebrew."25
More about Phoenicians in America is in another chapter.
Phoenician Sea Power
Were these Phoenicians really capable of sailing across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to trade and plant colonies on other continents?
Phoenicians had early on settled in Iberia and founded the city of Tartessos, also known as Gades. Avienus referred to Gades, saying, "Here is the town of Gadir, earlier known as Tartessus." The city of Gadir was known as Gades [Cadiz] and as Gadir, probably receiving those names after the Patriarch Gad or the place-name "Gadir" in Israel. It was an Israelite city in the territory of Simeon. Davidy says that in the region of Gades, ceramics from the Middle East of the late Bronze Age have been found.
The Iberian Peninsula was named after the Hebrew Israelites, Hebrew and Iberi meaning the same. The word "Hebrew" comes from the root "Aber" or "Iber." The appellation "Iberi" was later given to natives of North Africa who entered Spain as a result of Carthaginian policy. However, an already existing ethnic definition of another people known to the Greeks by that same name preceded these North Africans. After giving their name to it, these early Hebrews passed on into Gaul [France] and the British Isles. The root "Eber" [or "Iber" or "Heber"] is frequently found in the Celtic nomenclature of these areas. Irish and Scottish mythology says that Galatae who settled in Gaul and the British Isles arrived via Spain and called themselves "Hiberi" or "Iberi," and are so named on Ptolemy’s map of Britain.
We know that the people who settled the Iberian Peninsula later migrated on into Britain, other parts of Scandinavia, and across the Atlantic Ocean into America. These Danite-Esauite Phoenicians controlled the tin and copper trade in the Mediterranean and built huge ocean-going vessels with two, three, four, and sometimes even five rows of oars on each side. According to Julius Caesar, they were bigger, faster, and more maneuverable than the Roman ships. The only reason Rome destroyed them in the First Punic War was because of the Roman grappling iron. The Hebrew Scriptures imply that the ships of Tarshish were the largest seagoing vessels known to the Semitic world, and that name eventually was applied to any large ocean-going vessel. Foreign maritime commerce was at least as orderly and nearly as complicated in ancient times as it is now.
The Greek-North African connection produced some maritime firsts. Up to 30 CE, the Greek shippers who operated the eastern trade routes for Mediterranean markets required three years for a round-trip voyage to India and back, following the tortuous coastline of Asia. About 30 CE, an Alexandrian skipper named Hippalos discovered how to use the monsoon winds to cross the Indian Ocean in the space of only three months. He returned from India in less than a year, thereby revolutionizing the trade routes. Within a year, upwards of 100 ships were setting out for India each season, to return to Egypt laden with silks, spices, and gems in return for Roman gold. Soon Ceylon and eastern India were added to the trade areas.26
These and other similar voyages did not follow the tedious route of the continental coasts, but struck boldly across the open waters. Monsoon trade winds were used, but what else did these ancient peoples know? In 239 BCE, Erosthenes had calculated the circumference of the world as being about 28,000 miles, an error of excess of only 13 percent. The degree of latitude, then, was mistakenly thought to be some 69 nautical miles instead of 60 miles, its true value. This error was not so great as to forbid successful ocean crossings with a predicted landing point. Longitude was calculated by dead reckoning, a method that continued until long after the time of Columbus. For lack of a magnetic compass, bearings could not be taken in cloudy weather, but the stars and the sun and moon provided data at all other times. The astronomical observations were set into an early type of astrolabe, which, combined with the cross staff for measuring the elevation of the midday sun or other celestial objects at the time of their meridional passage, yielded a direct reading of latitude. By 150 BCE, a mechanical computer had been added to the navigational equipment, which could now perform the operations of an astrolabe merely by cranking bronze gears and matching dials.27
The Phoenician ships were superior even to these Celtic ships. Fell relates how in the First Punic War (260-242 BCE), each Carthaginian ship of the line was a quinquireme. These ships were so large that five rowers to each oar were required because of the length of the oar to reach the sea. There were 50 or more oars. These rowers, with officers plus 120 marines, made a complement of 400 men. In this war, 334 Carthaginian ships were lost.
Sea trade was started by the Phoenicians at least as early as the twelfth century BCE, and likely many centuries earlier. By 900 BCE, they had established a wealthy and secure string of colonies in the Mediterranean ranging from Malta to the Iberian Peninsula. By 500 BCE, Carthage had obtained complete control of the western Mediterranean and destroyed the Greek strongholds in Spain. For the next few centuries up until the Punic Wars, when Carthage was destroyed by the emerging Roman Republic, these Carthaginians and, earlier, the Phoenicians prevented all vessels from sailing past the Straits of Gibraltar into the Atlantic Ocean.
Maps had to exist for these Phoenicians [sometimes Egyptian-hired] to traverse the globe. Stecchini’s geodesic studies and the cartographic evidence of Charles Hapgood prove that our oldest medieval maps are nothing but copies of copies whose lost originals go far back into antiquity. By modern means, they determined that the originals had been laid out by means of spherical geometry, just like our own modern maps. Paul Tesla’s work in this same area was later checked and approved without qualification by top U.S. military cartographers, which would seem to place its technical aspects beyond dispute.
Checking further on this, researcher Paul Tesla found that the celebrated Piri Reis map has a strange feature. It shows Antarctica in unglaciated condition, a geological event that could have concluded as much as six thousand years ago. The geodesic center of this map is Cyene, Egypt, Cyene being also the marker for other maps. Piri Reis traced his map back to Alexander the Great, thus, by inference, to the scholars of Alexandria (this according to his own notations on the map). Theoretically, even these early Egyptian map makers could have been using much older materials they had preserved, simply modifying them to suit their new geographical circumstances.30
These Phoenician-Israelite-Carthaginian ships planted colonies in the Americas and, quoting Diodorus of Sicily, "The Phoenicians planted many colonies throughout Libya and not a few as well in western parts of Europe." Fell pointed out that they also sailed into the Pacific Ocean and planted colonies, and/or assimilated with, and/or settled some of the Polynesian and Melanesian Islands. Today, some of these same peoples are still nautical powers, including the United States and England.
Steven Collins and Phoenicians
In his book, The "Lost" Ten Tribes of Israel…Found! (1995), Steven M. Collins makes some interesting points that correspond to, and corroborate, the present author’s views.
"Upon concluding his war with the Assyrians and their allies, King David’s Israel ruled (either directly or via its influence over vassal kings) the entire Mid-Eastern world from Egypt and Asia Minor to the region of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. 1 Chronicles 19:16-19 records that David’s vassal kings included Syrians (Aramaeans) who lived east of the Euphrates River. Since secular historians note that Assyria was invaded and subjugated by Aramaeans from the west during this time, either the Israelite role in this ‘Aramaean’ force was missed or the Aramaeans turned on the Assyrians and attacked them as vassals of King David."33
Note that the Arabians [Ismaelites, mostly, from Abraham and Hagar’s son and his Egyptian wife] were part of those defeated in the Israelite-Assyrian war. Israel’s hegemony then extended an unknown distance into the Arabian Peninsula. This was a large territory. However, this was only the beginning of Israel’s empire!
The accumulated evidence supports the conclusion that the Phoenicians started out as some of the Esau-ites and some of the Tribe of Dan. They were seafaring merchants who became quite well-known to all the Mediterranean countries and many countries worldwide. When Israel later migrated into the lands of northern Palestine, the Tribes of Zebulon, Asher, Naphtali, and Issachar contributed to their navies. Most of the Esau-ites were driven out or killed, in obedience to Joshua’s command to rid the land of the Canaanites, but some assimilation undoubtedly took place. Long before the Golden Age of David and Solomon, the Israelite part of the Phoenicians outnumbered the Esau-ites and was dominant.
They sailed the oceans and seas of the world, planted colonies in many foreign countries, settled in faraway places, and built beautiful citadels and trade centers. Their kingdoms and colonies were far-flung, and they were great empire builders. By the time they "became" the Carthaginians, they were almost entirely Israelites, some of course having mixed blood with their cousins, the displaced Esau-ites and with other nationalities that they came in contact with. Their cultural, technological, mathematical, astronomical, nautical skills cannot be overemphasized. Their greatest contribution was the alphabet. All of this was in accordance with Genesis 12:3, "…in thee [Abraham] shall all the families of the earth be blessed," and in Genesis 28:14, "All the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you and your descendants."
Concerning this alphabet, Collins has more corroborating evidence.
In opening this chapter, Capt was quoted as saying a people known as "Phoenicians" moved to the coasts [of Lebanon] from the east perhaps as early as 1500 BCE. The Israelite Tribe of Dan, with parts of Zebulon and Asher, had settled that area around 1400, right after the Exodus. These Israelite settlers could have driven these people to the coasts, or the Phoenicians could have been Israelites themselves, since the time frame fits that of Capt’s reckoning. The brothers Esau and Jacob might even have settled Tyre and that area before Jacob and his sons later went to Egypt. Alternatively, as some evidence indicates, some of Dan left Egypt early rather than be enslaved and formed a partnership with cousin Esau. There was a Scriptural symbiotic nautical relationship between Dan and Phoenicia. This could have been around 1500 BCE or, at least, as early as 1300 BCE. Finally, perhaps Dan, Asher, Zebulon, Issachar, and Naphtali could have driven these Esau-ites eastward and become, themselves, the Phoenicians, with a few Esau stragglers intermarrying with them.
Mention is made by Colonel Gawler (1880) that the origin of the Grecian Hercules [Heracles in Greek] seems to him to have been in the daring adventures and exploits of the "semi-traders and buccaneers of Tyre and Dan, out of which they formed an ideal [generic] man suitable to that heroic age, and in apparent conformity with the earliest Divine command (Genesis 1:26, 28) to ‘subdue’ and ‘have dominion.’ In Hebrew rakal means to trade and Heracleem means traders. Those who went forth from Argos and subdued other parts of Greece are spoken of as Heraclidae, or descendants of Heracles. For awhile, apparently in the confusion caused by the Trojan War, they were driven Northward out of the Peloponnesus. Some years later they made a re-conquest, which was called ‘the return of the descendants of Hercules’ (see Muller’s History of the Dorians). From these are the Lacedaemonians, whose capital was Sparta. Thus Agamemnon, who was chosen Commander-in-Chief of all the Greeks proceeding to the siege of Troy, was King of Argos and Mycene, and his brother, Menelaus, was King of Sparta, capital of Lacedaemon.
"There is another instance of the kind. The Danaster (Dniester) is sometimes called the Tyras (Herod, IV:51; Strabo VII.I:1), and the people living there are called Tyritae, and it is reasonable to infer that, from the intimate home relations of the people of Tyre with the Dannites of Israel, the names of Tyre and Dan were used indiscriminately."36
That they were part of the same Israelite peoples from whom we trace our descent seems evident. "Nineteenth-Century Britons tended to identify themselves with the Phoenicians, who were, ‘The people who of all antiquity had the most in common with England and the English’ [quoting G. Rawlinson, Phoenicia, 1889]. The Phoenicians were regarded (by British historians) as allies of King Solomon and as Semites.
"There was a perception, on the Continent, of a close relationship between England and the Semites in general, and the Phoenicians in particular (Bernal, p. 342). ‘Consciously or unconsciously, European thinkers saw the Phoenicians as the Jews of Antiquity–as clever "Semitic" traders. Despite the association between the English and the Semites, no one compared the English to the Arabs or the Ethiopians; the Semites they had in mind were Jews and/or Phoenicians.’"37
Whoever they were, they became a great empire, and today almost nobody knows about them. Steven Collins calls them the "Forgotten Empire." They established an international empire that lasted 300 years, between [approximately] 1000-700 BCE. Phoenicia included the entire region on the Eastern Shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Greeks called that area "Phoenicia," and applied the name "Phoenician" to the alliance of people in that region that was headed by the Israelites.
Under Kings Solomon of Israel and Hiram of Tyre, the Israelites and the city-states under King Hiram became virtually one people, with mingled work forces laboring together on huge building projects and with their navies crewed by sailors from both nations. Tyre and Sidon were junior partners to Israelites in that time of worldwide influence. These Israelites became the Carthaginian Empire, among others, while those who remained behind continued to be called Phoenician. They fit in superlatively to the promises of Creator that His chosen people would be empire builders and world leaders.
19 Trento, p. 65.
20 Ibid., pp. 65-70.
21 Collins, Steven M., The "Lost" Ten Tribes of Israel…Found! p. 26.
22 Ibid., p. 26.
23 Tromel, Fred, "An Ethnologist Looks at The Odyssey," ESOP, 1988, pp. 122-123 [describing Dr. Christine Pellech’s Die Odyssee-eign Antike Weltumseqelung (The Odyssey-an Antique Circumnavigation of the World)], pub. 1983, Dietrich Reimer Verlag, Berlin.
24 Trento, pp. 12-13.
25 Gawler, Colonel J.C., "Dan, the Pioneer of Israel," p. 31.
26 Fell, America B.C., p. 109.
27 Ibid., p. 110.
29 Ibid., p. 112.
30 Tesla, p. 165.
31 Collins, p. 75. Collins is quoting Edey, The Sea Traders, p. 9.
32 Ibid., p. 76.
33 Ibid., p. 33.
34 Ibid., pp. 78-79, quoting Harper’s Bible Dictionary, ‘Tarshish.’ p. 1018.
35 Ibid., pp. 58-59.
36 Gawler, p. 12.
37 Davidy, Yair, Ephraim, p. 188. Davidy is quoting Bernal, Martin, Black Athena, the Archaeological and Documentary Evidence, p. 33. Note that "Jew" is meant here as "Israelite."
Modified Thursday, December 24, 2009
Copyright @ 2007 by Fathers' Manifesto & Christian Party