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Bible Cities: Phoenicia
Ancient Phoenicia

Map of Ancient Phoenicia


Phoenicia in Easton's Bible Dictionary (Acts 21:2). (See PHENICIA -T0002930.)

Phoenicia in Fausset's Bible Dictionary The Greek name, "the land of the palm." Kenrick supposes the term to express the sunburnt color of the people. The native name was Canaan, "lowland," in contrast to Aram "the highland," Syria. The woman in Matthew 15:22 said to be "of Canaan" in Mark 7:26 is called "Syrophoenician." Phoenice proper was the narrow plain stretching from six miles S. of Tyre to two miles N. of Sidon, 28 miles in all, and from one to two miles broad, a small land to have wielded so mighty an influence. Sidon in the N. is 20 miles from Tyre in the S.; Zarephath lay between. Phoenice in the larger sense extended from the same southern boundary 120 miles northward to Antaradus and the island Aradus, 20 miles broad. Berytus, now Beirut (Ezekiel 47:16; 2 Samuel 8:8 BEROTHAH, Berothai), was 15 geographical miles N. of Sidon. (See ARVAD.) Farther north was Byblus (GEBAL, Ezekiel 27:9). Next is Tripolis. Next Arad or Arvad (Genesis 10:18; Ezekiel 27:8). The soil is fertile except between the river Bostremus and Beirut. Tyre and Sidon were havens sufficient in water depth for the requirements of ancient ships; and Lebanon adjoining supplied timber abundant for shipbuilding. The Phoenicians were the great merchants, sailors, and colonists of the ancient world. The language is Semitic (from Shem), and was acquired by the Hamitic settlers in Canaan from the original Semitic occupants; it probably has a Hamitic element too (these Semitics were related by common Noachic descent to the Hamites, hence the languages too are related). Carthage was a Phoenician colony; Plautus in the Poenulus (5:1) preserves a Carthaginian passage; Phoenician is close related to Hebrew which Abram found spoken in Canaan already (compare Abimelech "father of a king," Melchizedek "king of righteousness." Kirjath Sapher "city of the book"). Thus Tyre is Hebrew tsor, "rock"; Sidon tsidon, "fishing"; Carthage karthada, "new town"; Byrsa botsrah, "citadel," Bozrah Isaiah 63:1. Dido, as David, "beloved"; Hasdrubal "his help is Baal"; Hannibal "grace of Baal "; Hamilcar the god "Milcar's gift." The oldest Phoenician inscribed coins are from Tarsus. Abram originally spoke the language of Ur of the Chaldees, Aramaic, as did Laban (Genesis 11:31; Genesis 31:47); but soon his descendants, as Jacob, spoke the Canaanite or Phoenician Hebrew as their own tongue, compare Deuteronomy 26:5. Accho (Acre), a capital harbor, assigned to Asher, was not occupied by that tribe (Judges 1:31); but remained in the Canaanites' possession. So Israel depended on Phoenice for any small commerce the former had with the W. Under Solomon Phoenice is noted for nautical skill, extensive commerce, mechanical and ornamental art (1 Kings 5:6): "none can skill to hew timber like unto the Sidonians"; "cunning to work in gold, silver, brass, iron, purple, blue, and crimson," and "grave grayings" (2 Chronicles 2:7). Hiram cast all the temple vessels and the two pillars Boaz and Jachin for Solomon, and the laver or molten sea (1 Kings 7:21-23). Homer (Iliad 6:289, 23:743; Od. 4:614, 15:417) and Herodotus (1:1, 4:148) confirm Scripture as to their nautical skill, embroidered robes, and silver bowls. Dins (in Josephus, Apion 1:17-18) and Menander (Josephus, Apion 1:18), their own historians, attest their skill in hawing wood and making metal pillars. No artistic excellence, but mechanical processes of art and ornamentation, appear in their extant gems, cylinders, metal bowls plain and embossed...

Phoenicia in Smiths Bible Dictionary (land of palm trees) a tract of country, of which Tyre and Sidon were the principal cities, to the north of Israel, along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea bounded by that sea on the west, and by the mountain range of Lebanon on the east. The name was not the one by which its native inhabitants called it, but was given to it by the Greeks, from the Greek word for the palm tree. The native name of Phoenicia was Kenaan (Canaan) or Kna, signifying lowland, so named in contrast to the ad joining Aram, i.e. highland, the Hebrew name of Syria. The length of coast to which the name of Phoenicia was applied varied at different times. 1. What may be termed Phoenicia proper was a narrow undulating plain, extending from the pass of Ras el-Beyad or Abyad, the Promontorium Album of the ancients, about six miles south of Tyre, to the Nahr el-Auly, the ancient Bostrenus, two miles north of Sidon. The plain is only 28 miles in length. Its average breadth is about a mile; but near Sidon the mountains retreat to a distance of two miles, and near Tyre to a distance of five miles. 2. A longer district, which afterward became entitled to the name of Phoenicia, extended up the coast to a point marked by the island of Aradus, and by Antaradus toward the north; the southern boundary remaining the same as in Phoenicia proper. Phoenicia, thus defined is estimated to have been about 120 miles in length; while its breadth, between Lebanon and the sea, never exceeded 20 miles, and was generally much less. The whole of Phoenicia proper is well watered by various streams from the adjoining hills. The havens of Tyre and Sidon afforded water of sufficient depth for all the requirements of ancient navigation, and the neighboring range of the Lebanon, in its extensive forests, furnished what then seemed a nearly inexhaustible supply of timber for ship-building. Language and race. --The Phoenicians spoke a branch of the Semitic language so closely allied to Hebrew that Phoenician and Hebrew, though different dialects, may practically be regarded as the same language. Concerning the original race to which the Phoenicians belonged, nothing can be known with certainty, because they are found already established along the Mediterranean Sea at the earliest dawn of authentic history, and for centuries afterward there is no record of their origin. According to Herodotus, vii. 89, they said of themselves in his time that they came in days of old from the shores of the Red Sea and in this there would be nothing in the slightest degree improbable as they spoke a language cognate to that of the Arabians, who inhabited the east coast of that sea. Still neither the truth nor the falsehood of the tradition can now be proved. But there is one point respecting their race which can be proved to be in the highest degree probable, and which has peculiar interest as bearing on the Jews, viz., that the Phoenicians were of the same race as the Canaanites. Commerce, etc. --In regard to Phoenician trade, connected with the Israelites, it must be recollected that up to the time of David not one of the twelve tribes seems to have possessed a single harbor on the seacoast; it was impossible there fore that they could become a commercial people. But 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. 2Sa 5:11; 1Ki 5:9,17,18 The religion of the Phoenicians, opposed to Monotheism, was a pantheistical personification of the forces of nature and in its most philosophical shadowing forth of the supreme powers it may be said to have represented the male and female principles of production. In its popular form it was especially a worship of the sun, moon and five planets, or, as it might have been expressed according to ancient notions, of the seven planets --the most beautiful and perhaps the most natural form of idolatry ever presented to the human imagination. Their worship was a constant temptation for the Hebrews to Polytheism and idolatry -- 1. Because undoubtedly the Phoenicians, as a great commercial people, were more generally intelligent, and as we should...

Phoenicia in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE fe-nish'-i-a, fe-nish'-anz: 1. The Land 2. The Colonies 3. The People 4. Arts and Manufactures 5. Commerce and Trade 6. Language and Culture 7. Religion 8. History LITERATURE 1. The Land: The term "Phoenicia" is Greek (Phoinike, "land of dates, or palm trees," from phoinix, "the date-palm"). It occurs in the Bible only in Acts (11:19; 15:3; 21:2), the land being generally designated as the "coast" or "borders of Tyre and Sidon" (Mt 15:21; Mk 7:24,31; Lk 6:17). In the Old Testament we find it included in the land belonging to the Canaanites or to Sidon (Gen 10:19; 49:13; Josh 11:8; 1 Ki 17:9). The limits of Phoenicia were indefinite also. It is sometimes used by classic writers as including the coast line from Mt. Cassius on the North to Gaza or beyond on the South, a distance of some 380 miles, or about 400 miles if we include the sweep of indentations and bays and the outstretching of the promontories. But in the stricter sense, it did not extend beyond Gabala (modern Jebleh) on the North, and Mt. Carmel on the South, or some 150 miles. The name was probably first applied to the region opposite Cyprus, from Gabala to Aradus and Marathus, where the date-palm was observed, and then, as it was found in still greater abundance farther South, it was applied to that region also. The palm tree is common on the coins of both Aradus and Tyre, and it still grows on the coast, though not in great abundance. The width of the land also was indefinite, not extending inland beyond the crest of the two ranges of mountains, the Bargylus (Nusairi Mountains) and the Lebanon, which run parallel to the coast and leave but little space between them and the sea for the greater portion of their length. It is doubtful whether the Phoenicians occupied the mountain tracts, but they must have dominated them on the western slopes, since they derived from them timber for their ships and temples. The width of the country probably did not exceed 25 or 30 miles at the most, and in many places it was much less, a very small territory, in fact, but one that played a distinguished role in ancient times. There are few harbors on the whole coast, none in the modern sense, since what few bays and inlets there are afford but slight shelter to modern ships, but those of the ancients found sufficient protection in a number of places, especially by means of artificial harbors, and the facility with which they could be drawn out upon the sandy beach in winter when navigation was suspended. The promontories are few and do not project far into the sea, such as Theu- prosopon South of Tripolis, Ras Beirut and the broad projection South of Tyre including Ras el-`Abyadh and Ras en-Naqura and Ras el-Musheirifeh (see LADDER OF TYRE). The promontory of Carmel is rather more marked than the others, and forms quite an extensive bay, which extends to Acre. The promontory rises to a height of 500 ft. or more near the sea and to more than double that elevation in its course to the Southeast. Mt. Lebanon, which forms the background of Phoenicia for about 100 miles, is a most striking feature of the landscape. It rises to a height of 10,200 ft. in the highest point, East of Tripolis, and to 8,500 in Jebel Sunnin, East of Beirut, and the average elevation is from 5,000 to 6,000 ft. It is rent by deep gorges where the numerous streams have cut their way to the sea, furnishing most varied and picturesque...

Phoenicia Scripture - Acts 21:2 Acts 21:2 - And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth.

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