October 14, 2007
The first two books of my four-book series on the history of the tribes of Israel discuss the very close alliance between the ten tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel and the city-states of Tyre and Sidon located on the ancient coast of Lebanon. Secular evidence records that the Greeks gave the name “Phoenicia” to this alliance of Israel, Tyre and Sidon. The Bible records that this alliance began during the reign of King David over all the tribes of Israel (II Samuel 5:11), intensified during the reign of King Solomon (I Kings 5:1-18, 7:13, 9:26-27, 10:11 & 22), and was still very strong in the reign of King Ahab after the northern ten tribes established their own kingdom with a capital of Samaria. When King Ahab married Jezebel, a daughter of the royal house of Sidon (I Kings 16:31), it confirmed that the alliance between Israel and the city states of Tyre and Sidon was being cemented by the intermarriage of their royal houses.
The “Phoenician” empire was actually the empire of the ancient kingdom of Israel, allied to the city-states of Tyre and Sidon. When the kingdom of Israel separated from the kingdom of Judah, Israel’s first king, Jeroboam, forsook God’s ways and embraced the pagan gods of Egypt and the Baal worship of Tyre and Sidon (I Kings 12:25-33). Jeroboam moved forcefully to sever the people of the northern ten-tribed kingdom of Israel from the southern kingdom of Judah by inventing new festival days, gods, etc. to ensure that contacts between the people of Israel and Judah were minimized. As the northern ten tribes allied themselves ever closer to Tyre and Sidon, their language, script, culture, religion, etc. became increasingly merged with that of Tyre and Sidon and steadily had less in common with the southern kingdom of Judah. Israel’s shift away from Judah and its embrace of Tyre and Sidon made the northern ten tribes increasingly “Phoenician” and less recognizable as “Hebrew” like the southern kingdom of Judah. However, the kingdom of Israel, with a large hinterland, was the dominant part of the Phoenician Empire. The city-states of Tyre and Sidon had a much smaller populations and could not maintain any “empire” status after the ten tribes of Israel left the region in exile.
The Phoenicians established a far-flung maritime commercial empire in the Mediterranean region, on the Atlantic coast of Europe, in the British Isles, in North America and elsewhere (as is abundantly documented in my books on this subject–see book links). One Phoenician city located on the coast of modern Spain was called Gadir (or Gades). Today the modern city of Cadiz is located at the site. The first link below contains a story on an archaeological expedition which is uncovering the walls and other artifacts from the ancient Phoenician city. The story notes that the original name of the city, Gadir, means “the fortress.” Vowels were not written in ancient languages of that time so the consonants were G-D-R. The Hebrew word with the consonants G-D-R (Gadar) means “close up,” “fence up” or “make a wall” (Young’s Analytical Concordance, 1978 Edition, Index Lexicon to the Old Testament, p. 16). The connection between the name of the Phoenician city, Gadir, and the meaning of the Hebrew word, gadar, is obvious.
In a related story, a Danish researcher claims to have identified the personal seal of Jezebel (mentioned above), the Sidonian princess who became queen of Israel during King Ahab’s reign. A story on the subject is provided in the second link below (from the website of Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper). This discovery will be the subject of an article in a pending issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, an authoritative publication concerning ancient biblical artifacts. I recommend that readers check out the article when it is published.