« PrécédentContinuer »
name Phoenicia applies merely to territory, not to a single well organized state, nor even to a permanent confederacy. Each city was ruled by its king, but a strong priestly influence and a powerful aristocracy, either of birth or wealth, restrained the despotic inclinations of the monarch.
63. The commerce of the Phoenician cities had no rival in the earlier centuries of their prosperity. Their trading stations sprang up rapidly along the coasts and upon the islands of the Mediterranean; and even beyond the Pillars of Hercules, their city of Gades (Kadesh), the modern Cadiz, looked out upon the Atlantic. These remote colonies were only starting points from which voyages were made into still more distant regions. Merchantmen from Cadiz explored the western coasts of Africa and Europe. From the stations on the Red Sea, trading vessels were fitted out for India and Ceylon.
64. At a later period, the Greeks absorbed the commerce of the Euxine and the Ægean, while Carthage claimed her share in the Western Mediterranean and the Atlantic. By this time, however, Western Asia was more tranquil under the later Assyrian and Babylonian monarchs; and the wealth of Babylon attracted merchant trains from Tyre across the Syrian Desert by way of Tadmor. Other caravans moved northward, and exchanged the products of Phoenician industry for the horses, mules, slaves, and copper utensils of Armenia and Cappadocia. A friendly intercourse was always maintained with Jerusalem, and a land-traffic with the Red Sea, which was frequented by Phoenician fleets. Gold from Ophir, pearls and diamonds from Eastern India and Ceylon, silver from Spain, linen embroidery from Egypt, apes from Western Africa, tin from the British Isles, and amber from the Baltic, might be found in the cargoes of Tyrian vessels.
65. The Phoenicians in general were merchants, rather than manufacturers; but their bronzes and vessels in gold and silver, as well as other works in metal, had a high repute. They claimed the invention of glass, which they manufactured into many articles of use and ornament. But the most famous of their products was the "Tyrian purple," which they obtained in minute drops from the two shell-fish, the buccinum and murex, and by means of which they gave a high value to their fabrics of wool.
66. About the time of Pygmalion, the warlike expeditions of Shalmaneser II overpowered the Phoenician towns, and for more than two hundred years they remained tributary to the Assyrian Empire. Frequent but usually vain attempts were made, during the latter half of this period, to throw off the yoke. With the fall of Nineveh it is probable that Phonicia became independent.
67. B. C. 608. It was soon reduced, however, by Necho of Egypt, who added all Syria to his dominions, and held Phoenicia dependent until he himself was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar (B. C. 605) at Carchemish.
The captive cities were only transferred to a new master; but, in 598, Tyre revolted against the Babylonian, and sustained a siege of thirteen years. When at length she was compelled to submit, the conqueror found no plunder to reward the extreme severity of his labors, for the inhabitants had secretly removed their treasures to an island half a mile distant, where New Tyre soon excelled the splendor of the Old.
68. Phoenicia remained subject to Babylon until that power was overcome by the new empire of Cyrus the Great. The local government was carried on by native kings or judges, who paid tribute to the Babylonian king.
69. The religion of the Phoenicians was degraded by many cruel and uncleanly rites. Their chief divinities, Baal and Astar'te, or Ashtaroth, represented the sun and moon. Baal was worshiped in groves on high places, sometimes, like the Ammonian Moloch, with burnt-offerings of human beings; always with wild, fanatical rites, his votaries crying aloud and cutting themselves with knives. Melcarth, the Tyrian Hercules, was worshiped only at Tyre and her colonies. His symbol was an ever-burning fire, and he probably shared with Baal the character of a sun-god. The marine deities were of especial importance to these commercial cities. Chief of these were Posi'don, Ne'reus, and Pontus. Of lower rank, but not less constantly remembered, were the little Cabi'ri, whose images formed the figure-heads of Phoenician ships. The seat of their worship was at Berytus.
70. The Phoenicians were less idolatrous than the Egyptians, Greeks, or Romans; for their temples contained either no visible image of their deities, or only a rude symbol like the conical stone which was held to represent Astarte.
KINGS OF TYRE.
Abibaal, partly contemporary with David in Israel.
Hiram, his son, friend of David and Solomon, . B. C 1025-991.
* His daughter Jezebel became the wife of Ahab, king of Israel. His reign is marked in Phoenician annals by a drought which extended throughout Syria.
For 227 years Tyre remained tributary to the Eastern Monarchies, and we have no list of her native rulers.
Ethbaal II, contemporary with Nebuchadnezzar, B. C. 597-573.
71. Syria Proper was divided between several states, of which the most important in ancient times was Damascus, with its territory, a fertile country between Anti-Lebanon and the Syrian Desert. Beside this were the northern Hittites, whose chief city was Carchemish; the southern Hittites, in the region of the Dead Sea; the Pate'na on the lower, and Hamath on the upper Orontes.
72. Damascus, on the Abana, is among the oldest cities in the world. It resisted the conquering arms of David and Solomon, who, with this exception, reigned over all the land between the Jordan and the Euphrates; and it continued to be a hostile and formidable neighbor to the Hebrew monarchy, until Jews, Israelites, and Syrians were all alike overwhelmed by the growth of the Assyrian Empire.
73. The history of the Hebrew race is better known to us than that of any other people equally ancient, because it has been carefully preserved in the sacred writings. The separation of this race for its peculiar and important part in the world's history, began with the call of Abraham from his home, near the Euphrates, to the more western country on the Mediterranean, which was promised to himself and his descendants. The story of his sons and grandsons, before and during their residence in Egypt, belongs, however, to family rather than national history. Their numbers increased until they became objects of apprehension to the Egyptians, who tried to break their spirit by servitude. At length, Moses grew up under the fostering care of Pharaoh himself; and after a forty years' retirement in the deserts of Midian, adding the dignity of age and lonely meditation to the "learning of the Egyptians," he became the liberator and law-giver of his people.
74. The history of the Jewish nation begins with the night of their exodus from Egypt. The people were mustered according to their tribes, which bore the names of the twelve sons of Jacob, the grandson of Abraham. The sons of Joseph, however, received each a portion and gave their names to the two tribes of Ephraim and Manas'seh. The family of Jacob went into Egypt numbering sixty-seven persons; it went out numbering 603,550 warriors, not counting the Levites, who were exempted from military duty that they might have charge of the tabernacle and the vessels used in worship.
75. After long marches and countermarches through the Arabian desert needful to arouse the spirit of a free people from the cowed and groveling habits of the slave, as well as to counteract the long example of idolatry by direct Divine revelation of a pure and spiritual worship- the Israelites were led into the land promised to Abraham, which lay chiefly between the Jordan and the sea. Two and a half of the twelve tribes Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh - preferred the fertile pastures east of the Jordan; and on condition of aiding their brethren in the conquest of their more westerly territory, received their allotted portion there.
76. Moses, their great leader through the desert, died outside the Promised Land, and was buried in the land of Moab. His lieutenant, Joshua, conquered Palestine and divided it among the tribes. The inhabitants of Gibeon hastened to make peace with the invaders by a stratagem. Though their falsehood was soon discovered, Joshua was faithful to his oath already taken, and the Gibeonites escaped the usual fate of extermination pronounced upon the inhabitants of Canaan, by becoming servants and tributaries to the Hebrews.
77. The kings of Palestine now assembled their forces to besiege the traitor city, in revenge for its alliance with the strangers. Joshua hastened to its assistance, and in the great battle of Beth-horon defeated, routed, and destroyed the armies of the five kings. This conflict decided the possession of central and southern Palestine. Jabin, "king of Canaan," still made a stand in his fortress of Hazor, in the north. The conquered kings had probably been in some degree dependent on him as their superior, if not their sovereign. He now mustered all the tribes which had not fallen under the sword of the Israelites, and encountered Joshua at the waters of Merom. The Canaanites had horses and chariots; the Hebrews were on foot, but their victory was as complete and decisive as at Beth-horon. Hazor was taken and burnt, and its king beheaded.
78. The nomads of the forty years in the desert now became a settled, civilized, and agricultural people. Shiloh was the first permanent sanctuary; there the tabernacle constructed in the desert was set up, and became the shrine of the national worship.
79. Jewish History is properly divided into three periods:
I. From the Exodus to the establishment of the Monarchy, B. C. 16501095.
II. From the accession of Saul to the separation into two kingdoms, B. C. 1095-975.
III. From the separation of the kingdoms to the Captivity at Babylon, B. C. 975-586.
80. During the First Period the government of the Hebrews was a simple theocracy, direction for all important movements being received through the high priest from God himself. The rulers, from Moses down, claimed no honors of royalty, but led the nation in war and judged it in peace by general consent. They were designated to their office at once by revelation from heaven, and by some special fitness in character or person which was readily perceived. Thus the zeal and courage of Gideon, the lofty spirit of Deb'orah, the strength of Samson, rendered them most fit for command in the special emergencies at which they arose. The "Judge usually appeared at some time of danger or calamity, when the people. would gladly welcome any deliverer; and his power, once conferred, lasted during his life.
After his death a long interval usually occurred, during which "every man did that which was right in his own eyes," until a new invasion by Philis'tines, Ammonites, or Zidonians called for a new leader. The chronology of this period is very uncertain, as the sacred writers only incidentally mention the time of events, and their records are not always continuous. The system of chronology was not settled until a later period. We have given in the list the dates which seem most probable.