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Phenicia

The Latinized form of the Greek word Phoinikia, from sooLvtt, a palm, because of the number of palms anciently, but not now, found in the country. A tract of country on the north of Palestine, along the shores of the Mediterranean, of which Tyre and Sidon were the principal cities. The researches of Gesenius and other modern philologers have confirmed the assertions of Jerome and Augustine, that the language spoken by the Sews and the Phenicians was almost identical; a statement interesting to the Masonic student as giving another reason for the bond which existed between Solomon and Hiram, and between the Jewish workmen and their fellow-laborers of Tyre, in the construction of the Temple (see Tyre).

Phenicia is in Syria, literally the land of the Surians or Tvrians, bounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the west; Mount Lebanon on the east, a strip of land forming Phenicia proper being only some twentyeight miles long by a mile wide, with the famous cities of antiquit, v, Tyre and Sidon, the former at the north and the latter at the south of tips region. Phenicia in some estimates is given a larger territory, about 120 miles by 20. In any case the outstretched foreign importance of the people far exceeds the limited domestic area of their country Both Tyre, meaning frock, and Sidon, Fishery, are mentioned in Joshua (xix, 28, 29) as prominent places. There are several other allusions to them in the Bible.

The people were adventurous, their ships were on the Indian Ocean and the broad Atlantic, their energies extended to British coasts, Ceylon shores; for Xerxes at Salamis they furnished 300 ships; they earned the praise of Nenophon for naval architecture; Tyrian purple was the royal color, in mining and manufacturing they were accomplished pioneers. Their intercourse with the Israelites was typical and in the service of Solomon they were but exhibiting their customary zeal in commerce and founding further international goodwill. Of their labors for David and Solomon in building the House of the Lord at Jerusalem we read in Second Samuel (v, 11) and First Kings (v, 1; vii, 13; iv, 11, 12). of the scope of their trade read Ezekiel (chapters xxvi, xxvii and xxviii). on the coast of Tyre and Sidon our Lord healed the woman of Canaan (Matthew xv, 21-8). Among many interesting items read "The ruined cities of Palestine east and west of the Jordan," Arthur W. Sutton, Journal, Victoria Institute (volume lii), also Smithsonuzn Report, 1923 (pages 509-11):

Sidon is not only the most ancient city of Phenicia but one of the oldest of the known cities of the world and is said by Josephus to have been built by Sidon, the eldest son of Canaan, and is mentioned with high praise by Homer in the Iliad, where he says that as early as in the Trojan war, the Sidonian mariners, having provoked the enmity of the Trojans, were by them despoiled of the gorgeous robes manufactured by Sidon's daughters, these being considered so valuable and precious as to propitiate the goddess of war in their favor. Sidon was renowned for its skill in arts, science, and literature, maritime commerce and architecture; and according to Strabo, the Sidonians were celebrated for astronomy geometry, navigation, and philosophy.

Sidon was captured by Shalmaneser in 720 B.C., and it was again taken in 350 B.C. by Artaxerxes Ochus. It fell to Alexander the Great without a struggle, and afterwards came into possession successively of the Seleucidae and the Ptolemies. During the time of the Crusaders Sidon was four times taken, plundered, and dismantled. Excavations have revealed several rock-hewn tombs, with elaborately carved sarcophagi. The most celebrated is the sarcophagus of Alexander, which before the war was. in the mosque at Constantinople. He was certainly never buried in it. A sarcophagus was opened the other day at Sidon, full of fluid and containing a beautiful body in perfect preservation, but immediately it was lifted from the fluid it lost all shape.

The origin of Tyre is lost in the mist of centuries, and Isaiah says its "antiquity is of ancient days" (xxii, 7). Herodotus states it was founded about 2,300 years before his time, i.e., 2750 8.C. William of Tyre declares it was called after the name of its founder, "Tyrus, who was the seventh son of Japhet, the son of Noah." Strabo spoke of it as the most considerable city of all Phenicia. Sidon was certainly the more ancient city of the two, but Tyre by far the more celebrated and one of the greatest cities of antiquity. It was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar for 30 years. The siege of the eity by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C. was the most remarkable and disastrous episode in the history of Tyre. The island city held out for seven months, but was finally captured by being united to the mainland by a mole formed of the stones, timber, and rubbish of old Tyre on the shore which were conveyed into position by the Grecian army.

In more modern times the city was taken by the Mohammedan, the lives and property of the inhabitants being spared on condition that there should be " no building of new churches, no ringing of bells, no riding on horseback, and no insults to the Moslem religion." Tyre was retaken by the Christians in 1124, but once more fell into Moslem hands at the final collapse of the Crusades in 1291. It was then almost entirely destroyed and the place has never since recovered, though of late years there have been signs of a slight revival of commerce, and the city is gradually becoming more populous. In the middle of the last century it had fallen so low that Hasselquist, a traveler, found but ten inhabitants in the place.

The ruins which are now found in the peninsula are those of Crusaders or Saraeenic work. The city of the Crusaders lies several feet beneath the debris, and below that are the remains of the Mohammedan and early Christian Tyre. The ancient capital of the Phenicians lies far, far down beneath the superincumbent ruins.

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