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Re: Israel and Phoenicia
In Response To: Israel and Phoenicia ()

Dear Helge,

Actually I consider both Phoenicia and Canaan to be populated by Israeli tribes to a greater or lesser extent.

The empire of Israel under David and Solomon was a global empire, and much like the pan Hellenism, and pan Romanism that occurred after Alexander and Caesar, the close cooperation as described in the Bible between the northern Israelite tribes of Canaan in the rout of the Assyrians, and later between Solomon and Hiram in the building of the first temple (and the implication of close cooperation in the maintenance of a far flung maritime empire.)

The unification of the 12 tribes as "Israel" under David was contemporaneous with Greek accounts of the rise of Phoenician Empire from about 1000-700 B.C. The Greeks identified the Phoenician homeland as centering on Tyre and Sidon, but having a very large population and sphere of influence. They also identified a race of "sea people", roughly from the same area and southward to the Nile called the "Danoi". From the Greek perspective, these two peoples ruled the Palestinian coast. It is interesting that the Phoenicians never identified themselves by the name Phoenicians, nor did they call their territory "Phoenicia." In my opinion, the close cooperation of the allied tribes gave the Greeks the impression of a unified empire, rather than the volatile, mercantile, "your enemy is my enemy, so we must be friends" situation that it was. Since our recording of these peoples and events is from a primarily Greco-roman perspective, the Greeks record a great empire as occurring from 1000-700 BC, not realizing that the empire was actually a much larger confederation that blossomed for a relatively short period of peace between these often warring tribes. They never realized that it was actually Phoenicia that was the junior partner.

As we know from Kings and Chronicles, the latter years of Solomon led to a period in which the worship of Baal and Astarte, the two chief gods of the Phoenician pantheon, took hold once again. The Bible records the period following Solomon's death, in which Israel was divided: Jeroboam, the first Israelite king, sought to sever cultural and religious ties between the Israelite and Jewish kingdoms. He adopted the worship of Baal and Astarte, replacing the high holy days with those of a more pagan, and Phoenician flavor. Eventually the Israelite and Phoenician royal houses had intertwined, and the biblical story of Ahab, who married a Phoenician princess called Jezebel, preserves this knowledge.

From the perspective of Judah, the 3 1/2 year drought that decimated Northern Palestine was God's punishment for Israel's worship of the Phoenician gods. Many Israelite refugees from both Ahab's cruelty and this horrific drought, "came back into the fold" under Jehosaphat. Many others, especially the elite and wealthy, chose to emigrate to the western Mediterranean colonies, where the drought was not, and the enemies were fewer and less organized.

Kirjath, the Hebrew word for City, I believe to be the root of Carthage (roman= Cartago, greek= Karchedon.) Cathage's political structure reveals it's roots quite clearly: It was ruled by two supreme magistrates called "shofetim"; which of course is exactly the same word in Hebrew and means "judges." Which of course makes perfect sense since these elite were in a very real sense the heirs of Samuel, Gideon and Sampson. The two major family groups among the ruling elite, were the Hannos, and the Hamilcars: many of which bore surnames such as Malchus and Barak.

The religious elites of Carthage, the priests, were called the Kohanim. Yahweh, the god of Israel was included in their pantheon, but as a lesser god of storms and mountains. There are many examples in the British Museum of Baal Hammon (El) portrayed as sitting between two cherubim, on the mercy seat.

Finally, the language of Carthage, Punic, was a closely allied to both Hebrew and Phoenician in its spoken form, and the Punic alphabet was so similar to Hebrew, that the first Punic translations were in fact made by epigraphers who were familiar with old Hebrew. Carthage's key economic and military ally was Gades (modern day Cadiz) and they shared the Punic alphabet and language. The name preserves the Israelite tribe which founded it- Gad.

So that's my thoughts there.

Now, regarding Jesus' Arsacid identifications. First of all, the Parthian empire grew out the vacuum left by Darius, then Alexander. It was a loose confederation of nation/states, with an organized central leadership which acted to organize military power, impose and collect tribute, mediate disputes, etc. After Mithradates, the progenitor of the Arsacid dynasty, the "Parthian King", equivalent to say "president" or "prime minister" today was always a member of this family. He had the right to issue coinage, mete justice, and negotiate on Parthia's behalf. Rather than having a system of primogeniture, the Arsacid who was to be next in line was selected by a select group of religious leaders known as the "Magi". He may have had another name before he was chosen, but once chosen he adopted his regnal title, not his family name, so we don't really know who these people were before they became kings.

So with that as a background:

The gospel takes pains to show Jesus as having born under the same circumstances (virgin birth, in a cave, under a star, in a manger), and on the same day as Mithra, the traditional Arsacid deity.

The traditional title of the Arsacid Monarch is "King of Kings" which was meant as a literal and figurative title.

The appearance of the Magi at Bethlehem occurred at the death of a long seated King of Parthia: PhraatesIV (2 BC). His heir Phraateces' Mother, had all of the rival Arsacid heirs assassinated, so there must have been a real crisis for the Magi at the time as a historical fact. Phraateces was never accepted as king by the Magi, and those Arsacids that succeeded him were Roman educated, having been sent there to avoid internecine rivalry such as this.

Notice the linkage of Jesus in the Gospels: Phares>David>Jesus. Removing vowels = "PHR" Most Arsacids had this sequence of consonants in their regnal titles. PaRTHia, PHRaates, GondoPHaRes, PHaResmenes, etc. An Arsacid king would also claim this Phares>David>Mithradates lineage.

The Magi were an ancient and powerful hereditary body- an actual tribe of priests. They were feared and venerated by all classes of people. The Parthian Magi were depicted as wearing conical mitres, and were the sole inhabitants of special cities in which strict cleanliness and hygienic practices, exactly parallel to Levitical ones, were maintained. The portrayal of John (and Jesus' deference to him), and through the dead sea scrolls which would have been in more general distribution, the description of the Essene community suggest an eastern source.

Jesus' death also is patterned from Mithra- as worthy of and worthy as a sacrifice. "I created him" Ahura Mazda declares to Zoroaster, "to be as worthy of sacrifice and as worthy of prayer as myself"

I could go on but that should do it.

Cheers