By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)
The powerful Phoenician Empire was a formidable power in the distant Old Testament history. Comprised primarily of the Canaanite nations of Tyre and Sidon, the name “Phoenician” was given by the Greeks. While at times allied with Israel, they were often enemies and in open hostility with God’s people.
The Bible records that the Canaanites were masters of the oceans:
1 Kings 9:27-Then Hiram sent his servants with the fleet, seamen who knew the sea, to work with the servants of Solomon.
2 Chronicles 8:18-And Hiram sent him ships by the hand of his servants, and servants who knew the sea. They went with the servants of Solomon to Ophir, and acquired four hundred and fifty talents of gold from there, and brought it to King Solomon.
The Canaanites, in fact, had traveled as far as the American continent, nearly two thousand years before Christ walked the earth. Let’s notice some of the archaeological evidences of this fact, as well as some of the lessons that we can learn from the Phoenicians.
The Canaanite Mines Of America
One of the strong evidences that the Canaanites were aware of America may be found in ancient mines located throughout the great land in which we live. For example:
“Now let us examine some historical evidence of particular interest to modern American readers. The book , Bronze Age America, by the late Dr. Barry Fell, Professor Emeritus of Harvard University, documents that copper trading between North America and the Old World existed prior to and during the reign of King David. His book cites evidence from ancient inscriptions that Norse kings carried on a copper trade with the New World in the St. Lawrence River area as early as 1700 B.C., seven centuries prior to the reign of King David over Israel! 26 Citing “inscriptions cut in the ancient Tifinag and ogam consaine alphabets, using an early form of the Norse tongue…” 27 which were found in Ontario, Canada, Dr. Fell confirms the presence of Old World traders in the St. Lawrence River/Great Lakes Region long before the nation of Israel ever existed! Tifinag and Ogam are both Old World alphabets. If ancient Old World civilizations traded with the inhabitants of North America, could the mercantile Phoenicians have been far behind? Dr. Fell documents the existence of ancient Phoenician inscriptions at a site known as “Mystery Hill” in New Hampshire. He observes that “carbon analyses point to periods of occupation of the Mystery Hill site extending back to the second millennium B.C.” 28 One of the chambers at Mystery Hill “was dedicated to the Phoenician god Baal,” 29 and ancient inscriptions at this site indicate that it was inhabited and/or frequented by ancient Celts, Iberians and Phoenicians from the Old World over many centuries. 30 There is a great deal more material about both this site and the Phoenician presence in the Old World, but they will be more appropriately addressed in chapters two and three.” (Steven M. Collins, The ‘Lost” Ten Tribes of Israel…Found! 647-658 (Kindle Edition); Boring, Oregon; CPA Books)
Incredible! Ancient Canaanite mines here in America, devoted to Canaanite gods and goddesses…and almost two thousand years before Jesus Christ walked the Earth!
Ancient Canaanite Artwork In America
There have also been incredible archaeological findings from throughout the American continent that date back to long before the Christian Age, and which are of Canaanite origin. Consider one such example:
“Shortly after the turn of the 21st century, an old house was being torn down in a western neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. After its demolition, workers began digging up the backyard in preparation for new construction. At 5 feet beneath the surface, their shovels struck something unexpectedly bulky and solid. Persistent excavation brought to light a sculpted monolith 3.4 feet tall with a base measurement of 1.7 by 1.6 feet. The reddish, igneous block is almost perfectly rectangular in shape, weighs 228 pounds, and shows the effects of having been buried in acidic soil for many centuries…..After a cursory examination during a recent exhibition of the Public Broadcasting System’s well- known “Antiques Roadshow” television program, an appraiser/archaeologist could offer no opinion, save that the large object, judging from its soil stains, was at least 500 years old, but probably much older…It must forever remain an insoluable mystery, so long as mainstream scholars restrict their investigation within the borders of pre- Columbian North America. In the light of the outside world, however, the artifact stands revealed. Its full- face, sculpted relief with stylized headdress and crude, though effective execution finds its close likeness in an ancient Old World deity. Beginning with the mid- 16th century BC , the Phoenicians began to assert their separate identity and emerge from the other, Semitic peoples of Canaan, a kingdom roughly corresponding to the region encompassing modern- day Israel, Palestinian territories, western parts of Syria, and Lebanon. In fact, most of today’s Lebanese are more or less directly descended from the Phoenicians….The globe- trotting proclivity of modern Lebanese is part of their character- heritage from Phoenician ancestors, whose large, sturdy ships built with “the cedars of Lebanon” enabled the establishment of a mercantile empire that spanned the Mediterranean Sea and carried colonists around the African continent more than 1,000 years before Vasco da Gama….Phoenician divinities, on the contrary, were often coarsely portrayed, such as the photograph example included here from eighth- century BC Hadrumetum, a Phoenician colony in Tunisia, North Africa, of Ashtart’s engraved image. Its resemblence to the California figure, wholly unlike any other representation of this goddess, is unmistakeable. Moreover, the face- forward style was diagnostic of Phoenician sculpted art.” (Frank Joseph, The Lost Worlds Of Ancient America: Compelling Evidence Of Ancient Immigrants, Lost Technologies, And Places Of Power, 23-26 (Kindle Edition); Pompton Plains, NJ; New Page Books)
Ancient Coins Show The Phoenicians
Traveled As Far As America
Considering the sea-faring reputation of the Phoenicians, it should not surprise us that one of the greatest evidences of pre-Christian era Canaanite knowledge of our continent comes from ancient maps found on coins from the distant past. Speaking of the discover is of Dr. Mark A.S. McMenamin and his studies into the ancient Phoenician Empire, we learn:
“History remembers them as “Phoenicians,” a Semitic folk residing in Canaan, a region roughly corresponding to the present- day Levant of modern Israel, Palestinian territories, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan and Syria. “The Phoenicians were the Canaanites, and the ancestors of today’s Lebanese,” concluded geneticist Spencer Wells in 2004, after an extensive DNA study of Phoenician origins sponsored by National Geographic Magazine . 1 Their name is Greek— Phoiníkē for “people of the purple ( phoínios ),” signifying a violet- purple dye used by Athenian aristocrats to color their garments, and imported from the Levantine city of Tyre. Phoiníkē derived from the earlier Mycenaean po- ni- ki- jo , itself a derivation of the still older Egyptian fenkhu , denoting Asiatic Semites….They never called themselves “Phoenicians,” but identified instead with any one of their numerous cities. Hence, they were Tyrians, Sidonians, Carthaginians, and so forth. They nonetheless comprised, in the aggregate, an identifiable entity…The ancient Phoenicians built a loose confederation of casually affiliated, ethnically and culturally related, if independent urban centers. These were collectively known as Khna (the ancient equivalent of “Corporate Empire”) or, to outsiders, as “Phoenicia,” that spread from the Levant to the Atlantic coasts of Iberia and North Africa….Greek geographer Strabo wrote in the first Century BC , “[F]ar- famed are the voyages of the Phoenicians, who, a short time after the Trojan War, explored the regions beyond the Pillars of Heracles, founding cities there and in the central Libyan seaboard.’….Impressive as the professor’s accomplishments have been, they brought him nowhere near the Phoenicians. His interest in them was accidentally sparked by a children’s encyclopedia he happened to be consulting in preparation for educating his daughter at home. It mentioned that Carthaginian coins from the fourth Century BC had been uncovered in the Azores, on the island of Corvo, some 800 miles from the European mainland. The hoard was discovered by Portuguese sailors during the early 1750s. The coins have long since been lost, although Dr. McMenamin established the authenticity of their discovery through personal research that found them described in the 1778 diary of Swedish sailor Johannes Podolyn….Finding nothing to match Podolyn’s description, McMenamin was in the process of returning the book when he noticed very small markings at the bottom of the reverse, or “tails,” side of several stater s. Stater is actually a Greek term that referred to coins made of precious metal. The markings he examined have long been known to numismatists, but not generally understood. Most expert coin collectors dismiss them as errors in production. The markings attracted McMenamin’s attention, because they seemed vaguely familiar. Only after he had them enlarged on his computer screen did he recognize them for what they really were. McMenamin was astounded to realize that tiny dots on the Carthaginian staters were elements of a map— and not just any map, but a world map similar to one compiled by the second- century Greek geographer Ptolemy. Through further close scrutiny of the hitherto neglected metallic blobs on all 14 of the known specimens of a particular type of Phoenician stater , McMenamin was able to identify the entire Mediterranean region, including the Straits of Gibraltar, Sardinia, coastal North Africa, and the south of Europe depicted on the coins. He even found the Indian sub- continent clearly indicated. In other words, the Carthaginians included at the bottom of their coins tiny maps of locations where they enjoyed prosperous ports- of- call. They were publishing their far- flung, mercantile contacts on the face of their own currency, just as today’s multinational corporations boast of their international influence in commercial advertising. After making his original and revealing discovery, McMenamin was more amazed to observe the eastern half of South America depicted on the same coins. Clearly shown are Brazil and Argentina down to Tierra del Fuego, although the tiny map does not include the rest of the continent westward from the Andes.” (Frank Joseph, The Lost Colonies Of Ancient America: A Comprehensive Guide To The Pre-Columbian Visitors Who Really Discovered America, 77-82 (Kindle Edition); Pompton Plains, NJ: New Page Books)
The Paribia Inscription
Another powerful archaeological evidence that the Canaanite Phoenician Empire had travelled to America long before the time of Christ is found in the famous Paraiba Inscription. Found in Brazil and written in ancient Phoenician, the account tells of several Canaanites who were fled out of their land (possibly during the military campaigns of Joshua and the Hebrews) and who attempted to seek guidance from their gods:
““We are Sidonian Canaanites from the city of the Mercantile King. We were cast up on this distant shore, a land of mountains. We sacrificed a youth to the celestial gods and goddesses in the nineteenth year of our mighty King Hiram and embarked from Ezion- Geber into the Red Sea. We voyaged with ten ships and were at sea together for two years around Africa [Ham]. Then we were separated by the hand of Baal and were no longer with our companions. So we have come here, twelve men and three women, into New Shore. Am I, the Admiral, a man who would flee? Nay! May the celestial gods and goddesses favour us well!” (Gordon, Cyrus H. ‘The Authenticity of the Phoenician Text from Parahyba.’ Orientalia . Nova Series. Vol. 37. No. 1 (1968). pp. 75- 80. And in the same issue: ‘The Canaanite Text from Brazil.’ Orientalia . Nova Series. Vol. 37. No. 4 (1968). pp. 425- 436.)
Notice with me several important lessons from the Phoenician Empire.
First, the entire archaeological and historical foundation of the Bible is continually confirmed. The cities and nations of the Bible were not made-up fairy tales for children: they were real places with real histories that shaped the world around them. The Bible is therefore once again shown to be a Book of history (cf. Luke 1:1-4; John 20:30-31; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8; 2 Peter 1:16).
Second, the evidence from archaeology also highlights the fact established in Scripture that the Phoenicians were indeed a sea-faring people who had traversed the globe in search of exploitation and riches. How fascinating to know that these Canaanite people’s were on the shores of America, long before the advent of Christopher Columbus and the Vikings! This history will also help us when we consider in a future article the possibility that the Native Americans may indeed be the descendants of the Hebrews that were displaced by the Assyrian Empire in 722 B.C. Many claim that the world of the Levant had no knowledge of the American continent; yet, as we have seen, this is clearly not true.
Finally, the Phoenician Empire reminds us once again that any nation which stands against the one true God will be destroyed. God’s prophecies throughout Scripture (especially in Ezekiel 26) were fulfilled in exact and astonishing detail, so that the once powerful Phoenician Empire was brought to desolation when the Lord brought His judgment. Herein is a powerful lesson for each of us: we need to seek God and His forgiveness immediately.
The God of Heaven calls for all sinners to return to Him to receive pardon and forgiveness (Isaiah 55:6-7). He has made it possible by giving His own Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for our sins (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). I need, God made Him Who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). The death of the Son of God for our sins, His burial, and His resurrection on the third day are the main facts of the “Good News” or “Gospel” of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).
By believing in Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31), repenting of our sins (Luke 13:3), confessing Him before men (1 Timothy 6:12), and being baptized into Christ (Acts 2:38), we can receive forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:3) and be added by God Himself to His church/family (Acts 2:47).
Why not obey Him today?
Or if you are a child of God who needs to return in repentance and prayer (1 John 1:9), why not do so right now?
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.