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date: 18 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Though it cannot always be taken at face value as a historical source regarding its stories of Phoenician kings and cities, the Bible does engage with the Phoenicians in a substantial manner in its narratives. Solomon’s and David’s interactions with Hiram of Tyre form an important backdrop for thinking about the construction of the Israelite temple, and later religious corruptions under the northern monarchy invoke the Sidonian Jezebel as a primary source of conflict. Prophetic sources from the eighth–sixth centuries bce mention Phoenician cities as sources of arrogance and wealth (particularly Ezekiel in this respect), and references in the Christian New Testament demonstrate continued biblical engagement with the category of the Phoenicians. Overall, the Bible’s Phoenicians take on stereotypical characteristics as master builders, arrogant traders, wealth mongers, and hubristic false worshipers in texts where authors were clearly constructing a definition of Israel as humble recipients of their own deity’s favor. Still, we would be wrong to dismiss out of hand the Hebrew Bible as a source of Phoenician identity. Even if we find only a few historical glimpses of a “real” Iron Age Phoenicia in the Bible, those glimpses would prove to be valuable in light of the general scarcity—especially in earlier periods—of information on the Phoenicians.

Keywords: Hebrew Bible, Phoenicians in the Bible, Hiram of Tyre, David, Solomon, Canaanite, Jezebel

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