Bible Dictionary

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The coastland extending from the Philistine territory to the mouth of the Orontes. The Phoenicians were a Semitic race, their language closely resembling Hebrew. They were a great commercial people, distributing the wares of Egypt and Babylon, and having trading stations all over the Mediterranean, Carthage being the most important. Their territory was never conquered by the Israelites, but many Israelite kings, including David, Solomon, and Ahab, entered into alliances with them for purposes of trade. Phoenicia consisted of a number of small states ruled by the kings of the great cities, but the Hebrews had most to do with the people of Tyre and Sidon. It was partially conquered by Assyria and Persia and was finally merged in the empire of Alexander the Great. Phoenician religion (see Ashtaroth; Baal) was a nature worship of a very sensuous kind, and its influence over the Israelites was disastrous, especially after the marriage of Ahab to Jezebel, a Phoenician princess. See Tyre; Zidon.