Understanding who the Phoenicians were must begin with knowing how they came about. A nation of Semitic speakers, the Phoenicians were Canaanites and were well known for their trading and maritime accomplishments. Although prospering in the 1400's B.C., the Canaanites' expanse was diminished to a small territory along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean by around 1200 B.C. Given the accessibility of the Canaanite port cities to foreign influences, the Phoenicians arose from a conglomerate of foreign invaders, traders, and other indigenous Semitic peoples. As a civilization, the Phoenicians were able to develop into a strong people due to their natural barriers - the mountains to their east and the sea to their west. Though they remained a distinctive civilization, the importance of trading in their society meant their culture was subject to foreign influences. However, the converse was also true: It is this geography and their trading and seafaring ancestry that paved the way for the Phoenician peoples to become known as "traders the world honored"(Isaiah 23:8).
Given the importance of the sea in shaping their civilization, let us examine a typical day in the life of a sea-farer. In fact, the term "sea-farer" is too ambiguous as many livelihoods came from what the seas had to offer. One could be a fisherman who caught and sold fish at the markets. One could be a trader reaching out to foreign lands in search of goods to buy or sell. An unsurpassed experience of the seas also produced explorers, among which were the first known circumnavigators of Africa and the first to use the North Star for navigation. Furthermore, all of these people require services to do what they do. For example, one could be a ship builder, spending day after day at the docks trying to keep up with demand. In fact, many lives, even those spent on land, revolved around the sea and the activity that sprang from it.
Not only did major seaports such as Tyre provide...
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