Digging Up the Past

The Phoenicians

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: David Down


Series Code: DUTP

Program Code: DUTP000025

00:01 The Phoenicians were an important people who
00:03 occupied the country we now call Lebanon.
00:06 They were master mariners and in the 7th century B.C. succeeded
00:11 in sailing right around the coast of Africa.
00:13 In the 10th century B.C. they supplied King Solomon of Israel
00:19 with cedars of Lebanon. They also provided him with skilled
00:23 workmen to build his magnificent temple in Jerusalem.
00:26 Their border stretched as far south as Haifa in Israel.
00:30 That's where we are now to film our story of the Phoenicians.
01:07 The ancient Phoenicians had four main cities along the coastline.
01:12 Right up in the north, there was Byblos and then a little
01:17 farther south was Berytus, later known as Beirut.
01:21 And then further south were Sidon and then further south
01:26 was the city of Tyre. And of course their territory extended
01:32 as far south as what we now call Hata.
01:35 Let me tell you something about the city of Byblos.
01:39 It's got quite an interesting background.
01:40 It was a city where a lot of trading was done from and they,
01:45 the ancient mariners of the Mediterranean, the Phoenicians,
01:48 sent their wares all over the Mediterranean.
01:51 Now among other products which they traded, there was the item
01:57 which was much in demand, and that was the Papyrus leaves for
02:02 leaves of writing for inscribing their messages on.
02:06 And so they purchased these from Egypt and transported them
02:10 all over the Mediterranean. However the time came when these
02:14 wily traders decided they might as well get in on the
02:17 manufacturing act. And so instead of importing the
02:21 made papyrus, sheets, they imported the papyrus stalks
02:26 from Egypt and made them into the papyrus sheets.
02:31 Well, the Phoenicians kept on making these Papyrus sheets and
02:36 distributing them down to the Greek period and naturally when
02:40 the Greeks came on the scene, they gave this city the name
02:45 that they had in Greek for a scroll or a book, and that
02:49 is the word, Byblos. And that of course is where we get our
02:54 English word, Bible from. And so you see, we've got words
02:57 going right back to the Phoenicians.
03:00 Well, let me tell you something about the southern cities of
03:03 Sidon and Tyre. They were mainland cities but they were
03:08 both built out on an island. In other words, they had a mainland
03:12 city and in time of danger they could withdraw to these island
03:17 cities and inasmuch as they were masters of the
03:20 Mediterranean they were secure there. They never had a really
03:25 good army. And so they didn't depend on their land forces, but
03:29 simply withdrew to their island. Well, various nations tried
03:33 to conquer them. And there was no problem with the land cities
03:37 on the coast. The Assyrians, for instance came and conquered
03:41 the mainland city, the Babylonians came.
03:45 Nebuchadnezzar besieged Tyre for 13 years but they just
03:50 laughed at him from their island city. And then came the Persians
03:53 actually they succeeded in getting into the city by
03:56 subterfuge, but finally they were driven out, too.
03:59 And so it was down until the time of Alexander. But around
04:04 the 5th century B. C. a bible prophet, Ezekiel, made a very
04:09 striking prophecy. And I'd like to read that to you.
04:13 Its in Ezekiel chapter 26, and in verse 3 onwards.
04:16 It says, Therefore thus says the Lord God, Behold I am
04:21 against you, oh Tyre, and will cause many nations to come up
04:25 against you. And they shall destroy the walls of Tyre and
04:28 break down her towers and also scrape her dust from her
04:32 and make her like a top of a rock. It shall be a place for
04:35 spreading nets in the midst of the sea. The will lay your
04:40 stones, your timber and your soil in the midst of the water.
04:45 You shall never be rebuilt. Well, now there must have been
04:49 a lot of people who thought, Aha, we know this won't work
04:52 because any nation that comes against Tyre they just don't
04:55 succeed because they just simply go over to their island city.
04:58 But when Alexander the great came there in 332 B.C. and
05:04 the people of Tyre defied him, They simply withdrew to their
05:08 island city; but Alexander wasn't the sort of man who would
05:12 take No for an answer. And its very interesting the way he
05:16 besieged this city. Well, Alexander came to the mainland
05:22 city of Tyre and it wasn't difficult to conquer it.
05:26 But like the other conquerors, he found it difficult when he
05:29 came to the island, because the people of Tyre just withdrew
05:33 to the island and defied him. Alexander was 7 months trying
05:39 to solve this problem. And what he did was to take all these
05:43 stones out of the buildings,
05:45 all the material out of the buildings
05:46 on the mainland and dump them into the sea. And so he started
05:51 building out a causeway. It grew longer until finally it reached
05:56 the island itself. Then Alexander, leading his troops,
06:00 launched an attack and was able to conquer the island.
06:03 He was very angry that he'd been held up for such a long time
06:07 and sold thousands of the people of Tyre to slavery
06:10 to pay for his soldiers during this time.
06:12 Well, what about the archaeologist's work?
06:16 I talked to the archaeologists who were working on the old site
06:21 today, because in the meantime the causeway which Alexander
06:25 build had been built up by the flotsam and jetsam washed up by
06:30 the sea and today the modern city of Tyre is built, not only
06:34 upon the island but on the causeway, as you can see.
06:38 But the archaeologists have been working on the old site.
06:42 And what have they found?
06:43 I asked the archaeologist there Have you found anything from
06:47 the old biblical city of Tyre? His reply surprised me.
06:52 He said, No, and we never will. I said, Why? Well because he
06:57 said, The mainland has sunk down so that the old stratum in which
07:04 the biblical city was built, is now below sea level.
07:07 And whenever we dig down to that level the water comes in
07:11 and fills up the hole. He said, We will never find the old city
07:16 of Tyre. Remember what the bible says? Though you are sought for
07:19 you will not be found.
07:21 Ahab was probably the worst king that the 10 tribes of
07:25 Israel ever had. And that is saying a lot.
07:28 You know its sometimes said that the kings of Judah in the south
07:33 some were good and some were bad. But of Israel it is said,
07:37 Some were bad and the rest were worse.
07:40 Well, Ahab was about the worst. Now it was his father, Omri who
07:44 built the city of Samaria which was built on that hill up there.
07:47 And we're told just how it all happened here in the 1st book of
07:50 Kings chapter 16 and in verse 23 where it says, in the 31st year
07:55 of Asa king of Judah, Omri became king of Israel.
07:58 And he bought the hill of Samaria of Shemer for 2 talents
08:03 of silver, then he built on the and called the name of the city
08:06 which he built, Samaria, after the name of Shema, owner of the
08:10 hill. And so this was the city of Samaria. And it was here that
08:15 one of the most dramatic incidents in the history
08:18 of the bible occurred.
08:22 Well, we're up on top of the hill of Samaria now.
08:24 Only this happens to be the Roman section. You see
08:29 Herod the Great built the city here and he named it after the
08:33 Roman emperor, Augusta Caesar, whose title was Sebaste
08:36 and so this is now known as Sebaste. This is part of the
08:42 form. It is interesting to notice these columns,
08:43 Do you see up here how it is lighter color and then a darker
08:47 color? Well, that's where it was buried. This is all they
08:51 excavated, just the tops were protruding above the ground
08:54 level. So Herod, of course, had the inevitable theater for the
09:00 amusement of the crowd. And he also built a temple to Augustus.
09:05 Now the temple is gone. All you can today are the steps
09:08 leading up to the temple. But it must have been a very
09:11 magnificent temple. But of course what is of most interest
09:15 most relevant to us today is the palace of Ahab. Because that's
09:19 most relevant to the story we're discussing.
09:21 Well, this is about all that is left of the palace of Ahab
09:27 in Samaria. And its rather interesting to notice what the
09:32 biblical prophet said about this in Micah chapter one, and in
09:36 verse 6, it says, Therefore I will make Samaria a heap of
09:39 ruins in the field. Well, look at that. Just a heap of ruins.
09:43 Places of planting a vineyard. Right up on top here there is a
09:48 vineyard. I will pull down her stones into the valley and
09:53 I will uncover her foundations. Well, I'm not sure whether
09:57 this is referring to what the Assyrians did when they
10:01 destroyed Samaria and exposed its foundations or whether its
10:04 referring to the work of the archaeologists. But in either
10:07 case, certainly the foundations have been uncovered, and you
10:11 can just look around these ruins and see them and over there
10:14 are the foundations of Ahab's palace.
10:28 So, I'm sitting right beside Ahab's palace and this is where
10:31 the drama happened. Between them Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel
10:36 had plunged the nation into idolatry, Baal worship.
10:40 And most of the people had gone along with it. But there were
10:44 a few pious worshipers of Jehovah or Yahweh who still
10:48 worshipped the God of Israel. And one of these was a vigorous
10:53 young man by the name of Elijah. No doubt, he'd been praying
10:57 for a reformation and it came. God gave him a message
11:02 and so he came right over here to the palace of Ahab,
11:05 strode past the palace guards and stood before the astonished
11:09 king with an alarming message. He said, Thus says the Lord,
11:13 There shall be no dew nor rain except at my word.
11:18 And before the king could gather his thoughts, Elijah turned on
11:22 his heels and strode out of the palace. Now this was a real
11:26 challenge to the supposed God Baal, because he was the weather
11:30 god. If anyone could control the elements, you know, the wind,
11:33 the rain, and the dew, well Baal was the one that should
11:37 have been able to do it. And so this was really a challenge to
11:41 Baal worship. But it happened there was a drought, a terrible
11:45 drought for 31/2 years. No rain, no dew all the brooks
11:50 dried up and there was just no water anywhere. And Ahab
11:54 was at his wits end. He tried to apprehend Elijah, searched
11:58 all over the place for him, thought if he could get rid of
12:00 Elijah, he'd get rid of the drought. Foolish reasoning
12:03 of course, but anyway that's what he did. But it was a Elijah
12:08 who brought the whole drama to a climax. One day he stood before
12:13 the king once more and when Ahab saw him he said, Are you the one
12:18 that's troubling Israel? And Elijah said, It is not I but you
12:23 and your fathers house because you have forsaken the worship
12:28 of Yahweh. Then Elijah said, Gather all Israel together,
12:34 to mount Carmel and would you believe it? The king passively
12:39 went along with it.
12:48 And so Elijah and all the prominent people of Israel
12:52 gathered together on mount Carmel. Below was spread out
12:57 the plain of Jezreel, and as Elijah stood there a lone figure
13:02 before that vast multitude, his voice rang out over the assembly
13:07 How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God,
13:13 then follow Him, but if Baal, then follow him.
13:18 and nobody said a word.
13:26 Now, there were two important issues involved in this conflict
13:29 First, when Ahab was first confronted by Elijah, Ahab
13:35 said to him, Are you the one that's troubling Israel?
13:37 And Elijah said, It's not me, but it's you and your father's
13:41 house in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord.
13:45 You see there was an issue of commandment keeping involved
13:48 here. Second, Elijah said to Ahab, How long halt ye between
13:52 two opinions. You can't sit on the fence. You've got to make up
13:57 your mind what to do. Now with those two issues in mind,
14:00 let us follow the conflict. There was Elijah standing before
14:04 that great congregation and he made a very reasonable
14:08 proposition to them. He said, Now look, you take 2 bulls
14:13 and you offer one to Baal and call upon him to consume it
14:18 by fire. And I will offer one to the Lord or Yahweh and I'll call
14:25 on him to bring down fire. And whichever god answers,
14:29 he is the true God. That was fair enough, wasn't it?
14:32 And of course the people just had to agree to that.
14:34 And so the prophets of Baal set up their altar and then they
14:40 slew the animal sacrifice and started their prayers.
14:43 The whole day they were at it. Cutting themselves with knives
14:47 yelling and calling on Baal, and after all, Baal was the
14:51 weather god. He should have been able to send down a bolt
14:54 of lightening as quick as anything. But it didn't happen.
14:57 And at last, discouraged and very unhappy with the situation
15:02 they had to withdraw from the conflict. And then Elijah simply
15:06 stood by his altar and prayed. And he said, Oh, Lord God of
15:12 Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and he prayed a very simple prayer
15:16 and suddenly there was a bolt of lightening flashed from
15:20 heaven. It burned up the whole sacrifice. Elijah had a whole
15:24 lot of water poured on that and it just consumed the water
15:27 and everything and so all the people were constrained to
15:30 acknowledge the Lord, Yahweh, He is God. Yahweh, He is God.
15:36 And so that's when Elijah said, Alright now get all these
15:40 prophets of Baal and take them down there and put them in,
15:44 the lot of them. So they took the prophets of Baal and thus
15:48 was a great reformation brought about in Israel.
15:56 Well, so much for the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal.
16:00 And this statue on top of Mount Carmel commemorates this
16:04 event. Now this whole story has a very interesting application
16:09 to the days in which we live. You know, there's a prophecy
16:12 in the book of Malachi and in chapter 4, where it says,
16:16 in verse 5, Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet
16:20 before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
16:23 Now does that mean that Elijah himself is going to come here in
16:27 person? We're going to see Elijah?
16:30 No, when you analyze the other statements in the biblical
16:34 account, you figure out what its all about. For instance, in the
16:38 book of Matthew, chapter 11, and in verse 14, Jesus Christ
16:42 said concerning John the Baptist, And if you are willing
16:46 to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come. So if the Jewish
16:52 people had only accepted the message of John the Baptist,
16:55 predicting the coming of Jesus Christ, then He would have
16:59 fulfilled this prophecy about the coming of Elijah before the
17:03 great and dreadful day of the Lord. But, it had to be reserved
17:07 for another time. So then what is the implication? In Luke,
17:11 chapter 1, and in verse 17, It says concerning John
17:16 the Baptist, He will also go before him in the spirit and
17:20 in power of Elijah. And the disobedient will be turned
17:24 to the wisdom of the just to make ready a people prepared for
17:27 the Lord. Now that is the purpose of Elijah.
17:30 That was the purpose of John the Baptist. And that is the
17:33 purpose of God's message in the world today. To make ready a
17:37 people prepared for the Lord. And I think that the Lord is
17:41 going to come soon. And so we should be expecting a message
17:44 such as this preparing a people for the coming of the Lord
17:49 a message which will go in the spirit and the power of Elijah.
17:57 Now, I just want to ask you a question. You do plan on
18:02 keeping God's commandments, don't you?
18:04 You know, that's what the Elijah message is all about,
18:08 bringing people back to the commandments of God,
18:11 to all of his commandments including the true Sabbath Day.
18:15 So, you do intend to keep it don't you?
18:18 But when? Some people say, Well I do. But not just now.
18:25 You know, James has something to say about that. And I think its
18:30 worth listening to. I'm reading in James, chapter 4, and in
18:34 verse 13, Come now you who say, Today or tomorrow whereas you do
18:41 not know what will happen tomorrow.
18:43 You just can't leave it until tomorrow because you don't know
18:46 what tomorrow is going to be. In the book of Proverbs, and in
18:51 chapter 27 and in verse 1, it says, Do not boast about
18:55 tomorrow. For you do not know what a day may bring forth.
18:59 Please don't wait until tomorrow The best time to decide
19:03 Remember, Elijah said, How long halt ye between two opinions?
19:08 Don't sit on the fence. Why not decide now. That's the right
19:14 time to decide. There are many perils associated with delay.
19:19 Here is one of them. Jesus mentions it in John, chapter 12,
19:24 and in verse 35. He says, a little while longer the light is
19:30 with you. Walk while you have the light lest darkness overtake
19:35 you. There are some people who say to me, Yea, I can see it
19:39 I can see it very plainly, Yea the 7th day is the Sabbath.
19:41 But I just can't keep it today. And they leave it.
19:46 And after a while they say to me, Oh, well you know, I don't
19:50 see it that way at all now. Why? Because they've discovered
19:54 some new views on the matter? No. But because the light which
19:58 they had has gone out in darkness. And that's Jesus said
20:01 would happen. So its rather a dangerous thing.
20:04 I like to take the admonition that Paul gives us in
20:08 2 Corinthians 6 and in verse 2 where he says, Behold now
20:13 is the accepted time. Behold now is the day of salvation.
20:19 That little word, Now, is a very important one and the bible uses
20:22 it often. And so Elijah says, How long halt ye between two
20:28 opinions? And Paul says, Now is the accepted time.
20:33 Our next program is one that I'm sure you've all been waiting
20:37 for, Tutankhamun's treasures and the exciting discovery
20:42 of his lost tomb.


Revised 2014-12-17