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Myths of Babylonia and Assyria

Page: 202

Saul was the leader of a revolt against the Philistines in northern Palestine, and became the ruler of the kingdom of Israel. Then David, having liberated Judah from the yoke of the Philistines, succeeded Saul as ruler of Israel, and selected Jerusalem as his capital. He also conquered Edom and Moab, but was unsuccessful in his attempt to subjugate Ammon. The Philistines were then confined to a restricted area on the seacoast, where they fused with the Semites and ultimately suffered loss of identity. Under the famous Solomon the united kingdom of the Hebrews reached its highest splendour and importance among the nations.

If the Philistines received the support of the Hittites, the Hebrews were strengthened by an alliance with Egypt. For a period of two and a half centuries no Egyptian army had crossed the Delta frontier into Syria. The ancient land of the Pharaohs had been overshadowed meantime by a cloud of anarchy, and piratical and robber bands settled freely on its coast line. At length a Libyan general named Sheshonk (Shishak) seized the throne from the Tanite Dynasty. He was the Pharaoh with whom Solomon "made affinity",[422] and from whom he received the city of Gezer, which an Egyptian army had captured.[423] Solomon had previously married a daughter of Sheshonk's.

Phoenicia was also flourishing. Freed from Egyptian, Hittite, and Assyrian interference, Tyre and Sidon attained to a high degree of power as independent city States. During the reigns of David and Solomon, Tyre was the predominant Phoenician power. Its kings, Abibaal and his son Hiram, had become "Kings of the Sidonians", and are believed to have extended their sway over part of Cyprus. The relations between the Hebrews and the Phoenicians were of a cordial character, indeed the two powers became allies.

And Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants unto Solomon; for he had heard that they had anointed him king in the room of his father: for Hiram was ever a lover of David. And Solomon sent to Hiram, saying, Thou knowest how that David my father could not build an house unto the name of the Lord His God for the wars which were about him on every side, until the Lord put them under the soles of his feet. But now the Lord my God hath given me rest on every side, so that there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent. And, behold, I purpose to build an house unto the name of the Lord my God, as the Lord spake unto David my father, saying, Thy son, whom I will set upon thy throne in thy room, he shall build an house unto my name. Now therefore command thou that they hew me cedar trees out of Lebanon; and my servants shall be with thy servants: and unto thee will I give hire for thy servants according to all that thou shalt appoint: for thou knowest that there is not among us any that can skill to hew timber like unto the Sidonians. And it came to pass, when Hiram heard the words of Solomon, that he rejoiced greatly, and said, Blessed be the Lord this day, which hath given unto David a wise son over this great people. And Hiram sent to Solomon, saying, I have considered the things which thou sentest to me for: and I will do all thy desire concerning timber of cedar, and concerning timber of fir. My servants shall bring them down from Lebanon unto the sea: and I will convey them by sea in floats unto the place that thou shalt appoint me, and will cause them to be discharged there, and thou shalt receive them: and thou shalt accomplish my desire, in giving food for my household. So Hiram gave Solomon cedar trees and fir trees according to all his desire. And Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand measures of wheat for food to his household, and twenty measures of pure oil: thus gave Solomon to Hiram year by year. And the Lord gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him: and there was peace between Hiram and Solomon; and they two made a league together.[424]


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