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SUPPLEMENT TO CLASS II.
DESCRIPTIVE OF THE MAP OF THE EARLY DIFFUSION OF THE HEBREW
LANGUAGE THROUGH THE PHENICIAN COLONIES, ETC.
An opinion has very commonly prevailed, that the HEBREW LANGUAGE, in which God was pleased to make known the revelation of His will in the Old Testament Scriptures, was at all times confined within very narrow limits; so that just as God did in ancient times choose one people as the depository of His Scriptures, the language which they used, and in which those Scriptures were written, was confined almost entirely to them.
Indeed, so fully has this opinion prevailed, that a contrast has been frequently drawn between the New Testament written in Greek, then the most diffused language of the civilised earth, as intended for the instruction of men without restriction as to nation, and the Old Testament written in Hebrew for one people.
The object of the accompanying Map is to show how considerably this opinion ought to be modified: the facts which must be considered are these :
I. That the PHENICIAN LANGUAGE was essentially identical with the HEBREW.
II. That the Phænician Colonies had in early times diffused the knowledge of this language over a considerable portion of the earth.
III. That even in countries in which the PhonICIO-HEBRAIC had not become vernacular, yet through commerce it had become more or less used as a medium of intercourse.
I. The substantial identity of the language of the Phænicians with the Hebrew is proved by the fact, that all the names of persons and places in the land of Canaan are pure Hebrew. The Phænicians were but a portion of the Canaanites, speaking of course the same language. This identity is manifest in the days of Abraham, for we then find the names of Abimelech, Melchisedek, etc., which are pure Hebrew compounds : nor can it be thought that the inspired historian has translated these names with the language used by Abraham, for, in the same narrative, the Egyptian Pharaoh is given without any such translation. At a later period the proof of this identity of language becomes more extensive, although not more certain: when the Israelites took possession of the land of Canaan, the names of the cities and districts were all of them terms purely and simply Hebrew. It is not to be overlooked that the names of the Phænician cities Tyre, sidon, etc. are all Hebrew, the same as the rest; the names also of Phænicians who are at all mentioned in the Old Testament are Hebrew.
This fact is farther illustrated by the Coins of Tyre and Sidon, collected and published by GESENIUS in his “ Monumenta Phænicia;" the inscriptions on these coins prove the language to have been essentially Hebrew.
II. It is well known that in early times the Phænician colonies were widely diffused; (the countries in which they were found will be stated below). Did then these colonies use the Hebrew language, or did they adopt the languages of the countries in which they had settled ?
Happily, for a satisfactory reply to this question, we are not left to form our own conclusions irrespective of evidence : the antecedent probability may be very strong, but we possess the sure ground of testimony. With regard to many or most of the countries colonized by the Phænicians, we possess certain monuments in the coins and inscriptions which are still extant, which have been published by Gesenius in his important work, to which reference has already been made.
If, however, there be colonies from Phænicia with regard to which we do not possess this certainty of testimony, yet we may be pretty certain that the same language was retained by them, as by the colonies of which we are more accurately informed.
III. How far the wide-spread commerce of the Phænicians was a means of diffusing their language, we have no precise evidence. We do, however, know that in Greece and Egypt there have been inscriptions found in the Phænician language and character, and we have other proofs that some use at least was made of this language. Prior to the time of Xerxes, almost all international communication by sea was in the hands of the Phænicians; and as such intercourse did exist, it is manifest that the language of the Phænicians was in a great measure brought into contact with all the people of the coasts of the Mediterranean, etc.
PHENICIA.— The district occupied by the Phænicians appears to have been a strip of land lying between the mountains of Syria and the eastern shore of the Mediterranean. The southern part of the country, which they at one time actually occupied, was included in the land which had been previously allotted to Israel, but into which the Phænicians spread themselves. The Phænician territory must at times have extended as far south as Acre (Accho or Ptolemais), and as far north as Aradus at least.
There are yet existing coins of the following Phænician cities, with inscriptions in their own language and character :
TYRE— with Greek and Phoenician legends on the same coin.
} Coins with Phænician legends.
CARNE The Greek inscriptions on so many of these coins prove that the Phænician language was still retained and used while the people were under Greek dominion.
PHENICIAN COLONIES. — CILICIA.— The Phænician origin of the Cilicians was a fact known to the Greeks: the Cilician coins struck under the Persian dominion fully attest the same fact. The Phænician coins of Cilicia have been transmitted in great numbers to modern times: they have been found in many and widely distant countries; some have been met with even in India. Many of these coins belong to Tarsus; it is uncertain to what cities others of them belong.
CYPRUS.— The Phænicians are well known to have planted colonies in the island of Cyprus. More than thirty inscriptions found at CITIUM, in that island, are in existence; they prove the retention of the Phænician language by the colonists.
There are proofs that from Cyprus and Cilicia the Phænicians spread into different parts of Asis Minor; they probably occupied stations on the coast for the purpose of traffic. It appears that a colony was planted in BITHYNIA, probably direct from Phænicia.
The fact of a Phænician colony having been located in BEOTIA is well known: but the language
does not appear to have been retained there or in the parts into which they are said to have spread themselves from Baotia: the letters, however, were there introduced.
AFRICA.—But the most important of the colonies of Phænicia was that which occupied
The Island of GERBE.
ACHULLA, VACCA, SIGA.
SICILY.—The knowledge which we possess of the Phænicians in Sicily is familiar to all who have the slightest acquaintance with history. The coins of several Sicilian cities are proofs of the influence which the language gained in various parts of the island, and that, too, in places such as Syracuse, which were not actual colonies of Phænicians, nor yet subject to Punic rule. There are extant many fine coins of —
PANORMUS (Palermo), HERACLEA, SYRACUSE, MOTYA, COSSARA, bearing inscriptions in Phænician.
MELITA.—In the island of Malta several Phænician inscriptions confirm what we know from history as to its having been occupied by that people.
GAULOS (Gozzo near Malta). — Many coins are in existence bearing Phænician inscriptions, which some ascribe to this island, and some to Malta.
SARDINIA received Phænician colonies; traces of the Phænician may be found in the Sard language still in use. A gem with a Phænician inscription was found there, as well as an inscription.
SPAIN.—The Punic colonies in Spain and their occupation of the southern part of that country and the adjoining islands are well known. TARSHISH, so often mentioned in Scripture, is considered on good grounds to have been Tartessus in Spain. There are Spanish coins extant with Phænician legends of the following places :
GADES, SEXTI, ABDERA, BELUS, MALACA.'
CASSITERIDES. — We know that the Phænicians were intimately connected with the Cassiterides (Tin Islands); and as the only islands in the western ocean producing tin must point out the southwestern coasts of Britain or adjacent islands, this name must have indicated either the Scilly Islands, or else the coast of Cornwall, or probably both.
Here the Phænicians had formed an emporium at a very early period. Tin was used in the formation of some of the furniture of the Tabernacle. Tin is mentioned by the earliest of classic writers; and as the ancients knew of no other tin but that of Cornwall, it is manifest how early must have been the Phoenician connection with this country. Indeed, the Ancients considered for ages that the Phænicians were the only people who knew where these islands were situated.
The countries with which the Phænicians traded comprised most of the coasts of the then known
1 The Phænician colonies acknowledged a certain dependence upon Tyre; this was recognised by the offerings sent from Carthage, etc. to the altar of the Tyrian Hercules. The possession of Tyre may have been considered as bestowing a kind of superiority over the colonies. How far this was connected with actual power may be uncertain : nothing short of this appears to be recognised in the statements of Megasthenes with regard to the dominion of Nebuchadnezzar, whom he represents as having conquered and ruled not merely Tyre but also the whole line of Phænician colonies even as far as Spain. This has been treated as an exaggeration : but even if it be, there appears to be at least a fact on which it is based.
world: that the Phænician language was at least in some measure used as a medium of communication, is proved by the inscriptions which have been discovered at ATHENS and in EGYPT.
The eastern trade by the Red Sea must have been originally in the hands of the Israelites and Egyptians; the Phænicians, however, were connected with them in this line of commerce.
How far the diffusion of the language might have been accompanied by a knowledge of the written revelation of God, we have no means of ascertaining: one thing is certain, that it thus became POSSIBLE; and this may be coupled with the facts, that seeming traces were found among many nations, of Scripture truths, and the Jews and early Christians alike ascribed this to knowledge borrowed in some manner from the Old Testament Scriptures prior to the version of the LXX.
It may be a subject of interesting inquiry, What results may be deduced from the ascertained fact of the early wide diffusion of Hebrew: it is also worthy of examination, How far certain traces may be found of the use of the Scripture by the nations of antiquity. It must at least be borne in mind, that the wide diffusion of the Phænicians was contemporaneous with the period when most of the Old Testament was written.
S. P. T.
i The Athenian inscriptions are accompanied also with Greek ; the monument, called (from the place in Provence where it is preserved) the Stone of Carpentras, is manifestly Egyptian.
It must not be overlooked that the Ancients unhesitatingly referred alphabetic writing to the Phænicians as the first who had employed it; this, at least, shows that they acknowledged the Phænicians to be those from whom they had received this art.
*** The sources from which this Memoir has been mostly compiled are the Bible, Gesenius's MONUMENTA PHENICIA, and Bochart's CanAAN. Bochart had a great apprehension of the early diffusion of the Phænician language, although he scarcely draws any conclusion therefrom in connection with the subject now considered.
SUPPLE M E N T.
REPRINTS to the amount of 3000 copies have been lately made, by the missionaries, of detached books of the New Testament; and several sums have been granted by the British and Foreign Bible Society towards the purchase and distribution of the Chinese New Testament, as revised by Dr. Gutzlaff. But the most important work yet remaining to be noticed, in connection with China, is the completion of the revision of the New Testament, which had for some years been in process of preparation by the joint efforts of European and American missionaries. There is some reason, however, to fear that the printing of this work will be delayed, in consequence of the lengthened and still unsettled controversy respecting the proper Chinese term for the name of Deity. Possibly this circumstance may give rise to the publication of different editions, with a change of terms to meet the conscientious convictions of the respective parties. It is at any rate satisfactory to find that such are now the facilities for producing books in China, that both the missionaries of the London Missionary Society and Dr. Gutzlaff propose publishing the whole of the New Testament at the price of about threepence or threepence halfpenny per copy."
GREAT efforts are now being made for a wider distribution of the Scriptures in India than has yet been accomplished. It has even been contemplated to supply every family in India, having a member who can read, with a portion of the Word of God. With the view of carrying out this important project as far as practicable, numerous editions of detached books of the Scriptures in the various languages of India have lately been issued from the press. In aid of these reprints and their
| Forty-sixth Report of British and Foreign Bible Society, p.cix.