Ancient Lebanon And Byblos -- By: Hugh G. Bevenot

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 084:334 (Apr 1927)
Article: Ancient Lebanon And Byblos
Author: Hugh G. Bevenot


Ancient Lebanon And Byblos

Hugh G. Bevenot

THE “State of the Grand Lebanon” at present forms the southern portion of Syria,—now rather precariously under French mandate,—and reaches to the very frontier of Palestine. Though it was only in part and for no long time in the hands of the Israelites, this Lebanon district is so replete with Biblical interest as to deserve nearly as close a study as any part of the Land of Promise. The present writer has already dealt with the history and geography of southern Syria under the Seleucid King Antiochus III, (I) so as to throw light on the Macchabean wars;1 it will perhaps be as useful, if a more arduous task, to try to picture the same country as it was well over a thousand years earlier still, in the period between the time of turmoil when the Land of Lebanon had trembled under the tramp of Egyptian soldiery of Thutmose III, and the time of the battle royal at Cades between Ramses II and the Hittites.

The Tell-el-Amarna tablets will supply us with the main historical data to work upon, but more recent discoveries, as those of M. Montet at Byblos in 1921–23, will also contribute welcome information. It will make for clearness if we deal with the general political status of the land, and then sketch the career of one of the chief correspondents of Egyptian kings, Prince Rib-addi of Byblos.

I. Rival Empires—The Cedars Of Lebanon— Byblos (Djebeil)

Historians like Herodotus understood by Syria the whole of the region bounded on the west by the Mediterranean, on the south by Egypt and on the east by the

Euphrates: —excepting naturally the strip of coastland held by the Phoenicians to the north and by the Philistines to the south of Mount Carmel. For the Jews, dwelling as they did in the Hinterland of Philistia, Herodotus even uses the name “the Syrians of Palestine,” so little did he distinguish between north and south. Yet we know that originally a fairly sharp distinction was drawn between the countries of which the southern Lebanon ridges formed the frontier line. This has been questioned by some, who point to the occasional use of the term “land of the Amorrhites” as identical with “land of the Canaanites,” but this is no more than an improper extension of the use of the former expression.

This appears as soon as the Tell-el-Amarna tablets are, read with any attention. Here we find a land of A-mur-ri, A-mu-ri, or A-mur-ra, frequently referred to, which has boundaries fairly coincident with those of the actual State of the Grand Lebanon,—which we shall presently examine in detail. For the land to the south there is th...

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