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The Ancient Near east: Phoenicians and Hebrews.

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Presentation on theme: "The Ancient Near east: Phoenicians and Hebrews."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Ancient Near east: Phoenicians and Hebrews.
Kilamuwa inscription ( B.C.E.). Phoenician language and alphabet. Moses is given the Ten Commandments by God.  Gustave Doré ( ).

Egyptian hieroglyph c B.C.E. Proto-sinaitic script c B.C.E. Cuneiform script Ugaritic alphabet Phoenician alphabet c BCE c BCE c. 1000BCE Pictogram of a house used as a phonogram. It represents the first sound of the word « beit » meaning house in Phoenician. Sign representing the Sound « b » in the Phoenician Alphabet around 1000 B.C.E. Pictogram of a house

By the middle of the 3rd millenium, the Sumerian scribes began to use the signs as a mean to represent a sound. Thus the sign, representing an object or an idea became a PHONOGRAM representing a sound. Ex.: Sign representing « the mouth », pronounced « KA » in Sumerian. Before 2500 BCE: After 2500 BCE: To be read as « the mouth » To be read as the sound « KA » CONSEQUENCES: The scribes have been able to reduce the signs used in the Sumerian language from 900 to approximatively 500.

The cuneiform script was commonly used by most of the populations of the Ancient Near East. These populations usually adapted the script to their language. The Ugaritic alphabet (around 1300 B.C.E.)is a good exemple of the adaptation of cuneiform to the language of a people living in a coastal city of northern Syria. It might also represents the first known ALPHABET. Alphabet used in Ugarit, a coastal city of northern Syria, and developped Around the 14th century BCE.

The phoenician alphabet does seem to have been inspired by different writing systems comprising the proto-sinaitic script. Used by Semitic people living in Egypt and based on Egyptian hieroglyphs but speaking a semitic language. The proto-sinaitic script used about 30 signs, each sign must have represented a sound (too few characters available for a pictographic or ideographic system). The PHOENICIAN alphabet emerged in the middle of the 11th c. B.C.E. (in Northern Syria) The Phoenicians used 22 signs to write their language, read from right to left. The Phoenician alphabet was adopted and adapted by the Greeks around the 9th c. B.C.E., as a result of the intense trade between Tyr, sidon, Byblos and Greece. Cadmos transmitting the alphabet to the Greeks. Tyr (Phénicie), sous Philippe 1er l’Arabe, après J.-C. Paris, BnF, département des Monnaies, Médailles et Antiques Source:

6 The Phoenician Alphabet
Origins of Phoenician alphabet Phoenician alphabet Alphabets derived from the phoenician alpahabet Sources: Comparison between proto-sinaitic, phoenicain and Greek scripts.

7 CONSEQUENCES: Writing did not require a long training and became easier to learn. The scribes progressively lost their eminent position in society. The alphabet promoted a wider use of writing in all sorts of activities (trade, politics, religion, etc.) The Phoenician alphabet made the transcription of numerous languages relatively easy.

1. Origins Hebrews were part of a larger group of Semitic tribes. Some were sedentary and developed powerful kingdoms (Sargon’s Akkadians, Hammurabi’s Amorites) but most were semi-nomads living as traders or sheperds, under the authority of elders males, the patriarchs. In brief: -Location: from Mesopotamia to the Levant (modern Syria, Lebanon, Israel & Palestine) after 2000 B.C.E. -Lifestyle: semi-nomads (breeding goats, sheep), hostile to urban lifestyle -Society: organized in clans lead by elder males called patriarchs. Free males dominated other clan members (women, children) and slaves -Religion: some adopted the highest god of the Canaanites, « EL », as their own personal god. They were NOT monotheists.

9 2. 3. 1.

10 Some Hebrew clans migrated and settled in Egypt.
2. The Nation of Israel Some Hebrew clans migrated and settled in Egypt. Their living conditions worsened (according to the Bible) resulting into a migration OUT of Egypt: the EXODUS. Lead by a mythic figure, MOSES, the Hebrews fled Egypt in the 13th c. B.C.E. and settled in Canaan. Tomb of Khnumhotep II, Beni Hasan Egypt, ( BCE) Depiction of Semitic tribes migrating into Egypt. Moses, is considered as the founder of the Nation of Israel, united by the faith in a new deity borrowed from the Midianites (Sinaï), YAHWEH (identified with Abraham’s EL). The Exodus is a symbol of the agreement or covenant with Yahweh: - the Hebrews became yahweh’s « chosen people » - the Hebrews owed a strict observe of yahweh’s laws. The Hebrews were NOT monotheistic yet.

11 2. The Nation of Israel The religion of Moses or Hebrew monolatry: -Yahweh created the universe and is transcendant (above nature, not part of it), - Yahweh is good (he cares for his creation), - Yahweh is one, that is the only God of the Hebrews, - Yahweh gives his creation the power to choose between good or evil, - However, God set the moral or ethical code (what is right/what is wrong), - God made of the Hebrews is « chosen people » as a result of the covenant, - The Hebrews must observe more rules (dietary restrictions, rituals) and set an example for the rest of humanity.

12 3. The kingdoms of Israel and Judah
Map of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah At first loosly organized, the Hebrews felt the need to unite under a king : SAUL (1024?-1000? B.C.E.) David (ca BCE) and SOLOMON (ca BCE) made of Israel a powerful kingdom with its capital at Jerusalem and its Temple in which were kept the commandements given by God to Moses. Ruling like any Middle eastern king, Solomon’s became more tyrannical and distant with Moses’ religion. Protest grew in the form of the PROPHETS, in the 8th century BCE, religious leaders calling to a return to the terms of the covenant with Yahweh. They moved the religion from the Temple and the rituals to the individual and his actions. Source:

13 Hebrew religion changed tremendously during this episode:
4. The Exile After the destruction of the Hebrews kingdoms (Israel in 722 BCE and Judah in 587 BCE) and the Temple of Jerusalem, Hebrews were forced to live in exile. Hebrew religion changed tremendously during this episode: - Study of the sacred scriptures (Torah) replaced Temple worship. - Hebrews adopted a more monotheistic view of religion. -The belief in the arrival of a Messiah or messenger of God to deliver the world from evil, also developed at this time. The Persian king Cyrus put an end to the Hebrews exile and allowed them to return to Jerusalem and build a second Temple. The religious life of the Hebrews will then be characterized by the opposition of the Pharisees (emphasis on the study of the Torah, belief in resurrection, angels, devils) and the Sadducees opposed to these changes. Representation of the Temple of Solomon

14 CONCLUSION: The Hebrews greatly shaped the future of the Western world through their religion. Their belief in a God, one, good and transcendant and the emphasis on a personal relationship between God and each man did influence what would be the dominant religious conceptions of the West for the centuries to come.

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