Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Phoenicians, Lydians, and Hebrews

The Phoenicians, Lydians, and Hebrews
The peoples who lived in the western end of the Fertile Crescent and in western Asia Minor did not create large empires, but they had great influence on the modern world.

Phoenicia consisted of a loose union of city-states, each governed by a different king. The Phoenicians turned to the sea and to commerce for their living and became the greatest traders in the ancient Mediterranean world. Perhaps most important, the Phoenicians developed the alphabet, on which our own alphabet is patterned.

The Lydians of Asia Minor are remembered as the first people in history to use coined money, beginning in about 600 B.C. Through trade, they passed on the idea of a money economy to the Greeks and Persians.

As in the eastern part of the Fertile Crescent, a series of peoples inhabited Canaan, which lay south of Phoenicia along the land bridge between Asia and Africa. The Semitic-speaking Hebrews, the ancestors of modern Jews, had a great influence on this region and on all of history.

The Hebrews worshiped one god, Yahweh. They thought of their god not as a glorified human being, but as the one true god, the creator of the universe. The Torah, part of the Hebrew scriptures, outlines the Hebrew code of laws. This code set a higher value on human life than had earlier law codes. Because of its emphasis on ethics, or right conduct, Judaism, the Hebrew form of monotheism is often called ethical monotheism. It ranks as the Hebrews’ most important contribution to Western civilization.

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