The region and city of Sidon became a part of the territory of the tribe of Asher, as described at Joshua 19:24-31, and we are informed also at Jdgs. 1:31 that Canaanites continued to dwell in the city. But Tyre, which quickly became the prominent “Phoenician” city, was also in the territory of Asher – or at least the mainland city was, since there is not yet mention of the island off the coast – and note that there is no mention anywhere of Canaanites remaining in Tyre.
The Septuagint (LXX) says at Joshua 19:28-29, of Asher’s inheritance: “And Elbon, and Raah, and Ememaon, and Canthan to great Sidon. And the borders shall turn back to Rama, and to the fountain of Masphassat, and the Tyrians ...”. But a little further on, describing Naphtali’s inheritance at 19:35: “And the walled cities of the Tyrians, Tyre, and Omathadaketh, and Kenereth ...”, quite different than the version found in the A.V. Although not within Naphtali’s territory, did Naphtali inherit Tyre, on the coast of the territory of Asher? Or did this refer to the island off the coast? Such can not be told with the data I have presently [this text is from an essay entitled 'Galilee of the Nations?' by William Finck].
Reading the accounts given at 1 Kings 9:11-13 and 2 Chron. 8:2, it is evident that Naphtali did not inhabit all of the territory in Galilee which they inherited, for Solomon had to repopulate many of those cities in his time.
That Asher inhabited the coasts of the Mediterranean, and not the “Canaanites”, can be discerned in the A.V. at Judges 5:17: “Asher continued on the seashore, and abode in his breaches”, where “breaches” is the Hebrew miphrats (#4464) and may be translated “havens” or “inlets”, the word meaning “a break (in the shore), i.e. a haven” (Strong’s). In the Egyptian records of the 18th dynasty, which predates the Israelite conquest of Canaan, Tyre is called “T’aru the haven”, and it is said of the island off the coast “water is carried to it in barks, it is richer in fish than in sands” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 9th edition, p 817).
And so the Israelite presence in Tyre and Sidon, at about the same time that the so-called “Phoenicians” began their rise to supremacy over the seas, is absolutely undeniable. At 2 Sam. 24:2-7, for instance, King David sends Joab to number the tribes of Israel. Tyre and Sidon were among the places to which Joab journeyed. Elsewhere on the seacoast, Elijah visited the widow of Zarephath, and neither was that noble woman a Canaanite.
Amos 3:11, part of a prophecy against Israel, where the A.V. states “An adversary there shall be even round about the land ...” the LXX has “O Tyre, thy land shall be made desolate round about thee ...”. Micah 7:12, in another prophecy directed at Israel, reads in the LXX “And thy cities shall be leveled, and parted among the Assyrians; and thy strong cities shall be parted from Tyre to the river, and from sea to sea, and from mountain to mountain.” And so the prophets also testify that the Israelites inhabited Tyre, yet these citations are wanting in the A.V.
It is only well after the deportations of the Israelites that translators of the Scriptures for the Septuagint had in diverse places associated Phoenicians with “Canaanites”, yet the Israelites were long removed from the land. The inhabitants of the island city of Tyre, however, never were deported by the Assyrians or the Babylonians, although the mainland portion of Tyre was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar (Ezek. 26). After the beginning of the Persian period, the Tyrians were subject to Persia and had spread themselves back to the mainland. The island city was destroyed for good by Alexander the Great circa 330 B.C. Yet it is evident that many of the Israelites did remain in the area and maintained their identity for quite some time, as we have Anna the prophetess, of the Tribe of Asher, in Jerusalem during the birth of Christ (Luke 2:36).
Much more can be said, drawn not only from Scripture but from history and archaeology, to demonstrate that the Israelites were one and the same with the Phoenicians of history, who were the people who settled not only much of the North African coasts and Spain, but also the British Isles, the northern coasts of Europe, the coasts of Anatolia (Turkey today), and also made up much of the original “Greek” and “Roman” populations, all of these having their roots in both Israelite, other Semite, and the Japhethite tribes of Genesis 10. Yet hopefully enough has been said to illuminate the true meaning of the expression “Galilee of the Gentiles”, actually “the region of the Nations”, found at Isaiah 9:1 and Matt. 4:15.
Most so-called “scholars”, and especially the jews, would have us believe that the sea-faring Phoenicians of Tyre, Sidon and elsewhere were a people distinct from the Israelites, and were Canaanites at that. If that were so, then when the Phoenicians settled what are today Spain and Portugal, they should have called the place “Sidonia” or “Canaania” and not Iberia (Eber-land, i.e. “Hebrew-land”).
An examination of Scripture, and especially the Septuagint, reveals that the people whom the Greeks called “Phoenicians” (and the word does not appear at all until it appears in Homer, who was probably a contemporary of Hosea and Isaiah) were certainly Israelites. Yet even the Septuagint in its translation sometimes confused Canaanites with the “Phoenicians”, which was somewhat true in 280 B.C. when the edition was translated. But it was not true of the period which Homer was writing about. For long after all of the Israelites who were deported by the Assyrians were gone, the Greeks continued to call the land “Phoenicia”, and the Canaanites who remained to inhabit it, along with whatever remnant of Israelites remained, they continued to call “Phoenicians.”
Joshua 11:8 in the A.V. states:
“And Yahweh delivered them [the Canaanite army] into the hand of Israel, who smote them, and chased them unto great Zidon, and unto Misrephoth-maim, and unto the valley of Mizpeh eastward; and they smote them, until they left none remaining.”
At Joshua 13:6 we read:
“All the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon unto Misrephoth-maim and all the Sidonians, them will I drive out from before the children of Israel: only divide thou it by lot unto the Israelites for an inheritance, as I have commanded thee.”
The name “Sidon”, or “Zidon” at times, described both a city on the coast of Palestine, and the region around it. It also described the Canaanite descendants of Sidon (Gen. 10:15) who inhabited it. Later we find that although the Israelites surely did inhabit this region, they failed to drive off all the Canaanite and other tribes:
“Now these are the nations which Yahweh left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan ... Namely, five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites that dwelt in mount Lebanon, from Baal-hermon unto the entering in of Hamath.” (Jdgs. 3:1-3).