A Short History of Lebanon by Philip K. Hitti (auth.)

By Philip K. Hitti (auth.)

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They celebrated Greek feasts. Following the Greek precedent they started new eras for dating their happenings, choosing for a beginning some important historic events. , Tyre in 126, Beirut in 197, Sidon in I I I. All this took place despite the fact that Lebanon had no Greek cities but only immigrants, comprising war veterans, traders, artists and scholars sprinkled in its cities. It should, however, be remembered that as Semites were being Grecized, Greeks were being Semitized. The Orientalization of the Hellenic world was no less effective than the Hellenization of the Orient.

In 612 it fell under the blows of Nabopolassar, a rebel king from the southern region, Babylonia, in collaboration with the king of Media. The Assyrian nation, if it could be so called, ceased to exist. About two centuries later a Greek general retreating from Persia could not spot the site on which its capital once stood. Nabopolassar (625-605) founded a new empire called Neo-Babylonian or Chaldaean, claiming sway over the entire Mediterranean coast. Egypt had shaken off the Assyrian yoke and was again ready to match forces.

Then there were the sacred pillar, representing the male deity and having probably a phallic origin, and the sacred pole. The pole was usually an oak or a pine tree. Veneration of trees was an ancient Semitic institution that has survived in Lebanon and neighbouring places to the present day. Christians, Moslems and Jews have their own sacred trees and in some cases the same tree. The sacred pillar and pole evidently obviated the necessity of indulging in idol worship. Metal and clay figurines of gods have been found but they seem to have been made for household rather than temple use.

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