Phoenician Creation Story
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"All the watery and earthy elements met together again in the nebula, one with the other. They dashed together amid thunder and lightning; and over the crash of the thundering the (Great) Rational Lives (the Zophashamin) watched, while on the land and sea male and female cowered"

The Phoenician creation story is another account of creation which most religions attempt to answer

According to Sanchoniathon, knowledge started with Taautus who was first of all under the sun to discover the use of letters and the writing of records. This god from Byblos was the Logos of the Egyptian Tehuti and the Greek Hermes. As Enoch, he gave the Hebrews their Torah and the Alexandrians their Corpus Hermeticum. In Islam he was Idris the companion of the prophet. This clerk of the under-world and the scribe of the gods, he bore a tablet, pen and palm-branch (the Phoenix-tree). He attended the judgement of the souls, invented writing and served as a wise teacher and a peace-maker. 

The cosmogony of Taautus supposes that all things consist of a Dark Mist of an ethereal nature, the Breath of dark mist, and of a turbid Chaos black as Erebus; that these were boundless, and for many ages remained without a boundary. But when the spirit fell in love with its own principles, and they were interblended, that interweaving was called love; and this love was the creation of all things. But Chaos did not know its own creation. From its embrace Mot (matter: the god of death) was born. From Mot (the Great Mother) it was that every seed of creation came, the birth of all cosmic bodies. First, there were (Great) Lives devoid of all sensation, and out of these came subsequently (Great) Lives possessed of intelligence. The latter were called Zophashamin (Overseers of the Heavens). They were fashioned in the forms of eggs, and shone forth as Mot, the Sun and Moon, the Stars and the great Planetary Spheres. Now as the original nebula began to lighten, through the heat mists and clouds of sea and earth were produced and gigantic downpours and torrents of the waters in the firmament. Even after they were separated, they were still carried from their proper places by the heat of the sun. All the watery and earthy elements met together again in the nebula, one with the other. They dashed together amid thunder and lightning; and over the crash of the thundering the (Great) Rational Lives (the Zophashamin) watched, while on the land and sea male and female cowered

The Overseeing Zophashamin eventually slipped into the dimension of our planet. They interbred with the daughters of Earth. Their first landing place seems to have been Baalbek in Lebanon. They devised Baetulia (contriving stones that moved as though having life) to build a grand Trilithon Platform. They used the art of magic words (mantras) to lift and move large stone blocks and open huge stone doors. The Great Platform served as a landing site for their spaceships. Sanchoniathon claims that these demi-gods possessed light and other more complete ships. Under the supervision of Taautus, their progeny (from the daughters of earth) established Byblos. They then spread into the Levant and further into Egypt. Halfway between Baalbek and the Pyramids, Jerusalem was made into a mission control area. The demi-gods took the Cedar Mountain that separated Baalbek and Byblos for their abode.1

The Theogony

So long as human beings worshipped the abstract principle of creation, the manifestations of which proceed from the earth and sun, they doubtless reasoned little on the nature of its hitherto inseparable parts. They had not at that early period begun to look outside of Nature for their god-idea, but when through the peculiar course of development which had been entered upon, the simple conception of a creative agency originally entertained became obscured, mankind began to speculate on the nature and attributes of the two principles by which everything is produced, and to dispute over their relative importance in the office of reproduction. Much light has been thrown upon these speculations by the Kosmogonies which have come down to us from the Phoenicians, Babylonians, and other peoples of past ages. In the Phoenician Kosmogony, according to the Mokh doctrine as recorded by Philo, out of the kosmic egg Toleeleth (female) "sprang all the impregnation of creation and the beginning of the universe." In this exposition of the beginnings of things, it is distinctly stated that the spirit which in after ages came to be regarded as something outside or above Nature, "had no consciousness of its own creation."2

Source:

  1. Sanchuniathon of Berytus, Phoenician History tr. Philo of Byblos, fragments.
  2. Burt Gamble, Elisa, The God-Idea of the Ancients (or Sex in Religion) Ancient Speculations Concerning Creation. 1897.

Additional Reading: Phoenician Theology, Theogony and Creation Story

For essays on Phoenician theology, paganism, and the Phoenician theogony (god-idea), please use the related links.

Additional Sources:

Philo or Sanchuniathon? A Phoenician Cosmogony
From Classical Quarterly 41(i) 2 I 3‑220 (1991) Printed in Great Britain

Herennius Philo of Byblos is the subject of a notice in the Suda, which states that he was a grammarian born in Nero's time who lived to such an advanced age that he was still composing works in the reign of Hadrian. The titles listed include: On the Acquisition and Choice of Books: On Cities and their Eminent Citizens; and On the Reign of Hadrian (= Fr. I Jacoby).1 His name, like that of Flavius Josephus, could imply the patronage of a Roman family;2 we may suppose that, like Porphyry and Maximus of Tyre, he was a Phoenician by origin who had adopted the tongue and culture of the Greeks.

Philo's most famous labor was to translate from his native language the works of a certain Sanchuniathon, for whose writings and biography he was perhaps the only Source.3 The existence of this figure, or at least the veracity of Philo's account of him, has always been doubted and frequently denied;4 but modern research has shown that he bears a name which might have belonged to a Phoenician, and that many of the ingredients of the work attributed to him are of high antiquity and native provenance.5 Thus Philo must have employed a Phoenician source, on which he would have no reason to bestow a fictitious name. It need hardly be said, however, that a belief in the existence of a document from the hand of Sanchuniathon does not oblige us to credit the early date that Philo assigns to him, or the veracity of all that is asserted on his behalf. It has been said by Orientalists that the name Sanchuniathon cannot have been current at an epoch so early as that to which Philo appeals.6 It is evident to all that there is much in the present version of the history that was written to solicit the taste of Hellenistic readers,7 and must therefore be the translator's contribution. This essay....

  1. The fragment can be found in F. Jacoby. Die Fragrnenie tier Griechisehen Historiker, iii (Leiden. 1958), pp. 802‑24. Fragments of Philo and other historians will hereafter be referred to under the name of Jacoby with the relevant number.
  2. For the name Herennius Philo see Jacoby F5 (Lydus) and F9 (Origen), both taken from reliable witnesses. The only other Greek to bear the name Herennios appears to have been the pupil of Ammonius Saccas: see Pauly-Wissowa. RE 8 (1912). 649ff.; For the Oscan origin of the name and its Roman bearers see pp. 662ff.
  3. On the compatibility of our sources with this statement and with one another see Appendix.
  4. The most useful modern work, though I shall here disagree with some of its conclusions, is A. . Baumgarten, The Phoenician History of Philo of Byblos (Leiden, 1981). Baumgarten holds, as I do, that the history is a Hellenistic treatment of Phoenician materials. P. Nautin, 'Sanchuniathon chez Philo de Byblos et chez Porphyry', in Revue Biblique 56 (1949), 272, treats the Sanchuniathon of Philo as a Hellenistic fantasy, though admitting that the name itself is of Phoenician provenance. The accuracy of Eusebius, though not as Baumgarten asserts (45 n. 26) the existence of Sanchuniathon, is denied by C. A. Lobeck, Agaophamus, Ii. 1265-79, The chief proponent of a more credulous estimate of Philo has been O. Lissfeldt. some of whose writings are cited below. For a judicious review of the many controversies surrounding Sanchuniathon, see J. Barr, Philo of Byblos and his "Phoenician History", BJRL 57 (1974), 17-6.
  5. The most important modern work on the Phoenician ingredients has been O. Eissfeldt, Taautos und Sanchuniathon (Berlin, 1952).
  6. Barr (1974), 36 and n. 2, after Albright but against Eissfeldt.
  7. E,g. the equation of Phoenician names with Greek counterparts, and the eclectic borrowings from other national historians, treated below.

From “Phoenician Solar Theology: An Investigation into the Phoenician Opinion of the Sun Found in Julian's Hymn to King Helios"
by Joseph Azize # ISBN: 1593332106
Pub. Date: June 2005 Series: Gorgias”

Philo of Byblos

Philo of Byblos was an antiquarian and grammarian of the late first and early second centuries A.D. His praenomen was probably Herenius Severus.34 The Phoenician History (the original title was either Φοινικικη ιατοαρια or Φοινικικια) is chiefly known to us from the excerpts in Eusebius “Preaparatio Evangelica.”35 Comparisons of the passage cited in Eusebius with citations of these same passages elsewhere, when available for scrutiny, are said to demonstrate that Eusebius has accurately cited Philo.36 However, the number of such passages is not large, and we know that much was omitted, a Philo’s work filled eight volumes. For example, the two etymologies noted in Lydus are nowhere in Eusebius’ fragments, and these seem at least a little different from what is to be found in Eusebius’ quotations. Eusebius cites Philo only where he believes that Philo will help him make a point for Christianity against paganism.

It is not necessary to commence a study of Philo by saying something about the Preaparatio in which most of the fragments are found. This has been adequately dealt with by Baumgarten.37 It is sufficient to observe that while this issue is crucial to a consideration of Eusebius’ work, it is not essential when combing Philo for evidence of Phoenician religion. Eusebius and Lydus have preserved only extracts, and we cannot reject their testimony simply by reference to Eusebius’ agenda in defending Christianity against paganism or even by reference to Lydus’ sentimental affection for paganism.38

When one turns to the Phoenician History itself, one is struck, on analysis, by the fact that is seems a heterogeneous document. As Baumgarten demonstrated, the cosmogony (together with the zoogony) is exceptional within the parameters of the work in that they are the only portions which are composed in the form of poetic parallelism.39 I would modify this only by adding that in the work as we have it, it is the only example of parallelism. However, Baumgarten’s conclusion is surely correct: it would appear that Philo used various sources and probably sources of diverse “origin and date” in his writing.40 Another argument for the use of different sources in Philo is that the deity Mot’s name is sometimes vocalized as “Mouth”.41

When one takes into account the contents of Philo’s material and its similarity to Ugaritic literature, Baumgarten is correct to conclude that:

“...the analysis of the form and style of Philo’s cosmogony indicates its ultimate Phoenician source and suggests a date.”

(PAGE 227 is missing)

In other words, pare (??) Baumgarten, what Khousor being an ironworker shows is that Philos’ sources are a mixture of ancient and more recent materials.

It is not a better argument for the lateness of the material in Philo to say that Sanchuniathon is not attested before Philo,47 as so few Phoenicians are attested at all. Phoenician literature has not come down to us with very few exceptions. The vast majority of Greeks simply disdain the language and literature of their eastern neighbors.48 In Morris’ pithy phrase, “Hellenism sundered Greeks and Orientals”.49

Porphyry, who was a lot closer to the critical moment than we are, and as I contended, was possibly literate in Phoenician, stated:

“Sanchuniathon of Beirut gives the truest account concerning the Jews, since it agrees best with their places and their names. For he took the treatises of Hieromobalos (viz. Jeremiah), the priest of god Ieuo (??), who dedicated his work to Abibalos the king of Beirut. (Hieromobalos’ work was) accepted as correct by Abibalos by those who investigated the truth in his time.50

Although he argues against the reliability of this, Baumgarten provides grounds for its plausibility, when he says: “In view of the close geographical, linguistic, and ethnic connection of Jews and Phoenicians, works on the Jews might be approved by Phoenicians scholars or Jews might be discussed by an author like Sanchunianthon.”51 It has been often observed that here, Porphyry refers to a work of Sanchunianthon on the Jews, and not a Phoenician history. A more critical point is that — according to Bickerman — it was rare for a religious work of the Ancient Near East to have a named author. Rather, this is a Greek practice. The upshot then, is that “Sanchuniathon” source is Hellenistic.52

  1. 34. ΝΡΕΛ, vol 5, col. 410, Attridge and Oden (1981) p.1.
  2. 35. ΝΡΕΛ, vol 5, col. 410.
  3. 36. Baumgartner (1981) pp. 38 and 92-93; and Van Seters (1982) p. 206.
  4. 37. Baumgarten (1981) pp. 36-38.
  5. 38. On Lydus, see Maas (1992) pp. 4-6 and his allegory of the “silver vessel”, which, as Maas shows, represents the heritage of Rome and which is broken up into pieces to be sold. This image shows how Lydus felt.
  6. 39. Baumgarten (1981) pp. 98-100
  7. 40. Baumgarten (1977) p. 41.
  8. 41. Baumgarten (1977) p. 143.
  9. PAGE 227 is missing
  10. 47. Baumgarten (1977) p. 51.
  11. 48. Coleman (1997) pp. 200-201
  12. 49. Morris (2000) p. 102.
  13. 50. Baumgarten (1977) p. 43.
  14. 51. Baumgarten (1977) p. 59.
  15. 52. Baumgarten (1981) p. 51.
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