Phoenicians: Dion and Menander on competition between Tyrian and Israelite kings (before the late first century CE)

Citation with stable link: Philip A. Harland, 'Phoenicians: Dion and Menander on competition between Tyrian and Israelite kings (before the late first century CE),' Ethnic Relations and Migration in the Ancient World, last modified June 3, 2024,

Ancient authors: Dios, Inquiries Concerning the Phoenicians = FGrHist 785 F1; Menandros of Ephesos, FGrHist 783 F1 (link to FGrHist), as cited by Josephos, Against Apion 1.112-127 (link).

Comments: Here the Judean Josephos (ca. 90s CE) preserves passages from two different authors dealing with the Tyrians and the achievements of their rulers. In both cases, the focus is on competition between Tyrians and Israelites – by proxy of rulers or other figures – in solving riddles.



(F1 = Josephos, Against Apion 1.112-116) To prove that these assertions about the Tyrian archives are not of my own invention, I will call upon Dios as witness, since he is regarded as an accurate historian of Phoenicia. In his Inquiries Concerning the Phoenicians, Dios writes as follows:

“On the death of Abibalos, his son Hirom came to the throne. He levelled up the eastern part of the city with embankments, enlarged the town, built a causeway to connect it with the temple of Olympian Zeus, which was isolated on an island, and adorned it with offerings of gold. He also went up to Libanos and had timber cut down for the construction of temples. It is said that Solomon, the sovereign of Jerusalem, sent riddles to Hirom and asked for others from him, on the understanding that the one who failed to solve them would pay a sum of money to him who succeeded. Hirom agreed, and being unable to guess the riddles, spent a large part of his wealth on the fine. Afterwards they were solved by a certain Abdemun of Tyre, who propounded others. Solomon, failing to solve these, paid back to Hirom more than he had received.”



( Josephos, Against Apion 1.116-127) In this way, Dios has confirmed my previous statements. I will, however, cite yet a further witness, Menandros of Ephesos. This author has recorded the events of each reign, in Hellenic and barbarian countries alike, and has taken the trouble to obtain his information in each case from the official records. Writing on the kings of Tyre, when he comes to Hirom he expresses himself in this way:

“On the death of Abibalos, the kingdom passed to his son Hirom, who lived fifty-three years and reigned thirty-four. He laid the embankment of the Broad Place, dedicated the golden pillar in the temple of Zeus, went and cut down cedar wood on the mount called Libanos for timber for the roofs of temples, demolished the ancient temples, and built new shrines dedicated to Herakles [Melqart, patron deity of Tyre] and Astarte. That of Herakles he erected first, in the month Peritios. He engaged in a campaign against the Itukaians [people of Utica in North Africa] who refused to pay their tribute, and did not return home till he had reduced them to submission. Under his reign lived Abdemun, a young lad, who always succeeded in mastering the problems set by Solomon, king of Jerusalem.”


Source of translation: H.S.J. Thackeray and R. Marcus, Josephus, volumes 1-7; LCL (Cambridge, MA: HUP, 1926-43), public domain (Thackeray passed away in 1930, Marcus passed away in 1956, and copyright not renewed), adapted by Harland.


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