The Phoenician Canaanites

"Phoenician" comes from the Greek word for "purple" (in reference to the purple-red dye that the Phoenicians were famous for) used to describe the people of Canaan; i.e. the Phoenicians are the Canaanites - the indigenous peoples of today's Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, and Cyprus.

During the peak of their civilization (1000 BC ~ 300 BC), the Canaanites conquered the Mediterranean Sea shores and built cities on the coasts of today's Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Spain, Ibiza, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Italy, Crete, and Greece.

The fall of Phoenicia was at the hands of the Greeks, 300 BC. Since then, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Cyprus, and Syria all became Greek colonies, until the Romans took over the empire. The lands of Canaan remained, for centuries, a prey in the hands of the Persians and Romans, back and forth, up until the seventh century.

When the Arabs from Hijaz conquered Phoenician lands (638 AD), it was the Arabs who melted into the Canaanite population (who far outnumbered them) as well as culture, except in two aspects: religion (Islam) and language (Arabic), which the Phoenicians adapted to very easily, given the similarities to their religion (Judeo-Christian), language (Aramaic), and to the facts that (1) Arabic originally comes from Aramaic, (2) Islam originally comes from Judaism-Christianity, and (3) the Hijazi Arabs originally descend from the same Semitic tribes of Greater Syria which the Phoenicians come from.

In addition, most recent DNA tests by geneticists Simon Wells and Pierre Zalloua (2004) have proven that the Canaanite blood is still running through the veins of today's Palestinians, Lebanese, and Jordanians of all ethnic and religious backgrounds.

We can still see the influence of the Canaanites in the alphabet system that they had created, which evolved over time into Aramaic and Syriac in the East, Hebrew and Coptic in the West, Nabataean and Arabic in the South, and Greek (which in turn gave birth to Latin and Cyrillic alphabets) in the North. Today almost every alphabet system from Mongolia to England is rooted in the Canaanite alphabets.

These 22 original Canaanite alphabets had evolved from Canaanite characters (which are believed to have hailed from the Canaanites of Sinai, who in turn had amalgamated them from the Egyptian Hieroglyphs). Thus, the shape of the first letter of the Canaanite alphabet, alef, was derived from the image of an ox (cow). The word alef itself means ox in Canaanite. Thus, the simplified image of alef became a symbol for the phonetic letter "A".

And so is the case for the remaining alphabets, as can be seen in the following table:

  1. Alef = Cow
  2. Bayt = House
  3. Giml = Camel
  4. Dalet = Door
  5. He = Window
  6. Waw = Hook
  7. Zayn = Sword
  8. Hayt = Wall
  9. Tayt = Wheel or Bread
  10. Yad = Hand
  11. Kaf = Palm of hand
  1. Lam = Stick (Staff)
  2. Meem = Water
  3. Noon = Fish
  4. Samkh = Column
  5. Ayn = Eye
  6. Pe = Mouth
  7. Sad = Hunting
  8. Qoof = Monkey
  9. Ras = Head
  10. Seen = Tooth
  11. Taw = Mark
Note: These translations are based on research, the findings of which are not conclusive.