Adapted from an Answer to Quora by Yair Davidiy
The query was, Did the Phoenicians become Hebrews?
It would be perhaps more pertinent to ask whether or not certain of the Israelite Tribes became Phoenicians. It may also be true that a portion of the Phoenicians were absorbed into the Israelite ethnos. Nevertheless it is easier in the limited space we have allowed ourselves for this matter to consider the question from the Israelite perspective.
Books that deal with aspects of this question include:
Nissim R. GANOR, "Who Were the Phoenicians?," Israel, English Version 2009. Ganor conflates the Israelites and Phoenicians considering them in many respects one people. The work is well researched but contains much superfluous academic speculation. See Ganor Sources - Hebrew Nations
Steven M. COLLINSs, "THE “LOST” TEN TRIBES OF ISRAEL…FOUND!", USA, 1992. The author identifies the Carthaginians as Israelites. He says that Phoenicians and Israelites on behalf of King Solomon worked copper mines in North America. Collins uses the researches of Barry Fell and others. This is not everyone's cup of tea but it is a facet of Phoenician studies.
Nahum SLOUSCHZ, "Les Hebreo-Pheniciens. Introduction a l'Histoire Des Origines De La Colonisation Hebraique Dans Les Pays Mediteranee," Paris, 1909. Slouchz identifies the Phoenicians as Ancient Hebrews and others who also became Carthaginians and gave rise to the Jews of North Africa. He used some very valuable sources that have since been disregarded. Even though some of his proofs have been disproved there is still much there worth knowing about. Slouchz also found a Phoenician and Israelite presence in southern France.
Yair DAVIDY, "Lost Israelite Identity," Israel, 5757-1996, deals mainly with other matters but contains valuable material and insights. He says that some Israelite Tribes in hindsight may have been conflated with the Phoenicians. Davidiy Concentrates on Phoenician-Israelite settlement in Spain and the west. Part of this work has been reproduced in the book, "Ancestry," 2015, by Yair Davidiy.
Yair DAVIDY, "Germany and Edom," 2016, despite its title much of this work deals with the Phoenicians in general especially concerning their involvement with, and settlement in, parts of Europe. Davidiy identifies the Phoenicians as groups of Canaanites, Israelites, and Edomites, and sees a possible de facto merging with the Minoans (“Philistines”) and Myceneans as defined by archaeology.
From a Biblical point of view the Phoenicians never really existed! The term "Phoenician" is derived from Greek writings. The Greeks applied the term to a portion of the Canaanites (along with others) who dwelt on the coast and engaged in mercantile activities. Edomites and Israelites were also part of them. The name "Phoenician" is actually derived from a Greek word meaning "Red." Esau the forefather of the Edomites was also known as "Edom" which too means "Red" (Genesis 25:30). Greek sources said that Tyre had been founded by a King named “Erythras” which name in Greek also means “Red.” Tyre and Sidon were the major Phoenician cities.
Settlements of Edom in the Ancient Middle East. Tyre and the Temenu were Edomite offshoots, as were Idume, Idameraz, Tyre and other entities.
Jeremiah 47:4 and Joel 3:4 speak of Tyre and Sidon in alliance with the Philistines. The Prophet Amos (chapter 1) speaks of Tyre as closely connected with Edom and the cities of Philistia. They were acting as Proxies for Assyria in exiling Israelites from the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
Amos (NKJV) 1: 9 Thus says the LORD: “For three transgressions of Tyre, and for four,I will not turn away its punishment, Because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom, And did not remember the covenant of brotherhood.
Tyre broke “the covenant of brotherhood” which it had once had with Israel, cf.
13 Just as I saw Ephraim like Tyre, planted in a pleasant place, So Ephraim will bring out his children to the murderer.
The Sages (Midrash Tanchuma, Shmot, "Ba," 4) identified Tyre and Edom as the same entity or closely related ones (Bar Deroma, "Ve Ze Gevul Ha-Aretz," 343-357). Tyre was frequently hostile to Israel (Ezekiel 26:2, Amos 1:9). Nevertheless, there were also times when relationships were cordial. The King of Tyre was friendly with King Solomon and helped him in building the Temple. The Israelite dynasty of Omri intermarried with the Royal House of Tyre. The infamous Jezebel, wife of Ahab, was a daughter of the King of Tyre.
Between Tyre and Sidon the latter was considered the mother city. The term "Sidonian" came to be synonymous with Phoenician but Tyre was the more powerful. The Phoenician historian, Sanchuniathon, ca.300 BCE, related that the city of Tyre had been founded by Sameroumous and Ou'soos. Sameroumous was a maker of tents and is attributed characteristics of Jacob (Genesis 26:27). His name appears to be a play on that of "Samaria" meaning the northern Israelite kingdom. This indicates a partial Israelite involvement in Tyrian (i.e. Phoenician) enterprise and settlement. On the other hand, the name "TYRE" sometimes serves as an euphemism for the descendants of Esau. Ousoos who also, said Sanchuniathon, founded Tyre is given the qualities of Esau the brother of Jacob. Esau was ancestor to Edom and an entity of Edom occupied a portion of Tyre on its landward side. Esau is often described as the arch enemy of Israel. At all events we have here indications that both Israelites and Edomites were to be found among the Phoenicians.
The mother city of Phoenicia was Sidon and the term "Sidonian" came to be synonymous with Phoenician even though Tyre became more powerful. A Phoenician inscription (quoted by Slouchz) mentions, "Sidon, the land of the sea, and Yeshurun." The term "Yeshurun" was another name for Israel, "Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and you Yeshurun, whom I have chosen.." (Isaiah 44:2).
Sidon at one stage had been conquered by one of the Sea Peoples called "Shakalesh" or "Sakkara." The Shakalesh and Sakkara were one and the same and in effect were Israelites from the Tribe of Issachar. This is discussed by both Slouchz and Gannor. The Tribe of Issachar was linked to his brother Tribe Zebulon.
The Blessing to Zebulon said,
Genesis 49:13 Zebulon shall dwell at the haven of the sea [literally: on the sea shores] and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his borderland shall be unto Sidon.
"Rejoice Zebulon in your going out; and Issachar in your tents. They shall call the people(s) unto the mountain;...they shall suck of the abundance of the sea, and of treasures hid in the sand...." (Deuteronomy 34:18-19).
The Talmud (Megilla 6a) understood the blessing of Zebulon to entail success in sea fishing, the production of purple dye from a sea mollusc, and the manufacture of glass from certain sands in the Tyre and Sidon area. Zebulon was also considered a sea merchant. All the activities of Zebulon are those otherwise associated with the Phoenicians.
The Israelite Tribe of DAN too had interests and colonies in Phoenician areas. Hiram, king of Tyre sent to Solomon, an expert artisan who was also named Hiram. He was,
"a cunning man, endued with understanding .. "The son of a woman of the daughters of DAN, and his father was a man of Tyre..." (2-Chronicles 2:12-13).
"And King Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre: He was a widow's son of the Tribe of Naphtali and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass [i.e. Bronze]:.. (1-Kings 7:13 -14).
Hiram had a father from Naphtali, a mother from Dan, he came from Tyre, and he was an expert craftsman in fields the Phoenicians specialized in and were renowned for.
The Phoenicians were experts in the production of Bronze as were the Danites in the northern Galilee, and so too were Israelites from the Tribe of Asher, and the Israelites on the east bank of the Jordan River around the region of Succoth. Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin and though these ingredients are rarer to find than iron is, bronze was preferred for long periods of time for sundry reasons. It is believed that TYRE established a kind of monopoly over the supply of tin to the Middle East. This tin was obtained from the British Isles. The question "WHY DID DAN DWELL IN SHIPS?" (Judges 5:17), indicates the mercantile interests of the Tribe of Dan.
Excavations at the site of DAN in northern Galilee (Israel) revealed the existence of a well developed metallurgical industry which concentrated on the production of Bronze. Analysis of the bronze showed the existence of gold in some specimens which is said to be a characteristic of BRITISH TIN. This indicates, as noted by Avraham Biran who excavated the site, that the tin used in Dan of the Galilee may have come from Britain. Later, one of the names given to Cornwall and Devon (in Britain) was Daunonia or Dannonia and other sources prove that Israelites from the Tribe of Dan were present in that area. The Phoenician mines in Cornwall according to local tradition are all connected with JEWS meaning in their terms, HEBREWS from ISRAEL in general. Apart from tin, the other ingredient needed for bronze is copper. The greatest copper mine of Ancient Times was the Great Orme Mine off the coast of Northern Wales. It is adjoined by Castell Caer Seion (Conwy). In Welsh tradition this was once a settlement of Jews meaning Hebrews in general. The Welsh national bard "Taliesin" (ca. 550 CE, as recorded by W. F. Skene) makes mention of it. See Welsh Hebrews
The Bible ascribed the areas of both Tyre and Sidon to the Tribe of Asher (Joshua 19:28-29). Gannor understood passages in the Tel el Amarna Tablets as describing a conquest of Tyre by the Israelite Tribe of Asher. Even though Asher did conquer the area it did not drive out the local inhabitants but lived as a minority in its own territory (Judges 1:31-32). Contemporary Egyptian inscriptions, as recorded by Brugsch, also refer to the area and all the region to its north as that of Asher.
What we have written above is known to academics but many of them prefer to deny its feasibility. Prejudices exist against the Hebrew Bible, against the Jews and by extrapolation also against the Ancient Israelites.
An example of this may be seen in the "Cisjordan Corpus."
This is a collection of "Phoenician" Silver Hoards from Ancient Israel. It consists of about 34 hoards of Hacksilver have been found at 15 sites. "Hacksilver" (Hacksilberr) means fragments of cut and bent silver items that were used as bullion for re-melting or as currency by weight in antiquity. Places where the hoards were found included Tel Dor, Eshtemoa, Tell Keisan, Ein Hofez, Akko , Megiddo, Bet Shean, Shechem, Shiloh, Gezer, Tel Miqne-Ekron, Ashkelon, Ajjul, Ein Gedi, and Arad. These are all Ancient Israelite areas. They have all collectively been given the name "Cisjordan Corpus." The term "Cisjordan" is a politically correct nomination for the area of Israel east of the Jordan. Even the name "Israel" they try to avoid!
The experts have allocated these finds to Phoenicians rather than to Israelites.
The Phoenicians however NEVER really existed! There was never a people who identified themselves as "Phoenicians!” The Greeks gave the name to an assemblage of Israelite, Edomite, and Canaanite entities who dwelt on the coastline of the Israelite Tribe of Asher!
Incidentally, the lead isotope ratios in the ores of the "Cisjordan Corpus" match those native to Sardinia and Spain. "This has caused scholars to consider Sardinia as a possible match for the legendary Tarshish." We however consider Tarshish to have been in southwest Spain possibly linked to Phoenicians activities in Northern Spain and Britain. Sardinia may also have been part of this economic and political arrangement.
King Solomon's Silver? Southern Phoenician Hacksilber Hoards and the Location of Tarshish by Christine M. Thompson and Sheldon Skaggs in Internet Archaeol. 35. Thompson and Skaggs. The Sample Set and the Cisjordan Corpus