The Ancient Port Cities of Tyre and Sidon
Maintaining stability and control in the global financial and monetary systems is, without a doubt, the greatest single challenge facing the leaders of the world today.
This century tells a story of the gradual and progressive debasement of our money from a wealth based gold standard to a valueless debt backed money. The loss of property, family businesses and farms (all the product of honest labour), the loss of jobs, bankruptcies and loss of savings and purchasing power are all the results of today’s debased monetary system.
Throughout the 80 or more years that today’s debt backed money system has been put into place, there have been many vocal opponents. They have pointed out the futility and un-sustainability of a system that would entrap, enslave, control and in-debt it’s participants, and their children, from the cradle to the grave, for the benefit of the few that profit from such a system. These oponents have called for the re-establishment of a gold or Bimetallic standard.
The practice of using precious metal as money (especially silver), takes us back over 35 centuries to ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. Precious Metals were used as a medium of exchange as determined by their weight and purity.
Along the Mediterranean coast north of Palestine lay Phoenicia. Since around 3000BC the Phoenicia port cities of Tyre and Sidon had stood alone as “the doorway to the East”.
Its men were among the richest and greatest merchants and sailors of the ancient world. Its shipping fleets worked the trade routes of the entire Mediterranean Sea. The goods it received from Mediterranean countries would then be taken inland to the Red Sea port where they were shipped east. Conversely the exotic wares from the Far East were brought back and sold throughout the Mediterranean.
This trading hub brought indescribable wealth to these great cities of the ancient world. Phoenicia, for instance, supplied timber, stone and craftsmen for King Solomon�s extensive building programs.
One writer in around 600BC spoke of Tyre’s wealth accordingly;
“Many coastlands were your own special markets. Tarshish trafficked with you because of your great wealth of every kind, silver, iron, tin and lead they exchanged for your wares. Mechesh traded with you, exchanging persons of men (or slaves) and vessels of bronze for your merchandise. Bet togar-mah exchanged for your wares ; horses, war horses, and mules. The men of Rhodes traded with you bringing you payment in ivory-tusks and ebony.”
“Edom trafficked with you because of your abundant goods; emeralds, purple embroidered work, fine linen, coral and colored marble. Judah traded with you wheat, olives and early figs, honey, oil and balm. Damascus traded with you wine and white wool for your abundant goods of every kind.”
“Wrought iron, cassia, and calamus were bartered for your merchandise. Dedan traded with you in saddlecloths for riding. Arabia and all the princes of Kedar were you favored dealers in lambs, rams and goats. The traders of Sheba exchanged for your wealth the best of all kinds of spices and all special stones and gold. Eden traded with your in choice garments, in clothes of blue and embroidered work and in carpets of color. The ships of Tarshish travelled for you with all of your merchandise”.
The famous Phoenician traders and their age old port cities of Tyre and Sidon stood as monuments to centuries of ‘barter of trade and exchange’. This was your textbook booming economy, boasting of every benefit, technology and luxury affluence could afford. It had diversity in its products range, guarantied markets, established and time proven infrastructure, geographical superiority, and military might. It had a broad customer base, productive labor force, limited government, strategic alliances, high inventories, and high margins of safety.
Yet these famous Phoenician trading cities, that had been for many centuries, the then world “success stories”; that had outlasted kingdoms, rulers and civilizations, eventually fell.
It was the same writer, a young Hebrew priest and prophet called Ezekiel that, while living in Babylonian captivity, spoke about the fall of Tyre. He eluded to the reason why that great center of commerce and trade, that had every thing going for it, would ultimately fail.
“by the multitude of your merchandise, or put another way – in the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence and sinned, and again a bit later “because of the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profane your sanctuaries”.
In their book “The Silver Bonanza”, authors James Blanchard and Franklin Sanders observe empires rising on a stable silver and gold monetary system and falling on it’s abandonment, a pattern that un-mistakenly weaves its way throughout all of history.
In an age before strict coinage, a system of weights and measures were used to determine value. Merchants and traders engaged in unrighteous trade would “falsify the balances of those scales by deceit”. In other words he would load the scales with incorrect weights to unrightfully profit from the transaction. As we have pointed out in the past, different methods of unrighteous trade have been employed throughout the ages depending on the money of the day.
The book of the Law, on which the ancient Israel State was built, said ; “you shall have just weights amongst you”. In the Hebrew Pentateuch alone there were six separate references to dishonest weights. King Solomon called unjust weights “an abomination”and in contrast said “just weights are the Lord’s delight”. Unjust weights and measures, just like debasing coins or printing valueless paper notes, or like multiplying electronic bank deposits today, all lead to inflation.
Inflation is high theft on the grandest of scales because it erodes the savings and the purchasing power of the masses. As the Hebrew prophet Amos put it “you make the bushel smaller and the shekel larger, swallowing up the needy and the poor of the land”.
Unrighteous trade in all its forms has been condemned at some point in all cultures. Again today it does not take much for the student of history to observe the enslaving effect of this practice.
As I said at the outset, for the best part of 80 years this same inflationary system has progressively been put into place. This debasement, when compared with the rest of history, has taken on all new proportions.
It has led to immeasurable heart break and suffering along the way. The loss of property, family businesses and farms, all the product of honest peoples labor; the loss of jobs, the bankruptcies and loss of savings are all the results of inflation. It exists so that governments and banks can profit by it.
With almost a familiar ring of today, found in the verses surrounding those writings, Ezekiel talks of the pride that came with the dizzy success of those famous Phoenician trading communities. “You have said I sit in the seat of the gods and in the heart of the seas, you consider yourself to be as wise as a god, by your wisdom and understanding you have got great wealth for yourself, and have gathered gold and silver into your treasuries; by your great wisdom in trade you have increased your wealth, and your heart has become proud in your wealth . . . “
And then : ” therefore I will bring strangers upon you, . . . with the hoofs of his horses he will trample all your streets; he will slay all your people with the sword; and your mighty pillars will fall to the ground. They will make a spoil of your riches and a prey of your merchandise, they will break down your wall and destroy your pleasant houses; your stones and timber and soil they will cast into the midst of the waters. And I will spot the music of your songs and the sound of your lyres shall be heard no more. I will make you a bare rock; you shall be a place for the spreading of nets, you will never be rebuilt”.
To this very day, on that same piece of Mediterranean Coast, on the ground above the ruins of the once great city of Tyre, fishermen can be found mending their nets. Surely this should serve as a profound reminder to the fate of a society, no matter how abundant its trade; when it becomes filled with pride, practices unrighteous trade and falsifies their scales by deceit.
by Philip Judge