FAIR is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing well-documented answers to criticisms of the doctrine, practice, and history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Lehi's favor toward Sidon is appropriate in time and place, given his other beliefs
Parent page: Book of Mormon/Anthropology/Culture/Old World
Lehi's favor toward Sidon is appropriate in the time and place of the Book of Mormon, given his other beliefs
Even the Egyptians of 600 B.C., striving as they were to regain supremacy of sea trade, had their huge seagoing ships manned exclusively by Syrian and Phoenician crews, though Egypt was a maritime nation.14 But Israel had no ports at all; her one ambitious maritime undertaking had to be carried on with the aid and cooperation of Tyre, who took unscrupulous advantage of her landlubber neighbor.15
But for centuries it had been Sidon that had taken the lead; it was Sidon that gave its name to all the Phoenicians—Homer's Sidonians—and Sidon still remained in business.16 But now was Tyre's great day; by pushing and aggressive tactics she was running the show, and no doubt charging excessive rates.17
Now it is significant that whereas the name of Sidon enjoys great popularity in the Book of Mormon, in both its Egyptian (Giddonah) and Hebrew forms, the name of Tyre never appears in the book. That is actually as it should be, for in Lehi's day there was bitter rivalry between the two, and to support the one was to oppose the other. The upstart nobility that were running and ruining things at the court of Zedekiah were putting their money on Tyre, so to speak, and when Nebuchadnezzar came west on the fatal expedition that resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem, one of his main objectives, if not the main one, was to knock out Tyre.18 Up until quite recently it was believed that his thirteen-year siege of the city on the rock was unsuccessful, but now it is known for sure that Tyre was actually taken and destroyed, upon which Sidon enjoyed a brief revival of supremacy.19 Now Lehi shared the position of Jeremiah (1 Nephi 7:14), who was opposed to the policy of the court in supporting Egypt against Babylon; that meant that he was anti-Tyre and pro-Sidon
- Hugh W. Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, 3rd edition, (Vol. 6 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by John W. Welch, (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Company ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1988), Chapter 7, references silently removed—consult original for citations.