(Siʹdon), Sidonians (Si·doʹni·ans).
Canaan’s firstborn son Sidon was the progenitor of the Sidonians. The seaport town of Sidon was named after their forefather, and for many years it was the principal city of the Phoenicians, as the Greeks called the Sidonians. Today the city is known as Saida.
A colony of Sidonians also settled about 35 km (22 mi) S of Sidon and called the place Tyre. In time Tyre surpassed Sidon in many respects, but she never completely lost her identity as a Sidonian settlement. The king of Tyre was sometimes called “the king of the Sidonians” (1Ki 16:31), and frequently Tyre and Sidon are mentioned together in prophecy. (Jer 25:22; 27:3; 47:4; Joe 3:4; Zec 9:2) Between the two cities was Zarephath, “which belongs to Sidon” and where Elijah was fed by a widow during a prolonged famine.—1Ki 17:9; Lu 4:25, 26.
Originally Sidon was considered the N limit of the Canaanite nations. (Ge 10:19) After Joshua’s conquest of the kings of northern Canaan (who had been pursued as far N as “populous Sidon”), the land was divided among the nine and a half tribes that had as yet received no allotment. At that time land under Sidon’s control was yet remaining to be taken. (Jos 11:8; 13:2, 6, 7; Nu 32:33) Asher received the coastal plains immediately S of Sidon, and as had been prophesied, Zebulun’s territory lay with ‘his remote side toward Sidon,’ that is, in the N part of the Promised Land. (Jos 19:24, 28; Ge 49:13) The Asherites, however, instead of driving the Sidonians out of their God-assigned territory, were content to settle down among them. (Jg 1:31, 32; 3:1, 3) During the period of the Judges, the tribe of Dan annexed Laish, possibly a Sidonian colony, and renamed it Dan. The conquest was accomplished with apparent ease, for the people were “quiet and unsuspecting,” hence unprepared for the attack. (Jg 18:7, 27-29) Sidon is also mentioned in connection with the census taken in David’s day.—2Sa 24:6.
A port city favored with two of the few harbors on the Phoenician coast, Sidon became a great trading center where overland caravans met and exchanged their wares for goods brought in vessels plying the shipping lanes of the Mediterranean. Among the Sidonians were wealthy merchants, skilled sailors, and hardy rowers. (Isa 23:2; compare Eze 27:8, 9.) Sidonians were also famous for their craftsmanship in the manufacture of glass and in their weaving and dyeing of cloth. They were also noted for their ability as loggers and lumbermen.—1Ki 5:6; 1Ch 22:4; Ezr 3:7.
Sidonian Religion and Its Consequence. Religiously, the Sidonians were depraved; lewd sex orgies in connection with the goddess Ashtoreth were a prominent part of their worship. The Israelites, allowing the Sidonians to remain among them, were eventually ensnared into worshiping their false gods. (Jg 10:6, 7, 11-13) Some of the foreign wives that Solomon married were Sidonians, and these caused the king to go after the disgusting fertility goddess Ashtoreth. (1Ki 11:1, 4-6; 2Ki 23:13) King Ahab also did what was bad in Jehovah’s eyes by marrying Jezebel, the daughter of a Sidonian king. Jezebel, in turn, zealously promoted false worship in Israel.—1Ki 16:29-33; 18:18, 19.
The Sidonians were made to drink of Jehovah’s wrath, first by hearing the pronouncements of his prophets, and later by the destruction meted out at the hands of the Babylonians and others. (Isa 23:4, 12; Jer 25:17, 22; 27:1-8; 47:4; Eze 28:20-24; 32:30; Joe 3:4-8; Zec 9:1-4) Secular history reports that the empires of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome each in turn dominated Sidon.
Sidonian History During First Century C.E. But, despite the Sidonians’ corrupt manner of worship, they were not as reprehensible as wayward Israel. Hence, Jesus said it would be more tolerable on Judgment Day for the people of Sidon than for those Jews of Chorazin and Bethsaida who rejected Jesus as Messiah. (Mt 11:20-22; Lu 10:13, 14) Sometime later, when Jesus was traveling through the district around Sidon, a Phoenician woman showed faith in him. (Mt 15:21-28; Mr 7:24-31) However, the ‘crowds’ that Jesus had cured previously, among whom were some from around Tyre and Sidon, were no doubt in the majority Jews or proselytes. (Mr 3:7, 8; Lu 6:17) On his first trip to Rome as a prisoner, Paul was permitted to visit with the brothers in Sidon.—Ac 27:1, 3.
For reasons not stated by history, Herod Agrippa I was in “a fighting mood” against the Sidonians, who were supplied with food from the king. When a day was set for reconciling matters and the Sidonians were applauding Herod as speaking with “a god’s voice, and not a man’s,” Jehovah’s angel struck him so that he was soon eaten up with worms.—Ac 12:20-23.