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44 The Political Approach to the Classical World
good terms with them and with his valuable neighbours the
cities of Phoenicia. With the aid of his ally King Hiram of Tyre
he was able to finance trading expeditions to the ends of the
known world. His Tyrian ships sailed to Arabia for frankincense
and the luxuries of India, and to the kingdom of Tartessos in
distant Spain for tin which came from the Cassiterides, the tin
islands of the Atlantic. The description of the building of
Solomon's temple, roofed and panelled with Lebanon cedar,
adorned with gold and ivory, reveals the wealth and influence
of its builder.
But the old religious and racial enmity between Israel and
Judah soon burst out again. Egypt had a hand in the disruption;
she could not afford to see Palestine become a formidable
Power which might threaten her borders. The court which had
sent a princess richly dowered to be Solomon's bride now
received his son's enemy the rebel Jeroboam. The prestige of
Egypt abroad had now dwindled to a shadow. The story of the
wanderings and misfortunes of a certain Wen-Amun shows only
too clearly the contempt in which Egypt was held by the inde-
pendent cities of the Syrian coast. He was sent thither to buy
timber for the Egyptian government, and in endeavouring to
carry out his orders was everywhere shown such disrespect, was
so hounded from place to place, so slighted and so mocked that
at length he sat down on the sea-shore at Byblos and wept.
Such treatment contrasts sadly with the deference which an
Egyptian official on such an errand might have expected even
a century before.
Now Assyria was at last coming into her own. Since her brief
bid for ascendancy in the eleventh century she had been a minor
Power, mainly occupied in securing her borders from the attacks
of tribesmen from the north-eastern hills, and waging an econ-
omic warfare against the merchants of Babylonia. But in the
ninth century the kings of Assyria set out on that career of
conquest which gradually gained for them an empire greater