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Reference: Arabia Felix


The happy, lies still farther south and east, being bounded east by the Persian Gulf, south by the ocean between Africa and India, and west by the Red Sea. As this region did not immediately adjoin the Holy Land, it is not so frequently mentioned as the former ones. The queen of Sheba, who visited Solomon, 1Ki 10:1, was probably queen of part of Arabia Felix. This country abounded with riches, and particularly with spices, and is now called Hedjaz, Yemen, etc. It is much celebrated in modern times by reason of the cities of Mecca and Medina being situated in it.

There are, according to native historians, two races of Arabs: those who derive their descent from the primitive inhabitants of the land, Joktan, etc., and those who claim Ishmael as their ancestor. Southern Arabia was settled in part by Cush and his sons, descendants of Ham, who also peopled the adjoining coast of Africa, and in part by descendants of Shem, particularly Joktan, Ge 10:25-26. Ishmael, Ge 25:13-15, and the six sons of Abraham by Keturah, Ge 25:2, together with the seed of Esau and of Lot, occupied the parts of Arabia nearer Judea. The changes of forty centuries render it impossible to distinguish either of these parent sources in the numerous Arab tribes descended from them. These tribes have traditions and peculiarities of their own, and incessant feuds; yet as a whole they are but one people, distinct from all others. The only general division is into those who dwell in cities, as in Southern Arabia, and those who live in the fields and deserts. The latter are migratory, dwelling in tents and removing according to the convenience of water and pasturage, and are often robbers. Each tribe is divided up into little communities, of which a sheik or patriarch is the head. Such are the Bedaween.

In ancient times the Arabs were idolaters and star-worshippers. They are now nominally Mohammedans, but then religion sits but lightly on them. Isolated from other nations, and with slight exceptions free from all foreign control the preserve their ancient manners with singular fidelity, and the study of these throws much light upon Bible narratives. Their language also is still spoken with great purity; and as it is near akin to the Hebrew, it furnishes invaluable aid in the study of the Old Testament.

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