Is a country of Western Asia, lying south and east of Judea. It extends 1,500 miles from north to south, and 1,200 from east to west. On the north it is bounded by part of Syria, on the east by the Persian Gulf and the Euphrates, on the south by the Arabian Sea and the straits of Babelmandel, and on the west by the Red sea, Egypt, and Palestine. Arabia is distinguished by geographers into three parts-Deserta, Petraea, and Felix.
arid, an extensive region in the south-west of Asia. It is bounded on the west by the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea, on the south by the Indian Ocean, and on the east by the Persian Gulf and the Euphrates. It extends far into the north in barren deserts, meeting those of Syria and Mesopotamia. It is one of the few countries of the world from which the original inhabitants have never been expelled.
It was anciently divided into three parts:, (1.) Arabia Felix (Happy Arabia), so called from its fertility. It embraced a large portion of the country now known by the name of Arabia. The Arabs call it Yemen. It lies between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. (2.) Arabia Deserta, the el-Badieh or "Great Wilderness" of the Arabs. From this name is derived that which is usually given to the nomadic tribes which wander over this region, the "Bedaween," or, more generally, "Bedouin," (3.) Arabia Petraea, i.e., the Rocky Arabia, so called from its rocky mountains and stony plains. It comprehended all the north-west portion of the country, and is much better known to travellers than any other portion. This country is, however, divided by modern geographers into (1) Arabia Proper, or the Arabian Peninsula; (2) Northern Arabia, or the Arabian Desert; and (3) Western Arabia, which includes the peninsula of Sinai and the Desert of Petra, originally inhabited by the Horites (Ge 14:6, etc.), but in later times by the descendants of Esau, and known as the Land of Edom or Idumea, also as the Desert of Seir or Mount Seir.
The whole land appears (Ge 10) to have been inhabited by a variety of tribes of different lineage, Ishmaelites, Arabians, Idumeans, Horites, and Edomites; but at length becoming amalgamated, they came to be known by the general designation of Arabs. The modern nation of Arabs is predominantly Ishmaelite. Their language is the most developed and the richest of all the Semitic languages, and is of great value to the student of Hebrew.
The Israelites wandered for forty years in Arabia. In the days of Solomon, and subsequently, commercial intercourse was to a considerable extent kept up with this country (1Ki 10:15; 2Ch 9:14; 17:11). Arabians were present in Jerusalem at Pentecost (Ac 2:11). Paul retired for a season into Arabia after his conversion (Ga 1:17). This country is frequently referred to by the prophets (Isa 21:11; 42:11; Jer 25:24, etc.)
(Arabia arid tract). The Arabah, originally restricted to one wady, came to be applied to all Arabia. (See ARABAH.) Bounded on the N. by Palestine and Syria, E. by the Euphrates and the Persian Gulf, S. by the Arabian Sea and strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, W. by the Red Sea and Egypt. 1700 miles long by 1400 broad. Designated Ge 25:6 "the east country," the people "children of the East" (Ge 29:1; Jg 6:3), chiefly meaning the tribes E. of Jordan and N. of the Arabian peninsula. "All the mingled people" is in Hebrew ha ereb (Ex 12:38; Jer 25:20; Eze 30:5), possibly the Arabs. The three divisions are Arabia Deserta, Felix, and Petraea. The term Kedem, "the East," with the Hebrew probably referred to ARABIA DESERTA, or N. Arabia, bounded E. by the Euphrates, W. by the mountains of Gilead. Jeremiah (Jer 2:6) describes its features, "a land of deserts and pits, a land of drought and of the shadow of death, that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt."
Tadmor or Palmyra "in the wilderness" was on its N.E. border (1Ki 9:18). Moving sands, a few thorny shrubs, and an occasional palm and a spring of brackish water, constitute its general character. The sand wind, the simoom, visits it. Hither Paul resorted after conversion for that rest and reflection which are needed before great spiritual enterprises (Ga 1:17). Moses' stay of 40 years in the same quarter served the same end of preparatory discipline. Its early inhabitants were the Rephaim, Emim, Zuzim, Zamzummim (Ge 14:5); Ammon, Moab, Edom, the Hagarenes, the Nabathaeans, the people of Kedar, and many wandering tent-dwelling tribes, like the modern Bedouins, succeeded. The portion of it called the Hauran, or Syrian desert, abounds in ruins and inscriptions in Greek, Palmyrene, and an unknown tongue.
ARABIA FELIX or happy, S. Arabia, bounded on the E. by the Persian Gulf, S. by the Arabian Sea, W. by the Red Sea. Yemen, famed for its fertility ("the right hand", so the south, compare Mt 12:42); and Hadramaut (Hazarmaveth, Ge 10:26) were parts of it. Sheba answers to Yemen (Ps 72:10), whose queen visited Solomon (1Ki 10:1). The dominant family was that of Himyer, son of Sava; one of this family founded the modern kingdom of the Himyerites, now called el Hedjaz, the land of pilgrimage, on account of the pilgrimages to Mecca the birthplace, and Medina the burial place, of Mahomet. The central province of the Nejd is famed for the Arab horses and camels, "the ships of the desert."
Joktan, son of Eber (Ge 10:25), was the original founder, Ishmael the subsequent head, of its population. The Hagarenes, originally the same as the Ishmaelites, subsequently are mentioned as distinct (1Ch 5:10,19,22; Ps 83:6). The people of Yemen have always lived in cities, and practiced commerce and agriculture. It was famed for gems and gold, spices, perfumes, and gums (1Ki 10:10; Eze 27:22). Many of the luxuries attributed to it, however, were products of further lands, which reached Palestine and Egypt through Arabia.
ARABIA PETRAEA, called from its city Petra, the rock, or Selah (2Ki 14:7), now Hadjar, i.e. rock. Between the gulfs of Suez and Akabah; Palestine and Egypt are its northern boundary. The desert of mount Sinai (Burr et tur Sinai), where Israel wandered, Kadesh Barnea, Pharan, Rephidim, Ezion Geber, Rithmah, Oboth, Arad, Heshbon, were in it. The wady Leja (perhaps the valley of Rephidim), near jebel Mousa, and the wady Feiran (Paran, Nu 13:3), are most luxuriant. Hawarah (Marab, Ex 15:23) is 33 miles S.E. of Ayoun Mousa (the fountain of Moses); 7 miles S. of this is wady Gurundel, perhaps the Elim of Ex 15:27. Precipitous bore rocks, void of herbage, form the southern coast. Cush, son of Ham, originally peopled Arabia (the ruins of Marib, or Seba, and the inscriptions are Cushite; in Babylonia too there are Cushite traces); then Joktan, of Shem's race (Ge 10:7,20,25,30).
The posterity of Nahor, of Abraham and Keturah (Genesis 25), of Lot also, formed a part of the population, namely, in Arabia Deserta. Then Ishmael's, then Esau's descendants, for Esau identified himself with Ishmael by his marrying Ishmael's daughter (Ge 28:9). The head of each tribe is the sheikh; the office is hereditary in his family, but elective as to the individual. The people are hospitable, eloquent, poetical, proud of ancestry, but predatory, superstitious, and revengeful. The wandering and wild Bedouins are purest in blood and preserve most the Arab characteristics foretold in Ge 16:12; "He will be a wild" (Hebrew a wild donkey of a) "man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him" (marking their incessant feuds with one another or with their neighbors), "and he shall dwell tent in the presence of all his brethren."
The image of a wild donkey untamable, roaming at its will in the desert (compare Job 39:5-8), portrays the Bedouin's boundless love of freedom as he rides in the desert spear in hand, despising town life. His dwelling in the presence of his brethren implies that Ishmael would maintain an independent nationality before all Abraham's descendants. They have never been completely subjugated by any neighboring power. Compare Job 1:15; Jer 49:8; 3:2; 2Ch 21:16. From their dwelling in tents they are called Scenitoe. Their tents are of goats' hair cloth, black or brown (Song 1:5), arranged in a ring, enclosing their cattle, each about 25 feet long and 7 high. The town populations by intermarriages and intercourse with foreigners have lost much of Arab traits. Mecca, in their belief, is where Ishmael was saved and Hagar died and was buried.
The Kaaba or Square was built by Seth, destroyed by the flood, and rebuilt by Abraham and Ishmael. Sabeanism, or the worship of the hosts, the sun, moon, and stars, was the first lapse from original revelation (Job 31:26-27); but just before Mahomet they were divided between it, Judaism, Magianism, and corrupted Christianity. Mahometanism became the universal faith in A.D. 628. The Wahabees are one of the most powerful sects, named from Abd el Wahab, who in the beginning of last century undertook to reform abuses in Mahometanism. To the Arabs we owe our arithmetical figures. They took the lead of Europeans in astronomy, chemistry, algebra, and medicine. They spread their colonies from the Senegal to the indus, and from Madagascar to the Euphrates. The Joktanites of southern Arabia were seafaring; the Ishmaelites, more northward, the caravan merchants (Ge 37:28).
The Arabic language is the most developed of the Semitic languages. in the 14th or 13th century B.C. the Semitic languages differed much less than in later times. Compare Ge 31:47; Jg 7:9-15; Phurah, Gideon's servant, evidently understood the Midianites. But in the 8th century B.C. only educated Jews understood Aramaic (2Ki 18:26). In its classical form Arabic is more modern than Heb., in its ancient form probably sister to Hebrew and Aramaic. The Himyeritic is a mixture with an African language, as appears from the inscriptions; the Ekhili is its modern phase. Monuments with Himyeritic inscriptions are found in Hadramaut and the Yemen. There was a Cushite or Ethiopian Sheba, as well as a Shemitic Sheba (Ge 10:7,28).
The Himyerites had a Cushite descent. The Arabic is one of the most widely spoken languages. The Hebrew literature dates from the 15th century B.C, the Arabic only from the 5th century B.C. For this reason, and the greater simplicity of Hebrew modes of expression, it seems probable the Hebrew is the elder sister. A few Arabic forms are plainly older than the corresponding Hebrew The Book of Job in many of its difficult Hebrew roots receives much illustration from Arabic. The Arabic is more flexible and abounding in vowel sounds, as suits a people light hearted and impulsive; the Hebrew is weightier, and has more consonants, as suits a people graver and more earnest. The Arabic version of the Scriptures now extant was made after Mahomet's time. That in the London Polyglott was in part by R. Saadias Gaon (the Excellent).
A very large country is embraced by this name, lying south, south-east, and east of Palestine. It was of old, as it is now by the natives, divided into three districts.
1. Arabia Proper, being the same as the ancient Arabia Felix, embraces the peninsula which extends southward to the Arabian Sea and northward to the desert.
2. Western Arabia, the same as the ancient Arabia Petraea, embraces Sinai and the desert of Petra, extending from Egypt and the Red Sea to about Petra.
3. Northern Arabia, which joins Western Arabia and extends northward to the Euphrates.
(desert, barren), a country known in the Old Testament under two designations:--
1. The East Country,
or perhaps the East, (
and Land of the Sons of the East,
Gentile name, Sons of the East,
From these passages it appears that Land of the East and Sons of the East indicate, primarily, the country east of Palestine, and the tribes descended from Ishmael and from Keturah; and that this original signification may have become gradually extended to Arabia and its inhabitants generally, though without any strict limitation.
2. 'Arab and 'Arab, whence Arabia.
(Arabia is a triangular peninsula, included between the Mediterranean and Red seas, the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf. Its extreme length, north and south, is about 1300 miles, and its greatest breadth 1500 miles. -Encyc. Brit.) Divisions.--Arabia may be divided into Arabia Proper, containing the whole peninsula as far as the limits of the northern deserts; Northern Arabia (Arabia Deserta), constituting the great desert of Arabia; and Western Arabia, the desert of Petra and the peninsula of Sinai, or the country that has been called Arabia Petraea, I. Arabia Proper, or the Arabian penninsula consists of high tableland, declining towards the north. Most of it is well peopled, watered by wells and streams, and enjoys periodical rains. The moist fertile tracts are those on the southwest and south. II. Northern Arabia, or the Arabian Desert, is a high, undulating, parched plain, of which the Euphrates forms the natural boundary from the Persian Gulf to the frontier of Syria, whence it is bounded by the latter country and the desert of Petra on the northwest and west, the peninsula of Arabia forming its southern limit. It has few oases, the water of the wells is generally either brackish or unpotable and it is visited by the sand-wind called Samoom. The inhabitants principally descended from Ishmael and from Keturah, have always led a wandering and pastoral life. They conducted a considerable trade of merchandise of Arabia and India from the shore of the Persian Gulf.
III. Western Arabia includes the peninsula of Sinai [SINAI] and the desert of Petra; corresponding generally with the limits of Arabia Petraea. The latter name is probably derived from that of its chief city, not from its stony character. It was mostly peopled by descendants of Esau, and was generally known as the land of Edom or Idumea [EDOM], as well as by its older appellation, the desert of Seir or Mount Seir. [SEIR]
See Sinai, or Sinai
See Edom, Idumaea or Idumea
Inhabitants.-- (Arabia, which once ruled from India to the Atlantic, now has eight or nine millions of inhabitants, about one-fifth of whom are Bedouin or wandering tribes, and the other four-fifths settled Arabs.--Encyc. Brit.)
1. The descendants of JOKTAN occupied the principal portions of the south and southwest of the peninsula, with colonies in the interior. The principal Joktanite kingdom, and the chief state of ancient Arabia, was that of the Yemen.
2. The ISHMAELITES appear to have entered the peninsula from the northwest. That they have spread over the whole of it (with the exception of one or two districts on the south coast), and that the modern nation is predominantly Ishmaelite, is asserted by the Arabs.
3. Of the descendants of KETURAH the Arabs say little. They appear to have settled chiefly north of the peninsula in Desert Arabia, from Palestine to the Persian Gulf.
4. In northern and western Arabia are other peoples, which, from their geographical position and mode of life are sometimes classed with the Arabs, of these are AMALEK, the descendants of ESAU, etc.
(Productions-- The productions are varied. The most noted animal is the horse. Camels, sheep, cattle, asses, mules and cats are common. Agricultural products are coffee, wheat, barley, millet, beans, pulse, dates and the common garden plants. In pasture lands Arabia is peculiarly fortunate. In mineral products it is singularly poor, lead being most abundant.--Encyc. Brit.) Religion.-- The most ancient idolatry of the Arabs we must conclude to have been fetishism. Magianism, an importation from Chaldaea and Persia, must be reckoned among the religions of the pagan Arabs; but it never had very numerous followers. Christianity was introduced into southern Arabia toward the close of the second century, and about a century later it had made great progress. It flourished chiefly in the Yemen, where many churches were built. Judaism was propagated in Arabia, principally by Karaites, at the captivity. They are now nominally Mohammedans. Language.-- Arabic the language of Arabia, is the most developed and the richest of Shemitic languages, and the only one of which we have an extensive literature; it is, therefore, of great importance to the study of Hebrew. Government.-- Arabia is now under the government of the Ottoman empire.
ARABIA. A vast country of Asia, extending one thousand five hundred miles from north to south, and one thousand two hundred from east to west; containing a surface equal to four times that of France. The near approach of the Euphrates to the Mediterranean constitutes it a peninsula, the largest in the world. It is called Jezirat-el-Arab by the Arabs; and by the Persians and Turks, Arebistan. This is one of the most interesting countries on the face of the earth. It has, in agreement with prophecy, never been subdued; and its inhabitants, at once pastoral, commercial, and warlike, are the same wild, wandering people as the immediate descendants of their great ancestor Ishmael are represented to have been.
Arabia, or at least the eastern and northern parts of it, were first peopled by some of the numerous families of Cush, who appear to have extended themselves, or to have given their name as the land of Cush, or Asiatic Ethiopia, to all the country from the Indus on the east, to the borders of Egypt on the west, and from Armenia on the north to Arabia Deserta on the south. By these Cushites, whose first plantations were on both sides of the Euphrates and Gulf of Persia, and who were the first that traversed the desert of Arabia, the earliest commercial communications were established between the east and the west. But of their Arabian territory, and of the occupation dependent on it, they were deprived by the sons of Abraham, Ishmael, and Midian; by whom they were obliterated in this country as a distinct race, either by superiority of numbers after mingling with them, or by obliging them to recede altogether to their more eastern possessions, or over the Gulf of Arabia into Africa. From this time, that is, about five hundred and fifty years after the flood, we read only of Ishmaelites and Midianites as the shepherds and carriers of the deserts; who also appear to have been intermingled, and to have shared both the territory and the traffic, as the traders who bought Joseph are called by both names, and the same are probably referred to by Jeremiah, 25, as "the mingled people that dwell in the desert." But Ishmael maintained the superiority, and succeeded in giving his name to the whole people.
Arabia, it is well known, is divided by geographers into three separate regions, called Arabia Petraea, Arabia Deserta, and Arabia Felix.
The first, or Arabia Petraea, is the northwestern division, and is bounded on the north by Palestine and the Dead Sea, on the east by Arabia Deserta, on the south by Arabia Felix, and on the west by the Heroopolitan branch of the Red Sea and the Isthmus of Suez. The greater part of this division was more exclusively the possession of the Midianites, or land of Midian; where Moses, having fled from Egypt, married the daughter of Jethro, and spent forty years keeping the flocks of his father-in-law: no humiliating occupation in those days, and particularly in Midian, which was a land of shepherds; the whole people having no other way of life than that of rearing and tending their flocks, or in carrying the goods they received from the east and south into Phenicia and Egypt. The word flock, used here, must not convey the idea naturally entertained in our own country of sheep only, but, together with these or goats, horned cattle and camels, the most indispensable of animals to the Midianite. It was a mixed flock of this kind which was the sole care of Moses, during a third part of his long life; in which he must have had abundance of leisure, by night and by day, to reflect on the unhappy condition of his own people, still enduring all the rigours of slavery in Egypt. It was a similar flock also which the daughters of Jethro were watering when first encountered by Moses; a trifling event in itself, but important in the history of the future leader of the Jews; and showing, at the same time, the simple life of the people among whom he was newly come, as well as the scanty supply of water in their country, and the strifes frequently occasioned in obtaining a share of it. Through a considerable part of this region, the Israelites wandered after they had escaped from Egypt; and in it were situated the mountains Horeb and Sinai. Beside the tribes of Midian, which gradually became blended with those of Ishmael, this was the country of the Edomites, the Amalekites, and the Nabathaei, the only tribe of pure Ishmaelites within its precincts. But all those families have long since been confounded under the general name of Arabs. The greater part of this district consists of naked rocks and sandy and flinty plains; but it contained also some fertile spots, particularly in the peninsula of Mount Sinai, and through the long range of Mount Seir.
The second region, or Arabia Deserta, is bounded on the north and north- east by the Euphrates, on the east by a ridge of mountains which separates it from Chaldea, on the south by Arabia Felix, and on the west by Syria, Judea, and Arabia Petraea. This was more particularly the country first of the Cushites, and afterward of the Ishmaelites; as it is still of their descendants, the modern Bedouins, who maintain the same predatory and wandering habits. It consists almost entirely of one vast and lonesome wilderness, a boundless level of sand, whose dry and burning surface denies existence to all but the Arab and his camel. Yet, widely scattered over this dreary waste, some spots of comparative fertility are to be found, where, spread around a feeble spring of brackish water, a stunted verdure, or a few palm trees, fix the principal settlement of a tribe, and afford stages of refreshment in these otherwise impassable deserts. Here, with a few dates, the milk of his faithful camel, and perhaps a little corn, brought by painful journeys from distant regions, or plundered from a passing caravan, the Arab supports a hard existence, until the failure of his resources impels him to seek another oasis, or the scanty herbage furnished on a patch of soil by transient rains; or else, which is frequently the case, to resort, by more distant migration, to the banks of the Euphrates; or, by hostile inroads on the neighbouring countries, to supply those wants which the recesses of the desert have denied. The numbers leading this wandering and precarious mode of life are incredible. From these deserts Zerah drew his army of a million of men; and the same deserts, fifteen hundred years after, poured forth the countless swarms, which, under Mohammed and his successors, devastated half of the then known world.
The third region, or Arabia Felix, so denominated from the happier condition of its soil and climate, occupies the southern part of the Arabian peninsula. It is bounded on the north by the two other divisions of the country; on the south and south-east by the Indian Ocean; on the east by part of the same ocean and the Persian Gulf; and on the west by the Red Sea. This division is subdivided into the kingdoms or provinces of Yemen, at the southern extremity of the peninsula; Hejaz, on the north of the former, and toward the Red Sea; Nejed, in the central region; and Hadramant and Oman, on the shores of the Indian Ocean. The four latter subdivisions partake of much of the character of the other greater divisions of the country, though of a more varied surface, and with a larger portion capable of cultivation. But Yemen seems to belong to another country and climate. It is very mountainous, is well watered with rains and springs, and is blessed with an abundant produce in corn and fruits, and especially in coffee, of which vast quantities are exported. In this division were the ancient citrus of Nysa, Musa or Moosa, and Aden. This is also supposed to have been the country of the queen of Sheba. In Hejaz are the celebrated cities of Mecca and Medina.
Arabia Felix is inhabited by a people who claim Joktan for their father, and so trace their descent direct from Shem, instead of Abraham and Ham. They are indeed a totally different people from those inhabiting the other quarters, and pride themselves on being the only pure and unmixed Arabs. Instead of being shepherds and robbers, they are fixed in towns and cities;