1. One of the sons of Joktan, who settled in southern Arabia, Ge 10:26-29.
2. A country to which the ships of Solomon traded, and which had for a long time been celebrated for the purity and abundance of its gold, Job 22:24; 28:16. "Gold of Ophir" was proverbially the best gold, Ps 45:9; Isa 13:12. The only passages which give us any information as to the location of Ophir are 1Ki 9:26-28; 10:11,22; 22:48, with the parallel passages in 2Ch 8:18; 9:10,21; 20:36-37; from which it appears that the so called "ships of Tarshish" went to Ophir; that these ships sailed from Ezion-geber, a port of the Red Sea; that a voyage was made once in three years; that the fleet returned freighted with gold, peacocks, apes, spices, ivory, algum-wood, and ebony. Upon these data interpreters have undertaken to determine the situation of Ophir; but they have arrived at different conclusions. Josephus places it in the peninsula of Malacca. Others have placed it at Sofala, in South Africa, three mines of God and silver have been found, which appear to have been anciently and extensively worked. Others still suppose it to have been Southern Arabia.
(1.) One of the sons of Joktan (Ge 10:29).
(2.) Some region famous for its gold (1Ki 9:28; 10:11; 22:48; Job 22:24; 28:16; Isa 13:12). In the LXX. this word is rendered "Sophir," and "Sofir" is the Coptic name for India, which is the rendering of the Arabic version, as also of the Vulgate. Josephus has identified it with the Golden Chersonese, i.e., the Malay peninsula. It is now generally identified with Abhira, at the mouth of the Indus. Much may be said, however, in favour of the opinion that it was somewhere in Arabia.
Ge 10:29. Placed between Sheba and Havilah, Ophir must be in Arabia. Arrian in the Periplus calls Aphar metropolis of the Sabeans. Ptolemy calls it Sapphara, now Zaphar. Eleventh of Joktan's sons. Gesenius explains Ophir, if Semitic, "fruitful region." The Himyaritic ofir means "red". The Mahra people call their country "the ofir country" and the "Red Sea" Bahr Ofir. Aphar means "dust". In 1Ki 9:26-28; 10:11, Solomon's navy on the Red Sea fetched from Ophir gold and almug trees; and in 1Ki 10:22, once in three years (which included the stay in Ophir as well as the long coasting voyage) Tarshish ships (i.e. like our term for far voyaging ships, "Indiamen") brough; "gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks." Mauch, an African traveler, found at latitude 20 degrees, 15 minutes S.l longitude 26 degrees 30 minutes E., ruins resembling Solomon's temple, which he connects with Ophir.
The gold of western Asia was anciently obtained principally from Arabia. Saba in the southwestern part of Yemen is the only other place for gold besides Ophir mentioned in Scripture (Isa 60:6). Strobe, 16:777, 778, 784, Diodorus Siculus, 2:50; 3:44, describe Arabia as rich in gold. No gold is now found there; whether it has been exhausted as in Spain, or we know not the interior sufficiently to be sure there is no gold left. (See PARAN.) The "al" in almug or algum is the Arabic article "the," and mica is "sandalwood" (Gesenius), so that that wood must have come to the Hebrew through Arabic merchants. But Lassen derives it from Sanskrit valgu or valgum, "sandalwood." The wares and animals, from India or Africa, if such was their source (as the Sanskrit, Tamil, and Malay origin of the words ivory, peacocks, and apes respectively implies), came through Arabia.
Ophir probably therefore was the entrepot there. In Palestine and Tyre the articles even of India and Africa would be designated from Ophir, from which they more immediately came. The indigo used in Egyptian dyeing from of old must have come from India; muslins of Indian origin are found with the mummies; Josephus (Ant. 8:6, section 4) connects Ophir with India (Malacca, so Sir J. E. Tennant); Chinese porcelain vases have been found in the tombs of kings of the 18th dynasty, i.e. before 1476 B.C. Gold of Ophir was proverbial for fineness (Ps 45:9; Job 28:16; 22:24; Isa 13:12; 1Ch 29:4; 1Ki 22:48). The Ishmaelites abounded in gold: Nu 31:22; Jg 8:24-26; Ps 72:15 "gold of Sheba (Arabia)." Agatharchides in the second century B.C. (in Photius 250, and Hudson's Geograph. Minores, 1:60), living in Egypt, and guardian to a Ptolemy in his minority and so familiar with the commerce between Egypt and Arabia, attests that gold was found in Arabia. Two of his statements have been confirmed: (1) that there were gold mines in Egypt, Linant and Bonomi found theta (?) in the Bisharce desert (Wilkinson, Ant. Egypt. 9); (2) that there were large gold nuggets.
A region most probably in Arabia (as it is mentioned between Sheba and Havilah in Ge 10:29), famous for the excellence of its gold, which was brought to Solomon by his Red Sea navy (1Ki 9:28). Jehoshaphat, essaying to send to Ophir, lost his ships (1Ki 22:48). It has been disputed whether South or East Arabia was the true Ophir; the only datum is the length of the voyage thither from Ezion-geber
2. Place from whence Solomon imported gold, precious stones, and almug trees. These were brought by ships to the Gulf of Akaba. Possibly southern Arabia is alluded to; but India and Africa have also been suggested. 1Ki 9:28; 10:11; 22:48; 1Ch 29:4; 2Ch 8:18; 9:10; Job 22:24; 28:16; Ps 45:9; Isa 13:12.
1. The eleventh in order of the sons of Joktan.
(B.C. after 2450.)
2. A seaport or region from which the Hebrews in the time of Solomon obtained gold. The gold was proverbial for its fineness, so that "gold of Ophir" is several times used as an expression for fine gold,
and in one passage
the word "Ophir" by itself is used for gold of Ophir, and for gold generally. In addition to gold, the vessels brought from Ophir almug wood and precious stones. The precise geographical situation of Ophir has long been a subject of doubt and discussion. The two countries which have divided the opinions of the learned have been Arabia and India, while some have placed it in Africa. In five passages Ophir is mentioned by name -
If the three passages of the book of Kings are carefully examined, it will be seen that all the information given respecting Ophir is that it was a place or region accessible by sea from Ezion-geber on the Red Sea, from which imports of gold, almug trees and precious stones were brought back by the Tyrian and Hebrew sailors. The author of the tenth chapter of Genesis certainly regarded Ophir as the name of some city, region or tribe in Arabia. It is almost certain that the Ophir of Genesis is the Ophir of the book of Kings. There is no mention, either in the Bible or elsewhere, of any other Ophir; and the idea of there having been two Ophirs evidently arose from a perception of the obvious meaning of the tenth chapter of Genesis on the one hand, coupled with the erroneous opinion, on the other that the Ophir of the book of Kings could not have been in Arabia. (Hence we conclude that Ophir was in southern Arabia, upon the border of the Indian Ocean; for even if all the things brought over in Solomon's ships are not now found in Arabia, but are found in India, yet, there is evidence that they once were known in Arabia and, moreover, Ophir may not have been the original place of production of some of them, but the great market for traffic in them.)
OPHIR, a place or country remote from Judea, to which the ships of Solomon traded. There has been much discussion respecting the situation of this place; some supposing it to have been the island of Socotora, without the straits of Babelmandel; others, that anciently called Tabrobana, which is supposed by some to have been Ceylon, and by others Sumatra; while others fix its situation on the continent of India. M. Huet and, after him, Bruce, place Ophir at Sofala, in South Africa, where mines of gold and silver have been found, which show marks of having been very anciently and extensively worked. The latter says, also, that the situation of this place explains the period of three years which the Ophir ships were absent, from the different courses of the monsoons and trade winds, which they would have to encounter going and returning. Ruins of ancient buildings have also been found in the neighbourhood of these mines. In confirmation of this opinion, Bruce says there was a place called Tarshish near Melinda.
In the same direction with Ophir lay Tarshish; the voyage to both places being accomplished under one, and always, as it would seem, in the same space of time, three years; by which it may be inferred that, notwithstanding the imperfect navigation of the times, they must be at a considerable distance from the ports of Judea. But the true situation of these places must ever remain matter of conjecture; and all that can be considered as certain respecting them is, that from the articles imported from them, namely, gold, silver, ivory, apes, peacocks, and precious stones, they must have been situated in the tropical parts of either Africa or Asia.