The Arab Race

The Biblical Origin of the Arab Race

The Arab race are the descendants of Abraham,  meaning “father is exalted” which later became “father of the nations”. He married Sarah who had borne him no children and at the age of 86 he took the Egyptian concubine Hagar who bore a son called Ishmael.

Hagar’s Contribution to the Arab Race

Ishmael was born when Abraham was 86, (he was “q wild ass of a man” (Genesis 16:12; Job 39:5-8), this was eleven years after Abrahams arrival in Canaan (Genesis 15:15-16; C12:4), thirteen years later both Ishmael and his father were circumcised in obedience to Gods command (Genesis 17:25-26.  But on the same day God promised Abraham a son to Sarah. The fact that he had centred his hopes on Ishmael caused him to cry out to God , “O that Ishmael   may live in thy sight” (Genesis 17:8). God then assured him that Ishmael would have twelve princes and ultimately be a great nation (Genesis 17;p20; 25:13-16). Then at the age of 99 Sarah bore him a son Isaac who was the promised child and circumcision was the sign of the covenant between God and Abraham. It was though this line that God would fulfil his promise of a land (Genesis 18:1-18). When Ishmael was about 16 years of age a great celebration was held in weaning of the child Isaac (Genesis 21:8). Ishmael gave vent to his jealousy of “the child of promise” (Romans 9:7-9) by “mocking” him or “persecuting “ him (Galatians 4:29. Paul then goes on to build an allegory of the opposition of legalistic religion to those “born to Ishmael, (God hears) and his mother was driven out of the home, with Abrahams consent, because Hagar began to despise Sarah. Abraham was now to suffer the consequences of his sin but God would protect Hagar. On her way to Egypt she encountered and angel of Yahweh, who told her to return and submit to Sarah. He also gave her the promise of a multiplied seed through her son Ishmael.” This was the begging of the Arab nation.

Ishmaels twelve Princes.  Ishmael grew up to be a great archer, married an Egyptian and fathered twelve princes (Genesis 25:12-16). These sons had towns and settlements named after them and Arab tradition holds that these are their earliest ancestors. Esau married one of his daughters (Genes 28:9; 36:3, 10). He joined Isaac to mourn the death of their father at his burial-place who was 137 years old when he died (Genesis 25:9, 17).

Esau was later to take Ishmaels daughter Mahalath, who lived in Padam Aram in Syria? (genesis 28:2-9; 24:19). Esau was called Edom (Genesis 25:30). Thus were the Ishmaelite’s and Edomites related to each other and were “kissing cousins) to the Jews.

Keturah’s Contribution to the Arab Race

After Sarah died Abraham took another wife called Keturah (perfumed one), whose sons became the ancestors of Dedan and Midian. She bore him Zimran, Joksan, Median, Ishbak and Shuah, who in turn became the ancestors of the Northern Arab peoples (Geneisi 25:1-4; 1 Chron. 1:32-33).

  1. Dedan. A city after this name was in the North West Arabia and was believed to be famous for its role in the caravan trade? (Isa. 21:23; Ezk. 27:20). It lay on a well known  “incense route”  from Southern Arabia to Syria and the Mediterranean. It is mentioned in close association with Sheba in the table of nations (Genesis 10:7; 1 Chron. 1:9) and elsewhere (Genesis 25:3; 1 Chron 1:32; Ezk. 38:13), and probably played a part in the trading relations between Solomon with the Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10). It came into prominence in the 7th Century BC (Jer. 25:23; 49:8; Ezk. 25:13, 27:20). , when it would have been a Sabean trading colony. This would help explain why it is associated with North and South Arabia. The kingdom later fell to the Persian (Iran) hands and later to the Nabataean rule.
  2.  Midian. The Midianites consisted of five families linked to Abraham through Midian, son of Keturah. He sent them away with all their sons by the concubines into the East (Genesis 25:1-6). This us they were found inhabiting desert borders in Transjordan form Moab to Edom. They were desert dwellers with Ishmael and the Medanites (Genesis 37:28, 36). When Joseph was sold into Egypt, for the partial overlap of these three terms c.f. Judges 8:24wher the Midianites are defeated by Gideon are said to have been Ishmaelite’s because of their gold ear rings or nose rings.

Moses had a Midianite wife , called Zipporah, whose father was Jethro/Reul (Exodus 2:21; 3:1). And brother in law Hobab (Num. 10:29; Judges 4:11). As a man of the desert, Hobab was asked by Moses to guide Israel in travelling through the steepe “or wilderness”  (Num. 10:29-32).

Afterward, in the plain s of Maob, the chiefs of Midian and Moab combined on hiring Balaam to curse Israel (Num. 22) and their people lead Israel into idolatry and immorality (Num. 25).  The had to be vanquished before they could do more damage. (Num. 25:16-18, 31). The five princes of Midian were confederates of the Amorite king Sion (Joshua 13:21). In the time of the Judges, though Gideon and his small band (Jud. 6-8; 9:17).,God delivered Israel from the camel riding Midianites, Amalakites and other “children of the east), an event remembered in Psalm 83:9; 10:26).

  1.  Zimran. The meaning is uncertain but could mean “song of fame” or “celebrated on” or may be derived from “mountain goat or sheep”.
  2. Joksan, Median, Ishbak and Shua all went east.

Arabia the Location

The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world’s largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2 (1,250,000 mi2).  The area is an important part of the Asian continent and plays a critical geopolitical role of the Middle East and Arab World due to its vast reserves of oil and natural gas. The peninsula formed as a result of the rifting of the Red Sea and is bordered by the Red Sea to the west, the Persian Gulf to the northeast, and the Indian Ocean to the southeast

Saudi Arabia is a UN-recognised country in Asia. It shares a border with Iraq, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Jordan. The Arabian peninsula consists of a mass of crystalline rock which form a range of mountains on the west rising above 300 meters in places, with a series of younger formation up tilted on the east side. The modern Yemen Arabic Republic is in the south West corner of this area today, and here where the ancient kingdoms of South Arabia chiefly flourished. Apart from the nomads in the step lands, life has changed little in a thousand years. The main areas of historical civilizations were in the South west peninsula, and in the zone north where the steppe merges into then settles region of Syria.

Around 2000 various Semitic speaking tribes arrived from then in the area of modern Yemen and West Aden , and formed settlements which were later to emerge as the kingdoms of Saba (Sheba), Ma’in (Minaens), Qutaban and Hadramaut.

The main cause of prosperity was their immediate position on the trade routes from frankincense and the herb lands of the South coast of Ethiopia.

Saba was eh first of these kingdoms to emerge with a well organised polity under a ruler who evidently combined certain priestly function’s in his office. It paid tribute (Tax) to Sargon and Sennacherib.

Ma’in came into prominence and infringed o mush of the Sabean authority (400BC). In the fourth century the monarchy was founded in Qataban, and in the last quarter of the 1st millennium the dominion of Sabqa’, Ma’in and Hadramaut fluctuated with the turn of fortune until the area came under the control of the Himyarites. At their height the South Arabian kingdoms had colonies as far north as Northern  Arabia, and inscriptions in their characters have been found in the Persian Gulf and in Mesopotamia (Ur and Uruk).

In the north is one made up of contracts with the nomads with the settled civilizations of the Mesopotamians and Syria? In Trans Jordan the process of infiltration and settlement is evident.

In the fourth century the Arab speaking kingdom of the Nabateans with its capital in Petra, began to emerge. And it flourished as a trading state until the 2nd century well into the Roman period.

The Arabs settled in the Minaean colony formed further south of the kingdom of Dedan. In the first century BC another Arab state , which adapted Aramaic as its official language, began to come into prominence at Palmyra, and in the Christian era it largely eclipse Petra as a trading state, an became a serious rival to Rome.

Arabia and the Bible

The word Arab is from the word “rab” or “rabi” meaning desert or steppe and by the extension of steppe dweller, and therefore in its biblical context is referred to those people wh0 occupied semi –desert areas east and south of Palestine. They are called “children of the east” in Job 1. Arabia I soften not referred to by that name in the bible, since its inhabitants were generally known by political or tribal names of smaller groups to which they belonged. Genesis 10 lists a number of Southern Arabian people as descendants of Joktan and Cush. A number of mainly northern tribes are listed as being descendants of Abraham and Keturah and Hagar (genesis 25).

Esau. Again among the descendants of Esau (Genesis 36) a number of Arabian people are mentioned.

Jacob. In the time of Jacob two groups of Abrahams descendants , the Ishmaelite and the Midianites are found as caravan merchants and were nomadic people (Genesis 37:25-36).

Solomon . It is however in the time of Solomon that with Arabia became prominent mainly as a result of his extensive trade relations, particularly from the Queen of Sheba.  (1 Kings 9:26-28; 10), and nearer home by the tribute he received from the King of Arabia (2 Chron. 9:14).

Jehoshaphat of Judah received tribute from “rabi” ( 2 Chron. 7:11), but his successor Jehoram suffered a raid in which “rabi” carried off his wives and sons ( 2Chromn. 21:16-17) and only Ahaziah, the youngest was left (2 Chron. 22:1). This was the ninth century.

Uzziah, in the eight century, reversed the situation and restored Elath to his dominion ( 2 Kings 14:22).

Although Southern Arabian kingdoms were known (Joel 3:8), most of the contacts of Israel with Arabia were with the nomadic tribes of the north.

In the times of Hezekiah these people were very familiar (Isa. 13:30; 21:13), and some even served as mercenaries in the defence of Jerusalem against Sennacerib.

In the times of Josiah (Jer. 3:2) , and in the closing days of the kingdom of Judah, the Arabs were coming into prominence as traders (Jer. 25:23-24; Ezk. 27).

Nehemiah. The growing tendency of the Arabs to settle and build trading centres was threatened by the rebuilding of Jerusalem (Neh. 2:19; 6:1). They thought it was arrival attempt to get trade.

The kingdom of the Nabataeans followed, and in the Apocrypha the term “Arab” refers to the people (1 Macc. 5:29; 2 Macc. 5:8) and indeed the Arabian desert that Paul mentioned (Gal. 1:17).

The New testament Arabia did not exist as it does today, it denotes the whole great peninsula between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, but only in the area to the immediate East and of Palestine. An Arab tribe or tribes called the Nabateans, who had settled in the third century BC occupied the territory. By the first century they had established control in over an area which stretches from Damascus on the north of Gaza and as far into the desert to the east. Their capital was the red rock capital of Petra. Arabia is mentioned twice in the New Testament. Paul went there after his conversion. He may have went there both how to get to know God better, to study and preach the gospel. God immediately called him there and he did not confer with anyone but obeyed God. The only other reference to the word Arabia is in Galatians 4:25, is used in a narrower sense to denote the Sinai Peninsula, or territory immediately to the east across the Gulf of Aqabah. Arabia to the Roman-Greco mind meant the Nabataens.