ARABIA @ - (desert, barren), a country known in the Old Testament under two designations:-- The East Country , Genesis:25:6) or perhaps the East, ( Genesis:10:30; Numbers:23:7; Isaiah:2:6) and Land of the Sons of the East , Genesis:29:1) Gentile name, Sons of the East , Judges:6:3Judges:7:12; Kings:4:30; Job:1:3; Isaiah:11:14; Jeremiah:49:28; Ezekiel:25:4) 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. ’Arab and ’Arab , whence Arabia. ( 2Chronicles:9:14; Isaiah:21:13; Jeremiah:26:24; Ezekiel:27:21) (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. Ezekiel:27:20-24) III. Western Arabia includes the peninsula of Sinai [SINAI, OR 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, IDUMAEA OR IDUMEA], as well as by its older appellation, the desert of Seir or Mount Seir. [SEIR] 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.) 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. 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. 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. 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.
HOREB @ - (desert). [SINAI, OR SINAI]
SINAI, OR SINAI @ - (thorny). Nearly in the centre of the peninsula which stretches between the horns of the Red Sea lies a wedge of granite, grunstein and porphyry rocks rising to between 8000 and 9000 feet above the sea. Its shape resembles st scalene triangle. These mountains may be divided into two great masses-that of Jebel Serbal (8759 feet high), in the northwest above Wady Feiran , and the central group, roughly denoted by the general name of Sinai. This group rises abruptly from the Wady es-Sheikh at its north foot, first to the cliffs of the Ras Sufsafeh , behind which towers the pinnacle of Jebel Musa (the Mount of Moses), and farther back to the right of it the summit of Jebel Katerin (Mount St. Catherine, 8705 feet) all being backed up and. overtopped by Um Shamer (the mother of fennel , 9300 feet), which is the highest point of the whole peninsula. Names . --These mountains are called Horeb, and sometimes Sinai. Some think that Horeb is the name of the whole range, and Sinai the name of a particular mountain; others, that Sinai is the range and Horeb the particular mountain; while Stanley suggests that the distinction is one of usage, and that both names are applied to the same place. The mountain from which the law was given . --Modern investigators have generally come to the conclusion that of the claimants Jebel Serba, Jebel Musa and Ras Sufsafeh, the last the modern Horeb of the monks --viz. the northwest and lower face of the Jebel Musa, crowned with a range of magnificent cliffs, the highest point called Ras Sufsafeh, as overlooking the plain er Rahah --is the scene of the giving of the law, and that peak the mountain into which Moses ascended. (But Jebel Musa and Ras Sufsafeh are really peaks of the Same mountain, and Moses may have received the law on Jebel Musa, but it must have been proclaimed from Ras Sufsafeh. Jebel Musa is the traditional mount where Moses received the law from God. It is a mountain mass two miles long and one mile broad, The southern peak Isaiah:7363 feet high; the northern peak, Ras Sufsafeh Isaiah:6830 feet high. It is in full view of the plain er Rahah, where the children of Israel were encamped. This plain is a smooth camping-ground, surrounded by mountains. It is about two miles long by half a mile broad, embracing 400 acres of available standing round made into a natural amphitheatre by a low semicircular mount about 300 yards from the foot of the mountain. By actual measurement it contains over 2,000,000 square yards, and with its branches over 4,000,000 square yards, so that the whole people of Israel, two million in number, would find ample accommodations for seeing and hearing. In addition to this, the air is wonderfully clear, both for seeing and hearing. Dean Stanley says that "from the highest point of Ras Sufsafeh to its lower peak, a distance of about 60 feet, the page of a book distinctly but not loudly read was perfectly audible." It was the belief of the Arabs who conducted Niebuhr that they could make themselves heard across the Gulf of Akabah, --a belief fostered by the great distance to which the voice can actually be carried. There is no other place known among all these mountains so well adapted for the purpose of giving and receiving the law as this rocky pulpit of Ras Sufsafeh and the natural amphitheatre of er Rahah.