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The Empires of the Bible from the Confusion of Tongues to the Babylonian Captivity

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    ARPHAXAD

    5. The country inhabited by Arphaxad was north of Assyria toward Armenia and the Caspian Sea. Arphaxad was the father of the Chaldeans, who before the days of Abraham migrated in such numbers to the country about Babel, that the land of Shinar became equally the land of the Chaldees, or Chaldeans; for the Bible says that Haran died “in the land of his nativity in Ur of the Chaldees,” and that Terah took Abram and Sarai and Lot, and “went forth with them out of Ur of the Chaldees;” while as late as the time of Zechariah it is also called “the land of Shinar.” 3[Page 35] Zechariah 5:11. Under Nabopolassar, the father of Nebuchadnezzar, the Chaldeans rose to power and dominion; and under Nebuchadnezzar himself they spread their empire over all nations, as the Assyrians had done before them.EB 35.2

    6. “And Arphaxad begat Salah, and Salah begat Eber. And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan, who, in Arabic is called Kahtan, the great progenitor of all the purest tribes of Central and Southern Arabia.”—Rawlinson. 4[Page 35] “Origin of Nations.”EB 35.3

    7. Joktan had thirteen sons: Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Obal, Abimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab. “All these were the sons of Joktan.” The dwelling-place is given us by the Scripture itself, “And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar a mount of the east.” 5[Page 35] Genesis 10:30. The region here defined includes all of southwestern Arabia below the twentieth parallel. It is mostly comprised in the provinces of Hadramaut and Yemen, and is a part of Arabia Felix, that is, Arabia the Happy. As the region they inhabited is thus plainly pointed out, it will not be necessary to mention the sons of Joktan in detail. We shall only locate the most important ones.EB 35.4

    8. Hazarmaveth is the one from whom comes the name Hadramaut that now defines the central part of the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula.EB 36.1

    9. Ophir. The place where Ophir dwelt is proverbial in the Scriptures for the fineness and preciousness of its gold. Of Arabia the Happy, it is said, “The soil was impregnated with gold and gems, and both the land and sea were taught to exhale the odors of aromatic sweets. Agatharcides affirms that lumps of pure gold were found from the size of an olive to that of a nut; that iron was twice, and silver ten times, the value of gold. These real or imaginary treasures are vanished; and no gold mines are at present known in Arabia.”—Gibbon. 6[Page 36] “Decline and Fall,” chap. 1, par. 2, and note.EB 36.2

    10. Sheba was a place whence came incense. Says the Lord by Jeremiah, “To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country?” 7[Page 36] Jeremiah 6:20. “The aromatics, especially, the thus, or frankincense, of Arabia, occupy the twelfth book of Pliny. Our great poet in ‘Paradise Lost,’ book iv, introduces, in a simile, the spicy odors that are blown by the northeast wind from the Sabean coast:—“‘.... Many a league, Pleased with the grateful scent old Ocean smiles.’”—Gibbon. 8[Page 36] “Decline and Fall,” Id. Sheba was the most notable of the sons of Joktan, and this name was for a time equivalent to the whole district peopled by the Joktanidae. From this Sheba came the queen who made the memorable visit to Solomon.EB 36.3

    11. Nor has Joktan been behind any of the other sons of Shem in the matter of empire. In A. D. 622 there arose one of the sons of Joktan (Mahomet) and started a course of conquest that never halted nor suffered a check until, through his successors, “their empire comprised the whole basin of the Mediterranean, with the exception of its northern side; in Africa its only limits were the great central desert; in Asia the plateau of Kobi and the Indus; and throughout almost all these regions the Arab element either remained absolutely predominant down to our own time, or has at least left distinct traces of its existence.” 9[Page 37] Encyclopedia Britannica, art. Arabia—History—“Extent of the Arab Empire.” He also established a religion that to-day is held by about one seventh of the inhabitants of the world.EB 36.4

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