Tuesday 23 April 2013

Land of Midian

Midian is a son of Abraham by Keturah:
Abraham took another wife, whose name was Ketu′rah. 2 She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Mid′ian, Ishbak, and Shuah. 3 Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan. The sons of Dedan were Asshu′rim, Letu′shim, and Le-um′mim. 4 The sons of Mid′ian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abi′da, and Elda′ah. All these were the children of Ketu′rah. 5 Abraham gave all he had to Isaac. 6 But to the sons of his concubines Abraham gave gifts, and while he was still living he sent them away from his son Isaac, eastward to the east country. (Gen 25:1-6)
Moses fled from Egypt to Midian:
15 But Moses fled from Pharaoh, and stayed in the land of Mid′ian; and he sat down by a well. 16 Now the priest of Mid′ian had seven daughters; and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 The shepherds came and drove them away; but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. 18 When they came to their father Reu′el, he said, “How is it that you have come so soon today?” 19 They said, “An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and even drew water for us and watered the flock.” 20 He said to his daughters, “And where is he? Why have you left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread.” 21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daugher Zippo′rah. 22 She bore a son, and he called his name Gershom; for he said, “I have been a sojourner[a] in a foreign land.” (Ex 2:15-22)
The holy war against Midian (Num 31:1-12)
Israel oppressed by Midian (Judg 6:1-6)

From the prophet Isaiah:
4 Lift up your eyes round about, and see;
    they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from far,
    and your daughters shall be carried in the arms.
5 Then you shall see and be radiant.
    your heart shall thrill and rejoice;[a]
because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
    the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
6 A multitude of camels shall cover you,
    the young camels of Mid′ian and Ephah;
    all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
    and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord. (Is 60:4-6)
The Midianites were introduced into history by Gen 25:1-4 and 1 Chron 1:32ff, which assigns as their ancestor Midian, son of Abraham by Keturah (a name which signifies 'incense' - see Deut 33:10).

Gen 37:25-28 and Judg 8:24, 26 employ the names Midianites and Ishmaelites in apparent equivalence.

Moses sought refuge with this tribe after fleeing from Pharoah (Ex 2:15). They were not only shepherds, however; they were also master traders, monopolizing the traffic between Arabia and the Aramean countries in the north, or Egypt in the west.

When Israel was forming its political and religious organization at Mount Sinai, it was in peaceful contact with one of the Midianite clans, the Cinites. A portion of this clan united with Israel and followed it to Canaan (see Num 24:21ff; Judg 1:16, 4:11, 17; 5:24; 1 Sam 15:6ff).

Other Midianite clans were called upon by the Moabites to oppose the passage of Israel (Num 21:1ff). See the 'Mountains of the East' (Harere Qedem) (Num 23:6) from which the Midianite diviner Balaam came; the 'east country' of Gen 25:7 to which Abraham relegated the offspring of his concubine Keturah; and the modern linguistic usage of the Arabs, to whom 'the East' (Sherq) indicates the entire desert region between Syria and Mesopotamia to the north and between the Gulf of Aqaba and the Persian Gulf to the south.

After Gideon's revenge (Judg 8), the Midianites seem to have almost disappeared. The establishment of the Israelite tribes forced them back into the desert. the surviving clans fell back to the south, to Arabia, which had been their cradle, and where some clans had never ceased to dwell. This was thier centre in the time of Isaiah (60:6), and probably also in the time of Habakuk (3:7, c. 600 BC); here the Assyrian documents of Tiglatpileser (745-27) and Sargon (722-05) make mention of one of their clans.

According to the testimony of Greek geographers and later of Arabian authors, the Midianites would have taken up their permanent abode on the borders of the Gulf of Aquaba: see the town called Modiana (Ptolemy) or Madiane (Flavius Josephus and Eusebius), now known as Mughair Shaib. 

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