Arabia is the name given to a vast region, covering over 1,200,000 square miles, of the Middle East. It's generally considered to be the area bounded on the south by the Indian Ocean, on the east by the Persian Gulf and the Euphrates River, on the west by the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea, and on the north Syria and Mesopotamia.
In ancient times, Arabia was composed of three sections:
- Arabia Felix, a large area between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.
- Arabia Deserta, the el-Badieh or "Great Wilderness," from which the nomadic tribes of this region derive their name, the "Bedaween," or "Bedouin."
- Arabia Petraea, the Rocky Arabia, named for its rocky mountains and stony plains.
In modern times, Arabia is composed of:
- Arabia Proper, or the Arabian Peninsula.
- Northern Arabia, or the Arabian Desert.
- Western Arabia, including the Sinai Peninsula and the Desert of Petra. It was originally inhabited by the Horites (Genesis 14:6), but later by descendants of Esau when it became known as the Land of Edom or Idumea, and also as the Desert of Seir or Mount Seir.
Although Arabia was inhabited by a variety of tribes - Ishmaelites, Arabians, Idumeans, Horites, and Edomites - they eventually intermingled, becoming identified together as Arabs. Modern Arabs are predominantly descendants of Abraham, through Ishmael. For this reason, the burial place of Abraham in Hebron is regarded as sacred by both Jews and Arabs today.
Arabs were well-known through Bible History:
- After the Exodus, the Israelites spent forty years in Arabia during the Wilderness Journey. During that time, Moses received The Ten Commandments from Lord (see Rock Of Ages) at Mount Sinai in Arabia.
- Arabians opposed Nehemiah's rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:19, 4:7, 6:1)
- King Solomon carried on considerable trade with Arabia (1 Kings 10:15, 2 Chronicles 9:14, 17:11).
- Arabians were present in Jerusalem at the "birthday of the church" Pentecost (Acts 2:11), making them among the earliest of Christian converts.
- Paul spent time in Arabia after his conversion On The Road To Damascus (Galatians 1:17).
Fact Finder: Who was the mother of Ishmael?
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