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Midian

Midian was a son of Abraham and his concubine Keturah (Genesis 25:1-6). His descendants, the Midianites, settled in the territory east of the Jordan River (see The Jordan Valley) and The Dead Sea (much of which was later occupied by Ammonites, Moabites and Edomites), and southward through the desert wilderness of the Arabah. During the time of the Exodus, their territory apparently also included portions of The Sinai Peninsula.

The Land of Midian In Bible History, Midian was where Moses spent the 40 years between the time that he fled Egypt after killing an Egyptian who had been beating a Hebrew (Exodus 2:11-15), and his return for the Exodus (Exodus 4:18). During those years, he married Zipporah, the daughter of Jethro, the priest of Midian.

Moses' time in the desert wilderness of Midian was of practical use - it was the training that he would later need while leading the Israelites in the desert for another 40 years after the Exodus.

Midian was also the scene where one of the best-known incidents of The Bible occurred - The Lord's (see The Logos and Rock Of Ages) appearance in the burning bush:

"Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There The Angel Of The Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight - why the bush does not burn up."

"When The Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!"

"And Moses said, "Here I am."

"Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." Then he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God."

"The Lord said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey - the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt." (Exodus 3:1-10)

In later years, the Midianites were often oppressive and hostile to the Israelites, at least partly as God's punishment for their idolatry (Judges 6:1). By the time of the Judges, they were raiding Israel with the use of swift camels, until they were decisively defeated by Gideon (Judges 6-8). Today, the former territory of Midian is found through small portions of western Saudi Arabia, southern Jordan, southern Israel and the Sinai, which has been returned to Egypt.

Fact Finder: What were the names of the two sons born to Moses and Zipporah in Midian?
Exodus 18:2-4


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