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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Ophir

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OPHIR. A region most probably in Arabia (as it is mentioned between Sheba and Havilah in Genesis 10:29 ), famous for the excellence of its gold, which was brought to Solomon by his Red Sea navy ( 1 Kings 9:28 ). Jehoshaphat, essaying to send to Ophir, lost his ships ( 1 Kings 22:48 ). It has been disputed whether South or East Arabia was the true Ophir; the only datum is the length of the voyage thither from Ezion-geber eighteen months, as the double voyage took three years ( 1 Kings 10:22 ). As the vessels probably coasted from port to port, the journey would naturally occupy a considerable time. It need not be supposed that the other imports sandalwood, ivory, apes, and peacocks all came from the same place. The most careful study that has been given to the subject is that of Glaser ( Skizze der Gesch. und Geog. Arabiens , ii. pp. 353 387), who has concluded that it was in S.E. Arabia , in the territory of the Gulfs of Oman and of Persia.

Other theories have been put forward in plenty. The most popular recent view sees in Ophir certain parts of Mashonaland . This theory, apart from other difficulties which it presents, stands or falls with the explanation of certain ruins at Zimbabwe, about 200 miles from Sofala. Like Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid, these remains have been made the centre of much visionary speculation, but their true character seems to have been settled by the recent researches of Randall-MacIvor. who has shown that they are native structures of no great antiquity.

Besides S. Africa, various places in India have been fixed upon, such as the mouth of the Indus, Supara in Goa, and ‘Mount Ophir’ in Johore. Nothing convincing has been said in support of any of these views. For instance, we are reminded that the peacocks are confined to India and Malaya; but it is nowhere said that the peacocks came from Ophir, and even if they did, they may well have been brought thither by further Eastern trade quite independently of Solomon’s Phœnician navigators.

On the whole, the view that Ophir was in Arabia (known to the Phœnicians as auriferous, Ezekiel 27:22 ) is the simplest and most in accordance with the scanty data.

R. A. S. Macalister.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Ophir'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdb/o/ophir.html. 1909.

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