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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Ara´bia, an extensive region occupying the south-western extremity of Asia, between 12° 45´ and 34½° N. lat., and 32½° and 60° E. long., from Greenwich; having on the W. the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea (called from it the Arabian Gulf), which separate it from Africa; on the S. the Indian Ocean; and on the E. the Persian Gulf and the Euphrates. The boundary to the north has never been well defined. It is one of the few countries of the south where the descendants of the aboriginal inhabitants have neither been extirpated nor expelled by northern invaders. They have not only retained possession of their ancestral homes, but have sent forth colonies to all the adjacent regions, and even to more distant lands, both in Africa and Asia.

With the history of no country save that of Palestine are there connected so many hallowed and impressive associations as with that of Arabia. Here lived and suffered the holy patriarch Job; here Moses, when 'a stranger and a shepherd,' saw the burning, unconsuming bush; here Elijah found shelter from the rage of persecution; here was the scene of all the marvelous displays of divine power and mercy that followed the deliverance of Israel from the Egyptian yoke, and accompanied their journeyings to the Promised Land; and here Jehovah manifested Himself in visible glory to His people. From the influence of these associations, combined with its proximity to Palestine, and the close affinity in blood, manners, and customs between the northern portion of its inhabitants and the Jews, Arabia is a region of peculiar interest to the student of the Bible; and it is chiefly in its relation to subjects of Bible study that we are now to consider it.

In early times the Hebrews included a part of what we call Arabia among the countries, they vaguely designated as 'the East,' the inhabitants being numbered among the 'Sons of the East,' i.e. Orientals. But there is no evidence to show that these phrases are ever applied to the whole of the country known to us as Arabia. They appear to have been commonly used in speaking of those parts which lay due east of Palestine, or on the north-east and south-east; though occasionally they do seem to point to tracts which lay indeed to the south and southwest of that country, but to the east and southeast of Egypt.

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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Arabia'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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