THE BIBLE AND
THE ANCIENT MECCA CLAIM
By Dr. Rafat Amari
An important argument for rejecting the claim that Mecca is an ancient city:
the Bible makes an excellent case.
Bible is considered the most important resource for us to understand
ancient history. Because it is a book inspired by God, it presents the origin
of races, nations and tribes. At the beginning of this part, we want to
look at the people born after the flood who descended from Noah.
Narrations found in Genesis, as well as other books of the Bible, prove that
the Bible could not be a compilation of human writings. The Bible accurately
numbers the tribes in the genealogies of the book of Genesis. It gives the
placement for each tribe, and an accurate chronology regarding their appearance
in history, although some of the tribes and nations date back nearly to the
time of the flood.
Moses: a Dependable
Resource, Excludes the Existence of Mecca
in his Time.
the prophet inspired to write the book of Genesis, wrote it in the beginning of
the 15th century B.C. As many as 3–4,000 years elapsed
between the origin of many of the ancient tribes and the time Moses wrote the
chronology in Genesis. Oral tradition, itself, is unable to remain intact
for that long a period of time. The only explanation for the accuracy and
completeness of the ancient data is that God inspired the book which Moses
wrote. God provided information above and beyond what Moses received through
In the book of Genesis, we can trace the origin of Arabian tribes from their
beginnings to the time of Moses. He gives us an accurate chronology of those
tribal generations, and the names of their ancestors. But more than that, the
book of Genesis provides us with information on how Arabia
was populated after the flood. Genesis names the tribes which populated Arabia. The records of these Arabian tribes began soon
after the flood, and continued through the time of Abraham, up to Moses and his
servant, Joshua, in the 15th century B.C. So the study of Genesis is not just
inspired data covering tribal names, origins and chronologies from early times,
but it is also an historical data bank of the nations living at the time of
Moses. He received much of this historical information from the Egyptians when
he studied in their institutions as the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter.
Years later, Luke wrote in Acts 7:22, “Moses was learned in all the wisdom of
The Midianites never heard of Mecca.
suppose that the tribes of Arabia were
well-known to the Midianites, with whom
Moses came in contact through his residency in Sinai. You may remember
that Moses went to live in the Sinai desert, when he escaped from Egypt after
killing the Egyptian who murdered the Israelite. This was before God sent Moses
back to Egypt to convince
Pharaoh to free Israel
from their servitude in Egypt.
We can assume that Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, knew
the names of tribes of western Arabia, since he was also a priest of the Midianites, living partially in the Sinai and partially in
northern Arabia. Jethro
knew more about Arabian tribal names than did the contemporaries of
Mohammed at the end of the 6th century A.D. It is analogous to my
situation as originally a resident in the Middle East; I know about the names
of the contemporary nations of Arabia, mainly
because I lived in such close proximity to them. I believe the Midianites were in a position to know more about western Arabia
because they were, at that time, the closest people to the location where Mecca was eventually
built. We can be sure the Midianites would have
known about Mecca,
if it had existed when Moses lived in the 16th B.C. and part of the 15th
We cannot ignore the historical statements made by an inspired man like
Moses when he gives us the historical picture of his own times. Moses
lived for 40 years in the Sinai desert with the Midianites,
who were partially Arabian. He was educated in Egyptian institutions,
which were the most-advanced centers of knowledge in his time. Not only was
Moses a great prophet of God, but he was well-qualified as a reliable source
for a historical narration.
the unreliable resource, contradicted by Moses.
On the other
hand, Ibn Ishak, who lived
in the 8th century A.D., and rewrote history for Muslims, was not nearly as
qualified as Moses for the task. It is evident that Ibn
Ishak modified the genealogies which Moses had
been inspired to write in the book of Genesis, creating for Muslims a so-called
“Islamic tradition.” Previously, I mentioned that the tribes and
genealogies about which Ibn Ishak
wrote were a product of his imagination, and never encountered in the writings
of others before him. As I also stated earlier, Ibn
Ishak was judged by the scholars of his time to be a
man of forgery who invented false genealogies. How, then, can his narration be
a competitor with the writings of Moses in the book of
GENEALOGY OF HAM AND THE TRIBES OF ARABIA
to what Moses wrote, the first genealogy we study is the account of Ham,
the second son of Noah. Genesis 10:6-7 says, “The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put and
Canaan.” Those are the fathers from which some
of the ancient tribes came. For example, the nation of Cush was located in today’s Ethiopia.
came from Mizraim. Put was an old North
African tribe, and Canaan was located in Palestine
From the first three came the rest of the African tribes. From the elder Cush came tribes in Ethiopia
We see this from Cush’s
progeny presented in Genesis 10:7, “The sons of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah and Sabtechah;
and sons of Raamah were Sheba and
Dedan.” It is clear from the names of the sons
of Cush that some of them
represented places in Arabia. Cush is the father of the tribe of Cush, which dominated Ethiopia
and Sudan in
ancient times. The Bible presents other tribes which came from Cush. Some of
these tribes traveled to Yemen
through the Bab
a narrow channel of less than 20 miles. Since ancient times, this
geographical location has affected historical connections between Ethiopia and Yemen.
The Bible identifies the origin of the Sabaeans of
Yemen as Cushites who
came from Ethiopia.
The fourth son of Cush, Raamah, is the father of Sheba, the tribe which inhabited Yemen. We don’t know when the descendants of Sheba left Ethiopia and traveled to Yemen. Many scholars think that the Sabaeans of Yemen came from Ethiopia. One reason for their conclusion is the similarity between the languages of Saba of Yemen and the Mahri language of Ethiopia. This is in addition to the old connection between Yemen and Ethiopia through the straight. Migration from Ethiopia to the Arabian coast of Yemen, and vice versa, was quite extensive. This could be part of the reason Sheba dominated the Ethiopian coast, and established a line of kings in the 1st millennium B.C. The region became known as Di’amat, a nation which became independent around 350 - 320 B.C.
The name of Raamah, who was the father of Sheba, the fourth son of Cush, is found in Yemeni inscriptions.[i] This testifies to the accuracy of the Biblical accounts which state that Sheba was descended from the Cushites along the coast of Ethiopia. The Bible confirms the descendancy of the tribe of Sheba–Yemen from Sheba, the son of Raamah, the Cushite. This we find in Ezekiel 27:22. Ezekiel was given a word against Tyre, the Phoenician city. He described the trade of Tyre with other cities and nations:
The merchants of Sheba and Raamah were your merchants. They traded for your wares the choicest spices, all kind of precious stones and gold.
Raamah, the father of Sheba, is
mentioned with Sheba
in this Biblical narrative. To identify a nation by the name of the father from
whom the nation originated is a common Biblical style. We find this in many places
in the Bible. The Lord refers to the nation of Israel
by the name of Jacob, and also by the name of Isaac, the father of Jacob, after
whom the nation of Israel
was named. In the Ezekiel passage, Sheba
and his father are mentioned to remind us that the Sheba,
or Saba, kingdom came from Raamah, the Cushite. This passage in Ezekiel also reflects on the
richness of commerce between Saba of Yemen and the Phoenician cities, such as Tyre,
where spices, precious stones and gold were traded.
brother of Raamah was named Seba. He is the
first-born of Cush, which
may explain the linguistic affinity between the Sheba of Yemen and the
tribes of Ethiopia on
the opposite shore of the Red Sea. It seems
that there was a tribe named Seba which came from Seba, the son of Cush,
in addition to the tribe of Sheba
which came from the son of Raamah, the brother of Seba.
We notice that the brother of Sheba,
son of Raamah, was Dedan. This is not the father of Dedan, the tribe in northern Arabia which settled in the
city of Dedan.
We’ll see that the northern tribe of Dedan came from Keturah, Abraham’s second wife, whom he married after the
death of Sarah. This Dedan, the son of Raamah, might
have been a small tribe, which was integrated by other Cushite tribes
we see that the Biblical and historical facts point to the conclusion that
ancient Yemeni populations have Cushite origins,
and that the tribe of Saba is a Cushite tribe
which migrated from Ethiopia.
Origin of Mohammed
of Mohammed, as Sabaean of Cushite origin descending from Ham, can't be connected
with Ishmael and Abraham, who were of Semitic origin.
This Biblical and
historical fact points to the true origin of the family of Mohammed. We
know that the ancestors of Mohammed lived in Saba in Yemen. Around
150 A.D., when the dam of Ma'rib had a
serious collapse, many Yemeni tribes left Yemen as a result of this
devastation, before it was repaired.[ii] The family
of Mohammed was among those who emigrated to an area
in central western Arabia, close to where the tribe of Khuzaa'h, also
from Yemen, later built Mecca. They lived in the
area surrounding Mecca
before the city was constructed around the 4th century A.D. Therefore, the
ancestors of Mohammed were from the tribe of Saba,
which we saw is of Cushite origin, descending
from Ham. And like all the Sabaeans from Yemen, they
were not of Semitic origin. We know that the Quraish tribe
of Mohammed learned its Arabic language when it emigrated and came in
contact with the Bedouins of central western Arabia.
How then can Mohammed be a descendant of Ishmael, as Islamic tradition
The Ishmaelites lived in Sinai. From there they spread to the
deserts of the Fertile Crescent. They
never reached the area where Mecca was later
built, nor did they ever reach Yemen.
Ishmaelite tribes are
known to have lived south of Palestine, in the
part of the Sinai desert which borders Canaan.
From there they spread toward the Syro-Mesopotamian
desert, and also to the north. Only the tribes of Qedar and
Teima touched the northern portion of Arabia.
locations of the Ishmaelite tribes are clearly revealed in the Bible, and
confirmed through Assyrian inscriptions. We never find an Ishmaelite
tribe south beyond Teima, which is about 180 miles
from the border between Arabia and Jordan, nor do we find a historical record
of an Ishmaelite tribe in the area where Mecca was later built.
Islamic tradition claims Mohammed descended from the Nabaioth tribe,
which lived in southern Jordan
and became extinct before the 7th century B.C. How could a Sabaean family,
like the ancestors of Mohammed, be connected to a tribe that lived in
and disappeared more than 1,300 years before Mohammed was born? Islamic
claims seem to be unaware of the historical facts concerning the Ishmaelites. They use fiction to connect Ishmael with Mecca, claiming that
Ishmael’s mother, Hagar, brought him through uninhabited desert. They also
claim that Abraham visited Ishmael on the Baraq, a
Persian mythological winged camel.
Islam further claims that the Ishmaelites lived in Mecca and established a
great kingdom there. They claim the Ishmaelites even
traveled to Yemen centuries
was actually built. Yet, history proves that Ishmael lived in southern Palestine, from which his
descendants, the Ishmaelites, expanded their
influence. Some tribes went north toward Damascus
and Lebanon, while others
went east toward Jordan and
the desert between Jordan
Still others went northeast toward the Syro-Mesopotamian
desert, and a few went south toward the border of north Arabia.
If the Ishmaelites had lived near Mecca,
then their tribes would have extended their influence in all directions, with Mecca as the center.
Apart from the fact that Mecca never appeared in history before the 4th century
A.D., no Ishmaelite tribe was ever recorded to have lived in Yemen, Yamama (east of Mecca), or where Mecca was eventually
built. For Islamic tradition to claim that Ishmaelite tribes lived in Yemen, and that they were the ancestors of
Mohammed, and to claim that Ishmael built the temple at Mecca, is an illogical assertion. No one who
studies the history of Ishmaelite tribes would accept this. I refer the reader
to Part IV in this book, where I elaborate with more detail on the Ishmaelites.
Unknown Family of Mohammed Compared to the Genealogy of Jesus
family of Mohammed was from unknown Sabaean and
Yemeni origin. There is no historical documentation of their family line, nor
of any prophets of the faith of the God of Abraham. In contrast,
the genealogy of Jesus has been recorded in each century since the time of
We already studied the genealogy
of Ham. We saw that Yemen
was populated from the descendants of Sheba,
son of Raamah, son of Cush.
We also saw that, throughout history, tribes from Yemen have emigrated to the north.
The language of the tribe of Saba, the main tribe of Yemen from which
Mohammed is descended, differs significantly from the
Arabic language, but the Saba language does have similarities to the
Ethiopian language. We find this to be true, because the tribe of Saba is of Ethiopian Cushite origin,
as we saw from our last study. Yet, the Saba language was not prevalent
We saw that the ancestors of Mohammed lived in Saba as recently as
150 A.D., the date of the famous collapse of the Ma'rib Dam in
There is no documentation in history about this family prior to this famous
collapse of the Dam of Ma'rib. Nothing supports the
Islamic claim that Mohammed’s family lived outside Yemen at any time in history.
Since Mecca didn’t exist prior to the 4th
century A.D., the claim that this family was living in Mecca in ancient times is unhistorical. When
we study the matter further, we discover that we are dealing with an unknown Sabaean family which never appeared in history with
any religious claim, and is not documented by any inscriptions in the history
we compare the genealogy of Jesus with Mohammed’s claims, we find a much
clearer genealogical path. We have written testimony in the Old Testament
concerning each important member in the Messianic family. Remember that
Jesus is one Person of the Trinity, and the one promised in the Old Testament
to be incarnated as perfect man. We see promises, as well as prophecies, given
to significant men in the genealogies of the Old Testament: men like
Jacob, David, Solomon and Zerubbabel. These promises
and prophecies describe the coming of the Messiah as the divine personality,
born in the flesh, as the ultimate purpose of the genealogy of Jesus.
record began with Abraham in the 21st century B.C., and was fulfilled in the
miraculous virgin birth of Jesus, in 4 A.D., according to the prophecies
of Isaiah. Micah 5:2 says,
Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among
the thousands of Judah, yet
out of you shall come forth to Me the One that is to be ruler in Israel, whose
goings forth have been from old, from everlasting.
The prophecy indicates
that Jesus is from everlasting. But, for the ancestors of
Mohammed, there is no historical document which indicates that they were
more than an unknown Sabaean family.
Islamic tradition wanted to create a story around this family to support
Mohammed’s claims. Ironically, Mohammed’s ancestors, themselves, never
supported any of his ancestral claims. No prophet was known to have come from
this unknown Sabaean family. The statements on which
Islamic claims are based lack historical evidence. For example, they claim that
Mecca existed in ancient times, but we have
already seen that Mecca
never existed before the 4th century A.D.
contend that Ishmael was the foundation of Islam, and
Mohammed carried a prophetic role.
Muslims also claim that
the Ishmaelites lived in the area of Mecca, but we have documentation stating that
this was not the case. The Ishmaelites originally
resided in the desert of southern Palestine
where their ancestor, Ishmael, lived. Later they migrated north and east. Only
two tribes went a little toward the south, about 180 miles into the Arabian desert. They claim Mohammed is an
Ishmaelite. This can’t be true, because none of the Ishmaelite tribes ever
lived in Yemen.
Mohammed is Sabaean and, therefore, of Cushite origin.
Another fact is that Ishmael did not have a spiritual role, nor did any of
his descendants. More specifically, the Ishmaelites
never predicted that a prophet would come from Ishmael’s descendants. On the
other hand, the prophecy that the Messiah would come from the progeny of
Isaac is documented in each generation. Of the twelve Ishmaelite tribes,
no one ever expected or prophesied the coming of a prophet from their lineage.
God never presents the world with a message of faith without building a solid
historical foundation to establish credibility. In each era God sent His
prophets, believing the same things He requires the world to believe. The
prophets each supported the claims that His eternal Son would come, die on the
cross as atonement for the sins of humanity, and be resurrected on the third
day. God laid the foundation for this message in each generation through the
messianic genealogy, and through the prophets whom He sent. Many religions
present a man claiming to be a prophet, but without this unique historical
foundation. Islam is one of these religions of the world that presents a claim
of one man, Mohammed, who is a prophet from God, but without any sort of valid
historical foundation. Then Islam unhistorically
tries to connect to the heritage and the Biblical foundation, but without any
historical elements of veracity.
GENEALOGY OF SHEM AND THE ARABIAN TRIBES WHICH DESCENDED FROM HIM
I would like you to look
at another genealogy in the Bible which contributed significantly to the
population of eastern Arabia. It is the
genealogy of Shem, the first-born of Noah. We find this genealogy in the book
of Genesis 10:22-30:
The sons of
Shem were Elam, Assur, Arphaxad, Lud and Aram. The sons
were Uz, Hul Gether, and Mash. Arphaxad begot Salah,
and Salah begot Eber. To Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided; and his
brother’s name was Joktan.
Joktan begot Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Obal, Abimael, Sheba Ophir, Havilah and Jobab. All these were the sons of Joktan.
And their dwelling place was from Mesha as you
go toward Sephar, the mountain of the east.
Verse 22 lists the sons from
which all the Semitic tribes are generated. Elam is the father of the Elamites. Asshur is the
father of the Assyrians, at the very least. Lud is
the father of other Semitic tribes. Aram is the father of the Arameans, and other Mesopotamian and Syrian
tribes. Arphaxad is the father of many Semitic tribes, including the
Hebrews, as well as some people in Mesopotamia, and eastern Arabia.
particular interest for our study is Joktan, from
whom came many tribes, which are identified as some of the tribes of eastern Arabia. The Bible comments on the tribes that came
And their dwelling
place was from Mesha as you go toward Sephar, the mountain of the east.
In the Septuagint, which
is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, Mesha is
rendered as Massae. This suggests that the location
of the tribe of Massa, one of the Ishmaelite
tribes which lived in the Syro-Mesoptomian desert, as
between Syria, Jordan and Iraq. The same translation renders Separ as Sopher.
Mount Sephar of
the east is identified by many scholars as Mount
in what is now southern Jordan.
In Numbers 23:7, Balaam speaks of himself by saying that Balak brought him from the “Mountains of the East.”
We know that Balaam lived in the Edom
area, which suggest that the “Mountain of the East” was Mount
Seir in Edom, today called “the Mountains of Sharah” in southern Jordan. We conclude that these tribes
coming from Joktan lived in the Syro-Mesopotamian desert and southern Edom in
Trans-Jordan. This is before some tribes moved toward the Persian Gulf, and
before others went south and east to southeastern Arabia.
Among Joktan’s sons, Hazarmaveth is
identified with the nation of Hadhramot, which is
located in eastern south Arabia.
Although its location was actually in the southeastern part of Arabia,
throughout history this nation was known for its connection to the Persian Gulf.[iv] This suggests
that the original emigration of this tribe, along with other tribes which
stemmed from Joktan, was through the Persian Gulf,
toward the southeastern part of Arabia.
Another tribe which descended from Joktan is Ophir, whose location is placed (by most scholars) in the Persian Gulf. Ophir was known
for its rich commerce with India.[v]
It was the intermediate trading center between India and Middle Eastern nations.
Products from eastern Arabia, such as gold, and products from India, came
through Ophir. The Bible says Solomon made
ships to go to Ophir to benefit from her position in
the gold trade. 1 Kings 9:26-28 says:
King Solomon also
built a fleet of ships at Ezion Geber, which is near Elath on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom. Hiram sent his servants with
the fleet, seamen who knew the sea, to work with the servants of Solomon. They
went to Ophir and acquired four hundred and
twenty talents of gold from there.
I Kings 10:11 says:
Also the ships of
Hiram, which brought gold from Ophir, brought great
quantities of almug wood and precious stones from Ophir.
The Phoenicians were known to be great traders between the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean nations. One reason is because the Gulf region was their original homeland before they emigrated to Lebanon. History also tells us that the region of Carmania, in Iran, opposite to Arabian territory in the Persian Gulf, was rich in gold. Pliny testifies to this fact in his writings, calling the gold “apyron gold.”[vi] Also, Onesicritus, the commander of Alexander’s fleet, spoke about the gold coming from Carmania.[vii] This suggests that Ophir was close to Carmania, yet opposite it in the Arabian part of the Gulf region. This justifies the gold trade of Ophir throughout ancient history.
Jerah is identified by scholars with Jerakon Kome, which
Ptolemy spoke about as north of Dhofar in
southeastern Arabia.[viii] Diklah most probably is Dilmun,
the tribe that inhabited Bahrain in
the Persian Gulf. Dilmun
is known to have existed since at least 3000 B.C. Generally, we see these
tribes moving from the Syro-Mesopotamian desert and
southern Jordan toward the
Persian Gulf to eventually dwell in east and southeastern Arabia.
Another son, Sheba,
is mentioned among the sons of Joktan. We assume this
is not the Saba who dwelt in Yemen. As we saw from our
study of the genealogy of Ham, Sheba of Yemen
descended from Cush, which
became the dominant tribe of Ethiopia.
Sheba penetrated into Yemen through the strait of Bab al-Mandub.
Here, we are dealing with tribes that first inhabited the Syro-Mesopotamian desert. Some of them emigrated gradually
toward the Gulf region, but others seemed to remain in the desert of Syro-Mesopotamia. Sheba – if it represents a tribe, and is not just
the name of one of Joktan’s sons – seems to have been a Nomadic tribe which lived
in the Syro-Mesopotamian desert.
central western Arabia is closer to where Moses lived than other
parts of Arabia, neither Mecca nor the tribes
which the Islamic tradition claims to have lived at Mecca
since the time of Abraham, are listed by Moses within the tribes of Arabia.
We have studied the
Biblical revelation regarding how Arabia was
first populated. It was partially populated from its southwestern part, that is
through one or more of the progeny of Cush, son of Ham. It was also partially
populated in the eastern and southeastern parts through the sons of Joktan, from the genealogy of Shem. We have seen how
the Bible mentions places and names of tribes and nations in Arabia, which came from the progeny of Ham and
Shem, and which were present at the time of Moses in the 16th
century B.C. Yet, in all this documentation, there is no mention of Mecca, or the tribes which Islamic tradition claims lived
in Mecca at the
time of Abraham. This is in spite of the fact that Mecca
is located closer to Palestine
than the other places, tribes and nations mentioned in the genealogies of
two sons of Noah, Shem and Ham. We know that from Noah’s third son, Japheth,
came the tribes that inhabited land as far away as Asia and Europe.
If Mecca existed at the time of Moses, or if the tribe of Jurhum existed
then, as claimed by Islamic tradition to have inhabited Mecca since the time of
Abraham, then Mecca, because of its proximity to Canaan in respect to south
Arabian and western Arabian tribes and nations mentioned in Genesis, would be
the first to be genealogized in the book of Genesis.
We know that the book of Genesis documented the genealogies of all the nations
and tribes of the Middle East, from the least
significant to the greatest. Genesis also genealogized
the tribes of far-flung regions of the world, like Europe, Africa and Asia. We can surmise that Moses was less interested in
accounting for tribes far from Israel,
than he was from giving the genealogies of areas relatively close to him, like
central western Arabia, where Mecca
was eventually built. Yet, in all his genealogies, there is no mention of Mecca.
Because the Bible is a reliable resource for ancient history, especially
as it represents tribes, nations and places as they descended from Noah, the
Bible is further proof that Mecca
didn’t exist in the 2nd millennium B.C., nor in the 1st
millennium B.C. This rather simple fact is significant to understanding
Islam. If a religion is to be believable, it must be built on accurate
DESCENDANTS OF ABRAHAM AND KUTTARAH AND NORTH ARABIA
We already looked at
passages in the Bible which showed us how southern and eastern Arabia were populated. Northern Arabia
was uninhabited before, during and, for some time, after Abraham. The
descendants of Abraham and Keturah, the wife Abraham
married after Sarah died, eventually settled as the first inhabitants of
northern Arabia. Historically, there is no
mention of any people or tribe inhabiting northern Arabia
before the descendants of Keturah. Just how the
region was settled is told in Genesis 25:1-6, which has become the third
most important genealogy for the study of the tribes of Arabia.
Abraham again took a
wife, and her name was Keturah. And she bore
him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah.
Jokshan begot Sheba and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were
Ashurim, Letushim, and Leummim. And the sons of Midian were
Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abidah and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah.
Abraham gave all that
he had to Isaac. But Abraham gave gifts to the sons of the concubines which
Abraham had; and while he was still living he sent them eastward, away from
Isaac his son, to the country of the east.
What did the
Bible mean when it said, “the country of the East?” Since the
country to the east of Palestine is Edom, in southern Jordan,
it is telling us that in the beginning, the descendants of Keturah lived
Afterward, they spread out in many directions. We know that two of the sons of Keturah, Jokshan and Midian, migrated south to northern Arabia.
Jokshan, the second son of Abraham and Keturah, begot Sheba and Dedan.
Dedan is the father of the tribes of Dedan, which dwelt in northern Arabia in the city of Dedan.
From Dedan came the tribes of Ashurim,
Letushim, and Leummim. Ashurim is documented in southern Arabian texts as lying in
northwest Arabia.[ix] This
confirms the Biblical genealogy for the sons of Keturah.
In particular, it confirms that the tribes of Dedan
were derived from Keturah’s progeny. It also confirms
the true organization of Dedan and its main tribes in
history. These confirmations agree exactly with the Biblical narrative.
There are other proofs that the Dedanites were descendants of Abraham and Keturah. Archaeologists discovered in the ruins of Dedan that the original language of the Dedanites is very close to the Hebrew language, rather than
to the Arabic. [x] This is
further proof that the city of Dedan
was built by the descendants of Dedan, the son of Jokshan, son of Abraham and Keturah,
and that the progeny of Abraham and Keturah were the
first to inhabit northern Arabia, and build
its cities. This happened only after the 10th century B.C. Therefore, to claim
that Hagar crossed this uninhabited and deserted area with (the child)
Ishmael in the 21st century B.C. is illogical.
first-born son of Jokshan was Sheba. As
the brother of Dedan, Sheba seems to have been the father of a tribe
which lived in southern Jordan,
in the desert between Jordan
The book of Job, in the 15th verse of the first chapter, mentions the Sabaeans who attacked Job’s servants, killing them and
taking away the oxen and the donkeys. Job lived in the land of Uz.
We understand from Genesis 22:20 that Uz was the
son of Nahur, the brother of Abraham. Therefore,
Job was from the same tribe of Uz, which came forth
from Uz, the son of Nahur. His
friend, Elihu, came from the land of Buz, as
we see in Job 32:2. The land
was also named after a tribe descended from the other son of Nahur, named Buz, as we see in
Genesis 22:20, where the sons of Nahur, the
brother of Abraham, are mentioned. Buz, as a tribe,
is mentioned in Jeremiah 25:23. It seems that the land
of Uz was
located toward Mesopotamia, making it vulnerable to the raids of the Bedouins
living in the desert between Jordan,
Iraq and Syria. This
suggests that the descendants of Sheba, the brother of Dedan, were the same people who attacked Job’s servants. It
also suggests the Sabaeans were living a nomadic
lifestyle in the desert between Jordan
addition to the Bible, Assyrian inscriptions record a tribe called the Sabaeans, who frequently attacked the Assyrian border
from the desert. These attackers were most probably the Sabaeans,
who were also Bedouins descended from Sheba, the brother of Dedan,
in contrast to the Sabaeans of Yemen, who were great
traders and the most civilized people of Arabia.
Shuah, the youngest son of Abraham and Keturah,
was the father of a tribe by that name, and identified with the land of Suhi in
the middle of the Euphrates. It appears in
Cuneiform inscriptions dating back to the 18th century B.C.[xi] Job
2:11 tells us that one of Job’s friends was Bildad the
Shuhite, who was also from the tribe of Shuah. The Cuneiform inscriptions confirm the Biblical
narration and Job's location in Mesopotamia,
which was probably close to where Bildad visited Job.
Ishbak, the fifth son of Abraham and Keturah,
is identified with the country of Ia-as–bu-qa-a. The inscriptions of King Shalm-aneser III
of Assyria say it was allied with the
Neo-Hittite kingdoms against Shalmaneser III around 858 B.C.[xii]
Where did the Midianites Live During the 16th and 15th Centuries
In addition to Dedan,
the son of Jokshan, we have another son of
Abraham and Keturah. This is Midian,
their fourth son. His descendants controlled land which stretched toward
northern Arabia. According to the Bible,
the tribes of Midian were Ephah,
Epher, Hanoch, Abidah and Eldaah. In
history, the most important tribe of Midian was Ephah, written in the Greek of the Septuagint as Eypah. It is attested to in the Assyrian inscriptions under
the name of Haiapa, which often attacked the Assyrian
borders with other tribes.[xiii] Midian
lived in southern Sinai and stretched toward the Gulf of Aqaba region
in the area of northern Arabia bordering the south of Jordan. At the time of Moses,
part of the tribe of Midian dwelt in the Sinai Desert,
specifically around Mount Sinai. Exodus 2:15
Moses fled from
the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian;
and sat down by a well. Now the priest of Midian had
seven daughters, and they came and drew water.
We know that the priest
of Midian lived around Mount
Sinai. The Exodus passage suggests that during the 16th
century B.C. and the beginning of the 15th century B.C., the tribe
of Midian was still living in the Sinai before part
of the tribe migrated toward the Gulf of Aqaba, on the border between Jordan and northern Arabia.
Midian seems to be associated with Moab. When
Moses guided Israel
through the desert, we read in Numbers 22:7 that the elders of Midian and the elders of Moab
sent for Balaam to curse Israel.
This confirms that the location of Midian was in the
southern Sinai, extending to the eastern part of Sinai, close to Moab in southern Jordan. According to Numbers 25,
when Israel reached the
desert which borders Moab,
many Israelites committed fornication with the women of Moab and Midian. This confirms that Midian
dwelt in the Sinai desert between Mount Sinai and Moab
in southern Jordan.
In Numbers 31, the Israelites were engaged in a war against Midian,
because the Midianites employed their women to
sexually seduce the Israelites. Israel
killed five of their kings. This is another confirmation that Midian dwelt in the southern Sinai in the 15th century B.C.
GENEALOGY OF HAGAR, AND THE DWELLING
PLACE OF ISHMAEL AND HIS DESCENDANTS
The genealogy of Hagar,
the servant who begot Ishmael to Abraham, contains three grandsons who
extended their dwelling toward northern Arabia
after the 10th century B.C. The grand-sons of Hagar are mentioned in
And these were the
names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names according to their generations.
The firstborn of Ishmael, Nabaioth, then Qedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa,
Hadar, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah....These were the years of the life of Ishmael: one
hundred and thirty seven years; and he breathed his last and died, and was
gathered to his people.
They dwelt from Havilah as far as Shur,
which is east of Egypt as
you go toward Assyria. He died in the
presence of all his brethren.
I will discuss in detail the progeny of
Hagar and their dwelling in Part IV. From verse 18, we understand that, at
the time of Moses in the beginning of the 15th
century B.C., Ishmaelite tribes were still living from the desert of Shur, part of Sinai, which is east of Egypt,
with projection toward Havilah on the border
between the eastern Sinai and southern Jordan. This means that, at the time of
Moses, the descendants of Ishmael still dwelt in the Sinai. At that time
no Ishmaelite tribe yet stretched toward north or eastern, or the border of, Arabia. This clearly demonstrates that Ishmael and his descendants
did not go to Mecca
to live, as the Islamic tradition and the Qur’an claim. Another thing that we
understand from this verse is “he died in the presence of all his brethren.”
When Ishmael died, Isaac, and perhaps Esau, the son of Isaac, were there.
By oriental custom, close brethren visit and stay a few days while the person
is experiencing his last days on earth. This indicates that Ishmael lived in Paran, near southern Palestine,
in his later days.
The tribes which
stretched toward northern Arabia were Qedar and Teima. Dumah dwelt in the desert between Mesopotamia and Arabia.
ironic it is to claim that Hagar and her child crossed a huge desert,
which no caravan had ever crossed, to find an unknown place no one had ever
As tribes, the Midianites came after the death of Abraham and Keturah and, perhaps many generations after the death
of their father, Midian. The Midianites
first began to occupy only a portion of the Sinai Desert before stretching their land toward the Gulf of Aqaba.
know Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away to the south of Palestine, which Scripture calls the desert of Paran. We saw
previously that Paran borders Hebron,
where Moses sent twelve men to spy on the land of Canaan.
Midian was not yet born at that time, because
Abraham didn’t marry Keturah until Sarah, his
first wife, had died. We know also that Dedan,
another son of Keturah, dwelt in northern Arabia much later than did Midian.
By this we can only conclude that northern Arabia
was a virgin desert uninhabited by any tribe at the time of Hagar. How could
Hagar go through north Arabia and its vast desert to reach Mecca, as Muslims claim? There were no
cities in the desert during the time of Hagar. The city of Dedan appeared only
after the 10th century B.C. The oases of Qedar and
Teima were the dwelling places of two Ishmaelite
tribes that inhabited north Arabia many
centuries after Ishmael died. Qedar and Teima were about 150-180 miles distant from the border with
The cities of Qedar, Teima
and Dumah did not appear before the 10th
century B.C. No trade caravans traveled between Yemen
before the 10th century B.C. Without the cities of northern Arabia, which
appeared only in the 10th and 9th centuries B.C.,
it was impossible for caravans to travel the desert from Yemen to Palestine
and vice-versa. What made their movements possible were the cities which the
descendants of Keturah, and some of the descendants
of Hagar, built in the 10th and 9th centuries B.C.
reason we draw this conclusion is that camels traveling in the desert require
water about every sixty miles. Without water it is impossible for caravans to
cross the desert toward a remote region in central western Arabia.
In the 10th and 9th centuries B.C., cities were built in northern Arabia,
initiating caravan travel between Syria
These cities dug wells which provided water to their inhabitants and to the
addition to a lack of water, before the construction of these cities, caravans
also faced savage Bedouins who roamed such places from time to time. It was not
practical to travel this route before the 10th century B.C. Travel along
the Red Sea, through the area where Mecca
was built, did not begin until the 3rd century B.C. How, then, could a woman
with a small baby and a skin of water take the initiative to cross such a vast
desert – a desert which no
caravan in history before her had ever crossed, especially since caravan
travel was unknown? No one during her lifetime inhabited the region, and
no station existed for her to replenish water and food. Later, around the 6th
century B.C., cities like Khaybar and Yathrib were built on the land route between Teima, Dedan and Qedar in north Arabia, and Yemen in the south. It’s
inconceivable that Mecca
existed before Dedan, Qedar
If Mecca had existed at the time of Moses, it would have been
the only city in western Arabia. Yet Moses did
not mention it in his inspired records.
Bible mentions all the tribes which finally dwelt in northern Arabia. It talks about Saba and Ma'in,
tribes of Yemen.
The Bible even mentions small tribes during the time of Moses, before any of
them were known as nations, kingdoms or cities – tribes like Dedan, Qedar and Teima-even Saba, before it was known as a nation in Yemen.
How then could the Bible fail to mention such an important city as Mecca which, according to
the Islamic claim, would have been flourishing at the time of Abraham? Between
the 21st and 15th centuries B.C., Mecca
would have been the only city in all of western Arabia.
Moses would have paid special attention to it, more than any of the other small
tribes he mentions. But Moses never mentions Mecca. Is not this a clear sign that Mecca did not exist in
important for us to question the claims of Islam, because its followers are
being deceived. For a religion to be credible, it must first be true. I invite
you to examine the claims of the Bible, as well. You’ll soon find
that its claims are consistent with the records of history.
the records of the marine activity of Solomon, and the kings who came
after him, there is no mention of Mecca.
In the Bible, we can trace the
initiation of trade between Yemen
and the Mediterranean countries, complete with the kingdoms and cities
involved. No city located along land trading routes is missing from Biblical
records. Some of the trading cities were mentioned many times; yet, Mecca, which was built
eventually on the land route, is not mentioned at all in the Bible.
Two kingdoms existed
beginning in the 12th century B.C. Those two kingdoms were the Saba and Ma'in kingdoms.
Scholars are not in agreement about which kingdom came into existence first.
Some think that the Minaean kingdom is the older
of the two, dating back to the 13th century B.C. Others think that the Sabaeans were older and began around the 12th century
reports on the trade activity of the Minaeans of
Yemen with the Fertile Crescent.
Verses in the
Bible confirm the presence of Ma'in in the
north, perhaps as colonies associated with civilizations in Trans-Jordan which
made war against Israel.
One of these verses is II Chronicles 20. In the first verse, we read about an
alliance in Trans-Jordan against Jehoshaphat. The Greek
Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Old Testament reads:
It happened after this
that the people of Moab, with
the people of Ammon, and with them some of the Meunites, came to make war on Jehoshaphat.
According to Montgomery, the term “Meunites” in Hebrew is “Meinim,”
and identical to how the word “Minaeans” was prono-unnced in South Arabia.[xiv]
Jehoshaphat reigned in Judah beginning
in 873 B.C. It seems that the Minaeans, who
tried to establish alliances in southern Jordan,
participated in an attack initiated by Moab and
Ammon against Judah. Moab and Ammon
were the two nations which controlled the land routes where the Minaeans wanted to establish a presence. At the time
of Uzziah, King of Judah, we encounter the Minaeans again in alliances with other Arabians, and with
the Philistines. In II Chronicles 26:7, the Bible says:
God helped him against
the Arabians who lived in Gur Baal, and against the Meunites.
According to Montgomery, the word Meunites in
Hebrew is “Meinim,”
again referring to the southern Arabian tribe in Yemen.[xv] Uzziah began his reign in 790 B.C. We see the kingdom of Ma'in penetrating into Trans-Jordan
and southern Palestine,
making colonies along the land routes perhaps as early as the 8th century B.C.
the book of Ezra 2:50, we find that some families of the Meunim were
forced into slavery around 458 B.C. It seems the slave trade with southern
Arabia was vigorous at the time of Ezra.
Again, we find the Meunites mentioned in the
book of Nehemiah, chapter 7, verse 52. Around 445 B.C., they were again
being used as servants. This may indicate the abundance of trade between Palestine and southern Arabia,
and that among the variety of things traded by the Minaean
merchants were slaves.
Although not discernable in the English version of the Bible, in Job 2:11, the
Septuagint renders the last name of Zophar, a Naamathite and friend of Job, as
may indicate that Zophar may have been an important
merchant who was trading on the land route between southern Arabia and
Mesopotamia, or he could have been a responsible leader in the Minaean colony in south Jordan. Because Job 1:17 mentions
the Chaldean raids on Job's servants, we date
the book between the 9th and 6th centuries B.C. Job’s land was the land of Uz,
which might have been on the southwestern border of Mesopotamia, where land
routes from Arabia were used by people on their way to the heart of Babylonia. Therefore, Job might have been dwelling where
merchants traveled. According to the book of Job, Job was one of the richest
men of the east, and it's possible he hosted some of the merchants. The
term “lands of the east” in the Bible referred to the land east of Palestine, extending from southern Jordan, through the desert, and reaching as far
The Chaldeans appeared in the 11th century B.C. on the
border of Mesopotamia. They ascended to power
only in the 7th century B.C. After the death of Assurbanipal, the Chaldeans gained their independence from the Assyrians. The
ruler of Babylonia, established his
independence around 625 B.C. We assume the Chaldeans
deployed military units on their borders, especially on the western and
southern borders, to defend against attacks from the Bedouins. All this leads
us to believe that the 7th century B.C. might be the date for the writing of
the book of Job.
we see that the Biblical narration confirms what we know about Minaean trade and traffic in its early stages. It
couldn't have existed before the 10th century B.C. This means that the 10th
century B.C. was also the earliest possible date for the construction of cities
in northern Arabia, such as Qedar, Teima and Dedan, which made the land route for trade and traffic
in the Bible
relationships between Saba, called Sheba,
in Yemen and the Mediterranean
countries, such as Israel,
are significant to our understanding of the founding of Mecca. In I Kings, chapter 10, we read about the visit
of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon. I already
mentioned in Part I of this book how the Queen of Sheba could easily hear about
the wisdom of Solomon. But we must also understand how Solomon wanted to trade
gold with Ophir on the Persian Gulf, so
he built a fleet of ships in Ezion Geber near Elath on the Red Sea.
I Kings 9:26-28 says:
King Solomon also
built a fleet of ships at Ezion Geber, which is near Elath on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom. Then Hiram sent his servants
with the fleet, seamen who knew the sea, to work with the servants of Solomon.
And they went to Ophir and acquired four hundred
and twenty talents of gold from there.
Perhaps Sabaean merchants were already traveling the land
route through northern Arabia by the 10th
century B.C. If so, the cities on the oases of northern Arabia, such as Teima, Dedan and Qedar, may have been only small villages which facilitated
trade along the land route from Yemen
This is probably the reason the Queen of Sheba was convinced to travel by land
rather than by sea. In the previous century (11th B.C.), it was
impossible to make the trip by land. In part I of this book, I mentioned
the assumption that Solomon's name was famous in Saba, many years before
the visit of the Queen of Sheba, because of his ships, built many years
before her visit. The fleet traveled across the Red Sea to Ophir on
the Persian Gulf and made many stops along the way, many of which were to Saba
ports, the most important ports on the Red Sea.
The Saba ports were places where ships traded
merchandise and re-supplied themselves with water and food.
years before Solomon's fleet was constructed, King Hiram, the Phoenician King
of Tyre, began sailing
his fleet on the Red Sea to the Persian Gulf.
Hiram traveled to Ophir, passing through the Sabaean's ports. Hiram traded in the Mediterranean,
and even provided Solomon, his son-in-law, with gold, special wood and precious
stones. Mediterranean nations were connected to the Gulf region, where there
were important kingdoms such as Dilmun, which is now Bahrain; and Magan,
which is now Oman.
There were also rich ports like Jerra, which traded
and made far-away Asian products available to the Phoenicians. All the
marine traffic from India to
the Persian Gulf passed through the ports of Saba.
the area where Mecca was eventually built was
only 30 miles from the shore, the marine traffic through the Red Sea never
attested to the existence of a city called Mecca.
As we've already
discussed Solomon's ships, we need to emphasize that marine-trading
traffic through the Red Sea existed for some
time before Solomon. The fleet of the Phoenician city of Tyre had
already been sailing the trade routes before Solomon built his own fleet of
ships. If Mecca,
being only 30 miles from shore, had existed, then it would have been known to
the Israelites. Since there were no cities on the Red
Sea before ships would reach the far Saba ports, Mecca would have been a very long journey,
because it would have been the only city close to the shore. The Israelites, as well the Phoenicians, would have
stopped there on their long journeys to Saba and on to the Persian
Gulf. But neither the Hebrews nor
the Phoenicians recorded a city called Mecca.
With all the marine activity of Solomon, and the kings who came after
him, there is no mention of Mecca.
THE FERTILE CRESCENT
Bible gives us a clear picture of the cities and nations located on the
land route from Yemen
to north Arabia in the 9th and 8th centuries B.C., but nowhere
does it mention Mecca.
We will proceed in the next
pages to study the trade through Arabia to the Fertile
Crescent as it is seen through many Biblical references. Mecca is conspicuous by
our study of the Biblical passages which mention Arabia,
we look at the time of Solomon as documented in the book of II Chronicles.
It shows the relationships between Solomon and the kings of Arabia.
2 Chronicles 9:13, 14 says:
The weight of gold that
came to Solomon yearly was six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold,
besides what the traveling merchants and traders brought. And all the kings of Arabia and the governors of the country brought gold and
silver to Solomon.
We have discussed
previously the marine trading routes which Israel established in the time of Solomon.
These routes provided a connection between Israel
and the kingdoms of Arabia, including Saba.
Because of the trade routes, the kingdoms and cities of Arabia became well–known to Israel. Merchants brought gold to Palestine during the time
of Solomon. The verses from II Chron-icles refer to
all the kingdoms in north and western Arabia.
All of these kingdoms are mentioned throughout the prophetical books of the
Bible, such as Isaiah and Ezekiel. Yet, there is no mention of Mecca at all in these
Traffic Between Yemen and
the Countries of the Fertile Crescent During
the 9th Century B.C. as Seen in the Book of Joel.
The trade traffic
between Yemen, Palestine, Syria
(Phoenicians) is attested to in the Bible as early as the time of the
prophet Joel, who prophesied around 830 B.C. We read in the book of Joel 3:8 an
oracle against Tyre and
prophecy announces that calamities will come upon the two Phoenician cities,
resulting in some of their sons being sold to the Sabaeans.
Sabaean inscriptions confirm this Biblical
statement. They say the Sabaeans were involved in the
slave trade, buying slaves from far countries. Female slaves were
bought from countries like Egypt,
Gaza, Yathrib and Dedan for
consecrated service in a Sabaean temple.[xvii]
Routes From Saba and Teima as
Seen in the Book of Job
In addition to II
Chronicles and Joel, the book of Job gives us information on Arabian countries.
Job knew about the land routes from Saba and
Teima. Job 6:19 says:
With high hopes, the
caravans from Teima and from Sheba stop
for water, but finding none, their hopes are dashed.
Job lived in the land of Uz which
was on the western border of Mesopotamia, at
the end of the trading route. Since Job probably lived between the 9th and 7th
centuries B.C., the Bible helps us date the early beginnings of Sheba’s trading
and its caravans which traveled the land route.
Routes From Yemen
as Seen in the Book of Isaiah
In the Bible, a book
written by the prophet Isaiah provides more information about the trade
routes coming from Yemen.
Isaiah lists the important cities and tribes involved in commerce on the spice
route. Isaiah began to prophesy in 739 B.C. when King Uzziah of
died. Isaiah also prophesied during the reigns of several other kings, such as:
Jothan, who became king of Judah in 739 B.C.; Ahaz, who became king of Judah in 735 B.C.; Hoshea, who became king of Israel in 732 B.C.; Shalmaneser IV, who became king of Assyria in 727
B.C.; Sargon II, who became king of Assyria in 722 B.C.; King Hezekiah, who
ascended to the throne of Judah in 715 B.C.; and Sennacherib, who ascended to
the throne of Assyria in 704 B.C. So we can see that Isaiah prophesied up to the
beginning of the 7th century B.C.
the 60th chapter of Isaiah, probably written during King Hezekiah’s reign,
Isaiah confirms that the spice route had flourished by the end of the 8th
century B.C., and that some tribes were known in Palestine for their trade with the
region. Isaiah 60:6-7 says:
The multitude of camels
shall cover your land, the dromedaries of Midian and
Ephah. All those from Sheba shall come, they shall
bring gold and incense. All the flocks of Qedar shall
be gathered together to you, the rams of Nabaioth shall
minister to you.
From these verses, we
see that by the end of the 8th century B.C. there was trading between Yemen and the Fertile Crescent, especially in Palestine and Syria. Significantly, the most important
merchants who traveled to Saba and traded with Israel and the surrounding nations
were the Midianites and Ephahites.
You may remember that the Midianites descended from
the firstborn of Midian, the descendant of Keturah. Ephah was subdued,
along with other tribes in the region, such as Thamud,
under the Assyrian King, Sargon II, who reigned from 722-705 B.C. The
Bible says that their caravans came from Saba, and specified that gold and
incense were the main goods which they brought from Saba.
The Sabaeans had brought incense from Hadraumout, south of Saba; gold from Ophir on
the Persian Gulf; and minerals from Yamama and
other places in western Arabia.
Nebaioth Trading Partner With Israel in the Fertile
The Nabaioth tribe inhabited the deserts of the Fertile Crescent. Contrary to Islamic tradition, the
family of Mohammed, who lived in Yemen as Sabaeans, could
not be connected with this tribe.
Nebaioth furnished rams to
Isaiah says “the rams of Nabaioth shall
minister to you.” The Jewish people may have depended upon trade with Nabaioth for a constant supply of animals for their
sacrificial rites, especially in the temple at Jerusalem.
Nabaioth was an Ishmaelite tribe. Genesis 28:9 mentioned
their father, Nabaioth, as living in Edom. The tribe
spread into Sinai at the time of Moses. During the reign of
Assurbanipal, the people of Nabaioth settled in
the northeastern part of Palmyrena.[xviii]
The Assyrian inscription, ABL 260, dated around the middle of the 7th century
B.C., shows them on the border of Babylonia, in the Syro-Mesopotamian
desert near the tribe of Massa,[xix] implying
that the tribe emigrated from south Jordan toward the north and east,
seeking better pastures for their flocks. They lived like Bedouins, roaming
from place to place in the Fertile Crescent.
these records are true, and we have no reason to believe otherwise, how then
can Islamic tradition make Mohammed a descendant of the tribe of Nabaioth which lived in the deserts of Syria, Iraq
and South Jordan, when we know his family was Sabaean and
resided in Yemen?
lands and cities on the spice routes and their trade mentioned by Isaiah.
that Qedar sent flocks to Judah, as
Isaiah 60:7 says:
“All the flocks of Qedar shall be gathered together
to you.” Because the Qedarites exercised
influence in southern Jordan,
it seems the sheep they transported to Palestine
were one of their main commodities. In Isaiah 42:11, we find Qedar mentioned with Sela, the
old city of Petra in south Jordan. The
text speaks about the “villages that Qedar inhabited.”
It says, “let the inhabitants of Sela sing,”
suggesting that the Qedarites penetrated into some of
the villages in South Jordan toward the end of
the 8th century B.C. This is something the Assyrian inscriptions
had attested to.
Isaiah also prophesied concerning the defeat of Arabian tribes by the
Assyrian army. We find it in chapter 21, verse 13, “The burden against Arabia.” Assyria’s intended target was the land and
cities in north and central western Arabia, including Dumah,
the Dedanites, the land of Teima and
Qedar. All these tribes were actively trading on the
land route from Yemen.
Verse 14 mentions the caravans of the Dedanites,
which were from the city of Dedan in
north Arabia. Verse 16 predicts that, “the
glory of Qedar will fail,” reflecting how rich Qedar became because of its trade.
book of Isaiah shows how the land routes from Saba were
flourishing around the end of the 8th century B.C. The book also shows that all
the cities which were along branches of this trade route were already
present at the end of the 8th century B.C. This refers to the route
which passes from Teima to Dumah,
Mesopo-tamia, Trans-Jordan and Syria. This
also refers to the route that passes from Dedan and
Qedar going to Palestine,
Syria and Egypt. The book
of Isaiah also mentions the tribes of Midian and
Ephah, which traded with Saba.
This trade certainly followed the route which passes by Dedan,
and was closer to them.
though the Bible gives us a clear picture of the cities and nations
located on the land route from Yemen
in the 8th century B.C., nowhere does it mention Mecca. If Mecca had existed, as Muslim tradition
claims, then there is no reason for it not to be mentioned along with the rest
of the cities in the book of Isaiah.
About Arabia and Trade on the Spice Routes
Over Long Periods of Time
We know that the
prophet Jeremiah was a youth when the Lord commissioned him to prophesy,
and we know he lived many years after the destruction of Jerusalem. He began to prophesy around
627 B.C., near the end of the reign of the Assyrian king, Assurbanipal. He
prophesied during the reigns of several other rulers, too. There was Nabopolassar, who became King of Babylonia around 626
B.C. Next was Jehoahaz, King of Judah in 609 B.C.
Then came Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon in 605 B.C. He was followed by Jehoachin, King of Judah in 597 B.C., and Zedekiah, King of
Judah in 597 B.C. Jeremiah also prophesied during the destruction of the Temple by the Babylonians
in 586 B.C. We read in Jeremiah, chapter 2, verse 10, about the gods the
tribe of Qedar worshipped through the ages. In
Jeremiah, chapter 49, verse 28, we read about a prophecy against other tribes,
including Qedar. It states that Nebuchad-nezzar,
King of Babylon, would attack them.
Jeremiah prophesied about campaigns conducted by the Chaldeans in
northern Arabia. We find in Jeremiah 25:23
that Dedan and Teima were
among the nations which the Chaldeans were to
conquer. The oracle against Dedan is repeated in
Jeremiah 48:8. The frankincense trade from Sheba to
is expressed in Jeremiah 6:20:
For what purpose to Me
comes frankincense from Sheba,
and sweet cane from a far country ?
This shows that the
trade of frankincense from Saba to the
Mediterranean region continued in Jeremiah’s time.
the Nations Which Traded With Mediterranean Countries
6th century B.C., Ezekiel mentions the merchandise which was traded with
Mediterranean countries through the Arabian routes, and the cities which were
involved in those trades, but Mecca
is not among them.
to prophesy around 593 B.C. We know his prophecies reflect events of the first
third of the 6th century B.C. In Ezekiel 25:13, the prophet mentions the Chaldean occupation of Dedan, and
other nations, such as Edom
and Philistia. Ezekiel also sheds light on
trade routes from Arabia in the beginning of
the 6th century B.C. He elaborates on the kind of goods,
traded by Mediterranean cities along these routes, especially the Phoenician
cities of Tyre and
Ezekiel, chapter 27, the prophet speaks a prophecy, or an oracle against Tyre.
He describes Tyre’s wealth, and the commerce it had with other nations of
the world at that time. Ezekiel mentions several cities and nations on
the land route from southern Arabia. In
verse 15 he says:
The men of Dedan were your traders; many isles were the market of
your hand. They brought you ivory tusks and ebony as payment.
This verse reflects the
commerce of ivory and ebony wood which Dedanite merchants
brought to Tyre on
the Mediterranean. These goods originated in India. They
were transported to southern Arabia, and the Dedanites brought them to the Mediterranean region. The
Phoenicians from Tyre
would then distribute their wares to various nations along the Mediterranean. Ezekiel 27:20 speaks about another
product which Tyre
imported from Dedan, when he says, “Dedan was your merchant in saddlecloths for riding.” In
verse 21, he mentions the imports Tyre
received from Qedar: “Arabia
and all the princes of Qedar were your regular
merchants. They traded with you in lambs, rams and goats.”
the same commodities which Qedar traded with Israel, as we
saw in the book of Isaiah. This verse also confirms that Qedar
was governed by many kings or princes which, historically, we know to be true,
because Assyrian inscriptions showed many kings governed in Qedar
at the same time.
Ezekiel 27:22 speaks about the trade with Sheba (Saba):
The merchants of Sheba and
Raamah were your merchants. They traded for your wares the choicest
spices, all kind of precious stones and gold.
We already have
discussed that, according to Genesis 10:6,7, Raamah was the
father of Sheba, from whom
came the Saba tribe of Yemen.
Raamah was the fourth son of Cush, and
a grandson of Ham. Raamah was mentioned in the inscriptions of Saba. The Bible connects Raamah with Sheba, which is called Saba.
In the Bible, a nation is often named after the father of the founder: for
is also called Jacob, or Isaac. According to the last verse we read in Ezekiel,
the imports Tyre received
consisted “of choicest spices, precious stones and gold.” We know this is true
from other historical evidence, as well.
Ezekiel 27:23, 24 lists other nations and cities which traded their goods
Eden, the merchants of Sheba,
Assyria and Chilmad were
your merchants. Those were your merchants in choice items; purple clothes,
embroidered garments, chests of multicolored apparel, and sturdy woven cords,
which were in your marketplace.
We recognize among the aforementioned cities and nations some southern Arabian cities; namely, Canneh and Eden, in addition to the merchants of Sheba. Canneh is mentioned in the historical book “Periplus of the Erythraean Sea,” which is dated around 60 A.D. It’s identified with Hisn Ghorab, a port of southern Arabia located 14 degrees and 10 minutes north, by 48 degrees and 20 minutes east. Canneh was an important place, importing Asian wares and clothes. From Canneh, the items were brought to Phoenician ports, such as Tyre. That’s why Ezekiel mentioned that through Canneh came precious bolts of cloth, clothes of purple, woven cords and embroidered garments. These goods were known to have originated in China and India.[xx]
text tells us that, in addition to the Sabaeans, the
city of Eden, in south Yemen, also
traded these items. These records document the beginning of the 6th
century B.C., when marine trade was flourishing between Asian countries and the
Mediterranean region, through southern Yemen. This description of the
richness of the city of Tyre,
the purple in Tyre’s homes, and the other items which the book of
Ezekiel mentions, are confirmed by classical historians, such as
Strabo in his seventeenth book.[xxi] The ebony wood
trade from India
and far islands is also confirmed historically.[xxii]
the period between the 8th and 6th centuries B.C., the Bible mentioned
many of the cities and nations on the Arabian trade routes, but it does not
The major prophets of the
Bible: Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, reflected the trade with
western Arabian kingdoms and cities, from the 8th century B.C. until
the beginning of the 6th century B.C. – a period in
which the trade between southern Arabia, the cities on the land trading routes,
the Mediterranean countries and the Fertile Crescent
countries flourished. There’s not a single city along these western and
northern Arabian trading routes that was not mentioned by the inspired prophets
of the Bible. Not only does the Bible mention the cities, but it also mentions
the kinds of items and wares which were traded. In spite of the fact that the
prophets mentioned all the cities on these trading routes, such as Dumah, Qedar, Teima and
Dedan, it never mentions Mecca. The Bible even mentions many tribes
involved in trading, such as Midian, Ephah, Saba and Ma'in,
but Mecca is
absent in all this!
have discussed many times before, Mecca was
built around the 4th century A.D. on the caravan route between Yemen, Teima and Dedan. If Mecca had existed during
the times of these major prophets, then there would be no reason for not
mentioning it. This is especially true when we consider that inspired authors,
like the prophet Ezekiel, talked about all the cities on the route, even those
which were in remote places such as Canneh and
Eden. If only because of its strategic place on the trading route, Mecca should have been
mentioned – not one time, but many times, if it had existed then. Many times,
the Bible mentions the primary cities and nations which traded along these
routes and ran through western and northern Arabia.
For example, Midian is mentioned 20 times, Qedar eight times, Dedan six
times, and Teima three times. Mecca was built in the most strategic
location on the land route. It’s a place where the route split in two. One
route went to Teima, and the other to Dedan. Yet, Mecca is not
mentioned even once, although its location is closer to Palestine
than to Sheba and Ma'in in Yemen.
These cities, which were mentioned many times, all appeared after the 10th
century B.C. Kingdoms like Sheba and Main started their trade activity with the
Mediterranean countries after the 10th century B.C. Ma'in started its trade many centuries later. Yet, Sheba and Ma'in are mentioned many times in their relationship with
the region. But Mecca,
the city which Islamic tradition claims existed since the time of Abraham in
the 21st century B.C., is not mentioned, even once, in any book of the Bible.
Bible is a reliable source of ancient history. Not mentioning Mecca during the period it covers, from the time of
Abraham to the 5th century B.C., is significant proof that Mecca was not in
existence during that period.
We also see that Mecca does not exist in the Biblical narration of the old
nations of Arabia, and how they originated
from the children of Noah. Nor does it exist in other genealogies, such as
the sons of Keturah, who was the wife Abraham
took after Sarah died. Mecca is not
mentioned in any Biblical genealogy of how Arabia
was populated in ancient history. However, all the actual ancient tribes and
cites of western and northern Arabia are
Biblical narration is the only source of ancient history for many regions of
the Middle East. Therefore, it is of
fundamental importance in understanding the region. The Bible mentions
nations and cities, even when no other resource confirms its narration. Tribes
mentioned in the Bible, such as the Hittites, and cities, such as Ur, were questioned by
historians in the past. Some wondered if they even existed in history. But then
we discovered their ruins, and the same historians discovered that the rich and
extended coverage of the Bible is perfectly true and correct. This means that,
when the Bible mentions the cities of northwestern Arabia and the two nations
of Saba and Main of Yemen, without even mentioning Mecca, it’s a
definitive affirmation that Mecca failed to exist through the long history
which the Bible covers in this region, from the time of Abraham until Malachi,
the last inspired author of the Old Testament who began prophesying around 436
B.C. This is a rather simple fact, yet it is significant to the understanding
of Islam. If a religion is to be followed, it must be credible, and it must be
built on accurate information.
Research Institute -Home
[i] James Montgomery, Arabia and the Bible, page 42
[ii] Caussin de Perceval, I, 84 ff ; cited by James Montgomery, Arabia and the Bible, page 125
[iii] James Montgomery, page 41
[iv] See Van den Berg, Le Hadhramout et les colonies arabes dans l'Archipel indien, (Batavia, 1886); quoted by James Montgomery, page 81
[v] Wilfred Schoff on his comments on The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Munshiram Manoharial Publishers Pvt Ltd., 1995, page 175
[vii] Wilfred Schoff on his comments on The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, page 161
[viii] Quoted by Wilfred, page 107
[ix] Halevy, no. 525; quoted by James Montgomery, Arabia and the Bible, page 44
[x] F.V. Winnett and W.L. Reed, Ancient Records from North Arabia, University of Toronto Press, 1970, page 115
[xi] Archives Royales de Mari (Paris), xv 133; J.A. Brinkman, Post-Kassite Babyloniam, page 183,
note 1127; quoted by I. Eph’al, The Ancient Arabs,
Zeitschrift Für Keilschriftforschung, 2 ( 1885), 92; quoted by I. Eph’al, The Ancient Arabs, page 232; see also Shiffer, Die Aramäer, page 89; quoted by James Montgomery, Arabia
and the Bible, page 44
[xiii] James Montgomery, Arabia
and the Bible, page 43
[xiv] James Montgomery, Arabia
and the Bible, page 183
[xv] James Montgomery, Arabia
and the Bible, University of Pennsylvania Press, (Philadelphia, 1934), page 183
[xvi] James Montgomery, Arabia and the
Bible, page 184
[xvii] Halevy, nos.190, 231-234; Hommel, Chrestomathie,
page 117; Hartmann, Die arabische Frage, pp. 206: cited by James Montgomery, page 182
[xviii] Tablet Signature of Kouyunjik Collection in the British Museum,
2802 vi 17-37; Quoted by I. Eph’al,
[xix] R.F. Harper, Assyrian
and Babylonian Letters, I XIV, (London-Chicago, 1892-1914), 1117
[xx] See The Periplus
of the Erythraean Sea, 27, 33, 36 and
[xxi] The Geography of Strabo, Book XVI. II. 23
The Geography of Strabo, Volume V, Harvard
University Press, 1966, page 269
[xxii] The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, 36