And their dwelling was from Mesha, as you go to Sephar a mount of the east.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
1. In India, where there are places called by Ptolemy and Pliny, Maesae, and Saparum, and Sabara. Or rather,
2. In Arabia, where there was a noted port called Musa; and near it, and eastward from it, a people called Sapharitae, and a royal city called Saphar; from whence this famous and long mountain doth here receive its name. If it be said Arabia is not east but south from Judea, it may be answered,
1. That Arabia, as it is not east in respect of Egypt, where the Jews long dwelt, and part of it is so to Judea also; so it is not seldom in Scripture reckoned as a part of the east country, as appears from Genesis 25:6,18 Jud 6:3 1 Kings 4:30 Job 1:3 Isaiah 11:14 Jeremiah 49:28. And Tacitus describing Judea, saith: It is bounded on the east by Arabia.
2. That this mountain is said to be easterly, not simply, but in respect of the city Mesha, on the east whereof Ptolemy placeth this mountain, though he call it by another name, Climax; add to this, that Moses speaks of these places as known to the Jews, and therefore not so far distant from them as India, a place wholly unknown to them, and wherewith, as yet, they had no communication. If it be further objected, that if these people had been so near and well known to the Jews, we should have had more mention of them in Scripture; I answer, there is mention of some of them; and for others, it is no wonder if by the following wars among nations, and mixtures and confusions of people, some of them were extirpated, and others lost their names, though not their beings, as oft happened. Genesis 25:15 and Zephar, the seat of the Sepharites, as between Mesha and Kedem; for, says he, Mesha is not Muza, a mart of the Red sea, but Moscha, a famous port of the Indian sea, of which Arrian and Ptolemy make mention; and from hence the dwelling of the Joktanites was extended, in the way you go through the Sepharites to the mountainous places of Kedem or Cadmus: perhaps nearer the truth may be the Arabic paraphrase of Saadiah (r), which is"from Mecca till you come to the city of the eastern mountain, or (as in a manuscript) to the eastern city,''meaning perhaps Medina, situate to the east; so that the sense is, according to this paraphrase, that the sons of Joktan had their dwelling from Mecca to Medina; and so R. Zacuth (s) says, Mesha in the Arabic tongue is called Mecca; and it is a point agreed upon by the Arabs that Mesha was one of the most ancient names of Mecca; they believe that all the mountainous part of the region producing frankincense went in the earliest times by the name of Sephar; from whence Golius concludes this tract to be the Mount Zephar of Moses, a strong presumption of the truth of which is that Dhafar, the same with the modern Arabs as the ancient Saphar, is the name of a town in Shihr, the only province in Arabia bearing frankincense on the coast of the Indian ocean (t). And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar a mount of the east.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)30. Mesha] Dillmann conjectures “Massa” (Genesis 25:14), a north Arabian tribe. This is not improbable, if this verse delimits the geographical borders of “the sons of Joktan.”
Sephar] Probably the same as Daphar, a town on the south coast of Arabia.
the mountain of the east] Better, as marg., the hill country. Probably the famous frankincense mountain in south Arabia, with Daphar as its furthest point, was reputed the southern limit of “the sons of Joktan.”Genesis 10:31, and the entire genealogy of the nations with Genesis 10:32. According to the Jewish Midrash, there are seventy tribes, with as many different languages; but this number can only be arrived at by reckoning Nimrod among the Hamites, and not only placing Peleg among the Shemites, but taking his ancestors Salah and Eber to be names of separate tribes. By this we obtain for Japhet 14, for Ham 31, and for Shem 25, - in all 70 names. The Rabbins, on the other hand, reckon 14 Japhetic, 30 Hamitic, and 26 Semitic nations; whilst the fathers make 72 in all. But as these calculations are perfectly arbitrary, and the number 70 is nowhere given or hinted at, we can neither regard it as intended, nor discover in it "the number of the divinely appointed varieties of the human race," or "of the cosmical development," even if the seventy disciples (Luke 10:1) were meant to answer to the seventy nations whom the Jews supposed to exist upon the earth.
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