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Fausset's Bible Dictionary


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An Arab pastoral tribe, associated with Kedar (Isaiah 60:7). Nebaioth was the older of the two, Ishmael's firstborn (Genesis 25:13). Forefather of the Nabateans of Arabia Petraea mentioned at the close of the fourth century B.C. as extending from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, Petra being their capital. In 310 B.C. they were strong enough to resist Antigonus (Diodorus Siculus, 2:732, 733). In the first century B.C. they flourished under their "illustrious" (Josephus, Ant. 13:13, section 3; 15, section 2) king Aretas, who was chosen also king of Damascus; his successors assumed the name as an official designation (2 Corinthians 11:32). Coins are extant of the dynasty which ended A.D. 105, their Nabathaean kingdom being incorporated with Rome as the province" Arabia." Josephus (Ant. 1:12, section 4) regards "Nabateans" as synonymous with "Arabs," and says that "Ishmael's twelve sons inhabit all the regions from the Euphrates to the Red Sea" (compare Genesis 25:18). Many think the rock inscriptions of Sinai to be Nabatean, and to belong to the centuries immediately before and after Christ. Forster (One Primeval Lang.) thinks them Israelite.

The name "Nabatean," as applied to a people S. and E. of Palestine, is unknown to the Arab writers, yet it is on native coins, it must therefore have been lost long before any Arab wrote on geography or history. But the Arab writers use Nabat for Babylonians not Arabians. M. Quatremere from them shows that these Nabateans inhabited Mesopotamia between the Euphrates and Tigris; they were Syro Chaldaeans, and were celebrated among the Arabs for agriculture, magic, medicine, and astronomy. Four of their works remain: the book on agriculture, that on poisons, that of Tenkeloosha the Babylonian, and that of the secrets of the sun and moon. Chwolson (Remains of ancient Babyl. Literature in Arabic Translations) thinks that "the book of Nabat agriculture," commenced by Daghreeth, continued by Yanbushadth and finished by Kuthamee, according to the Arab translator, Ibn Wahsheeyeh, the Chaldaean of Kisseen, was so commenced 2500 B.C., continued 2100, and ended under the sixth king of a Canaanite dynasty mentioned in the book, i.e. 1300 B.C.

But the mention of names resembling Adam, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Shem, Abraham, and of Hermes, Agathodaemon, Tammuz, and the Ionians, and the anachronisms geographical, linguistic, historical, and religious, point to a modern date even as late as the first century A.D. The Greeks and Romans identified the Nabateans as Arabs, and though the Nabateans of Petra were pastoral and commercial whereas the Nabathaeans of Mesopotamia were, according to the books referred to above, agricultural and scientific, it is probable they were both in origin the same people. Scripture takes no notice of the Nabathaeans unless "the rams of Nebaioth" (Isaiah 60:7) refer to them, though so often mentioning Edom. The Nabathaeans must therefore have come into celebrity after the Babylonian captivity. Pliny (Isaiah 60:11) connects the Nabateans and Kedreans as Isaiah connects Nebaioth and Kedar.

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Nebaioth'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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