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Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary


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(ssuh bee' uhn) Transliteration of two Hebrew national names. 1. Descendants of Seba, son of Cush (Genesis 10:7 ) expected to bring gifts signifying loyalty to Jerusalem (Psalm 72:10; Isaiah 45:14; compare Ezekiel 23:42 ). God could use the Sabeans to “pay for” Israel's ransom from captivity (Isaiah 43:3 ). These are often identified with people of Meroe in Upper Egypt between the white and blue Nile, thus the capital of Ethiopia. Other scholars locate it much further south, the territory east and southeast of Cush bordering on the Red Sea. Other scholars would identify at least some references here as identical with 2. below.

2. Descendants of Sheba, the son of Raamah (Genesis 10:7 ) or Joktan (Genesis 10:28; compare Genesis 25:3 ). The rich queen of Sheba visited Solomon (1 Kings 10:1 ). Sabeans destroyed Job's flocks and herds and servants (Job 1:15 ). They were known as “travelling merchants” (Job 6:19 REB; compare Psalm 72:10 ,Psalms 72:10,72:15; Isaiah 60:6; Jeremiah 6:20; Ezekiel 27:22; Ezekiel 38:13; Joel 3:8 ). This is usually equated with the city in southern Arabia, modern Marib in Yemen. Some scholars think this is too far south and seek biblical Sheba in northern Arabia near Medina on the wadi esh-Shaba. Sabeans could have become a general term for foreign or nomadic merchants. Sheba in southern Arabia gained riches through trade with nearby Africa and with India, whose goods they transported and sold to the empires to the north. Sheba produced and traded incense.

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Sabean'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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