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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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a place or country remote from Judea, to which the ships of Solomon traded. There has been much discussion respecting the situation of this place; some supposing it to have been the island of Socotora, without the straits of Babelmandel; others, that anciently called Tabrobana, which is supposed by some to have been Ceylon, and by others Sumatra; while others fix its situation on the continent of India. M. Huet and, after him, Bruce, place Ophir at Sofala, in South Africa, where mines of gold and silver have been found, which show marks of having been very anciently and extensively worked. The latter says, also, that the situation of this place explains the period of three years which the Ophir ships were absent, from the different courses of the monsoons and trade winds, which they would have to encounter going and returning. Ruins of ancient buildings have also been found in the neighbourhood of these mines. In confirmation of this opinion, Bruce says there was a place called Tarshish near Melinda.

In the same direction with Ophir lay Tarshish; the voyage to both places being accomplished under one, and always, as it would seem, in the same space of time, three years; by which it may be inferred that, notwithstanding the imperfect navigation of the times, they must be at a considerable distance from the ports of Judea. But the true situation of these places must ever remain matter of conjecture; and all that can be considered as certain respecting them is, that from the articles imported from them, namely, gold, silver, ivory, apes, peacocks, and precious stones, they must have been situated in the tropical parts of either Africa or Asia.

Map of Location

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Ophir'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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