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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
1. The Seed of Abraham to the Time of the Judges:
Midian was a son of Abraham by his concubine Keturah. To him were born 5 sons, Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida and Eldaah (Genesis 25:2 , Genesis 25:4; 1 Chronicles 1:32 f). Bearing gifts from Abraham, he and his brothers, each with his own household, moved off from Isaac into "the east country" ( Genesis 25:6 ). The first recorded incident in the history of the tribe is a defeat suffered "in the field of Moab" at the hands of Hadad, king of Edom. Of this nothing beyond the fact is known (Genesis 36:35; 1 Chronicles 1:46 ). The Midianites next appear as merchantmen traveling from Gilead to Egypt, with "spicery and balm and myrrh," with no prejudice against a turn of slave-dealing (Genesis 37:25 ff). Moses, on fleeing from Egypt, found refuge in the land of Midian, and became son-in-law of Jethro, the priest of Midian ( Exodus 2:15 , Exodus 2:21 ). In Midian Moses received his commission to Israel in Egypt (Exodus 4:19 ).
2. The Kenite Branch:
The Kenites appear to have been a branch of the Midianites. Jethro could hardly have attained the dignity of the priesthood in Midian had he been of alien blood (Judges 1:16 ). See KENITES . Again, the tribesmen are named indifferently Ishmaelites and Midianites (Genesis 37:25 , Genesis 37:28 , Genesis 37:36; Judges 8:22 , Judges 8:24 ). They must therefore have stood in close relations with the descendants of Hagar's son.
3. Modern Arabs:
The representations of Midian in Scripture are consistent with what we know of the immemorial ways of Arabian tribes, now engaged in pastoral pursuits, again as carriers of merchandise, and yet again as freebooters. Such tribes often roam through wide circles. They appear not to have practiced circumcision (Exodus 4:25 ), which is now practically universal among the Arabs. The men wore golden ornaments, as do the modern nomads (Judges 8:24 ff).
4. Historical References:
The name of "Midian" is not found in Egyptian or Assyrian documents. Delitzsch ( Wo lag das Paradies? 304) suggests that Ephah ( Genesis 25:4 ) may be identical with Chayapa of the cuneiform inscriptions. If this is correct the references point to the existence of this Midianite tribe in the North of
No boundaries can now be assigned to "the land of Midian." It included territory on the West as well as on the East of the Gulf of 'Aqaba (Exodus 4:19 ). It lay between Edom and Paran (1 Kings 11:18 ). In the time of the Judges their district seems to have extended northward to the East of Gilead (Judges 8:10 ).
A trace of the ancient name is found in that of
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Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Midian; Midianites'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/m/midian-midianites.html. 1915.
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20