Midian

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Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [1]

The Midianites were a nomad people descended from Abraham and his concubine Keturah ( Genesis 25:1-2). They inhabited the dry barren lands on the western edge of the Arabian desert, extending around the Gulf of Aqabah and into the Sinai Peninsular. They lived in tents, kept sheep and travelled on camels ( Judges 6:1;  Judges 6:5-6;  Isaiah 60:6;  Habakkuk 3:7). From early days they seem to have mingled with the Ishmaelites, who were descended from Abraham through another woman, the slave-girl Hagar ( Genesis 25:12;  Genesis 37:28;  Genesis 37:36;  Judges 8:24-26).

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [2]

("strife".) Abraham's son by Keturah ( Genesis 25:2). The race occupied the desert N. of Arabia, and southwards the E. of the Elanitic gulf of the Red Sea; northwards, along the E. of Palestine. The oases of Sinai too were included in their "land," because they had pasturage stations there. As merchants passing through Palestine from Gilead to Egypt, they bought Joseph from his brethren ( Genesis 37:28). They are there called Ismaelites, though Ishmael was Hagar's son not Keturah's. (See ISMAELITES.) But being close neighbors, and related on their common father Abraham's side, and joined in caravans and commercial enterprises, Ishmael, the name of the more powerful tribe, was given as a general name for both and for several smaller associated tribes (compare  Judges 8:1 with  Judges 8:24). Moses fled to the land of Midian ( Exodus 2:15-16;  Exodus 2:21;  Exodus 3:1), in the pastures near Horeb, and married a daughter of the priest of Midian.

They were joined with Moab in desiring Balsam to curse Israel ( Numbers 22:4;  Numbers 22:7;  Numbers 25:6;  Numbers 25:15;  Numbers 25:17-18), and then in tempting Israel at Shittim to whoredom and idolatry with Baal Peor. So, by Jehovah's command, 1,000 warriors of every tribe, 12,000 in all, of Israel "vexed and smote" their five kings (Zur included, father of Cozbi the Midianite woman slain with Zimri by Phinehas in the act of sin) and Balaam the giver of the wicked counsel which brought Jehovah's wrath on Israel for the sin ( Numbers 31:2-17). Their males and any women that knew man carnally were slain, and their cities and castles burnt. Their inferior position as tributary dependents on Moab accounts for their omission from Balaam's prophecy. (On Israel'S Oppression By Midian (Judges 6-8), And Deliverance, See Gideon.)

A considerable time must have elapsed to admit of their recovery from the blow inflicted by Moses. Midian by its consanguinity was more likely to corrupt Israel than the abhorred Canaanites. The defeat by Gideon was so decisive that Midian never afterward appears in arms against Israel; symbolizing Messiah's, Israel's, and the church's final triumph over the world:  Isaiah 9:4;  Habakkuk 3:7 "the curtains (tents) of Midian tremble." Though nomadic as the Bedouins they yet settled in the land of Moab, occupying Sihon's "cities" and "goodly castles," which they did not build (probably the more ancient ones in the Lejah are as old as Sihon and Midian), and retaining beeves, sheep, and asses, but not camels, which are needless and unhealthy in a settled state.

In their next raids on Palestine in Gideon's days they appear as nomads with countless camels. The "gold, silver, brass, iron, tin, and lead" ( Numbers 31:22) taken by Moses, along with the vast number of cattle and flocks, accord with the picture of their wealth in Judges ( Judges 6:4-5;  Judges 8:21-26), partly pastoral, partly gold, and the metals obtained either by plunder or by traffic with Arabia. (See Mines .) Traces of the name Midian appear in Modiana E. of the Elanitic gulf, mentioned by Ptolemy (vi. 7). Also the Muzeiny Arabs W. of the gulf of Akabah. Moses' entreaty of Hobab illustrates their wandering habits. (See Paran ; Kenite

People's Dictionary of the Bible [3]

Midian ( Mĭd'I-An ), Strife. The territory of Midian extended, according to some scholars, from the Elanitic Gulf to Moab and Mount Sinai; or, according to others, from the Sinaitic peninsula to the desert and the banks of the Euphrates. The people traded with Palestine, Lebanon, and Egypt.  Genesis 37:28. Joseph was probably bought by them, perhaps in company with Ishmaelites. See  Genesis 37:25;  Genesis 37:27-28;  Genesis 37:36, and  Genesis 25:2;  Genesis 25:4;  Genesis 25:12;  Genesis 25:16. Moses dwelt in Midian.  Exodus 2:15-21;  Numbers 10:29. Midian joined Moab against Israel and enticed that nation into sin, for which it was destroyed. Num. chaps. 22, 24, 25. Later, Midian recovered, became a powerful nation, and oppressed the Hebrews, but were miraculously defeated by Gideon.  Judges 6:1-40;  Judges 7:1-25;  Judges 8:1-28;  Psalms 83:9;  Psalms 83:11;  Isaiah 9:4;  Habakkuk 3:7. The Midianites henceforward became gradually incorporated with the neighboring Moabites and Arabians. In the region east of Edom and Moab are many ancient ruins, and portions of the territory are of great fertility, producing bountiful crops for the modern Arabs—the tribe of Beni Sakk'r which bears considerable resemblance in race, character, and habits to what is known of the ancient Midianites. "Curtains of Midian,"  Habakkuk 3:7, is a figurative expression denoting the borders or inhabitants of Midian.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [4]

Land Of a country of the Midianites, derived its name and its inhabitants from Midian, the son of Abraham by Keturah. This country extended from the east of the land of Moab, on the east of the Dead Sea, southward, along the Elanitic gulf of the Red Sea, stretching some way into Arabia. It farther passed to the south of the land of Edom, into the peninsula of Mount Sinai, where Moses met with the daughter of Jethro, the priest of Midian, whom he married. The Midianites, together with their neighbours, the Ishmaelites, were early engaged in the trade between the east and the west, as we find the party to whom Joseph was sold, carrying spices, the produce of the east, into Egypt; and, taking Gilead in their way, to add the celebrated and highly prized balm of that country to their merchandise. It appears that, at the time of the passage of the Israelites through the country of the Amorites, the Midianites had been subdued by that people, as the chiefs or kings of their five principal tribes are called dukes of Sihon, and dwelt in his country,  Joshua 13:21 . It was at this time that the Midianites, alarmed at the numbers and the progress of the Israelites, united with the Moabites in sending into Syria for Balaam, the soothsayer; thinking to do that by incantation which they despaired of effecting by force. The result of this measure, the constraint imposed on Balaam to bless instead of to curse, and the subsequent defeat and slaughter of the Midianites, forms one of the most interesting narratives in the early history of the Jews, Numbers 22-25, 31. About two hundred years after this, the Midianites, having recovered their numbers and their strength, were permitted by God to distress the Israelites for the space of seven years, as a punishment for their relapse into idolatry. But at length their armies, "like grasshoppers for multitude, with camels out of number as sand by the sea side for multitude," which had encamped in the valley of Jezreel, were miraculously defeated by Gideon, Judges 6-8. The Midianites appear not to have survived this second discomfiture as a nation; but their remains became gradually incorporated with the Moabites and Arabians.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [5]

Mid'ian. (Strife). A son of Abraham and Keturah,  Genesis 25:2;  1 Chronicles 1:32, progenitor of the Midianites, or Arabians, dwelling principally in the desert, north of the peninsula of Arabia. Southward, they extended along the eastern shore of the Gulf of Eyleh ( Sinus Aelaniticus ); and northward, they stretched along the eastern frontier of Palestine. The "land of Midian," the place to which Moses fled after having killed the Egyptian,  Exodus 2:15;  Exodus 2:21, or the portion of it, specially referred to, was probably the peninsula of Sinai.

The influence of the Midianties, on the Israelites, was clearly most evil, and directly tended to lead them, from the injunctions of Moses. The events at Shittim, occasioned the injunction to vex Midian, and smite them. After a lapse of some years, the Midianites appear again, as the enemies of the Israelites, oppressing them for seven years, but are finally defeated, with great slaughter, by Gideon. See Gideon .

The Midianites are described as true Arabs, and possessed cattle and flocks and camels, as the sand of the seashore, for multitude. The spoil taken in the war of both Moses and of Gideon is remarkable.  Numbers 31:22;  Judges 8:21;  Judges 8:24-26. We have here a wealthy Arab nation, living by plunder, delighting in finery; and, where forays were impossible, carrying on the traffic southward into Arabia, the land of gold - if not naturally, by trade - and across to Chaldea, or into the rich plains of Egypt.

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [6]

(Authorized Version Madian ,  Acts 7:29)

This was the name of a people broken up into several clans and inhabiting N.W. Arabia. One clan, the Kenites, dwelt near Mount Sinai, and to it Moses fled from Pharaoh ( Exodus 2:15). Its chief was Jethro (or Reuel), whose daughter Moses married (v. 21). In the days of the Judges they extended further north and made inroads into central Palestine. But they were severely defeated by Gideon (Judges 6, 7), and are soon after lost to history. The town of Modiana mentioned by Ptolemy ( Geog. vi. 7) as being on the N.W. coast of Arabia may be a late trace of them. Midian is probably used by later Jewish writers with a spiritual reference, symbolizing the Church’s final triumph over its foes ( e.g.  Isaiah 9:4;  Isaiah 60:6,  Habakkuk 3:7).

Literature.-G. A. Smith, Historical Geography of the Holy Land (G. A. Smith) , 1897, p. 525; also article‘Midian’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) .

J. W. Duncan.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [7]

The chief city of the Midianites. (See  Numbers 22:1-41) The name is derived from Niddin, judgment There were several persons called Midian in Scripture. And it is thought by some, that the Midianites were descendants of Midian, Abraham's son. ( Genesis 25:2) Supposing this to be well founded, we may learn from hence, what evils spring out of illicit connections. Abraham's concubine, Keturah, brings forth, a son, whose descendants shall vex Abraham's lawful heirs to great afflictions. (See  Numbers 25:16-18) And are not all the affections and lusts of our fallen nature, like illicit connections, continually harassing our spiritual joys!

Easton's Bible Dictionary [8]

 Genesis 25:2 1 Chronicles 1:32

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [9]

The fourth son of Abraham and Keturah,  Genesis 25:2 .

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [10]

(Heb. Midyan', מַדְיָן , Strife, as in  Proverbs 18:18;  Proverbs 19:13; Sept. Μαδιάν v.r. Μαδιάμ ; N.T; Μαδίαμ ,  Acts 7:29, where the Auth.Vers. has "Madian;" the Heb. often stands collectively for the "Midianites" also, as it is frequently rendered in all the versions), the fourth son of Abraham by Keturah,-and the progenitor of the Midianites ( Genesis 35:2;  1 Chronicles 1:32). B.C. post 2024. His five sons are enumerated in  Genesis 25:4;  1 Chronicles 1:33. Of his personal history nothing further is known. (See Midianite).

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [11]

Mid´ian, fourth son of Abraham, by Keturah, and progenitor of the Midianites .

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