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Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

 Genesis 10:29. Placed between Sheba and Havilah, Ophir must be in Arabia. Arrian in the Periplus calls Aphar metropolis of the Sabeans. Ptolemy calls it Sapphara, now Zaphar. Eleventh of Joktan's sons. Gesenius explains Ophir, if Semitic, "fruitful region." The Himyaritic Ofir means "red". The Mahra people call their country "the ofir country" and the "Red Sea" Βahr Οfir . Αphar means "dust". In  1 Kings 9:26-28;  1 Kings 10:11, Solomon's navy on the Red Sea fetched from Ophir gold and almug trees; and in  1 Kings 10:22, once in three years (Which Included The Stay In Ophir As Well As The Long Coasting Voyage) Tarshish ships (I.E. Like Our Term For Far Voyaging Ships, "Indiamen") brough; "gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks." Mauch, an African traveler, found at latitude 20 degrees, 15 minutes S.l longitude 26 degrees 30 minutes E., ruins resembling Solomon's temple, which he connects with Ophir.

The gold of western Asia was anciently obtained principally from Arabia. Saba in the southwestern part of Yemen is the only other place for gold besides Ophir mentioned in Scripture ( Isaiah 60:6). Strobe, 16:777, 778, 784, Diodorus Siculus, 2:50; 3:44, describe Arabia as rich in gold. No gold is now found there; whether it has been exhausted as in Spain, or we know not the interior sufficiently to be sure there is no gold left. (See Paran .) The " Al " in almug or algum is the Arabic article "the," and Mica is "sandalwood" (Gesenius), so that that wood must have come to the Hebrew through Arabic merchants. But Lassen derives it from Sanskrit Valgu or Valgum , "sandalwood." The wares and animals, from India or Africa, if such was their source (as the Sanskrit, Tamil, and Malay origin of the words ivory, peacocks, and apes respectively implies), came through Arabia.

Ophir probably therefore was the entrepot there. In Palestine and Tyre the articles even of India and Africa would be designated from Ophir, from which they more immediately came. The indigo used in Egyptian dyeing from of old must have come from India; muslins of Indian origin are found with the mummies; Josephus (Ant. 8:6, section 4) connects Ophir with India (Malacca, so Sir J. E. Tennant); Chinese porcelain vases have been found in the tombs of kings of the 18th dynasty, i.e. before 1476 B.C. Gold of Ophir was proverbial for fineness ( Psalms 45:9;  Job 28:16;  Job 22:24;  Isaiah 13:12;  1 Chronicles 29:4;  1 Kings 22:48). The Ishmaelites abounded in gold:  Numbers 31:22;  Judges 8:24-26;  Psalms 72:15 "gold of Sheba (Arabia)." Agatharchides in the second century B.C. (in Photius 250, and Hudson's Geograph. Minores, 1:60), living in Egypt, and guardian to a Ptolemy in his minority and so familiar with the commerce between Egypt and Arabia, attests that gold was found in Arabia. Two of his statements have been confirmed: (1) that there were gold mines in Egypt, Linant and Bonomi found theta (?) in the Bisharce desert (Wilkinson, Ant. Egypt. 9); (2) that there were large gold nuggets.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [2]

O'phir. (Abundance).

1. The eleventh, in order, of the sons of Joktan.  Genesis 10:29;  1 Chronicles 1:23. (B.C. after 2450).

2. A seaport or region from which the Hebrews, in the time of Solomon, obtained gold. The gold was proverbial for its fineness, so that "gold of Ophir" is several times used as an expression for fine gold,  1 Chronicles 29:4;  Job 28:16;  Psalms 45:9;  Isaiah 13:12, and in one passage,  Job 22:24, the word "Ophir" by itself is used for gold of Ophir, and for gold, generally. In addition to gold, the vassels brought from Ophir, almug wood and precious stones.

The precise geographical situation of Ophir has long been a subject of doubt and discussion. The two countries which have divided the opinions of the learned have been Arabia and India, while some have placed it in Africa. In five passages, Ophir is mentioned by name -  1 Kings 9:28;  1 Kings 10:11;  1 Kings 22:18;  2 Chronicles 8:18;  2 Chronicles 9:10. If the three passages of the book of Kings are carefully examined, it will be seen that all the information given respecting Ophir is that, it was a place or region accessible by sea from Ezion-geber on the Red Sea, from which imports of gold, almug trees, and precious stones were brought back by the Tyrian and Hebrew sailors.

The author of the tenth chapter of Genesis certainly regarded Ophir as the name of some city, region or tribe in Arabia. It is almost certain that the Ophir of Genesis is the Ophir of the book of Kings. There is no mention, either in the Bible or elsewhere, of any other Ophir; and the idea of there having been two Ophirs, evidently arose from a perception of the obvious meaning of the tenth chapter of Genesis, on the one hand, coupled with the erroneous opinion, on the other, that the Ophir of the book of Kings could not have been in Arabia.

(Hence, we conclude that Ophir was in southern Arabia, upon the border of the Indian Ocean; for even if all the things brought over in Solomon's ships are not now found in Arabia, but are found in India, yet, there is evidence that they once were known in Arabia and, moreover, Ophir may not have been the original place of production of some of them, but the great market for traffic in them - Editor).

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [3]

OPHIR. A region most probably in Arabia (as it is mentioned between Sheba and Havilah in   Genesis 10:29 ), famous for the excellence of its gold, which was brought to Solomon by his Red Sea navy (  1 Kings 9:28 ). Jehoshaphat, essaying to send to Ophir, lost his ships (  1 Kings 22:48 ). It has been disputed whether South or East Arabia was the true Ophir; the only datum is the length of the voyage thither from Ezion-geber eighteen months, as the double voyage took three years (  1 Kings 10:22 ). As the vessels probably coasted from port to port, the journey would naturally occupy a considerable time. It need not be supposed that the other imports sandalwood, ivory, apes, and peacocks all came from the same place. The most careful study that has been given to the subject is that of Glaser ( Skizze der Gesch. und Geog. Arabiens , ii. pp. 353 387), who has concluded that it was in S.E. Arabia , in the territory of the Gulfs of Oman and of Persia.

Other theories have been put forward in plenty. The most popular recent view sees in Ophir certain parts of Mashonaland . This theory, apart from other difficulties which it presents, stands or falls with the explanation of certain ruins at Zimbabwe, about 200 miles from Sofala. Like Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid, these remains have been made the centre of much visionary speculation, but their true character seems to have been settled by the recent researches of Randall-MacIvor. who has shown that they are native structures of no great antiquity.

Besides S. Africa, various places in India have been fixed upon, such as the mouth of the Indus, Supara in Goa, and ‘Mount Ophir’ in Johore. Nothing convincing has been said in support of any of these views. For instance, we are reminded that the peacocks are confined to India and Malaya; but it is nowhere said that the peacocks came from Ophir, and even if they did, they may well have been brought thither by further Eastern trade quite independently of Solomon’s PhÅ“nician navigators.

On the whole, the view that Ophir was in Arabia (known to the PhÅ“nicians as auriferous,  Ezekiel 27:22 ) is the simplest and most in accordance with the scanty data.

R. A. S. Macalister.

Holman Bible Dictionary [4]

 1 Kings 9:28 1 Kings 10:11 1 Kings 22:48 Isaiah 13:12 Job 22:24 Job 28:16 Psalm 45:10Aphek

The geographical location of Ophir is disputed among biblical scholars. Three regions have been suggested: India, Arabia, and Africa. Scholars who support an Indian location do so because of the resemblance of the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) form of Ophir to the Egyptian name for India. The available evidence with regard to trade practices indicates that Egyptian, Phoenician, and Greek fleets obtained eastern goods indirectly through ports in South Arabia and East Africa.

Other scholars have suggested that Ophir was located on the Arabian Peninsula. At least five areas have been identified, but the evidence for certainty with regard to any of them is lacking. The strongest argument for an Arabian location is the occurrence of the name Ophir among the names of Arabian tribes, descendants of Joktan, in the Table of Nations in  Genesis 10:1 .

Finally, one location in Africa has been suggested: the East African coast in the general vicinity of Somaliland. This location is supported because of its distance from Palestine and the products that are characteristic of Africa that are mentioned in biblical texts ( 1 Kings 9:28; 1Kings 10:11, 1 Kings 10:22 ).

The location of Ophir will remain a matter of uncertainty. A knowledge of ancient trade routes and practices, maritime ventures in the Ancient Near East, and economic policies in ancient Israel will be helpful in determining the cite of Ophir. See Commerce; Economic Life .

James Newell

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [5]

1. One of the sons of Joktan, who settled in southern Arabia,  Genesis 10:26-29 .

2. A country to which the ships of Solomon traded, and which had for a long time been celebrated for the purity and abundance of its gold,  Job 22:24   28:16 . "Gold of Ophir" was proverbially the best gold,  Psalm 45:9   Isaiah 13:12 . The only passages which give us any information as to the location of Ophir are  1 Kings 9:26-28   10:11,22   22:48 , with the parallel passages in  2 Chronicles 8:18   9:10,21   20:36,37; from which it appears that the so called "ships of Tarshish" went to Ophir; that these ships sailed from Ezion-geber, a port of the Red Sea; that a voyage was made once in three years; that the fleet returned freighted with gold, peacocks, apes, spices, ivory, algumwood, and ebony. Upon these data interpreters have undertaken to determine the situation of Ophir; but they have arrived at different conclusions. Josephus places it in the peninsula of Malacca. Others have placed it at Sofala, in South Africa, three mines of God and silver have been found, which appear to have been anciently and extensively worked. Others still suppose it to have been Southern Arabia.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [6]

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.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [7]

  • Some region famous for its gold ( 1 Kings 9:28;  10:11;  22:48;  Job 22:24;  28:16;  Isaiah 13:12 ). In the LXX. this word is rendered "Sophir," and "Sofir" is the Coptic name for India, which is the rendering of the Arabic version, as also of the Vulgate. Josephus has identified it with the Golden Chersonese, i.e., the Malay peninsula. It is now generally identified with Abhira, at the mouth of the Indus. Much may be said, however, in favour of the opinion that it was somewhere in Arabia.

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Ophir'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/ebd/o/ophir.html. 1897.

  • People's Dictionary of the Bible [8]

    Ophir ( Ô'Fir ), Abundance. 1. One of the sons of Joktan.  Genesis 10:29;  1 Chronicles 1:23. 2. A seaport or region from which the Hebrews in the time of Solomon obtained gold. The gold was proverbial for its fineness, so that "gold of Ophir" is several times used as an expression for fine gold,  1 Chronicles 29:4;  Job 28:16;  Psalms 45:9;  Isaiah 13:12; and in one passage,  Job 22:24, the word Ophir by itself is used for gold of Ophir and for gold generally. In addition to gold the vessels brought from Ophir almug wood and precious stones. The precise situation of Ophir has long been a subject of discussion. It is safe to conclude that Ophir was in southern Arabia, upon the border of the Indian Ocean; for even if all the things brought over in Solomon's ships are not now found in Arabia, but are found in India, yet there is evidence that they once were known in Arabia.

    Morrish Bible Dictionary [9]

    1. Son of Joktan, a descendant of Shem.  Genesis 10:29;  1 Chronicles 1:23 . He is judged to have settled in Arabia.

    2. Place from whence Solomon imported gold, precious stones, and almug trees. These were brought by ships to the Gulf of Akaba. Possibly southern Arabia is alluded to; but India and Africa have also been suggested.   1 Kings 9:28;  1 Kings 10:11;  1 Kings 22:48;  1 Chronicles 29:4;  2 Chronicles 8:18;  2 Chronicles 9:10;  Job 22:24;  Job 28:16;  Psalm 45:9;  Isaiah 13:12 .

    Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [10]

    We read much in Scripture of the gold of Ophir,  1 Kings 9:28. The word is perhaps derived from Aupher or Epher, which means ashes; probably from the dust to which gold in the process of melting is brought. But be this as it may, certain it is that the gold of Ophir, supposed to be the purest of all gold, is after all but ashes; and the very name serves to set forth its emptiness and vanity. Was it not with this view (I do but ask the question, and not determine it) the Holy Ghost by the prophet said, "I will make a man (or more properly, the man Christ Jesus) more precious than fine gold, even a man, than the golden wedge of Ophir?" ( Isaiah 13:12)

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [11]

    (Heb. Ophir', אוֹפַיר and אוֹפַר ), the name of a man and of a country. "There is apparently no sufficient reason to doubt that the word Ophir is Shemitic, although, as is the case with numerous proper names known to be of Hebrew origin, the precise word does not occur as a common name in the Bible. See the words from אפר and עפר in Gesenius's: Thesaurus, and compare Ἀφάρ , the metropolis of the Sabaans in the Periplus, attributed to Arrian. Gesenius suggests that it means a fruitful region,' if it is Shemitic. Baron von Wrede, who explored Hadhramaut, in Arabia; in 1843 (Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, 14:110); made a small vocabulary of Himyaritic words in the vernacular tongue, and among these he gives ofir as signifying red. He says that the Mahra people call themselves the tribes of the red country (ofir), and call the Red Sea bahr Ofir. If this were so, it might have somewhat of the same relation to aphar, dust' or dry ground' ( א and ע being interchangeable) that Adorn, red,' has to Adamah, the ground.' Still it is unsafe to accept the use of a word of this kind on the authority of any one traveler, however accurate."

    1. ( אוֹפֹר ; Sept. Οὐφείρ ; Vulg. Ophir. ) The eleventh named of the thirteen sons of Joktan, the son of Eber, a great-grandson of Shem ( Genesis 10:26-29;  1 Chronicles 1:23). B.C. post 2450, Many Arabian countries. are believed to have been peopled by these persons, and to have been called after their respective names, as Sheba, etc., and among others Ophir (Bochart, Phaleg, 3:15). (See Arabia).

    2. ( אוֹפַיר ; Sept. Οὐφίρ Οὐφείρ , v. r. Σουφίρ ; etc.; Vulg. Ophir ) . A region, famous for its gold, which the ships of Solomon and of the Phoenicians visited. It is difficult to ascertain its situation, the Scripture indications being few and indefinite. By comparing the passages in which it is mentioned ( 1 Kings 9:26;  1 Kings 9:28;  1 Kings 10:11;  1 Kings 22:49; so  2 Chronicles 8:18;  2 Chronicles 9:10), we learn that it was reached by fleets fitted out in Ezion-Geber (q.v.), on the Gulf of Akabah the eastern arm of the Red Seain the territory of the Edomites; that the ships made the voyage once in three years (comp.  1 Kings 10:22), bringing large amounts of gold to Palestine, besides silver, precious stones, red sandal-wood, ivory, apes, and peacocks. We know further, from various allusions in the poetical and prophetical books, that Ophir produced the purest and most precious gold then known ( Job 20:11;  Job 20:24;  Job 28:16;  Psalms 45:9;  Isaiah 13:12;  Ecclesiastes 7:18; ton which may be added  Jeremiah 10:9;  Daniel 10:5, if, with many interpreters, we understand Uphaz, אוּפָז , to be simply a varied orthography of Ophir' אוֹפַר ; but (See Uphaz) ).

    It is evident that any attempt to determine the precise region intended must be more or less uncertain; but the extreme latitude which conjecture has taken on this question seems hardly justifiable. Nearly every place where gold has ever been found is understood by some writer or another as Ophir. "Calmet ( Diet. Of The Bible, s.v.) regarded it as in Armenia; Sir Walter Raleigh ( Hist. Of The World, bk. 1, ch. 8) thought it was one of the Molucca Islands; and Arias Montanus (Bochart, Phaleg, Pref. and ch. 9), led by the similarity of the word Parvaim, supposed to be identical with Ophir ( 2 Chronicles 3:6), found it in Pert. But these countries, as well as Iberia and Phrygia, cannot now be viewed as affording matter for serious discussion on this point, and the three opinions which have found supporters in our Own time were formerly represented, among other writers, by Huet (Sur le Commerce et la Navigation des Anciens, p. 59), by Bruce (Travels, bk. 2, ch. 4), and by the historian Robertson (Disquisition respecting Ancient India, sec. i), who placed Ophir in Afirica; by Vitringa (Geograph. Sacra, p. 114) and Reland (Dissertatio de Ophir), who placed it in Indic; and by Michaelis (Spicilegium, 2:184), Niebuhr, the traveler (Description de l'A rabie, p. 253), Gossellin (Recherches sur la Geographie des Anciens, 2:99), and Vincent (History of the Commerce and Navigation of the Ancients, 2:265-270), who placed it in Arabia. Of other distinguished geographical writers, Bochart (Phaleg, 2:27) admitted two Ophirs, one in Arabia and one in India, i.e. at Ceylon; while D'Anville (Dissertation sur le Pays d'Ophir, Memoires de la Litterature, 30:83), equally admitting two, placed one in Arabia and one in Africa. In our own days the discussion has been continued by Gesenius, who in articles on Ophir in his Thesaurus (p. 1141), and in Ersch and Gruber's Encyklopadie (s.v.), stated that the question lay between India and Arabia, assigning the reasons to be urged in favor of each of these countries, but declared the arguments for each to be so equally balanced that he refrained from expressing any opinion of his own on the subject. M. Quatremere, however, in a paper on Ophir which was printed in 1842 in the Memoires de l'institut, again insisted on the claims of Africa (Academie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, t. 15, 2:362); and in his valuable work on Ceylon (pt. vii, ch. i) Sir J. Emerson Tennant adopts the opinion, sanctioned by Josephus, that Malacca was Ophir. Otherwise the two countries which have divided the opinions of the learned have been India and Arabia Lassen. Ritter, Bertheau (Exeget. Handbuch,  2 Chronicles 8:18), Thenius ( Exeget. Handbuch,  1 Kings 10:22), and Ewald (Geschichte, 3:347, 2d ed.) being in favor of India, while Winer (Realw.s.v.), First (Hebr. und Chald. Handw. s.v.), Knobel (Vletcafel der Genesis, p. 190), Forster (Geogr. of Arabia, 1:161-167), Crawfurd (Descriptive Dictionary of the Indian Islands, s.v.), and Kalisch (Commentary on Genesis, chap. The Genealogy of Nations') are in favor of Arabia. The fullest treatise on the question is that of Ritter, who in his Erdkunde (vol. 19, published in 1848) devoted eighty octavo pages to the discussion (p. 351-431), and adopted the opinion of Lassen (Inud. Alt. 1:529) that Ophir was situated at the mouth of the Indus." Melind'dh, on the coast of Africa, Angola, Carthage, San Domningo Mexico, New Guinea, Uiphe, an island in the Red Sea, Ormuz, in the Persian Gulf, and especially Peru, have had their several advocates; but the opinions likely to be embraced at this day may be enumerated very briefly:

    1. Some suppose Ophir to be a general name for lands abounding in gold, used with the vagueness of Thule in the classics, or El Dorado in the Middle Ages. In support of this view, it has been observed that, in Arabic, the word Ophir means simply Rich Country, or perhaps Dust, i.e. Gold-Dust, and may therefore have easily passed into a generic name for the sources of valuable articles of commerce; especially in an age when the geographical views, even of the best informed, were very vague. But the definiteness of the allusions' in the Scripture history to Ophir as a well-known trading place are quite sufficient to refute this view.

    2. Some seek it on the eastern coast of Africa, opposite the island of Madagascar. This supposition has found many and able supporters (see Quatremere, Mim. De L ' Acad. Des Inscrip. XV, ii [1845, 349-402; Heeren, Researches, 2:73, 74' [Eng. ed.]; Huetius, De Navig. Salom. ch. ii, in Ugolini, Thes. vol. vii; Bruce, p. 479 sq.; Ritter, Erdk, 1:118 sq.; Weston, in the Classic. Jour. 1821, No. 47), having been first advanced by one friar John don Sanctos, who was a resident of Sofala, in Monomotopa, and found in that vicinity a mountain with ancient ruins on its summit. According to friar John, this mountain still contains "much fine gold," and is called Fura, which he thinks to be evidently a corruption of Ophir. (See this view confuted by Tychsen, Anmerk. zu Bruce R. V. p. 327 sq.; and esp. Salt, Voyage to Abyssinia [Lond. 1814], p. 99 sq.) But Huetius (as cited above) has argued the question on more general grounds, deriving the name Africa itself from Ophir, and making no doubt that the inscriptions said to have been found at Sofala, but never read, were a record or kind of log-book of the fleets of Solomon. The name Sofala, again, has been urged in favor of this view, as akin with Ophir; but Sofala in the Shemitic languages means the low country, the coast-land (Heb. Shephelah, שְׁפֵלָה ; similarly the Chaldee and Arabic), and has nothing to do with Ophir ( אוֹפַר ).

    3. A much more probable view-is that which refers Ophir to Arabia. This has been advanced in a variety of forms, but usually placing the port visited by Solomon's ships near the western extremity of the southern coast, bordering on the Erythrsean-Sea. In  Genesis 10:29, Ophir is mentioned among the sons of Joktan, who peopled various Arabian countries. (See Ophir, 1, above.) Yet Gesenius supposes that it is here the name of an Arabian tribe who colonized some foreign land. Again, though gold is not now found in Arabia (Niebuhr, Description De L ' Arabie [Copenhagen, 1773], p. 124), yet the ancients ascribe it to the inhabitants in great plenty ( Judges 8:24;  Judges 8:26; 2 Chronicles 1;  1 Kings 10:1-2;  Psalms 72:15). This gold, Dr. Lee thinks, was no other than the gold of Havilah ( Genesis 2:11), which he supposes to have been situated somewhere in Arabia and refers to  Genesis 10:7;  Genesis 10:29;  Genesis 25:18;  1 Samuel 15:7;  1 Chronicles 1:9 (Translation of the Book of Job, etc. [Lond. 1837], p. 55). But Diodorus Siculus ascribes gold-mines to Arabia (2:50). He also testifies to the abundance of "precious stones" in Arabia (2:54), especially among the inhabitants of Sabas (3:46; comp.  Genesis 2:12;  2 Chronicles 9:1;  1 Kings 10:1-2). Pliny also speaks of the wealth of Sabea in gold ( Hist. Nat. 6:32). Others suppose that, though Ophir was situated somewhere on the coast of Arabia, it was rather an emporium. (see Beke, Source Of The Nile, p. 64), at which the Hebrews and Tyrians obtained gold, silver, ivory, apes, almugtrees, etc., brought thither from India and Africa by the Arabian merchaits, and even from Ethiopia, to which Herodotus (3:114) ascribes gold in great quantities, elephants' teeth, and trees and shrubs of every kind. Apes, properly speaking, are likewise ascribed to it by Pliny (8:19), who speaks also of the confluence of merchandise in Arabia (ut sup.; comp. Strabo, xvi; 2 Chronicles 9;  Ezekiel 27:21-22; Diod. Sic. 2:54). It has further been insisted that the classical name of the Arabian port Aphar varies much as the Septuagint translation of Ophir. Thus it is called by Arrian Aphar, by Pliny Saphar, by Ptolemy Sapphera, and by Stephanus Saphirini. (Comp. the Sept. Ut Sup. ) It is a serious objection to this view, however, that Land carriage, by caravans, would have been easier and safer if Ophir were in Arabia (comp. Encyclop. Londin. s.v.), while the etymological arguments, so often and earnestly pressed as conclusive, could at best only serve to create a presumption, in the absence of all direct evidence. The considerations above mentioned, however, in connection with the strong reasons for placing Ophir in India, weighed so strongly with Bochart ( Phaleg, 2:27) and Michaelis (Spicil. 2:185) that they suppose two countries of that name, one in Arabia and one in India. This conjecture, however, is unsupported and unnecessary (Gesen. Thes. p. 141).

    4. On the whole, then, India must be adopted as the most probable region of the Ophir of Solomon. The Sept. translators also appear to have understood it to be India, from rendering the word Σωφίρ , Σουφίρ , Σωφιρά , which is the Egyptian name for that country. Champollion says that in the Coptic vocabularies India bears the name Sophir ( L ' Egypte Sous Les Pharaons [Paris, 1814], 1:98; Jablonskii Opuscula [Lug. Bat. 1804], 1:336, etc.). Josephus also gives to the sons of Joktan the locality from Cophen, an Indian river, and in part of Aria adjoining it (Ant. 1:6, 4). He also expressly and unhesitatingly affirms that the land to which Solomon sent for gold was "anciently called Ophir, but now the Aurea Chersonesus, which belongs to India" (Ant. 8:6, 4). The Vulgate renders the words "the gold of Ophir" ( Job 28:16) by "tiictis Indiae coloribus." Hesychius defines Sophir ( Eovaeip ) "a place in India where gems and gold are found." So Suidas (s.v.; comp. Eusebius, Onomast. p. 146, ed. Clerici). But the controlling argument for this view is that all the productions referred to Ophir may be procured in India, and in India alone. Gold, silver, jewels, sandal-wood, ivory, apes, and peacocks are there all articles of commerce, and are found side by side in no other part of the world; while the last is believed to be an exclusively Indian bird, and the very name by which it is denoted in the Hebrew text (tukiyim, תּוּכַיַּים [see Gesen. Thes. s.v.]) is an Indian, not a Hebrew word. (See Peacock). Yet the exact locality must ever remain conjectural. There are several places comprised in that region which was actually known as India to the ancients, any of which would have supplied the cargo of Solomon's fleet: for instance, the coast of Malabar, where the name togoei is still applied to the peacock; and Malacca, which is known to have been "the golden Chersonesus" of the classic writers, and where gold-mines are still called ophirs. (See P. Poivre, Voyage d'un Philosophe, OEuvres Completes, 1797, p. 123.)

    See further, Humboldt, Cosmos, 2:132 sq.; C. Varrer, in Crit. Sacr. 6:459; A. G. Wahner, De regione Ophir (Helmst. 1714); Tychsen, De commerc. Hebr. in the Comment. Gott. 16:164 sq.; Gesenius, in the Hall. Encycl. vol. iii, sect. iv, p. 201 sq., and Thesaur. 1:141 sq.; Rosenm Ü ller, Alterth. 3:177 sq.; Ritter, Erdk. 2:201 sq.; Keil, in the Ddrpt. Beitrig. 2:233 sq.; Tuch, in the Hall. Lif. Zeit. 1835, No. 80 sq.; Lassen, Ind. Alterthumsk. 1:538 sq.; Kitto, Daily Bible Illust. Solomon, p. 103 sq.; Htillman, Staatsverf. d. Israel. p. 220; Hardt, Diss. Regionem Ophir esse Phrygiam (1746). (See Tarshish).

    International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [12]

    ō´fẽr , ō´fir ( אופיר , 'owphiyr (  Genesis 10:29 ), אופר , 'owphir ( 1 Kings 10:11 ), אפיר , 'ōphı̄r ):

    1. Scriptural References:

    The 11th in order of the sons of Joktan ( Genesis 10:29 =   1 Chronicles 1:23 ). There is a clear reference also to a tribe Ophir ( Genesis 10:30 ). Ophir is the name of a land or city somewhere to the South or Southeast of Palestine for which Solomon's ships along with Phoenician vessels set out from Ezion-geber at the head of the Gulf of Aqabah, returning with great stores of gold, precious stones and "almug"-wood ( 1 Kings 9:28;  1 Kings 10:11;  2 Chronicles 9:10;  1 Kings 22:48;  2 Chronicles 8:18 ). We get a fuller list of the wares and also the time taken by the voyage if we assume that the same vessels are referred to in  1 Kings 10:22 , "Once every three years came the navy of Tarshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks." The other products may not have been native to the land of Ophir, but it is certain that the gold at least was produced there. This gold was proverbial for its purity, as is witnessed by many references in the Old Testament ( Psalm 45:9;  Job 28:16;  Isaiah 13:12;  1 Chronicles 29:4 ), and, in  Job 22:24 , Ophir is used for fine gold itself. In addition to these notices of Ophir, it is urged that the name. occurs also in two passages under the form "Uphaz" ( Jeremiah 10:9;  Daniel 10:5 ).

    2. Geographical Position:

    At all times the geographical position of Ophir has been a subject of dispute, the claims of three different regions being principally advanced, namely (1) India and the Far East, (2) Africa, (3) Arabia.

    (1) India and the Far East.

    All the wares mentioned are more or less appropriate to India, even including the fuller list of  1 Kings 10:22 . "Almug"-wood is conjectured to be the Indian sandal-wood. Another argument is based on the resemblance between the Septuagint form of the word ( Sōpherá ) and the Coptic name for India ( Sophir ). A closer identification is sought with Abhira, a people dwelling at the mouths of the Indus. Supara, an ancient city on the west coast of India near the modern Goa, is also suggested. Again, according to Wildman, the name denotes a vague extension eastward, perhaps as far as China.

    (2) Africa.

    This country is the greatest gold-producing region of the three. Sofala, a seaport near Mozambique on the east coast of Africa, has been advanced as the site of Ophir, both on linguistic grounds and from the nature of its products, for there all the articles of  1 Kings 10:22 could be procured. But Gesenius shows that Sofala is merely the Arabic form of the Hebrew shephēlāh . Interest in this region as the land of Ophir was renewed, however, by Mauch's discovery at Zimbabye of great ruins and signs of old Phoenician civilization and worked-out gold mines. According to Bruce (I, 440), a voyage from Sofala to Ezion-geber would have occupied quite three years owing to the monsoons.

    (3) Arabia.

    The claim of Southeastern Arabia as the land of Ophir has on the whole more to support it than that of India or of Africa. The Ophir of  Genesis 10:29 beyond doubt belonged to this region, and the search for Ophir in more distant lands can be made only on the precarious assumption that the Ophir of Ki is not the same as the Ophir of Gen. Of the various products mentioned, the only one which from the Old Testament notices can be regarded as clearly native to Ophir is the gold, and according to Pliny and Strabo the region of Southeastern Arabia bordering on the Persian Gulf was a famous gold-producing country. The other wares were not necessarily produced in Ophir, but were probably brought there from more distant lands, and thence conveyed by Solomon's merchantmen to Ezion-geber. If the duration of the voyage (3 years) be used as evidence, it favors this location of Ophir as much as that on the east coast of Africa. It seems therefore the least assailable view that Ophir was a district on the Persian Gulf in Southeastern Arabia and served in old time as an emporium of trade between the East and West.

    Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [13]

    O´phir occurs first, as the proper name of one of the thirteen sons of Joktan, the son of Eber, a great-grandson of Shem, in . Many Arabian countries are believed to have been peopled by these persons, and to have been called after their respective names, as Sheba, etc. and among others Ophir. Ophir occurs also as the name of a place, country, or region, famous for its gold, which Solomon's ships visited in company, with the Phoenician. The difficulty is to ascertain where Ophir was situated. The first theory which appears to be attended with some degree of evidence not purely fanciful is that Ophir was situate in Arabia. In , Ophir stands in the midst of other Arabian countries. Still, as Gesenius observes, it is possibly mentioned in that connection only on account of its being an Arabian colony planted abroad. Though gold is not now found in Arabia, yet the ancients ascribe it to the inhabitants in great plenty (;;;; ). This gold, Dr. Lee thinks, was no other than the gold of Havilah , which he supposes to have been situate somewhere in Arabia. But Diodorus Siculus ascribes gold-mines to Arabia. He also testifies to the abundance of 'precious stones' there (Diodorus ii. 54), especially among the inhabitants of Sabas (Diodorus iii. 46; comp.;; ). Others suppose that, though Ophir was situate somewhere on the coast of Arabia, it was rather an emporium, at which the Hebrews and Tyrians obtained gold, silver, ivory, apes, almug-trees, etc. brought thither from India and Africa by the Arabian merchants, and even from Ethiopia, to which Herodotus (iii. 114) ascribes gold in great quantities, elephants' teeth, and trees and shrubs of every kind. In behalf of the supposition that Ophir was the Arabian port Aphar, it may be remarked that the name has undergone similar changes to that of the Sept. of Ophir; for it is called by Arrian Aphar, by Pliny Saphar, by Ptolemy Sapphera, and by Stephanus Saphirini. Grotius thinks his to be Ophir. The very name El Ophir has been lately pointed out as a city of Oman, in former times the center of a very active Arabian commerce. In favor of the theory which places Ophir in Africa, it has been suggested that we have the very name in afri, Africa. Origen also says, on , that some of the interpreters understood Ophir to be Africa. Michaelis supposes that Solomon's fleet, coming down the Red Sea from Ezion-geber, coasted along the shore of Africa, doubling the Cape of Good Hope, and came to Tarshish, which he, with many others, supposes to have been Tartessus in Spain, and thence back again the same way; that this conjecture accounts for their three years' voyage out and home; and that Spain and the coasts of Africa furnished all the commodities which they brought back. Strabo indeed says that Spain abounded in gold, and immensely more so in silver (see ). Others have not hesitated to carry Solomon's fleet round from Spain up the Mediterranean to Joppa. In behalf of the conjecture that Ophir was in India, the following arguments are alleged: that it is most natural to understand from the narrative that all the productions said to have been brought from Ophir came from one and the same country, and that they were all procurable only from India. The Sept. translators also appear to have understood it to be India. Josephus also gives to the sons of Joktan the locality from Cophen, an Indian river, and in part of Asia adjoining it (Antiq. i. 6. 4). He also expressly and unhesitatingly affirms that the land to which Solomon sent for gold was 'anciently called Ophir, but now the Aurea Chersonesus, which belongs to India' (Antiq. viii. 6. 4). There are several places comprised in that region which was actually known as India to the ancients [INDIA], any of which would have supplied the cargo of Solomon's fleet: for instance, the coast of Malabar. Perhaps the most probable of all is Malacca, which is known to be the Aurea Chersonesus of the ancients. It is also worthy of remark that the natives of Malacca still call their gold mines ophirs. On the other hand, some writers give a wider extent to the country in question. Heeren observes that 'Ophir, like the name of all other very distant places or regions of antiquity, like Thule, Tartessus, and others, denotes no particular spot, but only a certain region or part of the world, such as the East or West Indies in modern geography. Hence Ophir was the general name for the rich countries of the south lying on the African, Arabian, or Indian coasts, as far as at that time known.'

    The Nuttall Encyclopedia [14]

    A region in the East of uncertain situation, frequently referred to in Scripture as a region from which gold and precious stones were imported.