Ophir

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Ophir (Hebrew: אוֹפִיר, Modern Ofir Tiberian ʼÔp̄îr) is a port or region mentioned in the Bible, famous for its wealth. King Solomon is supposed to have received a cargo of gold, silver, sandalwood, precious stones, ivory, apes and peacocks from Ophir, every three years.

Contents

Citations

Ophir in Genesis 10 (the Table of Nations) is said to be the name of one of the sons of Joktan. Biblical references to the land of Ophir are also found in 1 Kings 9:28; 10:11; 22:48; 1 Chronicles 29:4; 2 Chronicles 8:18; Book of Job 22:24; 28:16; Psalms 45:9; Isaiah 13:12.

Information

Details about the three of Joktan's sons, Sheba, Ophir and Havilah, were preserved in a tradition known in divergent forms from three pre-Islamic Arabic and Ethiopic sources: the Kitab al-Magall (part of Clementine literature), the Cave of Treasures, and the Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan.

The Kitab al-Magall states that in the days of Reu, a king of Saba (Sheba) named "Pharoah" annexed Ophir and Havilah to his kingdom, and "built Ophir with stones of gold, for the stones of its mountains are pure gold."

In the Cave of Treasures, this appears as: "And the children of Ophir, that is, Send, appointed to be their king Lophoron, who built Ophir with stones of gold; now, all the stones that are in Ophir are of gold."

The version in the Conflict of Adam and Eve says: "Phar’an reigned over the children of Saphir [Ophir], and built the city of Saphir with stones of gold; and that is the land of Sarania, and because of these stones of gold, they say that the mountains of that country and the stones thereof are all of gold."

Theorized or conjectural locations

Biblical scholars, archaeologists and others have tried to determine the exact location of Ophir. Vasco da Gama's companion Tomé Lopes reasoned that Ophir would have been the ancient name for Great Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe, the main center of sub-African trade in gold in the Renaissance period — though the ruins at Great Zimbabwe are now dated to the medieval era, long after Solomon is said to have lived. The identification of Ophir with Sofala in Mozambique was mentioned by Milton in Paradise Lost (11:399-401), among many other works of literature and science.

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