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Was Arabia in Southeastern Africa?

The theory of placing ancient Israel and all things Biblical in the Southern parts of Africa, is not a new one. Theories of Biblical places like Arabia, actually being in the eastern parts of Africa, has been put forth by extinguished scholars like linguist Augustus Henry Keane (1833-1912), archeologist and explorer Theodore J. Bent (1852-97), British army officer Sir John Christopher Willoughby (1859-1918), but also academical outcasts such as explorer Karl Gottlieb Mauch (1837-75). Many others also had opinions and theories when it comes to placing a Biblical region in Southeastern Africa. You see, some these guys wanted to find answers, or so it seems some of them where actually looking for the `Gold of Havilah` (as mentioned in Genesis). And they found gold alright, but not the kind they were looking for I suspect, but for us that come after them, seek pieces of evidence and proofs - they found something far better..

Now, before we start lets get one thing straight, Genesis 12,10:

"10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”

image credit TruthUnveiled777

Now, where did Abraham go according to the Bible? Yes, thats right, he went down, not sideways, a little to the left or right - upwards or backwards, but he down to Egypt from Canaan to live there for a while. Keeping this in mind, will save many from misunderstanding ancient geography/topography.

That being said, in this article we will examine the odd`n old map, but mostly we shall have a closer look at some of the writings of the academics mentioned above. We are going to get further acquainted with their thoughts on the matter. Now, as already discussed in a pervious post - Jerusalem can be found on numerous maps, along with Bethany, Gideon, Beersheba and also Bethlehem. Most of these maps put Jerusalem in the northwestern parts of Southern Africa more precisely Namibia, in a region that now is utter desert lands. Others claim it would be situated closer to the mountains, still deserted but rather closer to the southeastern side of South Africa (Mthatha and closer to the Drakensbergs). Either way, thes locations play nicely into Scripture, as Jerusalem was to be utterly left desolate and trodden down by the gentiles.... (Luke 21,24).

Biblical names in various maps, have a look at these references:

such as the earliest one from in amp from 1854 by Black, Adam & Charles, Richard Kiepert (1846-1915) and Paul Sprigade (1873-1928) from 1893, George Bacons Map of Transvaal and Orange Free State (1900), Sprigade & Max Moisel (1869-1920) from 1912, F. A. Brockhaus from (1894), Francesco Constantino Marmocchi (1805-58) from 1858 (which also includes a river called Nero and Pella, possible reference to Josephus War of the Jews), Alvin Jewett Johnson (1827-84) from 1886 and John G. Bartholomew (1860-1920) from 1907.

Check them out, they are readily available online. Most of these appear to have been stealing or borrowing from one another, both in therms of reference and source. Wether or not these place-names are accurate, remains to be seen. As some names appear in different parts of South Africa and in different periods, so its difficult to determine only by looking at the maps and not talking with the locals of these areas. Biblical names can be found all over the world, so, we cannot and should not be sure. This we can be sure of, that if So NiNi wants us to learn these true locations, He will show us exactly that, but all in His good time. He is King, no wait, He is The King. He can do things however and whenever He choses. So all we can do for now, is speculate and discuss and see if wisdom comes out at the other end. Without further ado -Lets Dive !

Now, if we look to even earlier and far more interesting maps, such as the one by cartographer Girolamo Ruscelli (1518-66), we find Galila (Galilee) deep in the African interior. The placement is unlikely, however, that is not the point, the point is its mention by name...

image credit TruthUnveiled777

Moving on we find in the trader Malachy Postlethwayth (1707-67) and his map from (1755), which includes a comment that reads `This part of the continent about Sofala is with great reason supposed to be the land of Ophir`. This would place Ophir in the region now called Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

image credit TruthUnveiled777

Also this map of Gabriel Ramirez (1754) seems to tell the story of where to find the Hebreos (Hebrews) and the land of Ophir. So then this maps identifies the treasure cities Ophir and Tarshish.

image credit TruthUnveiled777

Another source hails from geographer and historian Major James Rennell (1742-1830) in a map from 1799, which again puts the land or region of Ophir close or right on the Port of Sofala. Rennell, not exactly a household name for history buffs, has been touted as the Father of Oceanography.

Now, it is quite easy to find an acceptable location for the Biblical Havilah and Ophir, both associated with gold and King Solomon the Wise. The land Havilah is stated in Genesis 2:10-11:

"And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;... "

Then, Ophir must have been a port of some kind or perhaps a larger region. We know that the place was famous for its wealth and Solomon received a cargo of gold, silver, sandalwood, pearls, ivory, apes and peacocks from Ophir every third year (1. Kings 10,22).

If you take a look at the pottery found at Tell Qasile (modern day Tel-Aviv) dated to the eight century it says `Gold of Ophir (for Beth-Horon) 30 shekels`. These inscriptions confirms that gold was imported from Ophir, which was a place of import, not a local place. Now historians settle with placing Ophir in the Hijaz Mountains in the Saudis because of the mountains, goldmines and a river, these appear to meet the satisfactory requirements of that particular area. This means, that the region in Genesis is usually associated with either the Arabian Peninsula or northwest Yemen.

So if you read theories such as archeologist Juris Zarins on the Garden of Eden, Hijaz seems a likely candidate, being both the Cradle of Gold (Mahd adh Dhahab) and the possible source of the Pishon River (now dried out off course, flowing 600 miles northeast of the Persian Gulf via Wadi Al-Batin system). Now, that was quite a dry up of one of the oldest and most famous rivers in the world. Mentioned as being from the beginning of time in Genesis. With a lack of a better and better suited option, people actually believe the Pishon River in Arabia existed, it had to right? Land of the Bible and all... It had to have been somewhere, why not there? Another theory is, one that holds water, becomes glaringly apparent by looking to Africa. Africa is riddled with rivers, and yes, they are still vey much there... And they are huge !

But listen, historians have far bigger problems with Ophir being located along the Red Sea. The truth is eluded in the Bible, `from Ophir every three years` remember, which implies Ophir being associated with an extended trading route or coming for someplace not too close. Now, there are no mentions of incense in the commodities from the trades with Ophir, this way we can assume that Solomons ships called port both on African and Arabian side.

Let there be no doubt that Arab and Indian (and Chinese) traders knew and made use of the annual alternation of southwest and northwest monsoons long before they was `discovered` by the west and Hippalus in the 1. century. This little secret was guarder for centuries from Greek and Roman merchants. You know knowledge is power. Gus w. Van Beek (1910-2012) talks about this in Frankincense and Myrrh in Ancient South Arabia (1958) in the Journal of the American Oriental Society (Vol. 78, no.3). Spice trade is then a reference to trade made between the ancient old civilisations such as Asia, Northeast Africa and Europe. The source of this trade could have been Southern India or even Northern Sri Lanka, where Dravidians (my forefathers) were well known for their gold and precious stones, ivory and peacocks. Another key point is sandalwood, which came almost exclusively from South India in ancient times.

If you read A Dictionary of the Bible (1853) by lexicographer Sir William Smith (1823-93), it notes the Hebrew (Bantu) word for peacock, thukki (ipaki or ipikoko in Xhosa), and that it was derived from the classical Tamil word for peacock thogkai and Chinese tokei. Smith also talks about similarities in Tamil words for ivory, cotton-cloth and apes, which has been preserved in the Bible. Now earlier in the 19. century orientalist Max Müller (1823-1900) and others identified Ophir with Abhira, close to the Indus River, in Gujarat, a modern say state in India. Theories vary much more illustrious than these, placing it past China, Ubar Southern Arabian Peninsula, Sharm el-sheik at Ofira (towards Ophir), Benito Arias Montano (1527-98) thought it was in Peru (and that native Peruvians was descendants of Shem), others say it was in the Balkan Adriatic coast, Alvaro Bendaña though it was the Solomon Islands in 1568 and others again claim it was all the way in Australia. Now none of these make much sense when considering the arguments to come. Which places Havilah and Ophir in close association with Great Zimbabwe.

Linguist Augustus Henry Keane believed that the land of Havilah was concentrated in and around Great Zimbabwe and roughly contemporaneous with what was then Southern Rhodesia. And Keane did not draw this out of thin air, and as it was Vasco da Gama (c.1460-1524) and his companion Tomé Lopes - who reasoned that Ophir would have been the name of old for Great Zimbabwe, a main center of sub-African gold and mineral trade. Writer John Milton (1608-74) also identified Ophir with Sofala (in Mozambique) in Paradise Lost (11:399-401), Milton is far from the only literary reference to Ophir and Sofala being very near one another at a place of commerce.

Historians also ignore or do not really pay attention or give any importance the Roman coin found 25 meters down inside a goldmine in Umtali. Which proves Roman settlements all the way down to Zimbabwe (and off course all the way down to Jerusalem and Pella). Recent research puts forth evidence for the recovering of gold in the archeology of Nyanga district (Eastern Highlands, Zimbabwe). Analysis have been undertaken to counter the conjectures, the same ones put forth in South-Africa, that hundreds of stone-lined `pit-structures` was built for cattle and terrace farming (Kritzinger, 2012).

When clearly they have to bee ancient ruins of settlements. Mutare (known as Umtali until 1983), is the forth largest city in Zimbabwe and has a long history of trading caravans passing through on the way to the Indian Ocean (such as Sofala), to inland settlements such as Great Zimbabwe. Mines here such as Redwing Mine, Penhalonga and smaller ones, with diamnd mines in Marange and gravel quarries around the city.

That being said, historians do not like to be outwitted or suggested by works of fiction. Now King Solomon`s Mines (91885) by Sir H. Rider Haggard (1856-1925) is a popular novel and very often touted as fiction. The book is written by a man than knew Africa well, having travelled deep within the continent as a 19-year old during Anglo-Zulu war and the First Boer War. Henry Haggard here saw first hand South Africas vast mineral wealth and all the ruins of ancient lost cities. Haggards novel is said to take place in Kukuanaland, forty leagues north of the Lukanga River in modern Zambia, which would place The Mines of Solomon in the extreme southeast of the present Democratic Republic of Congo (mineral rich country).

"Ay,’ said Evans, ‘but I will spin you a queerer yarn than that’; and he went on to tell me how he had found in the far interior a ruined city, which he believed to be the Ophir of the Bible, and, by the way, other more learned men have said the same long since poor Evans’s time."

– H. Rider Haggard (1885)

The fact that linguist Keane had put forth academical evidence for Ophir being near Sofala and connecting Arab trade to that region way earlier than contemporary historians, fell in bad taste with almost all of his contemporary influences. People with a dire want and wish to place locations such as these, way further north, or as it seems to be the trend - just as far away from Africa as possible. Keane writes, profoundly and rather exhaustive in The Gold of Ophir: Whence Brought and by Whom? (Keane, 1901)

"A few words seem called for to explain how I came to risk my reputation for sanity by plunging into this ‘Ophir Question’ so often authoritatively declared to be insoluble. When such pronouncements were made it was insoluble, because some of the essential factors of the problem were missing. Such is no longer the case, and during the last three decades, that is, since the re-discovery of the Zimbabye monuments in the present Rhodesia, materials have been accumulated from various quarters, which justify the re-opening of the subject, and have seemed to me amply sufficient for its final settlement. These fresh materials fall under several heads, the most important of which may here be specified. First and foremost come the extensive though still far from exhausted explorations and careful studies of the Rhodesian remains, together with general surveys of the whole ground, by thoroughly competent observers – trained archaeologists such as the late Theodore Bent and Mr. Robert Swan ; practical miners, engineers, and men of high scientific knowledge, such as Dr. Henry Schlichter, Dr. Carl Mauch, Mr. Thomas Baines, Mr. E. A. Maund and Mr. Franklin White; lastly experienced local explorers, such as Messrs. Hall and Neal with their worthy associate, Mr. Johnson, who have spent years of intelligent labour investigating the whole of this wonderful auriferous region, mapping its hundreds of ancient gold workings and classifying the associated ‘Zimbabyes’ into periods and types. Thus was given the indispensable clue to the time sequences, and to the architectural prototypes if any could elsewhere be found, for all these observers have from the first been of accord that none of the early and more finished structures, those especially of the first and second periods, could be ascribed to the present Bantu populations of Rhodesia. And such an attribution is now altogether excluded, since I have been able to show that these Negroid Bantu peoples were preceded by a still lower race – the Bushman-Hottentots – who occupied the land at the very time the monuments were raised, and indeed supplied the forced labour necessary for their profitable erection. While these operations were in progress, or even prior to them, others, notably Joseph Halevy, Lieutenant J. R. Wellsted, Eduard Glaser, Julius Euting, Thomas Arnaud, Siegfried Lander, and the pioneer. Christian Seetzen, mostly eminent orientalists and accomplished archaeologists, were at work amid the ruins and inscribed rocks thickly strewn over Southern Arabia.

Nearly two thousand inscriptions in two forms of the ancient Himyaritic language – Minaean and Sabaean – were recovered and partly deciphered, while numerous groups of crumbling monuments were surveyed and described. These descriptions arrested immediate attention, and by the comparative method of study the monuments themselves were soon brought into line with those beyond the Zambesi. Further research multiplied the points of contact both in the forms and material of the structures, and in the objects brought to light from their debris. The parallelisms ceased to be coincidences and became identities ; the elliptical temples at the ancient Sabaean capital, Maraiaba, at Nakb el-Hajar and elsewhere, presented the most striking resemblance to several of the Zimbabyes ; the symbols figured on a Phoenician coin of Byblos looked like miniature plans of certain South African groups ; an ingot of tin found in Falmouth Harbour might have been cast from a soapstone mould of curious form brought from Great Zimbabye ; the very date of this structure (1100 B.C.) has been astronomically determined by a zodiacal chart which was found in the neighbourhood and proved to be the work of northern star-gazers dating from a time when Sol entered Taurus at the vernal equinox. All this cumulative evidence left no doubt that the foreign prototypes of the Rhodesian monuments had been found in the Himyaritic lands of Southern Arabia, seat, as some now think, of the oldest civilisation in the world. Else we are entitled to ask, If the South African buildings, all intimately connected with gold-winning, were not raised by the Himyarites and their Phoenician kinsmen, by whom were they raised ? Did they drop from the clouds? And even so, how came they to simulate the architectural style of their Yemenite counterparts? Miracle upon miracle has to be suggested by the sceptics, if any remain, to avoid a very obvious and inevitable inference. And again, why simulate on the stones and earthenware of Zimbabye the very script recurring on the rock inscriptions of Arabia Felix ?

The texts of these graven stones enter as a third factor of vital importance in the problem.

They reveal long lists of Sabaean kings dating at least from the time of Solomon and Hiram, and other very much older lists of Minaean kings – thirty-three have so far been recovered – going back to a dim past coeval with the early Egyptian and Babylonian epochs.

They further show that the art of navigation was already well developed in those remote times, that the Babylonians probably acquired the art from the Himyarites already dominant in the Indian Ocean ; and that there were Minaean potentates who offered their supplications to the land gods and the sea gods of all the regions with which they had established intercourse.

A fourth factor was yielded unexpectedly, and indeed unwittingly, by Bent’s explorations in the South Arabian frankincense land, Dhofar.

Here are concentrated in strange profusion all the elements needed to establish the identity of Moscha – Arrian’s Portus Nobilis – and the ruins grouped round the adjacent inlet, with the Biblical Ophir, Ptolemy’s Sapphar Metropolis under the very shadow of the Mount Sephar of Genesis x.

The survey of the district showed that the famous harbour, running nearly two miles inland, has long been silted up at its mouth, thus explaining how it came to be forgotten throughout mediaeval times till now again recovered by modern enterprise.

With its recovery Ophir is also recovered, and is found to be not a gold-yielding land, but a gold mart, a gold importer and distributor throughout the ancient world, as might indeed have been anticipated by a more careful study of the Biblical texts.

But as long as the idea persisted that Ophir was itself an auriferous land it would never have been discovered, as I trust has now been made clear. It is here also made clear that the Biblical Tharshish, the Tharshish of Solomon and Hiram, is to be sought in the Indian Ocean, and not at the other end of the Mediterranean, as might be inferred from the vagaries of the Septuagint and Vulgate (Greek and Latin) translations of certain passages in Kings and Chronicles.

How any intelligent commentator could ever have supposed that Solomon’s Tharshish was the Tartessus at the mouth of the Guadalquivir on the Atlantic seaboard, passes comprehension.

Why should the Israelitish and Phoenician navies, built at Solomon’s naval station of Ezion-geber on the Red Sea, try to get through the Isthmus of Suez to sail down the whole length of the Mediterranean in quest of the ivory and peacocks which they never could find in Spain but could easily ship at various ports of the Indian Ocean ?

If Tartessus was their objective, they could have sailed straight from Tyre, and Solomon need not have troubled about Ezion-geber, which nevertheless plays such a conspicuous part in the naval. records of his reign.

It may be gathered from the Biblical texts that many of the expeditions stopped here, while others, especially those equipped by Solomon and Hiram jointly, passed on to Tharshish, port of the auriferous Havilah (Rhodesia).

It must now be pretty evident to everybody that the Ophir problem was necessarily insoluble before this great mass of fresh evidence had been placed at the disposal of the historical student.

We thus arrive at the following important conclusions, which I trust may now be considered fairly well established, and may therefore legitimately take the place of the many theories and speculations hitherto current regarding the ‘Gold of Ophir,’ its source and forwarders :

1. Ophir was not the source, but the distributor of the gold and the other costly merchandise brought from abroad to the Courts of David and Solomon.

2. Ophir was the emporium on the south coast of Arabia which has been identified with the Moscha or Portus Nobilis of the Greek and Roman geographers.

3. Havilah was the auriferous land whence came the ‘gold of Ophir,’ and Havilah is here identified with Rhodesia, the mineralised region between the Lower Zambesi and the Limpopo – Mashona, Matabili, and Manica lands.

4. The ancient gold workings of this region were first opened and the associated monuments erected by the South Arabian Himyarites, who were followed, in the time of Solomon, by the Jews and Phcenicians, and these very much later by the Moslem Arabs and Christian Portuguese.

5. Tharshish was the outlet for the precious metals and precious stones of Havilah, and stood probably near the site of the present Sofala.

Well there you have it. Now Keane does not infer that ancient Israel was in South Africa, that would not be fair to him or any of the other academics aforementioned. However Keane managed to at least try to connect Southeastern Africa with the ancient world and that Scriptural and Ancient Arabia was indeed in Eastern Africa. In the sense that Arabia from the Scriptures originated in Southeastern Africa and then in time moved or shall we say `relocated` further north, along with all the Biblical names it would seem. The connection of Arabia with Southeast Africa is a historical feat few historians are wiling or even able to do these days. As we all know where these places are now - Its a given...

However, how Keane is able to place Havilah (which we know must be close to River Pishon in Genesis (branching into four from Eden remember) and then go on to talk about Israel and Jews not being from these parts, but further north (much further north) is beyond comprehension. If you accept that Arabia was (is) in Eastern Africa, you must accept the other. That Israel must have been rather close.

So then, if you accept that ancient Arabia was in Southeastern Africa, then it becomes and easy task to find, or at least track down the likely candidates of the famous Biblical mountains such as Mt. Sinai or Mt. Zion. It becomes even easier to find the true places of old and the Lost Tribes of Israel.

Yebo mhlobo - Southern Africa is the Land of Milk and Honey ! And I`ll keep saying it until So NiNi asks me to stop my work here on earth.

From the light within me

Uxolo lube nawe


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