Thursday, October 31, 2013


We can see from the maps that in Ishmael's day in around 1,000 BC, Assyria who the Nabaiateans were fighting with hundreds of years later, was still well over 1000 kilometers from where Mecca is located today. So how would Ishmael have been living in Mecca, about 1400 years before it was established, and over a 1,000 kilometers away from where his sons lived?

The Arabian peninsula is undoubtedly the Arabs' homeland, and the peoples that inhabited it in ancient times are to be regarded as the ancestors of the modern Arabs. Now, the query consists in establishing how much Semitic these peoples were and up to what amount the Ishmaelites have contributed to the formation of the Arab identity.
In the most ancient records the whole Arabia was commonly designed under the generic name of "Kush", which was extended throughout the entire region comprised between Southern Mesopotamia in the north and the White Nile Basin in the south, that is, including both sides of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Subsequently, there has been a clear distinction between Northern and Southern Arabia since early times, distinction that endured for centuries. The Arabs are the result of the progressive fusion of both entities developed over the original Kushite background.
·Southern Arabian peoples:
Seven Kushite peoples: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Ra'mah, Sabtekha, Sheba and Dedan.
Twelve Semitic tribes (Yoqtanites): Almodad, Shelef, Hatzarmawt, Yerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diqlah, Obal, Abima'el, Shaba, Hawilah and Yobab.
·Northern Arabian peoples:
Early Kushite population: Kûsh, Mušuri, Hawilah, Makkan.
Eight Semitic tribes (Midyanites/Lihyanites): Zimran, Yoqshan, Medan, Midyan, Yishbaq, Shuwah, Sheba and Dedan.
Twelve Ishmaelite tribes: Nebayot, Qedar, Adbe'el, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadar, Teyma, Yetur, Nafish and Qedmah.
The characteristics of these peoples are exposed under the next title.

As we have already said, the Arabians were primarily a Kushite people and that is what they were considered by their Semitic neighbours as well; Ishmael's offspring developed as a Hamitic people for many generations. In fact, the only ancestor they remembered was Adnan (TRACED BACK TO KEDAR THE SON OF ISHMAEL), whose origin is unknown and maybe legendary, or perhaps a Kushite to whom in Islamic times was ascribed Ishmaelite lineage. It was mainly in Roman times that the Nabateans absorbed some Semitic tribes (Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites and Aramean clans from Syria), that contributed to add an important Semitic element to their ethnicity, nevertheless, none of these Semites was originated from Ishmael!

Concerning the Yemenites, in early times they had been ruled by queens according to the Kushitic tradition. The Semitic Yoqtanites assimilated the original Hamitic tribes and adopted their female monarchy system. Since they did not leave any written account of their own history previous to the Assyrian period, the only available document regarding the Sabean monarchy before the 8th century b.c.e. is recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures, that reports the journey of the Queen of Sheva to Jerusalem. The description of the Queen illustrates the daring character of a typical Arabian female ruler; she presented herself to test the mighty King Shlomoh with hard questions and spoke to him openly. 

 Ishmaels' descendants - he cannot be the ancestor of all the Northern Arabians. The only son of Ishmael who was in Arabia was Kedar. The geographic distribution of the Ishmaelites indeed leave a vast "empty" space between them and the Yoqtanite peoples, namely, the whole Central Arabia. The southernmost Ishmaelite tribe was Teyma', whose capital was located about 400 kilometres north from Yathrib (Medinah). Yet, Arab traditions assert that Ishmael was with his father Avraham in Mekka. HOWEVER Abraham and Ishmael was a Nomad. They moved around. They just didn't stay in one place. 

2) Northern Arabians were called mainly after Avrahamic tribes, which apparently would grant them to be classified into the Semitic stock. Nevertheless, the Kushitic character is strongly remarkable since these lands were inhabited by Hamitic peoples (Kush, Havilah and Mušuri) long before the first Semites arrived in this territory and both groups intermarried. The process of Semitization was completed only under the Assyrian rule, around the 7th century b.c.e.
The origin of these Arabian tribes is connected with Avraham's concubines, Hagar and Qeturah, from whom respectively originated the Ishmaelites (or Hagarites) and the Midyanites (actually one of these tribes, whose name was extended to the others). Avraham was an Akkadian that moved first into the land of Hurrians and then into Canaan. His wife Sarah was an Akkadian belonging to his own family, and this fully Semitic couple generated the Israelites and not any Arab people. Avraham traded also in Egypt and acquired for his wife an Egyptian servant, Hagar, with whom he fathered Yishmael. Besides them, Avraham took also another woman, Qeturah, whose origin is unknown and that is the mother of the Midyanite tribes. Consequently, Ishmael was a Semite only on his father's side, but by his mother's lineage he was Egyptian, and the sons of Qeturah were surely Semitic after their father Avraham, but we do not know where did their mother come from. Here we will consider first the ethnic features of the Midyanites before dealing with the origin and culture of the Ishmaelites.
·The Midyanites settled in the region of Mount Sinai and by the Gulf of Eylat, in Arabia. That land was already inhabited by non-Semitic peoples, namely, the Kûsh and Mušuri of the Assyrian records, and very likely Avraham's children and successive generations married women from the local people, consequently it is correct to assume that the Midyanites were ethnically less Semitic than Hamitic. In fact, they followed the Kushite tradition of having many queens among their rulers: three successive Assyrian kings (Tiglat-Pileser III, Sargon II and Sennakherib) mention seven Midyanite queens: Zabibi, Shamsi, Te'elkhinu, Yati'ah, Tabu'wa, Yapa'a and Bashi. Such a characteristic is not found in any Semitic kingdom, in which the queen was just the king's wife but very rarely the main ruler. In support of the Kushite character of Midyan, there are some ancient texts that link the land and people of Midyan with Kush, and also the Hebrew Scriptures suggest this connection: It is typical in Hebrew poetry to compose verses repeating the same concept twice but with different words, like the statement written in Havaqquq 3:7 "I saw the tents of Kushan under sorrow; the curtains of the land of Midyan trembled" - here the Prophet uses the names "Midyan" and "Kush" as synonymous. Such an identification of Northern Arabians with Kushites explains the controversy regarding the Kushite wife of Mosheh mentioned in Bemidbar 12:1; here the question emerges, whether she is to be identified with Tzipporah the Midyanite or not, and some interpreters like Rashi assert that this woman is indeed Tzipporah. If Midyan would have been so clearly distinguishable from Kush, such a controversy would not have arisen. The conclusion that she was not Tzipporah is understood by other elements and not by this ethnic definition. Furthermore, the Biblical land of Midyan is called Kûsh in Assyrian records.
·The Ishmaelites dwelled near the Midyanites, in the region described as follows: "from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Mitzrayim as you go towards Ashshur. He settled before the face of all his brothers" (Bereshyit 25:18); in other words, their territory extended from the coastland by the Persian Gulf next to Southern Mesopotamia [Havilah] up to the border of Midyan [Shur], which is east of Egypt, along the way that leads northwards; the Ishmaelites settled at the east (meaning of the statement "before the face") of all their brothers [Midyanites and Hebrews]. This territory roughly coincides with the land called Mušuri in Assyrian accounts. In Bereshyit 21:21 is written "Yishmael dwelt in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Mitzrayim". We have already said that Ishmael himself was half Semite and half Egyptian, now we read that also his wife was an Egyptian, and that he settled in the desert area next to Midyan, which was inhabited by Hamitic peoples. How much Semitic may his twelve sons be, then? Only one fourth, and three fourths Egyptian. Of course, if these twelve sons would have founded their tribes within Assyria or Aram, after successive intermarriage they would have become more Semitic, but they settled in Kushite territory and assimilated the local peoples, and blended with their Midyanite brothers, who were like them a mixed breed. Therefore, Salmaneser's mysterious "Egyptians" (Mušuri) that had no king and from whom he took some double-humpbacked camels as tribute were no other than the Ishmaelites. Establishing a documentary comparison, we find that the Biblical "Midyan and Yishmael" are equivalent to the "Kûsh and Mušuri" of the Assyrian records. It is natural that from the Hebrew viewpoint they were regarded as Semitic for Avraham's sake, but for the Semitic Assyrians they were just Ethiopic/Egyptian tribes.
The Ishmaelites were associated with Midyanites since early times in such a way that both terms became interchangeable. Their territories were not sharply defined and it seems that only the Midyanites had organized kingdoms and were the leading branch during the first centuries. Progressively, the distinction between both groups vanished by mutual assimilation. Conquered by the Assyrians, the Ishmaelites were not relevant until the Persian period, when the tribe of Qedar assumed the hegemony over the Northern Arabian peoples, but the first true kingdom was founded by the Nabateans, that arose as the leading Ishmaelite tribe in Roman times. The Nabateans extended their dominion up to the present-day Syria under the rule of Queen Zaynab. In that period, they absorbed Semitic cultures like the Arameans and the Idumeans, and the Nabatean language is the oldest one that may be defined as "Arabic", though many scholars disagree.
Taking account of the Hebrew Scriptures and other ancient records, it is possible to establish that the term "Arab" was originally applied to the Nabateans, that inhabited the wilderness region to the east of Israel, from Edom to Syria (not properly in the mainland of Arabia). Such an identification is confirmed by historians of Roman times like Strabo and Josephus, that used the terms Arab and Nabatean as synonymous. The Nabatean sovereigns were usually called "kings of the Arabs" and their realm was known as Arabia, so that when the Nabatean Kingdom was annexed to the Roman Empire it became the province of Arabia.
The name Nabatean is referred to Ishmael's firstborn son Nebayot, founder of the tribe that prevailed over the northwestern branch of the Ishmaelites and evolved into an organized kingdom, while the southeastern ones kept their Bedouin life-style within the oases of Northern Arabia, of which the tribe of Qedar may be considered the most representative.
The region where the Nabateans settled favoured their development as a Semitic culture that progressively replaced their natural Kushitic character. Intermarriage with Arameans was common and determined the origin of the modern Syrians. In fact, there were no marriage restrictions neither for men nor for women among Nabateans to take foreign spouses, and it is likely that such a practice was even encouraged. Mutual assimilation with the local Semitic population was also decisive in the formation of the Arabic language, whose roots are clearly Aramaic. Unlike present-day Arabs, the Nabateans held women in high regard - a characteristic common to most of the pre-Islamic Arabian peoples. Women had property and heritage rights, and the Nabatean queens were honoured even more than the kings.
The Nabatean culture experienced a sudden transformation from the nomadic life style and camel breeders to city builders, and it is only since this change happened that the Nabateans have left records of their own culture. Before that time, only some samples of pottery were found, and however not older than the first century b.c.e.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, the Assyrian Chronicles and other ancient records the first peoples to be identified as Arabs were the Ishmaelite-Midyanite tribes and the same definition is never applied to the southern peoples, who are called by their ethnic name (Sabeans, Mineans, etc.), so how did it happen that the term Arabian was extended to the whole complex of inhabitants of the peninsula? Indeed, the relationships between the northern tribes and the Yemenite kingdoms were rather limited to commercial exchange, but never achieved a solid cultural and political unity in pre-Islamic times. Such a generalization of the term seems to come from Greek sources: being the Ishmaelites the immediate neighbours of the Persian Empire along the southern border from the Red Sea to the Persian Gulf, the whole land between both seas was called Arabia after them. In fact it was Herodotus who mentioned Arabians in reference to all the peoples dwelling in the peninsula. It is also well known that the Greeks were not accurate in their geographic and ethnic definitions, as we have many examples of Hellenic names that became widely used even though they are not exact - like Syria, by which the Greeks intended "Assyria", mistaking both the people and the land. The different tribes of Arabia did not have any term of their own which would have been recognized by every tribe to identify themselves as "Arabian"; therefore, when the Arabic language took a definitive shape, the geographic names that were widely acknowledged as official denominations were the Greek ones. The term Arab was included into the vocabulary of the Southern languages long time after it was commonly used by the Northern Arabian tribes as self-definition, that means that the word was indeed a foreign term for the peoples settled in the Southern half of the peninsula. Paradoxically, modern Arabian ethnologists consider the Southern tribes as the original Arabs (but historically they never defined themselves as Arabs in ancient times, while the first tribes that have accepted such denomination appear to be the Ishmaelites). The Arab scholars distinguish Arabians as descending from two different stocks: the "original" Arabs ('aribah), whose forefather was Qahtan -Yoqtan- and are the Yemenite group of tribes, and the "arabized" peoples of the north (musta'aribah), whose forefather is said to be Adnan, allegedly an Ishmaelite. Undoubtedly, there is a glaring contradiction in what the same Arab ethnologists declare, that the Ishmaelites are actually arabized and not the original Arabs, then they claim that all Arabs are Ishmaelites...

Let alone that there was no overland connection between 

northern and southern Arabia prior to about the 7th century B.C., accompanied by the fact that Medina wasn't even established until the 6th century B.C., a thousand years after Abraham roamed the earth.

The Tribe of Nabajoth

Sixteen hundred years after Ishmael roamed the earth and 1200 kilometers away from the Holy Land of the prophets and patriarchs, a Meccan named Ibn Ishak, the earliest reporter of Muhammad's life, declared that Muhammad came from the Ishmaelite tribe of Nabajoth. While many of Muhammad's Middle Eastern followers may have traces of the seed of the lost tribes of Ishmael in their ancestry, since Muhammad's tribe the Quraish immigrated to Mecca from Yemen Muhammad was more likely Kushite, since the historical and linguistic evidence suggests that Southern Arabia was settled by Ethiopians that migrated across the strait.

"Like all other Semitic languages, Arabic is the descendant of a so-called "Proto-Semitic" language, which is currently believed to havedeveloped in East Africa and which never evolved in a written form. Arabic and Amharic, the two most recent Semitic languages, both arose in the mid-300s."

Tribe of Kedar

Muhammad's followers will sometimes lay claim to Kedar, but from what we know about the Kedarites it isn't anything to boast about. TheTwelve Lost Tribes of Ishmael

"Nehemiah's opponent, 'Geshem the Arab' has been identified as one of the kings of Kedar from the mid fifth century BC. (based on a number of North Arabian inscriptions)

Regarding their religion, Assyrian inscriptions tell us that Sennacherib captured of several Arabian deities in the Kedarite city of Dumah. The chief deity was Atarsamain, or the morning star of heaven. (the counterpart of Mesopotamian Ishtar). The tribal league led by the Kedarites was known as "the confederation of Atarsamain, and their cult was led by a series of queen-priestesses in Dumah. The rest of their pantheon of gods consisted of Dai, Nuhai (Nuhay), Ruldai (Ruda), Abirillu, and Atarquruma. Rock graffiti in the Thamudic language reveals that Ruda was known as the evening star, and Nuhay was the sun-god, and they were worshiped in addition to Atarsamain 'the morning star.' Herodotus, in the fifth century BC identified two deities worshiped among the Arabs, as a fertility god called Orotalt (perhaps Ruda, as identified by Macdonald in North Arabian in the First Millennium BC, 1360), and a sky goddess know as Allat. (Herodotus III,3.)

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