According to the Hebrew Bible, Midian (Hebrew: מִדְיָן, Standard Midyan Tiberian Miḏyān; Arabic مدين; "Strife; judgment") was the fourth son of Abraham, the patriarch of the Israelites, and Keturah, his concubine. (and ). Midian had five brothers, Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Ishbak, and Shuah. Abraham sent his sons by Keturah to live in the east, far from his son Isaac. Midian was the father of Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida, and Eldaah.
Midian's descendants, the Midianites, settled in the territory east of the Jordan and also much of the area east of the Dead Sea (later occupied by Ammonites, Moabites and Edomites), and southward through the desert wilderness of the Arabah. During the time of the Exodus, their territory apparently also included portions of the Sinai Peninsula. They dominated this territory from roughly the twelfth through the tenth centuries BCE.
In Bible history, Midian was where Moses spent the 40 years between the time that he fled Egypt after killing an Egyptian who had been beating an Israelite, and his return for leading the Israelites. During those years, he married Zipporah, the daughter of Jethro, the priest of Midian. Exodus 3:1 implies that God's appearance in the burning bush at Mount Horeb occurred in Midian. As the Bible asserts, in later years the Midianites were often oppressive and hostile to the Israelites, at least partly as God's punishment for their idolatry. By the time of the Judges, the Midianites, led by two princes Oreb (Hebrew: עֹרֵב, Orev) and Zeeb (Hebrew: זְאֵב, Z'ev) were raiding Israel with the use of swift camels, until they were decisively defeated by Gideon. Today, the former territory of Midian is located in what is now a small area of western Saudi Arabia, southern Jordan, southern Israel and the Sinai.
The people of Midian are also mentioned extensively in the Qur'an, where the name appears in Arabic as Madyan. Jethro is honoured in Islam as the Prophet Shoaib, and a mosque is located by a site believed to be his tomb in an area called Wadi Shuib, near the Jordanian city of Mahis.
In the Book of Genesis, Midian was the son of Abraham and his last wife Keturah whom he married after the death of his old wife Sarah. Midian's five sons, Ephah, Epher, Enoch, Abida, and Eldaah, were the progenitors of the Midianites. The term "Midian", which may be derived from the Semitic root word for judgment, denotes also the nation of the Midianites; the plural form occurring only in Genesis 37:28,36 and Numbers 25:17, 31:2. Their geographical situation is indicated in Genesis as having been to the east of Canaan; Abraham sends the sons of his concubines, including Midian, eastward. But from the statement that Moses led the flocks of Jethro, the priest of Midian, to Mount Horeb ), it would appear that the Midianites dwelt in the Sinai peninsula, having either migrated there or conquered or settled the area in addition to their eastern possessions. Later, in the period of the Israelite monarchy, Midian seems to have occupied a tract of land between Edom and Paran, on the way to Egypt. Midian is likewise described as in the vicinity of Moab: the Midianites were beaten by the Edomite king Hadad ben Bedad "in the field of Moab", and in the account of Balaam it is said that the elders of both Moab and Midian called upon him to curse Israel.
In Exodus, the land of Midian is introduced as the place to which Moses flees when running away from Pharaoh. There, he encountered Reuel or Jethro, a Midianite priest, who later became Moses' father-in-law. Toward the close of the forty years' wandering of the children of Israel in the wilderness, the Midianites ally with the Moabites against the Israelites, in asking Balaam the son of Beor to curse the Israelites (Numbers 22); however, Balaam was prohibited to do so, and prophesied future greatness for Israel (Numbers 24). Subsequently Israelites coexisted peacefully with Moabites and Midianites (Numbers 25). However, Israel suffered a plague which was blamed on Israelite participation in the local religion and sexual immorality. For this reason, according to the Torah, Moses was ordered by God to punish the Midianites. He dispatched against them an army of 12,000 men, under Phinehas the priest; this force defeated the Midianites and slew all their males, including their five kings, Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba. These five kings may have been the rulers of the five clans descended from their eponymous folk-ancestor's sons.
It may be noted that these five princes of Midian are called by Joshua the vassals of Sihon, the Amorite king of Heshbon. It is possible that Sihon had previously conquered Midian and made it a vassal, and that after his death the Midianites recovered their independence. The Israelite soldiers set on fire all the cities and fortresses of the Midianites, carried the women and children into captivity, and seized their cattle and goods. God later ordered Moses to have the Israelites slay every Midianite male child and every woman, however, the soldiers spared the female virgins, who were then given to the Israelite soldiers. It appears from the same account that the Midianites were rich in cattle and gold. The narrative shows that each of the five Midianite tribes was governed by its own king, but that all acted together against a common enemy; that while a part of each tribe dwelt in cities and fortresses in the vicinity of Moab, another part led a nomadic life, living in tents and apparently remote from the seat of the war. The account of Moses' war against the Midianites, and particularly his order of extermination, is highly questionable, as they reappear as a major power several generations later, in the time of Gideon.
The Biblical account of the battle between the Midianites and Gideon asserts that the Israelites suffered at the hands of the Midianites for a space of six years. The Midianites seem to have been then a powerful and independent nation; they allied themselves with the Amalekites and the Kedemites, and they oppressed the Israelites so severely that many were obliged to seek refuge in caves and strongholds; Midianite raiders destroyed crops and reduced them to extreme poverty. The allied army of Midianites and Amalekites encamped in the valley of Jezreel after having crossed the Jordan. Gideon with his army encamped by the fountain of Harod, the Midianite army being to the north of him. With 300 men Gideon succeeded in surprising and routing them, and they fled homeward across the Jordan in confusion. A point worth noting is that here only two Midianite kings, Zebah and Zalmunna, and two princes (or generals - Hebrew: שַׂר), Oreb and Zeeb, are mentioned. This would show that only two tribes bore the name "Midianites," while the remaining three probably were merged with other tribes, including perhaps partly with the Israelites. Midian is stated to have been "subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted up their heads no more. In fact, aside from allusions to this victory, Midian is not mentioned again in sacred history except in Judith 2:26, where the term "Midianites" seems to be a mistake for "Arabians."
The first recorded instance of a Midianite tribe surrendering its identity by attaching itself to another people appears in Judges 1:16. In this instance, which occurred in the period of the Judges, the Kenites, descendants of Jethro the Midianite, attached themselves to the Israelites in the wilderness of Judah, south of Arad. Later, in the time of Tiglath-pileser (745-727 BCE), a tribe, called in the cuneiform inscriptions "Hayapa" and identified by Friedrich Delitzsch ("Wo Lag das Paradies?" p. 304) with the tribe of Ephah, is said to have dwelt in the northern part of the Hejaz. Isaiah 60:6 speaks of Midian and Ephah as of two distinct peoples. The second son of Midian, Epher, is identified by Knobel with the Ghifar, an Arab tribe which, in the time of Mohammed, had encampments near Medina. Traces of the Midianites existed in post-Biblical times. Ptolemy mentions a place called Modiana, on the coast of Arabia; according to his statement of its position, this place may be identified with the Madyan of the Arabic geographers, in the neighborhood of 'Ain 'Una, opposite the extremity of the Sinaitic Peninsula, and now known under the name of "Magha 'ir Shu'aib" ("the caves of Shu'aib").
Archaeologists have discovered among the remains of the 13th-12th centuries BCE Egyptian mining activities in Timna valley, southern Israel, a material culture that in some aspects resembles that found in contemporary sites in the Hejaz. Particularly, a specific pottery type occurs in Timna known as "Midianite ware", which is also found in the Negev, southern Jordan and the Hejaz.
In the Bible, the Midianites are described as worshipping a multitude of gods, including Baal-peor and the Asherah. An Egyptian temple of Hathor at Timna continued to be used during the Midianite occupation of the site; however, whether Hathor or some other deity was the object of devotion during this period is impossible to ascertain.
The Midianites also seem to have been centered around a cultic site at Mount Horeb. This has led some scholars to speculate that the worship of YHWH (a name of God in Judaism) may have actually begun among the Midianites to be adapted later by the Israelites, a claim contested by many Christian scholars. Josephus, in "Antiquities Of The Jews," BK IV, Chapter VI, clearly contradicts this claim as he portrays in extensive narrative the seduction of young men of the Israelite Army, during the time of Moses, by Midianite women who enticed the Israelites through lewdness and idolatry to worship their gods in return for their remaining with them. An Egyptian inscription refers to "Yhw in the land of the Shasu" as a tribe or people living in what would later become Midianite territory.
In the well-known nineteenth-century Christian Lenten hymn 'Christian, dost thou see them?' by J. M. Neale, Midian is referenced in the line 'Christian, dost thou see them / On the holy ground / As the troops of Midian / Prowl and prowl around?'
The 1956 film The Ten Commandments refers to the Biblical Midian where Moses lived before he returned to Egypt to free the Israelites.
In the Japanese franchise Hellsing, non-human entities, such as vampires, are known as Midians.
The 2005 independent movie Midian about an attempt to create a "perfect city" was the first major motion picture film in the city of La Crosse in southwestern Wisconsin. The producer, Reuben Steindorf, recruited several hundred local residents to appear in the movie, including the Holmen High School band.
The Man from Midian.1 Violin Sonata2/ String Quartet.1 Second Piece for Violin Alone.2 Trio in Two Parts.3 Piece for Oboe, Cello, Percussion and Piano.4
Sep 01, 2007; WOLPE The Man from Midian.1 Violin Sonata2 * Cameron Grant (pn);1 James Winn (pn);1 Jorja Fleezanis (vn);2 Garrick Ohlsson...