Definitions

Ophir

Ophir

[oh-fer]
Ophir, in the Bible. 1 Seaport or region from which the ships of Solomon brought fine gold in great quantity. Sandalwood, precious stones, ivory, apes, and peacocks were also part of the triennial cargo. The location of Ophir is unknown. It has been variously identified with NE Africa, SE Arabia, and India, but the present tendency is to identify it with SW Arabia (the modern Yemen) and possibly the neighboring African coast. 2 Son of Joktan.

Ophir 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.

References

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; 22:49; 1 Chronicles 29:4; 2 Chronicles 8:18; Book of Job 22:24; 28:16; Psalms 45:10; Isaiah 13:12.

John Masefield, "Cargoes"

Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

Location

Biblical scholars, archaeologists and others have tried to determine the exact location of Ophir. For instance, Vasco da Gama's companion Tomé Lopes reasoned that Ophir was the ancient name for Great Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe (which through oral history, is said to be ruled by a queen suspected to be the biblical Sheba), the main center of sub-African trade in gold. Although the identification of Ophir with Sofala was mentioned by Milton in Paradise Lost (11:399-401), among many other works of literature and science, it has since been discarded.

In the 19th century Max Müller and other scholars identified Ophir with Abhira {see yadav}, at the mouth of the Indus River in modern-day Pakistan. Another possibility is the African shore of the Red Sea, with the name perhaps being derived from the Afar people of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti. Most modern scholars still place Ophir either on the coast of either Pakistan or India, in what is now Poovar, or somewhere in southwest Arabia in the region of modern Yemen. This is also the assumed location of Sheba.

Other assumptions vary as widely as the theorized locations of Atlantis. Portuguese mythology locates it in Ofir, a place in Fão, Esposende. Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897) adds a connection to "Sofir," the Coptic name for India. Josephus connected it with "Cophen, an Indian river, and in part of Asia adjoining to it," (Antiquities of the Jews I:6), sometimes associated with a part of Afghanistan.

En 1568, Alvaro Mendaña discovered the Solomon Islands, and named them as such because he believed them to be Ophir.

Proponents of pre-Columbian connections between Eurasia and the Americas have suggested even more distant locations such as modern-day Peru or Brazil. Author on topics in alternative history David Hatcher Childress goes so far as to suggest that Ophir was located in Australia; proposing that the cargoes of gold, silver and precious stones were obtained from mines in the continent's north-west, and that ivory, sandalwood and peacocks were obtained in South Asia on the voyage back to Canaan.

Former Israeli settlement

The Israeli settlement created in the 1970s at Sharm el-Sheikh in Sinai was called Ophirah (אופירה), Hebrew for "Towards Ophir" - since its location on the Red Sea was on the route supposedly traversed by King Solomon's ships en route to Ophir.

The settlement was evacuated in 1982, under the terms of the Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty, and the name fell out of use.

In fiction

Ophir is the subject of H. Rider Haggard's novel King Solomon's Mines, which places the lost city in South Africa.

Ophir is also a kingdom in Robert Howard's Conan the Barbarian series of stories; see Hyborian Age for more information.

Several of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan novels happen in and around the lost city of Opar, deep in the African jungles — with Opar evidently being another name for Ophir. The city appears in The Return of Tarzan (1913), Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar (1916), Tarzan and the Golden Lion (1923), and Tarzan the Invincible (1930).

Philip José Farmer took up the theme from the Tarzan books and wrote two books of his own, taking place in Opar at the height of its glory thousands of years ago: Hadon of Ancient Opar and Flight to Opar.

Wilbur Smith's novel The Sunbird is set in ancient Ophir (called Opet) and its modern ruins.

Ophir is the name of the Nordic Utopia in M. M. Scherbatov's 1784 novel "Putishestvie v zemliu ofirskuiu" ("Voyage to Ophir").

See also

  • Tarshish, another Biblical location providing Solomon with riches.

External links

References

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