Ophir: Wikis


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Ophir (Hebrew: אוֹפִיר, Modern Ofir Tiberian ʾÔp̄îr) 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.



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 45:9; 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.

In pre-Islamic literature

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.

For instance, 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, (contemporary still very rich area in Gold & Diamonds, next to Egoli (Johannesburg)gold valley) — despite the fact that Great Zimbabwe is a medieval structure and did not exist in the time period in which the biblical Solomon is said to have lived.

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[citation needed].

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. Saudi Arabia's cradle of gold, "Mahd adh Dhahab".

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.

In 1568 Alvaro Mendaña discovered the Solomon Islands, and named them as such because he believed them to be Ophir.[1]

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.[2]

In a book found in Spain entitled Collecion General de Documentos Relativos a las Islas Filipinas, the author has described how to locate Ophir. According to the section "Document No. 98", dated 1519-1522, Ophir can be found by travelling from the Cape of Good Hope in Africa, to India, to Burma, to Sumatra, to Moluccas, to Borneo, to Sulu, to China, then finally Ophir. Ophir was said to be "[...] in front of China towards the sea, of many islands where the Moluccans, Chinese, and Lequios met to trade..." Jes Tirol asserts that this group of islands could not be Japan because the Moluccans did not get there, nor Taiwan, since it is not composed of "many islands." Only the present-day Philippines, he says, could fit the description. Spanish records also mention the presence of Lequious (big, bearded white men, probably descendants of the Phoenicians, whose ships were always laden with gold and silver) in the Islands to gather gold and silver.[3] Other evidence has also been pointed out suggesting that the Philippines was the biblical Ophir.[4][5][6][7]

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").

Clive Cussler's The Navigator places the mines of Ophir on the eastern seaboard of the United States, postulating a pre-Columbian voyage by the Phoenicians.

See also

  • Tarshish, another Biblical location providing Solomon with riches.
  • Ophur, Chicago, IL based rock band circa 1997 - 2004

External links


  1. ^ HOGBIN, H. In, Experiments in Civilization: The Effects of European Culture on a Native Community of the Solomon Islands, New Yprk: Schocken Books, 1970 (1939), pp.7-8
  2. ^ Pirates and the Lost Templar Fleet ISBN 1-931882-18-5
  3. ^ Tirol, Jes.Bo-ol (Bohol) was a Land of Ophir: A Theory. The Bohol Chronicle Vol.LIII No.062 December 21, 2008.
  4. ^ Philippines is Ophir. Accessed February 16, 2009.
  5. ^ Vedic Empire. Retrieved on 2008-10-11.
  6. ^ Legeza, Laszlo. "Tantric Elements in pre-Hispanic Philippines Gold Art," Arts of Asia, July-Aug. 1988, pp.129-136. (Mentions gold jewelry of Philippine origin in first century CE Egypt)
  7. ^ Peralta, J.T. "Prehistoric gold ornaments from the Central Bank of the Philippines," Arts of Asia 1981, no.4, p.54.

1911 encyclopedia

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  1. A city or region mentioned in the Bible, modern scholars have been unable to determine where it was located. King Solomon is supposed to have received a cargo of gold, silver, sandalwood, precious stones, ivory, apes and peacocks from Ophir, every three years.

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

 : This is about the region. See also Ophir (son of Joktan)

Region famous for its gold (1 Kg 9:28; 10:11; 22:48; Job 22:24; 28:16; Isa 13:12). In the LXX. this word is rendered "Sophir," and "Sofir" is the Coptic name for India, which is the rendering of the Arabic version, as also of the Vulgate. Josephus has identified it with the Golden Chersonese, i.e., the Malay peninsula. It is now generally identified with Abhira, at the mouth of the Indus. Much may be said, however, in favour of the opinion that it was somewhere in Arabia.

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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Ophir, in the Bible, designates a people and a country.

The people, for whom a Semitic descent is claimed, is mentioned in Gen., x, 29, with the other "sons of Jectan", whose dwelling "was from Messa as we go on as far as Sehar, a mountain in the east" (Gen., x, 30).

The place Ophir was that from which the Bible represents Solomon's fleet bringing gold, silver, thyine (probably santal) wood, precious stones, ivory, apes, and peacocks (III Kings, ix, 26-28; x, 11, 22; II Par., viii, 17-18; ix, 10). Its location has been sought where the articles mentioned are native productions; still, while Ophir is repeatedly spoken of as a gold-producing region (Job, xxii, 24; xxviii, 16; Ps. xliv, 10; Is., xiii, 12), it does not follow that the other articles came from there; whether they were natural products, or only bought and sold there, or even purchased by the merchantmen at intervening ports, cannot be gathered from the text, as it states merely that they were fetched to Asiongaber. The Bible does not give the geographical position of Ophir; it only says that the voyage out from Asiongaber and back lasted three years (III Kings, x, 22). Scholars have been guided in their several identifications of the site by the importance they attach to this or that particular indication in the sacred text-especially the products brought to Solomon-also by resemblances, real or fanciful, between the Hebrew names of Ophir and of the articles mentioned in connexion therewith and names used in various countries and languages. The Greek translators of the Bible, by rendering the Hebrew Ophir into Sophir, the Coptic name for India, would locate the Biblical El Dorado in India, according to some in the land of the Abhira, east of the delta of the Indus, according to others, on the coast of Malabar or at Ceylon, and according to others still in the Malay Peninsula. The opinion that it was situated on the southern or south-eastern coast of Arabia has many advocates, who contend from the text of Gen., x, 29, 30, that Ophir must be located between Saba and Hevilath. Another opinion says it was not in Asia, but either on the south-eastern coast of Africa (Sofala) or inland in Mashonaland.

Portions of this entry are taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.

District first mentioned in the Old Testament as a Joktanite or south-Arabian tribe (Gen 10:29 et seq.), and later as the port of destination of Solomon's fleet. The earliest reference to Ophir in this connection is in 1 Kg 9:26 et seq. (= 2Chr 8:17 et seq.), where it is said that King Solomon built a navy of ships in Ezion-geber, near Eloth on the Ælanitic Gulf in the Red Sea, manned them with the expert crew given him by Hiram, and sent them to Ophir, whence they brought him 420 talents of gold. A later reference (ib. x. 11 et seq.= 2Chr 9:10 et seq.) says that the navy of Hiram (or of Solomon) brought back from Ophir "great plenty of almug-trees and precious stones." From that time Ophir was to the Hebrews the land of gold par excellence (comp. Isa 13:12; Ps 4510 [A. V. 9]; Job 22:24, xxviii. 16; 1Chr 29:4). The Septuagint renders the name in Gen. x. by Οὐφείρ, but in other passages by Σουφείρ, Σωφείρ, Σωφείρá, Σωφείρα, etc., while Josephus writes Σώφειρα.


The land of Ophir has been assigned to the most various points of the compass, including Armenia, South Africa, Arabia, the West Indies, Peru, the coast of India, Spain, and Ceylon. Only a few of these identifications, however, deserve serious consideration. Reland, Lassen, the geographer Ritter, and others place Ophir in India, near the mouth of the Indus, equating the word with the Sanskrit "Abhira" (the name of a shepherd tribe) and the "Aberia" of Ptolemy. Others identify it with the port Σοήπαρα mentioned by Ptolemy, the Οὔππαρα of Arrian. Although the name Σώφειρα in the Septuagint and in Josephus designates a part of India proper, as may be shown from Coptic vocabularies, this merely proves that Josephus and others identified Ophir with India, basing their conclusions on the fact that at that time India was regarded as the land of gold.

Still less convincing is the argument that the exports from Ophir were of Indian origin, a view based on 1 Kg 10:22, which says that in addition to gold and silver the ships brought also "habbim," "ḳopim," and "tukkiyim." The renderings "ivory," "apes," and "peacocks," and the view that these terms are loan-words from the Sanskrit, are very doubtful; and the same criticism applies to the purely conjectural translation of "almuggim" as "sandal-wood" (see Algum). Moreover, in the only passage(1 Kg 10:22) in which these products are mentioned Ophir is not named as the port of destination of the ships, the reference being merely to the fleet of Tarshish, which made the voyage once every three years, while the parallel passage, 2Chr 9:21, states that the ships went to Tarshish. It must also be taken into account that no gold was exported from that part of India, and that the Jews became acquainted with India only in the Greco-Persian period.

Sofala Theory.

The view, of which Peters is the protagonist, that Ophir was situated in South Africa in the coast district of Sofala opposite Madagascar, is still more improbable. In 1871 the African traveler Mauch found at Zimbabiye on Mount Afura, forty German miles inland from Sofala, certain remarkable ruins which are traced by tradition to the Queen of Sheba or to Solomon. These remains are situated in rich gold-fields; in a neighboring river topazes and rubies are found, and large yew forests are said to have furnished the almug-wood. Although silver has not yet been found there, ivory is one of the chief articles of commerce of East Africa; and apes abound. On the other hand, the gold-mines of Sofala have become known only since the time of Ptolemy, while it is most improbable that the servants of Hiram and Solomon should have exploited gold-mines almost 200 miles from the sea when they could have gone to others nearer home. The name of Sofala has no connection with Ophir (= Σωφείρα), but is derived from the Arabic "safala" = "to be low" and denotes "lowland" (Hebr. "shefelah").

Probably South Arabia.

The most probable view is that Ophir was situated in Arabia. This is indicated, as mentioned above, by the Biblical reference in Gen 10:29. An old tradition recorded by Eupolemus (c. 150 B.C.) also assigns Ophir to this region, identifying it with the island of Uphre in the Red Sea. Both the east and west coasts have been considered as the site. Glaser assigns Ophir to the east coast, in view of the three years' voyage, which would be much too long if it were on the west coast; and he also compares it with the cunciform name "Apir" applied to the northeast and the northwest coast of the Persian Gulf. The Arabic geographer Hamadani says that gold-mines were situated in the northeastern part of Arabia. Glaser locates Havilah here (Gen 2:11) and identifies Ophir with the coast district belonging to it.

Since the reference to the three years required for the voyage is not found in the earlier account, there is ample justification for the view which prefers the western coast of Arabia, especially as there are a number of references in the ancient authors to the rich gold of the southwestern coast of Arabia. According to Agatharchides, these mines contained pieces of gold as large as walnuts: but this metal was of little value to the inhabitants, and iron and copper were worth two and three times as much. It is hardly probable that Solomon and Hiram would have sent their ships past Yemen to fetch gold from the Gulf of Persia, which was much farther away.

To the southwest coast of Arabia, the coast of Somaliland, which lies opposite it, may perhaps be added, for the Egyptians designated both coasts by the common name of Punt. This theory gains in probability if the author of 1 Kg 10:22 meant to imply that the exports were native to Ophir itself; for apes, ivory, and ebony are among the commercial products of Somaliland.

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.
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