And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto
Zephar, a mount of the east.
] Mesha, which is thought to be the Muza of Ptolemy and Pliny, was a famous port in the Red sea, frequented by the merchants of Egypt and Ethiopia, from which the Sappharites lay directly eastward; to whose country they used to go for myrrh and frankincense, and the like, of which Saphar was the metropolis, and which was at the foot of Climax, a range of mountains, which perhaps might be formerly called Saphar, from the city at the bottom of it, the same with Zephar here: by inspecting Ptolemy's tables F15, the way from one to the other is easily discerned, where you first meet with Muza, a port in the Red sea, then Ocelis, then the mart Arabia, then Cane, and so on to Sapphar or Sapphara; and so Pliny says F16, there is a third port which is called Muza, which the navigation to India does not put into, only the merchants of frankincense and Arabian odours: the towns in the inland are the royal seat Saphar; and another called Sabe; now the sons of Joktan had their habitations all from this part in the west unto Zephar or Saphar eastward, and those were reckoned the genuine Arabs: Hillerus F17 gives a different account of the situation of the children of Joktan, as he thinks, agreeably to these words of Moses; understanding by Kedem, rendered the east, the mountains of Kedem, or the Kedemites, which sprung from Kedem or Kedomah, the youngest son of Ishmael, ( Genesis 25:15 ) and Zephar, the seat of the Sepharites, as between Mesha and Kedem; for, says he, Mesha is not Muza, a mart of the Red sea, but Moscha, a famous port of the Indian sea, of which Arrian and Ptolemy make mention; and from hence the dwelling of the Joktanites was extended, in the way you go through the Sepharites to the mountainous places of Kedem or Cadmus: perhaps nearer the truth may be the Arabic paraphrase of Saadiah F18, which is
``from Mecca till you come to the city of the eastern mountain, or (as in a manuscript) to the eastern city,''meaning perhaps Medina, situate to the east; so that the sense is, according to this paraphrase, that the sons of Joktan had their dwelling from Mecca to Medina; and so R. Zacuth F19 says, Mesha in the Arabic tongue is called Mecca; and it is a point agreed upon by the Arabs that Mesha was one of the most ancient names of Mecca; they believe that all the mountainous part of the region producing frankincense went in the earliest times by the name of Sephar; from whence Golius concludes this tract to be the Mount Zephar of Moses, a strong presumption of the truth of which is that Dhafar, the same with the modern Arabs as the ancient Saphar, is the name of a town in Shihr, the only province in Arabia bearing frankincense on the coast of the Indian ocean F20.
F15 Geograph. l. 6. c. 7.
F16 Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 23.
F17 Onomastic. Sacr. p. 116.
F18 In Pocock. Specimen Hist. Arab. p. 34.
F19 In Juchasin, fol. 135. 2.
F20 Universal History, vol. 18. p. 353.