Midian (Hebrew: מִדְיָן‎), Madyan (Arabic: مدين‎), or Madiam (Greek: Μαδιάμ, Μαδιανίτης for a Midianite) is a geographical place and a people mentioned in the Bible and in the Qur'an. It is believed to be in northwest Saudi Arabia on the east shore of the Gulf of Aqaba[1] and the northern Red Sea.[2] Some scholars believe it to be somewhere in or around Sudan[3] as the Bible itself is unclear at times.[4][5]

Some scholars say it was not a geographical area but a league of tribes.[6] We are also told that Midian was a son of Abraham.[7]

The modern Hebrew pronunciation, "Midyan", is the result of a normal vowel shift changing an "a" sound to an "i" sound (compare Miryam in Hebrew versus Mariam in Greek or Maryam in Arabic).

Geographical location and culture

Establishing the precise location of Midian is difficult, but the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary suggests that it may have extended from the eastern shores of the Sinai peninsula to the deserts east of the Gulf of Aqabah, Edom and Moab.[8]

The Midianites were nomadic shepherds who traveled in small bands with their goats and sheep and camels in the dry season and moved into larger groups during the lambing or wet season. They lived in tents of goat hair and ate mostly bread, baked in hot charcoals and sand, and dairy products. Their clothing was loose and baggy, both sexes wore tunics, those of the women being thinner with slits running through the sides and a veil covered the head.[citation needed]


The Midianites through their apparent religio-political connection with the Moabites[9] are thought to have worshipped a multitude of gods,[10] including Baal-peor and the Queen of Heaven, Ashteroth. 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.

Some historians suggest that the worship of Yahweh originated in pre-Israelite peoples of the Levant region, specifically in Midian.[11] The Hebrew Bible mentions that Moses first encountered God as a burning bush in Midian. An Egyptian inscription also relates the Shasu, who are described as living south of Palestine, with the name YHW.[12][13]

Biblical references

  1. Joseph is sold by his brothers to Midianites[14]
  2. Midian was where Moses spent the forty years in voluntary exile after murdering the Egyptian[15]
  3. Moses married Zipporah the daughter of Jethro, the priest of Midian[16]
  4. God instructs Moses to collect an army and destroy Midian[17]
  5. Israel is oppressed by Midian during the time of the Judges. Gideon is called by God to deliver Israel from Midian's armies.[18]

In the Qur'an

The people of Midian are also mentioned extensively in the Qur'an, where the name appears in Arabic as Madyan. Sura 9, verse 70 says "Has not the story reached them of those before them? - The people of Nuh (Noah), 'Ad, and Thamud, the people of Ibrahim (Abraham), the dwellers [literally, comrades] of Madyan (Midian) and the cities overthrown [i.e. the people to whom Lūt (Lot) preached], to them came their Messengers with clear proofs. So it was not Allah who wronged them, but they used to wrong themselves."

In Sura 7 (Al-A`rāf) Madyan is mentioned as one of several peoples who were warned by prophets to repent lest judgment fall on them. The story of Madyan is the last, coming after that of Lot preaching to his people (referring to the destruction of the Cities of the Plain. Madyan was warned by Shu`ayb to repent of using false weights and measures and lying in wait along the road. But they rejected Shu`ayb, and consequently were destroyed by a tremor (rajfa, v. 91). Abdullah Yusuf Ali in his commentary (1934) writes, "The fate of the Madyan people is described in the same terms as that of the Thamūd in verse 78 above. An earthquake seized them by night, and they were buried in their own homes, no longer to vex Allah's earth. But a supplementary detail is mentioned in [Qur'an] 26:189, 'the punishment of a day of overshadowing gloom,' which may be understood to mean a shower of ashes and cinders accompanying a volcanic eruption. Thus a day of terror drove them into their homes, and the earthquake finished them." (The volcano Hala-'l Badr is in Madyan.)

See also


  1. ^ Dever, William G. Who were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From? William B Eerdmans Publishing Co (24 May 2006) ISBN 978-0802844163 p.34
  2. ^ The Miracles of Exodus by Colin Humphreys, 2003, ISBN 0-8264-6952-3
  3. ^ Tyndale Bible Dictionary. By Walter A. Elwell, Philip Wesley Comfort. pg. 341
  4. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia
  5. ^ The Imperial Bible-dictionary. By Patrick Fairbairn pg. 382
  6. ^ Bromiley Geoffrey W . The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1996 ISBN 978-0802837837 p.350
  7. ^ Genesis 25:2
  8. ^ Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary, Midian, Review & Herald Publishing Association (Washington D.C., USA) 1960
  9. ^ Genesis 36:35; Numbers 22:4,7; Numbers 25:1,6
  10. ^ Qur'an, Al-Araf, 7:85
  11. ^ Schmidt, Werner (1999). The faith of the Old Testament: a history. Westminster?John Knox Press. p. 64. ISBN 978-0664244569. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=yORH1dOK6qgC&pg=PA64&dq=worship+of+The+One+God++Midian.#v=onepage&q=worship%20of%20Yahweh%20%20Midian.&f=false. 
  12. ^ . 
  13. ^ Miller, Patrick D. (2000). The religion of ancient Israel. Westminster/John Knox Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-0664221454. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=JBhY9BQ7hIQC&pg=PA1&dq=worship+of+Yahweh++Midian.#v=onepage&q=worship%20of%20Yahweh%20%20Midian.&f=false. 
  14. ^ Genesis 37:28
  15. ^ Exodus 2:11-15
  16. ^ Exodus 2:21
  17. ^ Numbers 31:1
  18. ^ Judges 6

Further reading

  • Clines, David and John Sawyer, eds. "Midian, Moab and Edom: The History and Archaeology of Late Bronze and Iron Age Jordan and North-West Arabia". Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Supplement Series, No. 24. Sheffield Academic Press, 1983.

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Midian — Album par Cradle of Filth Sortie 31 octobre 2000 Enregistrement 2000 Durée 58:58 Genre metal extrême Producteur John Fryer …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Midian — (hebr. מִדְיָן) ist der Name des Stammvaters der Midianiter im Tanach, der hebräischen Bibel. So heißt dort zugleich dieses Volk und sein Siedlungsgebiet. Der Name bedeutet wörtlich „Streitsache“ oder „Gerichtsurteil (arab. مَدْيَن madyan).… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Midĭan — (Madian), Land im nordwestlichen Arabien, am Roten Meer, unter Ismail Pascha vorübergehend ägyptisch, seit 1887 wieder türkisch, reicht vom Meerbusen von Akabah bis zur Hafenstadt El Widsch, mit unbestimmter Grenze nach O. Es wird in der Bibel… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Midian — Midĭan, Landschaft im NW. Arabiens, im NO. des Roten Meers, vom Golf von Akabah bis El Wedsch, nach den Entdeckungen Burtons (1877 78) reich an Ruinen und verlassenen Bergwerken; einst bewohnt von dem Nomadenstamme der Midianīter, die als… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Midian — В этой статье не хватает ссылок на источники информации. Информация должна быть проверяема, иначе она может быть поставлена под сомнение и удалена. Вы можете от …   Википедия

  • Midian — Mịdian,   die Landschaften des nördlichen Hidjas, Saudi Arabien, etwa zwischen dem Golf von Akaba und 26º nördliche Breite Im Altertum hatte Midian bedeutende Gold und Silbervorkommen.   …   Universal-Lexikon

  • midian — see ámidian …   Old to modern English dictionary

  • Midian — geographical name ancient region NW Arabia E of Gulf of Aqaba …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Midian — /mid ee euhn/, n. a son of Abraham and Keturah. Gen. 25:1 4. * * * …   Universalium

  • Midian —    Strife, the fourth son of Abraham by Keturah, the father of the Midianites (Gen. 25:2; 1 Chr. 1:32) …   Easton's Bible Dictionary