, the name of the country inhabited by the descendants of Edom (or Esau), being, in fact, only the classical form of that ancient Semitic name. (J. AJ 2.1.1
.) Eth. Ἰδουμαῖος
It is otherwise called Mount Seir. (Gen.
32.3, 36.8; Deut.
It lay between Mount Horeb and the southern border of Canaan (Deut.
1.2), extending apparently as far south as the Gulf of Akaba
2.2--8), as indeed its ports, Ezion-geber, and Eloth, are expressly assigned to the “land of Edom.” (2 Chron.
This country was inhabited in still more ancient times by the Horims (Deut.
2.12, 22), and derived its more ancient name from their patriarch Seir (Gen.
36.20; comp. 14.6), as is properly maintained by Reland, against the fanciful conjecture of Josephus and others. (Palaestina,
pp. 68, 69.) The Jewish historian extends the name Idumaea so far to the north as to comprehend under it great part of the south of Judaea; as when he says that the tribe of Simeon received as their inheritance that part of Idumaea which borders on Egypt and Arabia. (Ant.
5.1.22) He elsewhere calls Hebron the first city of Idunmaea, i. e. reckoning from the north. (B. J.
4.9.7.) From his time the name Idumaea disappears from geographical descriptions, except as an historical appellation of the country that was then called Gebalene, or the southern desert (ἡ κατὰ μεσημβρίαν ἐρῆμος,
Euseb. Onom. s. v. Αἰλάμ
), or Arabia.
The historical records of the Idumaeans, properly so called, are very scanty. Saul made war upon them; David subdued the whole country; and Solomon made Ezion-geber a naval station. (1 Sam.
14.47, 2 Sam.
8.14; 1 Kings,
11.15, 9.26.) The Edomites, however, recovered their national independence under Joram, king of Judah (2 Kings,
14.7), and avenged themselves on the Jews in the cruelties which they practised at the capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. (Psalms,
It was probably during the Babylonish captivity that they extended themselves as far north as Hebron, where they were attacked and subdued by Judas Maccabaeus. (1 Maccab.
5.65--68; J. AJ 12.8.6
It was on this account that the whole of the south of Palestine, about Hebron, Gaza, and Eleutheropolis (Beit Jebris),
came to be designated Idumaea. (Joseph. B. J.
4.9.7, c. Apion.
2.9 ; S. Jerom. Comment. in Obad.
ver. 1.) Meanwhile, the ancient seats of the children of Edom had been invaded and occupied by another tribe, the Nabathaeans, the descendants of the Ishmaelite patriarch Nebaioth [NABATHAEI], under which name the country and its capital [PETRA
] became famous among Greek and Roman geographers and historians, on which account their description of the district is more appropriately given under that head. St. Jerome's brief but accurate notice of its general features may here suffice:--“Omnis australis regio Idumaeorum de Eleutheropolio [p. 2.15]
usque ad Petram et Ailam (haec est possessio Esau) in specubus habitatiunculas habet; et propter nimios calores solis, quia meridiana provincia est, subterraneis tuguriis utitur.” (Comment. in Obad.
vv. 5, 6.) And again, writing of the same country, he says that south of Tekoa “ultra nullus est viculus, ne agrestes quidem casae et furnorum similes, quas Afri appellant mapalia. Tanta est eremi vastitas, quae usque ad Mare Rubrum Persarumque et Aethiopum atque Indorum terminos dilatatur. Et quia humi arido atque arenoso nihil omnino frugum gignitur, cuncta sunt plena pastoribus, ut sterilitatem terrae compenset pecorum multitudine.” (Prolog. ad Amosum.