MIDIAN, MIDIANITES (mihd' ih uhn, mihd' ih uhn itess). Personal and clan name meaning, “strife”
Midian was the son of Abraham by his concubine Keturah (Genesis 25:2). Abraham sent him and his brothers away to the east, leading to the assocation of the Midianites with the “children of the east” (Judges 6:3). Midianites took Joseph to Egypt (Genesis 37:28,Genesis 37:36). Since the caravan in the passage is described as Ishmaelite, it is possible that these two groups descended from Abraham had become interrelated. The Old Testament mentions the Midianites in widely scattered geographical locations, but their main homeland seems to be east of the Jordan and south of Edom. Later historians locate the land of Midian in northwestern Arabia east of the Gulf of Aqabah. The people of Israel had both good and bad relationships with the Midianites. When Moses fled from Pharaoh, he went east to Midian (Exodus 2:15). Here he met Jethro (also called Reuel), the priest of Midian, and married his daughter. During the wandering in the wilderness, Reuel's father-in-law Hobab served as a guide for the Israelites (Numbers 10:29-32). The Midianites are associated with the Moabites in seducing Israel into immorality and pagan worship at Baal-peor (Numbers 25:1-18). For this reason God commanded Moses to execute a war of vengeance against them (Numbers 31:3; compare Joshua 13:21). In the time of the judges the Midianites along with the Amalekites began to raid Israel using camels to strike swiftly over great distances. Gideon drove them out and killed their leaders (Judges 6-8). They never again threatened Israel; but Midian did harbor Solomon's enemy Hadad (1 Kings 11:18). See Amalekites; Baal-peor; Gideon; Ishmaelites; Jethro; Kenites.
Ricky L. Johnson
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.