DEDAN (dē'dăn). An Arabian people descended directly from Noah (Gen.10.6-Gen.10.7). They established themselves in the region around the NW end of the Persian Gulf. They were also related to Abraham by his concubine Keturah (Gen.25.3). Mention of these people occurs frequently in the Chaldean and Assyrian tablets. Israelites of later generations considered them kinsmen. Dedanites were warned by Jeremiah to flee to the back country (Jer.49.7-Jer.49.8). They were an important commercial people. Isaiah called the Dedanites traveling tradesmen (Isa.21.13). Ezekiel wrote of their connection with Tyre (Ezek.27.3, Ezek.27.15, Ezek.27.20), and foretold that the destruction of the Dedanites was to accompany that of the Edomites (Ezek.25.13).

DEDAN, DEDANITES de’ dən, dĕd ən īts (דְּדָֽן). The name of two men in the OT and also a term applied to a people. 1. The son of Raamah, son of Cush, the son of Ham (Gen 10:7). His brother was Sheba. He is also mentioned in 1 Chronicles 1:9.

2. The grandson of Abraham by Keturah. His father was Jokshan and his brother also is called Sheba (Gen 25:3; cf. 1 Chron 1:32). The sons of Dedan are listed as Asshurim, Letushim, and Leummim.

3. As a geographical and ethnic term in several references in the prophets. (a) In the oracle concerning Arabia they are mentioned as lodging in the thickets of Arabia and are referred to as being in caravans (Isa 21:13). (b) Dedan is mentioned in a passage noting the object of God’s wrath. The people of Dedan are mentioned in company with Tema and Buz and those who cut the corners of their hair (Jer 25:23). (c) In the context of a prophecy against Edom the people of Dedan are warned of God’s punishment to befall them (49:8). In a similar context God’s judgment against Edom includes all the territory from Teman to Dedan (Ezek 25:13). (d) Ezekiel 27:15 also mentions the Dedanites. Here RSV follows the LXX and trs. “Rhodes” instead of “Dedan.” If the Heb. is correct, then the Dedanites were traders with Tyre. This would seem to be borne out by Ezekiel’s statement that Dedan traded with Tyre in saddlecloths for riding, a commodity abundant among the Arabs (27:20). (e) Dedan is mentioned with Sheba in a prophecy concerning Gog (Ezek 38:13, 14).

One can conclude therefore that the Dedanites were a people of Arabia who were closely associated with Sheba. Their exact identity is not known. Extra-Biblical sources of antiquity indicate that Dedan also was an oasis on the trade routes of the peoples of Sheba, Tema and Buz. The oasis of Dedan was known as ed-dağān as late as a.d. 1200 and remains of its buildings still survive.

El-’ulä is to be identified as the most likely site, being located fifty m. SW of Tema and one hundred and fifty m. E of the Red Sea in Central Arabia.


J. Simons, The Geographical and Topographical Text of the Old Testament (1959), 21; J. Thompson, The Bible and Archaeology (1962), 201ff.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

de’-dan, de’dan-its (the King James Version Dedanim, ded’-a-nim; dedhan, "low," dedhanim): An Arabian people named in Ge 10:7 as descended from Cush; in Ge 25:3 as descended from Keturah. Evidently, they were, like the related Sheba (Sabaeans), of mixed race (compare Ge 10:7,28). In Isa 21:13 allusion is made to the "caravans of Dedanites" in the wilds of Arabia, and Eze mentions them as supplying Tyre with precious things (Eze 27:20; in verse 15, "Dedan" should probably be read as in Septuagint, "Rodan," i.e. Rhodians). The name seems still to linger in the island of Dadan, on the border of the Persian Gulf. It is found also in Min. and Sab. inscriptions (Glazer, II, 392 ff).