e’-dum, e’-dum-its ’edhom, "red"; Edom:
The boundaries of Edom may be traced with some approach to accuracy. On the East of the `Arabah the northern border ran from the Dead Sea, and was marked by Wady el-Kurachi, or Wady el-Chasa. On the East it marched with the desert. The southern border ran by Elath and Ezion-geber (
2. Character and Features:
The land thus indicated varies greatly in character and features. South of the Dead Sea in the bottom of the valley we have first the stretch of salt marsh land called es-Sebkha; then, beyond the line of white cliffs that crosses the valley diagonally from Northwest to Southeast, a broad depression strewn with stones and sandhills, the debris of an old sea bottom, rises gradually, and 60 miles to the South reaches a height of about 700 ft. above the level of the Red Sea, 2,000 ft. above that of the Dead Sea. From this point it sinks until it reaches the shore of the Gulf of `Aqaba, 45 miles farther South. The whole depression is known today as Wady el-`Arabah (compare Hebrew ha-`arabhah,
Limestone, porphyry and Nubian sandstone are the prevailing formation; but volcanic rocks are also found. The range consists mainly of rough rocky heights with many almost inaccessible peaks separated by deep gorges. But there are also breadths of fertile land where wheat, grapes, figs, pomegranates and olives are grown to advantage. The northern district is known today by the name el-Jebal, corresponding to the ancient Gebal. Seir is the name applied to the eastern range in
See illustration under DESERT.
3. Origin of Name:
The name Edom, "red," may have been derived from the red sandstone cliffs characteristic of the country. It was applied to Esau because of the color of his skin (
5. Idumaea and the Idumeans:
West of the `Arabah the country they occupied came to be known by the Greek name Idumaea, and the people as Idumeans. Hebron, their chief city, was taken by Judas Maccabeus in 165 BC (1 Macc 4:29,61; 5:65). In 126 BC the country was subdued by John Hyrcanus, who compelled the people to become Jews and to submit to circumcision. Antipater, governor of Idumaea, was made procurator of Judea, Samaria and Galilee by Julius Caesar. He paved the way to the throne for his son Herod the Great. With the fall of Judah under the Romans, Idumaea disappears from history.
The names of several Edomite deities are known: Hadad, Qaus, Koze, and, possibly, Edom; but of the religion of Edom we are without information. The language differed little from Hebrew.