GESHEM (gē’shěm). The Arabian who, along with Sanballat and Tobiah, sought to oppose the building of the wall of the city of Jerusalem by Nehemiah (Neh.2.19; Neh.6.1-Neh.6.2). The same as Gashmu in the KJV of Neh.6.6.

GESHEM gĕsh’ əm (גֶּ֨שֶׁם; perhaps Heb. rains, bulk, substance; but prob. local dialectal Arab. name of unknown meaning; gäsmu’ in Neh 6:6 KJV; RSVmg.) One of Nehemiah’s opponents in the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem (2:19; 6:1ff.). He was important enough to serve as witness to the Jews’ alleged treason (6:6). His title, “the Arab,” may identify him as the governor of Edom (IDB), but scholars have more generally identified him with a N Arabian king referred to as “Gashm, son of Shahr” in an inscr. from Dedan in Arabia and as “Gashm, king of Kedar” in an Aram. inscr. from Egypt. Probably, both Tobiah and Geshem had friendly contacts with the nomads and seminomads who were then infiltrating into Pal. from the S. Furthermore, N Arabian kings profited economically from the trade routes extending from Arabia through Pal. to the Mediterranean coast. A resurgent Jerusalem threatened both of these interests.


A. T. Olmstead, History of the Persian Empire (1948), 295; K. A. Kitchen, “Geshem,” NBD (1962); M. Newman, “Geshem,” IDB (1962).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

An Arabian, probably chief of an Arabian tribe that had either settled in Southern Palestine during the exile in Babylon, or had been settled in or near Samaria by Sargon (Ne 2:19; 6:1,2,6). He was a confederate of Sanballat and Tobiah, and strenuously opposed the building of the wall under Nehemiah. He with the others mocked at the first efforts to build the wall, and afterward repeatedly sought to entice Nehemiah to the plains of Ono. The name also occurs in the form Gashmu, perhaps an Assyrian form of the same name Geshem.