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ISLAND, ISLE. These words are translations of the Hebrew i, which has a much wider significance than the English words. Its root meaning is supposed to be “habitable land.”

1. Dry land, as opposed to water (Isa.42.15).

2. An island as usually understood (Jer.2.10).

3. A coastland, whether belonging to continents or islands, as the coastland of Palestine and Phoenicia (Isa.20.6) and the coasts and islands of Asia Minor and Greece (Gen.10.5).

4. The farthest regions of the earth (Isa.41.5; Zeph.2.11). The Jews were not a maritime people, and so there are not many references to islands in the OT. Most of them are found in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. In the NT a number of islands are mentioned in connection with the missionary journeys of the apostle Paul, viz., Cyprus, Crete, Lesbos, Samos, Samothrace, Chios, Melita, and Sicily. John was banished to the Isle of Patmos for the sake of the Word of God (Rev.1.9).

Though references are scattered, a notable concentration appears (Isa, Jer, and Ezek) and a definite pattern of Israelite geographical knowledge (based partially on Phoenician and Philistine contacts) seems implied. Items of trade suggest E African or Indian contacts through Aqabah (1 Kings 10:22; Ezek 27:15) but neighboring Mediterranean areas, esp. Kittim (Cyprus) Caphtor (Crete?) and Dedan (Rhodes?) were in clearer view. Elishah (Ezek 27:7) was perhaps the Peloponessos or southern Italy, and metal smelting Tarshish may have been Cilician Tarsus, Sardinia, or Tartessus in Spain. NT references, naturally more explicit, include Malta and specific Aegean islands, while in Revelation 6:14 and 16:20 a world-view reappears.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

i’-land, il

(2) plural ’iyim, the King James Version "wild beasts of the islands," the Revised Version (British and American) "wolves," the Revised Version margin "howling creatures" (Isa 13:22; 34:14; Jer 50:39).

(3) nesion, "small island" (Ac 27:16)

See Coast; Geography; JACKAL; WOLF.