Libya, Libyans

LIBYA, LIBYANS lĭb’ ĭ ə, lĭb’ yə, lĭb’ ĭ ənz (לוּבִ֥ים, and perhaps לְהָבִ֖ים, פּ֥וּט; Gr. λιβύης). Land and peoples in North Africa, the immediate western neighbors of Egypt. 1. Lehabim occurs only in the Table of Nations (Gen 10:13; 1 Chron 1:11), classified under Egypt. It may be a variant form of Lubim, Libyans.

2. Lubim in Heb. corresponds to the Gr. Libyēs, covering “Libya(ns)” in general. Both terms derive from the name of a particular people, the Libu (Rbw) in Egyp. records from Ramses II (13th cent. b.c.) onward. The oldest Egyp. terms for Libyan peoples are Tjehenu and Tjemehu (from the 3rd millennium b.c.); fresh tribal names including the Libu appear in the New Kingdom. The Libu predominated in the invasion of Egypt so vigorously repelled by Merneptah, as reported on the “Israel Stela” and other texts (Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, III, §§ 569-617). Under Ramses III (c. 1190 b.c.) and later, the Libu were less prominent, but their name persisted in titles like “Great Chief of the Libu” in the 22nd-23rd dynasties, c. 945-715 b.c. (cf. Yoyotte in Mélanges Maspero, I: 4 [1961], 142-151).

In the OT, the Lubim appropriately feature in the forces of the Pharaoh Shishak (himself of Libyan extraction), when he invaded Pal. (2 Chron 12:3), and also in those of Zerah defeated by Asa (cf. 2 Chron 16:8). Along with Put (see below, 3.), the Lubim were reckoned as part of the strength of Thebes by Nahum (3:9). Some would read Lubim for Lud in Jeremiah 46:9, but cf. Lud in Genesis 10:13. Libya and Cush are also subordinate to Egypt (Dan 11:43), as happened so often in their history.


4. Visitors from “the parts of Libya about Cyrene” were present in Jerusalem at Pentecost (Acts 2:10). Simon of Cyrene had to carry the cross (Matt 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26).

Bibliography O. Bates, The Eastern Libyans (1914); W. Hölscher, Libyer und Ägypter (1937); A. H. Gardiner, Ancient Egyptian Onomastica, I (1947), 114*-123*, Nos. 238-242 (valuable surveys of the Egyp. data).