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MASSA măs’ ə (מַשָּֽׂא, burden). Name of a descendant of Abraham through Ishmael, the seventh of twelve listed (Gen 25:14; 1 Chron 1:30). Descendants of Massa lived in NW Arabia, evidenced by several matters. Tiglath-pileser III mentions “the inhabitants of Mas’a, of Tema” et al. as paying tribute, speaking of these peoples as living “towards West” (ANET, p. 283). Tema, associated with Mas’a in this inscr., is identified with present Teima NE of el-’Ula in NW Arabia. People of Tema doubtless descended from Tema, brother of Massa. Isaiah wrote of a locality, Dumah, as in the vicinity of Seir, S of the Dead Sea (Isa 21:11, 12), and its people prob. descended from Dumah, another brother. Ashurbanipal contacted both “Nebaiati” and “Qedareans” after moving S of Damascus, these people doubtless being descendants of Nebaioth and Kedar respectively, two other brothers (ANET, pp. 298-300). In other words, Ishmael’s descendants, including those of Massa, settled in NW Arabia, not far from the homeland of their ancestor.

Agur and Lemuel (Prov 30:1; 31:1) may have descended from Massa. The word מַ֫שָּׂ֥א (tr. “the prophecy” in KJV), appears in connection with both, and reasons exist for rendering it as the proper name, as in RSV. Especially significant is the absence of the article with מֶ֑לֶכְ in 31:1.


P. K. Hitti, The History of the Arabs (1953), 43; J. Simons, GTT (1959), 45, 46.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

Descendant of Abraham through Ishmael (Ge 25:14; 1Ch 1:30). His people may be the Masani of Ptolemy, having Eastern Arabia near Babylon as their habitat. The marginal reading of the heading to Pr 31 mentions Lemuel as king of Massa. If that reading is accepted, it would seem that a tribe and probably a place were named from Ishmael’s descendant. The reading is doubtful, however, for where the phrase recurs in Pr 30 (Revised Version (British and American)) it appears to be a gloss.