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TEMA (tē'ma, Heb. têmā’)

One of the twelve sons of Ishmael and progenitor of a tribe (Gen.25.12-Gen.25.16).A place at the northern edge of the Arabian Desert where the above tribe lived (Job.6.18-Job.6.20; Isa.21.14; Jer.25.23).

TEMAH (tē'ma, Heb. temah). The children of Temah were temple servants (kjv Nethinim) who returned from exile with Zerubbabel (Ezra.2.53; Neh.7.55).

TEMA te’ mə (תֵּימָ֔א, south country). The name of one of the twelve sons of Ishmael (Gen 25:15; 1 Chron 1:30), of a people descended from him (Jer 25:23), and of the locality they inhabited (Job 6:19; Isa 21:14).

The place is the same as the modern Teima in N Arabia, a large oasis about halfway between Damascus and Mecca, and between Babylonia and Egypt. It is on the ancient caravan road connecting the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Aqaba. It is one of the most attractive oases in Arabia and is still one of the most important trade centers in the land.

Two references in the Bible tell of the metropolitan position of Tema in the transdesert trade: Isaiah 21:13ff., where the inhabitants of Tema are asked to offer refuge and hospitality to Dedanite caravans fleeing from a pursuing army—possibly of either Nebuchadnezzar or Nabonidus; and Job 6:19, which in a description of the desert mentions “the caravans of Tema.” Jeremiah (25:23) prophesied that great trouble would come upon Tema and nearby tribes. This may refer to Nebuchadnezzar’s campaign against that region.

An Akkad. inscr., which was published under the title, “A Persian Verse Account of Nabonidus,” relates that Nabonidus, the last king of the Neo-Babylonian, or Chaldean, empire (556-539 b.c.), divided his power with his eldest son Belshazzar and entrusted the kingship to him. He did this that he might proceed with an army against Tema. He conquered the city, slaughtered its inhabitants, rebuilt it so that it recalled the glory of Babylon, and made it the capital of the western part of his empire. Another inscr., the Nabonidus Chronicle, gives an annual diary of the reign of Nabonidus for seventeen years, and records that for years he lived at Tema and therefore did not attend the New Year festival in Babylonia. An inscribed early Aram. monument, the Teima Stele, possibly dated in the 6th cent. b.c., records the grant of specified palm lands and perpetual right in the priesthood of the local god, Salm, to a certain priest Salm-shezeb. All surviving monuments and inscrs. of Tema show that for some years it enjoyed the rank of ancient Petra and Palmyra.

About 540 b.c., Cyrus, king of Persia, conquered all that region of Arabia, and Babylon itself fell a year later. Nabonidus was kindly treated by Cyrus, who gave him Carmania (in S Persia) to rule, or more prob. as a place of abode in a new land (Jos. Apion I. 20); and there he died.


R. P. Doughtery, Nabonidus and Belshazzar (1919), 105-124; S. Smith, Babylonian Historical Texts (1924), 98-123; C. M. Doughty, Arabia Deserta, I (1925) 285-300; J. A. Montgomery, Arabia and the Bible (1934), 58-68; J. Finegan, Light from the Ancient Past (1959), 227, 228.

TEMAH te’ mə (תָּֽמַח). Founder of a family of Temple servants who returned from the Captivity with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:53; KJV THAMAH, thā me; Neh 7:55, KJV TAMAH, tā'-me; 1 Esd 5:32, KJV THOMOI, thǒm oi, ASV THOMEI, thǒ’ me).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

The name of a son of Ishmael (Ge 25:15; 1Ch 1:30), of the tribe descended from him (Jer 25:23), and of the place where they dwelt (Job 6:19; Isa 21:14). This last was a locality in Arabia which probably corresponds to the modern Teima’ (or Tayma’ (see Doughty, Arabia Deserta, I, 285)), an oasis which lies about 200 miles North of el-Medina, and some 40 miles South of Dumat el-Jandal (Dumah), now known as el-Jauf. It is on the ancient caravan road connecting the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Aqaba; and doubtless the people took a share in the carrying trade (Job 6:19). The wells of the oasis still attract the wanderers from the parched wastes (Isa 21:14). Doughty (loc. cit.) describes the ruins of the old city wall, some 3 miles in circuit. An Aramaic stele recently discovered, belonging to the 6th century BC, shows the influence of Assyrian article The place is mentioned in the cuneiform inscriptions (Schrader, KAT2, 149).

The family name of a company of Nethinim (Ezr 2:53).