Children of the East

est (bene qedhem): A term which in a general way designated the inhabitants of the country East of Palestine The Hebrews thought of their own country as occupying the central place, and of the other parts of the world in relation to this. They spoke of the "queen of the south" (Mt 12:42), and of the "king of the south" (Da 11:5-6). They spoke of people coming from "the east and the west" and sitting down with the patriarchs (Mt 8:11).

The term "children of the east" seems to have been applied to the inhabitants of any part of the country East of Palestine It is stated that Jacob, when he fled from Esau, "came to the land of the children of the east" (Ge 29:1), and the place to which he came was Haran in Mesopotamia. In Jer 49:28 the inhabitants of Kedar are called "the children of the east," and in later Jewish literature, Kedar is identified with the Arabs (see KEDAR). Job was designated as "the greatest of all the children of the east" (Job 1:3), and the land of Uz was mentioned as his home (Job 1:1). While it is impossible absolutely to locate the land of Uz, it must have been on the edge of the desert which was East of Palestine. The children of the east seem to have been famous for their wisdom. It is said that "Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east" (1Ki 4:30), and "Wise-men from the east" came to Jerusalem seeking the one that was born king of the Jews (Mt 2:1).

Many of the inhabitants of the east country were regarded as descending from Abraham (see Ge 25:6), and hence, they were related to Israel.

A. W. Fortune

 
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