sa-be'-anz (shebha'im (Joe 3:8 the King James Version), cebha'-im; Sabaeim, Sebaeim (Isa 45:14); read cabha'im, but rendered as though from cabha', "to imbibe," hence, "drunkards"; oinomenoi, "wine-drunken" (Eze 23:42 the King James Version)):
1. Forms of the Word:
"Sabaeans" is also the translation of the name of the country itself (shebha') in Job 1:15; 6:19. This last, which is the root of shebha'im, is regarded by Arabists as coming from that root with the meaning of "to take captive," though seba'a, "he raided" (compare Job 1:15), has also been suggested.
2. Two Different Races:
As Sheba is said in Ge 10:7,28; and Ge 25:3 respectively to have been (1) a son of Raamah, the 4th son of Cush; (2) the 10th son of Joktan, son of Eber; (3) the 1st son of Jokshan, 2nd son of Abraham and Keturah, at least two nationalities of this name are implied. The former were identified by Josephus (Ant., II, x, 2) with the tall people of Saba in Upper Egypt, described by him as a city of Ethiopia, which Moses, when in the service of the Egyptians, besieged and captured.
3. Semitic Sabeans and Their Commerce:
It is the Semitic Sabeans, however, who are the best known, and the two genealogies attributed to them (Joktan-Eber and Jokshan-Abraham) seem to imply two settlements in the land regarded as that of their origin. As Ezekiel (27:23) mentions Haran (Hirran), Canneh (Kannah), and Eden (Aden) as being connected with Sheba, and these three places are known to have been in Southern Arabia, their Semitic parentage is undoubted. The Sabeans are described as being exporters of gold (Isa 60:6; Ps 72:15), precious stones (Eze 27:23), perfumes (Jer 6:20; Isaiah and Ezekiel), and if the rendering "Sabaeans" for Joe 3:1-21 (4):8 be correct, the Sebaim, "a nation far off," dealt in slaves.
T. G. Pinches