Jeremiah Prophesied About Arabia and Trade on the Spice Routes Over Long Periods of Time
We know that the prophet Jeremiah was a youth when the Lord commissioned him to prophesy, and we know he lived many years after the destruction of Jerusalem. He began to prophesy around 627 B.C., near the end of the reign of the Assyrian king, Assurbanipal. He prophesied during the reigns of several other rulers, too. There was Nabopolassar, who became King of Babylonia around 626 B.C. Next was Jehoahaz, King of Judah in 609 B.C. Then came Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon in 605 B.C. He was followed by Jehoachin, King of Judah in 597 B.C., and Zedekiah, King of Judah in 597 B.C. Jeremiah also prophesied during the destruction of the Temple by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. We read in Jeremiah, chapter 2, verse 10, about the gods the tribe of Qedar worshipped through the ages. In Jeremiah, chapter 49, verse 28, we read about a prophecy against other tribes, including Qedar. It states that Nebuchad-nezzar, King of Babylon, would attack them.
Jeremiah prophesied about campaigns conducted by the Chaldeans in northern Arabia. We find in Jeremiah 25:23 that Dedan and Teima were among the nations which the Chaldeans were to conquer. The oracle against Dedan is repeated in Jeremiah 48:8. The frankincense trade from Sheba to Israel is expressed in Jeremiah 6:20:
For what purpose to Me comes frankincense from Sheba, and sweet cane from a far country ?
This shows that the trade of frankincense from Saba to the Mediterranean region continued in Jeremiah's time. Ezekiel and the Nations Which Traded With Mediterranean CountriesIn the 6th century B.C., Ezekiel mentions the merchandise which was traded with Mediterranean countries through the Arabian routes, and the cities which were involved in those trades, but Mecca is not among them.
Ezekiel began to prophesy around 593 B.C. We know his prophecies reflect events of the first third of the 6th century B.C. In Ezekiel 25:13, the prophet mentions the Chaldean occupation of Dedan, and other nations, such as Edom and Philistia. Ezekiel also sheds light on trade routes from Arabia in the beginning of the 6th century B.C. He elaborates on the kind of goods, traded by Mediterranean cities along these routes, especially the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon. In Ezekiel, chapter 27, the prophet speaks a prophecy, or an oracle against Tyre. He describes Tyre's wealth, and the commerce it had with other nations of the world at that time. Ezekiel mentions several cities and nations on the land route from southern Arabia. In verse 15 he says:
The men of Dedan were your traders; many isles were the market of your hand. They brought you ivory tusks and ebony as payment.
This verse reflects the commerce of ivory and ebony wood which Dedanite merchants brought to Tyre on the Mediterranean. These goods originated in India. They were transported to southern Arabia, and the Dedanites brought them to the Mediterranean region. The Phoenicians from Tyre would then distribute their wares to various nations along the Mediterranean. Ezekiel 27:20 speaks about another product which Tyre imported from Dedan, when he says, "Dedan was your merchant in saddlecloths for riding." In verse 21, he mentions the imports Tyre received from Qedar: "Arabia and all the princes of Qedar were your regular merchants. They traded with you in lambs, rams and goats."
These are the same commodities which Qedar traded with Israel, as we saw in the book of Isaiah. This verse also confirms that Qedar was governed by many kings or princes which, historically, we know to be true, because Assyrian inscriptions showed many kings governed in Qedar at the same time.
Ezekiel 27:22 speaks about the trade with Sheba (Saba):
The merchants of Sheba and Raamah were your merchants. They traded for your wares the choicest spices, all kind of precious stones and gold.
We already have discussed that, according to Genesis 10:6,7, Raamah was the father of Sheba, from whom came the Saba tribe of Yemen. Raamah was the fourth son of Cush, and a grandson of Ham. Raamah was mentioned in the inscriptions of Saba. The Bible connects Raamah with Sheba, which is called Saba. In the Bible, a nation is often named after the father of the founder: for example, Israel is also called Jacob, or Isaac. According to the last verse we read in Ezekiel, the imports Tyre received from Yemen consisted "of choicest spices, precious stones and gold." We know this is true from other historical evidence, as well.
Ezekiel 27:23, 24 lists other nations and cities which traded their goods with Tyre:
Haran, Canneh, Eden, the merchants of Sheba, Assyria and Chilmad were your merchants. Those were your merchants in choice items; purple clothes, embroidered garments, chests of multicolored apparel, and sturdy woven cords, which were in your marketplace.
We recognize among the aforementioned cities and nations some southern Arabian cities; namely, Canneh and Eden, in addition to the merchants of Sheba. Canneh is mentioned in the historical book "Periplus of the Erythraean Sea," which is dated around 60 A.D. It's identified with Hisn Ghorab, a port of southern Arabia located 14 degrees and 10 minutes north, by 48 degrees and 20 minutes east. Canneh was an important place, importing Asian wares and clothes. From Canneh, the items were brought to Phoenician ports, such as Tyre. That's why Ezekiel mentioned that through Canneh came precious bolts of cloth, clothes of purple, woven cords and embroidered garments. These goods were known to have originated in China and India.[xx]
The text tells us that, in addition to the Sabaeans, the city of Eden, in south Yemen, also traded these items. These records document the beginning of the 6th century B.C., when marine trade was flourishing between Asian countries and the Mediterranean region, through southern Yemen. This description of the richness of the city of Tyre, the purple in Tyre's homes, and the other items which the book of Ezekiel mentions, are confirmed by classical historians, such as Strabo in his seventeenth book.[xxi] The ebony wood trade from India and far islands is also confirmed historically.[xxii] During the period between the 8th and 6th centuries B.C., the Bible mentioned many of the cities and nations on the Arabian trade routes, but it does not mention Mecca.
The major prophets of the Bible: Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, reflected the trade with western Arabian kingdoms and cities, from the 8th century B.C. until the beginning of the 6th century B.C. - a period in which the trade between southern Arabia, the cities on the land trading routes, the Mediterranean countries and the Fertile Crescent countries flourished. There's not a single city along these western and northern Arabian trading routes that was not mentioned by the inspired prophets of the Bible. Not only does the Bible mention the cities, but it also mentions the kinds of items and wares which were traded. In spite of the fact that the prophets mentioned all the cities on these trading routes, such as Dumah, Qedar, Teima and Dedan, it never mentions Mecca. The Bible even mentions many tribes involved in trading, such as Midian, Ephah, Saba and Ma'in, but Mecca is absent in all this!
As we have discussed many times before, Mecca was built around the 4th century A.D. on the caravan route between Yemen, Teima and Dedan. If Mecca had existed during the times of these major prophets, then there would be no reason for not mentioning it. This is especially true when we consider that inspired authors, like the prophet Ezekiel, talked about all the cities on the route, even those which were in remote places such as Canneh and Eden. If only because of its strategic place on the trading route, Mecca should have been mentioned - not one time, but many times, if it had existed then. Many times, the Bible mentions the primary cities and nations which traded along these routes and ran through western and northern Arabia. For example, Midian is mentioned 20 times, Qedar eight times, Dedan six times, and Teima three times. Mecca was built in the most strategic location on the land route. It's a place where the route split in two. One route went to Teima, and the other to Dedan. Yet, Mecca is not mentioned even once, although its location is closer to Palestine than to Sheba and Ma'in in Yemen.
These cities, which were mentioned many times, all appeared after the 10th century B.C. Kingdoms like Sheba and Main started their trade activity with the Mediterranean countries after the 10th century B.C. Ma'in started its trade many centuries later. Yet, Sheba and Ma'in are mentioned many times in their relationship with the region. But Mecca, the city which Islamic tradition claims existed since the time of Abraham in the 21st century B.C., is not mentioned, even once, in any book of the Bible. The Bible is a reliable source of ancient history. Not mentioning Mecca during the period it covers, from the time of Abraham to the 5th century B.C., is significant proof that Mecca was not in existence during that period.
We also see that Mecca does not exist in the Biblical narration of the old nations of Arabia, and how they originated from the children of Noah. Nor does it exist in other genealogies, such as the sons of Keturah, who was the wife Abraham took after Sarah died. Mecca is not mentioned in any Biblical genealogy of how Arabia was populated in ancient history. However, all the actual ancient tribes and cites of western and northern Arabia are mentioned.
The Biblical narration is the only source of ancient history for many regions of the Middle East. Therefore, it is of fundamental importance in understanding the region. The Bible mentions nations and cities, even when no other resource confirms its narration. Tribes mentioned in the Bible, such as the Hittites, and cities, such as Ur, were questioned by historians in the past. Some wondered if they even existed in history. But then we discovered their ruins, and the same historians discovered that the rich and extended coverage of the Bible is perfectly true and correct. This means that, when the Bible mentions the cities of northwestern Arabia and the two nations of Saba and Main of Yemen, without even mentioning Mecca, it's a definitive affirmation that Mecca failed to exist through the long history which the Bible covers in this region, from the time of Abraham until Malachi, the last inspired author of the Old Testament who began prophesying around 436 B.C. This is a rather simple fact, yet it is significant to the understanding of Islam. If a religion is to be followed, it must be credible, and it must be built on accurate information.
Article with footnotes at this linkhttp://religionresearchinstitute.org/mecca/mecca_bible.htm