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Ophir (Hebrew: אוֹפִיר, Modern Ofir Tiberian ʾÔp̄îr) is a port or region mentioned in the Bible, famous for its wealth. King Solomon is supposed to have received a cargo of gold, silver, sandalwood, precious stones, ivory, apes and peacocks from Ophir, every three years.


Ophir in Genesis 10 (the Table of Nations) is said to be the name of one of the sons of Joktan. Biblical references to the land of Ophir are also found in 1 Kings 9:28; 10:11; 22:49; 1 Chronicles 29:4; 2 Chronicles 8:18; Book of Job 22:24; 28:16; Psalms 45:9; Isaiah 13:12.

John Masefield, "Cargoes"
Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

In pre-Islamic literature

Details about the three of Joktan's sons, Sheba, Ophir and Havilah, were preserved in a tradition known in divergent forms from three pre-Islamic Arabic and Ethiopic sources: the Kitab al-Magall (part of Clementine literature), the Cave of Treasures, and the Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan.

The Kitab al-Magall states that in the days of Reu, a king of Saba (Sheba) named "Pharoah" annexed Ophir and Havilah to his kingdom, and "built Ophir with stones of gold, for the stones of its mountains are pure gold."

In the Cave of Treasures, this appears as: "And the children of Ophir, that is, Send, appointed to be their king Lophoron, who built Ophir with stones of gold; now, all the stones that are in Ophir are of gold."

The version in the Conflict of Adam and Eve says: "Phar’an reigned over the children of Saphir [Ophir], and built the city of Saphir with stones of gold; and that is the land of Sarania, and because of these stones of gold, they say that the mountains of that country and the stones thereof are all of gold."

Theorized or conjectural locations

Biblical scholars, archaeologists and others have tried to determine the exact location of Ophir.

For instance, Vasco da Gama's companion Tomé Lopes reasoned that Ophir would have been the ancient name for Great Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe, the main center of sub-African trade in gold in the Renaissance period, (contemporary still very rich area in Gold & Diamonds, next to Egoli (Johannesburg)gold valley) — despite the fact that Great Zimbabwe is a medieval structure and did not exist in the time period in which the biblical Solomon is said to have lived.

Although the identification of Ophir with Sofala was mentioned by Milton in Paradise Lost (11:399-401), among many other works of literature and science, it has since been discarded.

In the 19th century Max Müller and other scholars identified Ophir with Abhira {see yadav}, at the mouth of the Indus River in modern-day Pakistan. Another possibility is the African shore of the Red Sea, with the name perhaps being derived from the Afar people of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti. Most modern scholars still place Ophir either on the coast of either Pakistan or India, in what is now Poovar, or somewhere in southwest Arabia in the region of modern Yemen. This is also the assumed location of Sheba. Saudi Arabia's cradle of gold, "Mahd adh Dhahab".

Other assumptions vary as widely as the theorized locations of Atlantis. Portuguese mythology locates it in Ofir, a place in Fão, Esposende. Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897) adds a connection to "Sofir," the Coptic name for India. Josephus connected it with "Cophen, an Indian river, and in part of Asia adjoining to it," (Antiquities of the Jews I:6), sometimes associated with a part of Afghanistan.

In 1568 Alvaro Mendaña discovered the Solomon Islands, and named them as such because he believed them to be Ophir.[1]

Proponents of pre-Columbian connections between Eurasia and the Americas have suggested even more distant locations such as modern-day Peru or Brazil. Author on topics in alternative history David Hatcher Childress goes so far as to suggest that Ophir was located in Australia; proposing that the cargoes of gold, silver and precious stones were obtained from mines in the continent's north-west, and that ivory, sandalwood and peacocks were obtained in South Asia on the voyage back to Canaan.[2]

In a book found in Spain entitled Collecion General de Documentos Relativos a las Islas Filipinas, the author has described how to locate Ophir. According to the section "Document No. 98", dated 1519-1522, Ophir can be found by travelling from the Cape of Good Hope in Africa, to India, to Burma, to Sumatra, to Moluccas, to Borneo, to Sulu, to China, then finally Ophir. Ophir was said to be "[...] in front of China towards the sea, of many islands where the Moluccans, Chinese, and Lequios met to trade..." Jes Tirol asserts that this group of islands could not be Japan because the Moluccans did not get there, nor Taiwan, since it is not composed of "many islands." Only the present-day Philippines, he says, could fit the description. Spanish records also mention the presence of Lequious (big, bearded white men, probably descendants of the Phoenicians, whose ships were always laden with gold and silver) in the Islands to gather gold and silver.[3] Other evidence has also been pointed out suggesting that the Philippines was the biblical Ophir.[4][5][6][7]

Former Israeli settlement

The Israeli settlement created in the 1970s at Sharm el-Sheikh in Sinai was called Ophirah (אופירה), Hebrew for "Towards Ophir" - since its location on the Red Sea was on the route supposedly traversed by King Solomon's ships en route to Ophir.

The settlement was evacuated in 1982, under the terms of the Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty, and the name fell out of use.

In fiction

File:Hadon of Ancient Opar.jpg

Ophir is the subject of H. Rider Haggard's novel King Solomon's Mines, which places the lost city in South Africa.

Ophir is also a kingdom in Robert Howard's Conan the Barbarian series of stories; see Hyborian Age for more information.

Several of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan novels happen in and around the lost city of Opar, deep in the African jungles — with Opar evidently being another name for Ophir. The city appears in The Return of Tarzan (1913), Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar (1916), Tarzan and the Golden Lion (1923), and Tarzan the Invincible (1930).

Philip José Farmer took up the theme from the Tarzan books and wrote two books of his own, taking place in Opar at the height of its glory thousands of years ago: Hadon of Ancient Opar and Flight to Opar.

Wilbur Smith's novel The Sunbird is set in ancient Ophir (called Opet) and its modern ruins.

Ophir is the name of the Nordic Utopia in M. M. Scherbatov's 1784 novel "Putishestvie v zemliu ofirskuiu" ("Voyage to Ophir").

Clive Cussler's The Navigator places the mines of Ophir on the eastern seaboard of the United States, postulating a pre-Columbian voyage by the Phoenicians.

See also

  • Tarshish, another Biblical location providing Solomon with riches.
  • Ophur, Chicago, IL based rock band circa 1997 - 2004

External links


Some or all of this article is forked from Wikipedia. The original article was at Ophir. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

  1. HOGBIN, H. In, Experiments in Civilization: The Effects of European Culture on a Native Community of the Solomon Islands, New Yprk: Schocken Books, 1970 (1939), pp.7-8
  2. Pirates and the Lost Templar Fleet ISBN 1-931882-18-5
  3. Tirol, Jes.Bo-ol (Bohol) was a Land of Ophir: A Theory. The Bohol Chronicle Vol.LIII No.062 December 21, 2008.
  4. Philippines is Ophir. Accessed February 16, 2009.
  5. Vedic Empire. Retrieved on 2008-10-11.
  6. Legeza, Laszlo. "Tantric Elements in pre-Hispanic Philippines Gold Art," Arts of Asia, July-Aug. 1988, pp.129-136. (Mentions gold jewelry of Philippine origin in first century CE Egypt)
  7. Peralta, J.T. "Prehistoric gold ornaments from the Central Bank of the Philippines," Arts of Asia 1981, no.4, p.54.

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