Akrab'bim (Hebrew Akrabbim', עִקרִבּים, scorpions, as in Eze 2:6; Sept. Α᾿κραβίν, Α᾿κραβείν), only in the connection MAALEH-ACRABBIM SEE MAALEH-ACRABBIM (q.v.), i.e. Scorpion-Height (Jos 15:3;
"ascent of Akrabhim" Nu 34:4; "going up to Akrabbim," Jg 1:36), an ascent, hill, or chain of hills, which, from the name, would appear to have been much infested by scorpions and serpents, as some districts in that quarter certainly were (De 8:15; comp. Volney, 2:256). It is only mentioned in describing the frontier-line of the promised land southward in the region of the Amorites (Nu 34:4; Jos 15:3; Jg 1:36). Shaw conjectures that Akrabbim may be the same with the mountains of Akabah, by which he understands the easternmost range of the "black mountains" of Ptolemy, extending from Paran to Judaea. This range has lately become well known as the mountains of Edom, being those which bound the great valley of Arabah on the east (Travels, 2, 120). More specifically, he seems to refer Akrabbim to the southernmost portion of this range, near the fortress of Akabah, and the extremity of the eastern gulf of the Red Sea; where, as he observes, "from the badness of the roads, and many rocky passes that are to be surmounted, the Mohammedan pilgrims lose a number of camels, and are no less fatigued than the Israelites were formerly in getting over them." Burckhardt (Syria, p. 509) reaches nearly the same conclusion, except that he rather refers "the ascent of Akrabbim" to the acclivity of the western mountains from the plain of Akabah. This ascent is very steep, and has probably given to the place its name of Akabah, which means a cliff or steep declivity." But the south-eastern frontier of Judah could not have been laid down so far to the south in the time of Moses and Joshua. The signification of the names in the two languages is altogether different. M. De Saulcy finds this "Scorpion-steep" in the Wady es-Zuweirah, running into the S.W. end of the Dead Sea; a precipitous, zigzag ascent, up which a path marked with ancient ruins is cut in the flanks of the hard rock, and which is peculiarly infested with scorpions (Narrative, 1, 361, 418, 421). Schwarz, on the other hand, locates it at the Wady el-Kurahy, running into the south-eastern extremity of the Dead Sea (Palest. p. 22). Both these latter positions, however, seem as much too far north as the preceding are too far south, since the place in question appears to have been situated just beyond the point where the southern boundary of Palestine turned northward; and we know from the localities of several towns in Judah and Simeon (e.g. Kadesh, Beersheba, etc.) that the territory of the promised land extended as far southward as the ridge bounding the depressed level of the desert et-Tih. The conclusion of Dr. Robinson is, that in the absence of more positive evidence the line of cliffs separating the Ghor from the valley of the Akabah may be regarded as the Maaleh-Akrabbim of Scripture (Researches, 2, 501). This, however, would be a descent and not an ascent to those who were entering the Holy Land from the south. Perhaps the most feasible supposition is that Akrabbim is the general name of the ridge containing the steep pass es-Sufah, by which the final step is made from the desert to the level of the actual land of Palestine. As to the name, scorpions abound in the whole of this district. The same spot may be that alluded to in the Mishna (Maaser Sheni, 5, 2), as "Akrabah (עִקרָבָה) on the south." The district of Acrabattine mentioned in 1 Maccabees 5:3, and Josephus, Ant. 12, 8, 1, as lying on the frontier of Idumaea, toward the southern extremity of the Dead Sea, may have derived its name from this ridge. But Dr. Robinson thinks that the toparchy referred to took its name from Akrabeh, now a large and flourishing village a little east of Nablous, the ancient Shechem (Bibliotheca Sacra, 1853, p. 132; and see the authorities in his Researches, 3, 103). This "Acrabattine" of the Apocrypha, however, was probably a different place. SEE ACRABATTINE.