the Arabic name for a body of pilgrims or merchants travelling in the East. Orientals who have occasion to journey — whether for pleasure, religion, or profit — usually do so in companies, for the sake of society as well as protection. Hence the most motley associations may take place. They often consist of hundreds of persons, mostly mounted on camels, which (including those for baggage) frequently amount to several thousands. Such spectacles are common in all parts of Turkey, Persia, and Arabia, especially through the sandy deserts. They march at first disorderly, but after a short period of practice with great regularity, mostly by night, in companies which are each kept together by a large beacon-fire on the top of its own peculiar standard. Much time is consumed in packing and unpacking; but when this confused scene of preparation is over, they travel with great uniformity (see Eze 12:3) from about eight P.M. till about midnight (Lu 11:5-6). In the cooler seasons they journey by day, only halting for a brief repast at noon. Seven or eight hours is the usual day's stage (Hornemann, p. 150), or about 17 to 20 miles. SEE TRAVELLER.
1. Commercial Caravans. — The earliest of these on record is that to which Joseph was sold (Genesis 37), consisting of Ishmaelites (Ge 37:25), Midianites (Ge 37:28), and Medanites (Ge 37:36, Hebrews), who were on the high-road through Dothan to the mart of Egypt with the spices of India and Hadramaut (Vincent, Commerce and Navigation of the Ancients, 2:262). Such often avail themselves at the present day of the second class of caravans mentioned below. SEE COMMERCE.
2. Religious Caravans. — Such companies of pilgrims pass regularly along the route (hence termed the Haj) to Mecca, four each year; one from Cairo, consisting of Barbars, a second of Turks from Damascus, a third of Persians from Babylon, and the fourth of the Arabians and Indians from Zibith, at the mouth of the Red Sea. They are under the strictest discipline, a chief or bashè being in command, and five officers having respectively charge of the march, the halt, the servants and cattle, the baggage, and the. commissariat. The hybeer, or guide, is also an indispensable companion — a person not only well acquainted with the route, the wells, the hostile or friendly tribes, and other features on the route, but also skilled in the signs of the weather, and an individual of general sagacity and fidelity. SEE PILGRIM.
These large travelling masses illustrate many features of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. They, too, had their leader, Moses, and were divided into twelve companies, each with its chief (Numbers 7), and ranged under its distinctive banner (Nu 2:2). They set out in tumult (Ex 12:11), but were soon reduced to almost military order, starting at the blast of trumpets (Nu 10:2,5), under the guide of the fiery pillar (q.v.). Hence, too, the anxiety of 'Moses to secure the services of Hobab (q.v.) as guide. SEE EXODE.
The processions of Israelites to their national festivals at Jerusalem were probably made up very much after the caravan style, villages and acquaintances travelling together by companies. Hence the youthful Savior was not missed until the party halted at night (Lu 2:44) at a place which tradition fixes about three miles from Jerusalem (Munro, Summer
Rumble, 1:265); for the first day's journey is always a short one. SEE CARAVANSERAI.