Nebai'oth (Heb. Nebayoth', נבָיוֹת, Ge 28:9; Ge 36:3; 1Ch 1:29; elsewhere defectively נבָיֹת, heights; Sept. Ναβαϊώθ, but in Ge 25:13 v.r. Ναβαιώδ; in 28:9 v.r. Ναβεώθ; in Isa 11:7 v.r. Ναυαταῖοι; Vulg. Nabajoth; A.V. "Nebaioth" in 1Ch 1:29; Isa 50:7; elsewhere "Nebajoth"), the name of a man and of a people after him.
1. The first-born son of Ishmael (Ge 25:13; 1Ch 1:29), and the prince or sheik (נָשַׂיא, rendered by Jerome φύλαρχος) of one of the twelve Ishmaelitish tribes, which, as well as the territory they occupied, continued to bear his name in after-times (Ge 35:16; comp. chapter 17:20). B.C. cir. 2000. One of Esaun's wives, Mahalath, otherwise called Bashemath, is expressly designated as "the sister of Nebaioth" (Ge 28:9; Ge 36:3); and by a singular coincidence the land of Esau, or Edom, was ultimately possessed by the posterity of Nebaioth. See below. SEE NEBAJOTH.
2. A tribe of Ishmaelites, descendants of the above, who, in common with the other Ishmaelites, first settled in the wilderness "before" (i.e, to the east of) the other descendants of Abraham; i.e., in the great desert lying to the east and south-east of Palestine (Genesis 25:18; 21:21; 16:12; and SEE ARABIA ). In Ge 25:16 the English Version speaks of the Ishmaelitish "towns and castles," but the former word in the original signifies "a movable village of tents" (the horde of the Tartars), and the latter seems to denote folds for cattle and sheep. Both expressions thus point to a nomadic life, which th tetribe of Nebaioth seem to have followed for ages afterwards, inasmuch as in the days of Isaiall the "rams of Nebaioth" are mentioned (Isa 60:7) as gifts which the Bedouin, or "Men of the Desert," would consecrate to the service of Jehovah. The territory at first occupied by Nebaioth appears to have been on the south- east of Palestine, in and around the mountains of Edom. There Esau met and became allied with them. As their numbers and their flocks.increased, they were forced to wander more into the south and east so as to secure pasture; and they were brought into connection with their brethren the children of Kedar, with'whom Isaiah associates them (Isa 60:7). It is somewhat remarkable that this celebrated Arab tribe is so seldom mentioned in the Bible. Three times the name occurs in Genesis, once in the genealogies of Chronicles (1Ch 1:29), and once in Isaiah; after his age we hear no more of them in Scripture. SEE BENE-KEDEM.
After the close of the O.T. canon, both Jewish and heathen uwriters frequently, mention an Arabian tribe called Nabataei, or Nabathaean (Ναβαταῖοι), as the most influential and numerous of all the tribes of that country. Josephus says regarding the descendants of Ishmael, "These inhabited all the country from the Euphrates to the Red Sea, and called it Nabatene" (Ναβατηνή; Ant. 1:13, 4). He regards the Nabataei as descendants of Nebaioth. Jerome affirms that Nebaioth gave his name to all the region from the Euphrates to the Red Sea (Comm. in Genesis 25:13). Arabic writers mention the tribe of Nabat in Babylonian Irak; but the name is written Nabath (D'Herbelot, Bib. Orient. s.v. Nabat; Poock's Spec. Hist. Arab. pages 46, 268). The question of their identity depends upon particulars which we here present:
From the works of Arab authors M. Quatremire (Memoire sur les Nabateens, Paris, 1835, reprinted from the Nouveau Journ. Asiat. January- March 1835) proved the existence of a nation called Nabat or Nabit, pi. Anbdt (Sihlah and Kamis), reputed to be of ancient origin, of whom scattered remnants existed in Arab times, after the aera of the Flight. The Nabat, in the days of their early prosperity, inhabited the country chiefly between the Euphrates and the Tigris, Bein en-Nahreinu ind El-Irak (the Mesopotamia and Chaldaea of the classics). That this was their chief seat and, that they were Aramneanns, or, more accurately, Syro-Chaldeanus, seems, in the present state of the inquiry (for it will presently: he seen that, by thie publication of Oriental texts, our kniowiedge may be very greatly enlarged), to be a safe conclusion. The Arabs loosely apply the name Nabat to the Syrians, or especially the eastern Syrians, to the Syro-Chaldaeans, etc. Thus El-Mesfidi (ap. Quatremerr, 1.c.) says, "The Syrians are the same as the Nabathaans (Nabat)... The Nimrods were the kings of the Syriansl whomn the Arabs call Nabathaeans... The Chaldaeans are the same as the Syrians, otherwise called Nabat (Kitdb et-Telbilh). The Nalbathbeans... founded the city of Babylon... The inhabitants of Ninevelh were part of those whom we calll Nabit or Syrians, who form one nation and speak one lanlrguage; that of the Nabit differs only in a small number of letters; but the foundation of the language is identical" (Kitab Muruj ed-Dhahab). These and many other fragmentary passages sufficiently prove the existence of a great Araineanll people called Nabat, celebrated among the Arabs for their knowledge of agricultunie, and of mnagic, nstronomy, medicine, and science (so called) generally. But we haive stronger evidence to this effect. Quatrellnire introduced to the notice of the learned world the most important relic of that people's literature, a treatise on Nabat agriculture. A study of an imperfect copy of that work, which unfonrtunately was all he could gain access to, induced him to date it about the time of Nenbuchadnezzar, B.C. cir. 600. M. Chwolson, professor of Oriental languages at St. Petersburg, who had shown himself fitted for the inquiry by his treatise on the Sabians and their reliaion (Die Sabier ind der Sabismus), has since made that book a subject of special study; and in his Remains of ancient Babylonian Literature in Arabic T'ranslations (Ueber die Ueberreste der Alt-Babylonischen Literatur in Arabischen Uebersetzungen, St. Petersburg, 1859), he has published the results of his inquiry. The results, while they establish all that M. Quatremere had advanced respectingr the existence of the Nabat, go far beyond him both in the antiquity and the importance which M. Chowlson claims for that people. Ewald, however, in 1857, stated some grave causes for donbting this antiqnity, and again in 1859 (both papers appeared in the Gottingesche Gelehrte Anzeigen) repeated moderately but decidedly his misgivings. M. Renan followed on the same side (Journ. de l'Institut, April-May 1860); and more recently M. de Gutschmid (Zeitschrift d. deutsch. morgenland. Gesellschaft, 15:1-100) has attacked the whole theory in a lengthy essay. We recapitulate, as shortly as possible, the bearings of this remarkable inquiry, as far as they relate to the subject of the article.
The remains of the literature of the Nabat consist of four works, one of them a fragment: the "Book of Nabat Agriculture" (already mentioned), the "Book of Poisons," the "Book of Tenkelasha the Babylonian," and the "Book of the Secrets of the Sun and Moion" (Chwolson, Ueberreste, pages 10, 11). They purport to have been translated, in the year 904, by Aba-Bekr Ahmad Ibn-Ali, the Chaldaean of Kissii, or Keisi, better known as IlnWahshuyeh. The "Book of Nabat Agricultnre" was, according to the Arab translator, commenced by Daghrith, continued by Yaubushadh, and completed by Kuthami. Chwolson, disregarding the dates assigned to these authors by the translator, thinks that the earliest lived some 2500 years B.C., the second some 300 or 400 years later, and Kuthami, to whomn he ascribes the chief authormship (Ibn-Wahshiyeh says he was little more than editor), at the earliest under the sixth king of a Canaanitish dynasty mentioned in the book, which dynasty Chwolson — with Bunsen — makes the same as the fifth (or Arabian) dynasty of Berosus (Chwolson, Ueberreste, page 58, etc.; Bunsen, Egypt, 3:432, etc.; Cory, Ancient Fragments, 2d ed. page 60), or of the 13th century B.C. It will thus be seen that he rejects most of M. Quatremnre's reasons f)or placing the work in the time of Nebuchadnezzar. It is remarkable that that great king is not mentioned, and the author or authors were, it is arcued by Chwolson, ignorant not only of the existence of Christianity, but of the kingcdom and faith of Israel. While these and other reasons, if granted, strengthen M. Chwolson's case for the antiquity of the work, on the other hand it is urged that even nerglecting the difficulties attending an Arab's translation so ancient a writing (and we reject altogether the suplposition that it was modernized, as beingl without a parallel, at least in Arabic literature), and conceding that he was of Chaldean or Nabat race — we encounter formidable intrinsic difficulties. The book contains mention of personages bearing names closely resembling those of Adam, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Shem, Nimrod and Abraham; and M. Chwolson himself is forced to confess that the particulars related of them are in some respects similar to those recorded of the Biblical patriarchs. If this difficulty proves insurmountable, it shows that the author borrowed from the Bible, or from late Jews, and destroys the claim of Ua extreme antiquity. Other mapparent evidences of the same kind are not wanting. Such is the mention of Ermisa (Hermes), Agathadiman (Agathodsemon), Tammuz (Adonis), and Yulaan (Ionians). It is even a question whether the work should not be dated several centuries after the commencement of our mera. Anachronisms it is asserted, abound — geographical, linguistic (the use of late words and phraase), historical, and religious (such as the traces of Hellenism, as shown in the mnention of Hermes, etc., and influences to be ascribed to Neoplatomism). The whole style is said to be mcodern, wantinig the rugged vigor of antiquity (this, however, is a delicate issue, to be tried only by the ripest scholarship). And while Chwolson dates the oldest part of the "Book of Agriculture" B.C. 2500, and the "Book of Tenkelusha" in the 1st century A.D. at the latest (page 136), R6nan asserts that the two are so similar as to preclude the notion of their being separated by any great interval of time (Journal de l'Institut).
Although Quatremere recovered the broad outlines of the religion and language of the Nabat, a more extended knowledge of these points hangs mainly on the genuineness or spuriousness of the work of Kuthami. If M. Chwolson's theory be correct, that people present to us one of the most ancient forms of idolatry; and by their writings we can trace the origin and rise of successive phases of pantheism, and the roots of the complicated forms of idolatry, heresy, and philosophical infidelity, which abound in the old seats of the Aramsean race. At present we may conclude that they were Sabians (Sabiunm, i.e., "apostates"), at least in late times, as Sabseism succeeded the older religious; and their doctrines seem to have approached (how nearly a further knowledgfe of these obscure subjects will show) those of the Meendeans, Mendaites, or Gnostics. Their language presents similar difficulties; according to M. Chowlson it is the ancient language of Babylonia. A cautious criticism would (till we kuow more) assigon it a place as a comparatively modern dialect of Syro-Chaldee (comp. Quatrembre, Mem. pages 100-103).
Thus, if M. Chwolson's results are accepted, the "Book of Nabat Agriculture" exhibits to us an ancient civilization, before that of the Greeks, and at least as old as that of the Egyptians, of a great and powerful nation of remote antiquity; making us acquainted with races hitherto unknown, and with the religions and sciences they either founded or advanced; and throwing a flood of light on what has till now been one of the darkest pages of the world's history. But until the original text of EKthami's treatise is published we must withhold our acceptance of facts so startling, and regard the antiquity ascribed to it even by Quatremere as extremely doubtful. It is sufficient for the present to know that the most important facts advanced by the latter — the most important when regarded by sober criticism — are supported by the results of the later inquiries of M. Chwolson and others. It remains for us to state the grounds for connecting the Nabat with the Nabathsans.
As the Arabs speak of the Nabat as Syrians, so conversely the Greeks and liomans knew the Nabatheans (Sept. οἱ Ναβατταῖοι and Ναβαταῖοι; Alex. Ναβατέοι; Vulg. Nabuthaei; classical writers, Α᾿παταῖοι or Ναπαταῖοι, Ptol. 6:7, § 21; Ναβάται, Suid. s.v.; Lat. Nabathaei) as Arabs. While the inhabitants of the peninsula were comparative strangers to the classical writers, and very little was known of the further-removed peoples of Chaldea and Mesopotamia, the Nabathaeams bordered the self- known Egyptian and Syrian provinces. The nation was famous for its wealtli and commnerce. Even when, by the decline of its trade (diverted thmough Egypt), its prosperity walled, Petra is still mentioned as a centre of the trade both of the Sabaeans of Southern Arabia, SEE SHEBA, and the Gerrhaeaus on the Persian Gulf. It is this extensionm across the desert that most clearly conuuects the Nabathaeanm coloiny with the birthplace of the nation in Chaldaea. The famous trade of Petra across the well-trodden desert-road to the Persian Gulf is sufficient to account for the presence of this colony: just as traces of Abrahamic peoples, SEE DEDAN, etc. are found, demonstrably, on the shores of that sea on the east, and on the borders of Palestine on the west, while along the northern limits of the Arabian peninsula remains of the caravan stations still exist. Nothing is more certain than the existence of this great stream of commerce, from remote times, until the opening of the Egyptian route gradually destroyed it. Josephus (Ant. 1:12, 4) speaks of Nabataea (Ναβαταιά, Strabo; Ναβατηνη, Josephus) as embracing the country from the Euphrates to the Red Sea — i.e., Petraea and all the desert east of it. The Nabat of the Arabs, however, are described as famed for agriculture and science; in these respects offering a contrast to the Nabathaeans of Petra, who were found by the expedition sent by Antigonus (B.C. 312) to be dwellers in tents, pastoral, and colnducting the trade of the desert; but in the Red Sea again they were piratical, and by seafaring qualities showed a non-Shemitic character.
We agree with M. Quatremere (Mem. page 81), while rejecting some of his reasons, that the civilization of the Nabatllheans of Petra, far advanced on that of the surrounlding Arabls, is not easily explained except by supposing them to be a different people from those Arabs. A remarkable contirlmation of this supposition is found in the chlaracter of the buildings of Petra, which are unlike anything constructed by a purely Shemitic race. Architecture is a characteristic of Aryan or mixed races. In Southern Arabia, Nigritians and Shemiites (Joktanites) together built huge edifices; so in Babylonia and Assyria, alnd so too in Egypt, mixed races left this unmistaklable mark. SEE ARABIA. Petra, while it is wanting in the colossal features of those more ancient remains, is yet unmistakably foreign to an unmixed Shemitic race. Further, the subjects of the literature of the Nabat, which are scientific and industrial, are not such as are found in the writings of pure Shemites or Aryans, as Rbnan (Hist. des Langues Semitiques, page 227) has well observed; and he points, as we have above, to a foreign ("Couschite," or partly Nigritian) settlement in Babylonia. It is noteworthy that 'Abd-el-Latif (at the end of the fourth section of his first book, or treatise-see De Lacy's ed.) likens the Copts in Egypt (a mixed race) to the Nabat in El-'Irak.
From most of these and other considerations we think there is no reasonable doubt that the Nabathaeans of Arabia Petraea were the same people as the Nabat of Chal. daea; though at what ancielnt epoch the western settlement was formed remains unknown. That it was not of any importance until after the captivity appears from the notices of the inhabitants of Edoni in the canonical books, and their absolute silence respecting the Nabatheeans, except (if Nebaioth be identified with them) the passage in Isaiah (60:7).
Lastly, did the Nabathaeaus, or Nabat, derive their name, and were they in part descended, from Nebaioth, son of Ishmael? Josephus says that Nabataea was illn habited by the twelve sons of Ishmael; and Jerome,"Nebaioth omnis regio ab Euphrate usque ad Mare Rubrum Naobathena usque hodie dicitur, quae pars Arabiae est" (Comment. in Genesis 25:13). Quatremlre rejects the identification for an etymological reason — the change of th to t; but this change is not unusual; in words Arabicized from the Greek the like change of T generally occurs. Renan, on the other hand, accepts it, regarding Nebaioth, after his manner, merely as an ancient name unconnected with Biblical history. The Arabs call Nebaioth Nabit, and do not comnect him with the Nabat, to whom they give a different descent; but all their Abrahamic geneaologies come from late Jews, and are utterly untrustworthy. When we remember the darkness that enshrouds the early history of the "sons of the concubines" after they were sent into the east country, we hesitate to deny a relationship between peoples whose names are strikingly similar, dwelling in the same tract. It is possible that Nebaioth went to the far east, to the country of his grandfather Abraham, intermarried with the Chaldaeans, and gave birth to a mixed race, the Nabat. Instancet of ancient tribes adopting the name of more modern ones: with which they have become fused, are frequent in the history of the Arabs, SEE MIDIAN; but we think it is also admissible to hold that Nebaioth was so named by the sacred historian because he intermarried with the Nabat. It is, however, safest to leave unsettled the identification of Nebaioth and Nabat until another link be added to the chain that at present seems to connect them.
We have not entered into the subject of the language of the Nabathaeans. The little that is known of it tends to strengthen the theory of the Chaldaean origin of thnat people. The duc de Luynes, in a paper on the coins of the latter in the Revue Numimsmatique (new series, volume 3, 1858), adduces facts to show that they called themselves Nabat, נבטו. It is remalkable that while remnants of the Nabat are mentioned by trustworthy Arab writers as existing in their own day, no Arab record connecting that people with Petra has been found. Caussin believes this to have arisen from the Chaldaean speech of the Nabathaeans, and their corruption of Arabic (Essai sur l'Hist. des Arabes avant l'Islamisme, 1:38).
It is thus doubtless true that a tribe called Nabat existed at a comparatively early period in Mesopotamia; but may they not have been a branch of the family of Nebaioth? May they not have migrated thither, as sections of the great tribes of Arabia are wont to do now — for instance, the Shummar, whose home is Jebel Shummar, in Central Arabia, where they have villages and settlements; but large sections of the tribe have long been naturalized among the rich pastures of Mesopotamia. In fact, there are few of the great Arabian tribes which do not pay periodical visits to the banks of the Euphrates and Tigris, and which have not branches established there. So it probably was with the tribe of Nebaioth. They visited Mesopotamia, attracted by the water and pasture; then some of them settled there; then from close intercourse with the learned Chaldeeans, they may have acquired a taste for their literature, and may have in part adopted their language and their habits of life; and at length, when driven out of Central Asia by the rising power of the Assyrians, Medes, and Persians, they carried these back among their brethren in Arabia. Such at least, is a probable solution of a difficult question. There can be no doubt that the descendants of Nebaioth settled originally in and around Edom; that in the time of Isaiah they were an influential tribe living in Western Arabia beside the children of Kedar; that the Nabathoeans occupied the same region iln the time of the Maccabees (1 Macc. 5:24 sq., B.C. cir. 161; comp. 1 Macc. 9:33-37; Josephus. Ant. 12:8, 3); and that Josephus considered these Nabathaeans to be tlie descendants of Ishmael. From these facts it may be fairly inferred that the Nabatheans of the classic authors, the tribe Nebaioth of the sacred authors, and the Beni-Nabat of the Arabs, were identical (Forster, Geog. of Arabia, 1:209 sq.; Kalisch, On Genesis page 481; Jerome, Comment. in Isaiam, 60:7).
It would appear that the descendants of Esau, having at first sought an alliance with the Ishnraelites among the mountains of Edom, afterwards succeeded in forcing them to leave their strongholds and migrate to the deserts of Arabia. After a long interval the Ishmaelites returned, and, having expelled the Edomites (or Idumaeans), took possession of their ancient country. The date of this conquest is unknown; but it was probably about the time of the second captivity, for then the Persians were all- powerful in Central Asia, and would naturally drive back the Arab tribes that had settled there (comp. Diod. Sic. 2:48); and then also we know that the Idumseans, as if driven fromn their own mountains, settled in Southern Palestine. But be this as it may, we learn that about B.C. 312 Antigonus, one of the successors of Alexander the Great, sent. an army against the Nabathseans of Petia; the city was taken and plundered int the absenice of the mn , who were at the time attending a great fair in another locality; on the retreat of the army, however, with their booty, they were attacked and cut to pieces by the Nabathaeans. Another expedition was sent, but was unsuccessful (Diod. Sic. 19:104-110). At this period the Nabathasans, like their forefathers, were rich in flocks and herds; they were also, like the Ishmaelites in the time of Jacob, the carriers of spices and merchandise between Arabia and Egypt; and for the protection of their wealth and the furtherance of their commerce they had erected strong cities in the interior of their countrv, Edom, and on the shores of the AElanitic Gulf. Idumaea Proper, or Edom, now became the center of their influence and power. They gradually advanced in civilization and commercial enterprise, until nearly the whole traffic of Western Asia was in their hands (Diod. Sic. 2:48-50; 3:42-43). From their capital, Petra, caravan roads radiated in all directions-eastward to the Persian Gulf and Mesopotamia; northward to Peraea, Damascus, and Palmyra; westwardto Palestine and Phoenicia; and southward to the seaports on the AElanitic Gulf and Red Sea, and to Egypt (see Talbula Peutingeriana; Tab. Theodosiana; Strabo, 16:778-780; Forster, Geog. of Arabia, 1:222). When a new route for commerce between the East and the West was opened through Egypt, the Nabathaeans became its determined opponents. They built war-galleys and plundered the merchant fleets in the Red Sea; and they also attacked and pillaged such caravans as ventured to convey the spices of Arabia and the merchandise of Persia and Syria by any other way than their own (Diod. Sic. 2:43; Strao, 16:777; Ajrtan, Periplus).
During the height of their power the country of the Nabaithaeans embraced the whole of Edom, the eastern shore of the AElanitic Gulf and the Red Sea to the parallel of the city of Medineh, the desert plain of Arabia to the mountains of Nejd; while on the north-west and north it was bounded by Palestine and Bashan (Strabo, 16:767, 777, 779; 1 Macc. 5:25-28; 9:35; Diod. Sic. 2:48; Epiphan. Ad. Haeres. page 142). It is true Josephus and Jerome state that the Nabathaeans occupied the whole country between Egypt and the Euphrates; but by Nabathaeans they seem to have meant all the descendants of Ishmael (comp. Reland, Palaest. page 90; Kalisch, On Genesis page 482). It is not known at what time the Nabathaeans gave up the patriarchal form of government and elected a king. The first mention of a king is about B.C. 166, in the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes (2 Macc. 5:8). All their kings appear to have been called either A retas or Obodas, and the kingdom was known among classic writers as the "Kingdom of Arabia," sometimes taking the addition Petroea, apparently from the capital city Petra. Alexander Jannseus was defeated by Obodas, king of Arabia (Josephus, Ant. 13:13, 5); and a few years later Antiochus Dionysius of Syria was killed in battle against the Arabians, and A retas their king seized Damascus (13:15, 1, 2; War, 4:7, 8). The kings of Arabia are often mentioned in connection with the conquest and occupation of the province of Syria by the Romans (Josephus, Ant. 14:5, 1; 15:6, 2; 16:7, 8). A few years before the Christian aera a Roman expedition under the command of AElius Gallus was sent into Arabia. After various obstacles he at last reached Λευκή Κώμη, or Albus Pagus, the emporium of the Nabathseans, and the port of Petra, which was probably at or near Elath (Strabo, 16:4, 22, 24; Dion Cassius, 53:27; Arrian, Periplus Maris Eryth.). The Nabathaean king, Obodas, received him with professions of friendship, and appointed his minister Syllseus to guide the army. By his treachery it was conducted through arid deserts until it was almost destroyed by thirst and disease (Strabo, 16:780). The Stoic philosopher Athenodorus spent some time in Petra, and related to Strabo with admiration how the inhabitants lived in, entire harmony and union under excellent laws. Pliny also repeatedly speaks of the Nabataseans (Hist. Nat. 5:11; 16:28; 12:27); aid classes along with them the Cedrei, exactly as Kedar and Nebaioth are placed together in Isa 60:7. Herod Antipas married a daughter of iAretass,king of the Nabathseans (Mt 14:3-4); and it appears to have been the same Aretas who captured Damascus, and governed it by an ethnarch at the time of Paul's conversion (Ac 9:25; 2Co 11:32). The kingdom of the Nabathaeans was overthrown — in A.D. 105 by Cornelius Palma, governor of Syria, and was annexed to the Roman empire (Dion Cass. 68:14; Eutrop. 8:2, 9).
The Nabathaeans had, as we have seen, early applied themselves to commerce, especially as carriers of the products of Arabia, India, and the far-distant East, which, as we learn from Strabo, were transported on camels from the above-mentioned Leuke Kome to Petra, and thence to Rhinocoloura (El 'Arish) and elsewhere. But under the Roman dominion the trade of these regions appears to have been widely extended. The passage of merchants and caravans was now made more practicable by military ways. From Elath, or Ailah, one great road had its direction northwards to the rich and central Petra; thence it divided and led on one side to Jerusalem, Gaza, and other ports on the Mediterranean; and on the other side to Damascus. Another road appears to have led directly from Ailah along the Ghor to Jerusalem. Traces ofthese routes are still visible in many parts. These facts are derived from the specifications of the celebrated Tubula Theodosiana, or Peutingeriana, compiled in the 4th century. According to this, a line of small fortresses was drawn along the eastern frontier of Arabia Petraea towards the desert, some of which became the sites of towns and cities, whose names are still extant. But as the power of Rome fell into decay, the Arabs of the desert again acquired the ascendency. They plundered the cities, but did not destroy them; and hence those regions are still full of uninhabited yet splendid ruins. Even Petra, the rich and impregnable metropolis, was suibjected to the same fate; and now exists, in its almost inaccessible loneliness, only to excite the curiosity of the scholar and the wonder of the traveller by the singularity of its site, its ruins, and its fortunes.
In the course of the 4th century this region came to be included under the general name of "Palestine," and was called Palaestina Tertia, or Salutaris. It became the diocese of a metropolitan, whose seat was at Petra, and who was afterwards placed under the patriarch of Jerusalem. With the Mohammedan conquest in the 7th century its commercial prosperity disappeared. Lying between the three rival empires of Arabia, Egypt, and Syria, it lost its ancient independence; the course of trade was diverted into new channels; its great routes were abandoned; and at length the entire country was quietly yielded up to the Bedouin of the surrounding wilderness, whose descendants still claim it as their domain. During the 12th century it was partially occupied by the Crusaders, who gave it the name of Arabia Tertia, or Syria Sobal. From that period it remained unvisited by Europeans, and had almost disappeared from their maps, until it was partially explored, first by Seetzen in 1807, and more fully by Burckhardt in 1812; and now the wonders of the Wady Miusa are familiarly known to all. SEE PETRA.
See Reland, Palestina Illustr. page 90 sq.; Vincent, Comnmerce of the Ancients, 2:272 sq.; Ritter, Gesch. d. Petr. Arabiens, in the "Trans. of the Berlin Acad." 1824; Forster, Mohammedanism Unveiled, and Geography of Arabia; Robinson, Sketches of Idumaea, in "Amer. Bib. Repos." 1833; and Bibl. Researches, volume 2; Cleas, in Pauly's Real-Encyklopadie, page 377 sq.; Quatremere, Memoire sur les Nabateenls (Extrait du Nouveau Journal Asiafique), Paris, 1835; Schwarz, Palest. page 215. SEE NABATHAEANS.