Tema and Teman

For some reason the confusion between Tema and Teman has gotten a strong foothold in various Muslim writings ([1], [2]). Some even go so far as to identify Medinah and Tema which are 400 km apart. Here therefore some reliable information from the

"Baker Encyclopedia of Bible Places:
Towns & Cities, Countries & States, Archaeology & Topography
Consulting Editor John J. Bimson, Inter-Varsity Press, 1995
Published in the USA by Baker Books. ISBN 0-85110-657-9, pp. 296-7:


TEMA. The name (Hebrew tema') of the son and descendants of Ishmael (Genesis 25:15; 1 Chronicles 1:30) and of the district they inhabited (Job 6:19). It is mentioned, with Dedan and Buz, as a remote place (Jeremiah 25:23) and as an oasis in the desert on a main trade route through Arabia (Isaiah 21:14).

The modern site is Taima', about 400 kilometres north-north-west of Medina in north-western Arabia. It became an urban centre around 600 BC and excavations show that it reached its peak of prosperity in the 5th century BC. Several Aramaic inscriptions date from this period.

The city (Babylonian Tema') is also named in documents recording its occupation by Nabonidus during his exile in northern Arabia, 553-543 BC (AS 8, 1958, p.80; ANET, 3rd edition, p.562).

D. J. Wiseman


TEMAN. The grandson of Esau (Genesis 36:11; 1 Chronicles 1:36), who may have given his name to the district, town or tribe of that name in northern Edom (Jeremiah 49:20; Ezkeiel 25:13; Amos 1:12).

The inhabitants were renowned for wisdom (Jeremiah 49:7; Obadia 8-9). Eliphaz the Temanite was one of Job's comforters (Job 2:11, etc.).

A chief (`allup) of Teman (teman) is named among the chiefs of Edom (Genesis 36:15,42; 1 Chronicles 1:53), and Husham was one of the early rulers (Gensis 36:34).

The prophets include Teman among Edomite towns to be destroyed (Jeremiah 49:20; Ezekiel 25:13; Amos 1:12; Obadiah 9).

Habakkuk in his great vision saw God the Holy One coming from Teman (Habakkuk 3:3).

N. Glueck (The Other Side of Jordan, 1940, pp.25-26) identified it with Tawilan, since excavated to show a large Edomite town of the 8th to 6th centuries BC (RB 76, 1969, pp.386ff.). R. de Vaux argued that it denoted southern Edom (RB 77, 1969, pp.379-385).

J. A. Thompson

Teman is about 800 km north of Medina.


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