Nebaioth, Nebathaea, Nabateans, Baabayt; Egyptian
Biblical References: Son of Ishmael: Gen 25:13; 28:9; 36:3; 1 Chron 1:29 Location: Isa 60:7.
Although no doubt nomadic, the activities of the people of Nebaioth are centred around Ha’il [a city based around an oasis in Nejd, Northwestern Saudi Arabia] on the basis of Assyrian and Babylonian inscriptions (8) and an ancient kingdom as Baabayt. Nebaioth is mentioned as Baabayt on line 78 at the temple at Karnak, Egypt (5). During the time of Maccabees they extended their control throughout the southern Negev with a series of forts from Avdat to Gaza, again controlling merchant routes. (9) Nebaioth gives name to Nebathaea in north-Arabia, and to the Nabateans, merchants who controlled the caravan routes of the Persian Gulf, Arabia and the Red Sea (1) and considered a Nebawi or Arab tribe (4) that is preserved. Prophetically there is conversion of this people, whereas the consistent scriptural picture of Edom is one of destruction. The Nabateans Josephus indicates that the people descending from Nebaioth formed a nation known as the Nabateans with their capital in Petra (6), however this is not universally accepted, others indicate that the Nabateans came from a Kedarite clan “Nabat” (7) Regardless to say that there was interaction between the Kedarites with the Nabateans during Assyrian times and later during Roman times, and it appears likely a mingling of both families probably comprised the new national identity, becoming “the mingled people of the desert” Jer 25:24. Nebaioth was the firstborn of Ishmael, and as the firstborn, this son represented all the strengths of his father, Ps 105:36; 78:51; Deut 21:17 cf Gen 49:3.
Nebaioth has a meaning to bear fruit and is translated as increase Ps 62:10, fruit Ps 92:14; (bringing) forth Prov 10:31 and cheerful Zech 9:17 Gesenius indicates a meaning of high places.
When Esau marries the daughters of Ishmael, they are described as being the sisters of Nebajoth Gen 28:9; 36:3. This comment is remarkable, [and considered important as it is repeated] as this son appears to be like Laban contributing considerably in the affairs of the household, see Gen 25:20. To name him “fruitful” was again no mistake, as this was part of the prophecy regarding Ishmael was that he would be fruitful Gen 17:20.
In Isaiah 60 there is a list of nations who furnish gifts to the newly appointed king, Christ. Nations come to His light, and kings to the brightness of His rising Isa 60:3 these will build the temple Zech 6:15 (3). Amongst these is Nebaioth, whose rams serve Isa 60:7 and the flocks of Kedar are gathered to Christ, (the second son of Ishmael) and mentioned alongside Nebaioth. Here is a picture of both the literal locations of Arabian nations, as well as constitutional Israel being converted at the same time as other nations in supporting Christ.
(1) Logos Vol 26 pg 233
(2) Henry Sulley, Temple of Ezekiel’s prophecy pg 58
(3) Eureka Vol 5 pg 359
(4) Logos Vol 35 pg 260
(5) Smiths Bible Dictionary pg 285
(6) Josephus Antiq 1.12.4
(7) Ancient records from north Arabia pg 99-100, Toronto press, Toronto
(8) The new american commentary pg 360
(9) HP Mansfield, Genesis expositor pg 293