arid, an extensive region in the south-west of Asia. It is bounded on the west by the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea, on the south by the Indian Ocean, and on the east by the Persian Gulf and the Euphrates. It extends far into the north in barren deserts, meeting those of Syria and Mesopotamia. It is one of the few countries of the world from which the original inhabitants have never been expelled.
It was anciently divided into three parts:, (1.) Arabia Felix (Happy Arabia), so called from its fertility. It embraced a large portion of the country now known by the name of Arabia. The Arabs call it Yemen. It lies between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. (2.) Arabia Deserta, the el-Badieh or "Great Wilderness" of the Arabs. From this name is derived that which is usually given to the nomadic tribes which wander over this region, the "Bedaween," or, more generally, "Bedouin," (3.) Arabia Petraea, i.e., the Rocky Arabia, so called from its rocky mountains and stony plains. It comprehended all the north-west portion of the country, and is much better known to travellers than any other portion. This country is, however, divided by modern geographers into (1) Arabia Proper, or the Arabian Peninsula; (2) Northern Arabia, or the Arabian Desert; and (3) Western Arabia, which includes the peninsula of Sinai and the Desert of Petra, originally inhabited by the Horites (Gen. 14:6, etc.), but in later times by the descendants of Esau, and known as the Land of Edom or Idumea, also as the Desert of Seir or Mount Seir.
The whole land appears (Gen. 10) to have been inhabited by a variety of tribes of different lineage, Ishmaelites, Arabians, Idumeans, Horites, and Edomites; but at length becoming amalgamated, they came to be known by the general designation of Arabs. The modern nation of Arabs is predominantly Ishmaelite. Their language is the most developed and the richest of all the Semitic languages, and is of great value to the student of Hebrew.
The Israelites wandered for forty years in Arabia. In the days of Solomon, and subsequently, commercial intercourse was to a considerable extent kept up with this country (1 Kings 10:15; 2 Chr. 9:14; 17:11). Arabians were present in Jerusalem at Pentecost (Acts 2:11). Paul retired for a season into Arabia after his conversion (Gal. 1:17). This country is frequently referred to by the prophets (Isa. 21:11; 42:11; Jer. 25:24, etc.)