Tayma is a desert oasis in Saudi Arabia. In the center of the oasis is a large well, thought to be around 2,500 years old. (Bir Haddaj). It is mentioned in the Bible: “The inhabitants of the land of Tema brought water to him that was thirsty, they prevented with their bread him that fled.” (Isa 21:14.7)

Tayma has long been a stopping place for caravans crossing the deserts of Arabia.

Tayma has long been a stopping place for caravans crossing the deserts of Arabia.

Above photo by Silvija Seres, 2002. Used with Permission.

Above photo by Silvija Seres, 2002. Used with Permission.

The Tayma well has pullys so that draft animals can pull water from below.

Even today there is water in the cistern. This is known as: Bir Haddaj. The well is known to date back at least to the middle of the 6th century BC. In the 5th century BC, all of Tayma was abandoned and buried, so the well fell into disuse for many centuries until Suleiman al-Gonaim restored it to a functional state.

Water from the cistern was pulled up by camels. Each camel walked a track pulling a bucket of water from below. Photo by Silvija Seres, 2002. Used with Permission. Please visit her travel site (http://www.silvija.net)

Water from the cistern was pulled up by camels. Each camel walked a track pulling a bucket of water from below. Photo by Silvija Seres, 2002. Used with Permission. Please visit her travel site (http://www.silvija.net)

The famous Tayma stones, inscribed in the Aramaic of two millenia or longer ago, are now in the Louvre, but thousands of other inscriptions of pre-Islamic Thamudic script have been found in the area and are stored in the city museum.

The famous Tayma stones, inscribed in the Aramaic of two millenia or longer ago, are now in the Louvre, but thousands of other inscriptions of pre-Islamic Thamudic script have been found in the area and are stored in the city museum.

Many inscriptions and artifacts have been found in ancient Tayma demonstrating that this oasis town was a cross-roads for many civilizations.

There are many petroglyphs and inscriptions in Thamudic as well as Nabataean Aramaic.

There are many petroglyphs and inscriptions in Thamudic as well as Nabataean Aramaic.

Stele with dedicatory Aramaic inscription to the god Salm. Sandstone, 5th century BC. Found in Tayma, Northwestern Arabia.

Stele with dedicatory Aramaic inscription to the god Salm. Sandstone, 5th century BC. Found in Tayma, Northwestern Arabia.

Teyma is usually associated with the ancient oasis of Tayma, located northeast of the Hijaz district, on the trade route between Tathrib (Medina) and Dumah. Between Tayma and Dumah is the famous Nafud desert. It is thought that the present city of Tayma at the southwestern end of the great Nafud desert is built on the remains of the ancient oasis by the same name.

Tiglath Pileser III received tributes from Tayma, as well as from other Arabian oasis. The Assyrian recorded recall how a collation headed by Samsi, queen of the Arabs was defeated. The coalition was made up of Massaa, the city of Tayma, the tribes of Saba, Hajappa, Badana, Hatti, and Idiba’il, which lay far to the west. Once defeated, these tribes had to send tribute of gold, silver, camels and spices of all kinds.

The Assyrian king, Sennacherib even named one of his gates in the great city of Nineveh as the Desert Gate, and records that “the gifts of the Sumu’anite and the Teymeite enter through it.” From this we can recognize Teyma as being an important place.

Around 552 BC, the Babylonian king, Nabonidus (555-539 BC) the father of biblical Belshazzar (Daniel 7:1) made the city of Tayma his residence and spent ten of the sixteen years of his reign there.

During the Achaemenid period, the city probably became a seat of one of the Persian emperors.

However, by the first century BC, the Nabataeans began to dominate Tayma and it slowly became a part of their trading empire.

Isaiah 21:13-14Invites the people of Tayma to provide water and food for their fugitive countrymen, in an apparent allusion to Tiglath Pileser’s invasion of North Arabia in 738 BC.

Jeremiah 25:23records a prophecy against the oasis city

Job 6:19,20 Job laments at his fall from wealth, and comments that the troops of Tema and the armies of Sheba (Yemen) had hoped for plunder, but now Job had nothing.

Is it spelled Tema, Teima, or Teyma?
It is most likely all of these.

Robert William Rogers, “Cuneiform Parallels to the Old Testament” 2nd Edition, 1926, published by Oxford University Press, London, Page 374, Nabonidus King of Babylon, father of Belshazzar king of Babylon (referred to in the Book of Daniel) resided at Tema, in the Arabian Desert.

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