Who were the Midianites
Midianites were a people dwelling south and east of Palestine. They were in the desert north of the Arabian Peninsula. The most accurate accounts of Midian are Biblical.
Midian was the fourth son of Abraham by Keturah (Genesis 25:1, 2). It was one of the children shipped to the east with gifts from Abraham so not to interfere with Isaac. According to the Arab account by El, Makreezee, Khitat, «Medyen are the offspring of Shu’yeb. And are the offspring of Medyan (Midian).
The son of Abraham, and their mother Kantoora, the daughter of Yuktan (Joktan), the Canaanite». «Medyen is the city of the people of Shu’eyb». He is the same name as Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, though some deny it.
In the time of Joseph
In the time of Joseph the Midianites were so associated with some Ismaelites. It is difficult to define their relationship. They were a group of Midianite merchantmen in an Ishmaelite caravan (Genesis 37:25, 27, 28, 36). The descendants of Ishmael and Midian as well as the other exiled children of Abraham.
In Judges 8:24 the Midianite appear to be called Ishmaelites. But, this latter term came to be applied to that particular type of trader. As the term Canaanite came to mean merchant.
The land of Midian
In the land of Midian was where the young Moses fled after killing and Egyptian task-master, a crime for which he knew the Pharaoh would sentence him to death (Genesis 2:15, sq.).
He became a shepherd for the priest Jethro whose daughter he later married. Moses received the call to lead his people out of captivity at Horeb in the peninsula of Sinai (Exodus 3:11)
But, the true land of Midian, according to the Arabians and Greeks was on the Arabian side of the Arabian Gulf. There, it was the city of Midian. And the peninsula was a temporary station for pasturage. Unless the land was more fertile than it is now.
Midian is then in the time of Balaam. When Balak, son of Zipor, ruled Moab and confers with the Midianite leader about the Israelites. As a result Balaam is sent for (Numbers 23, 24). The relations between the Moabites, Midianites and Israelites are in Numbers 25, 31:1-16
Balaam sides with the Midianites and perishes.
The Midianites next appear (Judges 6:1-8, 21). They join the Amalekites and others against the Israelites. They transformed themselves into camel-riding nomads. Also, they were the first people to domesticate the camel on a large scale. It gave them increased desert mobility.
They chose to attack the Israelites when the harvest was ripe. «Like grasshoppers» and destroying «the increase of the earth.»
This is the final mentioning of the Midianites in scripture (Judges 6:1-8, 28). As it is the story of a mob, formidable its numbers and its hunger. The people were no longer a source of terror.
The Midianites and Ishmaelites intermarried roaming the northern part of the Arabian Desert. With their final absorption they were generally know