The promise God gave to Ishmael to be the father of many nations had its first fulfilment in Arabia. Southern Arabia was settled in part by Cush and his sons, descendants of Ham. The promise was further fulfilled by the extension of Islam beyond the borders of Arabia. God used Arabia in the dark ages of the Christian church to protect what He had taught mankind through philosophy.

Ishmaelite traders are recorded as early as in the days of Joseph and his brothers, indicating a distinct people had already been formed and were known. The Arabian trade was principally carried on by caravans and the Arabs were great travelling merchants. The merchants travelled in bands organized like an army, having their goods on the backs of camels, which were the only animals able to endure the fatigues and privations of the desert. They were escorted by armed forces, sometimes supplied by home, but more frequently consisting of one marauding tribe, hired at a large price to save the caravan from the exactations and attacks of the rest. Caravans brought through the desert frankincense, myrrh, cassia, gold and precious stones, the gold being probably obtained from the opposite shores of Africa. The produce of southern India and Africa were obtained through Arabia, more especially cinnamon, ivory, and ebony.
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