TEMA (Heb. תֵּמָא ,תֵּימָא), son of Ishmael and a locality in Arabia (Gen. 25:15; 1 Chron. 1:30). Tema is identified as Taima, an outlying town and oasis in the Jebel Shammar province of Nejd, a major region of Saudi Arabia, 200 mi. (320 km.) west of Hail. Tema was a caravansary on the junction point of the highways to Damascus and the Persian Gulf (Isa. 21:14; cf. Job 6:19). Jeremiah prophesied against Tema (25:23), as one of the nations among other northern Arabian people (see *Rodanim). Tema became part of the Assyrian (Babylonian) sphere of interest in the Arabian war of Tiglath-Pileser iii (732 b.c.e.) when he dispersed the coalition headed by Samsi, the queen of the Arabs. The coalition was comprised of Masʿa (cf. Massa, Gen. 25:14), Tema ((ālu) temaj) and Haiappa (Ephah of *Midian, Gen. 25:4). One of the gates of Nineveh rebuilt by *Sennacherib was called katrê Summʾan/il u Têmê quiribša irrub abul madbari, "'The Gifts of Sumuʿan/il and Têmê, enter through it,' the Desert Gate." Much information about Tema in the neo-Babylonian period has been gained from the publication of the Harran Inscriptions of *Nabonidus, the last king of Babylon before the Persian period (already partially known from the Verse Account of Nabonidus). Nabonidus destroyed Tema (522 b.c.e.), rebuilt it, and made it his residence for about ten years. From there he went further and reached Yathrib (later Medina). Cyrus ii conquered the entire region a few years later (c. 540 b.c.e.). Tema around that time was a cosmopolitan town, as is attested by the proper names cited in the Taima Stele (Louvre).
D.D. Luckenbill, The Annals of Sennacherib (1924), 113; T.W. Rosmarin, in: Journal of the Society of Oriental Research, 16 (1932), 1ff.; A. Heidel, in: Sumer, 9 (1953), 170–71, 8:8–9; C.J. Gadd, in: Anatolian Studies, 8 (1958), 35ff.; A. Grohmann, Arabien (1963), 22 and index s.v.Tamima; H. Tadmor, in: Studies… B. Landsberger (1965), 356; V.G. Dossin, in: Revue d'assyrologie, 64 (1970), 21, 39 (for a doubtful reference to Tema).
[Pinhas Artzi and
Laurentino Jose Afonso]