There are as many theories about what happened as when it happened.
What’s not very well-known even by Bible scholars is what the Bible says – or at least suggests.
The Book of Isaiah chapter 21:13 references “the forest of Arabia shall ye tarry all night, even in the ways of Dedanites.” The Hebrew word behind the English “forest” is ya’ar, which generally means forest. Most every older Bible translation renders it “forest,” while some modern ones translate it to “desert” or “thicket” – probably because they can’t imagine there was once a forest in Arabia.
Yet, many scientists, including secular ones, are not only acknowledging that as a fact, some are suggesting it could have been so only a few thousand years ago.
That raises the question as to whether it was indeed a forest in the renowned Isaiah’s time. Even more interesting is the fact that another biblical prophet, Jeremiah, who lived about 100 years after Isaiah, has this to say in Jeremiah 3:2-3: “Lift up thine eyes unto the high places, and see where thou hast not been lien with. In the ways hast thou sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness; and thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness. Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore’s forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed.”
In other words, Jeremiah, quoting what God spoke to him, wrote that the Arabian forest of Isaiah’s time became a desert because of a Divine judgment. And it’s not the only well-known, sprawling desert in the world that was previously forested.
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Jeremiah suggests rainfall in Arabia stopped in his time or before. Could the destruction of an Arabian forest have occurred only 2,700 years ago? Is this biblical evidence of just such a possibility?
It sparked popular news stories with 2015 headlines like this by the BBC: “Arabia was once a lush paradise of grass and woodlands.”