Cain, the firstborn of Adam and Eve, was described later in the Scriptures by John as ‘of the wicked one’. Cain did not honor God’s instructions relative to his offering, was angry because God confronted him on his actions, killed his brother Abel in jealousy, and subsequently became a vagabond and fugitive. Cain ‘went out from the presence of the LORD and dwelt in the land…east of Eden.’
The term ‘east’ when used in the Old Testament typically means that land from Palestine to the Euphrates River. The specific context, however, may include Mesopotamia and Babylon, i.e. present day Iraq. Joshua also referred to the land on the other side of the ‘river’ meaning that land east of the Euphrates River. That definition could include present day Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
Both the Bible and Islamic literature have much to say about that geographic area; historically, presently and in the future. The major difference in the Biblical account vs. the Islamic viewpoint is the final destination of that area.
Several millennia after the time of Cain, Abraham was called by God to leave the land of the east and travel to a new land that God would reveal to him. That new land included present day Israel.
Recall Abraham’s first two sons; the son of promise named Isaac, and the son of the flesh named Ishmael. Ishmael and his mother subsequently departed from Abraham and settled in Arabia where he was the father of twelve tribes.
Abraham had other sons by his subsequent wife Keturah and other concubines.
“And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac. But Abraham gave gifts to the sons of the concubines which Abraham had; and while he was still living he sent them eastward, away from Isaac his son, to the country of the east.” Genesis 25:5-6
God used the ‘sons of the east’ to chastise Israel when needed.
“Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian… and the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel…So it was, whenever Israel had sown, Midianites would come up; also Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them.” Judges 6:1, 3
After the time of the Judges during the consolidated kingdom, Solomon was recognized by all to be the wisest man on earth.
“Thus Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the men of the East…” 1 Kings 4:30
The Queen of Sheba, which is present day Yemen, openly declared Solomon’s wisdom and made prophetic utterance.
“Blessed be the LORD your God, who delighted in you, setting you on the throne of Israel! Because the LORD has loved Israel forever, therefore, He made you king, to do justice and righteousness.” 1 Kings 10:9
Her words were true when spoken, and will prove to be fulfilled in the future. In the present, however, it is difficult to imagine such a proclamation coming out of Yemen.
Progressing several hundred years after Solomon’s reign the prophet Isaiah confirmed the Queen’s words.
The context of the following describes the return of the conquering Christ as He re-gathers the children of Israel and destroys their enemies.
“And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people…together they shall plunder the ‘sons of the East’…” Isaiah 11:10, 14
And then approximately 700 years after Isaiah’s prophecy the wise men from the East journeyed to Bethlehem to worship the new born King of Israel, i.e. the Root of Jesse. God had miraculously provided a star in the East for a sign of the arrival of Christ.
The Apostle John, in the final book in the Bible, provides the last prophecy regarding the sons of the East.
“Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and the water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared.” Revelation 16:12
Therefore, the sons of the East are referenced throughout history, past, present, and future.
By the way, is anything significant going on in the land of the East today?