‘Gold from Ophir for Beth-horon 30 Shekels’ is the translation of an inscription on a potsherd that was found at Tell Qasileh (near Tel Aviv).
Biblical scholars, archaeologists and others have tried to discover the exact location of Ophir. Some suggest the African shore of the Red Sea, the name perhaps being derived from the Afar people of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti.
However, the exact location of Ophir remains a mystery, although there have been many ideas put forward by Bible students. Flavius Josephus (38 – 100 AD), the Jewish historian, linked Ophir with India and it is possible to show that from the second millennium BC there was a busy sea trade taking place between the Persian Gulf and India. Josephus connected Ophir with “Cophen, an Indian river, and in part of Asia adjoining to it,” (Antiquities of the Jews I:6). Easton’s Bible Dictionary (1897) adds a connection to “Sofir,” the Coptic name for India. Many modern scholars still place Ophir on the coast of India, in what is now Poovar.
The link with India is further strengthened by the fact that all the commodities mentioned in 1 Kings 10 verses 11 and 22 were found in ancient India. Others have made a connection with Sofula in Eastern Africa, called by the Arabs Zofar or Zofaal. The same name is rendered elsewhere Sophara which does not require much alteration to make it read:
(S) OPH( A) IR( A)
It has also been pointed out that Burma is a country which affords all the products named `Almug trees (sandalwood), precious stones, gold, silver, ivory, apes and peacocks.’ (1 Kings 10:11-12)
Ophir must have been a considerable journey away from Solomon’s port at Ezion-geber on the Gulf of Aqaba (near today’s Eilat), for the return journey seems to have taken `three years’ (1 Kings 10:11-12] to complete. The quantities of gold from Ophir imported into Judah were sizeable:
“and they came to Ophir and fetched from hence gold, of the gold of Ophir, and seven thousand talents of refined silver to overlay the walls of the houses….” (1 Kings 9:28; 1 Chronicles 29:4)
Almost 200 years later God, through his prophet Isaiah, refers to the fame of Ophir by saying, “I will make a man more precious than fine gold, even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.” (Isaiah 13:12)
The oldest book in the Bible, Job, refers to the gold of Ophir twice and perhaps the significance of Job’s reference to wisdom being more valuable than the gold of Ophir (Job 22:24; 28:16) should not be overlooked by the Bible student. All the references to Ophir at one time pointed to a place that did not seem to exist but the finding of this tablet by the archaeologists not only tells us it existed but confirms again the accuracy of God’s Word.