David and Solomon traded in gold from “Ophir.” Later Jehoshaphat attempted to revive the trade route, but failed when his ships sank.
Ophir—now where might that be? Truth is, nobody knows.
In Seafaring Lore and Legend, Peter Jeans summarizes some of the tantalizing possibilities: “The ancient ruins discovered in Zimbabwe have been put forward as a possible site for Ophir, but they don’t seem to be old enough. Zanzibar on the east coast of Africa has also been mentioned, but that too is a very doubtful proposition. Because the voyage of Solomon’s gold convoy apparently occupied some three years, more distant lands have been sought as an answer to the question of where?, such as the delta of the River Indus (near what is now Karachi in Pakistan), Johore in southern Malaysia, Goa on the west coast of India, Malabar on the southwest coast of India, Malacca (earlier, Malaka) on the west coast of Malaysia, and Sumatra—each of these has been suggested as the possible original Ophir; even Spain, Armenia, Phrygia (now Anatolia, central Turkey), and distant Peru have had their supporters. It is interesting to note that on the coast of Abyssinia (modern Ethiopia) there is a people who call themselves the Aphar; it does not take much imagination to derive ‘Ophir’ from ‘Aphar.’ One atlas of ancient and classical geography suggests that Ophir might have been located in the region of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka)” (37).
He brings us down to earth by suggesting that Ophir was probably closer to home, somewhere in Arabia. Perhaps. But we can dream, dreams of Hebrew-speaking seaman disembarking on the coast of India or Malaysia or Peru, perhaps able to communicate just enough to tell them they serve the Creator God of heaven and earth, promising to return.