Photo Source: Copyrighted © 2022
Kerry Olson All rights reserved. Used with permission
Map Source: Bethany World Prayer Center
|People Name:||Bedouin, Levantine|
|Country:||West Bank / Gaza|
|Primary Language:||Arabic, Eastern Egyptian Bedawi Spoken|
|Christian Adherents:||0.20 %|
|Online Audio NT:||No|
|People Cluster:||Bedouin, Arabian|
|Affinity Bloc:||Arab World|
The traditional homeland of the Bedouin Arabs is the Arabian Desert. Some Bedouin groups have migrated north into the Negev Desert region of Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, and also Lebanon. Among these are the Levantine Bedouins. Most are sheep and goat herders. The largest of these groups are the Banu Sakhr and the al-Huwaytat. The Bedouin fall into two basic social classes. One class is known as the "true" Bedouin, and they live as nomadic shepherds. The other group has embraced farming and is known as the fellahin. The fellahin lead a more settled life on the edge of the desert. In contrast, the "true" Bedouin have been known for raiding any caravans that cross their path while journeying across barren deserts. They move into the desert during the rainy winter seasons and back to the desert's edge during the hot, dry summers. They speak Badawi, or as it is more commonly called, Bedouin Arabic.
Levantine Bedouins are not quite settled, and they are not quite nomadic. In both Lebanon and the West Bank, established governments have bulldozed some of their settlements, sometimes using the excuse that they don’t have permits. When that happens, they are left with nowhere to go and their homes are in ruins. The Israeli government often wants to build permanent settlements to replace the tent camps of the Levantine Bedouins. The nomads among the Levantine Bedouins in the West Bank live in tents which are divided by a decorative partition called a gata. Half of the tent is for the women, children, cooking utensils, and storage. The other half contains a fireplace and is used for entertaining. Their tents are their main possessions, and animals are very important for their nomadic lifestyle. Camels are their primary means of transportation, while sheep and goats are bought and sold. Dairy products are the main food source for the Bedouin. They use the milk from camels and goats to make yogurt and butter. Most of their meals consist of at least a bowl of milk, yogurt, or rice. When available, they eat round loaves of unleavened bread. When they can find them in a desert oasis, they gather dates as their only produce. Meat is only served on special occasions such as marriage feasts, ceremonial events or when guests are present. To endure the extreme heat of the desert, the Levantine Bedouins wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. It is very loose-fitting, allowing for the circulation of air. Although the Bedouin once considered it degrading to have manual labor jobs, this has changed somewhat in recent years. Due to the need for better health conditions, more money, and better living conditions, some have accepted wage-paying jobs. Even when they are settled, the Levantine Bedouins are less likely to have access to modern medicine than their Arab and Israeli counterparts.
The overwhelming majority of the Bedouins are Sunni Muslims. Islam is based on the teachings of the prophet, Mohammed. Muslims believe the Koran ("holy book" of Islam) was given to Mohammed by the angel Gabriel. Islam is a religion of works that is centered on five basic "pillars."(1) A Muslim must affirm that "there is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet." (2) Five times a day he must pray while facing Mecca. (3) He must give an obligatory percentage (very similar to tithes) on an annual basis. (4) He must fast during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year. (5) He must try to make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca in his lifetime.
Evangelization efforts among the Bedouin are challenging due to the harsh and unsettled nature of their lifestyle. It is very difficult to find workers willing to reach out to Bedouins, especially those who still live nomadic lifestyles. But we need to remember that at one time Muslim missionaries reached them, so there is no reason why Christ’s ambassadors can’t do the same. The Levantine Bedouins also need to be empowered. Since they usually live in remote areas, they seldom have access to modern medicine or schools.
Pray for the Levantine Bedouins to have their medical and educational needs met. Pray for them to have a spiritual hunger that will leave them open to depending on the only Savior. Pray for Holy Spirit anointed workers to go to the Levantine Bedouins in Lebanon and the West Bank. Pray for an unstoppable movement to Christ among the Levantine Bedouins.