Havilah (Hebrew: חֲוִילָה Ḥawilah) refers to both a land and people in several books of the Bible; the one mentioned in Genesis 2:10–11, while the other place thought to be in Africa and mentioned in Genesis 10:7.
In one case, Havilah is associated with the Garden of Eden, that mentioned in the Book of Genesis (2:10-11):
And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;
In addition to the region described in chapter 2 of Genesis, two individuals named Havilah are listed in the Table of Nations. The Table lists the descendants of Noah, who are considered eponymous ancestors of nations. Besides the name mentioned in Genesis 10:7–29, another is mentioned in the Books of Chronicles (1 Chronicles 1:9–23). One person is the son of Cush, the son of Ham. The other person is a son of Joktan and descendant of Shem.
The name Havilah appears in Genesis 25:18, where it defines the territory inhabited by the Ishmaelites as being "from Havilah to Shur, opposite Egypt in the direction of Assyria"; and in the Books of Samuel (1 Samuel 15:7–8), which states that king Saul smote the Amalekites who were living there, except for King Agag, whom he took prisoner.
In extra-biblical literature, the land of Havilah is mentioned in Pseudo-Philo as the source of the precious jewels that the Amorites used in fashioning their idols in the days after Joshua, when Kenaz was judge over the Israelites.
There is an extra-biblical tradition found in the Kitab al-Magall (Clementine literature) and the Cave of Treasures. According to this tale, in the early days after the Tower of Babel, the children of Havilah, son of Joktan built a city and kingdom, which was near to those of his brothers, Sheba and Ophir.
W. W. Müller, in the 1992 Anchor Bible Dictionary, holds that the "Havilah" of Genesis 2 must refer to a region in southwest Arabia. He locates the reference to a "Havilah" in Genesis 25:18 as referring to a northern Arabian location. Some have said Havilah were of Cushite background who colonized Arabia, even linking them with the Macrobians.
Saadia Gaon's tenth-century Arabic translation of the Hebrew Bible substitutes Havilah with Zeila in present day Somalia. Benjamin Tudela, the twelfth-century Jewish traveler, claimed Zeila was the land of Havilah confined by Al-Habash on the west. Zeila (Havilah) had been sacked by the Portuguese governor of Old Goa, Lopo Soares de Albergaria, while its Harla chief Mahfuz invaded Abyssinia in 1517.
Augustus Henry Keane believed that the land of Havilah was centered on Great Zimbabwe and was roughly contemporaneous with what was then Southern Rhodesia. Havilah Camp was the name of the base camp of a group of British archaeologists who studied the Great Zimbabwe ruins from 1902 to 1904. In the end, they rejected any biblical connection with the settlement.
- Calmet, Augustin (1852). Calmet's Dictionary of the Holy Bible. Crocker and Brewster. p. 276.
- Müller, W. W. (1992). "Havilah (Place)." In the Anchor Bible Dictionary. Volume 3, p. 82.
- Flood, Theodore (1881). "The Chautauquan". 1: 107. Cite journal requires
- Rice, Michael (11 March 2002). The Archaeology of the Arabian Gulf. Routledge. ISBN 9781134967926.
- Arnaud, Eugene (1868). La Palestine ancienne et moderne. Berger-Levrault. p. 32.
- Adler, Elkan (4 April 2014). Jewish Travelers. Routledge. p. 61. ISBN 9781134286065. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
- "ABYSSINIA: MYTHICAL AND HISTORICAL". The St. James's Magazine. 21: 84. 1868.
- Hassen, Mohammed. "Review work Futuh al habasa". International Journal of Ethiopian Studies: 184. JSTOR 27828848.
- Forster, Charles (1844). The Historical Geography of Arabia. Vol 1, pp. 40-41.
- The Gold of Ophir - Whence Brought and by Whom? (1901)
- Richard Nicklin Hall, Great Zimbabwe, Mashonaland, Rhodesia: An Account of Two Years' Examination Work in 1902-4 on Behalf of the Government of Rhodesia. London: Methuen & Co., 1905.