The Arabians certainly domesticated camels and over the centuries used them as pack animals on their trade routes across the Arabia peninsula. They were known for breeding camels and trading them, but by the time of Jesus’ birth the Nabateans were famous for breeding Arabian horses.
Matthew does not mention camels.
Certainly the tribes of Arabia were famous for domesticating camels and using them in their trade caravans. They gave camels to Assyrian kings as tribute gifts, and bred camels for sale and trade. However, During the reign of the King Aretas III the Nabateans adopted more Greek ways, and one of the results was the increased use of the horse as an honorable means of transport. “Camels continued to be pack animals, but horses were desired by those wishing to ride in style. The famous Nabatean camel cavalry was s
oon replaced by horse riding Nabateans.”
With their usual entrepreneurial ingenuity, the Nabateans not only began to use horses, they also bred horses that were uniquely excellent. Arabian horses are still a famous breed today. Known for their light footedness and swift speed, they were also prized for their endurance, intelligence and gentleness. The contemporary of Herod the Great, Nabatean king Malichus I gave Julius Caesar two thousand horses for his military campaign in Egypt, while Josephus records that King Malichus II sent Emperor Titus one thousand cavalry to help in his attack on Jerusalem in 70 AD. – from Mystery of the Magi, Ch.9
Just by co incidence our creche in the Longenecker home doesn’t have one camel. It does, however, have a wise man on an Arabia horse. See pic…
To learn more about Mystery of the Magi go here
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