Moab
Overview
Moab is the historical name for a mountainous strip of land in Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

. The land lies alongside much of the eastern shore of the Dead Sea
Dead Sea
The Dead Sea , also called the Salt Sea, is a salt lake bordering Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west. Its surface and shores are below sea level, the lowest elevation on the Earth's surface. The Dead Sea is deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world...

. The existence of the Kingdom of Moab is attested to by numerous archeological findings, most notably the Mesha Stele
Mesha Stele
The Mesha Stele is a black basalt stone bearing an inscription by the 9th century BC ruler Mesha of Moab in Jordan....

, which describes the Moabite victory over an unnamed son of King
Monarch
A monarch is the person who heads a monarchy. This is a form of government in which a state or polity is ruled or controlled by an individual who typically inherits the throne by birth and occasionally rules for life or until abdication...

 Omri
Omri
Omri was a king of Israel, successful military campaigner and first in the line of Omride kings that included Ahab, Ahaziah and Joram.He was "commander of the army" of king Elah when Zimri murdered Elah and made himself king. Instead, the troops at Gibbethon chose Omri as king, and he led them to...

 of Israel. The Moabite capital was Dibon. In Biblical times, the nation was often in conflict with its Israelite neighbours to the west.
The etymology of the word is uncertain.
Encyclopedia
Moab is the historical name for a mountainous strip of land in Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

. The land lies alongside much of the eastern shore of the Dead Sea
Dead Sea
The Dead Sea , also called the Salt Sea, is a salt lake bordering Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west. Its surface and shores are below sea level, the lowest elevation on the Earth's surface. The Dead Sea is deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world...

. The existence of the Kingdom of Moab is attested to by numerous archeological findings, most notably the Mesha Stele
Mesha Stele
The Mesha Stele is a black basalt stone bearing an inscription by the 9th century BC ruler Mesha of Moab in Jordan....

, which describes the Moabite victory over an unnamed son of King
Monarch
A monarch is the person who heads a monarchy. This is a form of government in which a state or polity is ruled or controlled by an individual who typically inherits the throne by birth and occasionally rules for life or until abdication...

 Omri
Omri
Omri was a king of Israel, successful military campaigner and first in the line of Omride kings that included Ahab, Ahaziah and Joram.He was "commander of the army" of king Elah when Zimri murdered Elah and made himself king. Instead, the troops at Gibbethon chose Omri as king, and he led them to...

 of Israel. The Moabite capital was Dibon. In Biblical times, the nation was often in conflict with its Israelite neighbours to the west.

Etymology

The etymology of the word is uncertain. The earliest gloss is found in the Septuagint which explains the name, in obvious allusion to the account of Moab's parentage, as ἐκ τοῦ πατρός μου. Other etymologies which have been proposed regard it as a corruption of "seed of a father," or as a participial form from "to desire," thus connoting "the desirable (land)." Rashi
Rashi
Shlomo Yitzhaki , or in Latin Salomon Isaacides, and today generally known by the acronym Rashi , was a medieval French rabbi famed as the author of a comprehensive commentary on the Talmud, as well as a comprehensive commentary on the Tanakh...

 explains the word Mo'ab to mean "from the father", since "ab" in Hebrew and Arabic and the rest of the Semitic languages means "father". He writes that as a result of the immodesty of Moab's name, God didn't command the Jews to refrain from inflicting pain upon the Moabites in the manner in which he did with regards to the Ammonites. Fritz Hommel
Fritz Hommel
Fritz Hommel was a German Orientalist.Hommel was born in Ansbach, Germany. He studied in Leipzig and habilitated in 1877 in Munich, where he in 1885 became an extraordinary Professor for semitic languages....

 regards "Moab" as an abbreviation of "Immo-ab" = "his mother is his father."

According to , the ancestor
Descendants of Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve were, according to the Book of Genesis of the Bible, the first man and woman created by God. The following is an outline of their descendants as presented in the Bible.-Legend:...

 of the Moabites was Lot
Lot (Bible)
Lot is a man from the Book of Genesis chapters 11-14 and 19, in the Hebrew Bible. Notable episodes in his life include his travels with his uncle Abram ; his flight from the destruction of Sodom, in the course of which Lot's wife looked back and became a pillar of salt; and the seduction by his...

 by incest with his eldest daughter. She and her sister, having lost their fiancés and their mother in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
Sodom and Gomorrah
Sodom and Gomorrah were cities mentioned in the Book of Genesis and later expounded upon throughout the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and Deuterocanonical sources....

, decided to continue their father's line through intercourse with their father. The elder got him drunk to facilitate the deed and conceived Moab. The younger daughter did the same and conceived a son named Ben-Ammi, who became ancestor to the Ammon
Ammon
Ammon , also referred to as the Ammonites and children of Ammon, was an ancient nation located east of the Jordan River, Gilead, and the Dead Sea, in present-day Jordan. The chief city of the country was Rabbah or Rabbath Ammon, site of the modern city of Amman, Jordan's capital...

ites.

Geography

Moab occupied a plateau
Plateau
In geology and earth science, a plateau , also called a high plain or tableland, is an area of highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain. A highly eroded plateau is called a dissected plateau...

 about 3000 feet (914.4 m) above the level of the Mediterranean, or 4300 feet (1,310.6 m) above the Dead Sea
Dead Sea
The Dead Sea , also called the Salt Sea, is a salt lake bordering Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west. Its surface and shores are below sea level, the lowest elevation on the Earth's surface. The Dead Sea is deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world...

, and rising gradually from north to south.

It was bounded on the west by the Dead Sea and the southern section of the Jordan River; on the east by Ammon and the Arabian desert, from which it was separated by low, rolling hill
Hill
A hill is a landform that extends above the surrounding terrain. Hills often have a distinct summit, although in areas with scarp/dip topography a hill may refer to a particular section of flat terrain without a massive summit A hill is a landform that extends above the surrounding terrain. Hills...

s; and on the south by Edom
Edom
Edom or Idumea was a historical region of the Southern Levant located south of Judea and the Dead Sea. It is mentioned in biblical records as a 1st millennium BC Iron Age kingdom of Edom, and in classical antiquity the cognate name Idumea was used to refer to a smaller area in the same region...

. The northern boundary varied, but in general it may be said to have been represented by a line drawn some miles above the northern extremity of the Dead Sea.

In the boundaries are given as being marked by Beth-jeshimoth (north), Baal-meon
Baal-meon
A Biblical name, Baal-meon, meaning Lord of Dwelling, was the name of a town of Reuben, that some have identified as modern-day M'ain in Israel. It was allegedly the birthplace of the prophet Elisha....

 (east), and Kiriathaim (south).

That these limits were not fixed, however, is plain from the lists of cities given in and Jeremiah
Jeremiah
Jeremiah Hebrew:יִרְמְיָה , Modern Hebrew:Yirməyāhū, IPA: jirməˈjaːhu, Tiberian:Yirmĭyahu, Greek:Ἰερεμίας), meaning "Yahweh exalts", or called the "Weeping prophet" was one of the main prophets of the Hebrew Bible...

 xlviii., where Heshbon
Heshbon
Heshbon was an ancient town located east of the Jordan River in the modern Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and historically within the territories of Ammon and Ancient Israel....

, Elealeh, and Jazer
Jazer
Jazer was a city east of the Jordan River, in or near Gilead, and inhabited by the Amorites. It was taken by a special expedition sent by Moses to conquer it. From the Septuagint, it appears that Jazer was on the border of Ammon. As an important city it gave its name to the whole of the...

 are mentioned to the north of Beth-jeshimoth; Madaba
Madaba
Madaba , is the capital city of Madaba Governorate of Jordan, which has a population of about 60,000. Madaba is the fifth most populous town in Jordan. It is best known for its Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics, especially a large Byzantine-era mosaic map of The Holy Land...

, Beth-gamul, and Mephaath to the east of Baalmeon; and Dibon, Aroer
Aroer
Aroer is a Biblical town on the north bank of the River Arnon to the east of the Dead Sea, in present-day Jordan.The town was an ancient Moabite settlement, and is mentioned in the Bible."Aroer, which is on the edge of the valley of Arnon" Aroer is a Biblical town on the north bank of the River...

, Bezer
Bezer
Bezer was a Biblical city in the desert plateau east of the Jordan that was designated a 'city of refuge' for the Reubenites by Moses, to which a person guilty of manslaughter could flee to avoid being killed in vengeance.The city is mentioned in , , , and ....

, Jahaz, and Kirhareseth to the south of Kiriathaim. The principal rivers of Moab mentioned in the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 are the Arnon, the Dimon or Dibon, and the Nimrim.

The limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 hills which form the almost treeless plateau are generally steep but fertile. In the spring they are covered with grass
Poaceae
The Poaceae is a large and nearly ubiquitous family of flowering plants. Members of this family are commonly called grasses, although the term "grass" is also applied to plants that are not in the Poaceae lineage, including the rushes and sedges...

; and the table-land itself produces grain
GRAIN
GRAIN is a small international non-profit organisation that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems. Our support takes the form of independent research and analysis, networking at local, regional and...

.

In the north are a number of long, deep ravine
Ravine
A ravine is a landform narrower than a canyon and is often the product of streamcutting erosion. Ravines are typically classified as larger in scale than gullies, although smaller than valleys. A ravine is generally a fluvial slope landform of relatively steep sides, on the order of twenty to...

s, and Mount Nebo
Mount Nebo (Jordan)
Mount Nebo is an elevated ridge that is approximately 817 meters above sea level, in what is now western Jordan. The view from the summit provides a panorama of the Holy Land and, to the north, a more limited one of the valley of the River Jordan...

, famous as the scene of the death of Moses. The rainfall is fairly plentiful; and the climate, despite the hot summer, is cooler than the area west of the Jordan river, snow falling frequently in winter and in spring.

The plateau is dotted with hundreds of rude dolmens, menhirs, and stone-circles, and contains many ruined villages, mostly of the Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 and Byzantine
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 periods. The land is now occupied chiefly by Bedouin
Bedouin
The Bedouin are a part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group traditionally divided into tribes or clans, known in Arabic as ..-Etymology:...

, though it contains such towns as al-Karak.

The territory occupied by Moab at the period of its greatest extent, before the invasion of the Amorites, divided itself naturally into three distinct and independent portions: The enclosed corner or canton south of the Arnon, (referred to as "field of Moab") the more open rolling country north of the Arnon, opposite Jericho
Jericho
Jericho ; is a city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank of the Palestinian territories. It is the capital of the Jericho Governorate and has a population of more than 20,000. Situated well below sea level on an east-west route north of the Dead Sea, Jericho is the lowest permanently...

, and up to the hills of Gilead(called the "land of Moab") and the district below sea level
Sea level
Mean sea level is a measure of the average height of the ocean's surface ; used as a standard in reckoning land elevation...

 in the tropical depths of the Jordan valley.

Origins

The Moabites were likely settling in the Transjordanian
Transjordan (Bible)
The Transjordan is used to describe an area of land in the Southern Levant lying east of the Jordan River that is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. The area is said to form part of an ill-defined area known as the land of Israel...

 highlands. Whether they were among the nations referred to in the Ancient Egyptian language as Shutu
Shutu
Shutu or Sutu is the name given in ancient Akkadian language sources to certain nomadic groups of the Trans-Jordanian highlands, extending deep into Mesopotamia and Southern Iraq...

or Shasu
Shasu
Shasu is an Egyptian word for pastoral nomads who appeared in the Levant and Arabia from the fifteenth century BCE all the way to the Third Intermediate Period. The name evolved from a transliteration of the Egyptian word š3sw, meaning "those who move on foot", into the term for Bedouin-type...

is a matter of some debate among scholars.

Despite a scarcity of archaeological evidence, the existence of Moab prior to the rise of the Israelite
Israelite
According to the Bible the Israelites were a Hebrew-speaking people of the Ancient Near East who inhabited the Land of Canaan during the monarchic period .The word "Israelite" derives from the Biblical Hebrew ישראל...

 state has been deduced from a colossal statue erected at Luxor
Luxor
Luxor is a city in Upper Egypt and the capital of Luxor Governorate. The population numbers 487,896 , with an area of approximately . As the site of the Ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, Luxor has frequently been characterized as the "world's greatest open air museum", as the ruins of the temple...

 by Pharaoh
Pharaoh
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace...

 Ramesses II
Ramesses II
Ramesses II , referred to as Ramesses the Great, was the third Egyptian pharaoh of the Nineteenth dynasty. He is often regarded as the greatest, most celebrated, and most powerful pharaoh of the Egyptian Empire...

, in the 13th century BCE, which lists Mu'ab among a series of nations conquered during a campaign.

Moabite-Israelite relations

According to Genesis, the Moabites were related to the Israelites, with both peoples tracing their descent back to a common ancestor, Terah
Terah
Terah or Térach is a biblical figure in the book of Genesis, son of Nahor, son of Serug and father of the Patriarch Abraham, all descendants of Shem. He is mentioned in the Hebrew bible and the New Testament.-Genesis narrative:...

, who is named as the father of Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

  and Haran
Haran
Haran or Aran is a figure in Book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible. Haran was born in Ur Kaśdim , the son of Terah and thus a descendant of Shem. Haran's brothers were Abram/Abraham and Nahor...

, and Haran being the father of Lot
Lot (Bible)
Lot is a man from the Book of Genesis chapters 11-14 and 19, in the Hebrew Bible. Notable episodes in his life include his travels with his uncle Abram ; his flight from the destruction of Sodom, in the course of which Lot's wife looked back and became a pillar of salt; and the seduction by his...

. Lot's son Moab is described as being born from an incestuous relationship between Lot and his eldest daughter after the destruction of Sodom
Sodom and Gomorrah
Sodom and Gomorrah were cities mentioned in the Book of Genesis and later expounded upon throughout the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and Deuterocanonical sources....

. The Moabites are described as descendants of Lot's son Moab. Some commentators advance the view that the story of Moab's incestuous conception found its way into the text as part of a political polemic of the time to denigrate Israelites' opponent and relegate the Moabites to a lesser status.

The kinship between the Moabites and the Israelites is attested by the linguistic
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

 evidence of the Moabite Stone. They are also mentioned in close connection with the Amalekites, the inhabitants of Mount Seir
Mount Seir
Mount Seir formed the south-east border of Edom and Judah, it may also echo the older historical border of Egypt and Canaan.-Tanakh:Mount Seir is specifically noted as the place that Esau made his home . It was named for Seir, the Horite, whose sons inhabited the land...

 (the descendants of Esau
Esau
Esau , in the Hebrew Bible, is the oldest son of Isaac. He is mentioned in the Book of Genesis, and by the minor prophets, Obadiah and Malachi. The New Testament later references him in the Book of Romans and the Book of Hebrews....

), the Edomites, the Canaanites, the Sethites
Generations of Adam
"Generations of Adam" is a concept in in the Hebrew Bible. It is typically taken as name of Adam's line of descent going through Seth. Another view equates the generations of Adam with material about a second line of descent starting with Cain in Genesis 4, while Genesis 5 is taken as the...

 and the Philistines
Philistines
Philistines , Pleshet or Peleset, were a people who occupied the southern coast of Canaan at the beginning of the Iron Age . According to the Bible, they ruled the five city-states of Gaza, Askelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath, from the Wadi Gaza in the south to the Yarqon River in the north, but with...

.

Genesis tells that Abraham and Lot travelled together in the Land of Canaan, but that after awhile they decided to part ways. Lot decided to move to the east of the Jordan, while Abraham stayed in Canaan. The paths of the two branches would diverge further, with Abraham's descendants moving to Egypt, while Lot's branch apparently staying on the land east of the Jordan. When the two branches met again, it was after the Israelites left Egypt on the way back to Canaan.

The Moabites were friendly with the Egyptians
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

, having kinship ties with them through Joseph
Joseph (Hebrew Bible)
Joseph is an important character in the Hebrew bible, where he connects the story of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in Canaan to the subsequent story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt....

. The principal shrine in Moab was Beyt-baal-me’on, which means “house/shrine of the baal/master/god of On.” The principal shrine of On was in the sacred city of Heliopolis
Heliopolis
-Placenames:*Heliopolis , the ancient city in Egypt*Heliopolis , a suburb in modern Cairo, Egypt* Heliopolis of Phoenicia, modern Baalbek, Lebanon...

 in Egypt and Joseph married one of the daughters of the high priest of On. Mesha, the King of Moab, built a reservoir at Beth-baal-me’On (II Kings 3). On the Moabite or Mesha Stone (discovered in 1868 at Dibon) it is recorded that King Mesha “reigned in peace over the hundred towns which he had added to the land. And he built Medeba and Beth-diblathen and Beth-baal-me”On, and he set there the … of the land.” The stone is defaced at this point so we do not know what the King set up, but it was likely an image of his god, Ashtar-Chemosh
Ashtar-Chemosh
Ashtar-Chemosh is goddess worshipped by the ancient Moabites. She is mentioned on the Mesha Stele as a female counterpart to Chemosh. She may be identical with Astarte....

.

The Moabites welcomed Egyptian protection provided by a chain of border fortresses that enabled Egypt to control the Sinai. One of these forts was at Ir-Moab, on the Arnon River. During Joseph’s era Egypt traded with Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

, moving goods through Moab.

The Moabites were to be excluded from the assembly of worshipers, because: “They did not come to meet you with food and drink when you were on your way out of Egypt, and even hired Balaam
Balaam
Balaam is a diviner in the Torah, his story occurring towards the end of the Book of Numbers. The etymology of his name is uncertain, and discussed below. Every ancient reference to Balaam considers him a non-Israelite, a prophet, and the son of Beor, though Beor is not so clearly identified...

, son of Beor, to oppose you by cursing you.” (Deuteronomy
Deuteronomy
The Book of Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Hebrew Bible, and of the Jewish Torah/Pentateuch...

 23:3-5) The Israelites were allowed to harass Moab, but were forbidden to wage war on them, so they defeated Midian
Midian
Midian , Madyan , or Madiam is a geographical place and a people mentioned in the Bible and in the Qur'an. It is believed to be in northwest Saudi Arabia on the east shore of the Gulf of Aqaba and the northern Red Sea...

 as a result of the advice that Balaam
Balaam
Balaam is a diviner in the Torah, his story occurring towards the end of the Book of Numbers. The etymology of his name is uncertain, and discussed below. Every ancient reference to Balaam considers him a non-Israelite, a prophet, and the son of Beor, though Beor is not so clearly identified...

 gave that led to a plague in punishment for the worship of idols at Baal Peor. Only the men of Moab and Ammon
Ammon
Ammon , also referred to as the Ammonites and children of Ammon, was an ancient nation located east of the Jordan River, Gilead, and the Dead Sea, in present-day Jordan. The chief city of the country was Rabbah or Rabbath Ammon, site of the modern city of Amman, Jordan's capital...

 were forbidden to marry into the Israelite nation, but the women were permitted to convert without restriction. That is why King David
David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

 who descended from Ruth
Ruth (biblical figure)
Ruth , is the main character in the Book of Ruth in the Hebrew Bible.-Biblical narrative:Ruth was a Moabitess, who married Mahlon, the son of Elimelech and Naomi, but Elimelech and his two sons died...

 could be king and the mother of his grandson Rehoboam
Rehoboam
Rehoboam was initially king of the United Monarchy of Israel but after the ten northern tribes of Israel rebelled in 932/931 BC to form the independent Kingdom of Israel he was king of the Kingdom of Judah, or southern kingdom. He was a son of Solomon and a grandson of David...

 son of Solomon
Solomon
Solomon , according to the Book of Kings and the Book of Chronicles, a King of Israel and according to the Talmud one of the 48 prophets, is identified as the son of David, also called Jedidiah in 2 Samuel 12:25, and is described as the third king of the United Monarchy, and the final king before...

 was from Ammon
Ammon
Ammon , also referred to as the Ammonites and children of Ammon, was an ancient nation located east of the Jordan River, Gilead, and the Dead Sea, in present-day Jordan. The chief city of the country was Rabbah or Rabbath Ammon, site of the modern city of Amman, Jordan's capital...

. This issue was covered in the Talmud and attributed to Doeg the Edomite
Doeg the Edomite
Doeg was an Edomite, chief herdsman to Saul, King of Israel.He is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible book of First Samuel, chapters 21 and 22, where he is depicted as responsible for the deaths of a large number of priests.-Biblical account:...

.

Biblical narrative (through the conquest by Israel)

The Moabites first inhabited the rich highlands at the eastern side of the chasm of the Dead Sea, extending as far north as the mountain of Gilead
Gilead
In the Bible "Gilead" means hill of testimony or mound of witness, , a mountainous region east of the Jordan River, situated in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. It is also referred to by the Aramaic name Yegar-Sahadutha, which carries the same meaning as the Hebrew . From its mountainous character...

, from which country they expelled the Emim
Emim
The Emim was the Moabite name for one of the tribes of Rephaim. They are described in Deuteronomy chapter 2 as having been a powerful people, populous and having a successful kingdom. They were defeated by the Moabites, who occupied their land...

, the original inhabitants, but they themselves were afterward driven southward by warlike tribes of Amorites, who had crossed the river Jordan. These Amorites, described in the Bible as being ruled by King Sihon
Sihon
Sihon, according to the Old Testament, was an Amorite king, who refused to let the Israelites pass through his country. The Bible describes that as the Israelites in their Exodus came to the country east of the Jordan, near Heshbon, King of the Amorites refused to let them pass through his...

, confined the Moabites to the country south of the river Arnon, which formed their northern boundary.

The Israelites, in entering the "promised land", did not pass through the Moabites, (Judges 11:18) but conquered Sihon's kingdom and his capital at Heshbon. After the conquest of Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

 the relations of Moab with Israel were of a mixed character, sometimes warlike and sometimes peaceable. With the tribe of Benjamin they had at least one severe struggle, in union with their kindred the Ammonites and the Amalekites. The Benjamite shofet
Shofet
In Hebrew and several other Semitic languages, shofet literally means "Judge", from the verb "Š-P-T", "to pass judgment". Cognate titles exist in other Semitic cultures, notably Phoenicia.-Hebrew:...

 Ehud ben Gera assassinated the Moabite king Eglon
Eglon (king)
Eglon was the king of Moab who suppressed Israel in the time of the Judges.He was the head of the confederacy of Moab, Ammon and Amalek in their assault. One day, Ehud came presenting a customary tribute and tricked Eglon and stabbed him with his sword, but when Ehud attempted to draw the sword...

 and led an Israelite army against the Moabites at a ford of the Jordan river, killing many of them.

The story of Ruth, on the other hand, testifies to the existence of a friendly intercourse between Moab and Bethlehem
Bethlehem
Bethlehem is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank of the Jordan River, near Israel and approximately south of Jerusalem, with a population of about 30,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority and a hub of Palestinian culture and tourism...

, one of the towns of the tribe of Judah
Tribe of Judah
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Judah was one of the Tribes of Israel.Following the completion of the conquest of Canaan by the Israelite tribes after about 1200 BCE, Joshua allocated the land among the twelve tribes....

. By his descent from Ruth, David may be said to have had Moabite blood in his veins. He committed his parents to the protection of the king of Moab (who may have been his kinsman), when hard pressed by King Saul. (1 Samuel 22:3,4) But here all friendly relations stop forever. The next time the name is mentioned is in the account of David's war, who made the Moabites tributary. Moab may have been under the rule of an Israelite governor during this period; among the exiles who returned to Judea from Babylonia
Babylonia
Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia , with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as a major power when Hammurabi Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as...

 were a clan descended from Pahath-Moab
Pahath-Moab
Pahath-moab was the ancestor of a Judahite clan that returned from the Babylonian Exile and assisted in rebuilding Jerusalem. Whether Pahath-moab was actually an Israelite governor of Moab is unknown....

, whose name means "ruler of Moab".

After the destruction of the First Temple, the knowledge of which people belonged to which nation was lost and the Moabites were treated the same as other gentiles. As a result, all members of the nations could convert to Judaism without restriction. The problem in Ezra
Ezra
Ezra , also called Ezra the Scribe and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra. According to the Hebrew Bible he returned from the Babylonian exile and reintroduced the Torah in Jerusalem...

 and Nehemiah
Nehemiah
Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the central figure of the Book of Nehemiah, which describes his work rebuilding Jerusalem and purifying the Jewish community. He was the son of Hachaliah, Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the...

 occurred because Jewish men married women from the various nations without their first converting to Judaism.

Reassertion of independence

At the disruption of the kingdom under the reign of Rehoboam
Rehoboam
Rehoboam was initially king of the United Monarchy of Israel but after the ten northern tribes of Israel rebelled in 932/931 BC to form the independent Kingdom of Israel he was king of the Kingdom of Judah, or southern kingdom. He was a son of Solomon and a grandson of David...

, Moab seems to have been absorbed into the northern realm. It continued in vassaldom to the Kingdom of Israel until the death of Ahab
Ahab
Ahab or Ach'av or Achab in Douay-Rheims was king of Israel and the son and successor of Omri according to the Hebrew Bible. His wife was Jezebel....

, when the Moabites refused to pay tribute and asserted their independence, making war upon the kingdom of Judah.

After the death of Ahab
Ahab
Ahab or Ach'av or Achab in Douay-Rheims was king of Israel and the son and successor of Omri according to the Hebrew Bible. His wife was Jezebel....

 the Moabites under Mesha
Mesha
King Mesha of Moab was a king of Moabites around the 9th century BC, known most famous for writing the Mesha stela.The books of Samuel record that Moab was conquered by David and retained in the territories of his son Solomon . Later, King Omri of Israel reconquered Moab after Moab was lost...

 rebelled against Jehoram
Jehoram of Israel
Jehoram was a king of the northern Kingdom of Israel. He was the son of Ahab and Jezebel.According to , in the fifth year of Joram of Israel, Jehoram became king of Judah, when his father Jehoshaphat was king of Judah, indicating a co-regency...

, who allied himself with Jehoshaphat
Jehoshaphat
Jehoshaphat was the fourth king of the The Kingdom of Judah, and successor of his father Asa. His children included Jehoram, who succeeded him as king...

, King of Kingdom of Judah
Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

, and with the King of Edom. According to the Bible, the prophet Elisha
Elisha
Elisha is a prophet mentioned in the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an. His name is commonly transliterated into English as Elisha via Hebrew, Eliseus via Greek and Latin, or Alyasa via Arabic.-Biblical biography:...

 directed the Israelites to dig a series of ditches between themselves and the enemy, and during the night these channels were miraculously filled with water which was as red as blood
Blood
Blood is a specialized bodily fluid in animals that delivers necessary substances such as nutrients and oxygen to the cells and transports metabolic waste products away from those same cells....

. Deceived by the crimson color into the belief that their opponents had attacked one another, the Moabites became overconfident and were entrapped and utterly defeated at Ziz, near En Gedi, which states that the Moabites and their allies, the Ammonites and the inhabitants of Mount Seir, mistook one another for the enemy, and so destroyed one another). According to Mesha's inscription on the Mesha Stele
Mesha Stele
The Mesha Stele is a black basalt stone bearing an inscription by the 9th century BC ruler Mesha of Moab in Jordan....

, however, he was completely victorious and regained all the territory of which Israel had deprived him. The battle of Ziz is the last important date in the history of the Moabites as recorded in the Bible. In the year of Elisha's death they invaded Israel. and later aided Nebuchadnezzar in his expedition against Jehoiakim
Jehoiakim
Jehoiakim .On Josiah's death, Jehoiakim's younger brother Jehoahaz was proclaimed king, but after three months pharaoh Necho II deposed him and replaced him with the eldest son, Eliakim, who adopted the name Jehoiakim and became king at the age of twenty-five...

.

Although allusions to Moab are frequent in the prophetical books
Nevi'im
Nevi'im is the second of the three major sections in the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh. It falls between the Torah and Ketuvim .Nevi'im is traditionally divided into two parts:...

 and although two chapters of Isaiah (xv.-xvi.) and one of Jeremiah (xlviii.) are devoted to the "burden of Moab," they give little information about the land. Its prosperity and pride, which the Israelites believed incurred the wrath of God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

, are frequently mentioned; and their contempt for Israel is once expressly noted.

In the Nimrud
Nimrud
Nimrud is an ancient Assyrian city located south of Nineveh on the river Tigris in modern Ninawa Governorate Iraq. In ancient times the city was called Kalḫu. The Arabs called the city Nimrud after the Biblical Nimrod, a legendary hunting hero .The city covered an area of around . Ruins of the city...

 clay
Clay
Clay is a general term including many combinations of one or more clay minerals with traces of metal oxides and organic matter. Geologic clay deposits are mostly composed of phyllosilicate minerals containing variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure.- Formation :Clay minerals...

 inscription of Tiglath-pileser III
Tiglath-Pileser III
Tiglath-Pileser III was a prominent king of Assyria in the eighth century BC and is widely regarded as the founder of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. Tiglath-Pileser III seized the Assyrian throne during a civil war and killed the royal family...

 the Moabite king Salmanu
Salmanu
Salmanu was king of Moab during the reign of the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III . He is mentioned in a clay inscription found in Nimrud as a vassal of Assyria. Eberhard Schrader theorized that he might be identical with the Shalman who waged war on Israel and sacked Beth-arbel Salmanu was king...

 (perhaps the Shalman who sacked Beth-arbel in Hosea
Hosea
Hosea was the son of Beeri and a prophet in Israel in the 8th century BC. He is one of the Twelve Prophets of the Jewish Hebrew Bible, also known as the Minor Prophets of the Christian Old Testament. Hosea is often seen as a "prophet of doom", but underneath his message of destruction is a promise...

 x. 14) is mentioned as tributary to Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

. Sargon II
Sargon II
Sargon II was an Assyrian king. Sargon II became co-regent with Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family...

 mentions on a clay prism a revolt against him by Moab together with Philistia, Judah, and Edom; but on the Taylor prism, which recounts the expedition against Hezekiah
Hezekiah
Hezekiah was the son of Ahaz and the 14th king of Judah. Edwin Thiele has concluded that his reign was between c. 715 and 686 BC. He is also one of the most prominent kings of Judah mentioned in the Hebrew Bible....

, Kammusu-Nadbi (Chemosh-nadab
Chemosh-nadab
Chemosh-nadab was the king of Moab during the reign of Sennacherib. He is described on Sennacherib's Prism as bringing tribute to the Assyrian king during the latter's Levantine campaigns....

), King of Moab, brings tribute to Sargon as his suzerain. Another Moabite king, Mutzuri ("the Egyptian" ?), is mentioned as one of the subject princes at the courts of Esarhaddon
Esarhaddon
Esarhaddon , was a king of Assyria who reigned 681 – 669 BC. He was the youngest son of Sennacherib and the Aramean queen Naqi'a , Sennacherib's second wife....

 and Assurbanipal, while Kaasḥalta, possibly his successor, is named on cylinder B of Assurbanipal.

Decline and fall

Sometime during the Persian period Moab disappears from the extant historical record. Its territory was subsequently overrun by waves of tribes from northern Arabia, including the Kedarites and (later) the Nabataeans
Nabataeans
Thamudi3.jpgThe Nabataeans, also Nabateans , were ancient peoples of southern Canaan and the northern part of Arabia, whose oasis settlements in the time of Josephus , gave the name of Nabatene to the borderland between Syria and Arabia, from the Euphrates to the Red Sea...

. In the Arabs are mentioned instead of the Moabites as the allies of the Ammonites. Their region, however, continued to be known by its biblical name for some time. For example, when the Crusaders occupied the area, the castle they built to defend the eastern part of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
Kingdom of Jerusalem
The Kingdom of Jerusalem was a Catholic kingdom established in the Levant in 1099 after the First Crusade. The kingdom lasted nearly two hundred years, from 1099 until 1291 when the last remaining possession, Acre, was destroyed by the Mamluks, but its history is divided into two distinct periods....

 was called Krak des Moabites.

Economy

The country of Moab was the source of numerous natural resources, including limestone, salt
Salt
In chemistry, salts are ionic compounds that result from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base. They are composed of cations and anions so that the product is electrically neutral...

 and balsam
Balsam of Mecca
Balsam of Mecca is a resinous gum of the tree Commiphora gileadensis , native to southern Arabia and also naturalized, in ancient and again in modern times, in ancient Judea/Palestine/Israel. The most famous site of balsam production in the region was the Jewish town of Ein Gedi...

 from the Dead Sea
Dead Sea
The Dead Sea , also called the Salt Sea, is a salt lake bordering Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west. Its surface and shores are below sea level, the lowest elevation on the Earth's surface. The Dead Sea is deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world...

 region. The Moabites occupied a vital place along the King's Highway
King's Highway (ancient)
The King’s Highway was a trade route of vital importance to the ancient Middle East. It began in Egypt, and stretched across the Sinai Peninsula to Aqaba. From there it turned northward across Jordan, leading to Damascus and the Euphrates River....

, the ancient trade route connecting Egypt with Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, and Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

. Like the Edomites and Ammonites, trade along this route gave them considerable revenue.

Religion

References to the religion of Moab are scanty. Most of the Moabites were polytheists like the other early Semites, and the Book of Numbers
Book of Numbers
The Book of Numbers is the fourth book of the Hebrew Bible, and the fourth of five books of the Jewish Torah/Pentateuch....

 says that they induced the Israelites to join in their sacrifice
Sacrifice
Sacrifice is the offering of food, objects or the lives of animals or people to God or the gods as an act of propitiation or worship.While sacrifice often implies ritual killing, the term offering can be used for bloodless sacrifices of cereal food or artifacts...

s. Their chief god was Chemosh
Chemosh
Chemosh , was the god of the Moabites . The etymology of "Chemosh" is unknown. He is also known from Ebla as Kamish....

, and the Israelites sometimes referred to them as the "people of Chemosh."

According to II Kings, at times, especially in dire peril, human sacrifice
Human sacrifice
Human sacrifice is the act of killing one or more human beings as part of a religious ritual . Its typology closely parallels the various practices of ritual slaughter of animals and of religious sacrifice in general. Human sacrifice has been practised in various cultures throughout history...

s were offered to Chemosh, as by Mesha, who gave up his son and heir to him. Nevertheless, King Solomon built a "high place" for Chemosh on the hill before Jerusalem, which the Bible describes as "this detestation of Moab". The altar was not destroyed until the reign of Josiah
Josiah
Josiah or Yoshiyahu or Joshua was a king of Judah who instituted major reforms. Josiah is credited by most historians with having established or compiled important Jewish scriptures during the Deuteronomic reform that occurred during his rule.Josiah became king of Judah at the age of eight, after...

. The Moabite Stone also mentions (line 17) a female counterpart of Chemosh, Ashtar-Chemosh
Ashtar-Chemosh
Ashtar-Chemosh is goddess worshipped by the ancient Moabites. She is mentioned on the Mesha Stele as a female counterpart to Chemosh. She may be identical with Astarte....

, and a god Nebo
Nabu
Nabu is the Assyrian and Babylonian god of wisdom and writing, worshipped by Babylonians as the son of Marduk and his consort, Sarpanitum, and as the grandson of Ea. Nabu's consort was Tashmetum....

 (line 14), probably the well-known Babylonian divinity Nabu
Nabu
Nabu is the Assyrian and Babylonian god of wisdom and writing, worshipped by Babylonians as the son of Marduk and his consort, Sarpanitum, and as the grandson of Ea. Nabu's consort was Tashmetum....

. The cult of Baal-peor or Peor seems to have been marked by sexual rites, though this may be exaggeration.

In Jewish tradition

According to the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

, the Moabites opposed the Israelite invasion of Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

, as did the Ammonites. As a consequence, they were excluded from the congregation for ten generations. The term "tenth generation" is considered an idiom used for an unlimited time as opposed to the third generation which allows an Egyptian convert to marry into the community. The Talmud expresses the view that the prohibition only applied to male Moabite, who were not allowed to marry born Jews or legitimate converts. Female Moabites, when converted to Judaism, were permitted to marry with only the normal prohibition of a convert marrying a kohen (priest) applying. However, the prohibition was not followed during the Exile; and Ezra and Nehemiah sought to compel a return to the law because men had been marrying women who had not been converted at all. The heir of King Solomon was Rehoboam
Rehoboam
Rehoboam was initially king of the United Monarchy of Israel but after the ten northern tribes of Israel rebelled in 932/931 BC to form the independent Kingdom of Israel he was king of the Kingdom of Judah, or southern kingdom. He was a son of Solomon and a grandson of David...

, the son of an Ammonite woman (who had converted), Naamah
Naamah (wife of Solomon)
Naamah was the wife of King Solomon, and mother of his heir, Rehoboam, according to both , and in the Hebrew Bible. She was an Ammonite, and the only one of Solomon's wives to be mentioned, within the Hebrew Bible, as having borne a child....

.

On the other hand, the marriages of the Bethlehem
Bethlehem
Bethlehem is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank of the Jordan River, near Israel and approximately south of Jerusalem, with a population of about 30,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority and a hub of Palestinian culture and tourism...

 Ephrath
Ephrath
Ephrath or Ephratah is the name of a Biblical place.The first mention of Ephrath occurs in Genesis, in reference to where Rachel dies giving birth to Benjamin and is buried on the road from Bethel...

ites (of the tribe of Judah
Tribe of Judah
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Judah was one of the Tribes of Israel.Following the completion of the conquest of Canaan by the Israelite tribes after about 1200 BCE, Joshua allocated the land among the twelve tribes....

) Chilion and Mahlon to the Moabite women Orpah
Orpah
Orpah is a woman mentioned in the Book of Ruth in the Hebrew Bible. She was from Moab and was the daughter-in-law of Naomi and wife of Chilion. After the death of her husband, Orpah and her sister-in-law Ruth wished to go to Judea with Naomi. However, Naomi persuaded Orpah to return to her people...

 and Ruth
Ruth (biblical figure)
Ruth , is the main character in the Book of Ruth in the Hebrew Bible.-Biblical narrative:Ruth was a Moabitess, who married Mahlon, the son of Elimelech and Naomi, but Elimelech and his two sons died...

, and the marriage of the latter, after her husband's death, to Boaz
Boaz
Boaz is a major figure in The Book of Ruth in the Bible. The term is found 24 times in the Scriptures, being two in Greek ....

 who by her was the great-grandfather of David
David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

, are mentioned with no shade of reproach. The Talmudic explanation, however, is that the language of the law only applies to Moabite and Ammonite men (Hebrew, like all Semitic languages, is gendered). The Talmud also states that Prophet Samuel
Samuel
Samuel is a leader of ancient Israel in the Books of Samuel in the Hebrew Bible. He is also known as a prophet and is mentioned in the Qur'an....

 wrote the book of Ruth in order to settle the dispute as the rule had been forgotten since the time of Boaz
Boaz
Boaz is a major figure in The Book of Ruth in the Bible. The term is found 24 times in the Scriptures, being two in Greek ....

. Another interpretation is that the Book of Ruth
Book of Ruth
The Book of Ruth is one of the books of the Hebrew Bible, Tanakh, or Old Testament. In the Jewish canon the Book of Ruth is included in the third division, or the Writings . In the Christian canon the Book of Ruth is placed between Judges and 1 Samuel...

 is simply reporting the events in an impartial fashion, leaving any praise or condemnation to be done by the reader.

The Babylonian Talmud in Yevamot 76B explains that one of the reasons was the Ammonites did not greet the Children of Israel with friendship and the Moabites hired Balaam
Balaam
Balaam is a diviner in the Torah, his story occurring towards the end of the Book of Numbers. The etymology of his name is uncertain, and discussed below. Every ancient reference to Balaam considers him a non-Israelite, a prophet, and the son of Beor, though Beor is not so clearly identified...

 to curse them. The difference in the responses of the two people led to God allowing the Jewish People to harass the Moabites (though not go to war) but forbade them to even harass the Ammonites. (Compare/contrast with the basic message of Deuteronomy 23:4-5).

It should be noted that Ruth
Ruth (biblical figure)
Ruth , is the main character in the Book of Ruth in the Hebrew Bible.-Biblical narrative:Ruth was a Moabitess, who married Mahlon, the son of Elimelech and Naomi, but Elimelech and his two sons died...

 adopted the God of Naomi, her Israelite mother-in-law, and chose to go back to her (Naomi's) people after her husband, his brother and his father, Naomi's husband, died.

Ruth said to Naomi, "Whither thou goest, I will go; whither thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people and thy God my God". The Talmud uses this as the basis for what a convert must do to be converted. There are arguments as to exactly when she was converted and if she had to repeat this statement in front of the court in Bethlehem
Bethlehem
Bethlehem is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank of the Jordan River, near Israel and approximately south of Jerusalem, with a population of about 30,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority and a hub of Palestinian culture and tourism...

 when they arrived there.

Resources

  • Routledge, Bruce. 'Moab in the Iron Age:Hegemony, Polity, Archaeology,' 2004. The most comprehensive treatment of Moab to date.
  • Bienkowski, Piotr (ed.) Early Edom and Moab: The Beginning of the Iron Age in Southern Jordan (1992).
  • Dearman, Andrew (ed.) Studies in the Mesha inscription and Moab (1989).
  • Jacobs, Joseph and Louis H. Gray. "Moab." Jewish Encyclopedia
    Jewish Encyclopedia
    The Jewish Encyclopedia is an encyclopedia originally published in New York between 1901 and 1906 by Funk and Wagnalls. It contained over 15,000 articles in 12 volumes on the history and then-current state of Judaism and the Jews as of 1901...

    .
    Funk and Wagnalls, 1901–1906, which cites to the following bibliography:
  • Tristram, The Land of Moab, London, 1874;
  • George Adam Smith, Historical Geography of the Holy Land, ib. 1897;
  • Clermont-Ganneau, Recueil d'Archéologie Orientale, ii. 185-234, Paris, 1889;
  • Baethgen, Beiträge zur Semitischen Religionsgeschichte, Berlin, 1888;
  • Smith, Rel. of Sem. Edinburgh, 1894. J. L. H. G.
  • Hertz, J.H., The Pentateuch and Haftoras: Deuteronomy, Oxford, 1936, Oxford University Press.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK