Kir of Moab
|qir moa'-abh (fortress of Moab, the wall, fortress)
RELATED: Kir-haraseth, Moab
Easton's Bible Dictionary
15:1 . The two strongholds of Moab were Ar and Kir, which latter is probably
the Kir-haraseth ( Isaiah
16:7 ) following.
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
(fortress of Moab) One of the two chief strongholds of
Moab, the other being Ar of Moab. The name occurs only in ( Isaiah
15:1 ) though the place is probably referred to under the names of Kir-heres,
Kir-harseth, etc. It is almost identical with the name Kerak , by which the site
of an important city in a high and very strong position at the southeast of the
Dead Sea is known at this day. Its situation is truly remarkable. It is built
upon the top of a steep hill, surrounded by a deep and narrow valley, which again
is completely enclosed by mountains rising higher than the town and overlooking
it on all sides.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
(qir moa'-abh; Septuagint has to teichos, "the wall,"
The name, at least in this form, appears only once (Isaiah
15:1) as that of a city in Moab. It is named with Ar of Moab, with which possibly
it may be identical, since 'ar or 'ir is the Hebrew equivalent of the Moabite
Qir. The Targum hence reads "Kerak in Moab." There can be no doubt that the Kerak
here intended is represented by the modern town of that name, with which, consequently,
Kir Moab is almost universally identified. It must always have been a place of
importance. It is mentioned as Charakmoba (Karakmoba) in the Ac of the Council
of Jerusalem (536 AD) and by the early geographers. It dominated the great caravan
road connecting Syria with Egypt and Arabia. The Crusaders therefore directed
attention to it, and held possession from 1167 till it fell again into the hands
of the Moslems under Saladin, 1188. The Chroniclers speak of it as in el Belqa,
and the chief city of Arabia Secunda. Under the title of Petra Deserti the Crusaders
founded here a bishop's see. The Greek bishop of Petra still has his seat in Kerak.
Kerak stands upon a lofty spur projecting westward from the Moab
plateau, with Wady 'Ain Franjy on the South, and Wady el-Kerak on the North, about
10 miles from the Dead Sea. The sides of the mountain sink sharply into these
deep ravines, which unite immediately to the West, and, as Wady el-Kerak, the
great hollow runs northwestward to the sea. It is a position of great natural
strength, being connected with the uplands to the East only by a narrow neck.
It is 3,370 ft. above the level of the sea. The mountains beyond the adjacent
valleys are much higher. The place was surrounded by a strong wall, with five
towers, which can still be traced in its whole length. The most northerly tower
is well preserved. The most interesting building at Kerak is the huge castle on
the southern side. It is separated from the adjoining hill on the right by a large
artificial moat; and it is provided with a reservoir. A moat also skirts the northern
side of the fortress, and on the East the wall has a sloped or battered base.
The castle is then separated from the town. The walls are very thick, and are
well preserved. Beneath the castle is a chapel in which traces of frescoes are
still visible. In days of ancient warfare the place must have been practically
impregnable. It could be entered only by two roads passing through rock-cut tunnels.
The main danger must always have been failure of water supply. There are springs
immediately outside the city; but those alone would not be sufficient. Great cisterns
were therefore constructed in the town and also in the castle. The half-nomadic
inhabitants of Kerak today number some 1,140 families (Musil, Arabia Petrea, III,
97). The Greek church claims about 2,000 souls; the rest are Moslems. They are
wild and fearless people, not greatly inclined to treat strangers with courtesy
and kindness. In the spring of 1911 the town was the center of a rising against
the government, which was not quelled until much blood had been shed.
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