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Moab, Moabite(s)

mo'-ab (of his father)
RELATED:
Abraham, Arnon, Balaam, Balak, Eglon, Lot, Mesha, Moses, Ruth
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Easton's Bible Dictionary

(MOAB)
The seed of the father, or, according to others, the desirable land, the eldest son of Lot ( Genesis 19:37 ), of incestuous birth. Used to denote the people of Moab ( Numbers 22:3 - 14 ; Judges 3:30 ; 2 Samuel 8:2 ; Jeremiah 48:11 , 48:13 ). The land of Moab ( Jeremiah 48:24 ), called also the "country of Moab" ( Ruth 1:2 , 1:6 ; 2:6 ), on the east of Jordan and the Dead Sea, and south of the Arnon ( Numbers 21:13 , 21:26 ). In a wider sense it included the whole region that had been occupied by the Amorites. It bears the modern name of Kerak. In the Plains of Moab, opposite Jericho ( Numbers 22:1 ; 26:63 ; Joshua 13:32 ), the children of Israel had their last encampment before they entered the land of Canaan. It was at that time in the possession of the Amorites ( Numbers 21:22 ). "Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah," and "died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord" ( Deuteronomy 34:5 , 34:6 ). "Surely if we had nothing else to interest us in the land of Moab, the fact that it was from the top of Pisgah, its noblest height, this mightiest of the prophets looked out with eye undimmed upon the Promised Land; that it was here on Nebo, its loftiest mountain, that he died his solitary death; that it was here, in the valley over against Beth-peor, he found his mysterious sepulchre, we have enough to enshrine the memory in our hearts." (MOABITE) the designation of a tribe descended from Moab, the son of Lot ( Genesis 19:37 ). From Zoar, the cradle of this tribe, on the south-eastern border of the Dead Sea, they gradually spread over the region on the east of Jordan. Rameses II., the Pharaoh of the Oppression, enumerates Moab (Muab) among his conquests.

Shortly before the Exodus, the warlike Amorites crossed the Jordan under Sihon their king and drove the Moabites ( Numbers 21:26-30 ) out of the region between the Arnon and the Jabbok, and occupied it, making Heshbon their capital. They were then confined to the territory to the south of the Arnon. On their journey the Israelites did not pass through Moab, but through the "wilderness" to the east ( Deuteronomy 2:8 ; Judges 11:18 ), at length reaching the country to the north of the Arnon. Here they remained for some time till they had conquered Bashan (see SIHON; OG). The Moabites were alarmed, and their king, Balak, sought aid from the Midianites ( Numbers 22:2 - 4 ). It was while they were here that the visit of Balaam (q.v.) to Balak took place. (See MOSES .) After the Conquest, the Moabites maintained hostile relations with the Israelites, and frequently harassed them in war (Judges 3:12 - 30 ; 1 Samuel 14 ). The story of Ruth, however, shows the existence of friendly relations between Moab and Bethlehem. By his descent from Ruth, David may be said to have had Moabite blood in his veins. Yet there was war between David and the Moabites ( 2 Samuel 8:2 ; 23:20 ; 1 Chronicles 18:2 ), from whom he took great spoil ( 2 Samuel 8:2 , 8:11 , 8:12 ; 1 Chronicles 11:22 ; 18:11 ). During the one hundred and fifty years which followed the defeat of the Moabites, after the death of Ahab (see MESHA), they regained, apparently, much of their former prosperty. At this time ( Isaiah 15:1 ) delivered his "burden of Moab," predicting the coming of judgment on that land (Compare 2 Kings 17:3 ; 18:9 ; 1 Chronicles 5:25 , 5:26 ). Between the time of Isaiah and the commencement of the Babylonian captivity we have very seldom any reference to Moab ( Jeremiah 25:21 ; 27:3 ; 40:11 ; Zephaniah 2:8 - 10 ). After the Return, it was Sanballat, a Moabite, who took chief part in seeking to prevent the rebuilding of Jerusalem ( Nehemiah 2:19 ; 4:1 ; 6:1 ).


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Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names

of his father

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Smith's Bible Dictionary

(of his father) Moabites. Moab was the son of the Lots eldest daughter, the progenitor of the Moabites. Zoar was the cradle of the race of Lot. From this centre the brother tribes spread themselves. The Moabites first inhabited the rich highlands which crown the eastern side of the chasm of the Dead Sea, extending as far north as the mountain of Gilead, from which country they expelled the Emims, the original inhabitants, ( Deuteronomy 2:11 ) but they themselves were afterward driven southward by the warlike Amorites, who had crossed the Jordan, and were confined to the country south of the river Arnon, which formed their northern boundary. ( Numbers 21:13 ; Judges 11:18 ) 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:--

(1) The enclosed corner or canton south of the Arnon was the "field of Moab." ( Ruth 1:1 , 1:2 , 1:6 ) etc.

(2) The more open rolling country north of the Arnon, opposite Jericho, and up to the hills of Gilead, was the "land of Moab." ( Deuteronomy 1:5 ; 32:49 ) etc.

(3) The sunk district in the tropical depths of the Jordan valley. ( Numbers 22:1 ) etc.

The Israelites, in entering the promised land, did not pass through the Moabites, ( Judges 11:18 ) but conquered the Amorites, who occupied the country from which the Moabites had been so lately expelled. After the conquest of Canaan 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. ( Judges 3:12 - 30 ) The story of Ruth, on the other hand, testifies to the existence of a friendly intercourse between Moab and Bethlehem, one of the towns of Judah. 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, when hard pressed by Saul. ( 1 Samuel 22:3 , 22:4 ) But here all friendly relations stop forever. The next time the name is mentioned is in the account of Davids war, who made the Moabites tributary. ( 2 Samuel 8:2 ; 1 Chronicles 18:2 ) At the disruption of the kingdom Moab seems to have fallen to the northern realm. At the death of Ahab the Moabites refused to pay tribute and asserted their independence, making war upon the kingdom of Judah. ( 2 Chronicles 22:1 ) ... As a natural consequence of the late events, Israel, Judah and Edom united in an attack on Moab, resulting in the complete overthrow of the Moabites. Falling back into their own country, they were followed and their cities and farms destroyed. Finally, shut up within the walls of his own capital, the king, Mesha, in the sight of the thousands who covered the sides of that vast amphitheater, killed and burnt his child as a propitiatory sacrifice to the cruel gods of his country. Isaiah, chs. ( Isaiah 15 , 16 , Isaiah 25:10 - 12 ) predicts the utter annihilation of the Moabites; and they are frequently denounced by the subsequent prophets. For the religion of the Moabites see CHEMOSH; MOLECH; PEOR. See also Tristrams "Land of Moab."

Present condition. --(Noldeke says that the extinction of the Moabites was about A.D. 200, at the time when the Yemen tribes Galib and Gassara entered the eastern districts of the Jordan. Since A.D. 536 the last trace of the name Moab, which lingered in the town of Kir-moab, has given place to Kerak , its modern name. Over the whole region are scattered many ruins of ancient cities; and while the country is almost bare of larger vegetation, it is still a rich pasture-ground, with occasional fields of grain. The land thus gives evidence of its former wealth and power. --ED.)


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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

mo'-ab, mo'-ab-its (Moab, mo'abh, Moabite Stone, M-'-B; Greek (Septuagint) Moab, he Moabeitis, Moabitis; Moabite, mo'abhi; Moabites, bene mo'abh):

1. The Land:

Moab was the district East of the Dead Sea, extending from a point some distance North of it to its southern end. The eastern boundary was indefinite, being the border of the desert which is irregular. The length of the territory was about 50 miles and the average width about 30. It is a high tableland, averaging some 3,000 ft. above the level of the Mediterranean and 4,300 ft. above that of the Dead Sea. The aspect of the land, as one looks at it from the western side of the Dead Sea, is that of a range of mountains with a very precipitous frontage, but the elevation of this ridge above the interior is very slight. Deep chasms lead down from the tableland to the Dead Sea shore, the principal one being the gorge of the river Arnon, which is about 1,700 ft. deep and 2 or more miles in width at the level of the tableland, but very narrow at the bottom and with exceedingly precipitous banks. About 13 miles back from the mouth of the river the gorge divides, and farther back it subdivides, so that several valleys are formed of diminishing depth as they approach the desert border. These are referred to in Numbers 21:14 as the "valleys of the Arnon." The "valley of Zered" (Numbers 21:12), which was on the southern border, drops down to the southern end of the Dead Sea, and although not so long or deep as the Arnon, is of the same nature in its lower reaches, very difficult to cross, dividing into two branches, but at a point much nearer the sea. The stream is not so large as the Arnon, but is quite copious, even in summer. These gorges have such precipitous sides that it would be very difficult for an army to cross them, except in their upper courses near the desert where they become shallow. The Israelites passed them in that region, probably along the present Hajj road and the line of the Mecca Railway. The tableland is fertile but lacks water. The fountains and streams in the valleys and on the slopes toward the Dead Sea are abundant, but the uplands are almost destitute of flowing water. The inhabitants supply themselves by means of cisterns, many of which are ancient, but many of those used in ancient times are ruined. The population must have been far greater formerly than now. The rainfall is usually sufficient to mature the crops, although the rain falls in winter only. The fertility of the country in ancient times is indicated by the numerous towns and villages known to have existed there, mentioned in Scripture and on the Moabite Stone, the latter giving some not found elsewhere. The principal of these were: Ar (Numbers 21:15); Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Nebo (Numbers 32:3); Beth-peor (Deuteronomy 3:29); Beth-diblaim, Bozrah, Kerioth (Jeremiah 48:22-24); Kir (Isaiah 15:1); Medeba, Elealeh, Zoar (Isaiah 15:2 , 4 , 5); Kirheres (Isaiah 16:11); Sibmah (Joshua 13:19); in all, some 45 place-names in Moab are known, most of the towns being in ruins. Kir of Moab is represented in the modern Kerak, the most important of all and the government center of the district. Madeba now represents the ancient Medeba, and has become noted for the discovery of a medieval map of Palestine, in mosaic, of considerable archaeological value. Rabbath-moab and Heshbon (modern Rabba and Hesban) are miserable villages, and the country is subject to the raids of the Bedouin tribes of the neighboring desert, which discourages agriculture. But the land is still good pasture ground for cattle and sheep, as in ancient times (Numbers 32:3 , 4).

2. The People:

The Moabites were of Semitic stock and of kin to the Hebrews, as is indicated by their descent from Lot, the nephew of Abraham (Genesis 19:30 - 37), and by their language which is practically the same as the Hebrew. This is clear from the inscription on the Moabite Stone, a monument of Mesha, king of Moab, erected about 850 BC, and discovered among the ruins of Dibon in 1868. It contains 34 lines of about 9 words each, written in the old Phoenician and Hebrew characters, corresponding to the Siloam inscription and those found in Phoenicia, showing that it is a dialect of the Semitic tongue prevailing in Palestine. The original inhabitants of Moab were the Emim (Deuteronomy 2:10), "a people great .... and tall, as the Anakim." When these were deposed by the Moabites we do not know. The latter are not mentioned in the Tell el-Amarna Letters and do not appear on the Egyptian monuments before the 14th century BC, when they seem to be referred to under the name of Ruten, or Luten or Lotan, i.e. Lot (Paton, Syria and Pal); Muab appears in a list of names on a monument of Rameses III of the XXth Dynasty. The country lay outside the line of march of the Egyptian armies, and this accounts for the silence of its monuments in regard to them.

3. Religion:

The chief deity of Moab was Chemosh (kemosh), frequently mentioned in the Old Testament and on the Moabite Stone, where King Mesha speaks of building a high place in his honor because he was saved by him from his enemies. He represents the oppression of Moab by Omri as the result of the anger of Chemosh, and Mesha made war against Israel by command of Chemosh. He was the national god of Moab, as Molech was of Ammon, and it is pretty certain that he was propitiated by human sacrifices (2 Kings 3:27). But he was not the only god of Moab, as is clear from the account in Numbers 25, where it is also clear that their idolatrous worship was corrupt. They had their Baalim like the nations around, as may be inferred from the place-names compounded with Baal, such as Bamoth-baal, Beth-baal-meon and Baal-peor.

4. History:

We know scarcely anything of the history of the Moabites after the account of their origin in Genesis 19 until the time of the exodus. It would seem, however, that they had suffered from the invasions of the Amorites, who, under their king Sihon, had subdued the northern part of Moab as far as the Arnon (Numbers 21:21 - 31). This conquest was no doubt a result of the movement of the Amorites southward, when they were pressed by the great wave of Hittite invasion that overran Northern Syria at the end of the 15th and the early part of the 14th centuries BC. The Amorites were forced to seek homes in Palestine, and it would seem that a portion of them crossed the Jordan and occupied Northern Moab, and here the Israelites found them as they approached the Promised Land. They did not at first disturb the Moabites in the South, but passed around on the eastern border (Deuteronomy 2:8 , 9) and came into conflict with the Amorites in the North (Numbers 21:21 - 26), defeating them and occupying the territory (Numbers 21:31 - 32). But when Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, saw what a powerful people was settling on his border, he made alliance with the Midianites against them and called in the aid of Balaam, but as he could not induce the latter to curse them he refrained from attacking the Israelites (Numbers 22 ; 24). The latter, however, suffered disaster from the people of Moab through their intercourse with them (Numbers 25). Some time before the establishment of the kingdom in Israel the Midianites overran Moab, as would appear from the passage in Genesis 36:35, but the conquest was not permanent, for Moab recovered its lost territory and became strong enough to encroach upon Israel across the Jordan. Eglon of Moab oppressed Israel with the aid of Ammon and Amalek (Judges 3:13 - 14), but Eglon was assassinated by Ehud, and the Moabite yoke was cast off after 18 years. Saul smote Moab, but did not subdue it (1 Samuel 14:47), for we find David putting his father and mother under the protection of the king of Moab when persecuted by Saul (1 Samuel 22:3 , 4). But this friendship between David and Moab did not continue. When David became king he made war upon Moab and completely subjugated it (2 Samuel 8:2). On the division of the kingdom between Rehoboam and Jeroboam the latter probably obtained possession of Moab (1 Kings 12:20), but it revolted and Omri had to reconquer it (M S), and it was tributary to Ahab (2 Kings 1:1). It revolted again in the reign of Ahaziah (2 Kings 1:1 ; 3:5), and Moab and Ammon made war on Jehoshaphat and Mt. Seir and destroyed the latter, but they afterward fell out among themselves and destroyed each other (2 Chronicles 20). Jehoshaphat and Jehoram together made an expedition into Moab and defeated the Moabites with great slaughter (2 Kings 3). But Mesha, king of Moab, was not subdued (2 Kings 3:27), and afterward completely freed his land from the dominion of Israel (M S). This was probably at the time when Israel and Judah were at war with Hazael of Damascus (2 Kings 8:28 , 29). Bands of Moabites ventured to raid the land of Israel when weakened by the conflict with Hazael (2 Kings 13:20), but Moab was probably subdued again by Jeroboam II (2 Kings 14:25), which may be the disaster to Moab recounted in Isaiah 15. After Mesha we find a king of the name of Salamanu and another called Chemosh-nadab, the latter being subject to Sargon of Assyria. He revolted against Sennacherib, in alliance with other kings of Syria and Palestine and Egypt, but was subdued by him, and another king, Mutsuri, was subject to Esarhaddon. These items come to us from the Assyrian monuments. When Babylon took the place of Assyria in the suzerainty, Moab joined other tribes in urging Judah to revolt but seems to have come to terms with Nebuchadnezzar before Jerusalem was taken, as we hear nothing of any expedition of that king against her. On the war described in Judith, in which Moab (1:12, etc.) plays a part.

See JUDITH.

At a later date Moab was overrun by the Nabathean Arabs who ruled in Petra and extended their authority on the east side of Jordan even as far as Damascus (Josephus, Ant, XIII, xv, 1,2). The Moabites lost their identity as a nation and were afterward confounded with the Arabs, as we see in the statement of Josephus (XIII, xiii, 5), where he says that Alexander (Janneus) overcame the Arabians, such as the Moabites and the Gileadites. Alexander built the famous stronghold of Macherus in Moab, on a hill overlooking the Dead Sea, which afterward became the scene of the imprisonment and tragical death of John the Baptist (Josephus, BJ, VII, vi, 2; Ant, XVIII, v, 2; Mark 6:21-28). It was afterward destroyed by the Romans. Kir became a fortress of the Crusaders under the name of Krak (Kerak), which held out against the Moslems until the time of Saladin, who captured it in 1188 AD.


LITERATURE.

Commentaries on the passages in the Old Testament relating to Moab, and histories of Israel; Paton, Early History of Syria and Palestine; Rawlinson, Ancient Monarchies, especially Assyria and Babylonia; Conder, Heth and Moab; G. A. Smith, HGHL; the Moabite Stone; Josephus.



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bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, define, kerak, moab, moabites, moses saw the promised land, son of lot, where moses died, visit of balaam

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