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Moab ''Mōáb''; Assyrian: 𒈬𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Mu'abâ'', 𒈠𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Ma'bâ'', 𒈠𒀪𒀊 ''Ma'ab''; Egyptian: 𓈗𓇋𓃀𓅱𓈉 ''Mū'ībū'', name=, group= () is the name of an ancient Levantine kingdom whose territory is today located in the modern state of
Jordan Jordan ( ar, الأردن; Romanization of Arabic, tr. ' ), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,; Romanization of Arabic, tr. ' is a country in Western Asia. It is situated at the crossroads of Asia, Africa, and Europe, within the Levan ...
. The land is mountainous and lies alongside much of the eastern shore of the
Dead Sea The Dead Sea ( he, יַם הַמֶּלַח, ''Yam hamMelaḥ''; ar, اَلْبَحْرُ الْمَيْتُ, ''Āl-Baḥrū l-Maytū''), also known by other names, is a salt lake bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel Israel (; ...
. The existence of the Kingdom of Moab is attested to by numerous archaeological findings, most notably the
Mesha Stele The Mesha Stele, also known as the Moabite Stone, is a stele dated around 840 BCE containing a significant Canaanite and Aramaic inscriptions, Canaanite inscription in the name of King Mesha of Moab (a kingdom located in modern Jordan). Mesha tel ...
, which describes the Moabite victory over an unnamed son of
King King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen regnant, queen, which title is also given to the queen consort, consort of a king. *In the context of prehistory, antiquity and contempora ...
Omri Omri ( ; he, , ''‘Omrī''; akk, 𒄷𒌝𒊑𒄿 ''Ḫûmrî'' 'ḫu-um-ri-i'' fl. 9th century BC) was, according to the Hebrew Bible, the sixth Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), king of Israel. He was a successful military campaigner who ex ...
of
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, ; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, ), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a country in Western Asia. It is situated ...
, an episode also noted in
2 Kings The Book of Kings (, ''Sefer (Hebrew), Sēfer Malik, Məlāḵīm'') is a book in the Hebrew Bible, found as two books (1–2 Kings) in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. It concludes the Deuteronomistic history, a history of Israel also ...
. The Moabite capital was Dibon. According to the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;"Tanach"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''.
Hebrew: ''Tān ...
, Moab was often in conflict with its
Israelite The Israelites (; , , ) were a group of ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes in the ancient Near East who, during the Iron Age, inhabited a part of Canaan. The earliest recorded evidence of a people by the name of Israel ...
neighbours to the west.


Etymology

The etymology of the word Moab is uncertain. The earliest gloss is found in the
Koine Greek Koine Greek (; Koine el, ἡ κοινὴ διάλεκτος, hē koinè diálektos, the common dialect; ), also known as Hellenistic Greek, common Attic, the Alexandrian dialect, Biblical Greek or New Testament Greek, was the common supra-reg ...
Septuagint The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint (, ; from the la, septuaginta, lit=seventy; often abbreviated ''70''; in Roman numerals, LXX), is the earliest extant Greek language, Greek translation of books from the Hebrew Bible. It includes several ...
() which explains the name, in obvious allusion to the account of Moab's parentage, as ἐκ τοῦ πατρός μου ("from my father"). 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 Shlomo Yitzchaki ( he, רבי שלמה יצחקי; la, Salomon Isaacides; french: Salomon de Troyes, 22 February 1040 – 13 July 1105), today generally known by the acronym Rashi (see #Name, below), was a France in the Middle Ages, medieval Fr ...
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 did not command the
Israelites The Israelites (; , , ) were a group of ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes in the ancient Near East who, during the Iron Age, inhabited a part of Canaan. The earliest recorded evidence of a people by the name of Israel ...
to refrain from inflicting pain upon the Moabites in the manner in which he did with regard to the
Ammonites Ammonoids are a group of extinct marine mollusc animals in the subclass Ammonoidea of the class (biology), class Cephalopoda. These molluscs, commonly referred to as ammonites, are more closely related to living coleoids (i.e., octopuses, squid ...
.
Fritz Hommel Fritz Hommel (31 July 1854 – 17 April 1936) was a German oriental studies, Orientalist. Biography Hommel was born in Ansbach. He studied in University of Leipzig, Leipzig and was habilitated in 1877 in University of Munich, Munich, where in ...
regards ''Moab'' as an abbreviation of ''Immo-ab''="his mother is his father". According to , the
ancestor An ancestor, also known as a forefather, fore-elder or a forebear, is a parent or (Recursion, recursively) the parent of an antecedent (i.e., a grandparent, great-grandparent, great-great-grandparent and so forth). ''Ancestor'' is "any person ...
of the Moabites was Lot by
incest Incest ( ) is human sexual activity between family members or close kinship, relatives. This typically includes sexual activity between people in consanguinity (blood relations), and sometimes those related by Affinity (law), affinity (marriage ...
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 () were two legendary biblical cities destroyed by God for their wickedness. Their story parallels the Genesis flood narrative in its theme of God's anger provoked by man's sin (see Book of Genesis, Genesis 19:1–28). They ar ...
, 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 (Ammonite language, Ammonite: 𐤏𐤌𐤍 ''ʻAmān''; he, עַמּוֹן ''ʻAmmōn''; ar, عمّون, ʻAmmūn) was an ancient Semitic languages, Semitic-speaking nation occupying the east of the Jordan River, between the torren ...
ites. According to the Book of Jasher (24,24), Moab had four sons—Ed, Mayon, Tarsus and Kanvil—and his wife, whose name is not given, is apparently from Canaan.


Geography


Topography

Moab was located on a
plateau In geology and physical geography, a plateau (; ; ), also called a high plain or a tableland, is an area of a highland consisting of flat terrain that is raised sharply above the surrounding area on at least one side. Often one or more sides ha ...
about above the level of the
Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western Europe, Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa ...
, or above the
Dead Sea The Dead Sea ( he, יַם הַמֶּלַח, ''Yam hamMelaḥ''; ar, اَلْبَحْرُ الْمَيْتُ, ''Āl-Baḥrū l-Maytū''), also known by other names, is a salt lake bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel Israel (; ...
, rising gradually from north to south. In the north are a number of long, deep
ravine A ravine is a landform that is narrower than a canyon and is often the product of streambank erosion.Mount Nebo, famous as the scene of the death of
Moses Moses hbo, מֹשֶׁה, Mōše; also known as Moshe or Moshe Rabbeinu (Mishnaic Hebrew: מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ, ); syr, ܡܘܫܐ, Mūše; ar, موسى, Mūsā; grc, Mωϋσῆς, Mōÿsēs () is considered the most important Prop ...
(
Deuteronomy Deuteronomy ( grc, Δευτερονόμιον, Deuteronómion, second law) is the fifth and last book of the Torah (in Judaism), where it is called (Hebrew: hbo, , Dəḇārīm, hewords f Moses label=none) and the fifth book of the Chr ...
).


Boundaries in the Hebrew Bible

In the boundaries are given as being marked by Beth-jeshimoth (north), Baal-meon (east), and Kiriathaim (south). That these limits were not fixed, however, is plain from the lists of cities given in and
Jeremiah Jeremiah, Modern Hebrew, Modern:   , Tiberian vocalization, Tiberian: ; el, Ἰερεμίας, Ieremíās; meaning "Yahweh, Yah shall raise" (c. 650 – c. 570 BC), also called Jeremias or the "weeping prophet", was one of the major proph ...
, where Heshbon, Elealeh, and Jazer are mentioned to the north of Beth-jeshimoth; Madaba, Beth-gamul, and Mephaath to the east of Baalmeon; and Dibon, Aroer, Bezer,
Jahaz This is a list of places mentioned in the Bible, which do not have their own Wikipedia articles. See also the list of biblical places for locations which do have their own article. Ænon, A Abana Abana, according to 2 Kings 5:12, was one of the ...
, and Kirhareseth to the south of Kiriathaim. The principal rivers of Moab mentioned in the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek , , 'the books') is a collection of religious texts or scriptures that are held to be sacredness, sacred in Christianity, Judaism, Samaritanism, and many other religions. The Bible is an anthologya compilation of ...
are the Arnon, the Dimon or Dibon, and the Nimrim. The territory occupied by Moab at the period of its greatest extent, before the invasion of the
Amorites The Amorites (; sux, 𒈥𒌅, MAR.TU; Akkadian language, Akkadian: 𒀀𒈬𒊒𒌝 or 𒋾𒀉𒉡𒌝/𒊎 ; he, אֱמוֹרִי, 'Ĕmōrī; grc, Ἀμορραῖοι) were an ancient Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic-speaking people ...
, divided itself naturally into three distinct and independent portions: the enclosed corner or canton south of the Arnon, referred to in the Bible as "field of Moab" ( Ruth ). The more open rolling country north of the Arnon, opposite
Jericho Jericho ( ; ar, أريحا ; he, יְרִיחוֹ ) is a State of Palestine, Palestinian city in the West Bank. It is located in the Jordan Valley, with the Jordan River to the east and Jerusalem to the west. It is the administrative seat ...
and up to the hills of
Gilead Gilead or Gilad (; he, גִּלְעָד ''Gīləʿāḏ'', ar, جلعاد, Ǧalʻād, Jalaad) is the ancient, historic, biblical name of the mountainous northern part of the region of Transjordan.''Easton's Bible Dictionary'Galeed''/ref> ...
, called the "land of Moab" (
Deuteronomy Deuteronomy ( grc, Δευτερονόμιον, Deuteronómion, second law) is the fifth and last book of the Torah (in Judaism), where it is called (Hebrew: hbo, , Dəḇārīm, hewords f Moses label=none) and the fifth book of the Chr ...
) and the district below
sea level Mean sea level (MSL, often shortened to sea level) is an mean, average surface level of one or more among Earth's coastal Body of water, bodies of water from which heights such as elevation may be measured. The global MSL is a type of vertical ...
in the tropical depths of the
Jordan valley The Jordan Valley ( ar, غور الأردن, ''Ghor al-Urdun''; he, עֵמֶק הַיַרְדֵּן, ''Emek HaYarden'') forms part of the larger Jordan Rift Valley. Unlike most other river valleys, the term "Jordan Valley" often applies just to ...
(
Numbers A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth. Numbers can be represented in language with number words. More u ...
).


Soil and vegetation

The
limestone Limestone (calcium carbonate ) is a type of carbonate rock, carbonate sedimentary rock which is the main source of the material Lime_(material), lime. It is composed mostly of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different Polymorphis ...
hills which form the almost treeless plateau are generally steep but fertile. In the spring they are covered with
grass Poaceae () or Gramineae () is a large and nearly ubiquitous Family (biology), family of monocotyledonous flowering plants commonly known as grasses. It includes the cereal grasses, bamboos and the grasses of natural grassland and species culti ...
and the table-land itself produces
grain A grain is a small, hard, dry fruit (caryopsis) – with or without an attached husk, hull layer – harvested for human or animal consumption. A grain crop is a grain-producing plant. The two main types of commercial grain crops are cereals and l ...
. The rainfall is fairly plentiful and the climate, despite the hot summer, is cooler than the area west of the
Jordan River The Jordan River or River Jordan ( ar, نَهْر الْأُرْدُنّ, ''Nahr al-ʾUrdunn'', he, נְהַר הַיַּרְדֵּן, ''Nəhar hayYardēn''; syc, ܢܗܪܐ ܕܝܘܪܕܢܢ ''Nahrāʾ Yurdnan''), also known as ''Nahr Al-Shariea ...
, snow falling frequently in winter and in spring.


Ancient vestiges and current population

The plateau is dotted with hundreds of
dolmen A dolmen () or portal tomb is a type of single-chamber Megalith#Tombs, megalithic tomb, usually consisting of two or more upright megaliths supporting a large flat horizontal capstone or "table". Most date from the early Neolithic (40003000 BCE ...
s, menhirs, and stone circles, and contains many ruined villages, mostly of the
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *''Epistle to the Romans'', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter ...
and
Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survi ...
periods. It contains the city of al-Karak whose modern inhabitants consider themselves as descendants of Moabites.


History


Bronze Age

Despite a scarcity of archaeological evidence, the existence of the Kingdom of Moab prior to the rise of the Israelite state has been deduced from a colossal statue erected at
Luxor Luxor ( ar, الأقصر, al-ʾuqṣur, lit=the palaces) is a modern city in Upper (southern) Egypt which includes the site of the Ancient Egyptian city of ''Thebes''. Luxor has frequently been characterized as the "world's greatest open- ...
by pharaoh
Ramesses II Ramesses II ( egy, wikt:rꜥ-ms-sw, rꜥ-ms-sw ''Rīʿa-məsī-sū'', , meaning "Ra is the one who bore him"; ), commonly known as Ramesses the Great, was the third pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt. Along with Thutmose III he is oft ...
, in the 13th century BCE, which lists ''Mu'ab'' among a series of nations conquered during a campaign. The early inhabitants likely came from the Arabian peninsula immigrating due to the lack of water emphasised by a drought.


Iron Age

In the
Nimrud Nimrud (; syr, ܢܢܡܪܕ ar, النمرود) is an ancient Assyrian people, Assyrian city located in Iraq, south of the city of Mosul, and south of the village of Selamiyah ( ar, السلامية), in the Nineveh Plains in Upper Mesopotami ...
clay inscription of
Tiglath-pileser III Tiglath-Pileser III (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform: , meaning "my trust belongs to the son of Ešarra"), was the king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire from 745 BC to his death in 727. One of the most prominent and historically significant Assyrian kings, Tig ...
(r. 745–727 BCE), the Moabite king Salmanu (perhaps the Shalman who sacked Beth-arbel in Hosea ) is mentioned as tributary to
Assyria Assyria (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform: , romanized: ''māt Aššur''; syc, ܐܬܘܪ, ʾāthor) was a major ancient Mesopotamia, Mesopotamian civilization which existed as a city-state from the 21st century BC to the 14th century BC, then to a terr ...
.
Sargon II Sargon II (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform: , meaning "the faithful king" or "the legitimate king") was the king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire from 722 BC to his death in battle in 705. Probably the son of Tiglath-Pileser III (745–727), Sargon is general ...
mentions on a clay prism a revolt against him by Moab together with
Philistia Philistia (; Koine Greek (Septuagint, LXX): Γῆ τῶν Φυλιστιείμ, romanized: ''gê tôn Phulistieìm''), also known as the Philistine Pentapolis, was a confederation of cities in the Southwest Levant, which included the cities of ...
, Judah, and Edom; but on the Taylor prism, which recounts the expedition against
Hezekiah Hezekiah (; hbo, , Ḥīzqīyyahū), or Ezekias); grc, Ἐζεκίας 'Ezekías; la, Ezechias; also transliterated as or ; meaning "Yahweh, Yah shall strengthen" (born , sole ruler ), was the son of Ahaz and the 13th king of Kingdom of Jud ...
, Kammusu-Nadbi ( Chemosh-nadab), 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, also spelled Essarhaddon, Assarhaddon and Ashurhaddon (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform: , also , meaning "Ashur (god), Ashur has given me a brother"; Biblical Hebrew: ''ʾĒsar-Ḥaddōn'') was the king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire from the d ...
and Assurbanipal, while Kaasḥalta, possibly his successor, is named on cylinder B of Assurbanipal. Sometime during the Persian period Moab disappears from the extant historical record. Its territory was subsequently overrun by waves of tribes from northern
Arabia The Arabian Peninsula, (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") or Arabia, is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian Plate. ...
, including the Kedarites and (later) the
Nabataeans The Nabataeans or Nabateans (; Nabataean Aramaic: , , vocalized as ; Arabic language, Arabic: , , singular , ; compare grc, Ναβαταῖος, translit=Nabataîos; la, Nabataeus) were an ancient Arab people who inhabited northern Arabian Pe ...
. In the
Arabs The Arabs (singular: Arab; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, DIN 31635: , , plural ar, عَرَب, DIN 31635: , Arabic pronunciation: ), also known as the Arab people, are an ethnic group An ethnic group or an ethnicity is a grouping o ...
are mentioned instead of the Moabites as the allies of the Ammonites.


Crusader period

When the
Crusaders The Crusades were a series of religious wars initiated, supported, and sometimes directed by the Latin Church in the medieval period. The best known of these Crusades are those to the Holy Land in the period between 1095 and 1291 that were in ...
occupied the area, the castle they built to defend the eastern part of the
Kingdom of Jerusalem The Kingdom of Jerusalem ( la, Regnum Hierosolymitanum; fro, Roiaume de Jherusalem), officially known as the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem or the Frankish Kingdom of Palestine,Example (title of works): was a Crusader states, Crusader state th ...
was called Kerak Castle.


19th-century travellers

Early modern travellers in the region included Ulrich Jasper Seetzen (1805),
Johann Ludwig Burckhardt Johann Ludwig (also known as John Lewis, Jean Louis) Burckhardt (24 November 1784 – 15 October 1817) was a Swiss traveller, geographer and Oriental studies, Orientalist. Burckhardt assumed the alias ''Sheikh Ibrahim Ibn Abdallah'' during his ...
(1812), Charles Leonard Irby and James Mangles (1818), and Louis Félicien de Saulcy (1851).


Biblical narratives

According to the biblical account, Moab and
Ammon Ammon (Ammonite language, Ammonite: 𐤏𐤌𐤍 ''ʻAmān''; he, עַמּוֹן ''ʻAmmōn''; ar, عمّون, ʻAmmūn) was an ancient Semitic languages, Semitic-speaking nation occupying the east of the Jordan River, between the torren ...
were born to Lot and Lot's elder and younger daughters, respectively, in the aftermath of the destruction of
Sodom and Gomorrah Sodom and Gomorrah () were two legendary biblical cities destroyed by God for their wickedness. Their story parallels the Genesis flood narrative in its theme of God's anger provoked by man's sin (see Book of Genesis, Genesis 19:1–28). They ar ...
. The Bible refers to both the Moabites and Ammonites as Lot's sons, born of incest with his daughters (). The Moabites first inhabited the rich highlands at the eastern side of the chasm of the Dead Sea, extending as far as Wadi Mujib to Wadi Hasa, from which country they expelled the Emim, the original inhabitants (
Deuteronomy Deuteronomy ( grc, Δευτερονόμιον, Deuteronómion, second law) is the fifth and last book of the Torah (in Judaism), where it is called (Hebrew: hbo, , Dəḇārīm, hewords f Moses label=none) and the fifth book of the Chr ...
), but they themselves were afterward driven southward by warlike tribes of
Amorites The Amorites (; sux, 𒈥𒌅, MAR.TU; Akkadian language, Akkadian: 𒀀𒈬𒊒𒌝 or 𒋾𒀉𒉡𒌝/𒊎 ; he, אֱמוֹרִי, 'Ĕmōrī; grc, Ἀμορραῖοι) were an ancient Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic-speaking people ...
, who had crossed the river Jordan. These Amorites, described in the Bible as being ruled by King Sihon, confined the Moabites to the country south of the river Arnon, which formed their northern boundary (
Numbers A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth. Numbers can be represented in language with number words. More u ...
; Judges ). God renewed his
covenant Covenant may refer to: Religion * Covenant (religion), a formal alliance or agreement made by God with a religious community or with humanity in general ** Covenant (biblical), in the Hebrew Bible ** Covenant in Mormonism, a sacred agreement ...
with the Israelites at Moab before the Israelites entered the
Promised Land The Promised Land ( he, הארץ המובטחת, translit.: ''ha'aretz hamuvtakhat''; ar, أرض الميعاد, translit.: ''ard al-mi'ad; also known as "The Land of Milk and Honey"'') is the land which, according to the Tanakh The H ...
" (). Moses died there (), prevented by God from entering the Promised Land. He was buried in an unknown location in Moab and the Israelites spent a period of thirty days there in
mourning Mourning is the expression of an experience that is the consequence of an event in life involving loss, causing grief, occurring as a result of someone's death Death is the Irreversible process, irreversible cessation of all biologic ...
(). According to the Book of Judges, the Israelites did not pass through the land of the Moabites (), but conquered Sihon's kingdom and his capital at Heshbon. After the conquest of
Canaan Canaan (; Phoenician language, Phoenician: 𐤊𐤍𐤏𐤍 – ; he, כְּנַעַן – , in pausa – ; grc-bib, Χανααν – ;The current scholarly edition of the Septuagint, Greek Old Testament spells the word without any accents, c ...
the relations of Moab with Israel were of a mixed character, sometimes warlike and sometimes peaceable. With the
tribe of Benjamin According to the Torah, the Tribe of Benjamin () was one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. The tribe was descended from Benjamin, the youngest son of the Patriarchs (Bible), patriarch Jacob (later given the name Israel) and his wife Rachel. In the ...
they had at least one severe struggle, in union with their kindred the Ammonites and the
Amalek Amalek (; he, עֲמָלֵק, , ar, عماليق ) was a nation described in the Hebrew Bible as a staunch enemy of the Israelites. The name "Amalek" can refer to the nation's founder, a grandson of Esau; his descendants, the #Amalekites in the ...
ites (). The Benjaminite shofet Ehud ben Gera assassinated the Moabite king Eglon and led an Israelite army against the Moabites at a ford of the Jordan river, killing many of them. The Book of Ruth testifies to friendly relations between Moab and
Bethlehem Bethlehem (; ar, بيت لحم ; he, בֵּית לֶחֶם '' '') is a city in the central West Bank, Palestine, about south of Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس ) (combining the Biblical ...
, one of the towns of the
tribe of Judah According to the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;"Tanach"
''Random House Webster's Unabridg ...
. By his descent from Ruth,
David David (; , "beloved one") (traditional spelling), , ''Dāwūd''; grc-koi, Δαυΐδ, Dauíd; la, Davidus, David; gez , ዳዊት, ''Dawit''; xcl, Դաւիթ, ''Dawitʿ''; cu, Давíдъ, ''Davidŭ''; possibly meaning "beloved one". w ...
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 Saul (; he, , ; , ; ) was, according to the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;"Tanach"
''Random ...
. (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 (
2 Samuel The Book of Samuel (, ''Sefer Shmuel'') is a book in the Hebrew Bible, found as two books (1–2 Samuel) in the Old Testament. The book is part of the narrative history of Ancient Israel called the Deuteronomistic history, a series of books (Book ...
;
1 Chronicles The Book of Chronicles ( he, דִּבְרֵי־הַיָּמִים ) is a book in the Hebrew Bible, found as two books (1–2 Chronicles) in the Christian Old Testament. Chronicles is the final book of the Hebrew Bible, concluding the third sect ...
). Moab may have been under the rule of an Israelite governor during this period; among the exiles who returned to Judea from
Babylonia Babylonia (; Akkadian: , ''māt Akkadī'') was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in the city of Babylon in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq and parts of Syria). It emerged as an Amorites, Amorite-ruled ...
were a clan descended from Pahath-Moab, whose name means "ruler of Moab". At the disruption of the kingdom under the reign of
Rehoboam Rehoboam (; , ; , ; la, Roboam, ) was, according to the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;"Tanach"
, Moab seems to have been absorbed into the northern realm. It continued in vassalage to the Kingdom of Israel until the death of
Ahab Ahab (; akk, 𒀀𒄩𒀊𒁍 ''Aḫâbbu'' 'a-ḫa-ab-bu'' grc-koi, Ἀχαάβ ''Achaáb''; la, Achab) was the seventh king of Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), Israel, the son and successor of King Omri and the husband of Jezebel of Sidon, ...
which according to E. R. Thiele's reckoning was in about 853 BCE, when the Moabites refused to pay tribute and asserted their independence, making war upon the kingdom of Judah (). After the death of
Ahab Ahab (; akk, 𒀀𒄩𒀊𒁍 ''Aḫâbbu'' 'a-ḫa-ab-bu'' grc-koi, Ἀχαάβ ''Achaáb''; la, Achab) was the seventh king of Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), Israel, the son and successor of King Omri and the husband of Jezebel of Sidon, ...
in about 853 BCE, the Moabites under
Mesha King Mesha (Moabite language, Moabite: 𐤌𐤔𐤏 *''Māšaʿ''; Hebrew: מֵישַׁע ''Mēšaʿ'') was a king of Moab in the 9th century BC, known most famously for having the Mesha Stele inscribed and erected at Dhiban, Dibon. In this ins ...
rebelled against Jehoram, who allied himself with
Jehoshaphat Jehoshaphat (; alternatively spelled Jehosaphat, Josaphat, or Yehoshafat; ; el, Ἰωσαφάτ, Iosafát; la, Josaphat), according to 1 Kings 22:41, was the son of Asa of Judah, Asa, and the fourth king of the Kingdom of Judah, in succession ...
, King of the
Kingdom of Judah The Kingdom of Judah ( he, , ''Yəhūdā''; akk, 𒅀𒌑𒁕𒀀𒀀 ''Ya'údâ'' 'ia-ú-da-a-a'' arc, 𐤁𐤉𐤕𐤃𐤅𐤃 ''Bēyt David, Dāwīḏ'', "Davidic line, House of David") was an Israelites, Israelite kingdom of the South ...
, and with the King of Edom. According to the Bible, the prophet
Elisha Elisha ( ; or "God is my salvation", Koine Greek, Greek: , ''Elis îos'' or , ''Elisaié,'' Latin: ''Eliseus'') was, according to the Hebrew Bible, a prophet and a Thaumaturgy, wonder-worker. His name is commonly transliterated into Engli ...
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. According to the biblical account, the crimson color deceived the Moabites and their allies into attacking one another, leading to their defeat at Ziz, near En Gedi (; ). According to Mesha's inscription on the
Mesha Stele The Mesha Stele, also known as the Moabite Stone, is a stele dated around 840 BCE containing a significant Canaanite and Aramaic inscriptions, Canaanite inscription in the name of King Mesha of Moab (a kingdom located in modern Jordan). Mesha tel ...
, 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, also sometimes spelled Jehoikim; la, Joakim was the eighteenth and antepenultimate king of Judah from 609 to 598 BC. He was the second son of king Josiah () and Zebidah, the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah. His birth name was Eliakim.; ...
(). Allusions to Moab are frequent in the prophetical books (; ; ; ). Two chapters of Isaiah (15 and 16) and one of Jeremiah (48) are devoted to the "burden of Moab". Its prosperity and pride, which the Israelites believed incurred the wrath of
God In monotheistic thought, God is usually viewed as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of faith. Swinburne, R.G. "God" in Honderich, Ted. (ed)''The Oxford Companion to Philosophy'', Oxford University Press, 1995. God is typicall ...
, are frequently mentioned (; ; ), and their contempt for Israel is once expressly noted (). Moab would be dealt with during the time of the Messiah's rulership according to the prophets. The
book of Zephaniah The Book of Zephaniah ( he, צְפַנְיָה, ''Ṣəfanyā''; sometimes Latinized as ''Sophonias'') is the ninth of the Twelve Minor Prophets, preceded by the Book of Habakkuk and followed by the Book of Haggai. Zephaniah means "Yahweh has h ...
states that Moab would become "a permanent desolation". Moab is also made reference to in the 2 Meqabyan, a book considered
canonical The adjective canonical is applied in many contexts to mean "according to the canon (basic principle), canon" the standard (metrology), standard, rule or primary source that is accepted as authoritative for the body of knowledge or literature in t ...
in the
Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church ( am, የኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋሕዶ ቤተ ክርስቲያን, ''Yäityop'ya ortodoks täwahedo bétäkrestyan'') is the largest of the Oriental Orthodox Churches. One of the few Chris ...
. In that text, a Moabite king named Maccabeus joins forces with Edom and Amalek to attack Israel, later repenting of his sins and adopting the Israelite religion.


Religion

References to the religion of Moab are scant. Most of the Moabites followed the
ancient Semitic religion Ancient Semitic religion encompasses the polytheistic religions of the Semitic peoples from the ancient Near East and Northeast Africa. Since the term ''Semitic'' itself represents a rough category when referring to cultures, as opposed to ...
like other
ancient Semitic-speaking peoples Ancient Semitic-speaking peoples or Proto-Semitic people were people who lived throughout the ancient Near East The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopota ...
, and the
Book of Numbers The book of Numbers (from Biblical Greek, Greek Ἀριθμοί, ''Arithmoi''; he, בְּמִדְבַּר, ''Bəmīḏbar'', "In the desert f) is the fourth book of the Hebrew Bible, and the fourth of five books of the Jewish Torah. The book ...
says that they induced the Israelites to join in their
sacrifice Sacrifice is the offering of material possessions or the lives of animals or humans to a deity as an act of propitiation or worship. Evidence of ritual animal sacrifice has been seen at least since ancient Hebrews and Greeks, and possibly exis ...
s (; ). Their chief god seems to have been
Chemosh Chemosh ( Moabite language, Moabite: 𐤊𐤌𐤔 ''Kamāš''; he, כְּמוֹשׁ ''Kəmōš'' ; Eblaite: 𒅗𒈪𒅖 ''Kamiš'', Akkadian language, Akkadian: 𒅗𒄠𒈲 ''Kâmuš'') was the god of the Moabites. He is most notably atteste ...
, and the Bible refers to them as the "people of Chemosh" (; ). During the Iron Age, several Moabite cultic sites have been found in places such as Deir Alla, Damiyah, Ataruz or Khirbet al-Mudayna. According to II Kings, at times, especially in dire peril,
human sacrifice Human sacrifice is the act of killing one or more humans as part of a ritual, which is usually intended to please or appease deity, gods, a human ruler, an authoritative/priestly figure or spirits of veneration of the dead, dead ancestors or as ...
s were offered to Chemosh, as by Mesha, who gave up his son and heir to him (). Nevertheless,
King Solomon King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen regnant, queen, which title is also given to the queen consort, consort of a king. *In the context of prehistory, antiquity and contempora ...
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 ( or ) or Yoshiyahu; la, Iosias was the 16th king of Judah (–609 BCE) who, according to the Hebrew Bible, instituted major religious reforms by removing official worship of gods other than Yahweh. Josiah is credited by most biblical s ...
(). The Moabite Stone also mentions (line 17) a female counterpart of Chemosh, Ashtar-Chemosh, and a god Nebo (line 14), probably the well-known Babylonian divinity
Nabu Nabu ( akk, cuneiform: 𒀭𒀝 Nabû syr, ܢܵܒܼܘܼ\ܢܒܼܘܿ\ܢܵܒܼܘܿ Nāvū or Nvō or Nāvō) is the ancient Mesopotamian religion, ancient Mesopotamian patron god of literacy, the Science, rational arts, scribes, and wisdom. Et ...
.


Language

The
Moabite language The Moabite language, also known as the Moabite dialect, is an extinct sub-language or dialect of the Canaanite languages, themselves a branch of Northwest Semitic languages, formerly spoken in the region described in the Bible as Moab (modern da ...
was spoken in Moab. It was a
Canaanite language The Canaanite languages, or Canaanite dialects, are one of the three Genetic relationship (linguistics), subgroups of the Northwest Semitic languages, the others being Aramaic language, Aramaic and Ugaritic language, Ugaritic, all originating in ...
closely related to
Biblical Hebrew Biblical Hebrew (, or , ), also called Classical Hebrew, is an wikt:archaic, archaic form of the Hebrew language, a language in the Canaanite languages, Canaanite branch of Semitic languages spoken by the Israelites in the area known as the ...
,
Ammonite Ammonoids are a group of extinct marine mollusc animals in the subclass Ammonoidea of the class (biology), class Cephalopoda. These molluscs, commonly referred to as ammonites, are more closely related to living coleoids (i.e., octopuses, squid ...
and Edomite, and was written using a variant of the
Phoenician alphabet The Phoenician alphabet is an alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written graphemes (called letter (alphabet), letters) that represent the phonemes of certain spoken languages. Not all writing systems represent language ...
. Most of our knowledge of it comes from the
Mesha Stele The Mesha Stele, also known as the Moabite Stone, is a stele dated around 840 BCE containing a significant Canaanite and Aramaic inscriptions, Canaanite inscription in the name of King Mesha of Moab (a kingdom located in modern Jordan). Mesha tel ...
, which is the only known extensive text in this language. In addition, there are the three line El-Kerak Inscription and a few seals.


In Jewish tradition

According to the Hebrew Bible, the Moabites opposed the Israelite invasion of
Canaan Canaan (; Phoenician language, Phoenician: 𐤊𐤍𐤏𐤍 – ; he, כְּנַעַן – , in pausa – ; grc-bib, Χανααν – ;The current scholarly edition of the Septuagint, Greek Old Testament spells the word without any accents, c ...
, 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 The Talmud (; he, , Talmūḏ) is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (''halakha'') and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the Talmud was the center ...
expresses the view that the prohibition applied only to male Moabites, 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
Babylonian captivity The Babylonian captivity or Babylonian exile is the period in Jewish history during which a large number of Israelites, Judeans from the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon, the capital city of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, following t ...
, 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 (, 12; ). The heir of King Solomon was
Rehoboam Rehoboam (; , ; , ; la, Roboam, ) was, according to the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;"Tanach"
, the son of an Ammonite woman, Naamah (). On the other hand, the marriages of the
Bethlehem Bethlehem (; ar, بيت لحم ; he, בֵּית לֶחֶם '' '') is a city in the central West Bank, Palestine, about south of Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس ) (combining the Biblical ...
Ephrathites (of the
tribe of Judah According to the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;"Tanach"
''Random House Webster's Unabridg ...
) Chilion and Mahlon to the Moabite women Orpah and Ruth (), and the marriage of the latter, after her husband's death, to Boaz () who by her was the great-grandfather of
David David (; , "beloved one") (traditional spelling), , ''Dāwūd''; grc-koi, Δαυΐδ, Dauíd; la, Davidus, David; gez , ዳዊት, ''Dawit''; xcl, Դաւիթ, ''Dawitʿ''; cu, Давíдъ, ''Davidŭ''; possibly meaning "beloved one". w ...
, are mentioned with no shade of reproach. The Talmudic explanation, however, is that the language of the law applies only to Moabite and Ammonite ''men'' (Hebrew, like all Semitic languages, has
grammatical gender In linguistics, grammatical gender system is a specific form of noun class system, where nouns are assigned with gender categories that are often not related to their real-world qualities. In languages with grammatical gender, most or all nouns ...
). The Talmud also states that the prophet
Samuel Samuel ''Šəmūʾēl'', Tiberian Hebrew, Tiberian: ''Šămūʾēl''; ar, شموئيل or صموئيل '; el, Σαμουήλ ''Samouḗl''; la, Samūēl is a figure who, in the narratives of the Hebrew Bible, plays a key role in the transit ...
wrote the Book of Ruth to settle the dispute as the rule had been forgotten since the time of Boaz. Another interpretation is that the Book of Ruth 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 (; , Hebrew language#Modern Hebrew, Standard ''Bīlʿam'' Tiberian vocalization, Tiberian ''Bīlʿām'') is a divination, diviner in the Torah (Pentateuch) whose story begins in Chapter 22 of the Book of Numbers (). Ancient references to B ...
to curse them. The difference in the responses of the two people led to God allowing the Jewish people to harass the Moabites (but not go to war) but forbade them to even harass the Ammonites (). Ruth adopted the god of Naomi, her Israelite mother-in-law. Ruth chose to go back to 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 the statement in front of the court in Bethlehem when they arrived there. Jehoshaphet subsequently joined Jehoram of Israel in a war against the Moabites, who were under tribute to Israel. The Moabites were subdued, but seeing
Mesha King Mesha (Moabite language, Moabite: 𐤌𐤔𐤏 *''Māšaʿ''; Hebrew: מֵישַׁע ''Mēšaʿ'') was a king of Moab in the 9th century BC, known most famously for having the Mesha Stele inscribed and erected at Dhiban, Dibon. In this ins ...
's act of offering his own son (and singular heir) as a propitiatory
human sacrifice Human sacrifice is the act of killing one or more humans as part of a ritual, which is usually intended to please or appease deity, gods, a human ruler, an authoritative/priestly figure or spirits of veneration of the dead, dead ancestors or as ...
on the walls of Kir of Moab filled Israel with horror, and they withdrew and returned to their own land. According to the
Book of Jeremiah The Book of Jeremiah ( he, ספר יִרְמְיָהוּ) is the second of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, and the second of the Prophets in the Christian Old Testament. The superscription at chapter Jeremiah 1#Superscription, Jeremiah 1 ...
, Moab was exiled to
Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Bāḇel'' * syc, ܒܒܠ ''Bāḇel'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bāvel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babi ...
for his arrogance and idolatry. According to
Rashi Shlomo Yitzchaki ( he, רבי שלמה יצחקי; la, Salomon Isaacides; french: Salomon de Troyes, 22 February 1040 – 13 July 1105), today generally known by the acronym Rashi (see #Name, below), was a France in the Middle Ages, medieval Fr ...
, it was also due to their gross ingratitude even though
Abraham Abraham, ; ar, , , name=, group= (originally Abram) is the common Hebrews, Hebrew patriarch of the Abrahamic religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In Judaism, he is the founding father of the Covenant (biblical), special ...
, Israel's ancestor, had saved Lot, Moab's ancestor from Sodom. Jeremiah prophesies that Moab's captivity will be returned in the end of days.


Explanatory notes


See also

* Plains of Moab, region along the Jordan across from Jericho


References


Further reading

* * * Many comparisons of
Biblical Hebrew Biblical Hebrew (, or , ), also called Classical Hebrew, is an wikt:archaic, archaic form of the Hebrew language, a language in the Canaanite languages, Canaanite branch of Semitic languages spoken by the Israelites in the area known as the ...
with the language of the Mêša˓ inscription appear in
Wilhelm Gesenius Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius (3 February 178623 October 1842) was a Germans, German Oriental studies, orientalist, lexicographer, Christian Hebraist, Lutheran theology, Lutheran theologian, Biblical scholar and Biblical criticism, critic. ...
' Hebrew grammar, e.g. , , , , , , , , , etc. * Jacobs, Joseph and Louis H. Gray
"Moab"
''
The Jewish Encyclopedia ''The Jewish Encyclopedia: A Descriptive Record of the History, Religion, Literature, and Customs of the Jewish People from the Earliest Times to the Present Day'' is an English-language encyclopedia containing over 15,000 articles on th ...
''. Funk and Wagnalls, 1901–1906, which cites to the following bibliography: ** * The most comprehensive treatment of Moab to date.


External links


Gutenberg E-text of ''Patriarchal Palestine''
by Archibald Henry Sayce (1895)
Moab entry
in ''
Smith's Bible Dictionary ''Smith's Bible Dictionary'', originally named ''A Dictionary of the Bible'', is a 19th-century Bible dictionary containing upwards of four thousand entries that became named after its editor, William Smith (lexicographer), William Smith. Its pop ...
'' {{Authority control
Moab Moab ''Mōáb''; Akkadian language, Assyrian: 𒈬𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Mu'abâ'', 𒈠𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Ma'bâ'', 𒈠𒀪𒀊 ''Ma'ab''; Egyptian language, Egyptian: 𓈗𓇋𓃀𓅱𓈉 ''Mū'ībū'', name=, group= () is the name of an a ...
Ancient peoples of the Near East Semitic-speaking peoples States and territories established in the 13th century BC States and territories disestablished in the 4th century BC Torah places Vayeira Former kingdoms