moab Summary and Overview
Bible Dictionaries at a Glance
moab in Easton's Bible Dictionary
the seed of the father, or, according to others, the desirable
land, the eldest son of Lot (Gen. 19:37), of incestuous birth.
(2.) Used to denote the people of Moab (Num. 22:3-14; Judg.
3:30; 2 Sam. 8:2; Jer. 48:11, 13).
(3.) The land of Moab (Jer. 48:24), called also the "country
of Moab" (Ruth 1:2, 6; 2:6), on the east of Jordan and the Dead
Sea, and south of the Arnon (Num. 21:13, 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 (Num. 22:1; 26:63;
Josh. 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 (Num. 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" (Deut. 34:5, 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."
moab in Smith's Bible Dictionary
(of his father), Mo'abites. Moab was the son of the Lot's 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, #De 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. #Nu 21:13; Jud 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." #Ru 1:1,2,6| 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." #De 1:5; 32:49| etc. (3) The sunk district in the tropical depths of the Jordan valley. #Nu 22:1| etc. The Israelites, in entering the promised land, did not pass through the Moabites, #Jud 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. #Jud 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. #1Sa 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. #2Sa 8:2; 1Ch 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. #2Ch 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. #Isa 15,16,25:10-12| 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 Tristram's "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.)
moab in Schaff's Bible Dictionary
MO'AB (of the father), a name used for the Moabites, and also for their territory. Num 22:3-14; Jud 3:30; 2 Sam 8:2; 2 Kgs 1:1; Jer 48:4. The territory of the Moabites, originally inhabited by the Emims, Deut 2:10, lay on the east of the Dead Sea and the Jordan, strictly on the south of the torrent Arnon, Num 21:13; Ruth 1:1-2; Am 2:6; but in a wider sense it included also the region anciently occupied by the Amorites. Num 21:32-33, Rev 22:1; Num 26:3; Num 33:48; Deut 34:1. The territory was 50 miles long and 20 wide. It was divided into three portions, each bearing a distinct name: (1) Land of Moab, Deut 1:5, lying between the Arnon and the Jabbok; (2) The field of Moab, a tract south of the Arnon, Ruth 1:2; (3) The plains of Moab, the tract in the Jordan valley opposite Jericho, Num 22:1. Physical Features. - Except the narrow strip in the valley of the Jordan, Moab is nearly all table-land, consisting of an uneven or rolling plateau, elevated above Mountains of Moab. the Mediterranean about 3200 feet. At the north this plateau slopes gently into a plain, and on the east into the Syrian desert. The principal streams are the Arnon and the Jabbok and the Jordan. It is admirably suited for pasture, as shown by Mesha. who paid a tribute of 100,000 lambs and 100,000 rams. 2 Kgs 3:4. History. - The race of Moab, having its origin about the time of the destruction of the cities of the plain, and cradled in the mountains above Zoar, gradually extended over the region east of the Dead Sea, expelling the ancient original inhabitants, the Emim. Deut 2:11. Five hundred years later, when the Israelites were approaching the Promised Land, the Moabites had become a great nation. But they had been driven south of the Arnon by the warlike Amorites. Num 21:13; Jud 11:18. Balak and Midian called Balaam to curse the chosen people. Num 22:4-5. The Israelites mastered the region from north of the Arnon, but Moab was allowed to hold the cities of the tract taken by the Israelites from the Amorite king, while the tribe of Reuben, to whom the district was assigned, dwelt in tents and tended their flocks on the fine pasture-ground. The district south of the Arnon remained in the possession of Moab. The idolatries of Moab, and especially the worship of its god Chemosh, exercised an irresistible charm for the Israelites, and the Reubenites were greatly corrupted. The relations between the Moabites and Israelites were at times amicable, but more frequently hostile. During the period of the Judges the Moabites compelled the Israelites to pay tribute until King Eglon was killed by Ehud. Judg 3. Ruth, the great-grandmother of David, was a Moabitess, and David entrusted the care of his father and mother to the king of Moab. 1 Sam 22:4. Saul conducted a successful campaign against Moab, and David inflicted a terrible punishment upon them. 2 Sam 8:2. After Solomon's death Moab fell to the northern kingdom, and after Ahab's death the Moabites refused to pay tribute. The Moabites invaded Judaea in the reign of Jehoshaphat, and were discomfited. Later, their own country was overrun by Jehoram and Jehoshaphat, the towns destroyed, the wells stopped, etc., and Mesha, shut up in his capital, sacrificed his own son. 2 Kgs 3:6-27. At a later period Moab was sometimes dependent and sometimes independent. It was allied with the Chaldaeans against Judah in the reign of Jehoiakim, 2 Kgs 24:2, and the destruction of God's chosen people was received with a delight for which God threatened punishment. Eze 25:8-11; Zeph 2:8-10. The fulfilment of these prophecies is noted at the end of this article. Modern Discoveries and Present Condition. - Among the travellers who have visited Moab are Burckhardt, Seetzen, Buckingham, Irby and Mangles, De Saulcy, Porter, Tristram, Palmer, Drake, Paine, and Merrill. A large number of ruins have been discovered. Palmer counted eight fortified towns in view from a single eminence. The principal ruins are those of Rabbath-moab, Kerak, Dibon, Medeba, Main, and Umm Rasas. At Kerak (Kir-hareseth) are very interesting and remarkable ruins. Dibon is noted as the place at which the famous Moabite Stone was discovered. This stone corroborates the Bible history of King Mesha. Hopes were entertained that other tablets of that character might be found, but Palmer, who investigated every written stone reported by the Arabs, came to the conclusion that there does not remain above ground a single inscribed stone of any importance. Everything in Moab speaks of its former wealth and cultivation. The soil is badly tended by the few Arab tribes who inhabit it, but there are extensive fields of grain. The Arabs are an essentially pastoral people, having great herds of cattle. Sour or fresh milk often takes the place of water, and the modern traveller finds the customs the same as in the time of Sisera. Jud 4:18-19. Prophecies Fulfilled. - Jeremiah describes Moab as very prosperous, but the prophetic threats of its doom are most terrific, as set off against the restoration of Israel. Jer 48. Porter indicates how completely those various prophecies have been fulfilled, but some of his statements require confirmation. From Salcah he saw upward of thirty deserted towns. Jer 48:15-24. The neglected and wild vineyards and fig trees are rifled by the Bedouin every year in their periodical raids, vs. Jer 48:32-33. The inhabitants hide themselves in the mountain-fastnesses, oppressed by the robbers of the desert on the one hand and the robbers of the government on the other, vs. Acts 20:28, Jer 48:44. Cyril Graham, who explored this region, found cities with buildings in a good state of preservation, yet everywhere uninhabited. "In the whole of these vast plains, north and south, east and west, Desolation reigns supreme." The long-predicted doom of Moab is now fulfilled, and the forty eighth chapter of Jeremiah is verified on the spot by the traveller. There are twenty-seven references to Moab in this chapter, and one hundred and twenty one in the Scriptures. See Ar, Dibon, Kir-hareseth, Moabite Stone. See p. 232.
moab in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
("from father"), i.e. the incestuous offspring of Lot's older daughter, near Zoar, S.E. of the Dead Sea (Genesis 19:37). Originally the Moabites dwelt due E. of the Dead Sea, from whence they expelled the Emims. Their territory was 40 miles long, 12 wide, the modern Belka or Kerak (Deuteronomy 2:10-11). Afterward, Sihon king of the Amorites drove them S. of the river Amon, now wady el Mojib (Numbers 21:13; Numbers 21:26-30; Judges 11:13; Judges 11:18), which thenceforward was their northern boundary. Israel was forbidden to meddle with them (Judges 11:9; Judges 11:19) on account of the tie of blood through Lot, Abraham's nephew, for Jehovah gave Ar unto the children of Lot, having dispossessed the giant Emims. It was only when Moab seduced Israel to idolatry and impurity (Numbers 25), and hired Balaam to curse them, that they were excluded from Jehovah's congregation to the tenth generation (Deuteronomy 23:3-4). Ammon was more roving than Moab and occupied the pastures to the N.E. outside the mountains.
Moab was more settled in habits, and remained nearer the original seat Zoar. Its territory after the Amorite conquest was circumscribed, but well fortified by nature (Numbers 21:20, margin); called "the field of Moab" (Rth 1:1-63, and "the corner of Moab" (Numbers 24:17; Jeremiah 48:45). The country N. of Arnon, opposite Jericho reaching to Gilead, was more open; vast prairie-like plains broken by rocky prominences; "the land of Moab" (Deuteronomy 1:5; Deuteronomy 32:49). Besides there was the Arboth Moab, "plains (rather deep valley) of Moab," the dry sunken valley of Jordan (Numbers 22:1). Outside of the hills enclosing Moab proper on the S.E. are the uncultivated pastures called midbar, "wilderness," facing Moab (Numbers 21:11). Through it Israel advanced. The song (Exodus 15:15) at the Red Sea first mentions the nation, "trembling shall take hold upon ... the mighty men of Moab."
Israel's request for a passage through Edom and Moab, and liberty to purchase bread and water, was refused (Judges 11:17; Numbers 20:14-21). In Israel's circuitous march round the two kingdoms they at last, when it suited their own selfish ends and when they could not prevent Israel's march, sold them bread and water (Deuteronomy 2:28-29; Deuteronomy 23:3-4). The exclusion of a Moabite from the congregation only forbade his naturalization, not his dwelling in Israel nor an Israelite marrying a Moabitess. Ruth married Naomi's son, but became a proselyte. The law of exclusion it is clear could never have been written after David's time, whose great grandmother was a Moabitess. Israel was occupying the country N. of Arnon which Moab had just lost to Sihon, and which Israel in turn had wrested from him, and with its main force had descended from the upper level to the Shittim plains, the Arboth Moab, in the Jordan valley, when Balak, alarmed for his already diminished territory, induced the Midianite "elders" to join him and hired Balak; virtually, though never actually, "warring against Israel" (Joshua 24:9; Judges 11:25).
The daughters of Moab, mentioned in Numbers 25:1, were those with whom Israel "began whoredom," but the main guilt was Midian's, and on Midian fell the vengeance (Numbers 25:16-18; Numbers 31:1-18). Moab's licentious rites furnished the occasion, but Midian was the active agent in corrupting the people. Balak (contrast, "the former king of Moab," Numbers 21:26) was probably not hereditary king but a Midianite; the Midianites taking advantage of Moab's weakness after Sihon's victories to impose a Midianite king. Zippor ("bird"), his father, reminds us of other Midianite names, Oreb "crow," Zeeb "wolf"; Sihon may have imposed him on Moab. The five "princes" or "kings" of Midian were vassal "dukes of Sihon dwelling in the country" (Joshua 13:21; Numbers 31:8). The licentiousness of the neighboring cities of the plain and Moab's origin accord with the more than common licentiousness attributed to Moab and Midian in Numbers 25. Eglon king of Moab, with Ammon and Amalek, smote Israel and occupied Jericho, but was slain by the Benjamite Ehud (Judges 3:12-30). (See EGLON.)
Saul fought Moab successfully, himself also a Benjamite (1 Samuel 14:47). David moved away to Moab the land of his ancestry, fleeing from Saul, his and Moab's enemy, and committed to the king his father and mother (1 Samuel 22:3-4). Probably some act of perfidy of Moab, as the murder or treacherous delivering of his parents to Saul, caused David 20 years afterward to slay two thirds of the people, and make bondmen and tributaries of the rest (2 Samuel 8:2; in this war Benaiah slew two lion-like men, 2 Samuel 23:20; compare also Psalm 60:8, "Moab is my washpot"; yet among David's heroes was "Ithmah the Moabite," 1 Chronicles 11:22; 1 Chronicles 11:46), fulfilling Balaam's prophecy, Numbers 24:17; Numbers 24:19; "out of Jacob shall come he that shall destroy him that remaineth of Ar" (Hebrew, namely, of Moab). Among Solomon's foreign concubines were Moabitish women, to whose god Chemosh he built "a high place on the hill before (facing) Jerusalem" (1 Kings 11:1; 1 Kings 11:7; 1 Kings 11:33), where it remained until Josiah defiled it four centuries afterward (2 Kings 23:13).
At the severance of Israel from Judah Moab was under Israel, because the Jordan fords lay within Benjamin which in part adhered to the northern kingdom. At Ahab's death Mesh and Dibon, who had paid for the time the enormous tribute, 100,000; lambs and 100,000 rams with the wool, revolted (2 Kings 1:1; 2 Kings 3:4-5). (See MESH; DIBON.) His first, step was, he secured the cooperation of Ammon and others enumerated in Psalm 83:8-7, in an invasion of Judah, which was before Jehoshaphat's alliance with Ahaziah (2 Chronicles 20:1-35), therefore still earlier than the invasion of Moab by the confederate kings of Edom, Israel (Jehoram, Ahaziah's son), and Judah (2 Kings 3). (See JEHOSHAPHAT; JEHORAM; ELISHA; EDOM.) Mutual dissension, under God, destroyed this heterogeneous mass. Then followed the joint invasion of Moab by Jehoshaphat of Judah, Jehoram of Israel, and the king of Edom (2 Kings 3).
The Septuagint states that the Moabite king assembled all old enough to bear a sword girdle. His mistaking the water glowing red with the morning sun for the mutually shed blood of the invaders (which observe he remembered had happened to his own and the allied forces attacking Jehoshaphat) caused Moab to rush forward for spoil, only to be slaughtered by the allies. At Kirhareseth or Kerak his immolation of his own son struck superstitious fear into the besiegers so that they retired (2 Kings 3:27; compare Micah 6:5-8); and then followed all the conquests which Mesha records on the Moabite stone. Then too Moah, indignant at his former ally Edom having joined Israel against him, when Israel and Judah retired, burned the king of Edom alive, reducing his bones to lime; or, as Hebrew tradition represents, tore his body after death from the grave and burned it (Amos 2:1). Moabite marauding "bands" thenceforward at intervals invaded Israel, as under Jehoahaz (2 Kings 13:20).
A century and a half later, in Isaiah's "burden of Moab" (Isaiah 15-16) Moab appears possessing places which it had held in the beginning N. of Arnon, and which had been vacated by Reuben's removal to Assyria (1 Chronicles 5:25-26). Compare also Jeremiah 48, a century later, about 600 B.C. Isaiah (Isaiah 16:14) foretells, "within three years, as the years of an hireling (who has a fixed term of engagement, so Moab's time of doom is fixed) ... the glory of Moab shall be contemned." Fulfilled by Shalmaneser or Sargon, who destroyed Samaria and ravaged the whole E. of Jordan (725-723 B.C.). As Ammon, so Moab probably, put itself under Judah's king, Uzziah's protection, to which Isaiah (Isaiah 16:1, "send ye the lamb (the customary tribute) to the ruler ... unto ... Zion") refers (2 Chronicles 26:8; 2 Samuel 8:2; 2 Kings 3:4). Moab contrasts with Ammon, Edom, Philistia, Amalek, Midian, as wealthy, abounding in vineyards, fruitful fields, and gardens, and civilized to a degree next Israel.
Hence flowed "pride (he is exceeding proud), loftiness, arrogance, and haughtiness of heart" (Jeremiah 48:26; Jeremiah 48:29; Isaiah 16:6-7). This sin is what brought on Moab destruction, "for he magnified himself against the Lord," boasting against God's people that whereas Israel was fallen Moab remained flourishing (James 5:6). In Isaiah 25:10-12 Moab is the representative of Israel's and the church's foes, especially antichrist, the last enemy. Jehovah, as a "swimmer," strikes out right and left, so shall smite the foe with rapidity, cleaving a way through them on every side. Zephaniah 2:8, "Moab ... Ammon ... reproached My people and magnified themselves against their border," i.e., haughtily seizing on the territory vacated by Gad and Reuben, E. of Jordan, after these had been carried captive, as if Ammon, instead of Judah, Israel's own brother, were Israel's heir (Jeremiah 49:1).
"Moab therefore shall be as Sodom (from whose doom her ancestor had been rescued) ... nettles ... salt pits (S. of the Dead Sea) ... perpetual desolation." Moab was doomed to feel Nebuchadnezzar's heavy hand (Jeremiah 25:9-21), though for a time acting in concert with Chaldaean bands against Jehoiakim (2 Kings 24:2); but should recover after 70 years, at Babylon's fall, for righteous Lot's sake (Exodus 20:6). Spiritual blessings under Messiah are finally meant. Moab sent messengers to Jerusalem to Zedekiah (so read for "Jehoiakim") to consult as to shaking off Nebuchadnezzar's yoke (Jeremiah 27:1-8; Jeremiah 27:10-11). By submission to Nebuchadnezzar's yoke, according to Jeremiah's counsel, Moab though chastised was not carried captive as Judah. But for her usurpation of Israel's land, and for saying "Judah is like unto all the pagan," i.e. fares no better for having Jehovah for her God than the pagan who have idols, God "would open her side from the cities on her frontiers, the glory of the country (a glorious country in richness of soil), Bethjeshimoth, Baalmeon, and Kiriathaim, unto the men of the East," i.e. to the marauding Bedouin (Ezekiel 25:8-11).
Sanballat of Horonaim, the molester of Nehemiah's work, was a Moabite (Nehemiah 2:19; Nehemiah 4:1; Nehemiah 6:1). Ruins in profusion abound in the country, betokening its former populousness and wealth. Their language was but a dialect of the Hebrew (which the Dibon stone proves, as also Ruth's intercourse with Naomi and David's with the Moabite king), as was to be expected from Lot's affinity to Abraham. Some of Judah's descendants in Shelah's line had dominion in Moab, and some Benjamite chiefs were born and settled in Moab (1 Chronicles 4:21-23; 1 Chronicles 8:8-10). The name of the family Pahath Moab, "governor of Moab," among those returned from Babylon (Ezra 2:6), implies a former connection with Moab as ruler.
Daniel (Daniel 11:41) foretells "Moab shall escape out of his (Antiochus Epiphanes') hand." So Porphyry says, in marching against Ptolemy, Antiochus turned out of his course to assail the Jews, but did not meddle with Moab, Edom, and Ammon. Nay, he used their help in crushing the Jews, Moab's old enemy; therefore Judas Maccabeus punished them with "a great overthrow" (1 Maccabees 4:61; 1 Maccabees 5:3, etc.). Isaiah (Isaiah 11:14) foretells the Jews "shall lay their hand upon Moab," i.e. shall occupy their land at Israel's final restoration.