Geography and Topography (§ 1).
Cities (§ 2).
History Prior to 586 B.C.(§ 3).
History after 586 B.C. (§ 4).
Products, Culture, and Religion (§ 5).
Relations between Moab and Israel (§ 6).

1. Geography and Topography

Moab is the name of a people dwelling east of the Dead Sea and of the land which they inhabited, in Greek times called Moabitis. The modern Arabic name of the land north of Wadi Mojib is el-Belka, of the part south of that wadi, Kerak. The western boundary is the Dead Sea, the eastern is the desert; on the south Wadi el-Hasa separates it from Edom. The northern boundary changed with the history of the people, but the Wadi Hesban is probably the extreme northern limit. Moab is a high plateau, which continues eastward into the desert with little change of altitude. The western boundary is an abrupt line of cliffs, with a somewhat broad shore at their foot in the south which grows narrower toward the north until the cliffs rise directly from the water. At the mouths of the Wadi bani Hammed and Wadi Kerak a tongue-shaped sandy peninsula stretches out into the Dead Sea and bears the name al Lisan, “the Tongue.” The geological formation of the region is at the base Nubian sandstone, covered with



hard limestone on which rests a softer limestone. In various places there are outcroppings of basalt which has broken through the limestone, often accompanied with hot springs. The altitude of the plain is 2,500-3,800 feet. The region presents evidences of having been the seat of great convulsions which have made deep rents in its surface. Especially important are the three great wadis, generally beginning in slight depressions in the eastern part of the land, but rapidly sinking into deep but narrow chasms debouching into the Dead Sea. These are: (1) the Wadi Kerak on the south (the Zared of Num. xxi. 12, the Zered of Deut. ii. 13), called the Wadi Ain Franji in its upper course. (2) The Wadi al-Mojib (the Arnon of the Old Testament), formed by the union of several tributaries (cf. "the brooks of the Amon," Num. xxi. 14), the chief of which, Rash Mojib, rises not far from Kerak and in its northerly course becomes the Wadi Lejjun, later uniting with the Wadi al-Sultan, Wadi Balna, Wadi Saida, and finally with the Wadi Heidan. The third great valley is Wadi Zerka Ma'in, known in the time of Josephus as the Kallirrhoe. An hour from its mouth is the celebrated hot sulphur spring visited by Herod the Great. Besides the three great wadis, a number of smaller ones issue from the western portion of the plain. The northeastern part of the region forms a rolling plain called in the Hebrew mishor (Deut. iii. 10, iv. 43). Southwest from Hesban rises a range of hills, the western sides of which form the abrupt drop to the coast beneath, the extreme projection being Rash Siyaja. To the east is a hill still called Neba, and the Nebo of Deut. xxxiv. 1 should be sought either in this or in Rash Siyaja, both of which afford an extensive view to the west and north. Pisgah (Num. xxi. 20), a name in use as late as the time of Eusebius, seems to mean a definite region in the northwestern part of Moab. Peor (Num. xxiii. 28) was not far distant, possibly the present al-Mushakkar. The fortress Machaerus is recalled by the hill Mkaur, the "mount of the valley" of Josh. xiii. 19. Kerak is a fortress on a mountain lying entirely within Wadi Kerak. The plateau is almost treeless, yet the soil is rich and suitable for pasturage or agriculture, especially the region south of Kerak, and many springs are found. A semi-tropical vegetation clothes the wadis as they approach the sea. The sheep is the animal most kept by the present as by the early inhabitants. Wild animals are the bear, wolf, and rock badger, on the steppe the gazelle and ostrich, while of rodents the rat is especially abundant. The streams abound in fish. The range of temperature is great, the summer heat being excessive and the winter being cold.

The Old Testament and the Moabite Stone (q.v.) mention a great number of Moabitic cities. Many ruins are to be seen, but the most of them point to Roman occupation. Beth-jeshimoth (Ezek, xxv. 9) is located at Suweme; neither Beth-peor nor Sibma (Isa. xvi. 8) have been identified; Elealeh is located at El-'al, east of upper Wadi Hesban; to the south of this is Heshbon (Isa. xv. 4), which still retains its name Hesban; if Neba is the Biblical Nebo, the city of that name must be sought in one of the numerous masses of ruins discovered there; southeast from Neba are the ruins of Madeba, the Medeba (q.v.) of Isa. xv. 2, where ruins of several churches exist and an inscription of the year 362 was found; southwest of this the name Ma'in recalls the Baalmeon of Ezek. xxv. 9, and of the Moabite Stone. Between Wadi Zerka Ma'in and Wadi Wa'le are ruins on Mt. Attarus which mark the site of the old 'Ataroth of the Moabite Stone; Kureyat, to the south, locates the Kiriathaim of Gen. xiv. 5 (R. V. margin); to the west is a tower with a cistern which marks the celebrated fortress of Machairus, near which must be sought Zereth-shahar (Josh. xiii. 19). Between Wadi Wa'le and Wadi al-Mojib is Dhiban, where the Moabite Stone was found; the excavation of this site is very desirable, since it indicates the Biblical Dibon (Jer. xlviii. 18); to the north al-Jumeil is provisionally identified with Beth-gamul of Jer. xlviii. 23); Ara'ir, on the north side of Wadi el-Mojib, suggests the Aroer of Jer. xlviii. 19. Along the main road from the Arnon are the important ruins of Rabbath Moab, named by Eusebius. Kir-hareseth (Isa. xvi. 7) is probably to be sought in Kerak (compare, however, the "Kir of Moab" of Isa. xv. 1). Eastward from Rabba there are many ruins dating from the Roman period. Southeast from the Dead Sea is to be sought Zoar (Isa. xv. 5). Many other places are named in the Old Testament and on the Moabite Stone the locations of which are not yet found.

The many dolmens and cromlechs point back to a very early period in the history of the land, but no certain knowledge exists of the early population. The Old Testament speaks of the Emim as early inhabitants (Gem. xiv. 5) whom the Moabites superseded. Gen. xiv. 30 sqq. preserves a tradition which represents historical fact, namely, the close relationship of both Moabitea and Ammonites to the Hebrews, though the history of the wandering in the desert implies that the Moabites were already settled when the Hebrews came upon them, but had lost the territory north of the Amon to the Amorites, who had established there a rich kingdom. The Hebrews were at first regarded as friends by the Moabites, but after the former had retained the district conquered from the Ammonites, this sentiment changed. Of the settlement of Gadites and Reubenites in the region two accounts exist, not entirely concordant (Num. xxxii. 34-36; Josh. xiii. 15). Various accounts in the history of Israel, such as the episode of Ehud (Judges iii.), of Jephtha (Judges xi.), and of Saul (I Sam. xiv. 47), imply vigorous contests between the two peoples, though the details are obscure. David's war against Moab (II Sam. viii. 2) is historical, though Moab had been a refuge for his family in his time of distress (I Sam. xxii. 3-4). The Book of Ruth can hardly be regarded as a basis for historical conclusions, especially since the passage in Samuel says nothing of relationship with the Moabites. Moab was not made a province of David's kingdom, but tribute was required. Moab's subjection to Israel ceased either under Solomon or under his successor until the time of


[Page 425]


[Page 426]


[Page 427]


[Page 428]


[Page 429]


[Page 430]


[Page 431]


[Page 432]


[Page 433]


[Page 434]


[Page 435]


[Page 436]


[Page 437]


[Page 438]


[Page 439]


[Page 440]


[Page 441]


[Page 442]


[Page 443]


[Page 444]


[Page 445]


[Page 446]


[Page 447]


[Page 448]


[Page 449]


[Page 450]


[Page 451]


Molokahi Xoasrohiaaism THE NEW SCHAFF-HERZOG 458 ten, Frankfort, 1849; A. Kuenen, in ThT, ii (1868), 551 598; idem, De Godedienet roan Israel, chap. iv., Eng. tranal., Religion of Israel, i. 249-252, London, 1873; H. Oort, in Waarheid in Liefde, 1868. pp. 1-31, 81-108, 161-173; W. von Baudissin, Jahve et Moloch, Leipsic, 1874; E. Nestle, Die israelitiechen Eigennamen, pp. 174-182, ITear lem, 1876; P. 8eholtz, Gctzendienst and Zauberweeen bei den alten Hebrdern, pp 182-217, Regensburg, 1877; C. P. T1ele, Hid. compar6e lee anciennes religions de 11gypte et des peuples s6mitiques, 281 eqq., 311 eqq., 435 sqq., Paris, 1882; idem, Geechichte der Religion in Altertum, i. 240-244, 343-344, 349-352, Gotha, 1896; . Hoffman: ZATW, iii (1883), 124; idem, in GGA, aarcvi (1890), 25; B. D. Eerdmans, Melekdienst en verserinp van hemellicha men in larval's assyriache periods, Leyden, 1891; G. B. Gray, Studies in Hebrew Proper Names, pp. 115-120, 138, 148, London, 1896; A. Kamphausen, Dae Verhdltnis des , ppli161165RanEB, iii. 3183

G. F. Moore, in JBL3191; M. J. Lagrange, Etudes our les religions sbmitiques. pp. 99, 109, Paris, 1903; Schrader, KAT, pp 469-472; Smith, Hot. of Sam., pp. 372 eqq.; DB, iii. 415-417; JE, 653-664; Vigourous, Dictionnaire, fasc. uvii., ools. 12241230.

MOLOKANI. See Russ1A, III., § 6.


CCEL home page
This document is from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library at
Calvin College. Last modified on 10/03/03. Contact the CCEL.
Calvin seal: My heart I offer you O Lord, promptly and sincerely