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Holman Bible Dictionary


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(mee' sshuh) English translation of three Hebrew names. 1. Personal name meaning “Safety.” Ruler of Moab who led a rebellion against Israel (2 Kings 3:4-27 ). The designation of Mesha as a sheep breeder (2 Kings 3:4 NRSV) is perhaps an honorary title for chief. The date of his revolt is uncertain. 2 Kings 1:1 suggests the revolt followed immediately on Ahab's death (850 B.C.). 2 Kings 3:4 sets the revolt in the reign of Jehoram (849-842 B.C.). The Moabite stone erected by Mesha to celebrate his exploits contains two apparently irreconcilable time notes: in the middle of the reign of Omri's son and forty years after the beginning of Omri's oppressive taxation of Moab. If Omri's son is taken literally, the Moabite stone places the revolt in the reign of Ahab (869-850 B.C.). “Son of Omri” was, however, used as a title for any of the kings who succeeded Omri as king in Samaria, even of Jehu who overthrew Omri's dynasty. Jehoram, Omri's grandson, might thus be the “son” of Omri of the Moabite stone. Jehoram's reign, however, ended five years before the fortieth anniversary of the earliest date of Omri's oppression of Moab. At the beginning of the revolt, Mesha succeeded in seizing Israelite border towns and in fortifying towns on his frontier. An alliance of Israel, Judah, and Edom, however, outflanked his defenses and attacked Mesha from the rear. Mesha retreated to Kir-hareseth from which he attempted, unsuccessfully, to escape to his Aramean allies. With no escape possible, Mesha sacrificed his firstborn son to his god Chemosh on the city walls. In response, the Israelites lifted their seige and returned home. The Moabite stone describes Mesha as a builder of cities and highways. Archaeological evidence, however, suggests a decline in Moabite civilization following the revolt. See Moab.

2. Descendant of Benjamin living in Moab (1 Chronicles 8:9 ). 3 . Descendant of Caleb (1 Chronicles 2:42; RSV follows early Greek translation in reading Mareshah). 4. Place name meaning, “debt.” City in the territory of the Joktanites (Genesis 10:30 ), most likely to be identified with Massa (Genesis 25:14; Proverbs 31:1 ), located between the head of the gulf of Aqaba and the Persian Gulf. This Massa is identified with the Assyrian Mash and the Persian Maciya .

Chris Church

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Mesha'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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