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Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary

Heshbon

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(hehssh' bahn) Place name meaning, “reckoning.” City in Moab ruled by Sihon and captured by Moses (Numbers 21:21-30 ). Ancient Heshbon, to be identified with present-day tell Hesban, was one of several ancient cities situated on the rolling and fertile plateau east of the Dead Sea and north of the Arnon River (present-day Wadi Mojib). Two of the other cities nearby, often mentioned by the biblical writers in connection with Heshbon, were Elealeh and Medeba. The agriculturally-productive region in which these cities were located was much disputed territory during Old Testament times. Generally it was regarded as part of Moab, as is assumed in Isaiah 15-16 and Jeremiah 48:1 . Yet the Israelite tribes of Reuben and Gad ranged with their sheep in this region (Numbers 32:3 ,Numbers 32:3,32:37 ). The Israelites laid claim to it on the grounds that Moses had taken all of the territory as far south as the Arnon from Sihon, an Amorite king who ruled from Heshbon (Numbers 21:21-31 ). Certain of the stronger Israelite kings (David, Omri, and Ahab) were able to control all of that area. Apparently, the Ammonites claimed the region as well, as implied by the exchange of messages between Jephthah and the Ammonite king related in Judges 11:12-28 .

Heshbon was assigned to the tribe of Gad and designated as a Levitical city according to Joshua 13:27-28; Joshua 21:38-39 . Song of Song of Solomon 7:4 , describing a maiden's beauty, proclaims “thine eyes like the fishpools in Heshbon.” Herod the Great fortified the site, and it became a flourishing city (called Esbus) during late Roman times. Esbus continued as an active city during the Byzantine period (fourth through the sixth centuries A.D.), at which time its population embraced Christianity. A bishop from Esbus participated in the council of Chalcedon.

Excavations at tell Hesban, conducted between 1968,1978, produced occupational remains ranging from the beginning of the Iron Age (about 1200 B.C.) through medieval times. No evidence of pre-Iron Age occupation was discovered at the site. That is the period when King Sihon was supposed to have ruled from the city. See Gad; Moab; Reuben; Sihon .

Maxwell Miller

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 'Heshbon'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hbd/h/heshbon.html. 1991.

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