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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

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Nebo (1)
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NEBO. The name of a Moabite town, a mountain in Moab, and (according to the Hebrew text) of a city of Judah. It is probable, though not quite certain, that these places were named after the Babylonian deity Nebo (see preced. art.), and thus point to the influence of the Babylonian cult at a remote period both E. and W. of the Jordan.

1 . Nebo, a city of Judah ( Ezra 2:29; Ezra 10:43 [ 1Es 9:35 Noomias ], Nehemiah 7:29 ], identified by some with Beit Nubâ , 12 miles N.W. of Jerusalem. This Nebo is the Nobai (a signatory to the covenant) of Nehemiah 10:20 . Whether either form exactly corresponds to the original name is uncertain.

2 . The Moabite town called Nebo is mentioned in Numbers 32:3; Numbers 32:33; Numbers 33:47 , Isaiah 15:2 , Jeremiah 48:1; Jeremiah 48:22 , 1 Chronicles 5:8 , and also in the inscription of Mesha, who says: ‘And Chemosh said unto me, Go take Nebo against Israel.’ The exact site is unknown, but the town probably lay on, or near, Mt. Nebo.

3. Mount Nebo is the traditional site of Moses’ view of Canaan ( Deuteronomy 34:1 f.) and of his death ( Deuteronomy 32:50 ). It is described as being ‘in the land of Moab over against Jericho’ and as reached from the ‘steppes of Moah’ ( Deuteronomy 34:1 ). There can be no question that this description implies some point on the edge of the great platean of Moab, which drops steeply some 4000 feet to the Jordan Valley or the Dead Sea. Two related problems call for solution: Which point in particular on this edge of the plateau is Mt. Nebo? How does the actual view thence agree with the terms of Deuteronomy 34:1 f.? There appears to be most reason for identifying Mt. Nebo with the point now called Nebâ , and the identification might be regarded as certain if we could feel sure that Nebâ is really an ancient name, and not merely (as it may be) the name attached to the summit after tradition had claimed it as the Nebo of the Bible. Nebâ lies about 12 miles almost due E. of the Jordan at the point where the river enters the Dead Sea, and is one of the summits most easily ascended from the steppes of Moah. In this respect it satisfies the description better than the other sites which have been proposed, (1) the somewhat loftier Mt. Attârus 10 miles farther south, and (2) Mt. Oshâ some 20 miles north of Mt. Nebâ and a finer point of view, but outside Moab . The view from each of these great points and from several others along the great mountain wall which encloses the Jordan Valley on the E. is extensive and impressive; but its limitations in some directions are also sharply defined. Northward (or, strictly, between N. and N.N.W.) the view extends far; from Mt. Nebâ, for example, it is possible to see Mt. Tabor, 70 miles away. Westwards, on the other hand, it is blocked at from 30 to 40 miles by the great wall formed by the sharp declivity of the Judæan plateau to the Jordan Valley. This western mountain wall is of approximately the same height as the Moabite wall on the E. Consequently from no point in Moab is it possible to see the ‘hinder sea,’ i.e . the Mediterranean; nor is it possible to see more than about one-third of the country between Jordan and the Mediterranean. It follows that the description in Deuteronomy 34:1 f. is inaccurate not only in mentioning specific features (the Mediterranean, Dan, probably Zoar) which are out of sight, but in giving the general impression that the view commanded the whole of Western Palestine, whereas it actually commands but a third. The difficulty could be in part overcome by considering Deuteronomy 34:2-3 (together with the words ‘of Gilead unto Dan’ in v. 1) an editor’s note explaining the phrase ‘all the land.’ It is significant that this detailed description is absent from the Samaritan text, which has, instead, a shorter description which defines the land of Israel but not the view. For a further discussion of the view from Nebâ, see Expositor , Nov. 1904, pp. 321 341. See also art. Pisgah.

G. B. Gray.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Nebo'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hdb/​n/nebo.html. 1909.
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