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Bible Dictionaries

Morrish Bible Dictionary

Moab, Moabites

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Son of Lot and his eldest daughter; his descendants; and the land which they inhabited. Genesis 19:37 . No account is given of Moab personally. The territory of his descendants was on the east of the Salt Sea. When the tribe of Reuben obtained their possession, their boundary on the south was the river Arnon, which river was the northern boundary of the Moabites, for they had been driven south by the Amorites before the arrival of Israel. Numbers 21:11-30 . When the Israelites approached the promised land they were directed not to distress nor contend with Moab, Deuteronomy 2:9 , so they passed to the east of them. The Moabites were however filled with terror when they heard that the Amorites had been smitten, and Balak their king hired Balaam to curse Israel. Balaam was compelled by God to bless them instead of cursing them, buthe gave to Balak the fatal advice to try to weaken them by seductive alliances (which would cause them to fall under the Lord's discipline), and this, alas, was only too successful: cf. Revelation 2:14 . It was in a valley in the land of Moab that Moses was secretly buried. Deuteronomy 34:6 .

In the time of the judges God used Eglon king of Moab to punish Israel, and they served the Moabites eighteen years; but when they cried unto the Lord, He delivered them, and ten thousand of the Moabites were slain. Judges 3:12-30 . The relations of Israel with the Moabites were varied. In the prophecy of Isaiah 16 Moab is characteristic of the world in which outcast Israel is hidden: Elimelech and Naomi fled thither from the famine, and David, when Saul was persecuting him, entrusted to their king his father and mother. During his subsequent reign David defeated them and made them tributary. 1 Samuel 22:3,4; 2 Samuel 8:2; 1 Chronicles 18:2 .

In the time of Jehoshaphat the children of Moab, Ammon and mount Seir attacked Judah, but God made the battle His own and caused them to attack one another. 2 Chronicles 20:1-23 . During Ahab's reign they were again tributary, but at his death they threw off their allegiance, but were completely subdued by the united forces of Israel, Judah and Edom. In desperation the king of Moab offered up his eldest son as a sacrifice. 2 Kings 3:4-27 . They revived to some extent, but were again subdued by Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah 27:1-11 .

Ruth was a MOABITESS, and so also were some of Solomon's wives, for whom he introduced into Jerusalem the worship of Chemosh the idol of Moab. 2 Kings 23:13 . The Moabites were not allowed to be received into the congregation of the Lord for ever. Deuteronomy 23:3 . The numerous ruins extant in the country of the Moabites show that it was once populously occupied, and it must have been wealthy to have annually paid Israel 100,000 lambs and 100,000 rams with the wool.

Moab is denounced in the prophets: it had reproached God's people, and He declared that it should be as Sodom, as the breeding of nettles and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation. Zephaniah 2:8,9 . This is its state at present. In the future the king of the north shall enter "into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon," Daniel 11:40,41; these will be left for Israel to punish: cf. Isaiah 11:14 .

THE MOABITE STONE. In connection with Moab an interesting monument was discovered in 1868 at Dibon (Dhiban) in the land of Moab. It was a stone 3ft. 10in. by 2ft., and contained 34 lines of inscription in the Phoenician character. When the Arabs discovered that two or three nations were desirous of possessing the stone they thought they should gain more by breaking it into pieces: a fire was kindled beneath it, and, when heated, cold water was poured on the top, which broke it. Eventually about two thirds of these pieces were obtained, and are now in the Museum of the Louvre in Paris: a paper cast is in the British Museum. A paper impression had been taken of the stone before it was broken, which, with the pieces recovered, renders it possible to give a nearly complete translation of the inscription.

It is dedicated to Chemosh, the god of Moab, by Mesha. He admits that Chemosh was angry with his land, and that Omri king of Israel took it, and he and his son oppressed them forty years. Then Chemosh had mercy on it, and the king was able to rescue some of the cities, kill the people, and take the spoil, and he built others, of which he gives the names. There can be no doubt that the Mesha of the stone is the same as the Mesha, of scripture. The son of Omri would be Ahab; and in 2 Kings 3:5 it says that on the death of Ahab the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. Ahaziah succeeded Ahab, but it was not he that attacked Moab: his reign (called two years) and the beginning of the reign of Jehoram, would give Mesha time to strengthen himself against Israel and attack some of the outlying cities. Scripture is thus confirmed by this interesting monument.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Moab, Moabites'. Morrish Bible Dictionary. 1897.

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