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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Kir´-Mo´ab ('the wall, stronghold, or citadel of Moab'), ; called also Kir-hareseth and Kir-heres (brick-fortress; ; ; ), a fortified city in the territory of Moab. Joram king of Israel took the city, and destroyed it, except the walls; but it appears from the passages here cited that it must have been rebuilt before the time of Isaiah. Abulfeda describes Karak as a small town, with a castle on a high hill, and remarks that it is so strong that one must deny himself even the wish to take it by force. In the time of the Crusades, and when in possession of the Franks, it was invested by Saladin; but after lying before it a month he was compelled to raise the siege. The first person who visited the place in modern times was Seetzen, who says, 'Karak, formerly a city and bishop's see, lies on the top of the hill near the end of a deep valley, and is surrounded on all sides with lofty mountains. The hill is very steep, and in many places the sides are quite perpendicular. The walls round the town are for the most part destroyed, and Karak can at present boast of little more than being a small country town. The castle, which is uninhabited, and in a state of great decay, was formerly one of the strongest in these countries. The inhabitants of the town consist of Muhammadans and Greek Christians. The present bishop of Karak resides at Jerusalem. From this place one enjoys, by looking down the Wady Karak, a fine view of part of the Dead Sea, and even Jerusalem may be distinctly seen in clear weather. The hill on which Karak lies is composed of limestone and brittle marl, with many beds of blue, black, and gray flints. In the neighboring rocks there are a number of curious grottoes; in those which are underground wheat is sometimes preserved for a period of ten years. A fuller account of the place is given by Burckhardt, by whom it was next visited; and another description is furnished by Irby and Mangles. From their account it would seem that the caverns noticed by Seetzen were probably the sepulchers of the ancient town. We also learn that the Christians of Karak (which they and Burckhardt call Kerek) are nearly as numerous as the Turks, and boast of being stronger and braver. They were, however, on good terms with the Turks, and appeared to enjoy equal freedom with them.





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Kir-Moab'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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