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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia


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  1. A very ancient town, situated from three to five miles (Baedeker, "Palestine," p. 193) north of the River Arnon (Tristram, "The Land of Moab," pp. 132 et seq. ). The true pronunciation seems to be "Daibon" (according to the Greek transliterations, Δ α ι β ω ν , Δ η β ω ν see Dillmann, on Numbers 21:30 , and Mayer, "Z. A. T. W." 1:128, note 2). It is the modern Diban, where in 1868 the Mesha Inscription was found, upon which the name of the town itself occurs (lines 21,28). It is from Dibon that King Mesha derives his epithet ("the Dibonite" Mesha Inscription, line 1).

    The town, originally under the dominion of Moab, was conquered by Sihon, king of the Amorites (Numbers 21:27-30 ), but then wrested from his control by the Israelites. It appears to have been fortified by Gad (Numbers 32:3,34 ) hence its description as "Dibon-gad" in Numbers 33:45,46 , though it is possible that the second part of this compound refers to a local deity only. It was assigned to Reuben (Joshua 13:9,17 ). In the tenth pre-Christian century it is again found under Moabite domination, and as the residence of King Mesha. According to his inscription the Moabites called it "Ḳ arḥ a," meaning a bald (untimbered) plateau. This was due to the fact that the town occupied two elevations the higher one, this Ḳ arḥ a, had been surrounded by a wall, and constituted the "new city," containing a water reservoir and many cisterns, as well as the royal palace and a "height" ("bamah") for the god Chemosh. In Isaiah's prophecies (Isaiah 15:2 ) it is menaced as a Moabitish city before other towns, the writer playing upon the name "Dibon" (="Dimon," from "dam"=blood Isaiah 15:9 "Madmen" in Jeremiah 48:2 is a variant, if not a corruption) to predict its bloody fate. Dillmann, Duhm, and others reject the identification. Cheyne makes "Dimon" a corruption of "Nimrim" (compare "Zeitschrift des Deutsch. Palä stina Vereins," 2:8). Eusebius calls it a "large market-place" ("Onomasticon," 249,43) but it is not mentioned by later medieval writers. Even now fragments of columns and ornaments strewn about witness to the town's former importance.

    Plan of Ancient Dibon.
    (After Schick, in "Zeit. Deut. Pal. Ver.")

  2. A settlement of returning exiles in the Negeb (the South), in the tribal territory of Judah (Nehemiah 11:25 ), in all likelihood identical with "Dimonah" in Joshua 15:22 , and represented by the modern Al-Dib (or Al-Dhaib according to Robinson, Al-Daib see Buhl, "Geographie des Alten Palä stina," p. 182).

K. E. G. H.

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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Dibon'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901.

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the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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