The People of Moab

Answers to your Scripture questions

What can you tell me about the people of Moab in Genesis? — Mickey Formato, by e-mail

Genesis 19.30-38 tells the unusual story of the births of Lot’s sons Moab and Ben-Ammi. Moab is said to have become the father of the Moabites, and his brother the father of the people of Ammon. Moab is both a personal and national name. The land east of the Dead Sea was known in biblical times as Moab. Archaeologists have shown that the land was well watered agricultural land, and supported an advanced civilization. Today the land is known as Jordan.

Moab is mentioned in records of the Assyrian Empire (the greatest political power between 911 - 609 B.C., located in present-day northern Iraq). Contact between Moab and Israel is mentioned in Judges where the Moabite King Eglon invaded Israelite lands and oppressed them for 18 years. Moab is mentioned again in 2 Kings 3, 13.20, 24.2, and also in the prophets. It was a nation God would judge for its sins against Israel. (Isaiah 15, 16; Jeremiah 48; Ezekiel 25.8-11; Amos 2.1-3; Zephaniah 2.8-11.) The Moabites were conquered by Assyria during the 8th century B.C. and later by Babylon. By the Hellenistic and Roman times, in the first century B.C., the area that had been occupied by Moab became part of Arabia.

In 1868, Rev. F. A. Klein discovered the Moabite Stone, from which we have learned something about its history, language and culture. The monument, found in Dhiban, Jordan, is made from black basalt. Dedicated to Chemosh, the god of Moab, there is a 34-line inscription of Mesha, the 9th-century B.C. king of Moab, that recounts his successes and achievements, beginning with the rebellion of Moab against the Israelites, the capture of nearby Israelite cities and projects rebuilding the region. The Moabite Stone now resides in the Louvre Museum, Paris.

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