From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [1]

Among the peoples of the Palestine region who were related to the Israelites were the Moabites. They, along with the Ammonites, were descended from Lot through the children that resulted from Lot’s immorality with his two daughters ( Genesis 19:36-38; see also Ammon ). The Moabites lived in the tableland region east of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, an area of good pastures suitable for raising sheep ( Numbers 22:1;  2 Kings 3:4;  Isaiah 16:1-2). The Moabites’ chief city was Heshbon ( Isaiah 16:4;  Jeremiah 48:2) and their national god was Chemosh ( Jeremiah 48:7;  Jeremiah 48:46; see Chemosh ).

Early history

Conflicts with other peoples of the region meant that Moab’s boundaries changed from time to time. At the time Israel invaded Canaan, Moab controlled only the southern portion of the territory east of the Dead Sea – from the Arnon River south to the Zered River. All Moab’s former territory north of the Arnon had been taken by the Amorite king Sihon, who then made Heshbon his capital ( Numbers 21:13;  Numbers 21:26).

In leading the Israelites north towards Canaan, Moses reached the Arnon River without having any conflict with Moab ( Numbers 21:10-13). Now that he was entering territory controlled by the Amorites, Moses asked their permission to travel along the well used road known as the King’s Highway that passed through their territory ( Numbers 21:21-22;  Deuteronomy 2:26-29). When the Amorites responded with attack, the Israelites crushed their army and seized their territory ( Numbers 21:23-25;  Deuteronomy 2:30-37;  Deuteronomy 29:7-8; see Amorites ).

The Moabites feared this Israelite advance. Previously they had refused to supply the Israelites with food and water, but now they increased their opposition. They hired a soothsayer named Balaam to put a curse on them, believing this would ensure their destruction ( Numbers 22:1-6). Balaam was unable to put a curse on Israel, but God put a curse on Moab ( Numbers 23:20-21;  Numbers 24:17;  Deuteronomy 23:3-6; see Balaam ).

Israel continued to advance, and eventually conquered Canaan. When all the conquered lands (on both sides of the Jordan) were divided among Israel’s twelve tribes, the tribe of Reuben received the former Moabite territory that Israel had taken from the Amorites. The Arnon now became Israel’s border with Moab ( Deuteronomy 3:12;  Deuteronomy 3:16).

Moab and Israel

During the time of the judges, Moab, with help from Ammon, exercised control over parts of Israel for eighteen years ( Judges 3:12-14). The joint oppressors were finally overthrown by the Israelite hero, Ehud ( Judges 3:15-30).

Moab had further conflict with Israel during the reign of Saul ( 1 Samuel 14:47), and became subject to Israel’s overlordship during the reign of David ( 2 Samuel 8:2). After the decline of Israelite power through the division of the kingdom, Moab regained its independence ( 2 Kings 3:6-27), and gathered allies in an attempt to conquer Judah; but God saved his people ( 2 Chronicles 20:1-12;  2 Chronicles 20:20-23).

In its arrogance, Moab repeatedly boasted of its glory and mocked God’s people. As a result it brought upon itself the assurance of divine judgment ( Isaiah 16:6-7;  Isaiah 16:13;  Jeremiah 48:29-39;  Zephaniah 2:8-11). Moab was among those whose raids helped to weaken Judah in the days of Babylon’s final assault on Jerusalem ( 2 Kings 24:1-2), and so made its own destruction inevitable ( Ezekiel 25:8-11).

God’s prophet warned that when that day of judgment came, all Moab’s desperate pleas for help would be useless (Isaiah 15;  Isaiah 16:1-7;  Isaiah 16:12). The conquests by Babylon and Persia saw the prophecies of judgment fulfilled, and Moab’s national existence came to an end ( Jeremiah 48:42).

Despite Moab’s overall hostility to Israel, there were occasions when individual Moabites showed kindness to Israelites (e.g.  1 Samuel 22:3-4). The most notable example was that of the young widow Ruth, who sacrificed her own interests to help her Israelite mother-in-law ( Ruth 1:2-5;  Ruth 1:16-18;  Ruth 2:1). Ruth later married an Israelite. She became an ancestress of Israel’s King David, and therefore an ancestress of the Messiah Jesus ( Ruth 4:13;  Ruth 4:17;  Matthew 1:1;  Matthew 1:5).

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [2]

was the son of Lot, and of his eldest daughter,  Genesis 19:31 , &c. He was born about the same time as Isaac, A.M. 2108, and was father of the Moabites, whose habitation lay beyond Jordan and the Dead Sea, on both sides of the river Arnon. Their capital city was situated on that river, and was called Ar or Areopolis, or Ariol of Moab, or Rabbah Moab, that is, the capital of Moab, or Kirharesh, that is, a city with brick walls. This country was originally possessed by a race of giants called Emim,  Deuteronomy 2:11-12 . The Moabites conquered them, and afterward the Amorites took a part from the Moabites,  Judges 11:13 . Moses conquered that part which belonged to the Amorites, and gave it to the tribe of Reuben. The Moabites were spared by Moses, for God had restricted him,  Deuteronomy 2:9 . But there always was a great antipathy between the Moabites and the Israelites, which occasioned many wars between them. Balaam seduced the Hebrews to idolatry and uncleanness, by means of the daughters of Moab,  Numbers 25:1-2; and Balak, king of this people, endeavoured to prevail on Balaam to curse Israel. God ordained that the Moabites should not enter into the congregation of his people, because they had the inhumanity to refuse the Israelites a passage through their country, nor would they supply them with bread and water in their necessity. Eglon, king of the Moabites, was one of the first that oppressed Israel after the death of Joshua. Ehud killed Eglon, and Israel expelled the Moabites,  Judges 3:12 , &c. Hanun king of the Ammonites having insulted David's ambassadors, David made war against him, and subdued Moab and Ammon; under which subjection they continued till the separation of the ten tribes. The Ammonites and the Moabites continued in subjection to the kings of Israel to the death of Ahab. Presently after the death of Ahab the Moabites began to revolt,  2 Kings 3:4-5 . Mesha, king of Moab, refused the tribute of a hundred thousand lambs, and as many rams, which till then had been customarily paid, either yearly, or at the beginning of every reign; which of these two is not clearly expressed in Scripture. The reign of Ahaziah was too short to make war with them; but Jehoram, son of Ahab, and brother to Ahaziah, having ascended the throne, thought of reducing them to obedience. He invited Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, who with the king of Edom, then his vassal, entered Moab, where they were near perishing with thirst, but were miraculously relieved,  2 Kings 3:16 , &c.

It is not easy to ascertain what were the circumstances of the Moabites from this time; but Isaiah, at the beginning of the reign of King Hezekiah, threatens them with a calamity, which was to happen three years after his prediction, and which probably referred to the war that Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, made with the ten tribes and the other people beyond Jordan.  Amos 1:13 , &c, also foretold great miseries to them, which, probably, they suffered under Uzziah and Jothan, kings of Judah, or under Shalmaneser,  2 Chronicles 26:7-8;  2 Chronicles 27:5; or, lastly, in the war of Nebuchadnezzar, five years after the destruction of Jerusalem. This prince carried them captive beyond the Euphrates, as the prophets had threatened,  Jeremiah 9:26;  Jeremiah 12:14-15;  Jeremiah 25:11-12;  Jeremiah 48:47 , &c;  Jeremiah 49:3;  Jeremiah 49:6;  Jeremiah 49:39;  Jeremiah 50:16; and Cyrus sent them home again, as he did the rest of the captives. After their return from captivity they multiplied, and fortified themselves, as the Jews did, and other neighbouring people, still in subjection to the kings of Persia. They were afterward conquered by Alexander the Great, and were in obedience to the kings of Syria and Egypt successively, and finally to the Romans. There is a probability, also that in the later times of the Jewish republic they obeyed the Asmonean kings, and afterward Herod the Great. The principal deities of the Moabites were Chemosh and Baal-peor.

The prophecies concerning Moab are numerous and remarkable. There are, says Keith, abundant predictions which refer so clearly to its modern state, that there is scarcely a single feature peculiar to the land of Moab, as it now exists, which was not marked by the prophets in their delineation of the low condition to which, from the height of its wickedness and haughtiness, it was finally to be brought down.

The land of Moab lay to the east and south-east of Judea, and bordered on the east, north-east, and partly on the south of the Dead Sea. Its early history is nearly analogous to that of Ammon; and the soil, though perhaps more diversified, is, in many places where the desert and plains of salt have not encroached on its borders, of equal fertility. There are manifest and abundant vestiges of its ancient greatness: the whole of the plains are covered with the sites of towns, on every eminence or spot convenient for the construction of one; and as the land is capable of rich cultivation, there can be no doubt that the country now so deserted once presented a continued picture of plenty and fertility. The form of fields is still visible; and there are the remains of Roman highways, which in some places are completely paved, and on which there are mile stones of the times of Trajan, Marcus Aurelius, and Severus, with the number of the miles legible upon them. Wherever any spot is cultivated the corn is luxuriant; and the riches of the soil cannot perhaps be more clearly illustrated than by the fact, that one grain of Heshbon wheat exceeds in dimensions two of the ordinary sort, and more than double the number of grains grow on the stalk. The frequency, and almost, in many instances, the close vicinity of the sites of the ancient towns, prove that the population of the country was formerly proportioned to its natural fertility. Such evidence may surely suffice to prove that the country was well cultivated and peopled at a period so long posterior to the date of the predictions, that no cause less than supernatural could have existed at the time when they were delivered, which could have authorized the assertion with the least probability or apparent possibility of its truth, that Moab would ever have been reduced to that state of great and permanent desolation in which it has continued for so many ages, and which vindicates and ratifies to this hour the truth of the Scriptural prophecies. The cities of Moab were to be "desolate without any to dwell therein;" no city was to escape: Moab was to "flee away." And the cities of Moab have all disappeared. Their place, together with the adjoining part of Idumea, is characterized, in the map of Volney's Travels, by the ruins of towns. His information respecting these ruins was derived from some of the wandering Arabs; and its accuracy has been fully corroborated by the testimony of different European travellers of high respectability and undoubted veracity, who have since visited this devastated region. The whole country abounds with ruins; and Burckhardt, who encountered many difficulties in so desolate and dangerous a land, thus records the brief history of a few of them: "The ruins of Eleale, Heshbon, Meon, Medaba, Dibon, Aroer, still subsist to illustrate the history of the Beni Israel." And it might with equal truth have been added, that they still subsist to confirm the inspiration of the Jewish Scriptures, or to prove that the seers of Israel were the prophets of God; for the desolation of each of these very cities was a theme of a prediction. Every thing worthy of observation respecting them has been detailed, not only in Burckhardt's "Travels in Syria," but also by Seetzen, and, more recently, by Captains Irby and Mangles, who, along with Mr. Bankes and Mr. Leigh, visited this deserted district. The predicted judgment has fallen with such truth upon these cities, and upon all the cities of the land of Moab far and near, and they are so utterly "broken down," that even the prying curiosity of such indefatigable travellers could discover among a multiplicity of ruins only a few remains so entire as to be worthy of particular notice. The subjoined description is drawn from their united testimony: Among the ruins of El Aal (Eleale) are a number of large cisterns, fragments of buildings, and foundations of houses. At Heshban, (Heshbon,) are the ruins of a large ancient town, together with the remains of a temple, and some edifices. A few broken shafts of columns are still standing; and there are a number of deep wells cut in the rock. The ruins of Medeba are about two miles in circumference. There are many remains of the walls of private houses constructed with blocks of silex, but not a single edifice is standing. The chief object of interest is an immense tank or cistern of hewn stones, "which, as there is no stream at Medeba," Burckhardt remarks, "might still be of use to the Bedouins, were the surrounding ground cleared of the rubbish to allow the water to flow into it; but such an undertaking is far beyond the views of the wandering Arabs." There is also the foundation of a temple built with large stones, and apparently of great antiquity, with two columns near it. The ruins of Diban, (Dibon,) situated in the midst of a fine plain, are of considerable extent, but present nothing of interest. The neighbouring hot wells, and the similarity of the name, identify the ruins of Myoun with Meon, or Beth Meon of Scripture. Of this ancient city, as well as of Araayr, (Areor,) nothing is now remarkable but what is common to them with all the cities of Moab, their entire desolation. The extent of the ruins of Rabba, (Rabbath Moab,) formerly the residence of the kings of Moab, sufficiently proves its ancient importance; though no other object can be particularized among the ruins, than the remains of a palace or temple, some of the walls of which are still standing, a gate belonging to another building, and an insulated altar. There are many remains of private buildings, but none of them is entire. There being no springs on the spot, the town had two birkets, the largest of which is cut entirely out of the rocky ground, together with many cisterns. Mount Nebo was completely barren when Burckhardt passed over it, and the site of the ancient city had not been ascertained. "Nebo is spoiled."

While the ruins of all these cities still retain their ancient names, and are the most conspicuous amidst the wide scene of general desolation, and while each of them was in like manner particularized in the visions of the prophet, they yet formed but a small number of the cities of Moab; and the rest are also, in similar verification of the prophecies, "desolate, without any to dwell therein." None of the ancient cities of Moab now remain as tenanted by men. Kerek, which neither bears any resemblance in name to any of the cities of Moab which are mentioned as existing in the time of the Israelites, nor possesses any monuments which denote a very remote antiquity, is the only nominal town in the whole country, and, in the words of Seetzen, who visited it, "in its present ruined state it can only be called a hamlet: and the houses have only one floor." But the most populous and fertile province in Europe, especially any situated in the interior of a country like Moab, is not covered so thickly with towns as Moab is plentiful in ruins, deserted and desolate though now it be. Burckhardt enumerates about fifty ruined sites within its boundaries, many of them extensive. In general they are a broken down and undistinguishable mass of ruins; and many of them have not been closely inspected. But, in some instances, there are the remains of temples, sepulchral monuments; the ruins of edifices constructed of very large stones, in one of which buildings some of the stones are twenty feet in length, and so broad that one constitutes the thickness of the wall; traces of hanging gardens; entire columns lying on the ground, three feet in diameter, and fragments of smaller columns; and many cisterns out of the rock. When the towns of Moab existed in their prime, and were at ease; when arrogance, and haughtiness, and pride prevailed among them; the desolation, and total desertion and abandonment of them all, must have utterly surpassed all human conception. And that such numerous cities which subsisted for many ages, some of them being built on eminences, and naturally strong; others on plains, and surrounded by the richest soil; some situated in valleys by the side of a plentiful stream; and others where art supplied the deficiencies of nature, and where immense cisterns were excavated out of the rock, and which exhibit in their ruins many monuments of ancient prosperity, and many remains easily convertible into present utility; should have all fled away, all met the same indiscriminate fate, and be all "desolate, without any to dwell therein," notwithstanding all these ancient indications of permanent durability, and their existing facilities and inducements for becoming the habitations of men, is a matter of just wonder in the present day. "They shall cry of Moab, How is it broken down!"

The strong contrast between the ancient and the actual state of Moab is exemplified in the condition of the inhabitants as well as of the land; and the coincidence between the prediction and the fact is as striking in the one case as in the other. "The days come, saith the Lord, that I will send unto him (Moab) wanderers that shall cause him to wander, and shall empty his vessels." The Bedouin (wandering) Arabs are now the chief and almost the only inhabitants of a country once studded with cities. Traversing the country, and fixing their tents for a short time in one place, and then decamping to another, depasturing every part successively, and despoiling the whole land of its natural produce, they are wanderers who have come up against it, and who keep it in a state of perpetual desolation. They lead a wandering life; and the only regularity they know or practice, is to act upon a systematic scheme of spoliation. They prevent any from forming a fixed settlement who are inclined to attempt it; for although the fruitfulness of the soil would abundantly repay the labour of settlers, and render migration wholly unnecessary, even if the population were increased more than tenfold; yet the Bedouins forcibly deprive them of the means of subsistence, compel them to search for it elsewhere, and, in the words of the prediction, literally "cause them to wander." "It may be remarked generally of the Bedouins," says Burckhardt, in describing their extortions in this very country, "that wherever they are the masters of the cultivators, the latter are soon reduced to beggary by their unceasing demands." "O ye that dwell in Moab, leave the cities and dwell in the rock, and be like the dove that maketh her nest in the sides of the hole's mouth." In a general description of the condition of the inhabitants of that extensive desert which now occupies the place of these ancient flourishing states, Volney in plain but unmeant illustration of this prediction, remarks, that the "wretched peasants live in perpetual dread of losing the fruit of their labours; and no sooner have they gathered in their harvest, than they hasten to secrete it in private places, and retire among the rocks which border on the Dead Sea." Toward the opposite extremity of the land of Moab, and at a little distance from its borders, Seetzen relates, that "there are many families living in caverns;" and he actually designates them "the inhabitants of the rocks." And at the distance of a few miles from the ruined site of Heshbon, according to Captains Irby and Mangles, "there are many artificial caves in a large range of perpendicular cliffs, in some of which are chambers and small sleeping apartments." While the cities are desolate, without any to dwell therein, the rocks are tenanted. But whether flocks lie down in the city without any to make them afraid, or whether men are to be found dwelling in the rocks, and are "like the dove that maketh her nest in the sides of the hole's mouth," the wonderful transition, in either case, and the close accordance, in both, of the fact to the prediction, assuredly mark it in characters that may be visible to the purblind mind, as the word of that God before whom the darkness of futurity is as light, and without whom a sparrow cannot fall unto the ground.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

("from father"), i.e. the incestuous offspring of Lot's older daughter, near Zoar, S.E. of the Dead Sea ( Genesis 19:37). Originally the Moabites dwelt due E. of the Dead Sea, from whence they expelled the Emims. Their territory was 40 miles long, 12 wide, the modern Belka or Kerak ( Deuteronomy 2:10-11). Afterward, Sihon king of the Amorites drove them S. of the river Amon, now Wady El Mojib ( Numbers 21:13;  Numbers 21:26-30;  Judges 11:13;  Judges 11:18), which thenceforward was their northern boundary. Israel was forbidden to meddle with them ( Judges 11:9;  Judges 11:19) on account of the tie of blood through Lot, Abraham's nephew, for Jehovah gave Ar unto the children of Lot, having dispossessed the giant Emims. It was only when Moab seduced Israel to idolatry and impurity (Numbers 25), and hired Balaam to curse them, that they were excluded from Jehovah's congregation to the tenth generation ( Deuteronomy 23:3-4). Ammon was more roving than Moab and occupied the pastures to the N.E. outside the mountains.

Moab was more settled in habits, and remained nearer the original seat Zoar. Its territory after the Amorite conquest was circumscribed, but well fortified by nature ( Numbers 21:20, margin); called "the field of Moab" ( Ruth 1:1-63, and "the corner of Moab" ( Numbers 24:17;  Jeremiah 48:45). The country N. of Arnon, opposite Jericho reaching to Gilead, was more open; vast prairie-like plains broken by rocky prominences; "the land of Moab" ( Deuteronomy 1:5;  Deuteronomy 32:49). Besides there was the Arboth Moab, "plains (rather deep valley) of Moab," the dry sunken valley of Jordan ( Numbers 22:1). Outside of the hills enclosing Moab proper on the S.E. are the uncultivated pastures called midbar, "wilderness," facing Moab ( Numbers 21:11). Through it Israel advanced. The song ( Exodus 15:15) at the Red Sea first mentions the nation, "trembling shall take hold upon ... the mighty men of Moab."

Israel's request for a passage through Edom and Moab, and liberty to purchase bread and water, was refused ( Judges 11:17;  Numbers 20:14-21). In Israel's circuitous march round the two kingdoms they at last, when it suited their own selfish ends and when they could not prevent Israel's march, sold them bread and water ( Deuteronomy 2:28-29;  Deuteronomy 23:3-4). The exclusion of a Moabite from the congregation only forbade his naturalization, not his dwelling in Israel nor an Israelite marrying a Moabitess. Ruth married Naomi's son, but became a proselyte. The law of exclusion it is clear could never have been written after David's time, whose great grandmother was a Moabitess. Israel was occupying the country N. of Arnon which Moab had just lost to Sihon, and which Israel in turn had wrested from him, and with its main force had descended from the upper level to the Shittim plains, the Arboth Moab, in the Jordan valley, when Balak, alarmed for his already diminished territory, induced the Midianite "elders" to join him and hired Balak; virtually, though never actually, "warring against Israel" ( Joshua 24:9;  Judges 11:25).

The daughters of Moab, mentioned in  Numbers 25:1, were those with whom Israel "began whoredom," but the main guilt was Midian's, and on Midian fell the vengeance ( Numbers 25:16-18;  Numbers 31:1-18). Moab's licentious rites furnished the occasion, but Midian was the active agent in corrupting the people. Balak (contrast, "the former king of Moab,"  Numbers 21:26) was probably not hereditary king but a Midianite; the Midianites taking advantage of Moab's weakness after Sihon's victories to impose a Midianite king. Zippor ("bird"), his father, reminds us of other Midianite names, Oreb "crow," Zeeb "wolf"; Sihon may have imposed him on Moab. The five "princes" or "kings" of Midian were vassal "dukes of Sihon dwelling in the country" ( Joshua 13:21;  Numbers 31:8). The licentiousness of the neighboring cities of the plain and Moab's origin accord with the more than common licentiousness attributed to Moab and Midian in Numbers 25. Eglon king of Moab, with Ammon and Amalek, smote Israel and occupied Jericho, but was slain by the Benjamite Ehud ( Judges 3:12-30). (See Eglon .)

Saul fought Moab successfully, himself also a Benjamite ( 1 Samuel 14:47). David moved away to Moab the land of his ancestry, fleeing from Saul, his and Moab's enemy, and committed to the king his father and mother ( 1 Samuel 22:3-4). Probably some act of perfidy of Moab, as the murder or treacherous delivering of his parents to Saul, caused David 20 years afterward to slay two thirds of the people, and make bondmen and tributaries of the rest ( 2 Samuel 8:2; in this war Benaiah slew two lion-like men,  2 Samuel 23:20; compare also  Psalms 60:8, "Moab is my washpot"; yet among David's heroes was "Ithmah the Moabite,"  1 Chronicles 11:22;  1 Chronicles 11:46), fulfilling Balaam's prophecy,  Numbers 24:17;  Numbers 24:19; "out of Jacob shall come he that shall destroy him that remaineth of Ar" (Hebrew, namely, of Moab). Among Solomon's foreign concubines were Moabitish women, to whose god Chemosh he built "a high place on the hill before (facing) Jerusalem" ( 1 Kings 11:1;  1 Kings 11:7;  1 Kings 11:33), where it remained until Josiah defiled it four centuries afterward ( 2 Kings 23:13).

At the severance of Israel from Judah Moab was under Israel, because the Jordan fords lay within Benjamin which in part adhered to the northern kingdom. At Ahab's death Mesh and Dibon, who had paid for the time the enormous tribute, 100,000; lambs and 100,000 rams with the wool, revolted ( 2 Kings 1:1;  2 Kings 3:4-5). (See Mesh ; DIBON.) His first, step was, he secured the cooperation of Ammon and others enumerated in  Psalms 83:8-7, in an invasion of Judah, which was before Jehoshaphat's alliance with Ahaziah ( 2 Chronicles 20:1-35), therefore still earlier than the invasion of Moab by the confederate kings of Edom, Israel (Jehoram, Ahaziah's son), and Judah (2 Kings 3). (See Jehoshaphat ; Jehoram; Elisha; Edom ) Mutual dissension, under God, destroyed this heterogeneous mass. Then followed the joint invasion of Moab by Jehoshaphat of Judah, Jehoram of Israel, and the king of Edom (2 Kings 3).

The Septuagint states that the Moabite king assembled all old enough to bear a sword girdle. His mistaking the water glowing red with the morning sun for the mutually shed blood of the invaders (which observe he remembered had happened to his own and the allied forces attacking Jehoshaphat) caused Moab to rush forward for spoil, only to be slaughtered by the allies. At Kirhareseth or Kerak his immolation of his own son struck superstitious fear into the besiegers so that they retired ( 2 Kings 3:27; compare  Micah 6:5-8); and then followed all the conquests which Mesha records on the Moabite stone. Then too Moah, indignant at his former ally Edom having joined Israel against him, when Israel and Judah retired, burned the king of Edom alive, reducing his bones to lime; or, as Hebrew tradition represents, tore his body after death from the grave and burned it ( Amos 2:1). Moabite marauding "bands" thenceforward at intervals invaded Israel, as under Jehoahaz ( 2 Kings 13:20).

A century and a half later, in Isaiah's "burden of Moab" (Isaiah 15-16) Moab appears possessing places which it had held in the beginning N. of Arnon, and which had been vacated by Reuben's removal to Assyria ( 1 Chronicles 5:25-26). Compare also Jeremiah 48, a century later, about 600 B.C. Isaiah ( Isaiah 16:14) foretells, "within three years, as the years of an hireling (who has a fixed term of engagement, so Moab's time of doom is fixed) ... the glory of Moab shall be contemned." Fulfilled by Shalmaneser or Sargon, who destroyed Samaria and ravaged the whole E. of Jordan (725-723 B.C.). As Ammon, so Moab probably, put itself under Judah's king, Uzziah's protection, to which Isaiah ( Isaiah 16:1, "send ye the lamb (the customary tribute) to the ruler ... unto ... Zion") refers ( 2 Chronicles 26:8;  2 Samuel 8:2;  2 Kings 3:4). Moab contrasts with Ammon, Edom, Philistia, Amalek, Midian, as wealthy, abounding in vineyards, fruitful fields, and gardens, and civilized to a degree next Israel.

Hence flowed "pride (he is exceeding proud), loftiness, arrogance, and haughtiness of heart" ( Jeremiah 48:26;  Jeremiah 48:29;  Isaiah 16:6-7). This sin is what brought on Moab destruction, "for he magnified himself against the Lord," boasting against God's people that whereas Israel was fallen Moab remained flourishing ( James 5:6). In  Isaiah 25:10-12 Moab is the representative of Israel's and the church's foes, especially antichrist, the last enemy. Jehovah, as a "swimmer," strikes out right and left, so shall smite the foe with rapidity, cleaving a way through them on every side.  Zephaniah 2:8, "Moab ... Ammon ... reproached My people and magnified themselves against their border," i.e., haughtily seizing on the territory vacated by Gad and Reuben, E. of Jordan, after these had been carried captive, as if Ammon, instead of Judah, Israel's own brother, were Israel's heir ( Jeremiah 49:1).

"Moab therefore shall be as Sodom (from whose doom her ancestor had been rescued) ... nettles ... salt pits (S. of the Dead Sea) ... perpetual desolation." Moab was doomed to feel Nebuchadnezzar's heavy hand ( Jeremiah 25:9-21), though for a time acting in concert with Chaldaean bands against Jehoiakim ( 2 Kings 24:2); but should recover after 70 years, at Babylon's fall, for righteous Lot's sake ( Exodus 20:6). Spiritual blessings under Messiah are finally meant. Moab sent messengers to Jerusalem to Zedekiah (so read for "Jehoiakim") to consult as to shaking off Nebuchadnezzar's yoke ( Jeremiah 27:1-8;  Jeremiah 27:10-11). By submission to Nebuchadnezzar's yoke, according to Jeremiah's counsel, Moab though chastised was not carried captive as Judah. But for her usurpation of Israel's land, and for saying "Judah is like unto all the pagan," i.e. fares no better for having Jehovah for her God than the pagan who have idols, God "would open her side from the cities on her frontiers, the glory of the country (a glorious country in richness of soil), Bethjeshimoth, Baalmeon, and Kiriathaim, unto the men of the East," i.e. to the marauding Bedouin ( Ezekiel 25:8-11).

Sanballat of Horonaim, the molester of Nehemiah's work, was a Moabite ( Nehemiah 2:19;  Nehemiah 4:1;  Nehemiah 6:1). Ruins in profusion abound in the country, betokening its former populousness and wealth. Their language was but a dialect of the Hebrew (which the Dibon stone proves, as also Ruth's intercourse with Naomi and David's with the Moabite king), as was to be expected from Lot's affinity to Abraham. Some of Judah's descendants in Shelah's line had dominion in Moab, and some Benjamite chiefs were born and settled in Moab ( 1 Chronicles 4:21-23;  1 Chronicles 8:8-10). The name of the family Pahath Moab, "governor of Moab," among those returned from Babylon ( Ezra 2:6), implies a former connection with Moab as ruler.

Daniel ( Daniel 11:41) foretells "Moab shall escape out of his (Antiochus Epiphanes') hand." So Porphyry says, in marching against Ptolemy, Antiochus turned out of his course to assail the Jews, but did not meddle with Moab, Edom, and Ammon. Nay, he used their help in crushing the Jews, Moab's old enemy; therefore Judas Maccabeus punished them with "a great overthrow" ( 1 Maccabees 4:61;  1 Maccabees 5:3, etc.). Isaiah ( Isaiah 11:14) foretells the Jews "shall lay their hand upon Moab," i.e. shall occupy their land at Israel's final restoration.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [4]

Moab ( Mô'Ab ), From, The Father. The son of Lot and his eldest daughter, and founder of the Moabite people.  Genesis 19:30-38. Moab is also used for the Moabites; and also for their territory.  Numbers 22:3-14;  Judges 3:30;  2 Samuel 8:2;  2 Kings 1:1;  Jeremiah 48:4.

The territory of the Moabites, originally inhabited by the Emims,  Deuteronomy 2:10, lay on the east of the Dead Sea and the Jordan, strictly on the highlands south of the Arnon;  Numbers 21:13;  Ruth 1:1-2;  Ruth 2:6; but in a wider sense it included also the region anciently occupied by the Amorites over against Jericho, usually called the "Plains of Moab."  Numbers 21:13;  Numbers 22:1;  Numbers 26:3;  Numbers 33:48;  Deuteronomy 34:1. When the Hebrews advanced to Canaan, they did not enter the territory of Moab proper,  Deuteronomy 2:9;  Judges 11:18; but there was always a great antipathy between the two peoples, which arose from Balaam having seduced the Hebrews to sin by the daughters of Moab.  Numbers 25:1-2;  Deuteronomy 23:3-6. After the death of Joshua the Moabites oppressed the Hebrews, but they were delivered by Ehud.  Judges 3:21. David subdued Moab and Ammon, and made them tributary.  2 Samuel 8:2-12;  2 Samuel 23:20. Soon after the death of Ahab they began to revolt,  2 Kings 3:4-5;  Isaiah 16:1-2, and were subsequently engaged in wars with the Hebrews.  2 Chronicles 20:1;  2 Chronicles 20:10;  2 Chronicles 27:5. Under Nebuchadnezzar the Moabites acted as the auxiliaries of the Chaldeans,  2 Kings 24:2;  Ezekiel 25:8-11; and during the exile they took possession once more of their ancient territory, vacated by the tribes of Reuben and Gad; as did the Ammonites also.  Jeremiah 49:1-5.

Some time after the exile their name was lost under that of the Arabians, as was also the case with the Ammonites and Edomites. The famous Moabite Stone, bearing an inscription of Mesha, a king of Moab, about 900 b.c., was found at Dibon, in Moab, within the gateway by, Rev. F. A. Klein—a German missionary at Jerusalem—in 1868. The stone is of black basalt, 3 feet 8½ inches high, 2 feet 3½ inches wide, and 1 foot 1.78 inches thick. It has 34 lines of Hebrew-Phœnician writing, and contains a most remarkable corroboration of the Scripture history in  2 Kings 3:1-27. The long-predicted doom of Moab is now fulfilled, and the 48th chapter of Jeremiah is verified on the spot by the traveller. There are 27 references to Moab in this chapter, and 121 in the Scriptures.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [5]

  • The land of Moab ( Jeremiah 48:24 ), called also the "country of Moab" ( Ruth 1:2,6;  2:6 ), on the east of Jordan and the Dead Sea, and south of the Arnon ( Numbers 21:13,26 ). In a wider sense it included the whole region that had been occupied by the Amorites. It bears the modern name of Kerak.

    In the Plains of Moab, opposite Jericho ( Numbers 22:1;  26:63;  Joshua 13:32 ), the children of Israel had their last encampment before they entered the land of Canaan. It was at that time in the possession of the Amorites ( Numbers 21:22 ). "Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah," and "died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord" ( Deuteronomy 34:5,6 ). "Surely if we had nothing else to interest us in the land of Moab, the fact that it was from the top of Pisgah, its noblest height, this mightiest of the prophets looked out with eye undimmed upon the Promised Land; that it was here on Nebo, its loftiest mountain, that he died his solitary death; that it was here, in the valley over against Beth-peor, he found his mysterious sepulchre, we have enough to enshrine the memory in our hearts."

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Moab'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. 1897.

  • Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [6]

     Ruth 1:2 (c) Moab may be taken to represent all that is outside of Christ in this world. Canaan or Palestine was GOD's country, and all other countries were heathen countries. Naomi and her husband left GOD's people to go down and live among the idolators. They found there were graves there, sorrow and tears abounded there. They were worse off in Moab than they were in Israel. Let us never think that we can find more blessing in the world among GOD's enemies than in the church among GOD's people.

    Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [7]

    The founder of the Moabites. Moab was the Son of Lot, by incest. An awful origin, and au awful progeny followed, in the sworn foes to God and his Israel! (See  Genesis 19:31-37) The name signifies of his father.

    Smith's Bible Dictionary [8]

    Mo'ab. (Of His Father). See Moabites, The .

    The Nuttall Encyclopedia [9]

    A pastoral region extending along the E. of lower parts of the Jordan and the Dead Sea, and inhabited by the descendants of Lot, now extinct, or merged among the Arabs.

    Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [10]

    Moab, son of Lot and his eldest daughter . He was born about the same time with Isaac, and became the founder of the Moabites.