Dibon, Dibon-Gad


2. A city in Moab, E of the Dead Sea, N of the Arnon River, to which reference is first made in the OT in describing Israel’s victory over Sihon of the Amorites (Num 21:30), and which place together with the whole area was given to Gad and to Reuben (Num 32:3, 34; Josh 13:9), and although Dibon was built (i.e., rebuilt) by Gad (Num 32:34) and, therefore, was sometimes called Dibon-gad (Num 33:45, 46), it was part of the territory of Reuben (Josh 13:17).


Moab as a political state seems to have been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. Later Dibon was prob. under Jewish control as suggested by a coin of Hyrcanus II (63-40 b.c.) found there.

The city is not mentioned in the NT, but that the town flourished from before the time of Christ through the Arab. period is attested by the presence there of Hellenistic, Nabataean, Roman, Byzantine and Arabic sherds and coins, there being only a few literary references to the place in these periods, one being in the Onomasticon of Eusebius (4th cent. a.d., ed. Klostermann 16, 18ff.) which says that Dibon was a very large village (κώμη παμμεγέθης).

The modern Dhībân, located a few m. N of the Arnon Valley on the road to Kerak, adjoins the ancient tell, Dibon, where the Moabite Stone was found in 1868. The discovery indicates that this was the site of the king of Moab’s capital (cf. 2 Kings 3:4, 5). Dibon was the original name; Mesha in rebuilding it gave at least a part of it the name, Qrhh (Moabite Inscription), a title which did not endure.

Archeological excavation of Dibon was undertaken by the American Schools of Oriental Research between 1950 and 1956 in the following campaigns (directors are noted): 1950-1951, Fred V. Winnett; 1952, W. L. Reed; 1952-1953, A. D. Tushingham; 1956, W. H. Morton. This excavation was of particular interest because Dibon was a Trans-Jordanian tell which had been occupied during most of Trans-Jordan’s history, which would give a cross section of the country’s archeological history.

The Dibon site, elevation about 2134 ft. above sea level, consists of two mounds, one occupied by the modern village, Dhībân, and the other to the NW, connected by a saddle, being the ancient tell, Dibon, in size, six acres, the SE section of the latter mound prob. being the area where Mesha built his royal addition to Qrḥh to Dibon (Moabite Inscription 1. 24, 25). There are no springs in the area.

Some conclusions derived from the seasons of excavation thus far are: the identification of Dhībân with Dibon of the Omri-Ahab-Mesha period (c. 850 b.c.) is certain; the site was occupied in the Early Bronze period and the city was important during the medieval and early Arab, Byzantine, Roman, Nabataean and Iron II periods. Caution must be used in drawing conclusions concerning the absence of strata that could be associated with the Maccabean, Hellenistic, Persian, and Late, or Middle Bronze periods because of the restricted areas of the excavations at Dibon; 100 cisterns already found verify the statement of the Moabite Inscription on the need for such objects; and that Dibon was an agricultural center is illustrated in the discovery of grain, ovens, and storage jars for grain.

Bibliography P. Savignac, “Sur les pistes de Transjordanie méridionale,” RB XLV (1936), 238f.; F. M. Abel, Géographie de la Palestine, II (1938), 304, 305; F. V. Winnett, “Excavations at Dibon in Moab, 1950-1951,” BASOR, CXXV (1952), 7-20; A. D. Tushingham, “Excavations at Dibon in Moab, 1952-1953.” BASOR, CXXXIII (1954), 6-26; W. H. Morton, BASOR, CXL (1955), 4-7; J. B. Pritchard, ed. ANET, 2nd ed. (1955), 320; F. V. Winnett and W. L. Reed, The Excavations at Dibon (Dhībân) in Moab, AASOR XXXVI, XXXVII (1964).