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HESHBON (hĕsh'bŏn, Heb. heshbôn, reckoning). An ancient city of the Moabites lying nearly twenty miles (thirty-three km.) west of the Jordan. Sihon, king of the Amorites in the days of Moses, took this and the surrounding country from the Moabites, and Israel in turn took it from Sihon (Num.21.21-Num.21.31). Sihon’s territory, of which Heshbon was the capital, reached northward from the Arnon to the Jabbok, at the strong border of the Ammonites. The tribe of Reuben asked Moses for this land because it was suitable for cattle, and Moses granted their request; so, three hundred years later (1260 b.c.), when the Ammonites made war against Israel, Jephthah taunted them (Judg.11.12-Judg.11.28) with the fact that their god Chemosh was not able to stand against Israel for all those centuries. Heshbon and its suburbs were given to the Levites (1Chr.6.81). Isaiah’s prophecy of doom upon Moab (Isa.15.4; Isa.16.8-Isa.16.9) describes the normal fertility of the land around Heshbon and the fact that it had gone back into the hands of Moab before Isaiah’s time; and when Jeremiah, a century later, pronounced his dooms, Heshbon was still standing, though soon to be judged by the Lord (Jer.48.2-Jer.48.35; Jer.49.3). The city still stands, but it is a ruin and is known as Hesban.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)