mo’-ab, mo’-ab-its (Moab, mo’abh, Moabite Stone, M-’-B; Greek (Septuagint) Moab, he Moabeitis, Moabitis; Moabite, mo’abhi; Moabites, bene mo’abh):

1. The Land:

2. The People:

The Moabites were of Semitic stock and of kin to the Hebrews, as is indicated by their descent from Lot, the nephew of Abraham (Ge 19:30-37), and by their language which is practically the same as the Hebrew. This is clear from the inscription on the Moabite Stone, a monument of Mesha, king of Moab, erected about 850 BC, and discovered among the ruins of Dibon in 1868. It contains 34 lines of about 9 words each, written in the old Phoenician and Hebrew characters, corresponding to the Siloam inscription and those found in Phoenicia, showing that it is a dialect of the Semitic tongue prevailing in Palestine. The original inhabitants of Moab were the Emim (De 2:10), "a people great .... and tall, as the Anakim." When these were deposed by the Moabites we do not know. The latter are not mentioned in the Tell el-Amarna Letters and do not appear on the Egyptian monuments before the 14th century BC, when they seem to be referred to under the name of Ruten, or Luten or Lotan, i.e. Lot (Paton, Syria and Pal); Muab appears in a list of names on a monument of Rameses III of the XXth Dynasty. The country lay outside the line of march of the Egyptian armies, and this accounts for the silence of its monuments in regard to them.

3. Religion:

The chief deity of Moab was Chemosh (kemosh), frequently mentioned in the Old Testament and on the Moabite Stone, where King Mesha speaks of building a high place in his honor because he was saved by him from his enemies. He represents the oppression of Moab by Omri as the result of the anger of Chemosh, and Mesha made war against Israel by command of Chemosh. He was the national god of Moab, as Molech was of Ammon, and it is pretty certain that he was propitiated by human sacrifices (2Ki 3:27). But he was not the only god of Moab, as is clear from the account in Nu 25, where it is also clear that their idolatrous worship was corrupt. They had their Baalim like the nations around, as may be inferred from the place-names compounded with Baal, such as Bamoth-baal, Beth-baal-meon and Baal-peor.

4. History:

See Judith.

At a later date Moab was overrun by the Nabathean Arabs who ruled in Petra and extended their authority on the east side of Jordan even as far as Damascus (Josephus, Ant, XIII, xv, 1,2). The Moabites lost their identity as a nation and were afterward confounded with the Arabs, as we see in the statement of Josephus (XIII, xiii, 5), where he says that Alexander (Janneus) overcame the Arabians, such as the Moabites and the Gileadites. Alexander built the famous stronghold of Macherus in Moab, on a hill overlooking the Dead Sea, which afterward became the scene of the imprisonment and tragical death of John the Baptist (Josephus, BJ, VII, vi, 2; Ant, XVIII, v, 2; Mr 6:21-28). It was afterward destroyed by the Romans. Kir became a fortress of the Crusaders under the name of Krak (Kerak), which held out against the Moslems until the time of Saladin, who captured it in 1188 AD.


Commentaries on the passages in the Old Testament relating to Moab, and histories of Israel; Paton, Early History of Syria and Palestine; Rawlinson, Ancient Monarchies, especially Assyria and Babylonia; Conder, Heth and Moab; G. A. Smith, HGHL; the Moabite Stone; Josephus.