PISGAH pĭz’ gə
; LXX Φασγά
meaning uncertain, τὸ λελαξευμένον, ἡ λαξευτή
, Deut 4:49
, meaning that which is hewn
). A height in the mountains of Abiram, NE of the Dead Sea.
Pisgah was easily scaled, although very high. God told Moses to go there to look in all directions (Deut 3:27). The problem of an identification comes in Deuteronomy 34:1 where Moses went up “to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho.” From that point God showed him the Promised Land as far N as Dan and as far W as the Western Sea. The Mediterranean is not visible from any point in S Trans-Jordan. God must have shown him what was not visible.
Most scholars understand Jebel en-Neba to be Mt. Nebo and Ras es-Siyaghah as Pisgah. These two peaks are connected by a saddle. Pisgah commands a magnificent view of the Jordan Valley and even to Mt. Hermon on clear days. The Jeshimon, or desert, of Numbers 21:20 would be the Ghor el-Belqa, and the valley would be that of Ayun Musa.
E. Kraeling, Bible Atlas (1956), 127f.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
This name, which has always the definite article, appears only in combination either with ro’sh, "head," "top," or ’ashdoth, not translated in the King James Version save in De 4:49, where it is rendered "springs" the Revised Version (British and American) uniformly "slopes," the Revised Version margin "springs."
Pisgah is identified with Nebo in De 34:1; compare 3:27. "The top of Pisgah, which looketh down upon the desert" marks a stage in the march of the host of Israel (Nu 21:20). Hither Balak brought Balaam to the field of Zophim (Nu 23:14). Here Moses obtained his view of the Promised Land, and died. See Nebo. Many scholars (e.g. Buhl, GAP, 122; Gray, "Numbers," ICC, 291) take Pisgah as the name applying to the mountain range in which the Moab plateau terminates to the West, the "top" or "head" of Pisgah being the point in which the ridge running out westward from the main mass culminates. The summit commands a wide view, and looks down upon the desert. The identification is made surer by the name Tal’at es-Sufa found here, which seems to correspond with the field of Zophim.
’Ashdoth is the construct plural of ’ashedhah (singular form not found), from ’eshedh, "foundation," "bottom," "lower part" (slope); compare Assyrian ishdu, "foundation." Some would, derive it from Aramaic ’ashadh, "to pour," whence "fall" or "slope" (OHL, under the word). Ashdoth-pisgah overlooked the Dead Sea from the East (De 3:17; 4:49; Jos 12:3; 13:20). There can be no reasonable doubt that Ashdoth-pisgah signifies the steep slopes of the mountain descending into the contiguous valleys.
It is worthy of note that Septuagint does not uniformly render Pisgah by a proper name, but sometimes by a derivative of laxeuo, "to hew" or "to dress stone" (Nu 21:20; 23:14; De 3:27; 4:49). Jerome (Onomasticon, under the word Asedoth) gives abscisum as the Latin equivalent of Fasga. He derives Pisgah from pacagh, which, in new Hebrew, means "to split," "to cut off." This suggests a mountain the steep sides of which give it the appearance of having been "cut out." This description applies perfectly to Jebel Neba as viewed from the Dead Sea.