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SIBMAH (sĭb'ma, Heb. sevām). A town located east of the Jordan and belonging originally to Moab. It was finally taken by the Amorites led by King Sihon (Num.21.26). Later it was captured by and given to the tribe of Reuben (Josh.13.19). Most scholars feel it is to be identified with Sebam (Num.32.3) or Shibmah (Num.32.38 kjv). It was famous for its luxurious vines and fruits (Isa.16.8; Jer.48.32).

SIBMAH sĭb’ mə (־שִׂבְמָ֑ה, meaning balsam. A place name). A city in the territory alloted to Reuben. It is called SEBAM in Numbers 32:3; KJV SHEBAM. A city among a number of which the sons of Reuben built (Num 32:38; cf. Josh 13:19). Apparently known for its vines and grapes, for its vines along with the fields of Heshbon were to languish under the judgment of God (Isa 16:8, 9; Jer 48:32). In nearly all references it is mentioned in connection with Kiriathaim, Nebo, Jazer, and Heshbon.

From the Bible it is understood that this city was located in the pastoral plateau area of Trans-Jordan which was acquired by conquest from Sihon king of the Amorites (Num 32:3, 38). Jerome located it a mere several hundred paces from Heshbon. However, it seems more appropriate to identify it with Qurn el-Kibsh, a ruin on a flat-topped hill located between Nebo and Heshbon overlooking Wadi Salmah.


N. Glueck, Explorations in Eastern Palestine, II AASOR, XV (1934-1935), 111.

See also

  • Sebam