Categories: Abraham and Sarah, Men in the Old Testament
- Moab was Lot’s grandson.
- He was the offspring of Lot’s eldest daughter and, therefore, a child of incest.
- He was conceived after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot’s daughters believed they were the only ones left in the world and that it was their duty to bear children.
- The origin of his name is uncertain. Some scholars think it means, “What is your name?” Others think it refers to his father and might be something like, “Who’s your father?” Still others think “seed of the father” is closer to its intended meaning.
- The word also refers to the people of Moab.
- The highlands east of Jordan and the Dead Sea and south of Amon comprised the territory of Moab.
- Scholars estimate the land was around fifty miles long and thirty miles wide.
- It had natural boundaries on three sides: the Dead Sea and the Jordan on the west; a wadi (a stream that is usually dry, except if it has just rained) to the south; the Arabian Desert to the east.
- That left the north exposed to neighborly conflicts, which meant that the northern border fluctuated over the years.
- The country was comprised of three distinct areas: south of the Arnon river was the “field of Moab,” north of the Arnon river was the “land of Moab,” and the third was the tropical area of the Jordan valley.
- The land is known for its rolling, limestone hills and multitudinous streams.
- The Old Testament claims it provided excellent pasture, which resulted in a thriving population.
- Their wealth was derived from natural resources as well as trade routes due to their location along the King’s Highway – the trade route connecting Egypt and Mesopotamia.
- The Moabites might have been most prominent around the 9th century BCE, but the culture was known from the 14th through the 6th centuries BCE.
- Moab also figures prominently in many Old Testament stories.
- The name of their main god was Chemosh, but they also had other gods: Ashtar, Nebo, and Baal. Like many of their neighboring Semitic cultures, they were polytheistic, worshiping many gods.
- Around the time of the Exodus, the Amorites forced them from their land.
- No one was happy to see the Israelites approaching.
- When the Israelites came to their borders, their king, Balak, enlisted the help of Balaam to put a curse on them (see Numbers 22)
- The Israelites camped in the Plains of Moab before they entered Canaan.
- Moses looked at the Promised Land from the top of Mount Nebo, located in the land of Moab.
- Later on, the daughters of Moab were blamed for enticing the Israelites towards idolatry.
- After the Israelites moved into Canaan, there were many skirmishes as the people of Moab tried to regain some of their lost land.
- Relations were generally tense whenever they shared a border.
- The tribes most affected were Reuben, Gad, and Benjamin.
- Yet, at some point Elimelech’s family sought refuge in Moab to escape the famine in Benjamin.
- Both his sons married Moabite women – Orpah and Ruth.
- Ruth is the great grandmother of David and one of only four women mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy.
- Both Saul and David fought against the Moabites during their kingly reigns.
- Yet, Solomon had several Moabite princesses in his harem and built a shrine dedicated to Chemosh for them.
- In 1868, a German missionary discovered a basalt stone written by King Mesha dating back to 900 BCE.
- This has become known as the Moabite Stone and is currently being kept at the Louvre in Paris.
- The stone has 34 lines that record accounts of wars with Israelite kings.
- It is the oldest inscription written in alphabetic characters.
- The Moabite language and culture are closely related to the Israelites.
- But by the time of Isaiah, “Moab” was synonymous with “enemies of God.”
- Jeremiah and Isaiah spoke against them vehemently and believed their demise was God’s retribution for their pride and prosperity.
- By the 8th century, Assyria had taken over most of the Moabite lands.
- The Moabites were virtually wiped out in 582 BCE when the Babylonians conquered them.