Ancient Israel’s neighbors east of the Jordan
Who were the Ammonites, Moabites and Edomites in the Bible?
When the kingdoms of Israel and Judah controlled the land of Canaan, the kingdoms of Ammon, Moab and Edom ruled east of the Jordan. Although the Bible offers information about these three Iron Age kingdoms, recent archaeological discoveries are bringing to light a fuller picture of them. In his article “Ammon, Moab and Edom: Gods and Kingdoms East of the Jordan,” published in the November/December 2016 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, Joel S. Burnett examines the incredible archaeological discoveries from Ammon, Moab and Edom.
Who were the Ammonites? In the Bible, they are described as being descendants of Ben-ammi, who was the son of Lot (Abraham’s nephew) and Lot’s younger daughter (Genesis 19:38). The capital of the Iron Age kingdom of Ammon was Rabbah, which is located at modern-day Amman, Jordan. Burnett describes the boundaries of Ammon: “The Ammonite heartland comprised the north-central Transjordanian Plateau encircled by the upper Jabbok … within a 12.5-mile radius of its capital at the headwaters of the Jabbok.” The Ammonites’ primary deity was the god Milcom. Depictions of Milcom have been uncovered through archaeological excavations—as have representations of Ammonite kings, such as the monumental statue uncovered at Rabbah in 2010.
If you'd like to help make it possible for us to continue Bible History Daily, BiblicalArchaeology.org, and our email newsletter please donate. Even $5 helps:
Who were the Moabites? In the Bible, the Moabites are said to have descended from Moab, the son of Lot and his oldest daughter (Genesis 19:37). The kingdom of Moab stretched “north and south of the Arnon River” with its capital at Dibon. The Moabites worshiped the god Chemosh, who may be depicted in the Balua‘ Stele (dated to the end of Late Bronze Age). The most famous Moabite king—from the archaeological record at least—is Mesha. The large inscription he left behind is the longest Moabite text. Dating to the ninth century B.C.E., the Mesha Stele describes how King Mesha rescued the Moabites from Israelite rule.
Who were the Edomites? In the Bible, the Edomites are the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s twin and Isaac’s oldest son (Genesis 36). The Edomites controlled an area east of the Arabah, from the Zered to the Gulf of Aqaba. Their capital was Bozrah, which sat in the northern part of their territory. Although no name of an Edomite deity is given in the Bible, archaeologists know from inscriptions that the Edomites’ principal deity was Qaus (or Qos). Several Edomite places of worship and cultic figurines have been uncovered. One of the most notable is the depiction of an Edomite goddess wearing a three-horned headdress from the site of Qitmit, Israel.
The kingdoms of Ammon, Moab and Edom fought with the Israelites and the Judahites over territory. The Bible presents things from the Israelites’ and Judahites’ point of view, and archaeological discoveries help show us the other side. By looking at what these ancient peoples wrote and left behind, we are able to better understand their perspective. We now have a fuller picture of their kings, gods and daily life.
To learn more about the kingdoms of Ammon, Moab and Edom, read Joel S. Burnett’s comprehensive article “Ammon, Moab and Edom: Gods and Kingdoms East of the Jordan,” in the November/December 2016 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.
This Bible History Daily feature was originally published on October 12, 2016.
Dig into more than 9,000 articles in the Biblical Archaeology Society’s vast library plus much more with an All-Access pass.
Sign up to receive our email newsletter and never miss an update.
Dig into the illuminating world of the Bible with a BAS All-Access membership. Combine a one-year tablet and print subscription to BAR with membership in the BAS Library to start your journey into the ancient past today!Subscribe Today
[…] Who Were the Ammonites, Moabites, and Edomites in the Bible? (article) […]
[…] ever found, the three-foot-tall Mesha Stele contains a 34-line inscription celebrating the Moabite vassal king Mesha’s rebellion against the Israelites. Renowned epigrapher André Lemaire identified in line 31 of […]
Scripturally, there are only two races: Jews and Gentiles. Jesus came to set the captives free from sin, not slavery as we know it (study Onesimus and Philemon). The work of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, came to change the emphasis from races to believers. (See Ephesians 2:14 “For He (Jesus) is our peace (bringing unity) who made both groups (Jew and Gentile) into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall.” If you are a believer, you are able to see the spiritual progress of Jesus’ work. If you do not believe, then you walk in blindness and cannot understand the Scriptures. Only when we understand the unity of the corporate “Church” will there be peace among the brethren (not necessarily peace in the world). All this anger we see on the nightly news is the unleashed corruption of minds not yet free. Dear beloved, as long as these angry people breath, there is hope for their souls. The Church defined is “the called out ones”. There are people in the churches around the world who have not responded to the call of Jesus and walk in chaos. The true Church walks in peace and grace and love. These three things should call us to pray for our enemies, the same people who are enemies of Christ. As long as we are on the earth, we are called to share our witness of how Jesus came into our lives in the hope that the hearers will want Him. Many, of all nations, are answering His call. Time is short. God, being the Creator, has done a wonderful job of putting color in our world for our pleasure. How much more to put color in His favorite creation, man, for His pleasure. Mankind has corrupted His intention like they have done of so many other things. The call to all mankind is to accept His grace.
Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, which are based on human tradition and the spiritual forces of the world rather than on Christ.
If your salvation is based on your bloodline and not your faith, did you not read about the levites? Or king saul? Their ruling line ended due to their lack of faith and sin. God put into place people and remnants after His own heart, not after their bloodline. We are saved through Jesus (Yeshua) alone. Dont be deceived and condemn yourselves. The Messiah calls us to unity in His glory not our personal self-serving ideologies.
Let God be true and every man a liar.
“For there is no respect of persons with God.”
“But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”
Hi ! I am sorry that I am about 5 years too late to join this discussion….but I can add to the dispute about the colour of Esau who is described “red”…….and, more importantly, of the colour of JESUS. Many claim that no description of HIM is given…yet that is not really accurate to say !! IF you read –and believe — the Bible !! Luke ch 1 v 32 states:- “He ( JESUS ) shall be great ..and HE shall be given the throne of HIS FATHER, DAVID.” And 2 Sam. ch 7 v 12 ( and elsewhere,) tells us that JESUS shall be of the seed of DAVID…NOT a descendant of David years later.. BUT of the seed taken by GOD from David’s OWN body..whilst lying with his fathers.”
JESUS was a MAN…chosen by GOD — from amongst the people (by the way !!!!)
The point I make here is that a description of DAVID is given. He is described as “fair..(blond), tall… (enough to try on Saul’s armour…..who was the tallest man amongst Israel…(That is not necessarily hereditary but an indication)….and -being “fair” couldn’t be confused as either being of middle-eastern colour OR African colour…I humbly suggest.. You see, if one insists on an incarnation instead of JESUS being a man..chosen from amongst the Brethren ( Deut. cu 18 vs 15, 18 and 19 –) as GOD tells us, –then, I am afraid one creates irreconcilable problems for oneself !! (BUT it does permit the false belief many churches teach-of a trinity god….instead of ONE ALMIGHTY GOD eg. Isaiah ch 45 ! )
(And then fantasy takes over !!) rodd.
The book of Genesis purports to depict where the Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites came from — and in all 3 cases their origins are depicted in an ignoble fashion. Did the two former peoples really have their origins through father/daughter incest, as Genesis claims? Or is that ‘history’ a slander intended to deny the rights of those people to fair treatment by invading Israelites who coveted their land? And di Esau actually exist? Or is he a fictional character who had the Birthright yet forfeited it for the sake of a bowl of soup, thereby making Jacob/Israel the inheritor of the Birthright? How much of Genesis is political propaganda designed to disenfranchise the indigenous people who were there before the Israelites who coveted the land showed up and waged war for it? The same goes for the origin story given in Genesis regarding Canaan, the baby conceived through mother/son incest — his descendants prophesied to become the slaves of his brother-uncles Shem and Japheth.
This is ridiculous! If you don’t understand or don’t believe the Bible that’s on you. Good luck with that! The article has many errors in it & lies about the origin of Ammon & Moab.
Believe THE BIBLE…BASIC INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE LEAVING EARTH….
This demonic article on Biblical people of Israel has got to be from the most ignorant person, or a person with intent to destroy the obvious history of Israel. There are still 500 words of Hebrew still spoken in Celtic Gaelic today. Ire-land means Isreal-Land. The ships of Tarshish filled with TIN are the great Tin Mines of Ireland, that Solomon traded with. Brit-Ish means Covenant-Man (Abraham’s covenant with God). Scott-land means Land-of Isaac.
Every scholar in the world who studies at anything knows all this. Even the Founding Father’s of USA knew this, and marked the US Constitution from the Bible Laws of their ancestors.
Jesus is a pagan deity, man made.
Let’s pray all edomites, ammonites & moabites in the present day come to the knowledge of Christ & receive their Salvation. In Jesus , The Father & The Holy Spirit we pray . Amen.
Lot’s daughters slept with their father, not their brothers. Their offspring were Moab and Ben-Ammi.
Alex you ignored completely Numbers 1:18 Ezra’s 2:59 hence making Herod full Edom. His mother was a Levtie not Herod nor his father.
You people… Lack of knowledge destroys HIS people.
that’s a huge leap to say ALL jews are part edomite don’t you think? i think you need to get more info on what you’re trying to cast doubt on before you make mistakes like the one you have made here. africans (indigenous hamites) are NOT israelites. nobody is making that claim. there are people who are israelites in africa and have been for millennia. these israelites were taken up in the slave trade to the americas. this is historically proven. there has also been intermixed couples between hamites and israelites throughout the bible so how you say “certainly not africans” seems a bit ignorant at best. israel is waking up to the true history and realizing who we are just as scripture prophesied thousands of years ago. this isn’t hard to see and many outside of the movement support it and agree. igbo and the “some other tribes” aren’t african. they’re israel. BLOOD related to the prophets and therefore semites and not hamites. they stayed among their kind and have had little to no mixture with surrounding populations so they still look like israel did in biblical times. the way israel was depicted before the time of the iconoclasm carried out by the europeans. it would be harder to believe israel is mostly “caucasian” looking than to accept that they are more like american ” blacks” if you didn’t have people creating racism and trying to hide the history. you can still find it if you look but you would have to want the truth as opposed to trying to hold to current racist ideologies which try to depict everything in history as “white” and everything “black” as african. this is not the case.
Well said & totally true.
Where did all you people with the weird idea of transposing Middle Eastern peoples and cultures to 21st Century identity politics? Don’t you know that the Edomites, who were culturally and linguistically close to the Jews anyway, were incorporated into the Jewish People at the time of the Maccabis? That King Herod was of Edomite origin (at least half)? Therefore all Jews are part Edomites – but certainly not Africans (except for Ibo and some other Tribes). For example, the Jewish custom of the Ketuba in marriage is apparently of Edomite origin
I have no idea how that fits into your PC American discussion, nor should it.
I am so happy to know that my King JC is finally here to retrieve the 12 tribe of Israel.
Actually the ancient edomites where what we 2day call fair skinned blacks.f anyone spends just a bit of x n the so called black community I would bet money that u will find black folks with the nick name ,”red” example : red foxx, malcom x (called “red”) by his friends aND so on. There are many shades or hues in the black comm. N altho sum black folk may not want a hear it Edom is not just white folks .I believe in my limited intellect as well as heart that the ancient Hebrews were dark skinned as I believe 2 days so called blacks scattered 2 the 4 corners via slavery are desendants of the Hebrews based on bilicial as well as secular knowledge and that being said THE MOST HIGH said ,”MY house shall be a house of prayer 4 all ppl. HE did not excluded any one ppl or race.and by the way it is also known that Hebrews are born n2 a.bloodline n u cannot bcum a Hebrew by conversion but u can bcum a jew.interesting. the word Jewish has “ish” as it suffix which I believe means ,”2 be like” but not the true.also TMH says once HE redeems us and we r back in the land promised 2 our ancestors, the strangers that will cling 2 us can b considered a Hebrew after the 3rd generation is born n the land n all generations b4 n after take hold of HIS covenant. So HIM house will b a house of prayer 4 all ppl. N yes salvation according 2 bible does come thru the Hebrews or 2 use a common misnomer, jews.using gen.14:13-14,deut.28:68 but not limited by far 2 those 2 but thru out the old test. I believe the blacks (hebrews) scattered thru out the world fr the slave trade was/is a judgement fr TMH as punishment 4 worshipping other gods n the total disrespect we have shown n continue 2 show towards HIS holy name as well as 2 others.that being said I wouldn’t trade my skin color or heritage 4 any the n the world knowing the end of esau is the beginning of yacob.neither do I brag about who I am bcuz I am ashame 2 admit that my ancestors were the ones who pissed TMH off so bad that as a result we got scattered.I also believe isa.whole chapter of 47 where HE says HE had already punished us by putting us outta Israel but our captors took it too far in the cruelty of slavery they put us in. And make no mistake there will b a recompense put upon the heads of our captors.I don’t believe all white folks are bad just as I don’t believe all black folks are gd.ppl are just ppl, gd,bad or in between.last thing, we are fr the seed.of shem not ham which they used 2 justify slavery. Look up blacks in the zondervan dictionary n u will c we are defined.outside of the seed of.ham.besides it was.also the Africans that put us n slave ships.THE HOUSE OF TMH is a house of prayer 4 all who takes hold of HIS covenant. Shalom
Read Hebrews 12:16, There is no salvation for Edom ,John 7:38 ,believe as the script has said Romans9:13
White people do not want to accept that the African Americans, Jamaicans, West Indies people, Haitians, South Americans Native Americans and other indigenous people of other places are the scattered children of Israel. They can even tell you where the 12 tribes are. God said that Israel will not be one until his second coming. Deuteronomy explains the curses that were put upon us because like today we are too busy trying to be like white people instead of trying to turn back to the CREATOR. But the tides are shifting. The Apocrypha is a book that goes further into detail of our people as well.
Facts!!! APTTMH Yah !
Brother, you just hit a lot of people, right in their decived minds, and mouths. ( PRAISE YES YAH).
The book of Deuteronomy chapter32 explains what’s going on today false religions and doctrines entertainment false ungodly court system passing same sex laws which is a abomination unto THE LORD and forcing the people to accept it giving rights to the lbgt community modern day Sodom and Gomorrah practicing idol worshipping in all churches bowing to false images especially to that false image of THE LORD worshipping statues in wood and stone wearing crosses when THE LORD was crucified on a tree it’s all pagan worshipping celebrating their false holy days which they call them holidays GOD forbid all roads lead to Rome all religions are false set-up by Rome to control the people and take their money brainwashing you telling you that THE LORD loves everyone and HE died for everyone when HE died for only HIS people read revelation chapter21 verse 12 it tells you who the kingdom of heaven is for my people the 12 tribes of the children of Israel that’s why they banned the bible from school so they can teach false history in their false education system with their false science trying to prove that THE MOST HIGH doesn’t exist the education system is ran by atheists staging false wars to steal other countries land and resources Esau is doing a good job at it calling himself the government so that no one can get the blame cops killing Hebrew Israelites and justify it that’s called murder the bible says ain’t nothing new under the sun the task masters back then had whips and chariots move further into the future they rode horses carried a gun and whips today they have police cars a gun and tasers just follow the eagle the Sunday law is coming soon also forcing you worship their false religions and gods THE LORD day is on Saturday not the first day of the week you will know that it’s not of THE LORD because HE doesn’t force you to do anything it’s called free will to make a choice
Don’t forget about your saved gentile brothers and sisters dear one….this be spoken of by Our Father in The One Testament as Well as Thru Yeshua In The New Testament.
In our quest to unravel the historical elements of the bible and explain the various ethnicities, I think we sometimes forget what the true purpose of the two books ( testaments) are. There are chapters of biblical prose ( besides the dead sea scrolls ) not included in the bible, but if one believes that God is the editor, it is complete.
You right. But did you not know that 30 some books are taken out of the Bible? Where is Enoch in the bible since you said scriptures been change. If we will all go back and found the missing books of the Bible, we will know the truth. Until than no one should speak against anyone opinion. One thing I know is white man did away with a lot from the Bible that’s why slaves was forbidden to read and was killed if they did. I wonder why?
Can we please stop calling native Europeans ‘so called whites’. It’s unnecessary. And has for your assumption that so called blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans are the Israelites is taking things a stretch too far. How can you be sure that Esau and Jacob’s role in scripture hasn’t been changed. Afterall, Jacob is classified as a deceiver. This title fits a nation other than the ones you name. Do your own research. Something tells me deception is still rife.
Ammonites and Moabites are the Asian and Japanese. The edomites are definitely the so called white people. I say so called because they aren’t really white, they are different shades of red. The same as Esau, they also have the same traits as Esau. The Israelites today are the so called blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans. Deuteronomy 28:15-68 are the curses that God put upon those people. They are the only people today who fit the curses. Especially Deuteronomy 28:68.
I am interest in this reading and need to have more information about the Edomite