History Files


Middle East Kingdoms

Ancient Central Levant States




Moab (Mu'aba / Ma'ba / Ma'ab)

Moab was, according to the Bible, founded by a branch of the early Israelites in the territory between the River Arnon and the Brook of Zered on the eastern coast of the Dead Sea. The area was (and still is) mountainous, occupying a plateau 910 metres (3000 feet) with its capital variously at Dibon (near Dhiban in modern Jordan) or Kir-Hareshet (modern Kerak). Moab was bordered to the north-east by Ammon, with the Arabian desert to the south-east, but the exact border was never fixed, with cities being won and lost over time.

It seems that they and their Edomite neighbours to the immediate south remained in Canaan while the Israelites emigrated to Egypt in seventeenth century BC, and both kingdoms fought against their return four hundred years later.

The Moabites are both historically and archaeologically attested. Whether they were Israelite-descendants or not, they probably began as pastoral nomads in the trans-Jordanian highlands, and may have been part of the later habiru peoples. Mount Nebo, in the north, is the spot where Moses is said to have died.

The Ammonites were worshippers of Molech, an old Canaanite idol who was known as Melkarth, Baal-melech, Malcom, and other such names by the Phoenicians and Carthaginians. he was related to Baal, a sun-god worshipped by the sacrifice of children. According to Unger's Bible Dictionary, Palestinian excavations have uncovered evidences of infant skeletons in burial places around heathen shrines. The Moabite god, Chemosh, may have been closely related to Molech, or a substitute for him.

c.1740 BC

According to the Bible, the Moabites first occupy the highlands close to the Dead Sea, from which they expel the native Emim. Soon afterwards the Moabites themselves are driven further south by Amorite tribes, beyond the River Arnon which then forms their northern border.

c.1740 BC


Son of Lot, who was nephew to Abraham. First king of Moab.


Moab is conquered for a time by Amorites.

c.1400s? BC


late 1300s? BC


fl c.1300 BC


c.1300 BC

Moab has friendly ties with Egypt, as witnessed by the building of a series of border fortresses as the latter seeks to control the Sinai. The fortresses also provide Moab with some protection and helps defend Egypt's trade route to Damas, which passes through Moab at this time.

c.1198 BC


Defeated by the Israelites.

c.1198 BC

Moab is defeated and subjugated by the Israelites.

c.1150 BC

Moab subdues the Israelites, possibly with support provided by Ammon.

c.1150 - 1130 BC

Eglon ('the Corpulent')

Murdered by Ehud.

c.1130 BC

The Benjaminite Ehud ben Gera assassinates Eglon and defeats the Moabite army in battle. Moab is conquered by the Israelites.

c.1115 BC

Sihon, an Amorite, captures areas of Moab and forms his own kingdom around the city of Heshbon. He is called a king of Ammon by the Israelites, who promptly attack him and claim the territory for themselves.

fl c.1000 BC


Aided David, King of Israel.

990s BC

The Israelite king David commits his parents to protect Mizpeh, a possible relation of his, but this is the last time the two kingdoms share friendly relations. Later in David's reign he attacks the kingdom and possibly places his own governor in command of it. Moab seem to be under Israelite and then Samarian control for the next century.

fl mid-900s BC

Pahath-Moab the Shilonite

Vassal of Israel?

c.900 - 870 BC


Vassal of Israel. Founder of the Dibonite dynasty.

c.880 - 848 BC

Moab is oppressed by the Samarians under Omri and his son, Ahab. Omri occupies many of Moab's northern towns and exacts a heavy tribute (notably in around 853 BC). This may be the last stages of Samaria's control of Moab as a vassal state. Now, after the death of Ahab, Mesha is effective in throwing off Samarian control, and re-establishes the kingdom.

c.870 - 840 BC

Mesha ('the Great')

Aided Ahab of Samaria.

c.847 BC

Joram of Samaria, Jehoshaphat of Judah, and the king (or governor) of Edom form a coalition which attempts to retake Moab by force, but despite some initial gains, the attempt is unsuccessful. Probably to celebrate his victory, Mesha sets up a stele (discovered by archaeologists in 1868) called the Mesha Stone on which he records that he 'reigned in peace over the hundred towns which he had added to the land. And he built Medeba and Beth-diblathen and Beth-baal-me'on [Beth-meon]...' Despite Old Testament claims to the contrary, Mesha also leads his forces to invade and defeat Samaria, although there is apparently no occupation. This is the last important date in Moabite history to be recorded by the Bible.

c.800? BC

Chemosh-Nadab I

Some kings of Moab are recorded by the Assyrians, and are known primarily by the Assyrian translations of their Moabite names (shown in green), but there are also some equivalent records from other sources.

fl c.740s? BC


Tributary to Assyria at the time of Tiglath-Pileser III.

fl c.735 BC

Chemosh-Nadab II

c.730 BC

Moab become a vassal of Assyria.

722 - 720 BC

Moab, Philistia, Judah, and Edom rebel against Assyrian overlordship. The rising is apparently put down, as the next record shows Moab paying tribute to King Sargon II. It is not known whether these later kings succeed each other or whether there are more whose names have been lost.

710 - 582 BC

Moab is subsumed within the Assyrian empire, but local rulers still crop up occasionally.

fl c.701 BC

Kammusu-Nadbi (Chemosh-Nadab III)

Tributary to Assyria at the time of Sargon II.

fl c.670s BC

Mutzuri ('the Egyptian')

Tributary to Assyria at the time of Esarhaddon & Ashurbanipal.

c.668 - 633 BC

Kaashalta / Kamalshaltu

Tributary to Assyria at the time of Ashurbanipal.

fl 590s BC


582 BC

Moab becomes part of the new Babylonian empire.

after 539 BC

During the Persian period, Moab disappears from the historical record. The fate of the Moabites is not clear, but they may be migrating northwards to fill Israelite lands that have been emptied by Nebuchadnezzar. The Edomites certainly are allowed to do just this, but they retain their identity while the Moabites seem not to. Subsequently the territory is taken by tribes of Arabs which are now released to carry out their own northwards migration from Arabia, including the Kedarites and then later the Nabataeans. These peoples are allies of the Ammonites, although the country continues to be known as Moab for some time afterwards, well into the Crusader period, when Moab forms part of the kingdom of Jerusalem. In the modern age parts of it form the kingdom of Jordan.