Moab and Edom

Moab fields where Ruth was from


Fertile Moab

Moab is the land where Ruth lived.  She married one of the sons of Elimelech and Naomi, before following her mother-in-law to Bethlehem.  At the time Judah was experiencing a severe famine, but Moab was apparently receiving more rainfall.  This may be explained by the elevated plateau that Moab is on and/or the response of the Lord to the faithlessness of the Judeans during the days of the Judges.



The modern village of Dhiban preserves the name of ancient Dibon. Excavations at this site have uncovered a large Nabatean temple (pictured).  In biblical history, Dibon was captured by Sihon the Amorite before it was taken and settled by the tribe of Gad.  Archaeological excavations have not uncovered remains at Dhiban from this time (Late Bronze), leading to either 1) a rejection of the biblical history or 2) the rejection of this as the site of Dibon.  The latter is more likely given the mention of Dibon in Late Bronze Egyptian texts.

  Dhiban (Dibon) Nabatean temple ruins


Kerak castle  

Capital of Moab

Known in the Bible as as Kir, Kir Moab, Kir-Heres(eth), and Hereseth, this site (today Kerak) was the capital city of Moab. It is situated on an isolated hilltop, with a view in all directions. The Crusaders recognized the defensible aspect of the site and made Kerak one of their strongest fortresses in the Middle East in AD 1140 (pictured).



Macherus is famous as the location of the beheading of John the Baptist. This location is mentioned only in Josephus (War VII.6.1-2) and not in the Bible. Herod the Great rebuilt the Hasmonean fortress here and constructed an elaborate palace, most of which has not yet been excavated. When the Jewish Revolt broke out in AD 66, the Romans abandoned the site and it was held by Jewish rebels until 72 (like Herodium and Masada). Lucilius Bassus built siege works around the fortress. Those in the upper city surrendered; the lower city was captured and burned. A remnant of the Roman siege ramp is on west side, and the Roman camps are visible on the hill to the west.

  Macherus ascent and aqueduct


Boy plowing rocky field near Macherus  


This boy was intent on plowing this field, which to all appearances is so filled with rocks as to be hopeless.  Such is an illustration of the realities of farming in this difficult land.  This truly is a land that requires both hard work and rain from heaven. 


Nahal Arnon

The Arnon is a two-mile-wide valley that divides the land between the Israelite tribes to the north and the land of Moab to the south (Num 21:13; Deut 3:16). Ancient Moabites would dispute this border, and sometimes in biblical history the Moabites crossed the Arnon and captured land of the tribe of Gad on the Medeba Plateau.  The Arnon is mentioned many times in Scripture because of its geographical prominence.

  Nahal Arnon, view to southeast


Buseirah, Bozrah from north  


The modern city of Buseirah preserves the name and location of ancient Bozrah. Bozrah was the ancient capital of the Edomites. The earliest significant remains at Buseireh are from 800 BC. Bozrah has the largest Iron Age buildings from Transjordan, and it may have been the king’s palace. The city is mentioned in several passages from the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah (Isa 34:6; 63:1; Jer 49:13,22).


King's Highway

Two highways run north-south through southern Transjordan. The King’s Highway runs through the important cities of Heshbon, Medeba, Dibon, Kerak, Bozrah and Petra. The Way of the Wilderness (of Moab and Edom) runs parallel to the King’s Highway but to the east, on the seam between the Arabian desert and the arable Transjordan Plateau. The Israelites wanted to pass through Transjordan on the King’s Highway, but the Edomites would not allow them to do so (Num 20:17-18). Instead, the Israelites were forced to go around Edom’s south and eastern sides, utilizing the Way of the Wilderness (Deut 2:1-8).

  King's Highway, remnant of Roman road


Wadi Rum  

Wadi Rum

This beautiful area in the southern end of Jordan is regarded by locals as more scenic than Petra.  It formed the backdrop for many of the scenes in the movie Lawrence of Arabia



Aqaba is the city on the Jordanian side of the Red Sea. In biblical times, there were two cities in this area: Elath and Ezion Geber. The Israelites under Moses passed by this area on their wilderness travels (Num 33:35). Three kings in Jerusalem established a port in this area: Solomon (1 Kgs 9:26-28); Jehoshaphat (1 Kgs 22:48); and Uzziah (2 Kgs 14:22). In the late 8th century, Syria-Edom took Elath away from Israel (2 Kgs 16:6). The fort pictured was constructed in the Turkish period.

  Aqaba Turkish fort

Related Websites

Wadi Rum Introduction and general information