The High Places of Dibon - Isaiah 15
“The burden against Moab. He has gone up to the temple
and Dibon, to the high places to weep. Moab will wail over Nebo
and over Medeba. Heshbon and Elealeh will cry out, Their voice
shall be heard as far as Jahaz; therefore the armed soldiers
of Moab will cry out. Moab is weary on the high place, That he
will come to his sanctuary to pray; But he will not prevail” – Isaiah
In this passage the prophet Isaiah describes a group of people
known as the Moabites from Dibon who are at war with the Israelites
in the region of Jahaz. He also informs us that the Moabites
would worship and build altars to pagan gods (temple, high places).
The phrase “Wail
over Nebo” is a reference to one of
the pagan gods worshipped by the Babylonians.
There are two archaeological discoveries that confirm this passage
in Isaiah to be historically accurate. The first source would
be the Mesha Stele, which currently resides in the Louvre Museum
The Mesha Stele. Moabite Stone
The Mesha Stele (also known as the Moabite Stone) is a stele
(inscribed stone) that was discovered intact by Frederick Augustus
Klein, at the site of ancient Dibon (now Dhiban, Jordan), in
August 1868. The Mesha inscription from the 9th century BC
provides clear information about the wars between Israel and
Moab. Numerous Moabite towns are mentioned in the inscription.
These same towns are described in the Bible as being located
in Moab. Several of them are mentioned by the prophets Isaiah,
Jeremiah and Ezekiel as part of the downfall of this ancient
kingdom.This inscription attests to the regional importance
of Moab during Israel’s monarchy and is the most significant
archaeological artifact discovered to date from Moab.
The following text is inscribed on part the Mesha Stele
"I am Mesha, son of Chemosh, King of Moab, the Dibonite. And
the King of Israel had built Jahaz, and he dwelt there while
fighting against me. I took from Moab two hundred men, all first
class warriors, and set them against Jahaz and took it in order
to attach it to the district of Dibon” – Mesha
Stele (Full translation)
The Mesha Stele inscription is a mirror image
of Isaiah 15. The second
discovery confirms the Moabites built temples and made sacrifices
to pagan gods. Nebo and Chemosh are most likely the same god.
Nebo is the name used by the Babylonians. Chemosh by the Moabites.
“Against Moab thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of
Israel; Woe unto Nebo!” – Jeremiah 48
The El-Kerak Inscription
The El- Kerak inscription was discovered in 1958 in Jordan, near
the El-Kerak wadi. It is a basalt inscription fragment measuring
12.5 centimeters (4.9 in) high by 14 centimeters (5.5 in) wide.
The inscription has been dated to the late ninth century BC
and contains lines written in the Moabite language.
[I am Mesha, son of Kemosh-yat, king of Moab the Dibonite]...
[... in the temple of Kemosh as a sacrifice, because I love...]
... and behold, I have made ...
“A high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab” – 1st
“Mesha the King of Moab” – 2nd Kings 3
The Moabites Appointed for Destruction
Archaeological evidence suggests that Moab was dominated by Assyria
during the 8th century BC. Moab was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar
around 582 BC, after which it ceased to exist as an identifiable
"Therefore as I live, saith the Lord of hosts, the God
of Israel, Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children
of Ammon as Gomorrah, even the breeding of nettles, and salt
pits, and a perpetual desolation” – Zephaniah 2
Ashen remains of Sodom and Gomorrah - Isaiah 1