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Mesha

Mesha

Mesha, in the Bible. 1 King of Moab contemporary with Ahab. Ahab was his overlord, after whose death Mesha attempted a revolt against Israel. The account of this is inscribed on the Moabite stone. 2 Son of Caleb.
Mesha was a 9th Century BCE King of Moab, a strip of hilly land in present-day Jordan, which lay north of Edom, across the Dead Sea from Judah up to the Arnon river valley.

The books of Samuel record that Moab was conquered by David (floruit c.1000-970 BCE) and retained in the territories of his son Solomon (d. 931 BCE), but the Mesha Stele, erected by Mesha, indicates that it was Omri, king of the northern kingdom of Israel, rather than David, who conquered his land. The Mesha Stele records Mesha's liberation of Moab c.850 BCE.

2 Kings 3:4 reports the same events from the point of view of the Israelites, stating that "King Mesha of Moab ... used to deliver to the king of Israel one hundred thousand lambs, and the wool of one hundred thousand rams", before rebelling against Jehoram (the Mesha Stele does not name the king against whom Mesha rebelled). 2 Kings and the Mesha Stele differ in their explanation for the success of the revolt: according to Mesha, "Israel has been defeated", but 2 Kings says the Israelites withdrew voluntarily when Mesha sacrificed his own son to his god Chemosh. Aside from these attestations, references to Mesha are scanty, if extant.

Further reading

  • "The Cambridge Ancient History", Vol. III Pt. i, 2nd Ed.; Boardman, Edwards, Hammond & Sollberger eds.; Cambridge University Press, 1982
  • "Reading the Old Testament"; Lawrence Boadt; Paulist Press, 1984
  • "The History and Religion of Israel"; G.W. Anderson; Oxford University Press, 1966

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