Who were the Ammonites?
There is a group of people called the Ammonites who are frequently mentioned in the Old Testament section of the Bible. But who are they? And why are they referred to in the Bible?
According to the Biblical account, the origin of the Ammonites happened after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the two sin-cities in the Dead Sea region that were destroyed by fire.
The Bible patriarch, Abraham had a nephew named Lot who lived in Sodom and escaped to the hills when the city was destroyed. In Genesis 19:37-38, we read the account of how the two sons of Lot, Moab and Ben Ammi, were born as a result of incestuous relations between Lot and his two daughters.
Ben-Ammi, meaning ‘son of my people’ became the father of the Ammonites. Now the Ammonites were a nomadic people who lived in the region of modern-day Jordan. Even the capital city of Jordan, Amman reflects the name of this ancient nation.
The Ammonites had a complicated and negative relationship with Israel and were generally viewed as an enemy of Israel. Let’s have a look at some of the verses in the Bible that mention the Ammonites.
God instructed the Israelites not to take the land from the Ammonites, “And when you approach the territory of the people of Ammon, do not harass them or contend with them, for I will not give you any of the land of the people of Ammon as a possession, because I have given it to the sons of Lot for a possession.” Deuteronomy 2:19
Unfortunately, even though they were related to the Israelites through Abraham, the Ammonites were one of the nations who refused to assist the Israelites when they were travelling in the wilderness.
In Deuteronomy 23:3,4 we read about this, “No Ammonite .…may enter the assembly of the Lord. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the Lord forever, 4 because they did not meet you with bread and with water on the way, when you came out of Egypt…”
In the Old Testament, the Ammonites are mentioned as people who followed false gods. So, Israelites were not permitted to marry Ammonites. But King Solomon, son of King David would later disobey this teaching and married some of the Ammonite princesses. (1 Kings 14:21).
The Bible records that many of the Ammonite war practices were extremely violent. At one point, an Ammonite leader planned to gouge out the right eye of every Israelite as part of a treaty. I Samuel 11:2
The Ammonites were defeated along with many other nations by King Nebuchadnezzar in the seventh century BC. Like the other conquered nations, the Ammonites became vassels of the Babylonian king. The Bible records that 70 years later, the Ammonites opposed Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the Temple walls in Jerusalem. (Neh. 4:3,7)
But today the nation of Ammonites has completely disappeared. And the circumstances around the demise of the Ammonite people is not entirely clear. It is most likely that they were absorbed within the Arab nations over a few centuries.
If you would like to find out more about the story of the Ammonites in the Bible, then I’d like to recommend our free Bible Reading Guide. This guide is our gift to you and is absolutely free. I guarantee there are no costs or obligations whatsoever. Just click on the QR code on your screen or go to our Incredible Journey website to receive your free gift now.