Who were the Moabites? Well before the discovery of the Moabite Stone in 1868, the only record of the Moabites was found in the Bible. And like with many ancient peoples that have disappeared from history, there was some doubt that they ever existed.
The earliest records of the Moabites are found in the Old Testament account of Genesis 19. It’s surprising to note that the Moabites actually belonged to the same family line as the Israelites. You see their ancestral founder was named Moab, who was a son of Lot. Now Lot was a nephew of the Israelite patriarch Abraham.
The Moabites settled on the east side of the Jordan River, in what is modern-day Jordan. They shared a border with Israel and there was constant friction between the two nations. But because of the family connection, God told Israel that they were not to destroy Moab and take their land.
One of the most famous stories in the Bible is about a woman from Moab who became the grandmother of Israel’s greatest king, David. Her name was Ruth, and you can read her story in the Bible book named after her. Now what is really amazing is that David, and eventually Jesus, came through the family lineage carried by Ruth.
Another famous Moabite was King Eglon. When Israel rebelled, God allowed King Eglon to oppress and rule Israel for 18 years. His story is recorded in the Bible in Judges 3.
These Bible references were considered inaccurate until one of the most important archaeological discoveries was made at Dibon in Jordan in 1868. Archaeologists discovered what became known as the Moabite Stone. This basalt stone bears an inscription of Mesha, king of Moab, from about the 9th century BC. It’s a 34-line inscription that commemorates a victory over the Israelites that re-established the independence of Moab.
The finding of the Moabite Stone verified the Bible records. It proved that Moab was a nation during Bible times. A nation that was related to the Israelites – and yet enemies. So why is it important that we know about them?
The Moabites are important because of the lessons we can learn from their experience. Also, the archaeological evidence of their existence demonstrates the reliability and trustworthiness of the Bible record. You can trust the Bible.