Moab (Hebrew: מואב, Mōʼāḇ; Greek: Μωάβ, Moāb; Arabic: مؤاب, Mūʼāḇ; Assyrian: Mu'aba, Ma'ba, Ma'ab; Egyptian: Mu'ab; "Name means::seed of father") was the son of Abraham's nephew Lot by his elder daughter, while Ammon was Moab's half-brother by a similar union of Lot with his younger daughter. "Moab" also refers to the historical name for a mountainous strip of land in Jordan lying alongside much of the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. The existence of the Kingdom of Moab is attested to by numerous archeological findings, most notably the Mesha Stele, which describes the Moabite victory over an unnamed son of King Omri of Israel. The capital city of the Moabite kingdom was Dibon (modern Dhiban), referred to as "Dibon" (Hebrew: דיבן) or "Dibon Gad" (Hebrew: דיבן גד), in the Bible, after being occupied by the Gadites. In Biblical times, the Moabite nation was often in conflict with its Israelite neighbours to the west.
The close ethnological affinity of Moab and Ammon which is thus attested is confirmed by their subsequent history, while their kinship with the Israelites is equally certain, and is borne out by the linguistic evidence of the Mesha Stele, or Moabite Stone. The Moabites were pastoral nomads settling in the trans-Jordanian highlands. They may have been among the raiders referred to as Habiru in the Amarna letters. Whether they were among the nations referred to in the Egyptian language as Shutu or Shasu is a matter of some debate among scholars. The existence of Moab prior to the rise of the Israelite polity has been deduced from the colossal statues erected at Luxor by Pharaoh Ramesses II. On the base of the second statue in front of the northern pylon of Ramesses' temple, Mu'ab is listed among a series of nations conquered by the Pharaoh.
Moab occupied a plateau about 3,000 feet above the level of the Mediterranean, or 4,300 feet above the Dead Sea, and rising gradually from north to south. It was bounded on the west by the Dead Sea and the southern section of the Jordan River; on the east by Ammon and the Arabian desert, from which it was separated by low, rolling hills; and on the south by Edom. The northern boundary varied, but in general it may be said to have been represented by a line drawn some miles above the northern extremity of the Dead Sea. In Ezekiel 25:9 the boundaries are given as being marked by Bethjeshimoth (north), Baalmeon (east), and Kiriathaim (south). That these limits were not fixed, however, is plain from the lists of cities given in Isaiah 15-16 and Jeremiah 48, where Heshbon, Elealeh, and Jazer are mentioned to the north of Bethjeshimoth; Madaba, Bethgamul, and Mephaath to the east of Baalmeon; and Dibon, Aroer, Bezer, Jahaz, and Kirhareseth to the south of Kiriathaim. The principal rivers of Moab mentioned in the Bible are the Arnon, the Dimon or Dibon, and the Nimrim.
The limestone hills which form the almost treeless plateau are generally steep but fertile. In the spring they are covered with grass; and the table-land itself produces grain. In the north are a number of long, deep ravines, and Mount Nebo, famous as the scene of the death of Moses. The rainfall is fairly plentiful; and the climate, despite the hot summer, is cooler than the area west of the Jordan river, snow falling frequently in winter and in spring. The plateau is dotted with hundreds of dolmens, cromlechs, menhirs, and stone circles, and contains many ruined villages, mostly of the Roman and Byzantine periods. The land is now occupied chiefly by Bedouin Arabs, though it contains such towns as al-Karak.
The territory occupied by Moab at the period of its greatest extent, before the invasion of the Amorites, divided itself naturally into three distinct and independent portions: The enclosed corner or canton south of the Arnon (referred to as "field of Moab"), the more open rolling country north of the Arnon, opposite Jericho, and up to the hills of Gilead (called the "land of Moab") and the district below sea level in the tropical depths of the Jordan valley.
- cf. 2 Kings 3
- Numbers 32:34