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See also: Jordan, Palestine, Middle East. The animals are on Ammonite.

This page contains entries from two public domain works: the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica and Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897). Considerable refactoring, merging, NPOVing and updating required.

Ammonites, or the "children of Ammon," a people of east Palestine who, like the Moabites, traced their origin to Lot, the nephew of the patriarch Abraham, and must have been regarded, therefore, as closely related to the Israelites and Edomites. Both the Ammonites and Moabites are sometimes spoken of under the common name of the children of Lot (Deut. ii. 19; Ps. lxxxiii. 8); and the whole history shows that they preserved throughout the course of their national existence a sense of the closest brotherhood. According to the traditions, the original territory of the two tribes was the country lying immediately on the east of the Dead Sea, and of the lower half of the Jordan, having the Jabbok for its northern boundary; and of this tract the Ammonites laid claim to the northern portion between the Arnon and the Jabbok, out of which they had expelled the Zamzummim (Judg. xi. 13; Deut. ii. 20 sqq.; cf. Gen. xiv. 5), though apparently it had been held, in part at least, conjointly with the Moabites, or perhaps under their supremacy (Num. xxi. 26, xxii. 1; Josh. xiii. 32). From this their original territory they had been in their turn expelled by Sihon, king of the Amorites, who was said to have been found by the Israelites, after their deliverance from Egypt, in possession of both Gilead and Bashan, that is, of the whole country on the left bank of the Jordan, lying to the north of the Arnon (Num. xxi. 13). By this invasion, as the Moabites were driven to the south of the Arnon, which formed their northern boundary from that time, so the Ammonites were driven out of Gilead across the upper waters of the Jabbok where it flows from south to north, which henceforth continued to be their western boundary (Num. xxi. 24; Deut. ii. 37, iii. 16). The other limits of the Ammonitis, or country of the Ammonites ('Lmmanitis chora, 2 Mac. iv. 26), there are no means of exactly defining. On the south it probably adjoined the land of Moab; on the north it may have met that of the king of Geshur (Josh. xii. 5); and on the east it probably melted away into the desert peopled by Amalekites and other nomadic races.

The chief city of the country, called Rabbah, or Rabbath of the children of Ammon, i.e. the metropolis of the Ammonites (Deut. iii. 11), and Rabbathammana by the later Greeks (Polyb, v. 7. 4), whose name was changed into Philadelphia by Ptolemy Philadelphus, a large and strong city with an acropolis, was situated on both sides of a branch of the Jabbok, bearing at the present day the name of Nahr `Amman, the river of Ammon, whence the designation "city of waters" (2 Sam. xii. 27); see Survey of E. Pal (Pal. Explor. Fund), pp. 19 sqq. The ruins called Amman by the natives are extensive and imposing. The country to the south and east of Amman is distinguished by its fertility; and ruined towns are scattered thickly over it, attesting that it was once occupied by a population which, however fierce, was settled and industrious, a fact indicated also by the tribute of corn paid annually to Jotham (2 Chron. xxvii. 5).

The traditional history of Ammon as related in the Old Testament is not free from obscurity, due to the uncertain date of the various references and to the doubt whether the individual details belong to the particular period to which each is ascribed. (See further MOAB.) From the Assyrian inscriptions we learn that the Ammonite king Ba'sa (Baasha) (son) of Ruhubi, with 1000 men joined Ahab and the Syrian allies against Shalmaneser II. at the battle of Karkar[?] in 854. In 734 their king Sanip(b)u was a vassal of Tiglathpileser IV., and his successor, P(b)udu-ilu, held the same position under Sennacherib and Esarhaddon. Somewhat later, their king Amminadab was among the tributaries who suffered in the course of the great Arabian campaign of Assurbanipal. With the neighbouring tribes, the Ammonites helped the Babylonian monarch Nebuchadrezzar against Jehoiakim (2 Kings xxiv. 2); and if they joined Zedekiah's conspiracy (Jer. xxvii. 3), and were threatened by the Babylonian army (Ezek. xxi. 20 sqq.), they do not appear to have suffered punishment at that period, perhaps on account of a timely submission. When, after the destruction of Jerusalem, the fugitive Jews were again gathered together, it was at the instigation of Baalis, king of Ammon, that Gedaliah, the ruler whom Nebuchadrezzar had appointed over them, was murdered, and new calamities were incurred (Jer. xl. 14); and when Nehemiah prepared to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem an Ammonite was foremost in opposition (Neh. ii. 10, 19, iv. 1-3).1 True to their antecedents, the Ammonites, with some of the neighbouring tribes, did their utmost to resist and check the revival of the Jewish power under Judas Maccabaeus (1 Macc. v. 6; cf. Jos. Ant. Jud. xii. 8. 1.). The last notice of them is in Justin Martyr (Dial. cum Tryph. sec. 119), where it is affirmed that they were still a numerous people. The few Ammonite names that have been preserved (Nahash, Hanun, and those mentioned above, Zelek in 2 Sam. xxiii. 37 is textually uncertain) testify, in harmony with other considerations, that their language was Semitic, closely allied to Hebrew and to the language of the Moabites. Their national deity was Moloch or Milcon. (See MOLOCH.) (S. A. C.)

1 The allusions in Jer. xlix. 1-6; Zeph. ii. 8-11; Ezek. xxi. 28- 32; Judg. xi. 12-28, have been taken to refer to an Ammonite occupation of Israelite territory after the deportation of the east Jordanic Israelites in 734, but more probably belong to a later event. The name Chephar-Ammoni (in Benjamin; Josh. xviii. 24) seems to imply that the "village" became a settlement of "Ammonites." Some light is thrown upon the obscure history of the post-exile period by the references to the mixed marriages which aroused the reforming zeal of Ezra and culminated in the exclusion of Ammon and Moab from the religious community--on the ground of incidents which were ascribed to the time of the "exodus" (Deut. xxiii. 3 sqq.; Ezr. ix. 1 sqq.; Neh. xiii. 1 sqq.).

Initial text from 1911 encyclopedia -- Please update as needed

Ammonite - the usual name of the descendants of Ammon, the son of Lot (Gen. 19:38). From the very beginning (Deut. 2:16-20) of their history till they are lost sight of (Judg. 5:2), this tribe is closely associated with the Moabites (Judg. 10:11; 2 Chr. 20:1; Zeph. 2:8). Both of these tribes hired Balaam to curse Israel (Deut. 23:4). The Ammonites were probably more of a predatory tribe, moving from place to place, while the Moabites were more settled. They inhabited the country east of the Jordan and north of Moab and the Dead Sea, from which they had expelled the Zamzummims[?] or Zuzims[?] (Deut. 2:20; Gen. 14:5). They are known as the Beni-ammi (Gen. 19:38), Ammi or Ammon being worshipped as their chief god. They were of Semitic origin, and closely related to the Hebrews in blood and language. They showed no kindness to the Israelites when passing through their territory, and therefore they were prohibited from "entering the congregation of the Lord to the tenth generation" (Deut. 23:3). They afterwards became hostile to Israel (Judg. 3:13). Jephthah waged war against them, and "took twenty cities with a very great slaughter" (Judg. 11:33). They were again signally defeated by Saul (1 Sam. 11:11). David also defeated them and their allies the Syrians (2 Sam. 10:6-14), and took their chief city, Rabbah, with much spoil (2 Sam. 10:14; 12:26-31). The subsequent events of their history are noted in 2 Chr. 20:25; 26:8; Jer. 49:1; Ezek. 25:3, 6. One of Solomon's wives was Naamah, an Ammonite. She was the mother of Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:31; 2 Chr. 12:13).

The prophets predicted fearful judgments against the Ammonites because of their hostility to Israel (Zeph. 2:8; Jer. 49:1-6; Ezek. 25:1-5, 10; Amos 1:13-15).

The national idol worshipped by this people was Molech or Milcom, at whose altar they offered human sacrifices (1 Kings 11:5, 7). The high places built for this idol by Solomon, at the instigation of his Ammonitish wives, were not destroyed till the time of Josiah (2 Kings 23:13).

From Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897)

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