« Ammon, Christoph Friedrich von Ammonites Ammonius »


AMMONITES: A people of Palestine, allied, according to Gen. xix. 38, to Abraham through Lot, and therefore, like the brother people Moab, akin to the other Abrahamic nations, Israel, Ishmael, and Edom. The name is here explained as ben ‘ammi, “son of my kinsman.” Their territory lay east of the Jordan and north of Moab, from whom they were separated by the Arnon (Num. xxi. 13). An Amoritic king, Sihon, and, later, the Israelites are said to have excluded them from the western and richer part of this district and to have confined them to the steppe lands farther to the east (Josh. xii. 2, xiii. 10, 25; Judges xi. 22). Cities belonging to them are mentioned (Judges xi. 33; II Sam. xii. 31), whence it appears that they were in part a settled people, in part nomadic. Their chief city and the one most frequently named was Rabbah (Rabbath-ammon; Deut. iii. 11; Josh. xiii. 25; II Sam. xii. 26-27; Ezek. xxi. 20; and often), the modern Amman. They had a king in the earliest time. Their religion was doubtless like that of the Moabites; their chief divinity was Milcom (I Kings xi. 5, 33; II Kings xxiii. 13; the mention of Chemosh as god of the Ammonites in Judges xi. 24 is probably an error; see Chemosh). The name “Milcom” has been explained as meaning “Am is king,” Am (‘Am) being the name of an older deity (cf. Balaam, “Am is lord,” and Gen. xix. 38). The relations between the Israelites and Ammonites were generally hostile (Judges xi.; I Sam. xi.; II Sam. x. 1-14, xii. 26-31; II Kings xxiv. 2; II Chron. xx.; Neh. ii. 10, iv. 3, vi. 1; Jer. xl. 13-14, xlix. 1-6; Ezek. xxv. 1-10; Amos i. 13; Zeph. ii. 8); and this fact is reflected in the account of their disgraceful origin in Gen. xix. 30-38. Solomon had an Ammonitish wife (I Kings xiv. 21). Assyrian inscriptions state that Baasha, king of Ammon, was among the allies defeated by Shalmaneser II. at Karkar (854 B.C.), and show that the Ammonite Puduilu, a contemporary of Manasseh of Judah, like all the west-Asiatic princes of the time, was a vassal of Esarhaddon (681-668 B.C.).

In postexilic times also the Ammonites shared the fortunes of their neighbors, and were under Persian, Egyptian, and Syrian rule. Their old capital Rabbah was made a Hellenistic city and named “Philadelphia” after Ptolemy II., Philadelphus. In 218 B.C. it was captured under Antiochus the Great. In the Maccabean period the Ammonites were under a tyrant Timotheus, whom Judas defeated in several battles (I Macc. v. 6-8). About 135 B.C. Philadelphia was ruled by a tyrant named Zeno Cotylas (Josephus, Ant., XIII. viii. 1). It was included in the Decapolis by Pompey, and long remained under Roman rule. At the beginning of the Jewish wars, like most of the Hellenistic cities, it was attacked by the Jews. The name “Ammonite” occurs for the last time in Justin Martyr (d.166), who says they were very numerous. The present extensive ruins at Amman belong to Roman times.

(F. Buhl).

Bibliography: E. Kautzsch, in Riehm, Handwörterbuch des biblischen Altertums, pp. 55-56. Bielefeld, 1884 (an admirable sketch); A. H. Sayce, Races of the Old Testament, London, 1891; A. Dillmann, Commentary on Genesis, on xix. 38, Edinburgh, 1897; DB, i. 82-83: EB, i. 141-145.

« Ammon, Christoph Friedrich von Ammonites Ammonius »
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