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MESHA:

King of Moab, tributary to Ahab, King of Israel. He was a sheepmaster, and paid the King of Israel an annual tax consisting of the wool of 100,000 lambs and of 100,000 rams (II Kings iii. 4). He rebelled against Israel and refused to pay tribute; whereupon Jehoram, King of Israel, uniting his forces with those of Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, and of the King of Edom, marched round the southern end of the Dead Sea and invaded the Moabitish territory. That route was chosen, as is mentioned in the Moabite Stone, because the cities north of the Arnon were fortified by Mesha.

The invading army suffering from want of water, the prophet Elisha, who was present, was consulted upon the suggestion of the King of Judah. He bade them dig trenches in the sandy soil, which were speedily filled with water. The Moabite army, seeing the rays of the sun reflected in the water, imagined that the enemies had quarreled and massacred one another; they made a reckless rush to spoil the camp, only to be repelled, routed, and put to flight with great loss, the few who escaped entering Kir-haraseth. The combined armies advanced into the land unopposed, "marred" the fields with stones, stopped up the cisterns and fountains, felled the forests, and beleaguered the fortress. With 700 warriors Mesha attempted to break through the enemy's lines. Utterly failing in this, and reduced to desperation, he went to the top of the wall, and, in full view of the invaders, offered his eldest son, who should have reigned in his stead, as a burnt offering to propitiate the wrath of his god Chemosh. In consequence of this "there came great wrath upon Israel"; and the Israelites, without pursuing their successes further, at once evacuated the country, leaving Mesha in undisturbed possession of it (ib. iii. 6-27). See Moabite Stone.

E. G. H. C. L.
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