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DIBON ():

  • 1. A very ancient town, situated from three to five miles (Baedeker, "Palestine," p. 193) north of the River Arnon (Tristram, "The Land of Moab," pp. 132 et seq.). The true pronunciation seems to be "Daibon" (according to the Greek transliterations, Δαιβων, Δηβων; see Dillmann, on Num. xxi. 30, and Mayer, "Z. A. T. W." i. 128, note 2). It is the modern Diban, where in 1868 the Mesha Inscription was found, upon which the name of the town itself occurs (lines 21, 28). It is from Dibon that King Mesha derives his epithet ("the Dibonite"; Mesha Inscription, line 1).The town, originally under the dominion of Moab, was conquered by Sihon, king of the Amorites (Num. xxi. 27-30), but then wrested from his control by the Israelites. It appears to have been fortified by Gad (Num. xxxii. 3, 34); hence its description as "Dibon-gad" in Num. xxxiii. 45, 46, though it is possible that the second part of this compound refers to a local deity only. It was assigned to Reuben (Josh. xiii. 9, 17). In the tenth pre-Christian century it is again found under Moabite domination, and as the residence of King Mesha. According to his inscription the Moabites called it "Ḳarḥa," meaning a bald (untimbered) plateau. This was due to the fact that the town occupied two elevations; the higher one, this Ḳarḥa, had been surrounded by a wall, and constituted the "new city," containing a water reservoir and many cisterns, as well as the royal palace and a "height" ("bamah") for the god Chemosh. In Isaiah's prophecies (Isa. xv. 2) it is menaced as a Moabitish city before other towns, the writer playing upon the name "Dibon" (="Dimon," from "dam"=blood; Isa. xv. 9; "Madmen" in Jer. xlviii. 2 is a variant, if not a corruption) to predict its bloody fate. Dillmann, Duhm, and others reject the identification. Cheyne makes "Dimon" a corruption of "Nimrim" (compare "Zeitschrift des Deutsch. Palästina Vereins," ii. 8). Eusebius calls it a "large market-place" ("Onomasticon," 249, 43); but it is not mentioned by later medieval writers. Even now fragments of columns and ornaments strewn about witness to the town's former importance.V04p575003.jpgPlan of Ancient Dibon. (After Schick, in "Zeit. Deut. Pal. Ver.")
  • 2. A settlement of returning exiles in the Negeb (the South), in the tribal territory of Judah (Neh. xi. 25), in all likelihood identical with "Dimonah" in Josh. xv. 22, and represented by the modern Al-Dib (or Al-Dhaib; according to Robinson, Al-Daib; see Buhl, "Geographie des Alten Palästina," p. 182).
K. E. G. H.
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