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For other uses, see Ammon (disambiguation).
Kingdom of Ammon

c. 10th century – 332 BC  

The region, around 830 BC[citation needed]
Capital Rabbath Ammon (Amman)1
Languages Ammonite, Moabite
Religion Milkomite
Government Monarchy
 -  Around 1000 BC Hanun
 -  740-720 BC Sanipu
 -  680–640 BC Amminadab I
Historical era Iron Age
 -  Kingdom of Ammon flourishes 10th century BC
 -  Battle of Qarqar against the Assyrians 853 BC
 -  Invasion by Alexander the Great 332 BC
 -  Rabbath Ammon renamed to Philadelphia 248–282 BC
Today part of  Jordan
An Ammonite watch tower at Rujm Al-Malfouf in Amman
Qasr Al Adb was built by the governor of Ammon in 200 BC
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Ammon (Hebrew: עַמּוֹן, Modern Ammon, Tiberian ʻAmmôn ; "People"; Arabic: عمّونtranslit.: ʻAmmūn; Greek: Αμμονιοι), also referred to as the Ammonites and children of Ammon, was an ancient nation best known from the Old Testament, which describes Ammon as located east of the Jordan River, Gilead, and the Dead Sea, in present-day Jordan.[1][2][3] The chief city of the country was Rabbah or Rabbath Ammon, site of the modern city of Amman, Jordan's capital. Milcom and Molech (who may be one and the same) are named in the Bible as the gods of Ammon.[4]

In the Bible[edit]

According to the biblical account, Ammon and Moab were born to Lot and Lot's younger and elder daughters, respectively, in the aftermath of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Bible refers to both the Ammonites and Moabites as Lot's sons Genesis 19:37-38. The Hebrew tradition makes this tribe related to the Israelites. This is reflected in the name usually employed in the Old Testament to designate them, Ben `Ammi, Bene `Ammon, "son of my people," "children of my people," i.e. relatives. Hence we find that the Israelites are commanded to avoid conflict with them on their march to the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 2:19). Their dwelling-place was on the east of the Dead Sea and the Jordan, between the Arnon and the Jabbok, but, before the advance of the Hebrews, they had been dispossessed of a portion of their land by the Amorites, who founded, along the east side of the Jordan and the Dead Sea, the kingdom of Sihon (Numbers 21:21 - 31).[5]

Throughout the Bible, the Ammonites and Israelites are portrayed as mutual antagonists. During the Exodus, the Israelites were prohibited by the Ammonites from passing through their lands.[6] In the Book of Judges, the Ammonites work with Eglon, king of the Moabites against Israel. Attacks by the Ammonites on Israelite communities east of the Jordan were the impetus behind the unification of the tribes under Saul.[7] They seem to have been viciously subdued by David, who after taking their capital put people from all Ammonite cities to death by saws, iron threshes, and ovens (2 Samuel 12:31). We find a better spirit manifested afterward, for Nahash of Rabbah showed kindness to him when a fugitive (2 Samuel 17:27 - 29). David was also aided by Zelek the Ammonite of his mighty warriors in the conquering of the City of David.[8] Their country came into the possession of Jeroboam, on the division of the kingdom, and when the Syrians of Damascus deprived the kingdom of Israel of their possessions east of the Jordan, the Ammonites became subjects of Benhadad, and we find a contingent of 1,000 of them serving as allies of that king in the great battle of the Syrians with the Assyrians at Qarqar (854 BC) in the reign of Shalmaneser III. They may have regained their old territory when Tiglath-pileser carried off the Israelites East of the Jordan into captivity (2 Kings 15:29 ; 1 Chronicles 5:26). Their hostility to both kingdoms, Judah and Israel, was often manifested. In the days of Jehoshaphat they joined with the Moabites in an attack upon him, but met with disaster (2 Chronicles 20). They paid tribute to Jotham (2 Chronicles 27:5). After submitting to Tiglath-pileser they were generally tributary to Assyria, but we have mention of their joining in the general uprising that took place under Sennacherib; but they submitted and we find them tributary in the reign of Esarhaddon. Their hostility to Judah is shown in their joining the Chaldeans to destroy it (2 Kings 24:2). Their cruelty is denounced by the prophet Amos (Amos 1:13), and their destruction (with their return in the future) by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 49:1 - 6) ; Ezekiel (Ezekiel 21:28 - 32) ; and Zechariah (Zechariah 2:8, 9). Their murder of Gedaliah (2 Kings 25:22 - 26 ; Jeremiah 40:14) was a dastardly act.

Tobiah the Ammonite united with Sanballat to oppose Nehemiah (Nehemiah 4), and their opposition to the Jews did not cease with the establishment of the latter in Judea.

They also joined the Syrians in their wars with the Maccabees and were defeated by Judas.[5]

According to both 1 Kings 14:21-31 and 2 Chronicles 12:13, Naamah was an Ammonite. She was the only wife of King Solomon to be mentioned by name in the Tanakh as having borne a child. She was the mother of Solomon's successor, Rehoboam.[9]

The Ammonites presented a serious problem to the Pharisees because many marriages with Ammonite (and Moabite) wives had taken place in the days of Nehemiah.[10] The men had married women of the various nations without conversion, which made the children not Jewish.[11] The legitimacy of David's claim to royalty was disputed on account of his descent from Ruth, the Moabite.[12]

Relation to Assyria[edit]

Ammon maintained its independence from the Assyrian empire through tribute to the Assyrian king, at a time when nearby kingdoms were being raided or conquered.[13] Inscriptions describe the Ammonite king Baasha ben Ruhubi's army fighting alongside Ahab of Israel and Syrian allies against Shalmaneser III at the Battle of Qarqar in 853 BC, possibly as vassals of Hadadezer, the Aramaean king of Damascus. In 734 BC the Ammonite king Sanipu was a vassal of Tiglath-Pileser III, and Sanipu's successor Pudu-ilu held the same position under Sennacherib and Esarhaddon. An Assyrian tribute-list exists from this period, showing that Ammon paid one-fifth of Judah's tribute.[14]

Somewhat later, the Ammonite king Amminadab I was among the tributaries who suffered in the course of the great Arabian campaign of Assurbanipal. Other kings attested to in contemporary sources are Barakel (attested to in several contemporary seals) and Hissalel, the latter of whom reigned about 620 BCE. Hissalel is mentioned in an inscription on a bottle found at Tel Siran, Jordan along with his son, King Amminadab II, who reigned around 600 BCE.

In the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman eras[edit]

Little mention is made of the Ammonites through the Persian and early Hellenistic periods[citation needed]. The Hasmonean dynast Hyrcanus (awarded his Parthian patronymic in honor of military achievements against the Medes) founded Qasr Al Abd, and was a descendent of the Seleucid Tobiad dynasty of Tobiah mentioned by Nehemiah as an Ammonite (ii. 19) from the east-Jordanian district.

Their name appears, however, during the time of the Maccabees. The Ammonites, with some of the neighboring tribes, did their utmost to resist and check the revival of the Jewish power under Judas Maccabaeus.[15]

The last notice of the Ammonites is in Justin Martyr (second century) Dialogue with Trypho (§ 119), where it is affirmed that they were still a numerous people, concentrated in the south of Palestine.[citation needed]


Main article: Ammonite language

The few Ammonite names that have been preserved also include Nahash and Hanun, both from the Bible. The Ammonites' language is believed to be Semitic, closely related to Hebrew and Moabite. Ammonite may have incorporated certain Aramaic influences, including the use of ‘bd, instead of commoner Biblical Hebrew ‘śh, for "work". The only other notable difference with Biblical Hebrew is the sporadic retention of feminine singular -t (e.g. ’šħt "cistern", but ‘lyh "high (fem.)".)[16]


Like its sister-kingdom of Moab, Ammon was the source of numerous natural resources, including sandstone and limestone. It had a productive agricultural sector and occupied a vital place along the King's Highway, the ancient trade route connecting Egypt with Mesopotamia, Syria, and Asia Minor. As with the Edomites and Moabites, trade along this route gave them considerable revenue. Circa 950 BCE Ammon showed rising prosperity, due to agriculture and trade, and built a series of fortresses. Its capital was located in what is now the Citadel of Amman.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ancient Texts Relating to the Bible: Amman Citadel". University of Southern California. Archived from the original on 26 November 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-11. 
  2. ^ MacDonald, Burton; Randall W. Younker (1999). Ancient Ammon. BRILL. p. 1. ISBN 978-90-04-10762-5. 
  3. ^ Levy, Tom; LaBianca, Øystein S.; Younker, Randall W. (1998). The archaeology of society in the Holy Land. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 399. ISBN 978-0-8264-6996-0. 
  4. ^ 1 Kings 11:05-33; 2 Kings 23:13
  5. ^ a b " - Dictionary - Ammon". 2012-06-15. 
  6. ^ Deuteronomy 23:4
  7. ^ 1 Samuel 11:1-15
  8. ^ 1 Chronicles 11:39
  9. ^ "The Jewish Encyclopedia". Archived from the original on 13 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  10. ^ Nehemiah 13:23
  11. ^ The identity of those particular tribes had been lost during the mixing of the nations caused by the conquests of Assyria. As a result, people from those nations were treated as complete gentiles and could convert without restriction.[citation needed]
  12. ^ The Babylonian Talmud points out that Doeg the Edomite was the source of this dispute. He claimed that since David was descended from someone who was not allowed to marry into the community, his male ancestors were no longer part of the tribe of Judah (which was the tribe the King had to belong to). As a result, he could neither be the king, nor could he marry any Jewish woman (since he descended from a Moabite convert). The Prophet Samuel wrote the Book of Ruth in order to remind the people of the original law that women from Moab and Ammon were allowed to convert and marry into the Jewish people immediately.[citation needed]
  13. ^ a b "The Old Testament Kingdoms of Jordan". Archived from the original on 6 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  14. ^ See Schrader, K.A.T. pp. 141 et seq.; Delitzsch, Paradies, p. 294; Winckler, Geschichte Israels, p. 215.
  15. ^ 1 Maccabees 5:6; cf. Josephus Jewish Antiquities xii. 8. 1.
  16. ^ Cohen, D (ed) (1988). "Les Langues Chamito-semitiques". Les langues dans le monde ancien et modern, part 3. Paris: CNRS. Aufrecht, WE (1989). A Corpus of Ammonite Inscriptions. Lewiston: E. Mellen Press. ISBN 0-88946-089-2. 

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