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ARNON (Heb. אַרְנוֹן; Ar. al-Mawjib), river in Transjordan having its source east of the al-Karak region and flowing south to north, then turning west for an overall distance of 50 mi. (80 km.). After the Jordan, it is one of the longest water courses in the Ereẓ Israel region. In its lower course it runs through a steep narrow valley and empties into the Dead Sea through a gateway 44 yd. (40 m.) wide of red and rose-colored layers of sandstone. The volume of its waters fluctuates considerably between the rainy season and the summer and autumn months; however, it is one of a few rivers in Israel that contains water all through the year. The average is estimated at 2 cu. m. per second, but due to the steepness of its banks they have so far not been exploited. When the Israelites reached the eastern side of the Jordan in the period of the Exodus, the Arnon marked the boundary between *Moab and the *Amorites (Num. 22:36). The Amorites had previously wrested the northern area from the Moabites (ibid. 21:13–15, 24–29). In their war against the Amorites, Moses and the Israelites had to cross the upper reaches of the Arnon (Deut. 2:24); they conquered the territory lying north of it up to the *Jabbok. This area was allotted by Moses (later confirmed by Joshua) to the tribe of *Reuben (Deut. 3:8, 12, 16; Josh. 12:1–2; 13:9, 16; Judg. 11:18, 26), making the Arnon its border with Moab. The border and the fort over the ravine were dominated by the city of *Aroer (Deut. 2:36; 3:12; 4:48; Josh. 12:2; 13:9, 16). In the ninth century b.c.e. Mesha, king of Moab, recovered part of the lands north of the Arnon, and in his inscription (line 26), speaks of the roads (mesillot) which he built across it. Moab, in fact, never accepted the Arnon as its northern border, although Jephthah describes it as the established northern frontier of Moab in his message to the Ammonite king (Judg. 11:26). The region north of the Arnon was conquered by Hazael of Damascus, from Jehu, and finally annexed by Tiglath-Pileser iii of Assyria in 733 b.c.e. Both Isaiah (16:2) and Jeremiah (48:20) mention the Arnon in connection with Moab. The fords of the Arnon, referred to by Isaiah (16:2 – Mesha's mesillot), constituted an important link in the King's Highway connecting Elath with Damascus by way of Transjordan (Num. 20:17; 21:22; cf. 20:19). In Hasmonean times, when first John Hyrcanus and then Alexander Yannai subdued this region, the Arnon formed the border between their kingdoms and the *Nabateans (Jos., Ant., 13:254–55, 397). A legion stationed at "Castra Arnonensia" in Roman times guarded the road from Elath to Bozrah where it crossed the Arnon Valley. The Arab geographer al-Idrīsī speaks enthusiastically of the wildlife in the neighborhood of the Arnon ravine and of the abundance of fish in its waters. Rabbinic sources include the fords of the Arnon among the places at the sight of which the blessing "Blessed be He who performed miracles to our forefathers at this place" must be pronounced, and at the same time they describe the fantastic nature of these miracles performed in Moses' time (Ber. 54b; Tanḥ. B., Num. 127). An ancient road probably built by Mesha, king of Moab, which connected the southern parts of Moab to northern Moab, was discovered near the river.


em; Press, Ereẓ, 1 (1951), 38–39; G.A. Smith, Historical Geography of the Holy Land (193125), 557 ff.; Aharoni, Land, index; Ginzberg, Legends, 3 (1954), 337 ff.; Abel, Geog, 1 (1933), 177, 487–9.

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MOAB (Massive Ordnance Air Burst Bomb)

In addition to its raw destructive power, the Massive Ordnance Air Burst bomb (MOAB) has became part of a

military and intelligence effort to discourage and demoralize enemy forces. Upon detonation, MOAB produces a mushroom cloud similar to a nuclear blast. The MOAB bomb is the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in the U.S. arsenal.

At 21,000 pounds, the MOAB bomb is 6,000 pounds heavier than the next largest conventional bomb, the BLU-82 (nicknamed the "Daisy Cutter") bomb used in Vietnam. Like the BLU-82, the MOAB is a fuel air disbursement bomb. In Vietnam the large blast from the BLU-82 was used to create instant landing zones for helicopters.

Although both the BLU-82 and MOAB are dropped from a B-52 or an MC-130 cargo plane flown by Air Force Special Operations Forces, the MOAB has a GPS based satellite guidance system to enhance accuracy. The BLU-82 has an estimated target error allowance of several hundred feet. In contrast, the MOAB was designed to guide to within one meter of its intended detonation point. This accuracy was important to planners in carefully calculating the radius of the fireball and destructive blast from MOAB.

Fuel air explosives are designed to explode above the ground, disperse aerosolized fuel, and then detonate the highly volatile fuel-air mixture. The concussive detonation produces a violent shock wave.

BLU-82 bombs proved useful in attacking cave complexes in Afghanistan containing Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists because the violent blastin addition to its direct destructive forcealso deprives those under the blast of oxygen.

The power of the blast is intended not only to kill and destroybut also to shock and demoralize enemy troops. Discussing the bomb in March of 2003, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld acknowledged the Pentagon's plans to use MOAB to shock enemy troops in the impending war with Iraq and asserted, "There is a psychological component to all aspects of warfare." Potential use of MOAB was incorporated by military planners into U.S. "shock and awe" tactical doctrine that calls for swift and intense military attacks to disorient enemy troops.

The United States Air Force conducted a demonstration test of the MOAB at Eglin Air Force Base near Pensacola, Florida, on March 11, 2003. Press coverage was extensive, and within hours of the test the Pentagon released footage of the blast to news services. Pentagon planners hoped that footage would make its way into Iraq and help discourage Iraqi troops from what seemed to be futile resistance against a vastly superior U.S.-led coalition.



Shanker, Tom. "Largest Conventional Bomb Dropped in a Test in Florida." New York Times. March 12, 2003.


Enduring Freedom, Operation
Vietnam War

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