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DIBON (Heb. דִּיבֹן).

(1) An important Moabite city in Transjordan in the mishor ("table-land"), N. of the Arnon River. It was located on the King's Highway and was one of the stations of the Israelites on the way to the plains of Moab during the Exodus (Num. 33:45, as Dibon-Gad). The Bible also relates that Sihon, king of the Amorites, captured it from the first king of Moab (Num. 21:30). With the Israelite conquest, it was allotted to the tribe of Gad (Num. 32:3, 33), although it is also listed in the territory of Reuben (Josh. 13:17). Dibon is identified with modern Dhiban, 13 mi. (21 km.) east of the Dead Sea and 3 mi. (5 km.) north of the Arnon River. Dibon is mentioned in an inscription of Ramses ii from Luxor, together with Btrt, another city in Moab. In the *Mesha Stele, discovered at Dibon in 1868, Mesha, king of Moab (ii Kings 3:4), calls himself "the Dibonite." Dibon was his capital, and, after his rebellion against Israel (c. 850 b.c.e.), he built the "Qarhoh," (apparently the main citadel of the city) with a bamah ("high place") to Chemosh, the god of Moab. Dibon henceforth continued to be part of Moab and the Bible refers to it as a Moabite city (Isa. 15:2; Jer. 48:18, 22). In 731 b.c.e. it came under Assyrian domination, with tribute being paid to Tiglath-Pileser iii, and this continued under subsequent rulers as well. In 582 the city fell at the time of the revolt against Nebuchanezzar.

Excavations began at Dibhan in the 1950s directed by Fred V. Winnett and subsequently by William H. Morton with A.D. Tushingham, bringing to light strata from the Early Bronze Age, Iron Age (Moabite), Nabatean, Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad periods. In one area of the excavations a palace from the Moabite level had an adjoining sanctuary, with cultic vessels, incense stand and fertility figurines. Especially noteworthy is a sequence of sacred buildings – a Roman temple built on the foundations of a Nabatean temple and a Byzantine church alongside them. Perhaps the high-place of the Temple of Kemosh, the Moabite deity, lay beneath the Nabatean temple. Dibon was an important place under the Nabateans; a Roman garrison occupied the area in the third century c.e. as the remains of a bath-house and a number of inscriptions testify. The plain of Dibon is mentioned in the Tosefta (Shev. 7:11); in the fourth century, Eusebius refers to it as a big village near the Arnon (Onom. 76:17ff.).

(2) A post-Exilic town in the Negev (Neh. 11:25). It is probably identical with *Dimonah in the Negev district of Judah (Josh. 15:22).

add. bibliography:

A.D. Tushingham, "Dhiban Reconsidered: King Mesha and His Works," in: Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, 34 (1990), 183–91; P. Bienkowski (ed.), Early Edom and Moab: The Beginning of the Iron Age in Southern Jordan (1992); A.D. Tushingham and P.H. Pedrette, "Mesha's Citadel Complex (Qarhoh) at Dhiban," in: Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan, vol. 5 (1995), 151–59.

[Yohanan Aharoni /

Shimon Gibson (2nd ed.)]