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AROER (Heb. עֲרוֹעֵר, עֲרׁעֵר), (1) city on the northern bank of the Arnon River belonging to the domain of Sihon the Amorite king (Josh. 12:2), from whom Moses and the Israelites conquered it before they entered Canaan. It was then allotted to either the tribe of Reuben (Deut. 2:36; 3:12; 4:48; Josh. 12:2; Judg. 11:26) or to Gad (Num. 32:34; Josh. 13:9). Jephthah in his message to the Amorite king speaks of Israel as having "dwelt… in Aroer and its towns… 300 years" (Judg. 11:26) and he proceeded to defeat the Amorite cities from Aroer northward (ibid. 11:33). One of David's "mighty men," the Aroerite (i Chron. 11:44), may have come from this city (or perhaps from No. 3 below). Aroer was the southernmost city in Israel's territory east of the Jordan and the starting point of David's census (ii Sam. 24:5). According to the inscription of Mesha, king of Moab, he fortified the city and also constructed the Arnon fort dominated by Aroer. It was captured by Hazael during the reign of Jehu (842–815 b.c.e.; see ii Kings 10:33) and annexed by Tiglath-Pileser iii in his campaign against Aram and Israel in 733 b.c.e. At about the same time, Isaiah (17:2) mentioned Aroer as belonging to Damascus, but the reading is doubtful (cf. Septuagint) and another place may be meant. Aroer is the present-day Khirbet Arair where excavations have uncovered a strong Iron Age fortress. (2) An unidentified city opposite the Ammonite capital of Rabbah (Josh. 13:25; Judg. 11:33). (3) Aroer was also the name of a city in the Negev, included among those to which David distributed the booty taken from Amalek (i Sam. 30:28). It is probably included in the southern district of Judah referred to in the corrupted form "Adadah" (Josh. 15:22). It is identified with Khirbet Arara, 12½ mi. (20 km.) southeast of Beersheba, a prominent tell with Iron Age remains, overlooking an important well.


(1) Abel, Geog, 2 (1938), 250; Glueck, in: aasor, 14 (1934), 49 ff.; Aharoni, Land, index; Olávarri, in: rb, 72 (1965), 77–94. (3) Abel, Geog, 2 (1938), 250; N. Glueck, Rivers in the Desert (1959), 184 ff.

[Michael Avi-Yonah]