Skip to main content



CHEMOSH (Heb. כְּמוֹשׁ), the chief god of the Moabites. The Bible uses the form kemosh (Num. 21:29; Jer. 48:13, et al.), while in the *Mesha Stele the name appears as kmš, lacking the vav. In other epigraphic material the name appears as the theophoric component of proper names such as kmšʿm and kmšʾl. In Akkadian documents the name appears both alone as dKa-am-muš and as the theophoric component in proper names such as Ka-mu-šu-na-ad-bi, dKa-mu-šú-šar-uṣur. The etymology of the name is unclear. Some scholars tend to assume that Chemosh was the god of war in the Moabite pantheon. Thus Mesha, king of *Moab, attributed his victories over Israel to Chemosh, dedicating a bamah ("high place") to him at Dibon. Mesha also proscribed for him (see *Ḥerem) the Israelite city of Nebo and part of the spoils of the war. Support for the view that Chemosh was a god of war is sought in the Greek name of the site Areopolis (Rabbath Moab), since Ares is the name of the Greek god of war (cf. Jerome; in: pl23, col. 909). According to some scholars, the passage in which Jephthah argues with the king of Ammon, "Do you not hold what Chemosh your god gives you to possess?" (Judg. 11:24), alludes to Chemosh as a war god. It is difficult to understand why Jephthah would mention Chemosh when speaking to the Ammonites and many theories have been advanced to explain this. Others view Chemosh as the god of the netherworld on the basis of an Akkadian god-list which identified him with the god Nergal (dKa-ma-muš, dNérgal). Support for this identification may be found in Ugaritic texts in which the name Kmṭ appears next to the god Ṭṭ, whose name suggests "earth" (Heb. ṭiṭ, "mud, clay"). The compound Ashtar-Chemosh on the Mesha Stele may refer to the goddess Ishtar, who was considered, according to this, Chemosh's mate. Alternatively, it may identify Chemosh with the deity Ishtar, the morning star. The cult of Chemosh was known to the Israelites. Solomon built a high place to him in Jerusalem (i Kings 11:7, 33), and according to biblical tradition, it was only desecrated in Josiah's time some 400 years later (ii Kings 23:13).


A.H. Van-Zyl, The Moabites (1960), 180–3, 195–9; M.C. Astour, in: jaos, 86 (1966), 278; em, s.v. (includes bibliography). add. bibliography: H.-P. Mueller, in: ddd, 186–89.

[Bustanay Oded]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Chemosh." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . 25 Sep. 2018 <>.

"Chemosh." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . (September 25, 2018).

"Chemosh." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved September 25, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.