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Nebo

NEBO

NEBO (Heb. נְבוֹ).

(1) High mountain E. of the Jordan River, opposite Jericho. It forms part of the heights of Abarim bordering the Moab plateau, where the Israelites encamped on the last stage of their journey (Deut. 32:49). The mountain is identified with Jebel Shayhān that has two peaks: Raʾs al-Nibāʾ, 2,739 ft. (835 m.), and Raʾs Siyāgha, 2,329 ft. (710 m.). In the Bible the peak of Mt. Nebo is called Pisgah; from there Moses beheld the Promised Land before dying. Although Raʾs al-Nibāʾ has retained the biblical name, scholars regard the second peak as the more likely site of Pisgah, because of the magnificent view from there. Moses died on the mountain and was buried in a valley "and no one knows his burial place to this day" (Deut. 34:6). According to an apocryphal source, Jeremiah buried the Ark of the Covenant and various other objects from the Holy of Holies on the mountain (ii Macc. 2:5ff.). In Byzantine times the tomb of Moses was "rediscovered" by a shepherd (Petrus Iberus, 88) and a memorial church was erected together with a monastery on Raʾs Siyāgha. The church consists of a basilica with a trefoil apse, a baptistery (dated 597), and a chapel, all paved with mosaics. Eusebius locates "Phasgo" (= Pisgah) on the way from Livias to Heshbon (Onom. 18:3).

(2) Reubenite town (Num. 32:3, 38) near Mt. Nebo, belonging to the family of Bela (i Chron. 5:8). It remained an Israelite possession till the revolt of the Moabite king Mesha against the house of Omri. On his stele (lines 14ff.) Mesha describes his conquest of the town, the destruction of the sanctuary of the God of Israel before the Moabite god Chemosh and the sacrifice of 7,000 men, boys, women, girls, and maid-servants (see Mesha *Stele). The prophets Isaiah (15:2) and Jeremiah (48:1, 22) mention Nebo among the cities of Moab in their descriptions of the "burdens" on that land. Eusebius refers to it as a ruined town, 6 (or 8) mi. (c. 11 or 14 km.) west of Heshbon (Onom. 136:6–13).

Scholars identify Nebo either with Khirbat al-Muhayyit southeast of Raʾs Siyāgha or with Khirbat ʿUyūn Mūsā ("Springs of Moses") northeast of the mountain, beside a spring of the same name. Iron Age fortresses have been discovered at both sites.

(3) Town in Judah whose inhabitants were among those who returned from Babylonian Exile (Ezra 2:29; 10:43; Neh. 7:33). The place may be identical with Nob.

bibliography:

Abel, Géog, 1 (1933), 379ff.; 2 (1938), 397–8; N. Glueck, in: aasor, 15 (1935), 109ff.; S.J. Saller, The Memorial of Moses on Mount Nebo (1941); S.J. Saller and B. Bagatti, The Town of Nebo (1949); Aharoni, Land, index; em, 5 (1968), 685–90 (incl. bibl.).

[Michael Avi-Yonah]

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