Eastern neighbor of Israel


Situated to the east of the Dead Sea and the Jordan River, between the Arnon and Jabbok rivers, Ammon was an ancient nation connected to the Israelites through their shared ancestor Lot (Genesis 19:38). The children of Ammon, or the Ammonites, lived in a region that would later face Amorite incursions, resulting in partial loss of their territory before the Israelite’s arrival. Israel was commanded to respect the boundaries of Ammon during their exodus journey to Canaan, avoiding conflict due to their kinship (Deuteronomy 2:19). The Assyrian conquests affected Ammon, leading to periods where the Ammonites paid tribute to regional powers, including Tiglath-pileser and later, the Babylonians. They were known for opposing the Israelites repeatedly throughout the narratives of the Judges and the United Monarchy, as reflected in episodes involving figures such as Jephthah, Saul, and David (Judges 11; 1 Samuel 11; 2 Samuel 10).

Ammon displayed enmity towards the Israelite kingdoms after their settlement in Canaan, despite moments of peace such as when Nahash showed kindness to David (2 Samuel 17:27-29). Their alliances often involved regional conflicts against both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. Their participation in the regional politics of the Levant continued into the First Temple period, with fluctuating periods of hostility and subjugation to Assyrian control. They are condemned by various prophets for their acts of cruelty and idolatry, notably their worship of the god Molech, characterized by child sacrifice (Amos 1:13; Jeremiah 49:1-6; Ezekiel 21:28-32; Zephaniah 2:8,9). The fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians saw Ammon participating with the Chaldeans against Judah (2 Kings 24:2). Later historical accounts during the Persian and Hellenistic periods highlight continued Ammonite resistance to the Jewish community, including opposition to Nehemiah’s rebuilding efforts in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 4) and conflicts with the Hasmonean dynasty as recorded in the narratives of the Maccabees.


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