Arnon

Ar'non (Heb. Arnon', אִרנוֹן, a murmur; Sept. Αρνῶν, sometimes Α᾿ρνών), a river (נִחִל, torrent, Deuteronomy ii, 24, forming the southern boundary of trans-Jordanic Palestine (originally of the Amoritish territory, Nu 21:13,26), and separating it from the land of Moab (De 3:8,16; Jos 12:1; Jg 11:22; Isa 16:2; Jer 48:20). Josephus speaks of it as issuing from the mountains of Arabia (Ant. 4:5, 1). Among these hills are probably to be sought the "heights of Arnon" (Nu 21:28). SEE BAMOTH. It is also named in De 2:36; De 3:12; De 4:48; Jos 12:2; Jos 13:9,16; Jg 11:13,26. From Jg 11:18, it (i.e. one of its branches N.E. of Arnon) would seem to have been also the east border of Moab (see also 2Ki 10:33). In many of the above passages it occurs in the formula for the site of Aroer, "which is by the brink of the river Amnon." In Numbers it is simply "Arnon," but in Deuteronomy and Joshua generally "the river Arnon" (A. V. sometimes "river of Arnon"). Isaiah (Isa 16:2) mentions its fords; and in Jg 11:26, a word of rare occurrence (יָד, hand, comp. Nu 13:29) is used for the sides of the stream. In the time of Jerome it was still known as Arnon; but in the Samarito-Arabic version of the Pentateuch by Abu-Said (10th to 12th century) it is given as el Afojeb. There can be no doubt that the Wady el-Mojeb of the present day is the Arnon (Seetzen, Reise, 1854, ii, 347; and in Ritter, Erdk. 15:1195). The ravine through which it flows is still the " locum vallis in praerupta demersae satis horribilem et periculosum" which it was in the days of Jerome (Onom.). The Roman road from Rabba to Dhiban crosses it at about two hours' distance from the former. On the south edge of tile ravine are some ruins called Mehatet el-Haj, and on the north edge, directly opposite, those still bearing the name of Arair. SEE AROER. Burckhardt was the first to give a satisfactory account of this river under the name which it now bears. It rises in the mountains of Gilead, near Katrane, whence it pursues a circuitous course of about eighty miles to the Dead Sea. It flows in a rocky bed, and, at the part visited by Burckhardt, in a channel so deep and precipitous as to appear inaccessible (comp. Seetzen, Monatl. Corresp. 18:432); yet along this, winding among huge fragments of rock, lies the most frequented road, and, being not far from Diton, probably that taken by the Israelites. The descent into the valley from the south took Irby and Mangles (Letters, p. 461) one hour and a half; the descent from the north took Burckhardt (Syria, p. 372) thirty-five minutes. The last-named traveller declares that he had never felt such suffocating heat as he experienced in this valley from the concentrated rays of the sun and their reflection from the rocks. The stream is almost dried up in summer; but huge masses of rock, torn from the banks, and deposited high above the channel, evince its fulness and impetuosity in the rainy season. Irby and Mangles suppose that it is this which renders the valley of the Arnon less shrubby than that of most other streams in the country. "There are, however, a few tamarisks, and here and there are oleanders growing about it." On each face of the ravine traces of the paved Roman road are still found, with milestones, and one arch of a bridge, 31 feet 6 inches in span, is standing. I he stream runs through a level strip of grass some 40 yards in width, with a few oleanders and willows on the margin. Lieut. Lynch describes it at its mouth in April as "a considerable stream of water, clear, fresh, and moderately cool, and having some small fish in it" (Eapedition, p. 299). Where it bursts into the Dead Sea this stream is 82 feet wide and 4 feet deep, flowing through a chasm with perpendicular sides of red, brown, and yellow sandstone, 97 feet wide. It then runs through the delta in a S.W. course, narrowing as it goes, and is 10 feet where its waters meet those of the Dead Sea (Lynch, Report, May 3, 1847, p. 20).

According to the information given to Burckhardt, its principal source is near Katrane, on the Haj route. Hence, under the name of Seil es-Saideh, it flows N.W. to its junction with the W. Lejum, one hour E. of Arair, and then as W. Mojeb, more directly W. to the Dead Sea. The W. Mojeb receives on the north the streams of the W. Waleh, and on the south those of W. Shekik and W. Saliheh. At its junction with the Lejum (W. Enkeileh) is a piece of pasture-ground, in the midst of which stands a hill with ruins on it (Burck. p. 374). May not these ruins be the site of the mysterious " city that is in the midst of the river" (Jos 13:9,16; Deuteronomy ii, 36) so often coupled with Aroer ? From the above description of the ravine, it is plain that that city cannot have been situated immediately below Aroer, as has been conjectured.

Bible concordance for ARNON.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

 
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