the name of a place and of three men, differently written in the Heb.
1. (Hebrews Mesha', מֵשָׁא, probably of Arabic origin; Sept. Μασσῆ, Vulg. Messq.) A place mentioned in describing the boundaries of that part of Arabia inhabited by the descendants of Joktan (Ge 10:30), where it is stated that "their dwelling was from Mesha even unto Sephar, (and beyond even unto) a mount of the east." In this passage it has been assumed by. many that "the mountain of the east" (הִר הִקֶּדֶם) is not put by apposition in conjunction with Sephar, but is some third locality to which the boundary extends, as Saadias interprets; and, if so, it is doubtless none other than the chain running across the middle of Arabia from the region of Mecca and Medina as far as the Persian Gulf, now called Nesjd, the highlands (see Jomard, Notice sur le pays de l'A rabie centale, Paris, 1823). Sephar would then be the modern Sephr, the chief city of the district Shehr in the province of Hadramant. SEE SEPHAR. Bochart (Phaleg, 2:20) thinks that Mesha, from which the boundary extends, is the Musa or Muza (Μοῦσα, Ptol. 6:8; Μοῦζα, Arrian, Peripl.; Muza, Pliny, 6:23) spoken of as a maritime city on the western coast of Arabia, not far from Mocha, where Muzaa (Niebuhr, Arabien, p. 223; Janaen, Hist. Jemance, p. 286), or rather Mausi (Niebuhr, p. 224, 225; Mannert, Geogr. 6:1, p. 63), now stands. It was a town of note in classical times, but has since fallen into decay, if the modern Musa be the same place. The latter is situated in about 130 40' N. lat., 43° 20' E. long., and is near a mountain called the Three Sisters, or Jebel Musa, in the Admiralty Chart of the Red Sea, drawn from the surveys of captain Pullen, RN. But as neither of these Arabic names can well be compared with that of Mesha, it may be better (with J. D. Michaelis, Spicileg. ii, p. 214; Suppl. No. 1561) to understand Mesene or Meisan, situated among the mouths of the Tigris (in the Shat el- Arab) on the Persian Gulf- a place described by Philostogius (iii. 7; comp. Dion Cass. 68. 28.; Asseman. Bibl. Orient. 3:2, p. 430, 603; Abulfeda in Tab. Iracce ap. Michael. in Spicil. 1. c.; D'Anville, l'Euphrate et le Tigre, p. 135), the name perhaps signifying the river island, from its being enclosed by the. branches of the Tigris, as often alluded to by the Greek geographers (see Steph. Byz. s.v. Orathra and Messene; Pliny, v. 27,31; Cellar. Notit. ii, p. 749; D'Anville, p. 130, 131). The sacred writer would thus in his description begin with the eastern limits of the Joktanidse, and end with the western and northern, Sephar being sought between them. "But it is very doubtful whether the island, which has been formed by the deposits of the river, was in existence in the days of Moses; and it is still more doubtful whether such a spot could at that early period have attained to any political or geographical notoriety. Besides, it is not likely that an accurate writer would describe a purely Arabian territory as commencing on the east side of the Tigris. The theory of Mr. Forster is much more probable than either of the preceding. He identifies Mesha with a mountain-range called Zames by Ptolemy (vi. 7), which commences near the Persian Gulf, and runs in a south-western direction nearly across the peninsula. It is an undoubted fact that the various Joktanitic tribes, or Beni- Kahtan, as they are called by Arab writers, are still found, and have been from the earliest period, in the wide region extending from Mount Zames to the Indian Ocean and Red Sea; and that this range separates them from the Ishmaelitish Arabs (Forster, Geography of Arabia, 1:95 sq.). Forster further conjectures that the name Zames is radically identical with Mesha, the syllables being inverted, as is very common in Arabic words -thus Mesza= Mesha. The Zames range is now called by the general name of the 'Nejd Mountains,' and the country extending thence to the Indian Ocean on the east, and the Red Sea in the south,. embraces the most fertile part of Arabia the classic Arabia Felix, now called Yemen (Ritter, Erdkunde, 12:708 sq.). The mountains of Nejd are famous for their pastures and for their horses, which are considered the best in — Arabia (Ritter, p. 918- 1035; Fresnel, Lettres sur la Geog. de l'Arabie, in Journ. Asiat. vol. "The position of the early Joktanitic colonists is clearly made out from the traces they have left in the ethnology, language, and monuments of Southeri Arabia; and, without putting too precise a limitation upon the possible situation of Mesba and Sephar, we may suppose that these places must have fallen within the south-western quarter of the peninsula; including the modern Yemen on the west, and the districts of Oman, Mahreh, Shihr, etc., as far as Hadramaut, on the east. These general boundaries are strengthened by the identification of Sephar with the port of Zafari, or Dhafari; though the site of Sephar may possibly be hereafter connected with the old Himyeritic metropolis in the Yemen, but this would not materially alter the question. In Sephar we believe we have the eastern limit of the early settlers, whether its site be the sea-port or the inland city; and the correctness of this supposition appears from the Biblical record, in which the migration is apparently from west to east, from the probable course taken by the immigrants, and from the greater importance of the known western settlements of the Joktanites, or those of Yemen."
2. (Hebrews Meysha', מֵישָׁע, deliverance; Sept. Μαρισάς v. r. Μαρισά, Vulg. Mesa.) The eldest son of Caleb or Chelubai (brother of Jerahmeel and son of Hezron), and the father (founder) of Ziph, of the tribe of Judah (1Ch 2:42). BC. cir. 1618.
3. (Hebrews Meysha', מֵישָׁא, retreat; Sept. Μωσά v. r. Μισά, Vulg. Mosa.) One of the sons of Shaharaim of the tribe of Benjamin, by the latter of his two wives, Baara or Hodesh (1Ch 8:9). BC. cir. 1612. SEE SHAHARAIM.
4. (Hebrews Meysha', מֵישִׁע, deliverance; Sept. Μεσά v. r. Μωσά, Vulg. Mesa.) A king of Moab, who possessed an immense number of flocks and herds (2Ki 3:4). Probably the allegiance of Moab, with that of the tribes east of the Jordan, was transferred to the northern kingdom of Israel upon the division of the monarchy, for there is no account of any subjugation of the country subsequent to the war of extermination with which it was visited by David, when Benaiah displayed his prowess (2Sa 23:20), and " the Moabites became David's servants, bearers of gifts" (2Sa 8:2). When Ahab had fallen in battle at Ramoth Gilead, Mesha seized the opportunity afforded by the confusion consequent upon this disaster, and the feeble reign of Ahaziah, to shake off the yoke of Israel, and free himself from the burdensome tribute of a "hundred thousand lambs and a hundred thousand rams with their wool." These numbers may seem exaggerated if understood as the amount of yearly tribute. It is therefore more probable that the greedy and implacable Ahab had at some one time levied this enormous impost upon the Moabites; and it is likely that it was the apprehension of a recurrence of such ruinous exactions which incited the revolt (2Ki 1:1; 2Ki 3:5). The country east of the Jordan was rich in pasture for cattle (Nu 22:1), the chief wealth of the Moabites consisted in their large flocks of sheep, and the king of this pastoral 'people is described as noked (נוֹקֵד), "a sheepmaster," or ownerof herds. About the signification of this word noked there is not much doubt, but its origin is obscure. It occurs but once besides in Am 1:1, where the prophet Amos is described as "among the herdmen (נוֹקדַים, nokedim) of Tekoah." On this Kim-chi remarks that a herdsman was called noked, because most cattle have black or white spots (comp. נָקוֹד, nakod, Ge 30:32, AV. "speckled"), or, as Buxtorf explains it, because sheep are generally marked with certain signs so as to be known. But it is highly improbable that any such etymology should be correct, and Furst's conjecture that it is derived from an obsolete root, signifying to keep or feed cattle, is more likely to be true (Concord. s.v.). SEE HERD.
When, upon the death of Ahaziah, his brother Jehoram succeeded to the throne of Israel, one of his first acts was to secure the assistance of Jehoshaphat, his father's ally, in reducing the Moabites to their former condition of tributaries, The united armies of the two kings marched by a circuitous route round the Dead' Sea, and were joined by the forces of the king of Edom. SEE JEHORAM. The disordered soldier of Moab, eager only for spoil, were surprised by the warriors of Israel and their allies, and became an easy prey. In the panic which ensued they were slaughtered without mercy, their country was made a desert, and the king took refuge in his last stronghold and defended himself with the energy of despair. With 700 fighting men he made a vigorous attempt to cut his way through the beleaguering army, and, when beaten back, he withdrew to the wall of his city, and there, in sight of the allied host, offered his first-born son, his successor in the kingdom, as a burnt-offering to Chemosh, the ruthless fire- god of Moab. There appears to be no reason for supposing that the son of the king of Edom was the victim on this occasion, whether, as R. Joseph Kimchi supposed, he was already in the power of the king of Moab, and was the cause of the Edomites joining the armies of Israel and Judah; or whether, as R. Moses Kimchi suggested, he was taken prisoner in the sally of the Moabites, and sacrificed out of revenge for its failure. These conjectures appear to have arisen from an attempt to find in this incident the event to which allusion is made. in Am 2:1, where, the Moabite is charged with burning the bones of the king of Edom into lime. It is more natural, and renders the narrative more vivid and consistent, to suppose that the king of Moab, finding his last resource fail him, endeavored to avert the wrath and obtain the aid of his god by the most costly sacrifice in his power. On beholding this fearful sight, the besiegers withdrew in horror, lest some portion of the monstrous crime might attach to their own souls (comp. Josephus, Ant. 9:3, 2; Ewald, Isr. Gesch. iii,.226 sq.). By this withdrawal they, however, afforded the king the relief he desired, and this was, no doubt, attributed by him to the efficacy' of his offering, anti to the satisfaction of his god therewith. The invaders, however, ravaged the country as they withdrew. and returned with much spoil to their own land (2Ki 3:25-27). BC. cir. 891. SEE MOABITE.
The exploits of "Mesha, son [i.e. votary] of Chemosh, king of Moab," are recorded in the Phoenician inscription lately discovered by M. Ganneau on a block of black basalt at Dibon in Moab (see Quarterly Statement, No, 5, of" The Palestine Exploration Fund," Lond. 1870); which, according to the decipherment given by him in the Revue Archeologique (Jan. and June, 1870), is as below (see the Wesleyan. Magazine, April, 1870). Prof. Neubauer has published the text in modern Hebrew characters in Gratz's Monatschrift, and Prof. J. Derenbourg a translation in the Revue Israelite (April 8, 1870), substantially as below. See also the Church Gazette, N. Y. 1871, No. 6. Several other commentaries have been published upon it, especially by Dr. Deutsch of the British Museum. See also Noldeke, Inschrift des Mesa (Kiel, 1870); Schlottman, Siegessaule Mesa's (Halle, 1870); De Costa, The Moabite Stone (NY. 1871). The fullest exhibit, together with the literature of the subject, is that of Dr. Ginsburg (2d ed. Lond. 1871).
1. I, Mesha, son of Chemosh,. King of Moab, [son]
2. of Yabni My father reigned over Moab (thirty years), and I reigned
3. after him; I made this altar for Chemosh at Karhah on account
4. of the assistance he gave me in all battles, and because he made me successful against my enemies the men
5. of the King of Israel, who oppressed Moab a long time, for Chemosh was angry against
6. his land. His son succeeded him, and he also said, I will oppress Moab. In my days he (Chemosh) said, [I will go]
7. and appear (be favorable) to Moab and his temple; then Israel wasted continually. Omri took [the plain of]
8. Mahdeba and dwelt in it built forty [and dwelt].
9. Chemosh. there in my days. I built Baal-Meon and made (sacrifices) there and I [built]
10. Kiryathan. The men of Gad [dwelt] in [this] land from early times, and there built the King
11. of Israel [Yazer]; I besieged the city, took it, and killed all [who dwelt]
12. in the city, to the gratification of Chemosh and Moab; I made captive there...
13. [and brought] it to Chemosh at Keriyoth. I remained here with the chiefs and [the soldiers until]
14. the next day. Then Chemosh bade me go and take Nebo from Israel. I arose and]
15. went in the night and fought against it from the break of day till noon: I
16. took it, killed all, seven thousand.. [to please Astor].
17. for Chemosh devoted to Astor:.. I took from there all
18. the vessels of Jehovah, and Coffered] them to Chemosh. And the King of Israel built
19. Yahaz, and dwelt there, when I made war upon him. Chemosh drove him out from thence; I ..
20. took from Moab two hundred men, all chiefs, transferred them to Yahaz, and began
21. to make war against Dibon. I built Kirhah, Hamath-ha-Yearim, and Hamath.
22. I constructed their gates and their towers I
23. built the palace, and I made aqueducts'(?) in the interior
24. of the town. There were no cisterns in the interior of the town of Kirhah, and I said to all the people, Make,
25. every one a cistern in his house. And I made a ditch round Kirhah with [the men]
26. of Israel. I built (Aro)ir, and I made the passage over the Arnon.
27. I built Beth-Bamoth, which had been overthrown, and Bezer, which had been destroyed.
28. I fortified Dibon to hold it in subjection, and I constructed
29. fortresses in the towns which I added to [my] land. I built
30. Beth-Diblathan, Beth-Ball-Meon, and transported thither [Moabites]
31. [in order to take possession of] the land. AtHoronan dwelt [the children of Reuben] ..
32. Chernosh told me, Go, fight against Horonan [I fought against it and took it],
33. [and there dwelt] Chemosh in my days.