Rab'bah (Heb. Rabbah', רִבָּה ), the name of several ancient places both east and west of the Jordan, although it appears in this form in connection with only two in the A. V. The root is urob, meaning much, and hence great, whether in size or importance (Gesenius, Thesaur. p. 1254; Furst, Handworterb. ii, 347). The word survives in Arabic as a common appellative, and is also in use as the name of places — e.g. Rabba, on the east of the Dead Sea; Rabhah, a temple in the tribe of Medshidj (Freytag, 2, 107 a); and perhaps also Rabaut, in Morocco. In the following account we chiefly follow the usual Biblical and archaological authorities, with additions from other sources. SEE RABBI.
1. A very strong place on the east of Jordan, which, when its name is first introduced in the sacred records, was the chief city of the Ammonites. In five passages (De 3:11; 2Sa 12:26; 2Sa 17:27; Jer 49:2; Ezra 21:20) it is styled at length רִבִּת בּנֵי עִמּוֹן, Rabbdth-bene-Ammon, A. V. "Rabbath of the Ammonites," or "of the children of Ammon;" but elsewhere (Jos 13:25; 2Sa 11:1;
12:27, 29; 1Ch 20:1; Jer 49:3; Ezra 25:5; Am 1:14) simply "Rabbah." The Sept. generally has ῾Ραββάθ, but in some MSS. occasionally ῾Ραβάθ, or ἡ ῾Ραββά. In De 3:5 it is τῆ ἄκρα τῶν υἱῶν ῎Αμμών in both MSS. In Jos 13:25 the Vat. has῎Αραβα ἡ ἐστιν κατὰ πρόσωπον Α᾿ράδ, where the first and last words of the sentence seem to have changed places. Other various readings likewise occur.
Rabbah appears in the sacred records as the single city of the Ammonites; at least no other bears any distinctive name, a fact which contrasts strongly with the abundant details of the city life of the Moabites. Whether it was originally, as some conjecture, the Ham of which the Zuzim were dispossessed by Chedorlaomer (Ge 14:5), will probably remain forever a conjecture. The statement of Eusebius (Onomast. s.v. 'Ajucav) that it was originally a city of the Rephaim implies that it was the Ashteroth Karnaim of Genesis 14. In agreement with this is the fact that it was in later times known as Astarte (Steph. Byz. quoted by Ritter, p. 1155). In this case, the dual ending of Karnainm may point, as some have conjectured in Jerushalaim, to the double nature of the city — a lower town and a citadel. When first named it is in the hands of the Ammonites, and is mentioned as containing the bedstead of the giant Og (De 3:11), possibly the trophy of some successful war against the more ancient Rephaim. With the people of Lot, their kinsmen the Israelites had no quarrel, and Rabbath- of-the-children-of-Ammon remained to all appearance unmolested during the first period of the Israelitish occupation. It was not included in the territory of the tribes east of Jordan; the border of Gad stops at "Aroer, which faces Rabbah" (Jos 13:25). The attacks of the Bene-Ammon on Israel, however, brought these peaceful relations to an end. Saul must have had occupation enough on the west of' Jordan in attacking and repelling the Philistines and in pursuing David through the woods and ravines of Judah to prevent his crossing the river, unlless on such special occasions as the relief of Jabesh. At any rate, we never hear of his having penetrated so far in that direction as Rabbah. But David's armies were often engaged against both Moab and Ammon. His first Ammonitish campaign appears to have occurred early in his reign. A part of the army, unider Abishai, was sent as far as Rabbah to keep the Ammonites in check (2Sa 10:10,14), but the main force under Joab remained at Medeba (1Ch 19:7). The following year was occupied in the great expedition by David in person against the Syrians at Helam, wherever that may have been (2Sa 10:199). After their defeat the Ammonitish war was resumed, and this time Rabbah was made the main point of attack (11:1). Joab took the command, and was follovwed by the whole of the army. The expedition included Ephraim and Benljamin, as well as the king's own tribe (ver. 11), the "king's slaves" (ver. 1, 17, 24), probably David's immediate body-guard, and the thirty-seven chief captains. Uriah was certainly there, and, if a not improbable Jewish tradition may be adopted, Ittai the Gittite was there also. SEE ITTAI. The ark accompanied the camp (ver. 11), the only time that we hear oft' its doing so, except that memorable battle with the Philistines, when its capture caused the death of the tli'lli-priest. On a former occasion (Nu 31:6) the "holy things" only are specified-an expression which hardly seems to include the ark. David alone, to his cost, remained in Jerusalem. The country was wasted, and the roving Ammonites were'driven with all their property (xii, 30) into their single stronghold, as the Betdouin Kenites were driven from their tents inside the walls of Jerusalem when Judah was overrun by the Challanans. SEE RECHABITE, The siege must have lasted nearly, if not quite, two years; since during its progress David formed his connection with Bathsheba, and the two children, that which died and Solomon, were successively born. The sallies of the Ammonites appear to have formed a main feature of the siege (2Sa 11:17, etc.). At the end of that time Joab succeeded in capturing a portion of the place — the "city of waters," that is, the lower town, so called from its containing the perennial stream which rises in and still flows through it. The fact (which seems uindoubted) that the source of the stream was within the lower city, explains its having held out for so long. It was also called the "royal city" (עַיר הִמּלוּכָה), perhaps from its connection with Molech or Milcom — "the king" more probably from its containing the palace of Hanun and Nahash. But the citadel, which rises abruptly on the north side of the lower town, a place of very great strength, still remained to be taken, and the honor of this capture, Joab (with that devotion to David which runs like a bright thread through the dark web of his character) insists on reserving for the king. "I have fought," writes he to his uncle, then living at ease in the harem at Jerusalem, in all the satisfaction of the birth of Solomon — "I have fought against Rabbah, and have taken the city of waters; but the citadel still remains: now, therefore, gather the rest of the people together and come; put yourself at the head of the whole army, renew the assault against the citadel, take it. and thus finish the siege which I have carried so far," and then he ends with a rough banter (comp. 2Sa 19:6) — half jest, half earnest — "lest I take the city and in future it go under my name." The waters of the lower city once in the hands of the besiegers, the fate of the citadel was certain, for that fortress possessed in itself (as we learn from the invaluable notice of Josephus, Ant. 7:7, 5) but one well of limited supply, quite inadequate to the throng which crowded its walls. The provisions also were at last exhausted, and shortly after David's arrival the fortress was taken, and its inmates, with a very great booty, and the idol of Molech, with all its costly adornments, fell into the hands of David. We are not told whether the city was demolished or whether David was satisfied with the slaugnhter of its inmates. In the time of Amos, two centuries and a half later, it had again a "wall" and "palaces," and was still the sanctuary of Molech" — "the king" (Am 1:14). So it was also at the date of the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 49:2-3), when its dependent towns ("daughters") are mentioned, and when it is named in such terms as imply that it was of equal importance with Jerusalem (Ezra 21:20). At Rabbah, no doubt Baalis, king of the Bene-Ammon (Jer 40:14), held such court as he could muster, and within its walls was plotted the attack of Ishmael which cost Gedaliah his life and drove Jeremiah into Egypt. The denunciations of the prophets just named may have been fulfilled either at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, or five years afterwards, when the Assyrian armies overran the country east of Jordan on their road to Egypt (Josephus, Ant. 10:9, 7). See Jerome, on Amos 1:41.
In the period between the Old and New Testaments, Rabbath-Ammon appears to have been a place of much importance and the scene of many contests. The natural advantages of position and water supply, which had alsays distinguished it, still made it an important citadel by turns to each side during the contentions which raged so long over the whole of the district. It lqy on the road between Heshbon and Bosra, and was the last place at which a stock of water could be obtained for the journey across the desert; while, as it stood on the confines of the richer and more civilized country, it formed an important garrison station for repelling the incursions of the wild tribes of the desert. From Ptolemy Philadelphus (B.C. 285-247) it received the name of Philadelphia (Jerome, on Ezra 25:1), and under this name it is often mentioned by Greek and Roman writers (Pliny, Hist. Nat. v, 16; Ptolemy. Geog. v, 15), by Josephus (War, i, 6, 3; i, 19, 5; ii, 18, 1), and upon Roman coins (Eckhel, iii, 351; Muinet, v, 335), as a city of Arabia, Coele-Syria, or Decapolis. The district either then or subsequently was called Philadelphene (Josephus, War iii, 3, 3), or Arabia Philadelphensis (Epiphanius, in Ritter, Syriev, p. 1155). In B.C. 218 it was taken from the then Ptolemy (Philopator) b)y Antiochus the Great, after a long and obstinate resistance from the besieged in the citadel. A communication with the spring in the lower town had been made since (possibly in consequence of) David's siege, by a long secret subterranean passage, and had not this been discovered to Antiochus by a prisoner, the citadel might have been enabled to hold out (Polybius, v, 17). During the struggle between Antiochus the Pious (Sidetes) and Ptolemy. the son-in- law of Simon Maccabaeus (B.C. cir. 134), it is mentioned as being governed by a tyrant named Cotylas (Ant. 13:8, 1). Its ancient name, though under a cloud, was still used; it is mentioned by Polybius (v, 71) under the hardly altered form of Rabbatamana ( ῾Ραββατάμανα). About B.C. 65 we hear of it as in the hands of Aretas (one of the Arab chiefs of that name), who retired thither from Judaea when menaced by Scaurus, Pompey's general (Josephus, War, i, 6, 3). The Arabs probably held it till the year B.C. 30, when they were attacked there by Herod the Great. But the account of Josephus (War, i, 19. 5, 6) seems to imply that the city was not then inhabited, and that although the citadel formed the main point of the combat, yet that it was only occupied on the instant. The water communication above alluded to also appears not to have been then in existence, for the people who occupied the citadel quickly surrendered from thirst, and the whole affair was over in six days.
At the Christian aera Philadelphia formed the eastern limit of the region of Permea (Josephus, War, iii, 3, 3). It was one of the cities of the Decapolis, and as far down as the 4th century was esteemed one of the most remarkable and strongest cities of the whole of Ccele-Syria (Eusebius, Onomast.; Ammianus Marc. in Ritter, p. 1157). Its magnificent theatre (said to be the largest in Syria), temples, odeon, mausoleum, and other public buildings were probably erected during the 2d and 3d centuries, like those of Jerash, which they resemble in style, though their scale and design are grander (Lindsay). Among the ruins of an "immense term ple" on the citadel hill, Mr. Tipping saw some prostrate columns five feet in diameter. Its coins are extant, some bearing the figure of Astarte, some the word Herakleion, implying a worship of Hercules, probably the continnuation of that of Molech or Milcom. From Stephanus of Byzantium we learn that it was also called Astarte, doubtless from its containing a temple of that goddess. Justin Martyr, a native of Shechem, writing about A.D. 140, speaks of the city as containing a multitude of Ammonites (Dict. with Trypho), though it would probably not be safe to interpret this too strictly.
Philadelphia became the seat of a Christian bishop, and was one of the nineteen sees of "Paltestina tertia" which were subordinate to Bostra (Reland, Palaest. p. 228). The church still remains "in excellent preservation" with its lofty steeple (lord Lindsay). Some of the bishops appear to have signed under the title of Bakatha; which Bakatha is by Epiphanius (himself a native of Palestine) mentioned in such a manner as to imply that it was but another name for Philadelphia, derived from an Arab tribe in whose possession it was at that time (A.D. cir. 400). But this is doubtful (see Reland, Palaest. p. 612; Ritter, p. 1157).
When the Moslems conquered Syria, they found the city in ruins (Abulfeda inl Ritter, p. 1158; and in note to lord Lindsay); and in ruins remarkable for their extent and desolation even for Syria, the "land of ruins," it still remains. The ancient name has been preserved among the natives of the country. Abulfeda calls it Amman (Tab. Syr. p. 19), and by that name it is still known. The prophet Ezekiel foretold that Rabbah should become "a stable for camels," and the country "a couching-place for flocks" (Eze 25:5). This has been literally fulfilled, and Burckhardt actually found that a party of Arabs had stabled their camels among the ruins of Rabbah. Too much stress has, however, been laid upon this minute point by Dr. Keith and others (Evidence from Prophecy, p. 150). What the prophet meant to say was that Ammon and its chief city should be desolate; and he expressed it by reference to facts which would certainly occur in any forsaken site in the borders of Arabia; and which are now constantly occurring not in Rabbah only, but in many other places. Rabbah lies about twenty-two miles from the Jordan at the eastern apex of a triangle, of which Heshbon and es-Salt form respectively the southern and northern points. It is about fourteen miles from the former and twelve from the latter. Jerash is due north, more than twenty miles distant in a straight line, and thirty-five by the usual road (Lindsay, p. 278). It lies in a valley which is a branch, or perhaps the main course, of the Wady Zerka, usually identified with the Jabbok. The Moiet-Ammann, or water of Amman, a mere streamlet, rises within the basin which contains the ruins of the town.
The main valley is a winter torrent, but appears to be perennial, and contains a quantity of fish, by one observer said to be trout (see Burckhardt, p. 358; G. Robinson, 2, 174; "a perfect fish-pond," Tipping). The stream runs from west to east, and north of it is the citadel on its isolated hill. The public buildings are said to be Roman, in general character like those at Jerash, except the citadel, lwhich is described as of large square stones put together without cement, and which is probably more ancient than the rest. Among the ruins are chiefly noticeable a spacious church, built with large stones, and having a steeple; a temple, with part of the side walls and a niche in the back wall remaining; a curved wall along the water-side, with many niches, and in front of it a row of large columns, four of which remain, though without capitals; a high- arched bridge over the river, still perfect, apparently the only one that had existed. The citadel on the hill, a structure of immense strength, and the theatre have been referred to above. 'The remains of private houses scattered on both sides of the stream are very extensive. They have been visited, and described in more or less detail, by Burckhardt (Syria, p. 357- 360), Seetzen (Reisen, i, 396; 4:212214), Irby (June 14), Buckingham (E. Syria, p. 68-82), lord Lindsay (5th ed. p. 278-284), G. Robinson (ii, 172178), lord Claud Hanmilton (in Keith, Evid. of Proph. ch. vi), De Saulcy (Dead Sea, i, 387 sq.), Tristram (Land of Israel, p. 544 sq.), Porter (Handb. foi Palest. p. 302), B:itdeker (Palastina, p. 319), and the Rev. A. E. Northern, in the Quart. Statement of the "Pal. Explor. Fund," April, 1872, p. 57 sq., where a plan is given.
2. (הָרִבָּה, with the definite article; Sept. Σωθηβᾶ v. r. Α᾿ρεββα; Vulg. Aebba) a city of Judah, named, with Kirjath-jearim, in Jos 15:60 only. It lay among the group of towns situated to the west of Jerusalem, on the northern border of the tribe of Judah (Keil, Comment. ad loc.). It is probably only an epithet for Jerusalem itself, which otherwise would not appear in the list. SEE JUDAH (Tribe of).
3. In one passage (Jos 11:8) ZIDON is mentioned with the affix Rabbah-Zidon-rabbah. This is preserved in the margin of the A. V., though in the text it is translated "great Zidon."
4. Although there is no trace of the fact in the Bible there can be little doubt that the name of Rabbah was also attached in Biblical times to the chief city of Moab. Its Biblical name is "Ar," but we have the testimony of Eusebius (Onomast. s.v. Moab) that in the 4th century it possessed the special title of Rabbath-Moab, or, as it appears in the corrupted orthography of Stephanus of Byzantium, the coins, and the Ecclesiastical Lists, Rabathmoba. Rabbathmoma. and Ratba or Robba Moabitis (Reland, Palest. p. 226, 957; Seetzen, Reisen, 4:227; — titter, p. 1220). This name was for a time displaced by Areopolis, in the same manner that Rabbath- Ammon had been by Philadelphia: these, however, were but the names imposed by the temporary masters of the country, and employed by them in their official documents; and when they passed away, the original names, which had never lost their place in the mouths of the common people, reappeared, and Rabba, like Ammam, still remains to testify to the ancient appellation. Rabba lies on the highlands at the southeast quarter of the Dead Sea, between Kerak and Jibel Shihan. Its ruins, which are unimportant, are described by Burckhardtm (July 15), Seetzen (Reisel, i, 411), De Saulcy (Jan. 18), and Porter (Handb.for Palestine, p. 297 sq.). SEE AN.