Who were the Ammonites according to the Bible?

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Ammon is the ancestor of the Ammonites. He was the son of Lot (Genesis 19:37) and the nephew of Abraham (Genesis 11:31). Although cousins of the Israelites, the Ammonites were ever their enemies.

These people became nomads and lived in the eastern part of the region lying between the Jabbok and the Arnon. The name of their stronghold, Rabbath Ammon, is preserved in the name Amman, present capital of the Kingdom of Jordan. Their territory was accounted a land of giants.

Before the Israelite Exodus from Egypt, King Sihon of Amorites warred against the Moabites and occupied Moab and Ammon. During the Exodus, the Ammonites forbade the Israelites from passing through their lands and allied with king Eglon of Moab in attacking Israel.

There were many instances when this group showed hostility toward Israel (1 Sam. 11:1–3; 2 Sam. 10:1–5; 2 Chron. 20; Neh. 2:10, 19; 4:1–3). Envy, jealousy, and fear drove them to unite with the Moabites and to hire Balaam to curse Israel (Deut. 23:3, 4).

These people were wicked, cruel (Amos 1:13; 1 Samuel 11:2), and idolatrous. Their primary deity was the god Milcom and Molech (1 kings 11: 5). In their religious ceremonies they offered human sacrifices. God commanded the Israelites not to deal with them so they would not be corrupted by the their evil (Deut. 23:3).

The continual warring of the Ammonites on Israel was the incentive for uniting the tribes of Israel under Saul who defeated their king (1 Samuel 11). During the reign of King David, the Ammonites hired the Aramean armies to attack Israel but the war ended with all their cities being destroyed, and the inhabitants forced to labor for the Israelites (2 Samuel 10).

After the split of Israel and Judah, the Ammonites regained some rule in the seventh century B.C., until Nebuchadnezzar conquered them about a century later. Under the Persian rule, Tobiah the Ammonite (Nehemiah 2:19) became the governor of that area.

The last mention of the Ammonites was in Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho in the second century where he stated that they were still a numerous people. But in the Roman era, they finally got integrated with the Arabs.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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