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The Ammon or Ammonites ( , ( , also referred to as the children of Ammon) was a kingdom described in the Bible, said to occupy an area east of the Jordan rivermarker, Gilead and the Dead Seamarker.

The Old Testament describes the Ammonites as originating with an illegitimate son of Lot. From their original territory, the Ammonites are supposed to have been expelled by Sihon, king of the Amorites. The chief city of the country was Rabbah or Rabbath Ammon (the modern city of Ammanmarker is now located at this site).

In the Bible

According to the biblical account, , both Ammon and Moab were born of an incestuous relationship between Lot and his two daughters in the aftermath of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and collectively the Moabites were referred to as the children of Lot. Throughout the Bible, the Ammonites and Israelites are referred to as antagonists. During the Exodus, the Israelites were prohibited by the Ammonites from passing through their lands. In the Book of Judges, the Ammonites work with Eglon, king of the Moabites against Israel.

Attacks by the Ammonites on Israelite communities east of the Jordan were the impetus behind the unification of the tribes under Saul.

According to both and , Naamah was an Ammonite. She was the only wife of King Solomon to be mentioned, within the Tanakh, as having borne a child. She was the mother of his heir, Rehoboam.

Relation to Assyria

Ammon maintained its independence from the Assyrian empire through tribute to the Assyrian king, at a time when nearby kingdoms were being raided or conquered. Inscriptions describe the Ammonite king Baasha ben Ruhubi's army fighting alongside Ahab and Syrian allies against Shalmaneser III at the Battle of Qarqarmarker in 853 BC, possibly as vassals of Bar-Hadad II, the Aramaean king of Damascusmarker. In 734 their king Sanipu was a vassal of Tiglath-Pileser III and his successor, Pudu-ilu, held the same position under Sennacherib and Esarhaddon. An Assyrian tribute-list exists from this period, showing that Ammon paid one-fifth of Judah's tribute.

Somewhat later, their king Amminadab I was among the tributaries who suffered in the course of the great Arabian campaign of Assurbanipal. Other kings attested to in contemporary sources are Barakel (attested to in several contemporary seals and Hissalel who reigned about 620 BCE (and who is mentioned on an inscription on a bottle found at Tel Siran, Jordan along with his son, King Amminadab II, who reigned around 600 BCE.)

In the Persian empire

Little mention is made of the Ammonites through the Persian and early Hellenistic periods. Their name appears, however, during the time of the Maccabees. The Ammonites, with some of the neighbouring tribes, did their utmost to resist and check the revival of the Jewish power under Judas Maccabaeus.

The last notice of the Ammonites themselves is in Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho (§ 119), where it is affirmed that they were still a numerous people.


The few Ammonite names that have been preserved, including Nahash and Hanun. Their language is believed to be Semitic, closely related to Hebrew and Moabite. Ammonite may have incorporated certain Aramaic influences including the use of ‘bd instead of commoner Biblical Hebrew ‘śh for "work". The only other notable difference with Biblical Hebrew is the sporadic retention of feminine singular -t (eg ’šħt "cistern", but ‘lyh "high (fem.)".)


Like its sister-kingdom of Moab, Ammon was the source of numerous natural resources, including sandstone and limestone. It had a productive agricultural sector and occupied a vital place along the King's Highway, the ancient trade route connecting Egypt with Mesopotamia, Syriamarker, and Anatoliamarker. As with the Edomites and Moabites, trade along this route gave them considerable revenue. Circa 950 BCE Ammon showed rising prosperity due to agriculture and trade, building a series of fortresses. Its capital was located in what is now the Citadel of Ammanmarker.

In Jewish law

The Ammonites, still numerous in the south of Palestine in the second Christian century according to Justin Martyr ("Dialogus cum Tryphone," chapter 119), presented a serious problem to the Pharisees because many marriages with Ammonite and Moabite wives had taken place in the days of Nehemiah. The legitimacy of David's claim to royalty was disputed on account of his descent from Ruth, the Moabite.


The name of the city Rabbath-Ammonmarker was changed to Ammanmarker, or Ammon, and they took over their brother's capital city, Kir-Moab. The sons of Lot were said to have established the nation Jordanmarker beyond the Jordan Rivermarker.

See also


  1. see Schrader, K.A.T. pp. 141 et seq.; Delitzsch, Paradies, p. 294; Winckler, Geschichte Israels, p. 215.
  2. 1 Maccabees 5:6; cf. Josephus Jewish Antiquities xii. 8. 1.
  3. * *
  4. Neh. 13:23

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