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by Wayne Blank
The first Biblical mention of Heshbon is when Sihon captured it:
"For Heshbon was the city of Sihon the king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab and taken all his land out of his hand, as far as the Arnon." (Numbers 21:26 RSV)
Sihon then made the mistake of refusing simple passage of the advancing Israelites under Moses:
"Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, saying, "Let me pass through your land; we will not turn aside into field or vineyard; we will not drink the water of a well; we will go by the King's Highway, until we have passed through your territory."
Under the Israelites, Heshon was among the cities in the territory of Gad that were set aside for the Levites:
"And to the rest of the Levites, the Merarite families ... out of the tribe of Gad, Ramoth in Gilead with its pasture lands, the city of refuge for the slayer, Mahanaim with its pasture lands, Heshbon with its pasture lands, Jazer with its pasture lands" (Joshua 21:34,38-39 RSV)
In later years, by the time of Isaiah, Heshbon was taken back by the Moabites:
"Heshbon and Elealeh cry out, their voice is heard as far as Jahaz; therefore the armed men of Moab cry aloud" (Isaiah 15:4 RSV)
Fact Finder: Who were the Moabites?