The Battles For Quiet Waters
Medeba, from the Hebrew word pronounced may-deh-baw, meaning quiet waters, was an ancient city in Moab, east of the Dead Sea (see Beyond Jordan). The ruins of Medeba, now also known as Madiyabah, include large cisterns that some believe were the reason for the name.
The area of Medeba was taken in battle by the Israelites after Sihon king of the Amorites opposed their request to peacefully pass through his territory on their way to cross The Jordan River ("crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land" is actually only partly correct because, as we will read, for two and a half of the tribes of Israel, their promised land was east of the Jordan, in what is today the Kingdom of Jordan - even Moses is buried there, in those east of the Jordan Israelite lands).
"21:21 And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, saying,
21:22 Let me pass through thy land: we will not turn into the fields, or into the vineyards; we will not drink of the waters of the well: but we will go along by the king's high way, until we be past thy borders.
21:23 And Sihon would not suffer Israel to pass through his border: but Sihon gathered all his people together, and went out against Israel into the wilderness: and he came to Jahaz, and fought against Israel. 21:24 And Israel smote him with the edge of the sword, and possessed his land from Arnon unto Jabbok [see The Jabbok River], even unto the children of Ammon: for the border of the children of Ammon was strong. 21:25 And Israel took all these cities: and Israel dwelt in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon, and in all the villages thereof. 21:26 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, even unto Arnon.
21:27 Wherefore they that speak in proverbs say, Come into Heshbon, let the city of Sihon be built and prepared: 21:28 For there is a fire gone out of Heshbon, a flame from the city of Sihon: it hath consumed Ar of Moab, and the lords of the high places of Arnon. 21:29 Woe to thee, Moab! thou art undone, O people of Chemosh: he hath given his sons that escaped, and his daughters, into captivity unto Sihon king of the Amorites. 21:30 We have shot at them; Heshbon is perished even unto Dibon, and we have laid them waste even unto Nophah, which reacheth unto Medeba.
21:31 Thus Israel dwelt in the land of the Amorites." (Numbers 21:21-31 KJV)
"The city that is in the midst of the river, and all the plain by Medeba"
As shown on the map, the area of Medeba was included in the inheritance of the tribe of Reuben (see Children of Jacob).
"13:7 Now therefore divide this land for an inheritance unto the nine tribes, and the half tribe of Manasseh [see also Why Did Jacob Adopt Ephraim And Manasseh?], 13:8 With whom the Reubenites and the Gadites have received their inheritance, which Moses gave them [see The Prophets: Moses], beyond Jordan eastward, even as Moses the servant of the LORD gave them; 13:9 From Aroer, that is upon the bank of the river Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the river, and all the plain of Medeba unto Dibon; 13:10 And all the cities of Sihon king of the Amorites, which reigned in Heshbon, unto the border of the children of Ammon" (Joshua 13:7-10 KJV)
"13:15 And Moses gave unto the tribe of the children of Reuben inheritance according to their families. 13:16 And their coast was from Aroer, that is on the bank of the river Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the river, and all the plain by Medeba; 13:17 Heshbon, and all her cities that are in the plain; Dibon, and Bamothbaal, and Bethbaalmeon, 13:18 And Jahaza, and Kedemoth, and Mephaath, 13:19 And Kirjathaim, and Sibmah, and Zarethshahar in the mount of the valley, 13:20 And Bethpeor, and Ashdothpisgah, and Bethjeshimoth, 13:21 And all the cities of the plain, and all the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, which reigned in Heshbon, whom Moses smote with the princes of Midian, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, which were dukes of Sihon, dwelling in the country." (Joshua 13:15-21 KJV)
Later, during the time of King David (see The United Kingdom), it was at Medeba that Joab defeated the Ammonites and their allies after they abused David's offers of peace.
"19:1 Now it came to pass after this, that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon died, and his son reigned in his stead. 19:2 And David said, I will show kindness unto Hanun the son of Nahash, because his father showed kindness to me. And David sent messengers to comfort him concerning his father. So the servants of David came into the land of the children of Ammon to Hanun, to comfort him.
19:3 But the princes of the children of Ammon said to Hanun, Thinkest thou that David doth honour thy father, that he hath sent comforters unto thee? are not his servants come unto thee for to search, and to overthrow, and to spy out the land? 19:4 Wherefore Hanun took David's servants, and shaved them, and cut off their garments in the midst hard by their buttocks, and sent them away.
19:5 Then there went certain, and told David how the men were served. And he sent to meet them: for the men were greatly ashamed. And the king said, Tarry at Jericho until your beards be grown, and then return.
19:6 And when the children of Ammon saw that they had made themselves odious to David, Hanun and the children of Ammon sent a thousand talents of silver to hire them chariots and horsemen out of Mesopotamia, and out of Syriamaachah, and out of Zobah. 19:7 So they hired thirty and two thousand chariots, and the king of Maachah and his people; who came and pitched before Medeba. And the children of Ammon gathered themselves together from their cities, and came to battle.
19:8 And when David heard of it, he sent Joab, and all the host of the mighty men.
19:9 And the children of Ammon came out, and put the battle in array before the gate of the city: and the kings that were come were by themselves in the field.
19:10 Now when Joab saw that the battle was set against him before and behind, he chose out of all the choice of Israel, and put them in array against the Syrians. 19:11 And the rest of the people he delivered unto the hand of Abishai his brother, and they set themselves in array against the children of Ammon. 19:12 And he said, If the Syrians be too strong for me, then thou shalt help me: but if the children of Ammon be too strong for thee, then I will help thee. 19:13 Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the LORD do that which is good in his sight.
19:14 So Joab and the people that were with him drew nigh before the Syrians unto the battle; and they fled before him." (1 Chronicles 19:1-14 KJV)
Fact Finder: (a) Where is the land of "milk and honey"? (b) Is "the promised land" a place given to those who obey God? What happened when Israel broke their part of the promise?
(a) See Milk and Honey
(b) See The Two-Way Promise Of The Promised Land