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RABBAH (Ha-Rabbah; Heb. רַבָּה ,הָרַבָּה).

(1) An abbreviation for *Rabbath-Ammon .

(2) A town in Judah mentioned with Kiriath-Jearim as part of the inheritance of the tribe of Judah in the hill country (Joshua 15:60). It is probably identical with a city called Rbt near Gezer in Thutmosis III's list of Canaanite cities (no. 105). It may also be mentioned in a cuneiform letter found at Taanach. According to two el-Amarna letters (289, 290) sent by the king of Jerusalem to the pharaoh, Milkilu, the king of Gezer, together with Shuwardata captured Rubutu with the aid of mercenaries. The name appears for the last time in Shishak's list of conquered towns, after Gezer and before Aijalon. Some scholars, following the Septuagint, identify Rabbah with Soba (Ar. Sūbā) near Jerusalem, but the recently discovered site of Khirbat Bīr (Biʾr) al-Ḥilū fits the descriptions in the ancient sources remarkably well.

(3) An abbreviation for the city of Rabbath-Moab, now Khirbat al-Rabba, 14 mi. (c. 22 km.) south of the River Arnon. Alexander Yannai conquered it with other cities in Moab; after his death it was restored to the Nabateans by Hyrcanus II (Jos., Ant., 14:18). It is called Rabbathmoba by Ptolemy (5:16, 4) and appears thus on the coins of his time. Rabbah appears as a district capital in one of the Babatha letters found in the Naḥal Hever in 1961. Eusebius refers to it as Areopolis, the town of the war god Ares (Onom. 124:15 ff.). In the fourth century it was identified with the Ar of Moab of Numbers 21:28; recently, the remains of a Canaanite-Moabite city (Early and Late Bronze ages) were found at al-Mishna in the vicinity of Khirbat al-Rabba. In late Roman times, Rabbah was a post of the Equites Mauri Illyriciani (Notitia Dignitatum 80:5); remains of a temple, walls, and a citadel have been noticed here. A sumptuous Jewish synagogue was destroyed there in the fifth century by the fanatical monk Bar-Sauma. After the Arab conquest, Rabbah, sometimes called Moab by Arab geographers, continued in existence. It is mentioned in 1321 as a village in the district of Karak and as a station on the Damascus-al-Karak road.


Glueck, in: AASOR, 14 (1934), 62; Press, Erez, S.V.; Abel, Geog, 2 (1938), 23–5; Aharoni, Land, index; idem, in: VT (1969).

[Michael Avi-Yonah]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.