SIHON (Heb. סִיחֹן, סִיחוֹן), Amorite king of *Heshbon, which was a city N.N.E. of Mt. Nebo. According to biblical tradition Sihon conquered the territory of Moab, as far as the Arnon (Num. 21:26). When the Israelites, on their way from the wilderness to the Promised Land, asked his permission to pass through his territory, Sihon refused to grant it, and tried to bar their way. A battle took place, with the result that Sihon was defeated, his land conquered, and Heshbon destroyed (Num. 21:21–25; Deut. 2:26–37). An echo of this conquest was preserved in the poem of the "ballad singers" (Num. 21:27–30). Scholars differ as to the extent of Sihon's territory. M. Noth (see bibl.) thinks that he controlled only an area surrounding Heshbon, and that the boundaries given in Judges 11:22, for example, reflect the history of the subsequent Israelite occupation of the region. Others maintain that Sihon exercised his power over various Amorite and Midianite princedoms in the southern part of Gilead, from Arnon in the south to Jabbok in the north, and from the desert to the Jordan (cf. S. Ahitub, in bibl.; Num. 21:21–30; Deut. 2:26–37; Josh. 12:2; 13:21, 25–27; Judg. 11:21–22).
Maisler, Untersuchungen, 39–42; M. Noth, in: ZAW, 58 (1940–41), 162–70; 60 (1944), 37–41; M. Diman (Haran), in: Yedi'ot, 13 (1947), 13–15; S. Yeivin, in: JNES, 9 (1950), 102; R. de Vaux, Bible et Orient (1967), 118–27; S. Ahitub, in: EM, 5 (1968), 1017–18.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.