THE land of Moab lies on the east side of the Dead Sea.

When the children of Israel came up from Egypt, the Lord said to Moses, "Distress not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle; for I will not give thee of their land for a possession, because I have given Ar unto the children of Lot for a possession." 

Deuteronomy 2:9.

So they passed along the "coast" or border, to the river Arnon, which was then the northern boundary of Moab; for although the Moabites had held the land as far north as the mountains of Gilead, they had lately been driven south of the Arnon by Sihon, king of the Amorites.

The land of Moab, in the strictest sense, was bounded on the north by the river Arnon, which flows through a rocky chasm of immense depth, and empties into the Dead Sea about midway from north to south. Mr. Whitney, in his "Handbook of Bible Geography," says, "Where this stream bursts into the Dead Sea, it is eighty-two feet wide and four feet deep, flowing through a chasm with perpendicular sides of red, brown, and yellow sandstone, ninety-seven feet wide." 

The cut made by the Arnon, when viewed from Aroer, a noted city on its north bank,'' looks like a deep chasm, formed by some tremendous convulsion of the earth, into which there seems no possibility of descending to the bottom. "On the east, Moab borders upon the Arabian Desert; and on the south, upon the land of Edom. On the whole, it may be described as a high tableland, covered with ridges and hills, interspersed with deep chasms, rugged ravines, well-watered valleys, and wide plains. Judging from its dense population, it must once have been exceedingly productive. Travelers say that without doubt it once presented "a continued picture of plenty and fertility."

It is proved to have been very populous, not only by the great strength, which it is known to have possessed, but, by the numerous ruins, which are everywhere, seen. It is said that ''the whole of the plains are covered with the sites of towns on every eminence or spot convenient for the construction of one."

But all is now in ruins. Desolation reigns everywhere. A recent traveler says, "It is a telling fact that in Moab proper there are today only four inhabited cities or villages, and three of these are mere hamlets." Thus the judgments announced by the prophets of God have been fulfilled.

The country itself is a natural fortress. On the north it is protected by the deep chasm of the Arnon. Mr. Fish says, "The descent and ascent in crossing the Arnon was positively fearful. The peak of the hills is thirty-eight hundred feet above the Dead Sea, and twenty-four hundred above the adjacent plain." On the east and south, it is guarded by an almost impassable barrier of hills, broken through by only two mountain torrents. On the west the tableland, which is three thousand feet above the Dead Sea, "breaks down in rugged, desolate cliffs of sandstone and limestone."

The most noted cities of Moab were, Ar, its capital, situated near the middle of the country; and Kir-Haraseth, now called Kerak. It was this latter place that the united kings of Israel, Judah and Edom, were unable to take.

Mr. Fish compares the location of this town to a miniature city, situated on the top of a high, sharp cone raised from the bottom of a bowl, and surrounded by a wall flanked with towers and castles. He says, "We entered through a massive gate tunneled in rock."  This conical hill stands between two chasms of immense depth, which here unite to form the sublime Wady Kerak, a tremendous cut leading off north-easterly to the Dead Sea, about ten miles distant. Mr. Lynch describes this chasm as being lined with ''beetling crags, blackened by the tempests of ages, in shape exactly resembling the waves of a mighty ocean, which, at the moment of overleaping some lofty barrier, were suddenly changed to stone, retaining even in transformation, their dark and angry hue."

The intended length of this article prevents further description of this strange, though remarkable, country. On account of the warlike and treacherous character of the Arab robbers that roam through this region, explorations are extremely difficult and dangerous; yet, within a few years, many important discoveries have been made.

The Scriptures referring to this land are too many and varied, to be noticed here; but we can hardly take leave of this region without mentioning that it was the home of Ruth, and that here she replied to Naomi in those beautiful words, which will ever be admired for their simplicity and pathos: "Entreat me not to leave thee . . .; for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God; where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried." 

This loving daughter of Moab was great-grand-mother to king David, and to her we trace the lineage of our Saviour. This relationship enabled David to secure protection for his father and mother at the hands of the king of Moab, while he was hiding in the caves of the mountains to escape the wrath of Saul.