› Forums › Religion › Who was Mesha in the bible › Reply To: Who was Mesha in the bible
Mesha was the king of Moab. There was no love lost between Mesha, king of Moab, and Joram, ruler of the northern kingdom of Israel.
For centuries, Israel had experienced an uneasy relationship with the Moabites, who were descendants of Lot’s oldest daughter. The Moabites tried to curse the Israelites on their way to the Promised Land.
During the time of the judges, one of the Moabite kings, Eglon, invaded Israelite territory. Now the tables were turned— Moab was subject to the northern kingdom—and Mesha was determined to do something about it.
During the reign of the infamous King Ahab (Joram’s father), Mesha had been forced to send a massive annual tribute of one hundred thousand lambs, along with the wool of one hundred thousand rams.
Such an arrangement indicated Israel’s status as an important regional power at the time. With the ascent of Joram, however, Mesha sensed a power vacuum and seized his opportunity to revolt.
The king of Israel, joined by the kings of Judah and Edom, decided to retaliate by invading Moab and putting Mesha in his place. What followed was an unusual story filled with strange twists of fortune. First, the invading armies nearly died of thirst in the desert.
Desperate, they appealed to the prophet Elisha, who announced the miraculous provision of water, though not before taunting Joram. Next, Mesha decided he would attack first. Sensing an opportunity, he sent his forces into Israel’s camp—only to be overrun.
During the rout, Mesha and seven hundred soldiers fled to a fortified city. In one last unexpected twist, Mesha sacrificed his own son to Chemosh, the god of Moab—in full view of his enemies. At this point, the chronicler wrote,
“The fury against Israel was great; they withdrew and returned to their own land” (2 Kings 3:27).
This cryptic statement may mean that Israel panicked, fearing the power of Chemosh and not fully trusting the Lord to deliver the promised victory. In any case, Mesha lived to fight another day.
Mesha told the story from his perspective on an ancient artifact called the Moabite Stone. The stone corroborates the biblical claim that Moab was subject to Israel at the time.