Abarim (Mount Nebo)


ab'-a-rim, a-ba'-rim (`abharim): The stem idea is that of going across a space or a dividing line, or for example a river. It is the same stem that appears in the familiar phrase "beyond Jordan," used to denote the region East of the Jordan, and Hellenized in the name Peraea. This fact affords the most natural explanation of the phrases `the mountains of the Abarim' (Numbers 33:47, 48); `this mountain-country of the Abarim' (Numbers 27:12 Deuteronomy 32:49); Iye-abarim, which means "Heaps of the Abarim," or "Mounds of the Abarim" (Numbers 21:11; Numbers 33:44). In Numbers 33:45 this station is called simply Iyim, "Mounds." It is to be distinguished from the place of the same name in southern Judah (Joshua 15:29). The name Abarim, without the article, occurs in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 22:20 the Revised Version (British and American), where the King James Version translates "the passages"), where it seems to be the name of a region, on the same footing with the names Lebanon and Bashan, doubtless the region referred to in Numbers and Deuteronomy. There is no reason for changing the vowels in Ezekiel 39:11, in order to make that another occurrence of the same name.

When the people of Abraham lived in Canaan, before they went to Egypt to sojourn, they spoke of the region east of the Jordan as "beyond Jordan." Looking across the Jordan and the Dead Sea they designated the mountain country they saw there as "the Beyond mountains." They continued to use these geographical terms when they came out of Egypt. We have no means of knowing to how extensive a region they applied the name. The passages speak of the mountain country of Abarim where Moses died, including Nebo, as situated back from the river Jordan in its lowest reaches; and of the Mounds of the Abarim as farther to the southeast, so that the Israelites passed them when making their detour around the agricultural parts of Edom, before they crossed the Arnon. Whether the name Abarim should be applied to the parts of the eastern hill country farther to the north is a question on which we lack evidence.

Willis J. Beecher