Dictionary of Bible Names

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Bible Meaning: Emptying, pouring forth
Strong's Concordance #H2999

The Jabbok River is one of the principal tributaries of the Jordan River and one of the major watercourses of the Promised Land. Ancient Israel cities located at or near the river include Succoth, Penuel (Peniel) and Mahanaim.

It was near the Jabbok where Jacob wrestled with a "man" (a pre-incarnate Jesus Christ?) all night long and was blessed because of it (Genesis 32).

Conquered Territory

The Moabites, along with the Ammonites, at one time inhabited the land north of the Arnon River and south of the Jabbok. The Amorite King Sihon, however, prior to his confrontation with Moses, had invaded this territory (Numbers 21:13, 24 - 31). He pushed Moab completely out of the area, driving them to live south of the Arnon, and forced the Ammonites to live farther east away from the Jordan.

Location of Jabbok River in Ancient Israel Map
Location of Jabbok River

King Sihon, in late 1406 B.C., rejects Moses' request for safe passage through his territory and instead initiates a war! Moses and the children of Israel soundly defeat Sihon and take control of his land and possessions. This Amorite area is then given to the tribes of Reuben and Gad (Joshua 12).

The territory north of the Jabbok River, during Israel's travel through the area, was controlled by a giant Amorite king named Og (Numbers 21:33 - 35, Deuteronomy 3:11). Og ruled over a large stretch of property that included Gilead and Bashan. His attack of the Israelites, as they journey through his land, fails and his army is decimated. The land won in the war is mostly given to the tribe of Manasseh, with a few parts offered to Gad.

Contested Property

God allows the Israelites living east of the Jordan, due to their many sins, to be oppressed by the Ammonites for eighteen years (Judges 10:7 - 8). A man named Jephthah is ultimately chosen to lead the people out of Ammonite domination.

War with the Ammonites takes place after they demand Israel, who has inhabiting the area south of the Jabbok River for more than three hundred years, give it back to them (Judges 11:12 - 29)! Jephthah, with God's help, defeats the enemy and becomes a Judge in Israel for six years (1087 to 1081 B.C.).

Important Verses

Genesis 32:9, 11, 22, 24
And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee . . .

Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children . . .

And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok . . . And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.

Numbers 21:24
And Israel smote him with the edge of the sword, and possessed his land from Arnon unto Jabbok, even unto the children of Ammon: for the border of the children of Ammon was strong.

Joshua 12:1 - 2
Now these are the kings of the land, which the children of Israel smote, and possessed their land on the other side Jordan toward the rising of the sun, from the river Arnon unto mount Hermon, and all the plain on the east . . .

Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt in Heshbon, and ruled from Aroer, which is upon the bank of the river Arnon, and from the middle of the river, and from half Gilead, even unto the river Jabbok, which is the border of the children of Ammon . . .

Judges 11:13 - 15, 21 - 22
And the king of the children of Ammon answered unto the messengers of Jephthah, Because Israel took away my land, when they came up out of Egypt, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and unto Jordan: now therefore restore those lands again peaceably.

And Jephthah sent messengers again unto the king of the children of Ammon: and said unto him, Thus saith Jephthah, Israel took not away the land of Moab, nor the land of the children of Ammon . . .

And the Lord God of Israel delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they smote them: so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country. And they possessed all the coasts of the Amorites, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and from the wilderness even unto Jordan.

Additional Studies

Dictionary of Biblical Names
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Series Notes
References are based on the
King James Bible translation (KJV).