Aroer—Joshua 12:2

At least four cities named Aroer existed during the Old Testament period, but the most significant one sat on the northeastern rim of the Arnon canyon in Transjordan. According to the biblical text, Aroer had the characteristics of a fortress at a crossing point on the border between the Amorite territory of king Sihon and that of Moab (Deut. 4:48; Josh. 12:2; cf. Judg. 11:22), a function apparently maintained during the presence of the Israelites in that region (Deut. 2:36; Josh. 13:9). The Reubenites occupied the site for a time. Later, the Moabite king Mesha claimed on his stela (line 26) to have refortified Aroer after taking it back from the kingdom of Israel (cf. 1 Kings 3). A few years later the Aramean King Hazael (9th century BC) invaded Israelite territory in Transjordan (Bashan and Gilead) and captured Aroer, controlling the trade and resources of that entire region (2 Kings 10:33). Excavations at the modern Arab village of ‘Ara’ir (Khirbet ‘Ara’ir), a few kilometers southeast of biblical Dibon, modern Dibhan, has recovered pottery and artifacts from the Early Bronze III as well as the Iron Age. The site appears to have been unoccupied from the Middle Bronze Age until the Iron Age. One of the most significant findings was the remains in Level IV of an Iron Age fortress of approximately 50 square meters constructed of large blocks of stone, which the excavators dated to the time of king Mesha. Eventually Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Aroer.