While the story surrounding Lot and his wife is among the lesser of the well-known accounts in Scripture, the story of the people who came from him is almost overlooked entirely. When people talk about Lot, in my experience at least, they talk only about two things: he was Abraham’s nephew and his wife turned into a pillar of salt. Sometimes they talk about how he separated from Abraham, as that is how he and his family eventually ended up in Sodom. But few talk about the circumstances surrounding his daughters and their sons. Though having children by their father was not right, God still provided for them after the Exodus and during the conquest of Canaan, telling the Israelites that He had given the sons of Lot an inheritance in the land (Deut. 2:9, 19, & 37, Jdg. 11:15). But what is specifically fascinating about Moab and Ben-Ammiy is in their names.
Moab will come first as his was the older of the sons. His name is מוֹאָב comes from the Hebrew word אָב which means father and sometimes as a forefather (Strong’s “4124.”, “1.”). Thus, Moab or מוֹאָב means “from the father” or “of the father”. In other languages, however, while the basic form of the name remains the same, some of the meaning is lost. In Assyrian records, Moab’s name is rendered as both “Ma’abaya” and “mat Mua’aba-a-a“. In Egypt, the name is “mwib“. The Mesha Stele renders the name Moab similarly to Hebrew, Canaanite, and Egyptian, appearing something like “mab”. Thus, in many languages and lands, Moab’s name survived essentially untouched.
Ben-Ammiy, or Ammon, also survived the test of time, not only in apparent spelling but also in meaning. While most call the land of Ben-Ammiy Ammon, the proper rendering of his name is Ben-Ammiy. The name Ben-Ammiy is בֶּן־עַמִּי in Hebrew, coming from בֵּן or “ben” meaning son and עַם or “am” meaning nation, people, or tribe (Strong’s “1151.”, “1121.”, “5971.”). Thus, Ben-Ammiy literally means “son of my people”. In Ammonite territory, an osctraca was found with “bn ‘m[n]“, which translate to “the people of Ammon”. In Ugaritic inscriptions, the name for Ammon was either “‘my” or “bn’myn“, similar to Ben-Ammiy and meaning essentially the same as the Hebrew. The Assyrian name for Ben-Ammiy is even more akin to the original name than even what they gave to Moab, calling the Ammonites “matBit-Am-man-na-a-a” a name translated as either Beth or Bit-Ammon. This much more similar to the original name. Finally, Ammon currently remains in the name of the capital of Jordan: Amman. In the past, the name of this city has been Philadelphia, Rabbah, and Rabbath Ammon. When Rabbath Ammon is literally translated, it means “the capital of Ammon’s sons”. In truth, this is how the beth, bit, bath, or ben is translated in most cases – as son.
Even to this day the sons of Ben-Ammiy and Moab are found in this region of Jordan. Although many other people have moved and left this area, including Esau’s, Ishmael’s, Ashur’s, and many other’s sons, it was Moab and Ben-Ammiy who left their names so strongly on this part of the land for so many generations. And all of these children of Lot and Abraham, who both come from Arphaxad, along with their brother’s have grown up and remained in this land and peopled it to this day. Perhaps one day others, in seeing their neighbor as a brother, will grow to them as such.