Ataroth means crowns, and when listed alongside Dibon and Aroer may indicate the royalty of this remote village in the Madaba plateau. Local tradition has Madaba, Dibon and Aroer as daughters of the king of Heshbon. Whether this is true or not, the force extended from Sihon out of both Heshbon and Aroer was so significant, that the defeat by the Israelites was remembered centuries later (Ps 106.) and became a parable of the overcoming of sin in Num 21.

Ataroth today is a blip on the map. A few crumbling houses remain, and if one was not aware of its location, like the multitudes of tourists that pass to see the magnificence of the palace complex at Machaerus, the village is unrecognised.

The children of Gad were to rebuild Ataroth, most likely indicating a siege and destruction as part of the action of the Israelites against Sihon, Num 32:3,34. What is most remarkable about this is that when arriving at Ai and losing 33 men in Joshua 7:2f they were amazed at the significant losses. Israel appear not to have lost a man in the conquest against Sihon and Og king of Bashan, a feature mentioned in Num 31.  Gad has the idea of troops, but more in the sense of overcoming, Gen 49:19. The word for overcoming being the root idea of Jacob’s name, and the idea contained within the heel of Gen 3:15.

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