The topography of Kir-hareseth

Kir-hareseth figures prominently in a story recorded in 2 Kings 3. After the death of Ahab (853 B.C.), Mesha, king of Moab, rebelled against the king of Israel. Jehoram (or Joram; 852–841 B.C.), the king of Israel, did not want to give up the tribute that Mesha had been paying Israel. Jehoram prepared for war and convinced Jehoshaphat (870/69–848 B.C.), king of Judah, to join him to engage Mesha in war. They  decided to take the long, circuitous wilderness route. They would go south of the Dead Sea and approach Moab from the south through Edom.

In the map below you see that Kir-hareseth (site of Karak or Kerak, Jordan) sits only a few miles from the desert and the ancient King’s Highway. The famous Karak Crusader castle provides a view to the west toward the Dead Sea.

Location of Kir-hareseth, modern Kerak in Jordan.

Location of Kir-hareseth, modern Karak in Jordan.

Notice that a valley runs northeasterly from Kir-hareseth to the Dead Sea. Remember that the Dead Sea would be dry south of the Lisan (tongue) except for water that is pumped from the north. In the photos below we can see how this area looks today.

Kerak castle from the west side of the ridge on which it stands. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Karak castle from the west side of the ridge on which it stands. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

When we travel down the valley toward the Dead Sea, we can turn back toward the east to see Karak castle on the far right of the ridge. Click on the photo for a larger view.

View from the valley below Kir-hareseth. The view is to the east. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

View to the east from the valley below Kir-hareseth. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In the next photo we turn to look down the valley toward the Dead Sea (to the west).

View toward the west from below the Kerak castle. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

View toward the west from below the Karak castle. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

After the king of Moab offered his oldest son on the wall of the city, the Israelites departed and returned home.

Then he took his oldest son who was to reign in his place and offered him for a burnt offering on the wall. And there came great wrath against Israel. And they withdrew from him and returned to their own land. (2 Kings 3:27 ESV)

The valley we have shown above would be the most natural route to take back to Israel. Kir-hareseth is almost 3000 feet above sea level; the Dead Sea is about 1300 feet below sea level. Highway 50 follows the valley and dead ends at highway 65 which runs north-south along the east side of the Dead Sea.

Understanding the topography of an event helps a lot.

Karak castle plays a role in the 2005 movie Kingdom of Heaven. I found it fascinating because I had been to many of the Crusader sites mentioned in it.

4 responses to “The topography of Kir-hareseth

  1. Again, I suggest that you create the google maps account so that users can visit it and explore the places that you are explaining in a lot of details!

  2. Beautiful photos from Karak 🙂

    Concerning the film “Kingdom” of heaven movie, I watched it at least 8 years ago. It is nice. But the way they portray the Karak Castle is horrific! As if no one knows any “topography” about Karak. They picture the in the middle of a very plane land. The Karak in the movie also does not resemble the real castle at all!!! They should have read your article maybe 🙂

    You can see the photos of the castle in their movie here. They “said” that it is the Karak castle:

  3. Pingback: A sunrise few have seen | Ferrell's Travel Blog

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