(A·roʹer) [Juniper Tree].
1. A city located on the N rim of the deep gorge forming the torrent valley of the Arnon. At the time of the conquest by Israel (c. 1474 B.C.E.) it was the southernmost city of the Amorite kingdom. (De 2:36; 4:47, 48; Jos 12:2) Thereafter it passed to the tribe of Reuben, although the tribe of Gad is mentioned as building (probably, repairing) the city. (Nu 32:33, 34; De 3:12; Jos 13:8, 9, 15, 16; 1Ch 5:8) It marked the southern boundary of Israel E of the Jordan and so corresponded to Beer-sheba, a major southern city W of the Jordan.
After some 300 years of Israelite occupation, the Ammonites pressed a claim for the region lying between the Arnon and the Jabbok, but Judge Jephthah refuted their claim by showing that Israel had taken the land, including Aroer, from the Amorites.—Jg 11:13, 22, 26.
This city of Aroer appears to have been the starting point for the census ordered by King David, which thereafter swung N to Dan-jaan and looped over to Tyre and Sidon and then S to Beer-sheba in the Negeb. (2Sa 24:4-8) The mention of “the city that is in the middle of the torrent valley” coincides with similar references at Deuteronomy 2:36 and Joshua 13:9, 16. This unnamed city is considered by some to correspond to Khirbet el-Medeiyineh, about 11 km (7 mi) SE of Aroer.
During the reign of King Jehu of Israel (c. 904-877 B.C.E.), King Hazael of Syria overran the territories of Gad and Reuben, as far S as Aroer on the Arnon. (2Ki 10:33) Perhaps during this time, Moabite King Mesha fortified the city and built his road by the Arnon, as related on line 26 of the Moabite Stone. At the time of Jeremiah’s prophecy against Moab the city was under Moabite control.—Jer 48:19.
The site of the ancient city is identified with Khirbet ʽAraʽir, about 23 km (14 mi) E of the Dead Sea, about 6 km (3.5 mi) SE of Dibon, and close by the King’s Highway, the main N-S route on that side of the Jordan. The ruins contain evidences of an ancient fortress, which, from its vantage point on the edge of the impressive gorge, could likely control the passages over the Arnon.
2. A town of the territory of Gad, described as “in front of Rabbah” (modern ʽAmman), the chief city of the Ammonites. (Jos 13:24, 25) It is possibly the Aroer mentioned in the description of Jephthah’s conquest over the Ammonites at Judges 11:33. The location of the place is uncertain since the expression “in front of” is not particularly restrictive, though often considered as meaning “to the east of.”
3. A town in the southern part of the territory of Judah. After David’s victory over the Amalekite raiders he distributed portions of the spoil to the older men of the city. (1Sa 30:26, 28) It is identified with Khirbet ʽArʽarah (Horvat ʽAroʽer), about 17 km (11 mi) SE of Beer-sheba, where the ruins of a fort remain. Some scholars believe that it may be the same place as the “Adadah” of Joshua 15:22, the Hebrew letter daʹleth (ד) being substituted for rehsh (ר) in both instances.
The reference to “the cities of Aroer” at Isaiah 17:2 could apply to either of the first two cities here considered. The prophecy primarily deals with Damascus, and in view of the Syrian conquest of Israel reaching as far as Aroer on the Arnon, the expression may refer to this southernmost point of their extension of power E of the Jordan.—2Ki 10:33.