This place is represented by modern Madaba, a town located on a low, gently sloping hill about 20 km (12 mi) E of the northern end of the Dead Sea. The ancient “king’s road” linked it with other cities E of the Jordan. (Compare Nu 20:17.) Madaba is situated on a treeless but fertile plain, or plateau. In the plain, “the tableland of Medeba,” flocks of sheep and goats find pasturage.—Jos 13:9, 16.
After the Israelites defeated Amorite King Sihon, Medeba came to be in the territory given to the tribe of Reuben. (Jos 13:8, 9, 15, 16) It appears that earlier the Amorites had taken Medeba from the Moabites. (Nu 21:25-30) Several centuries later, in a fight against the Ammonites, the army of King David under Joab’s command defeated Aramaean (Syrian) mercenary forces encamped before Medeba.—1Ch 19:6-16.
According to the Moabite Stone (line 8), Israel’s King Omri (c. 951-941 B.C.E.) took possession of the “land of Mehedeba (Medeba).” Line 30 of the same monument indicates that Moab’s King Mesha rebuilt Medeba and other cities in the area. It may be, however, that the Israelites regained dominion over Medeba when Jeroboam II (c. 844-804 B.C.E.) “restored the boundary of Israel from the entering in of Hamath clear to the sea of the Arabah.” (2Ki 14:25) But this would not have been for long, since Isaiah’s pronouncement (c. 778–a. 732 B.C.E.) against Moab shows that Medeba was by then under the control of the Moabites and it was foretold that the Moabites would ‘howl’ over the loss of the city.—Isa 15:1, 2.