(Pisʹgah) [possibly from a root meaning “to cut or cleave”; hence, perhaps, a cutoff piece or cleft].
The first mention of this place is in connection with the campsites along the line of Israel’s march toward the Promised Land. (Num. 21:20) It was located in the southern part of that territory taken in the conquest of the Amorites after their king, Sihon, refused to let the Israelites pass through the land. (Deut. 4:46, 49; Josh. 12:1-3) Later, Balak the king of Moab, took Balaam “to the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah,” in a vain attempt to have the Israelites cursed.—Num. 23:14.
Pisgah, however, is best remembered in connection with Moses’ extensive view of the Promised Land shortly before his death. (Deut. 3:27; 34:1-3) Pisgah was designated as part of Reuben’s tribal territory.—Deut. 3:16, 17; Josh. 13:15, 20.
Wherever the name Pisgah occurs in the Bible it is always qualified by such expressions as “the head of,” “the top of,” or “the slopes of” Pisgah. As a consequence it is frequently referred to as Mount Pisgah, though not so in the Scriptures.
The exact location of Pisgah in the northern section of the Abarim mountain range immediately E of the Dead Sea is unknown. Bible references to this elevated lookout are not in conflict with its suggested identity with Ras en-Siyaghah, a headland located about ten miles (16 kilometers) E of where the Jordan empties into the Dead Sea. Ras en-Siyaghah is a little NW of Jebel en-Neba, the summit traditionally known as Mount Nebo.
The physical features of these two elevations are in agreement with the Bible’s brief description. Ras en-Siyaghah is about a hundred meters (330 feet) lower in elevation than Jebel en-Neba and separated from the latter by a slight depression or saddle, which suggests a cutoff piece or cleft, the possible meaning of Pisgah. Though slightly lower than its neighbor summit, Ras en-Siyaghah is closer to Jericho and affords an unobstructed view of the Dead Sea some 3,700 feet (1,128 meters) below, as well as a splendid view of the Jordan valley, the central range on which Hebron, Bethlehem and Jerusalem are situated, and Mount Hermon over a hundred miles (161 kilometers) to the N.