Genesis 19:37–38 (JPS):

וַתֵּלֶד הַבְּכִירָה בֵּן וַתִּקְרָא שְׁמוֹ מוֹאָב הוּא אֲבִי מוֹאָב עַד הַיּוֹם. וְהַצְּעִירָה גַם הִוא יָלְדָה בֵּן וַתִּקְרָא שְׁמוֹ בֶּן עַמִּי הוּא אֲבִי בְנֵי עַמּוֹן עַד הַיּוֹם.‏ / And the first-born bore a son, and called his name Moab—the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day. And the younger, she also bore a son, and called his name Ben-ammi—the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.

Judges 10:6 (JPS):

‏…וְאֶת אֱלֹהֵי אֲרָם וְאֶת אֱלֹהֵי צִידוֹן וְאֵת אֱלֹהֵי מוֹאָב וְאֵת אֱלֹהֵי בְנֵי עַמּוֹן וְאֵת אֱלֹהֵי פְלִשְׁתִּים….‏ / …and the gods of Aram, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines….

Ⅰ Chronicles 18:11 (JPS):

‏…מֵאֱדוֹם וּמִמּוֹאָב וּמִבְּנֵי עַמּוֹן וּמִפְּלִשְׁתִּים וּמֵעֲמָלֵק.‏ / …from Edom, and from Moab, and from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines, and from Amalek.

In fact, almost every time Amon is mentioned in Tanach, it's called "בְּנֵי עַמּוֹן", "the children of Amon", unlike other nations. Why is it?

(Perhaps the name of the nation is actually "בְּנֵי עַמּוֹן", "B'ne Amon", (and the demonym "Amoni" would be like "Y'mini" for a Benjaminite,) perhaps named after בֶּן עַמִּי. However, arguing against that is the fact that "Amon" is occasionally used alone: e.g., Ⅰ Samuel 11:11 and Psalms 83:8.)

  • Similar: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/5083
    – msh210
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 7:07
  • Chronicles 2 - 20:1 And it came to pass after this, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them some of the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle.
    – warz3
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 2:50
  • Zephaniah 2:9 - ...Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah
    – warz3
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 2:55
  • 1
    See also judaism.stackexchange.com/q/123755/170
    – msh210
    Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 3:35
  • @msh210 Dupe?__ Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 8:02

3 Answers 3


No explicit source offhand but, as you yourself suggest, it likely has to do with the fact that the name of the ancestral forefather was really "Ben-Ammi" not just "Ammi" or "Ammon" (to indicate that he was of his mother's father/nation [see e.g. Rashi] , an idea which Moab's mother conveyed with just one word.) As such, (and again as you yourself suggest) "Ammon" alone is shorthand for "Ben-Ammon" much like "Yemini" is short hand for "Benyamini" (see also Emek Hamelech and Rabbi Waxman; as well as Shadal who also notes the trend).

  • 2
    All this adds to the theory already mentioned in the question is the last sentence. It's an answer, but a weak one IMO without any evidence. Do you have any?
    – msh210
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 0:15
  • The support, I think, is in the pasuk in Bereishis.
    – Loewian
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 14:20
  • (Admittedly, I should have read the last sentence carefully before answering;) - but I still think that's likely pshat.)
    – Loewian
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 14:22
  • (Regardless, I don't see why Amon is more of a problem than Yemini?)
    – Loewian
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 14:25

This is an excellent question. Although I don't have the complete answer to your question, I would like to present the archaeological evidence supporting the phrase of "בני עמון" frequently used in the Torah.

An ancient bullae was found recently (script is Ammonite) where the name of king Ba'alis of Ammon was found on it. It was very hard to read because of the deterioration of the seal, but scholars were able to reconstruct the lines, thus it reads (more precisely, what was inscribed originally): [Belonging to] Ba'alis King of B[nei Ammo]n. This is an amazing discovery indeed, and it supports the biblical account, since it is the same exact term used in the Torah to describe the nation of Ammon: בני עמון. So we see that the authors of Tanach (they were all too familiar with the culture of their neighbors) merely used the name the Ammonites applied to themselves (for whatever reason).

Below is an illustration of the bullae with the name Ba'alis king of B'nei Ammon inscribed upon it!

illustration of the bullae

Much more needs to be reconstructed in the damaged third line. Only traces of the first and last letters are visible: the head of the first letter, bet, and upper edge of the last letter, nun. But this is enough to reconstruct the line as Bnei Ammon -- literally, the Sons of Ammon, or the Ammonites -- since the named king, Ba'alis, is known as an Ammonite king. Indeed, in the Biblical passage that mentions Ba'alis (Jeremiah 40:14), he is referred to as the "King [of the] Bnei Ammon," the same term that we have reconstructed here based on the first and last letters. The same term appears on a well-known bronze bottle, called a situla, found at Tell Siran in Jordan.



The Sefer Shaarei Aharon in Vayeira 19:37 offers an explanation to the discrepancy between referring to Moav the same term as the previous Passuk whereas Bnei Amon is different then Ben Ami.

He says 'the way that a person wants to go, he is taken. Therefore, the younger daughter who tried to conceal the matter (the name Amon is less obvious to have been impregnated by her father, as opposed to Moav) therefore 'hashgacha' concealed the matter completely, for there is a difference between Ben Ami and Bnei Amon'.

  • 2
    I don't see how this answers the qeustion
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 14:35
  • That explains why the nation of Amon has a name different from its founder's whereas Moav doesn't, which, if anything, makes my question stronger.
    – msh210
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 14:43
  • @Double why is that? Because he specifically addressed the juxtaposition of Moav and Amon? At the end of the day the logic applies any time Amon is mentioned. She won a special degree of concealing the origins of the nation due to her choosing the more modest route.
    – user6591
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 14:52
  • 1
    How does Benei Amon instead of Amon conceal that?
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 15:00
  • 1
    @user6591 Your source is answering why it switched from Ben Ami to Benei Amon, not why Benei is used at all. So it isn't applicable to this question. Ami or Amon doesn't mean father anyway...
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 15:09

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .