Take a turn around the Internet and you quickly discover Ammonites are mentioned as a long extinct type of animal found in the fossil records
In the Bible, though, the Ammonites are a group of people stemming from the family of Abraham and during Old Testament times caused the Israelites many problems.
So who were they?
*They were a distinct group of people living northeast of the Dead Sea
*In Biblical times the government of the Ammonites was known as the Kingdom of the Ammonites. The kingdom basically centered on the city-state of Rabbah located at the headwaters of the Jabbok River. Today the site of Rabbah is the city of Amman, Jordan.
*The Bible explains the origins of the Ammonite people from the incestuous event between Lot and his daughters following the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Both daughters had children and the Moabites and Ammonites were decendents of the unions. Their admitted kinship through the centuries and close ties in language development attest to kinship. Genesis 19: 36-38 states So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by by their father. The firstborn gave birth to a son and named him Moab. He is the father of the Moabites of today. The younger also gave birth to a son, and she named him Ben-ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites of today.
*There was definitely bad blood between the Ammonites and the Israelites as far back as the Exodus. The Ammonites did not allow the Israelites passage through their lands and for this reason they were excluded from the family of God for ten generations (Deuteronomy 23:3)
*King Saul defeated the Ammonite King, Nahash. In fact, several attacks by the Ammonites were the triggers which eventually united the various Israelite tribes under King Saul.
*King David had some good dealings with King Nahash, but did not get along so well with his successor, King Hanun.
*King David’s armies defeated King Hanun. When King David was courting Bathsheba he sent her husband, Uriah, on an impossible mission. In fact, Uriah was killed while storming the walls of Rabbah, the main city of the Ammonite Kingdom.
*King Solomon’s chief wife was Naamah, an Ammonitess. She was the mother of Rehoboam.
*In New Testament times the Ammonites were still a thorn in the side of Israel. The Pharisees were very concerned with the large number of mixed marriages between Hebrews, Moabites, and Ammonites according to the Justin Martyr. At one point a law in the Mishnah states Ammonite men are excluded, but the women can be admitted to the Jewish community.
*In fact, many scholars over the years have expressed concern regarding the Messianic line through King David because he came from Ruth, a Moabite.