While the origin of the Arabic name “Umm ar-Rasas” remains a mystery to this day it wasn't until the seventeenth century that archaeologist Jemer Deran suggested that Umm ar-Rasas is in fact Mephaath mentioned in the book of Joshua. Inscriptions in the churches of Umm ar-Rasas validated Derans theory and proved that it was in fact Mephaath, which the bible mentioned was located in the land of Moab and which was also considered a refuge for those guilty of accidental killing (Joshua 20).

“And Moses gave unto the tribe of the children of Reuben [inheritance] according to their families. And their coast was from Aroer, that [is] on the bank of the river Arnon, and the city that [is] in the midst of the river, and all the plain by Medeba; Heshbon, and all her cities that [are] in the plain; Dibon, and Bamothbaal, and Bethbaalmeon, And Jahazah, and Kedemoth, and Mephaath,”
— Joshua 13

“Judgment has come upon the table and, upon Holon, and Jahzah, and Mephaath”
— Jeremiah 48:21

The main attraction is outside the city walls within the church of St. Stephen which contains a very large, perfectly preserved mosaic floor laid down 718 AD. It portrays fifteen major cities of the Holy Land from both east and west of the River Jordan. This magnificent mosaic is second only to madabas world famous mosaic map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land.