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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Mahanaim

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(Hebrew Machana'yin, מִחֲנִיַם , two camps, as often, and explained in Genesis 32:2 as meaning the heavenly army of God; where the Sept. has Παρεμβολαί,Vulg. Mahanaim, id est Castra; elsewhere Μαανά Þ μ or Μααναϊ v μ, once Μαναέμ , sometimes παρεμβολαί; Vulg. Manaim, but usually castra), a place beyond the Jordan, north of the river Jabbok, which derived its name from Jacob's having been there met by the angels (Josephus, Θεοῦ στρατόπεδον, Ant. 1:20, 1) on his return from Padan- aram (Genesis 32:2). (See JACOB).

The name was eventually extended to the town which then existed, or which afterwards arose in the neighborhood. This town was on the confines of the tribes of Gad and Manasseh, as well as on the southern boundary of Bashan (Joshua 13:26; Joshua 13:30), and was a city of the Levites (Joshua 21:38; 1 Chronicles 6:80). It was in this city that Ishbosheth, the son of Saul, reigned (2 Samuel 2:8; 2 Samuel 2:12) during David's reign at Hebron, and here he was assassinated (ch. 4). The choice of this place was probably because he found the influence of David's name less strong on the east than on the west of the Jordan; at least, it seems to show that Mahanaim was then an important and strong place (comp. 2 Samuel 2:29; 2 Samuel 19:32). Hence, many years after, David himself repaired to Mahanaim, where he was entertained by Barzillai, the aged sheik of that district, when he sought refuge beyond the Jordan from his son Absalom (2 Samuel 17:24; 2 Samuel 17:27; 1 Kings 2:8). In this vicinity also appears to have been fought the decisive battle in the wood of Ephraim, between the royal troops and the rebels (2 Samuel 18). (See DAVID).

We only read of Mahanaim again as the station of one of the twelve officers who had charge, in monthly rotation, of raising the provisions for the royal establishment under Solomon (1 Kings 4:14). Some find a allusion to the place in Song of Solomon 6:13 ("companies of two armies," lit. dance of Mahanaim), but this is doubtful. "On the monument of Sheshonk (Shishak) at Karnak, in the 22d cartouchone of those which are believed to contain the names of Israelitish cities conquered by that king a name appears which is read as Ma-ha-n-m -a, that is, Mahanaim. The adjoining cartouches contain names which are read as Bethshean, Shunerm, Megiddo, Beth-boron, Gibeon, and other Israelitish names (Brugsch, Geogr. der nachbarlä nder AEgyptens, p. 61). If this interpretation may be relied on, it shows that the invasion of Shishak was more extensive than we should gather from the records of the Bible (2 Chronicles 13), which are occupied mainly with occurrences at the metropolis. Possibly the army entered by the plains of Philistia and Sharon, ravaged Esdraelon and some towns like Mahanaim just beyond Jordan, and then returned, either by the same route of by the Jordan valley, to Jerusalem, attacking it last. This would account for Rehoboam's non- resistance, and also for the fact, of which special mention is made, that many of the chief men of the country had taken refuge in the city. It should, however, be remarked that the names occur in most promiscuous order, and that none has been found resembling Jerusalem." In Dr. Eli Smith's Arabic list of names of places in Jebel Ajlh.n (Robinson's Bib. Researches, 3, Append. p. 166), we find a ruined site under the name of Mahneh, which is probably that of Mahanaim (comp. Schwarz, Palest. p. 231; Keil's Comment. on Joshua 13:26). The same identification was pointed out by the Jewish traveler Hap-Parchi, according to whom it lies about half a day's journey due east of Bethshan (Zunz, in Asher's edit. of Benj. of Tudela, p. 40), the same direction as in Kiepert's Map, but only half as far. Its distance from the Jabbok is a considerable but not fatal objection. Tristram visited the place which he defends at length as the site of Mahanaim, and describes it as well situated for a large town, with considerable remains and a fine pond (Land of Israel, p. 483).


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Mahanaim'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/m/mahanaim.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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