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MACHIR (Heb. מָכִיר), son of Manasseh and grandson of Joseph. Although Machir appears to have been an only son according to Numbers 26:29–34 (cf. Gen. 50:23), other traditions ascribe more sons to Manasseh (Josh. 17:2), and name Asriel as a brother (i Chron. 7:14). Machir's mother is said to have been an Aramean (ibid.). He married *Maacah who bore him Peresh and Sheresh (i Chron. 7:16). He also had a daughter (i Chron. 2:21). He is most frequently described as the father of Gilead (Num. 26:29; Josh. 17:1; i Chron. 2:21; 7:14). Machir is the eponym of one of the most important clans of the tribe of Manasseh, the special status of which is acknowledged in Genesis 50:23. In the Song of Deborah, Machir is mentioned along with Ephraim and Benjamin (Judg. 5:14) while Manasseh is missing, indicating that this powerful tribe is represented by Machir. Further, the Song distinguishes between this tribe and the Gilead who resides in Transjordan and who, along with the tribe of Reuben, did not participate in the war (Judg. 5:15, 17). However, the location of Machir west of the Jordan contradicts other sources which state that the Machirites captured the Gilead and the Bashan in Moses' time before the Israelites crossed the Jordan (Num. 32:39–40; Josh. 17:1). It is reasonable to suppose that at first the entire clan dwelt west of the Jordan. Later, a part of it crossed to the eastern side (cf. Josh. 13:31, "A part of the sons of Machir"). It was subsequent to this settlement that Machir became head of Gilead. According to Numbers 32:39–42, the clan settled in the northern Gilead from the Jabbok to the Yarmuk, while *Jair, son of Manasseh, and Nobah were located even farther north, in the Bashan (cf. Deut. 3:14). In contrast to this, Joshua 13:29–31 and 17:1–2 record that the Machirites settled both in the Gilead and in the Bashan, whereas Jair was situated in the land of Gilead (i Chron. 2:22). These contradictions may be reconciled by assuming that Jair was another branch of the larger clan of Machir or, in the course of time, became affiliated with it. Indeed, in i Chronicles 2:21 Jair is considered Machir's descendant. Further, Maacah's being Machir's wife (i Chron. 7:16) suggests that the Machirites settled north of the Yarmuk bordering the land of Maacah. The reference in I Chronicles 7:14 apparently hints at an ethnic assimilation of the families of Machir with the Aramean population north of the Yarmuk.


A. Bergman, in: jaos, 54 (1934), 169–77; idem, in: jpos, 16 (1936), 224–54; J. Liver, in: em, 4 (1962), 960–1.

[Bustanay Oded]