views updated


MAHANAIM (Heb. מַחֲנַיִם), locality east of the Jordan which was named by Jacob before he crossed the Jabbok on his way to *Penuel; according to the etiological version in Genesis 32:3, he named it "God's camp" after he saw the angels of God there. It was on the border between the territories of the half-tribe of Manasseh and of the tribe of Gad (Josh. 13:26, 30); it also appears as a levitical city in Gad (Josh. 21:38; i Chron. 6:65). After the disastrous battle of Mt. Gilboa, Abner son of Ner, captain of Saul's army, took Ish-Bosheth, Saul's son, to Mahanaim and established it as the capital of the dynasty of Saul (ii Sam. 2:8); from Mahanaim he started out on his ill-fated expedition to Gibeon and to it he later returned (2:12, 29). It was also chosen by David as his capital during Absalom's rebellion; here he received supplies from Barzillai and other Gileadites (17:24, 27), set out for battle with the rebels, and received the news of Absalom's death. It appears for the last time in the Bible as the capital of Solomon's seventh district with Ahinadab the son of Iddo as its governor (i Kings 4:14). In Shishak's list of conquered towns, it occurs as one of the cities captured during his campaign in the fifth year of Rehoboam. All sources point to its location in the vicinity of the Jabbok in central Gilead, but its exact identification is disputed. The earliest identification of the place with Khirbat al-Makhna 2.5 mi. (4 km.) north of Aijalon, following Estori ha-Parḥi (13th century), has been discarded by modern scholars. Dalman was the first to point to the twin site of Tulūl al-Dhahab on the Jabbok; Glueck, however, would look there for Penuel. Aharoni suggests that the western mound of Tulūl al-Dhahab is Mahanaim and that the eastern mound is Penuel. De Vaux and Noth suggest Tell al-Ḥajaj, uphill and to the south of the Jabbok.


Glueck, in: aasor, 18/19 (1939), 232–5; em, s.v. (incl. bibl.); Aharoni, Land, index.

[Michael Avi-Yonah]