Mehunims, The

Mehunims, The (הִמּעוּנַים, i.e.. the Meznim; Sept. οἱ Μειναῖοι v. r. οἱ Μιναῖοι; Vulg. Ammonitae), a people against whom king Uzziah waged a successful war (2Ch 26:7). Although so different in its English dress, yet the name is in the original merely the plural of MAON (מָעוֹן), a nation named among those who in the earlier days of their, settlement in Palestine harassed and oppressed Israel. Maon, or the Maonites, probably inhabited the country at the back of the great range of Seir, the modern esh-Sherah, which forms the eastern side of the Wady el-Arabah, where at the present day there is still a town of the same name (Burckhardt, Syria, Aug. 24). This is quite in accordance with the terms of 2Ch 26:7, where the Mehunim are mentioned with " the Arabians of Gur-baal," or, as the Sept. renders it, Petra. Another notice of the Mehunims in the reign of Hezekiah (BC. cir. 726-697) is found in 1Ch 4:41. Here they are spoken of as a pastoral people, either themselves Hamites, or in alliance with Hamites, quiet and peaceable, dwelling in tents. They had been settled from " of old," i.e. aboriginally, at the east end of the valley of Gedor or Gerar, in the wilderness south of Palestine. A connection with Mount Seir is hinted at, though obscurely (ver. 42). Here, however, the Auth. Vers. probably following the translations of Luther and Junius, which in their turn follow the Targum-treats the word as an ordinary noun, and renders it " habitations;" a reading now relinquished by scholars, who understand the word to refer to the people in question (Gesenius, Thesaur. p. 1002 a, and Notes on Burckhardt, p. 1069; Bertheau, Chronik). A third notice of the Mehunim, corroborative of those already mentioned, is found in the narrative of 2 Chronicles 20, There is every reason to believe that in ver. 1 " the Ammonites" should be read as "the Maonites," who in that case are the "men of Mount Seir" mentioned later in the narrative (ver. 10, 22).

In all these passages, including the last, the Sept. renders the name by οἱ Μειναῖοι -the Minaeans a nation of Arabia renowned for their traffic in spices, who are named by Strabo, Ptolemy, and other ancient geographers, and whose seat is now ascertained to have been the south-west portion of the great Arabian peninsula, the western half of the modern Hadramaut (Smith, Dict. of Geography, s.v. Minaei). Bochart has pointed out (Phaleg, vol. ii, cap. xxii), with reason, that distance alone renders it impossible that these Minseans can be the Meunim of the Bible, and also that the people of the Arabian peninsula are Shemites, while the Meunim appear to have been descended from Ham (1Ch 4:41). But, with his usual turn for etymological speculation, he endeavors nevertheless to establish an identity between the two, on the ground that Carn al-Manasil, a place two days' journey south of Mecca, one of the towns of the Minaeans, signifies the "horn of habitations," and might therefore be equivalent to the Hebrew Meonim. Josephus (Ant. 9:10,3) calls them "the Arabs who adjoined Egypt," and speaks of a city built by Uzziali on the Red Sea to overawe them. Ewald (Geschichte, 1:323, note) suggests that the southern Minueans were a colony from the Maonites of Mount Seir, who in their turn he appears to consider a remnant of the Amorites (see the text of the same page). That the Minaeans were familiar to the translators of the Sept. is evident from the fact that they not only introduce the name on the occasions already mentioned, but that they further use it as equivalent to NAAMATHITE. Zophar the Naamathite, one of the three friends of Job, is by them presented as " Sophar the Minaean," and " Sophar king of the Minaeans." In this connection it is not unworthy of notice that as there was a town called Maon in the mountain-district of Judah. so there was one called Naamah in the lowland of the same tribe. El Minyay, which is or was the first station south of Gaza, is probably identical with Minois, a place mentioned with distinction in the Christian records of Palestine in the 5th and 6th centuries (Reland, Palest. p. 899; Le Quien, Oriens Christ. 3:669), and both may retain a trace of the Minneans. BAAL-MEON' a town on the east of Jordan, near Heshbon, still called Ma'in, probably also retains a trace of the presence of the Maonites or Mehunim north of their proper locality.

The latest appearance of the name MEHUNIMS in the Bible is in the lists of those who returned from the captivity with Zerubbabel. Among the non- Israelites from whom the Nethinim-following the precedent of what seems to have been the foundation of the order-were made up, we find their name (Ezr 2:50, AV. " Mehunim;" Ne 7:52, AV. "Meunim"). Here they are mentioned with the Nephishim, or descendants of Naphish, an Ishmaelitish people whose seat appears to have been on the east of Palestine (1Ch 5:19), and therefore certainly not far distant from Ma'an, the chief city of the Maonites.

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