Mich'mas (Heb. Mlikmas', מַכמָס, something hidden; Ezr 2:27, Sept. Μαχμάς v.r. Χαμμάς; Ne 7:31, Μαχεμάς), or MICHMASH (Heb. Mikmash', מַכמָשׁ, id. Ne 11:31, Sept. Μαχαμάς, in pause מַכמָשׁ, 1Sa 13:2,5,11,16,23; 1Sa 14:5,31; Isa 10:28; Sept. Μαχμάς, and so in 1 Macc. 9:13; Josephus, Μαχμά [Ant. 13:1, 6]), a town of Benjamin (Ezr 2:27; Ne 11:31; comp. 7:31), east of Bethel or Beth-aven (1Sa 13:5), and south from Migron, on the road to Jerusalem (Isa 10:28). "If the name be, as some scholars assert (First, Handwb. page 600b, 732b), compounded from that of Chemosh, the Moabitish deity, it is not improbably a relic of some incursion or invasion of the Moabites, just as Chephar-haammonai, in this very neighborhood, is of the Ammonites. But though in the heart of Benjamin, it is not named in the list of the towns of that. tribe (comp. Joshua 17)." The words of 1Sa 13:2; 1Sa 14:4; and Isa 10:29, show that at Michmas was a pass where the progress, of a military body might be impeded or opposed, since it was held by the Philistines while Saul and the Israelites were at Gibeah; it was also on the line of march of an invading army from the north, and the Assyrians are represented as depositing their baggage there on their way to Jerusalem, just before reaching Gibeah (Isa 10:28). It was perhaps for this reason that Jonathan Maccabseus fixed his abode at Michmas (1 Macc. 9:73); and it is from the chivalrous exploit of another hero of the same name, the son of Saul, that the place is chiefly celebrated (1Sa 13; 1Sa 14:4-16). "Saul was occupying the range of heights above mentioned, one end of his line resting on Bethel, the other at Michmas (1Sa 13:2). In Geba, close to him, but separated by the wide and intricate valley, the Philistines had a garrison with a chief officer. The taking of the garrison or the killing of the officer by Saul's son Jonathan was the first move. The next was for the Philistines to swarm up from their, sea-side plain in such numbers that no alternative was left for Saul but to retire down the wady to Gilgal, near Jericho, that from that ancient sanctuary he might collect and reassure the Israelites. Michmas was then occupied by the Philistines, and was their furthest post to the east. But it was destined to witness their sudden overthrow. While he was in Geba, and his father in Michmas, Jonathan must have crossed the intervening valley too often not to know it thoroughly; and the intricate paths which render it impossible for a stranger to find his way through the mounds and hummocks that crowd the bottom of the ravine — with these he was so familiar — the passages here, the sharp rocks there-as to be able to traverse them even in the dark. It was just as the day dawned (Joseph. Ant. 6:6, 2) that the watchers in the garrison at Michmas descried the two Hebrews clambering up the steeps beneath. We learn from the details furnished by Josephus, who must have had an opportunity of examining the spot when he passed it with Titus on their way to the siege of Jerusalem (see War, 5:2, 1), that the part of Michmas in which the Philistines had established themselves consisted of three summits, surrounded by a line of rocks like a natural entrenchment, and ending in a long and sharp precipice, believed to be impregnable. Finding himself observed from above, and taking the invitation as an omen in his favor, Jonathan turned from the course which he was at first pursuing, and crept up in the direction of the point reputed impregnable. It was there, according to Josephus, that he and his armor-bearer made their entrance to the camp (Josephus, Ant. 6:6, 2)" (Smith). SEE GIBEAH; SEE JONATHAN. It was inhabited, after the return from Babylon (Ne 11:31), by 122 returned colonists (Ezr 2:27; Ne 7:31). Eusebius describes Michmas as a large village nine Roman miles from Jerusalem, on the road to Ramah (Onomast. s.v. Μαχμά). Travellers have usually identified it with Bir or el-Bireh (see Maundrell, March 25; and the details in Quaresmius, Elucidato, 2:786, 787); but Dr. Robinson (Researches, 2:117) recognizes it in a place still bearing the name of Mukhmas, at a distance and position which correspond well with these intimations. It is small, and almost desolate, but bears marks of having once been a place of strength and importance. There are many foundations of hewn stones, and some columns lie among them. The steep and precipitous Wady es-Suweinit, a valley into which the two ravines on the low ridge between which the village is situated run, is probably the "passage of Michmash" mentioned in Scripture (1Sa 13:23; Isa 10:29). "In it," says Dr. Robinson, "just at the left of where we crossed, are two hills of a conical, or rather spherical form, having steep rocky sides, with small wadys running up between each so as almost to isolate them. One of them is on the side towards Jeba (Gibeal), and the other towards Mukhmas. These would seem to be the two rocks mentioned in connection with Jonathan's adventure (1Sa 14:4-5). SEE BOZEZ; SEE SENEH. They are not, indeed, so sharp as the language of Scripture would seem to imply; but they are the only rocks of the kind in this vicinity. The northern one is connected towards the west with an eminence still more distinctly isolated" (Bib. Researches, 2:116; comp. new ed. 3:289; see Thenius, in the Sachs. exeget. Stud. 2:147 sq.). "Immediately facing Mukhmas, on the opposite side of the ravine, is the modern representative of Geba; and behind this again are Ramah and Gibeah-all memorable names in the long struggle which has immortalized Michmas. Bethel is about four miles to the north of Michmas, and the interval is filled up by the heights of Burka, Deir Diwan, Tell el-Hajar, etc., which appear to have constituted the Mount Bethel of the narrative (13:2)." In the Talmud (Menachoth, 8:1; comp. Schwarz, Palest. page 131) the soil of Michmas is celebrated for its fertility (Reland, Palaest. page 897). "There is a good deal of cultivation in and among groves of old olives in the broad, shallow wady which slopes down to the north and east of the village; but Mukhmas itself is a very poor place, and the country close to it has truly a most forbidding aspect. Huge gray rocks raise up their bald crowns, completely hiding every patch of soil, and the gray huts of the village, and the gray ruins that encompass them, can hardly be distinguished from the rocks themselves. There are considerable remains of massive foundations, columns, cisterns, etc., testifying to former prosperity greater than that of either Anathoth or Geba" (Porter, Handbk. pages 215, 216).

Bible concordance for MICHMAS.

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