|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
Two camps, a place near the Jabbok, beyond Jordan, where Jacob was met by the "angels of God," and where he divided his retinue into "two hosts" on his return from Padan-aram (Genesis 32:2). This name was afterwards given to the town which was built at that place. It was the southern boundary of Bashan (Joshua 13:26, 30), and became a city of the Levites (21:38). Here Saul's son Ishbosheth reigned (2 Samuel 2:8, 12), while David reigned at Hebron. Here also, after a troubled reign, Ishbosheth was murdered by two of his own bodyguard (2 Samuel 4:5-7), who brought his head to David at Hebron, but were, instead of being rewarded, put to death by him for their cold-blooded murder. Many years after this, when he fled from Jerusalem on the rebellion of his son Absalom, David made Mahanaim, where Barzillai entertained him, his headquarters, and here he mustered his forces which were led against the army that had gathered around Absalom. It was while sitting at the gate of this town that tidings of the great and decisive battle between the two hosts and of the death of his son Absalom reached him, when he gave way to the most violent grief (2 Samuel 17:24-27).
The only other reference to Mahanaim is as a station of one of Solomon's purveyors (1 Kings 4:14). It has been identified with the modern Mukhumah, a ruin found in a depressed plain called el-Bukie'a, "the little vale," near Penuel, south of the Jabbok, and north-east of es-Salt.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
ma-ha-na'-im (machanayim; the Greek is different in every case where the name occurs, Codex Vaticanus and Codex Alexandrinus also giving variant forms; the dual form may be taken as having arisen from an old locative ending, as, e.g. yerushala(y)im from an original yerushalem. In Genesis 32:21 machaneh is evidently a parallel form and should be rendered as a proper name, Mahaneh, i.e. Mahanaim): The city must have been one of great strength. It lay East of the Jordan, and is first mentioned in the history of Jacob. Here he halted after parting from Laban, before the passage of the Jabbok (Genesis 31:2), "and the angels of God met him." Possibly it was the site of an ancient sanctuary. It is next noticed in defining the boundaries of tribal territory East of the Jordan. It lay on the border of Gad and Manasseh (Joshua 13:26, 30). It belonged to the lot of Gad, and was assigned along with Ramoth in Gilead to the Merarite Levites (Joshua 21:38 1 Chronicles 6:80 -the former of these passages affords no justification to Cheyne in saying (EB, under the word) that it is mentioned as a "city of refuge"). The strength of the place doubtless attracted Abner, who fixed here the capital of Ishbosheth's kingdom. Saul's ch 2 Samuel 2:8, etc.). To this same fortress David fled when endangered by the rebellion of Absalom; and in the "forest" hard by, that prince met his fate (2 Samuel 17:24, etc.). It was made the center of one of Solomon's administrative districts, and here Abinadab the son of Iddo was stationed (1 Kings 4:14). There seems to be a reference to Mahanaim in Songs 6:13 the Revised Version (British and American). If this is so, here alone it appears with the article. By emending the text Cheyne would read: "What do you see in the Shulammite? A narcissus of the valleys."
It is quite clear from the narrative that Jacob, going to meet his brother, who was advancing from the South, crossed the Jabbok after leaving Mahanaim. It is therefore vain to search for the site of this city South of the Jabbok, and Conder's suggested identification with some place near el-Buqei`a, East of es-Salt], must be given up.
On the North of the Jabbok several positions have been thought of. Merrill (East of the Jordan, 433;) argues in favor of Khirbet Saleikhat, a ruined site in the mouth of Wady Saleikhat, on the northern bank, 3 miles East of Jordan, and 4 miles North of Wady `Ajlun. From its height, 300 ft. above the plain, it commands a wide view to the West and South. One running "by the way of the Plain" could be seen a great way off (2 Samuel 18:23). This would place the battle in the hills to the South near the Jordan valley. Ahimaaz then preferred to make a detour, thus securing a level road, while the Cushite took the rough track across the heights. Others, among them Buhl (GAP, 257), would place Mahanaim at Michneh, a partly overgrown ruin 9 miles East of Jordan, and 4 miles North of `Ajlun on the north bank of Wady Machneh. This is the only trace of the ancient name yet found in the district. It may be assumed that Mahanaim is to be sought in this neighborhood. Cheyne would locate it at `Ajlun, near which rises the great fortress Kal`ater-Rabad. He supposes that the "wood of Mahanaim" extended as far as Michneh, and that "the name of Mihneh is really an abbreviation of the ancient phrase." Others would identify Mahanaim with Jerash, where, however, there are no remains older than Greek-Roman times.
Objections to either `Ajlun or Michneh are:
(1) The reference to this Jordan" in Genesis 32:10, which seems to show that the city was near the river. It may indeed be said that the great hollow of the Jordan valley seems close at hand for many miles on either side, but this, perhaps, hardly meets the objection.
(2) The word kikkar, used for "Plain" in 2 Samuel 18:23, seems always elsewhere to apply to the "circle" of the Jordan. Buhl, who identifies Mahanaim with Michneh, yet cites this verse (G A the Priestly Code (P), 112) as a case in which kikkar applies to the plain of the Jordan. He thus prescribes for Ahimaaz a very long race. Cheyne sees the difficulty. The battle was obviously in the vicinity of Mahanaim, and the nearest way from the "wood" was by the kikkar, "or, since no satisfactory explanation of this reading has been offered by the nachal, that is to say, the eager Ahimaaz ran along in the wady in which, at some little distance, Mahanaim lay" (EB, under the word). The site for the present remains in doubt.ter-Rabad. He supposes that the "wood of Mahanaim" extended as far as Michneh, and that "the name of Mihneh is really an abbreviation of the ancient phrase." Others would identify Mahanaim with Jerash, where, however, there are no remains older than Greek-Roman times.
Mahanaim (15 Occurrences)
Genesis 32:2 When he saw them, Jacob said, "This is God's army." He called the name of that place Mahanaim. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS NIV)
Joshua 13:26 and from Heshbon to Ramath Mizpeh, and Betonim; and from Mahanaim to the border of Debir; (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
Joshua 13:30 Their border was from Mahanaim, all Bashan, all the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, and all the towns of Jair, which are in Bashan, sixty cities. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
Joshua 21:38 Out of the tribe of Gad, Ramoth in Gilead with its suburbs, the city of refuge for the manslayer, and Mahanaim with its suburbs, (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
2 Samuel 2:8 Now Abner the son of Ner, captain of Saul's army, had taken Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim; (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
2 Samuel 2:12 Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ishbosheth the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
2 Samuel 2:29 Abner and his men went all that night through the Arabah; and they passed over the Jordan, and went through all Bithron, and came to Mahanaim. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
2 Samuel 17:24 Then David came to Mahanaim. Absalom passed over the Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
2 Samuel 17:27 It happened, when David was come to Mahanaim, that Shobi the son of Nahash of Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and Machir the son of Ammiel of Lodebar, and Barzillai the Gileadite of Rogelim, (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
2 Samuel 19:32 Now Barzillai was a very aged man, even eighty years old: and he had provided the king with sustenance while he lay at Mahanaim; for he was a very great man. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
1 Kings 2:8 "Behold, there is with you Shimei the son of Gera, the Benjamite, of Bahurim, who cursed me with a grievous curse in the day when I went to Mahanaim; but he came down to meet me at the Jordan, and I swore to him by Yahweh, saying,'I will not put you to death with the sword.' (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
1 Kings 4:14 Ahinadab the son of Iddo, in Mahanaim; (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
1 Chronicles 6:80 and out of the tribe of Gad, Ramoth in Gilead with its suburbs, and Mahanaim with its suburbs, (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
Song of Songs 6:13 Return, return, Shulammite! Return, return, that we may gaze at you. Why do you desire to gaze at the Shulammite, as at the dance of Mahanaim? (WEB ASV NIV)
Song of Songs 7:1 As the chorus of 'Mahanaim.' How beautiful were thy feet with sandals, O daughter of Nadib. The turnings of thy sides 'are' as ornaments, Work of the hands of an artificer. (YLT)