|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
Something hidden, a town of Benjamin (Ezra 2:27), east of Bethel and south of Migron, on the road to Jerusalem (Isaiah 10:28). It lay on the line of march of an invading army from the north, on the north side of the steep and precipitous Wady es-Suweinit ("valley of the little thorn-tree" or "the acacia"), and now bears the name of Mukhmas. This wady is called "the passage of Michmash" (1 Samuel 13:23). Immediately facing Mukhmas, on the opposite side of the ravine, is the modern representative of Geba, and behind this again are Ramah and Gibeah.
This was the scene of a great battle fought between the army of Saul and the Philistines, who were utterly routed and pursued for some 16 miles towards Philistia as far as the valley of Aijalon. "The freedom of Benjamin secured at Michmash led through long years of conflict to the freedom of all its kindred tribes." The power of Benjamin and its king now steadily increased. A new spirit and a new hope were now at work in Israel. (see SAUL.)
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
mik'-mash (mikhmash; Machmas): A town in the territory of Benjamin, apparently not of sufficient importance to secure mention in the list of cities given in Joshua 18:21;. It first appears as occupied by Saul with 2,000 men, when Jonathan, advancing from Gibeah, smote the Philistine garrison in Geba (1 Samuel 13:2). To avenge this injury, the Philistines came up in force and pitched in Michmash (1 Samuel 13:5). Saul and Jonathan with 600 men held Geba, which had been taken from the Philistine garrison (1 Samuel 13:16). It will assist in making clear the narrative if, at this point, the natural features of the place are described.
Michmash is represented by the modern Mukhmas, about 7 miles North of Jerusalem. From the main road which runs close to the watershed, a valley sloping eastward sinks swiftly into the great gorge of Wady es-Suweinit. The village of Mukhmas stands to the North of the gorge, about 4 miles East of the carriage road. The ancient path from Ai southward passes to the West of the village, goes down into the valley by a steep and difficult track, and crosses the gorge by the pass, a narrow defile, with lofty, precipitous crags on either side-the only place where a crossing is practicable. To the South of the gorge is Geba, which had been occupied by the Philistines, doubtless to command the pass. Their camp was probably pitched in a position East of Mukhmas, where the ground slopes gradually northward from the edge of the gorge. The place is described by Josephus as "upon a precipice with three peaks, ending in a small, but sharp and long extremity, while there was a rock that surrounded them like bulwarks to prevent the attack of the enemy" (Ant., VI, vi, 2). Conder confirms this description, speaking of it as "a high hill bounded by the precipices of Wady es-Suweinit on the South, rising in three flat but narrow mounds, and communicating with the hill of Mukhmas, which is much lower, by a long and narrow ridge." The Philistines purposed to guard the pass against approach from the South. On the other hand they were not eager to risk an encounter with the badly armed Israelites in a position where superior numbers would be of little advantage. It was while the armies lay thus facing each other across the gorge that Jonathan and his armor-bearer performed their intrepid feat (1 Samuel 14:1).
See BOZEZ; SENEH.
It will be noted that the Philistines brought their chariots to Michmash (1 Samuel 13:5). In his ideal picture of the Assyrian advance on Jerusalem, Isaiah makes the invader lay up his baggage at Michmash so that he might go lightly through the pass (Isaiah 10:28). A company of the men of Michmash (see MICHMAS) returned with Zerubbabel from exile (Ezra 2:27 Nehemiah 7:31). Michmash produced excellent barley. According to the Mishna, "to bring barley to Michmash" was equivalent to our English "to carry coal to Newcastle." Michmash was the seat of government under Jonathan Maccabeus (1 Maccabees 9:73).
The modern village is stone-built. There are rock-cut tombs to the North. Cisterns supply the water. There are foundations of old buildings, large stones, and a vaulted cistern.
Michmash (10 Occurrences)
1 Samuel 13:2 Saul chose him three thousand men of Israel, of which two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in the Mount of Bethel, and one thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin: and the rest of the people he sent every man to his tent. (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV)
1 Samuel 13:5 The Philistines assembled themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the seashore in multitude: and they came up, and encamped in Michmash, eastward of Beth Aven. (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV)
1 Samuel 13:11 Samuel said, "What have you done?" Saul said, "Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you didn't come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines assembled themselves together at Michmash; (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV)
1 Samuel 13:16 Saul, and Jonathan his son, and the people who were present with them, abode in Geba of Benjamin: but the Philistines encamped in Michmash. (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV)
1 Samuel 13:22 So on the day of the fight at Michmash, not a sword or a spear was to be seen in the hands of any of the people with Saul and Jonathan: only Saul and his son Jonathan had them. (BBE)
1 Samuel 13:23 The garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash. (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV)
1 Samuel 14:5 The one crag rose up on the north in front of Michmash, and the other on the south in front of Geba. (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV)
1 Samuel 14:31 They struck of the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon. The people were very faint; (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV)
Nehemiah 11:31 The children of Benjamin also lived from Geba onward, at Michmash and Aija, and at Bethel and its towns, (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV)
Isaiah 10:28 He has come to Aiath. He has passed through Migron. At Michmash he stores his baggage. (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV)