MICHMASH or MICHMAS (Heb. מִכְמָשׁ, מִכְמָס, מִכְמָשׂ), city of the tribe of Judah, originally belonging to the tribe of Benjamin, situated between Jerusalem and Beth-El in a strong strategic position north of the deep Wadi al-Suwaynīt. Saul gathered part of his army there (I Sam. 13:2) and the main part of the Philistine forces later encamped in the city prior to the battle of Michmash, fleeing by way of Aijalon after their defeat (I Sam. 13–14). It is mentioned in Isaiah's description of the advance of the Assyrian army, where it is placed between Aiath and Geba (Isa. 10:28), and in the lists of those returning from the Babylonian Exile (Ezra 2:27; Neh. 7:31). Jonathan the Hasmonean resided there (until 152 B.C.E.) before assuming the high priesthood (I Macc. 9:73; cf. Jos., Ant., 13:34). In the Mishnah, the wheat of the place is highly praised (Men. 8:1). Eusebius calls it a very big village, 9 mi. (c. 14 km.) from Jerusalem and in its territory (Onom. 132:3–4). Michmash is identified with Mukhmās, close to Rama, approximately 6 mi. (c. 10 km.) northeast of Jerusalem. A first-century C.E. ossuary is known from a local tomb bearing the names "Shimon" and "Levi." A Byzantine church with an inscription was found in the village. The Byzantine monastic laura of Firminus is situated in the vicinity of Mukhmās.
Abel, Geog, 2 (1938), 386; Aharoni, Land, index; EM, 4 (1962), 961–2. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Y. Tsafrir, L. Di Segni, and J. Green, Tabula Imperii Romani. Iudaea – Palaestina. Maps and Gazetteer (1994), 173, S.V. "Machmas"; J. Patrich, The Judean Desert Monasticism in the Byzantine Period: The Institutions of Sabas and his Disciples (1995); B. Bagatti, Ancient Christian Villages of Samaria (2002), 22; G.S.P. Grenville, R.L. Chapman, and J.E. Taylor, Palestine in the Fourth Century. The Onomasticon by Eusebius of Caesarea (2003), 143.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.