PUNON (Heb. פּוּנֹן), encampment of the Israelites in Edom, between Zalmonah and Oboth (Num. 33:42–43). It is identified with Khirbat Faynān, the Greek Phainon, in the Arabah. Remains of ancient copper mines abound in the area, the richest being at Umm al-ʿAmad. The copper ore of Punon was exploited from Chalcolithic times onward. There is evidence of extensive settlement at the end of the Early Bronze Age and in Iron Age I. The name of the Edomite prince Pinon (Gen. 36:41; I Chron. 1:52) may be connected with the locality. The mines were reopened in Nabatean times and continued to be exploited throughout the Roman and Byzantine periods. They were worked by condemned criminals, as well as Christian martyrs and bishops. Remains at the site include the foundations of a basilica and an inscription mentioning a bishop Theodorus. According to the Madaba map, the place where the Israelites were saved by the *copper serpent was located near Punon. The place was included in the fortifications of the Roman limes, Ala Prima miliaria Sebastena being stationed there (Notitia dignitatum, 73:32).
Frank, in: ZDPV, 57 (1934), 218–19, 221–24; Alt, in: ZDPV, 58 (1935), 6ff.; Glueck, in: AASOR, 15 (1935), 32–35.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.