A Town in the territory of Benjamin


Michmash, a town located within the territory of Benjamin, is notable for several historical events recorded in the scriptural accounts. It first emerges in the narrative when Saul, the first king of Israel, established his presence there with 2,000 men. It was from this vicinity that Jonathan, Saul’s son, launched an attack and defeated the Philistine garrison at Geba, thus inviting Philistine retaliation (1 Samuel 13:2). In response, the Philistine forces gathered in significant numbers at Michmash, seeking to avenge the defeat they had suffered (1 Samuel 13:5).

Geographically, Michmash is situated approximately 7 miles north of Jerusalem and corresponds to the present-day location of Mukhmas. The topography around Michmash is marked by the deep gorge of Wady es-Suweinit, with the ancient town positioned to the north of this chasm. The strategic importance of Michmash is underscored by its proximity to a narrow defile in the valley, a choke point that was likely secured by the Philistine army to block any southern offensive from the Israelites during Saul’s reign.

Further accounts mention that Michmash was where the Philistines considered their chariots, a decision that resonated with later prophetic imagery. In a symbolic depiction of an Assyrian assault on Jerusalem, the prophet Isaiah envisioned the enemy leaving their baggage at Michmash, suggesting a bypassing of the town’s treacherous pass while advancing towards their objective (Isaiah 10:28).

In the post-exilic period, a group of the people from Michmash returned from Babylonian captivity with Zerubbabel to reoccupy and rebuild the town (Ezra 2:27; Nehemiah 7:31). Additionally, the agricultural reputation of Michmash is alluded to, as it was known for its quality barley production, so much so that bringing barley there was considered as redundant as taking coal to Newcastle. The historical context adds another layer of depth to this location when Michmash served as a seat of government under the leadership of Jonathan Maccabeus (1 Maccabees 9:73). The modern village retains aspects of its ancient past, including stone structures, tombs, and cisterns, which continue to tell the story of Michmash through the layers of time.


❮ Back