MAON (mā'ŏn, Heb. mā‘ôn, habitation)

A descendant of Caleb and father of Beth Zur, or perhaps the founder of this fortress near Bethlehem (1Chr.2.42-1Chr.2.45).A town on an elevated plain south of Hebron. Around it lay an unpopulated region where David found refuge from Saul until the Philistines forced the king to cease pursuit. Because of this rescue, the hill was called Rock of Separation (1Sam.23.24-1Sam.23.28 mg; niv “Sela Hammahlekoth,” “rock of parting”). It was the home of Nabal and Abigail (1Sam.25.1-1Sam.25.3).

MAON mā’ ŏn (מָעֹ֖ון, dwelling). 1. A son of Shammai who himself was a descendant of Caleb. He is called the father of Bethzur (1 Chron 2:45), meaning either that he was the ancestor of the people of Bethzur or the founder of that city. It is also possible that the name Maon in this passage is a collective for the people of Maon, and that they were the ones who founded the city of Bethzur.

2. A town in the hill-country of Judah (Josh 15:55), located nine m. S of Hebron. It has been identified as the modern Tell Ma’in, and is situated on a hilltop. Hiding from Saul, David and his men took refuge in the wilderness of Maon (1 Sam 23:24ff.). Maon was the residence of Nabal whose widow Abigail became the wife of David (25:2).

3. A group of people, hostile to Israel, the Maonites, are mentioned in Judges 10:12. Their connection with Maon, if any, is not clear. Perhaps these people are to be identified with the Meunim or Meunites mentioned in 1 Chronicles 4:41 and 2 Chronicles 20:1; 26:7. However, this identification is by no means established either.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

ma’-on, ma’-on-its, ma-o’-nits (ma`on; Septuagint: Codex Vaticanus Maor, Maan; Codex Alexandrinus Maon):

(1) A town in the mountain of Judah named along with Carmel and Ziph (Jos 15:55). It appears again as the home of Nabal, the great flockmaster (1Sa 25:2). In the genealogical list of 1Ch 2, Maon stands as the "son" of Shammai and the "father" of Beth-zur (2:44,45). This evidently means that Shammai was the founder of Maon. About a mile South of el-Karmil, the ancient Carmel, lies Tell Ma`in. This may be confidently identified with Maon, the radicals of the names being the same. It suits the requirements of the narratives in other respects, being near to Carmel, while the surrounding wilderness is still used as the wide pasture land for multitudinous flocks. In this district, the wilderness of Maon, David was hiding when his whereabouts was betrayed to Saul by the men of Ziph (1Sa 23:24 f), and only a timely raid by the Philistines delivered him out of that monarch’s hands (1Sa 23:27 ).

(2) (Madiam): Maon is named along with the Zidonians and Amalek as having at some time, not mentioned, oppressed Israel (Jud 10:12). The Septuagint "Midian" has been accepted by some scholars as restoring the original text, since, otherwise, the Midianites remain unmentioned. But the Maonites are evidently identical with the Meunim of 1Ch 4:41 (Revised Version), the pastoral people destroyed by Hezekiah. In 2Ch 20:1 the King James Version, instead of "other beside the Ammonites" we must read "some of the Meunim," as associated with the Ammonites in the battle with Jehoshaphat. Against them also Uzziah was helped of God (2Ch 26:7). They are included among the inhabitants of Mt. Seir (2Ch 20:10,23), so that an Edomite tribe is intended. It is natural to connect them with Ma`an, a place on the great pilgrimage road, and now a station on the Damascus-Hejaz Railway, to the Southeast of Petra. It undoubtedly represents an ancient stronghold.

The Maonites appear in the lists of those who returned from exile (Ezr 2:50, the King James Version "Mehunim," the Revised Version (British and American) "Meunim"; Ne 7:52, "Meunim"). These may possibly be the descendants of prisoners taken in the wars of Jehoshaphat and Uzziah, to whom menial tasks may have been appointed in the temple services.