MEUNIM, MEUNITES (mē-ū'nĭm, mē-ū'nīts, Heb. me‘ûnîm, the people of Maon). The people of an Arab city still existing south of the Dead Sea not far from the more famous Petra. They are listed among the tribes that Uzziah of Judah conquered. Ezra.2.50, repeated in Neh.7.52, speaks of their descendants. The Masoretes say that the word rendered by some versions as “habitations” (1Chr.4.41) should read “Meunim.” Ezra counts them among the Nethinim (temple servants) at the return from exile (Ezra.2.50, kjv Mehunim; in 2Chr.26.7, kjv Mehunims).
MEUNIM mĭ ū’ nĭm
the pl. of gentilic of Maon [Ma’an], LXX Μιναι̂ον
, meaning uncertain), a minor desert tribe of uncertain origin. Difficulties abound: KJV has “habitations” (1 Chron 4:41
), “Ammonites” with the Heb. (2 Chron 20:1
), “Mehunims” (26:7
), and “Meunim” (Neh 7:52
). RSV uses Meunim or Meunites in each instance.
A people who occupied an area SE of the Dead Sea on the eastern border of Edom whose chief city was Ma’an (not to be confused with Maon in Judah). The Meunim were not Edomites, but apparently had such close relations with the men of Mt. Seir that they were in danger of being identified with them.
The Simeonites (1 Chron 4:41) seem to have dispossessed one group of the Meunim and occupied their territory. On another occasion some of the Meunim joined forces with the Moabites and Ammonites to attack Judah. The combined armies moved around the southern end of the Dead Sea and had gotten as far as En-gedi before word reached the ears of the king of Judah. Jehoshaphat was quite disturbed, but gathered an army and met them at the ascent of Ziz. The battle, however, never took place, for the invading army practically annihilated itself because of internal dissension. All that the men of Judah had to do was gather up the spoil. The mention of Mt. Seir in this passage does not refer to the Edomites (they did not participate in this invasion) but rather to the direction from which the coalition army came.
In the reign of King Uzziah (c. 783-742) the Meunim are mentioned, along with the Philistines and Arabians, as being troublesome to Judah again. The passage (2 Chron 26:7) records that Uzziah was successful in his campaign against them. This time the king of Judah apparently took a number of them prisoners and gave them to the Temple priests as slaves. This seems to have been a common practice in Israel since the time of Moses and Joshua (see Num 31:30; Josh 9:27; cf. Ezra 8:20). At any rate, after the Exile “the sons of the Meunim” (descendants of these prisoners?) appear among the Nethinim, i.e., Temple servants (see Nethinim), in the Books of Ezra (2:50) and Nehemiah (7:52).
J. Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible, III (1923), 240; Brown, Driver and Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon (1955), 589, 733.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
(the King James Version Mehunim).