🔼The name Manahath in the Bible
There are one man and one city called Manahath in the Bible, and one people called the Manahathites:
- The man named Manahath is a son of Shobal, who was a son of Seir the Horite (Genesis 36:23, 1 Chronicles 1:40).
- Very curious is the appearance of another Shobal, who was a son of Hur (spelled חור, while Horite is spelled חרי; both names come from the same verb חרר, and probably mean the same thing), and whose progeny consisted in part of "half of the מנחתי (=Manahathites; 1 Chronicles 2:52). The other half of the Manahathites, apparently, descended from Salma, who also fathered Bethlehem (1 Chronicles 2:54). These two half-tribes of the Manahathites descended from Judah, and can obviously not possibly be linked to Manahath the Horite. But perhaps they can be tied to the city called Manahath, which may very well have been located in the area of Judah:
- Where the town called Manahath may have been situated is formally unknown, but the Chronicler reports that a contingent of Benjaminite clan leaders, sons of Ehud (אחוד) of Geba, were carried off into exile to Manahath (1 Chronicles 8:6). This particular deportation isn't otherwise mentioned in the Bible, but the story of Ehud (אהוד), the third judge of Israel, is told in Judges 3:12-30: The Lord raised up Ehud, son of Geba, to free Israel from king Eglon of Moab, who had invaded Israel and occupied "the city of palm trees," which probably was the still ruined city of Jericho (also because Eglon kept his idols at Gilgal, which is close to Jericho — Judges 3:19). Under the pretence of having a message from God, Ehud secured a private audience with Eglon and killed him. He then hurried to Ephraim, mustered an army and defeated the Moabites. Jericho and the territory of Benjamin weren't very far apart, and it seems possible that Eglon's men had somehow managed to pick up the men of Geba (perhaps they were unluckily close to Jericho when Eglon crossed the Jordan) and incarcerated them in some nearby place, which would then be Manahath. But because the names of Ehud of Geba and judge Ehud are really quite different, and probably belong to different men, this theory doesn't hold a lot of water.
🔼Etymology of the name Manahath
The mystery of Manahath also includes the origin of the name. The name Manahath could be construed as a construct of the particle מ (mem), usually meaning from, or else place of, and a derivation of the verb נוח (nuah), meaning to rest:
But that would mean that the son of Seir the Horite named his son after a place. And that is rather curious, thinks Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names), who derives our name not from the Hebrew verb נוח but from a hitherto unknown root מנח (manah), which appears in Arabic with the meaning of to give.
Hence, for a meaning of the name Manahath, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Gift. NOBSE Study Bible Name List, BDB Theological Dictionary and probably any member of a Hebrew audience, relate our name to the verb נוח (nuah). NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Resting Place and BDB Theological Dictionary has Resting Place, Settlement.