The pass at Micmash (1 Samuel 14)

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Reference to a specific geographic feature is not typical in Scripture, but the geographic details of the pass near Micmash and Geba are carefully described in 1 Samuel 14:5. Most north/south traffic in the hill country follows the watershed ridge, because of deeply cutting ravines (wadis) on either side. The mile-wide break in the otherwise steep cliffs of the Wadi Suwenit allowed for the existence of a secondary route in the territory of Benjamin, which paralleled the watershed ridge route and came to be known simply as “the pass”.

During the time of king Saul the Philistines guarded this pass, but Jonathan and his armour-bearer surprised the enemy garrison by circumventing it and climbing up the steep cliffs of Bozez and Seneh (1 Samuel 13:23-14:14).Isaiah prophesied of a terrifying army that would travel along this road, leaving baggage at Micmash and spending the night at Geba (Isaiah 10:28-29). Asa’s earlier fortifications of Geba were also an apparent recognition of the importance of this route (1 Kings 15:22).

Scholars routinely identify Micmash with the modern day Arab village of Mukhmas, nearly 11,2 km northwest of Jerusalem in the West Bank. However, very few Iron Age remains have been found there, and thus some suggest that Micmash may have been at Khirbet el-Hara el-Fawqa, less than 1,6 km farther north – a spot at which researchers have found both Iron I and II Age sherds.

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