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Who were the Meunites?


The Meunites were an ancient people group who likely lived somewhere south of Judah. They are mentioned a handful of times in the Old Testament, and exact historical details about them remain out of reach. In piecing together the scarce details available, scholars are forced to make educated guesses. It is likely that the Meunites will remain mysterious unless more historical evidence is uncovered.

The Meunites are first mentioned in the Bible in 1 Chronicles 4:41, when some Meunites were destroyed by descendants of Simeon looking for pasture. They are mentioned again in 2 Chronicles 20:1, though this reference is contested due to a potential copying error in the Masoretic Text. Assuming that this is a reference to the Meunites, that group apparently joined the Moabites and Ammonites in an attack on Judah during the reign of King Jehoshaphat. Intriguingly, they appear to be associated with Mount Seir later in the story (2 Chronicles 20:10, 22, 23), which is one of the factors placing them south of Judah. Later, King Uzziah warred against the Meunites in 2 Chronicles 26:7, gaining the victory due to God’s help. Finally, Ezra 2:50 and Nehemiah 7:52 list descendants of Meunim among those returning from the Babylonian exile. It is possible their ancestors were the Meunites who warred against Judah and were involuntarily or voluntarily incorporated. These biblical references basically paint the picture of a southern people group that occasionally engaged in battle with Judah and had some descendants numbered among them after the exile.

Beyond what is surmised from these passages, scholars have put forward a few more propositions about this mysterious people, none of which can be demonstrated conclusively. Some believe that the Meunites are the same people as the Maonites, referenced in Judges 10:12. This is certainly possible. Others believe the Meunites were associated with the city of Ma’an, due to linguistic similarities with their name and potential geographic proximity. Historically, many scholars associated the Meunites with the Minaeans, because the Septuagint translated the Hebrew word for “Meunite” into the Greek word for “Minaean.” This connection is highly improbable due to chronological and geographical differences. The Minaeans became a significant nation centuries after the Meunites are mentioned in the Bible and in a completely different location, making any association unlikely.

In conclusion, the Meunites were a people group about whom little is known today. They clashed with the Israelites at different points in biblical history, with an unknown number of them becoming part of Israel at some point. Because of the dearth of historical information, any conclusions reached about the details of the Meunites are highly tentative. Apparently, some of their descendants served in the temple after the exile, hopefully indicating that some of them came to know God and followed Him.

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Who were the Meunites?
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This page last updated: May 11, 2022