Mahanaim and Peniel

One of the most significant biblical locations that few Bible readers would recognize is the site of the twin fortresses of Mahanaim and Peniel. During the Old Testament these fortresses stood on opposite sides of the Jabbok River and guarded an important road leading from southern Gilead to the roads of the Jordan River valley. They are first mentioned as the place where Jacob camped and wrestled with the man of God as Jacob anxiously prepared to meet his brother Esau (Genesis 32). Gideon tore down a tower at Peniel after the people there refused to help him while he was pursuing the Midianites (Judges 8). Later Mahanaim is mentioned as the headquarters of Saul’s son Ish-bosheth as he competed with David for control over the kingdom of Israel (2 Samuel 2). David eventually gained control over all Israel (2 Samuel 5:1-5; 1 Chronicles 11:1-3), but he himself had to flee to Mahanaim after his son Absalom staged a rebellion in Hebron and Jerusalem (2 Samuel 13-18). Finally, Peniel became one of the first capitals of the northern kingdom of Israel after the northern tribes rebelled against the southern tribe of Judah (1 Kings 12:1-25). Later the northern kingdom moved their capital to Samaria (1 Kings 16:24).

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