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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Zalmunna

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(Heb. Tsalmunna', צִלְמנָּע, apparently from צל, shadow, and מָנִע, to withhold; i.e. deprived of protection; Sept and Josephus, Σαλμανά,) last named of the two "kings" of Midian, whose capture and death by the hands of Gideon himself formed the land act of his great conflict with Midian (Judges 8:5-21 Psalms 83:11). B.C. 1361. (See ZEBA). The distinction between the "kings" (מְלָכַים, melakim) and the "princes" (שָׂרַים, sarnl) of the Midianites on this occasion is carefully maintained throughout the narrative (Judges 8:5; Judges 8:12; Judges 8:26). "Kings" of Midian are also mentioned in Numbers 31:8; but when the same transaction is referred to in Joshua 13:21, they are designated by a different title (נְשַׂאַים, nesim; A.V. "princes"). Elsewhere (Numbers 22:4; Numbers 22:7) the term elders ( זְקֵנַים zekenin) is used, answering in signification, if not in etymology, to the Arabic sheik. It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to tell how far these distinctions are accurate, and how far they represent the imperfect acquaintance which the Hebrews must have had with the organization of a people with whom, except during the orgies of Shittim, they appear to have been always more or less at strife and warfare (1 Chronicles 5:10; 1 Chronicles 5:19-22). The unintelligibility of the names is in favor of their being correctly retained rather than the reverse. It should not be overlooked that they are not, like Oreb and Zeeb, attached also to localities, which always throws a doubt on the name when attributed in a person as well. Josephus inverts the distinctions. He styles Oreb and Zeeb βασιλεῖς, and Zebah and Zalmunna ἡγεμόνες (Ant. 5, 7, 5). The vast horde which Gideon repelled must have included many tribes under the general designation of" Midianites, Amalekites, children of the East," and nothing would be easier or more natural than for the Hebrew scribes who chronicled-the events to confuse one tribe with another in so minute a point as the title of a chief. In the great Bedawin tribes of the present day, who occupy the place of Midian and Amelek, there is no distinctive appellation answering to the melek and sair of the Hebrew narrative; differences in rank and power there are as between the great chief, the acknowledged head of the parent tribe, and the lesser chiefs who lead the sub-tribes into which it is divided, and who are, to a great extent, independents of him. But the one word sheik is employed for all. The great chief is the sheik el-kebir; the others aremia el-massheiks, of the sheiks, i.e. of sheiks rank. (See MIDIANITE).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Zalmunna'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/z/zalmunna.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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