Mahanayim – the place of two camps
Types and shadows of Israel in Genesis
It has been said that the book of Genesis contains the complete history of mankind in types and shadows in the lives of the Patriarchs.
There is one particular story that relates to the premise of this blog.
The underlying premise is that there are two parts of God’s family with two distinct purposes that will come back together under one king in the last days.
This particular story is recounted in Genesis chapter 32. It starts with the Host of the LORD camping next to Jacob’s household, after the altercation with Uncle Laban and the stolen idols. Jacob names the place Ma’ha’nayim [two camps].
Genesis 32 Early in the morning Lavan got up, kissed his sons and daughters, and blessed them. Then Lavan left and returned to his own place. 2 Ya‘akov went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 3 When Ya‘akov saw them, he said, “This is God’s camp,” and called that place Machanayim [two camps]. CJB
Right before Jacob names the region , he is met by angels of God. That motivates him to say, מחנה אלהים וה (“This is God’s camp”), using the word מחנה (mananeh).
Next it relates the news that Esau is coming with 400 men.
4 Ya‘akov sent messengers ahead of him to ‘Esav his brother toward the land of Se‘ir, the country of Edom, 5 with these instructions: “Here is what you are to say to my lord ‘Esav: ‘Your servant Ya‘akov says, “I have been living with Lavan and have stayed until now. 6 I have cattle, donkeys and flocks, and male and female servants. I am sending to tell this news to my lord, in order to win your favor.” ’” 7 The messengers returned to Ya‘akov saying, “We went to your brother ‘Esav, and he is coming to meet you; with him are four hundred men.” CJB
Jacob splits his family into two when confronted with Esau and his 400 men.
8 Ya‘akov became greatly afraid and distressed. He divided the people, flocks, cattle and camels with him into two camps, 9 saying, “If ‘Esav comes to the one camp and attacks it, at least the camp that is left will escape.”
In this short narrative we see a type and shadow that gives meaning and understanding to what happens with Israel and the twelve tribes becoming two separate kingdoms. God split his family into two just as Jacob did in this story.
There were two kingdoms of Israel, the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom – Israel and Judah. The House of Israel was the northern ten tribes and their captivity started in 740BC but they were a distinct entity long before.
After the reign of King Solomon, God sent a prophet to Jeroboam, Solomon’s building foreman, and proclaimed the kingdom of Israel would be given to him. Jeroboam was to have all the tribes except for Benjamin and Judah, for David’s throne was to remain as per the promises of God to David. So the other ten tribes, the bulk of Israel, were given under the kingship of Jeroboam. Oh that Jeroboam trusted God to fulfill the offer! But no, he put in place a system of worship that kept his people from going to Jerusalem to fulfill the requirements of God’s commandments. He didn’t trust God that his people would remain loyal to him even when they were sojourning to Jerusalem on their three compulsory pilgrimages. He, Jeroboam, sinned and changed the seasons, changed the place of worship, changed the priesthood and created an idol. This separated the House of Israel from the House of Judah. The next nineteen kings of Israel would follow in the footsteps of Jeroboam and cause Israel to sin by following the same pattern.
It is interesting to note that the ‘church’ continued to follow this pattern of sinning. And why wouldn’t they for the church was filled with the descendants to these ‘lost’ ten tribes, the House of Israel.
Ma’ha’nayim is also mentioned in Song of Songs
3 I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.
4 Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners.
10 Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?
11 I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, and to see whether the vine flourished and the pomegranates budded.
12 Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Amminadib.
13 Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee. What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies.[ in Hebrew Mahanayim]
Somehow this love story is involved with this two camp theme.
Do the two camps, foreshadowed in Genesis 32:1-12 and prophesied in Zechariah 11:14 “Then I cut in pieces my second staff Union, to break the Brotherhood between Judah and Israel,” have an ultimate coming together? Indeed they do! Ezekiel chapter 37 prophesies the coming together of a mighty army with the ‘dry bones’ analogy and followed by the picture of the King David, Messiah figure, rejoining the sticks, Ephraim and Judah into one in His hand.
This separation of the House of Israel from the House to Judah had and continues to have an appearance of the devils work but where sin abounds GRACE does so much more abound. The GRACE of God takes those things that are the devil’s assignments against His plans and purposes, and uses them like a Judo move to gain more that He had before. Causing Israel to sin in this way, the devil guaranteed their captivity and expulsion into the nations. God had always intended this out casting into the nations as a blessing to the nations. It is in this way all Israel will be saved, as Paul says in Romans 11 and it is in this way that all families on the earth will be blessed by Abraham’s seed.
It is in the congregation of Messiah, the Bride of Christ, that this new covenant is realized. God has had to separate the two groups to fulfill His promises and to keep them safe from the descendants of Esau. Esau’s descendants included the Amalekites, the Amorites, the Hittites, etc.. who were in the promised land when Joshua arrived. They were the giants. Gary Wayne, in his Genesis 6 Conspiracy book makes the point that Esau or rather the descendants of Esau’s marriage to Hittite wives, were in the land as Joshua arrived with the children of Israel, but that they continue to survive and have made their way into high places in governments as a result of not being completely wiped out by Israel.
It will be this continued struggle between Esau and Jacob that will end the age. Whilst this devil’s plan has targeted the Jews for a long time, it will be the innumerable number of Israelites, in the nations, becoming Sons of the Living God that will be his [the devil] downfall.
God’s multidimensional chess match with Satan will out outmaneuver him. The use of the word, Ma’ha’nayim, joins the themes of the Two Houses of Israel with the bride in Song of songs. Placing his family into two camps, Ma’ha’nayim, will be seen as a very strategic move. God as the husband to Israel makes a new covenant so that He can remember their sins no more and do for them, what they could not do for themselves. That is, make them into a new creation. As Ezekiel saw, they lived and had become an exceedingly great army.
God had taken Israel down into Egypt so that they could become an exceedingly great people and be able to take the promised land from the Amorites [which they were unable to do as the family of Jacob 70 people in all] 400 years later. So too will God take back the earth from the Edomites,who have made their way into places of power, with his exceedingly great army, the innumerable children of Israel, in the nations.
As Paul ends Romans 11……
 Genesis 32:1-12