Ascalon, Gaza, Negev and Sinai
121. Madebena, which is now Menois - (Kh. Ma'in)
MADMENA, Site southwest of Gaza, called Menois in Roman times. It was the westernmost point of the Palestinian limes (Codex Theodosius 7,4, 30; Notitia Dignitatum in partibus Orientis 34,19, 2). The place is shown on the Madaba Map. Eusebius mistakenly identified it with the Madmannah of Joshua 15,31 (Onom. 130,7). It is now identified with Horvat Ma'on (Khirbat al-Main) near Nirim, southeast of Gaza. A kibbutz called Ma'on was established near the site in 1949. Remains of mosaic pavements and other debris show that the area contained an extensive settlement from the fourth century C.E. onward. The most interesting building is a synagogue which was excavated in 1958. It is oriented toward the northeast and consists of a hall, 14.8 X 11.8m., with two rows of four columns forming the nave and two aisles. In the vicinity was a ritual bath (mikveh). The stone-paved aisles and narthex form a sort of ambulatory around the mosaic-paved nave. The design of the mosaic shows a vine trellis issuing from an amphora flanked by peacocks; the trellis forms medallions within which pairs of various animals are represented. The section of the pavement nearest to the apse has symbolic designs, two palm trees with doves at their bases and above them a menorah with two etrogim, a shofar, and a lulav, flanked by two lions. The Aramaic inscription mentions the congregation as a whole and three individual donors of a gold dinar each. The pavement, which dates to the early sixth century, has an interesting parallel in a church pavement found at nearby Shellal.
Michael Avi-Yonah, Encyclopaedia Judaica, ad v. "Madmena"
Herbert Donner (The Mosaic Map of Madaba, Kampen 1992, 74)
The mosaicist followed Eusebius who confused the village Madmanna in Judah (= Hirbat Umm ad-Demina, coord. 143-086, 4 krn southwest of ad-Dahariya) with Menois (= Hirbat al-Ma'in [coord. 093-077], about 10 Km east-southeast of Han Yunis). Menois is mentioned in some Byzantine administrative texts.
Bellarmino Bagatti (Ancient Christian Villages of Judaea and Negev, Jerusalem - in the press)
Kh. Ma'in, Ma'on (Nirim), Menois
Various localities have been proposed in the identification of Menois, among them Ma'in, about 20 km south of Gaza and 9 east of Khan Yunis (A. Musil, Edom I, Vienna 1908, p. 224). Alt (Palästina Jahrbuch 26 , pp.53-54) prefers to locate it in the ruins of Kh. Ma'in whose remains were used to build Khan Yunis, 2 km away. Father Abel (RB 49 , pp.70-72) accepts this second opinion.
Bishop Zosimus of Menois was at the second Council of Ephesus (A.D.449) and at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. The bishops who were present at the two synods of Jerusalem were named John and Stephen.
Addition by Leah Di Segni (Jerusalem):
Avi-Yonah in his Gazetteer (p.78) on the other hand prefers another location, near Kibbutz Nirim, where a synagogue with a beautiful mosaic pavement has been unearthed. Remains of buildings and Byzantine pottery were also observed there, as well as a Byzantine church nearby, at Baikat Umm Husein.
For more sources and bibliography see:
Tabula Imperii Romani. Iudaea - Palaestina (Jerusalem 1994) s.v. "Menois", 183.
Map Section 9 Place Sources