Maccabee - Family of high priest Mattathias and his son Judah, who revolted against oppressive Antiochus, king of Syria, a Selucid Greek; Judah cleansed the Temple after defilement by the Syrians. The Jews remained free, ruled by the Maccabees (family name: Hasmonaean) until 63 BC. The Maccabee symbol of a palm branch became a national symbol of freedom. Hanukkah (or the Feast of Dedication) celebrated Judah Maccabee's cleansing of the Temple.
Macellum - Market where food is sold.
Maenad - From Greek "raving" or "frantic", refers to female followers of Dionysus.
Maim chaim - Living water. Referring to water coming "directly from God" via rain or stream, etc.
Manna - Means "What is it?" Manna was the name the Israelites gave the special food God provided to them in the desert. It was a white, bread-like, sweet-tasting food that would show up on the ground in the morning (Ex. 16:14-36). Jesus says he is like manna. He is the bread of life that can truly fulfill God's people.
Manual of Discipline - One of the writings of the Essenes found among the Dead Sea Scrolls; it describes the rules of the community.
Marble - The great king Herod imported marble from Italy to build his glorious city of Caesarea. Many of Herodís cities and buildings were covered with this stone. He built these magnificent structures so people would remember him and honor him as a great king. Herod lived for himself. Because he built only for himself, nothing is left but ruins.
Marriage cup - During Biblical times, a young man who wanted to marry would accompany his father to the chosen woman's house, where she and her father would be present. They'd negotiate a steep "bride price" -the money or physical items that the woman's father would ask for in exchange for giving up his valuable daughter. Then the young man's father would hand his son a cup of wine. The son, in turn, would offer it to the women and say, "This cup I offer to you". In effect, he was saying, "I love you, and I offer you my life. Will you marry me?" If she drank it (sealing their engagement), she accepted his life and gave him hers. If not, she simply declined.
Mars - Roman god of war. Son of Zeus and Hera.
Masada - A fortress expanded by Herod the Great to include a palace; on a mountain plateau on the Dead Sea's shore near Idumaea. David wrote, "The Lord is my rock and my fortress" (Ps. 18:2), a possible reference to this flat mountain plateau. Along the 1,000- foot mountaintop, Herod built a wall with 37 towers to defend against attackers and carved a three-level palace into the mountain face. Fearing Mark Antony would give his kingdom to Cleopatra of Egypt, Herod fortified Masada as an escape. Last place held by rebels in the First Jewish Revolt; the committed suicide rather than surrender. A symbol for the Jewish people, of their determination to remain free.
Massebah - See Standing Stone.
Mediterranean Sea - Known in the Bible as the Great Sea, it formed the western border of Israel. Since the Jews were not a seafaring people, the Mediterranean was more of a boundary than an integral part of their lives.
Megiddo - The most strategic city in Israel, it guarded a key mountain pass of the international trade route Via Maris. It was one of the cities that Herod fortified. According to Book of Revelation, it represents Armageddon, the final battle between God's people and the devil's followers. (See also Armageddon).
Menorah - Lampstand.
Mercury - Roman god of trade, messenger. Son of Zeus and Maia.
Mercy seat - See Atonment Seat.
Mesopotamia - Refers to the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, as well as the surrounding area. The patriarchs came from here. The empires of Assyria, Persia, and Babylon were here.
Messiah - A Hebrew word meaning "anointed" or "chosen one". The Greek word used in the New Testament for "annointed" is Christ. In the Old Testament, God promised to send a special person called the Messiah. This new king would save God's people. The New Testament shows us that Jesus is the Messiah. He is God's chosen one to save his people.
Messianic banquet - One way to describe the great banquet (also called the wedding feast of the lamb) that will occur when the Messiah comes.
Mezuzah - A small rectangular box containing scripture affixed to a doorpost. Meant to remind observant Jews to obey the commandments whether at home or "along the road".
Micmash (or Michmash) - City north of Jerusalem that guarded one of the approaches from the coastal plain.
Middle East - Modern term referring to the area of Israel and the countries surrounding it.
Mikveh - A ritual bath containing living water. Observant Jews would wash head, heart, hands, and feet as a symbol of purity before God.
Minerva - Roman goddess of wisdom and skill. Daughter of Zeus.
Moab Mountains - Mountain range east of the Dead Sea where the nation of Moab lived.
Mount Arbel - Mountain ridge 1,000 feet above the Sea of Galilee. Site of a brutal battle in 38 BC between Galilean Jews and Herod the Great for control of Galilee.
Mount Carmel - Mountain ridge in Israel that divides the Valley of Jezreel from the coastal plain. Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal here.
Mount Ebal - Mountain near the city of Shechem where an altar to God was built. Joshua gave the curses of the covenant on this mountain (the blessings of Mount Gerizim) when he renewed the covenant after entering the Promised Land, as Moses had commanded him.
Mount Gerizim - Mountain near the city of Shechem where Joshua pronounced the covenant blessings (the curses on Mount Ebal) when he renewed the covenant after entering the Promised Land, as Moses had commanded him.
Mount Gilboa - Mountain on the southern edge of the Valley of Jezreel. Saul and Jonathan died here.
Mount Hermon - Mountain on the northern border of Israel. More than 9,000 feet above sea level, it is often covered with snow. Water from this mountain forms the Jordan River.
Mount of Olives - This mountain, standing about 2,641 feet above sea level, stands east of Jerusalem across the Kidron Valley. It is approximately 325 feet higher than the Temple area and the highest peak in the area. Jesus entered Jerusalem, gave his final teaching, and ascended to heaven from here. Some scholars believe this may be the location for Jesusí return.
Mount Sedom - This mountain ridge at the southern end of the Dead Sea is composed of salt. It retains the name of the city of Sodom, which was probably nearby.
Mount Sinai - Mountain where God met Moses to establish his covenant with the Israelites. Here God gave the Ten Commandments and the instructions for the building of the tabernacle. Many scholars believe Sinai refers to Jebel Musa, a peak in the Sinai Peninsula, the area between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba. This peak is 7,500 feet high. Others put Mount Sinai further north; still others in Arabia.
Mount Tabor - Mountain at the northeast edge of the Valley of Jezreel. Site of the battle between Deborah and Barak and Jabin, king of Hazor.
Murex - Shellfish found along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea north of Israel, where the Phoenicians lived. Purple dye was produced from these shellfish.