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ESHTAOL (Heb. אֶשְׁתָּאוֹל), biblical town in the Judean Shephelah, in the territory of the tribe of Dan, usually mentioned together with nearby Zorah (Josh. 15:33; 19:41). The Danites set out on their march to Laish from these towns (Judg. 18:2) and somewhere between were the tombs of Samson and his father Manoah (Judg. 13:25; 16:31). The aggadah de-scribes the two towns as mountains facing each other (Sot. 9b). In the fourth century c.e. Eusebius mentions a village called Eshtaol in the Eleutheropolis (Bet Guvrin) district, 10 mi. (16 km.) north of the city; its location is not clear (Onom. 88:12–14). Estori ha-Parḥi (14th century) was the first to identify Eshtaol with Ishwaʿ, north of Zorah and 16½ mi. (27 km.) west of Jerusalem (Kaftor va-Feraḥ, 302). The ancient city was perhaps located at Tell Abu-al-Qābūs, on the hill above the village of Ishwaʿ, where remains of the Iron Age have been found. In the War of Independence (1948), the village (pop. 600) was taken during the building of the "Burma road" to Jerusalem; it had been abandoned by its inhabitants.

[Michael Avi-Yonah]

The name Eshtaol was renewed when a moshav, affiliated with Tenu'at ha-Moshavim, was founded by newcomers from Yemen, at the site of Ishwaʿ in the Judean Foothills north of Beth-Shemesh. Initially this was a work village whose settlers were employed at reclaiming the terrain for farming. Gradually, the main branches – deciduous fruit orchards, vineyards, garden crops, etc. – were developed. Near the village a forest tree nursery of the Jewish National Fund offered further employment to the settlers who also worked in nearby forests, e.g. the President's Forest commemorating Chaim *Weizmann, which served as a recreation ground. The crossroads near Eshtaol bears the name Ẓomet Shimshon ("Samson Junction"). In 1968, Eshtaol numbered 320 inhabitants, rising to 480 in the mid-1990s and 702 in 2002 as the moshav underwent expansion.

[Efraim Orni]


J. Garstang, Joshua, Judges (1931), 375; Montgomery, in: jbl, 54 (1935), 61; Malky, in: jpos, 20 (1946), 43ff.; Aharoni, Land, index; Avi-Yonah, Geog, 111.