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ETAM (Heb. עֵיטָם).

(1) The cleft in the rock where 3,000 men of Judah came to speak with Samson after he had slaughtered the Philistines (Judg. 15:8, 11). Some scholars identify it with ʿIrāq Ismāʿīn, 2½ mi. (4 km.) southeast of Zorah.

(2) A village in the northern Negev, mentioned together with En-Rimmon (i Chron. 4:32) and identified with the prominent Tell Beit Mirsim, where remains of the Israelite period, including walls, have been found.

(3) A city in the territory of Judah, located in the Bethlehem district according to a Septuagint addition to Joshua 15:59. It was fortified by Rehoboam together with Bethlehem and Tekoa (ii Chron. 11:6). Josephus relates that it was one of Solomon's pleasure resorts and describes it as "delightful for, and abounding in, parks and flowing streams" (Ant., 8:186). It is most likely to be identified with Khirbat al-Ḥūḥ, a large tell with Iron Age remains, near Ein-Atan in the vicinity of the Pools of Solomon. According to the Talmud, the waters of its spring were brought to the Temple (tj, Yoma 3:8, 41a), probably a reference to the aqueduct built by Pilate to catch the waters of the spring of Etam (Jos., Wars, 2:175; Ant., 18:60). A Kefar Etam is mentioned in the Mishnah (Yev. 12:6).


Kraus, in: zdpv, 72 (1956), 152–62; Aharoni, Land, index; Press, Ereẓ, 4 (19552), s.v.

[Michael Avi-Yonah]