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SHALEM (Heb. שָׁלֵם)

(1) A place whose king *Melchizedek was visited by Abraham (Gen. 14:18). It is generally agreed that the name refers to Jerusalem, especially in view of Psalms 76:3, in which Shalem is equated with Zion; this is also the view of Josephus (Ant., 1:180).

(2) A town in the Jordan Valley close to Aenon (Gk. for "many waters") where *John was reported to have been baptizing (John 3:23). Later Christian writers, such as Eusebius (Onom. 40:1) and Jerome in his Latin edition of the Onomasticon (Liber de Situ et Nominibus 266c; though he later changed his mind), identified it with a locality in the Jordan Valley 8 mi. (c. 13 km.) south of Scythopolis (Beth-Shean). Christian pilgrims, such as Egeria (c. 384 c.e.), visited the site, then called Sedima (Solyma?), near which was a spring or pool. The area is indicated by a row of greenish mosaics on the *Madaba Map (mid-6th century). It may be identical with the Salem mentioned in the Book of Judith (4:4), in which the villages were alerted at the approach of Holofernes, i.e. on the outskirts of the mountains of Samaria. A possible identification is with Tell al-Radgah (present-day Tell Shalem), c. 8 mi. (12 km.) south of Beth-Shean (Scythopolis). This location has numerous springs: 13 in an area of 4 × 4 kilometers; Ambrose in his writings (ii, 1432) claimed there were 12 springs at "Ennon." On the north side is Tell Shalem. Since Egeria was told that Aenon was situated 200 yards (= 183 m) away, Aenon might very well be situated to the northwest of the ancient mound at 'Ain Ibrahim which has a sheikh's tomb.

(3) The Shalem Rabta ("Great Shalem") of Samaritan sources, called Sanim by Eusebius (Onom. 160:13), which is identified with the village of Sālim, approximately 4 mi. (6 km.) east of Nablus. According to Samaritan tradition, a synagogue was built there in the fourth century by their hero Bavah Rabbah.


Hertzberg, in: jpos, 8 (1928), 169ff.; Albright, in: basor, 19 (1925), 18; idem, in: aasor, 6 (1926), 43–44; Tzori, in: Bikat Beit Shean (1962), 163–64; I. Ben-Zvi, Sefer ha-Shomronim (1935), 68. add. bibliography: For a discussion regarding the location of Salem and Aenon: S. Gibson, The Cave of John the Baptist (2004), 238–41; for an alternative view, see: J. Murphy O'Connor, "Sites Associated with John the Baptist," in: Revue Biblique, 112 (2005), 253–66.

[Michael Avi-Yonah /

Shimon Gibson (2nd ed.)]