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SHUNEM (Heb. שׁוּנֵם), city in the Jezreel Valley, at the base of the hill of Moreh. The first mention of it occurs in the list of cities conquered by Thutmosis iii (no. 38; 15th century b.c.e.). In the Tell el-Amarna period (14th century b.c.e.), the city was destroyed by Labaia, the king of Shechem, and its fields were cultivated by the king of Meggido, using forced labor (el-Amarna Letter 248a, 250). In the Bible, it is described as a city in the territory of Issachar, together with Jezreel and Chesulloth (Josh. 19:18). The Philistines camped there before going to battle against Saul in Gilboa (i Sam. 28:4). Shunem was the birthplace of Abishag, David's companion in his old age (i Kings 1:3, 15; cf. Song 7:1). In 925 b.c.e. Shishak overran the city and it is mentioned in his list of conquered cities between Beth-Shean and Taanach (no. 28).

In the time of Eusebius, who places Shunem 5 mi. (8 km.) S. of Mt. Tabor (Onom. 158:11), the "house of Elisha" was shown to pilgrims there. In Crusader times, it was a benefice of the abbey of Mt. Tabor. The Jerusalem Talmud mentions R. Justa of Shunem, who lived in c. 400 c.e. (Shek. 1:1, 46a). The biblical site of Shunem is identified with the Muslim Arab village of Sūlim at the foot of the hill of Moreh, 3 mi. (5 km.) southeast of Afulah. Surface pottery on the ancient mound, situated northeast of the village, dates from the Middle Bronze Age to the Arab period. In 1968 the village had 725 inhabitants, increasing to 2,240 in 2002. Field crops and fruit orchards have been the main branches of farming.


B. Mazar, Toledot Ereẓ Yisrael (1938), 144–45; Alt, in: pjb, 21 (1925), 35ff.; Abel, Geog, 2 (1938), 470–71; Aharoni, Land, index.

[Michael Avi-Yonah]

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