YEROḤAM (Heb. יְרֹחָם), urban settlement in southern Israel, in the northern section of the Negev Hills, 9 mi. (14 km.) S.W. of Dimonah. In 1951, it was founded on a site called in Arabic Tell Rakhma near a junction of roads, one of which was built under the British Mandate with a view to carrying out trial drillings for oil in the vicinity. New immigrants from Romania, Iraq, North Africa, etc., settled there. Initially, it was planned to base the settlement on agriculture (therefore the site was called at first Kefar – village – Yeroham), but when this failed it took on the character of a *ma'barah whose inhabitants worked in road building and other public works and in mining of glass, sand and ceramic clays in the nearby Makhtesh Gadol and Makhtesh Ramon. There was, however, no full employment, and for a long time the inhabitants had to live in transitory wooden huts. In the 1960s, the situation gradually improved with the development of the Oron phosphate field, inhabitants of Yeroḥam finding employment in the *Sedom-Dead Sea Works and the establishment of successful local factories (glass and glass bottles, soft beverages, etc.). Yeroḥam's importance as a road station on the Eilat-Beersheba highway diminished, however, with the construction of the Sedom-Eilat and Revivim-Sedeh Boker highways. The serious water problem was largely solved with the construction of a local storage dam of floodwaters in the gorge of Naḥal Revivim, near a dam of the Roman period. Yeroḥam attained municipal council status in 1959 and grew from 229 inhabitants in 1954 to 5,400 in 1970. With the arrival of new immigrants, the population increased to 6,810 in the mid-1990s and 8,610 in 2002. The municipal area is 13 sq. mi. (34 sq. km.). The main economic branches of Yeroham remained industry and public services, with unemployment high as a result of failing factories and income considerably below the national average.
[Shlomo Hasson /
Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]