A town in Judah near Bethlehem and Tekoa; a favorite resort of Solomon, and fortified by Rehoboam, 1Ch 4:3,32; 2Ch 11:6. Its supposed site is now occupied by a ruined village balled Urtas, a mile and a half southwest of Bethlehem, not far Solomon's Pools. "The rock Etam" to which Samson withdrew, Jg 15:8-19, may have been in this vicinity, perhaps the Frank mountain two miles east.
eyrie. (1.) A village of the tribe of Simeon (1Ch 4:32). Into some cleft ("top," A.V.,; R.V., "cleft") of a rock here Samson retired after his slaughter of the Philistines (Jg 15:8,11). It was a natural stronghold. It has been identified with Beit 'Atab, west of Bethlehem, near Zorah and Eshtaol. On the crest of a rocky knoll, under the village, is a long tunnel, which may be the "cleft" in which Samson hid.
(2.) A city of Judah, fortified by Rehoboam (2Ch 11:6). It was near Bethlehem and Tekoah, and some distance apparently to the north of (1). It seems to have been in the district called Nephtoah (or Netophah), where were the sources of the water from which Solomon's gardens and pleasure-grounds and pools, as well as Bethlehem and the temple, were supplied. It is now 'Ain 'Atan, at the head of the Wady Urtas, a fountain sending forth a copious supply of pure water.
1. A village in the S. of Simeon (1Ch 4:32).
3. ETAM THE ROCK. Now Beit 'Arab, a steep, stony, bore knoll, standing amidst the winding, narrow valleys, without a blade of grain on its sides, but olive groves at its feet and three abundant springs. This answers to Etam, which was large enough for 3,000 men of Judah to go up to its top. It is not far from Manoah's patrimony from whence Samson "went down" to it. Lower than Eshu'a (Eshtaol) toward the S., yet conspicuous from more than one side (Courier). Into a cleft of it Samson retired after slaying the Philistines for burning the Timnite woman who was to have been his wife (Jg 15:8,11-19). In Judah, with Lehi or En-hak-kore at its foot.
Probably near the city Etam (2): distant enough from Tinmath to seem a safe retreat for Samson from the Philistines' revenge, yet not too far for them to reach in searching after him; The many springs and rocky eminences round Urtas seem the likely site where to find the rock of Etam and the En-hak-kore. Conder identifying Etam with Beit 'Atab says that Etam, meaning in Hebrew "cleft," answers to the singular rock tunnel, roughly hewn in the stone, and running from the midst of the village eastward to the chief spring. This cavern, which is called "the place of refuge," is 250 ft. long, and from 5 to 8 ft. high, and 18 ft. wide.
Here Samson could hide without any one lighting, except by accident, on the entrance of the tunnel. Its lowness compared with the main ridge of the watershed accounts for the "came down." Josephus (Ant. 8:7, sec. 3) mentions an Etham 50 furlongs from Jerusalem, where were the sources from which Solomon's pleasure grounds were watered, and Bethlehem and the temple supplied. Williams (Holy City, 2:500) says there is a wady Etam still on the way from Jerusalem to Hebron. A spring exists a few hundred yards S.E. of El-Burak (Solomon's Pools) called Ain Atan, answering to the Hebrew for Etam (Tyrwhitt Drake, Palestine Exploration)
An altogether obscure place name, applied to a rock in a cleft of which Samson took refuge (Jg 15:8), whence he was dislodged by the Judahites (v. 11), and therefore presumably in Judahite territory (cf. 1Ch 4:3). Also applied to a village in the tribe of Simeon (1Ch 4:32), and a town fortified by Rehoboam (2Ch 11:6). Whether there are here one or two or three places, and where it or they were, are unanswered questions.
R. A. S. Macalister.
1. Village of the tribe of Simeon. 1Ch 4:32.
2. City of Judah, fortified by Rehoboam. 2Ch 11:6. Identified with ruins at Aitun, 31 30' N, 34 55' E.
3. A descendant of Judah. 1Ch 4:3. The meaning is doubtful; some MSS read 'sons of Etam;' and others, 'sons of the father of Etam;' it may refer to the 'founder' of the above city, No. 2.
Etam, E'tam The Rock.
Place in Judah where Samson dwelt for a short time. Jg 15:8,11. The A.V. reads ambiguously, "he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam." It is better translated "dwelt in the cleft of the rock Etam."
(lair of wild beasts).
1. A village of the tribe of Simeon, specified only in the list in
comp. Josh 19:7
2. A place in Judah, fortified and garrisoned by Rehoboam.
Here, according to the statements of Josephus and the Talmudists, were the sources of the water from which Solomon's gardens and the pleasure-grounds were fed, and Bethlehem and the temple supplied.