Etam 2 (Etam) and surrounding region
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Occurrences1 Chronicles 4:32
Their villages were Etam, and Ain, Rimmon, and Tochen, and Ashan, five cities;
e'-tam `eTam; Codex Alexandrinus, Apan, Codex Vaticanus, Aitan:
(1) Mentioned in Septuagint along with Tekoa, Bethlehem and Phagor (Joshua 15:59). In 2 Chronicles 11:6 it occurs, between Bethlehem and Tekoa, as one of the cities built "for defense in Judah" by Rehoboam. Josephus writes that "there was a certain place, about 50 furlongs distant from Jerusalem which is called Ethan, very pleasant it is in fine gardens and abounding in rivulets of water; whither he (Solomon) used to go out in the morning" (Ant., VIII, vii, 3). Mention of `Ain `Aitan, which is described as the most elevated place in Palestine, occurs in the Talmud (Zebhachim 54b), and in the Jer. Talmud (Yoma' 3 fol 41) it is mentioned that a conduit ran from `Atan to the Temple.
The evidence all points to `Ain `Atan, the lowest of the springs supplying the aqueduct running to Solomon's pools. The gardens of Solomon may very well-by tradition, at any rate-have been in the fertile valley below `Urtas. The site of the ancient town Etam is rather to be looked for on an isolated hill, with ancient remains, a little to the East of `Ain `Atan. 1 Chronicles 4:3 may also have reference to this Etam.
(2) A town assigned to Simeon (1 Chronicles 4:32). Mentioned with EN-RIMMON (which see), identified by Conder with Khurbet `AiTun in the hills Northwest of Beersheba.
(3) The rock of Etam, where Samson took up his dwelling after smiting the Philistines "hip and thigh with a great slaughter" (Judges 15:8, 11), was in Judah but apparently in the low hill country (same place). The rocky hill on which lies the village of Beit `Atab, near Sur`ah (Zorah), was suggested by Conder, but unless (3) is really identical width (1), which is quite possible, the cavern known as `Arak Isma`in, described by Hanauer (PEFS, 1886, 25), suits the requirements of the story better. The cavern, high up on the northern cliffs of the Wady Isma`in, is a noticeable object from the railway as the train enters the gorge.
E. W. G. Masterman