(Eʹtam) [Place of Birds of Prey].
1. A settlement of Simeonites within the territory of Judah. (1Ch 4:24, 32) Its location is uncertain, although some connect it with Tell ʽEitum (Tel ʽAitun), centrally located in Judah’s territory about 44 km (27 mi) W of En-gedi and the same distance SW of Jerusalem.
2. The crag Etam, where Samson lived after burning the Philistines’ fields. From this crag, 3,000 men of Judah took him, willingly bound, back to the Philistines. (Jg 15:8-13) Whereas no positive identification for the crag Etam is possible, a connection with the town (No. 3 below) cannot be altogether eliminated. However, just 4 km (2.5 mi) ESE of the suggested site of Samson’s hometown Zorah (Jg 13:2) is ʽAraq Ismaʽin, an isolated crag with a lofty cavern affording a broad view of the Shephelah below. Appropriate to the meaning of the name, this may possibly be the site of the crag Etam.
3. A town of Judah located probably at Khirbet el-Khokh, on a hill about 2.5 km (1.5 mi) SW of Bethlehem. Apparently Etam and Bethlehem had been settled by close relatives. (1Ch 4:3, 4; see ATROTH-BETH-JOAB.) According to Josephus, King Solomon often took a morning chariot ride from Jerusalem those 13 km (8 mi) out to Etan (Etam), where there were gardens and streams. (Jewish Antiquities, VIII, 186 [vii, 3]) Etam was rebuilt and fortified by Solomon’s successor Rehoboam. (2Ch 11:5, 6) According to the Talmud, an aqueduct linked Jerusalem with a spring to the W of Etam.—Babylonian Talmud, Yoma 31a; Palestinian (Jerusalem) Talmud, Yoma 41a.