Tekoa: Excavations in 1968 -- By: Martin H. Heicksen

Journal: Grace Journal
Volume: GJ 10:2 (Spring 1969)
Article: Tekoa: Excavations in 1968
Author: Martin H. Heicksen

Tekoa: Excavations in 1968

Martin H. Heicksen

Director, Tekoa Archaeological Expedition

Recent archaeological research at the site of the Biblical city of Tekoa has reaffirmed the importance of the unit in the fortification system of southern Judah during the Israelite monarchy. Tekoa is located in the edge of the Judaean wilderness, about eight miles south, and slightly east, of Bethlehem. To Bible readers its greatest significance lies in the fact that it was the home of the prophet Amos. It figured largely in the period of the Maccabees, and later some aspects of the Jewish rebellions centered there. Considerable Church and monastic occupation during the early Church and Byzantine times, is also known.

A short but intensive season of archaeological work was carried out during the summer of 1968, under the auspices of Wheaton College. The writer directed the project, which included surveys, environmental studies, and the excavation of a number of tombs, together with preliminary work in the clearing of two Byzantine church structures. Before describing the results of the dig, a brief review of the known history of Tekoa may be helpful.

During the Biblical period most of the Wilderness of Judaea was mainly used for pasturage in the spring, and various sections were called after the neighboring villages, as the wilderness of Tekoa, of Ziph, or Maon, etc. The genealogy of the earliest settlers of Tekoa is found in 1 Chronicles 2:24 and 4:5–7. The sons of Caleb and Ephrathah are said to have occupied Tekoa and several other locations in its vicinity. The site is evidently named after its original settler, Tekoa, the grandson of Caleb. In the administrative organization following the Conquest, Tekoa evidently became a part of the District of Bethlehem (only the Septuagint preserves the first reference to this district—Josh 15:59a, LXX. The passage reads: “Tekoa [Thekō] and Ephrathah which is Bethlehem…”), a relationship which still obtains. David was familiar with the place, and Ira, one of his mighty men, was from there (2 Sam 23:26). When David’s son Absalom was exiled for the slaying of his half-brother Ammon, a “wise woman” from Tekoa was engaged by Joab to bring about a rapprochement between him and his father (2 Sam 13:37–14:24).

Soon after the division of the monarchy Rehoboam set about strengthening the fortifications of several cities, including Tekoa (2 Chron 11:5, You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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