Tekoa: Historical And Cultural Profile -- By: Martin H. Heicksen

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 13:2 (Spring 1970)
Article: Tekoa: Historical And Cultural Profile
Author: Martin H. Heicksen

Tekoa: Historical And Cultural Profile

Martin H. Heicksen, M.A.*

A host of literary associations cluster around the ancient site of Tekoa, which is located in the edge of the Judean Wilderness, a few miles to the southeast of Bethlehem. These may be roughly subsumed under three headings, viz., the Biblical period, the time of the Jewish wars, and the Christian era till the twelfth century A.D. Its written history begins with the period of the Conquest, in which it is noted that Ashur, Caleb’s half-brother, was the father, i.e., the founder, of Tekoa.1 Various documents from the period of the Maccabees, and of Bar Kochba, mention the part it played in those troublous times, but by far the largest extant material is from the pens of Josephus, Jerome, Eusebius, Paula, and more recent pilgrims and visitors, as Conder, Pococke, Wilson, Robinson, and Fosdick.

There are some 14 Biblical references to Tekoa, and at least one from the Apocrypha. In David’s heyday, one of his loyal “mighty men” followers was “…Ira the son of Ikkesh of Tekoa (2 Sam. 23:26; 1 Chron. 11:28), whose responsibility as an army commander was shown by the size of the force he led— twenty-four thousand men (1 Chron. 27:9). In David’s darker days his son Absalom was banished, and a scheme was arranged by Joab to bring him back to the family circle. A wise woman of Tekoa played the leading role in this successful effort (2 Sam. 14:2–4, 9). The Babylonian Talmud answers the question: why to Tekoa (to fetch a wise woman)? Rabbi Jobanon commented: “Because they were accustomed to olive oil, wisdom could be found among them!2 Several references to the famed quality of olive oil from Tekoa are known: the Mishnah—”Tekoa comes first in its quality of oil;”3 Alfred Edersheim remarks that Tekoa produced the finest quality of oil in the period after the last Jewish war;4 and the Babylonian Talmud, in other passages: “Tekoa…famous for the abundance of its olives,” “Tekoa, a Palestine town famous for its oils,” 5 and most interesting of all, says that the Hebrew word for Tekoa (Tᵉqoaʾ), meansoil.”6 Arab geog-

*Associate Professor of Archaeology, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illi...

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