TEKOA, TEKOAH, TEKOITE (tĕ-kō'a, tĕ-kō'aīt, Heb. teqôa‘, tekô‘âh). A city of Judah, an inhabitant of it. Tekoa lay twelve miles (twenty km.) south of Jerusalem and the same distance NE of Hebron. It was fortified by Rehoboam (2Chr.11.6). Previous to this, Joab, David’s cousin and general, had sent to Tekoa for a “wise woman” and plotted with her to persuade David to bring back Absalom. The prophet Amos describes himself as one of the shepherds of Tekoa (Amos.1.1) and later as one who cared for sycamore-fig trees (Amos.7.14), giving us a hint as to the civilization of the city and surrounding country. Jeremiah warned Judah of the approaching danger from the north (Jer.6.1). Ruins of the place survive in Takua.

TEKOA tə kō’ ə (תְּקֹ֔ועָה; LXX Θεκώε). KJV TEKOAH in 2 Samuel 14:2, 4, 9 and in RSV of 1 Maccabees 9:33; KJV THECOE, thĭ kō', in 1 Maccabees 9:33.

Tekoa, the wilderness.

Here is a rather wild, arid, and stony district, a dozen m. S of Jerusalem, deserted “save for donkeys and sure-footed men.” Its soil is a kind of chalk marl, the “frontier of tillable land.” Beyond is desert, the part toward the E characterized by Dr. George Adam Smith as “fifteen miles of chaos sinking to...the Dead Sea.”

There was scant cultivation in valley pockets where was preserved the once rich if sparse vegetable mold that overlay the hills of Judah, when anciently they afforded a forest. The region produced olives and a peculiar fruit called “sycomore fruit” (Amos 7:14 KJV), ancient tradition making it proverbial both for oil and honey. Shepherds and flocks must have found shelter in the many caves of the hilly land. In certain sections Bedouin tent dwellers produced a coarse kind of millet.

In this general district, David, the fugitive from vindictive Saul, spent much time (1 Sam 23:26). It was in the wilderness of Tekoa that Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, defeated the Ammonites and their allies (2 Chron 20:20ff.), who had invaded Judah, coming by Engedi. When the Judeans found the invaders already dispersed and slaughtered, they called the scene “the valley of blessing.”

In this district, John the Baptist was equipped for his “austere mission,” finding in its outlook figures of judgment: vipers fleeing from the wrath to come (Matt 3:7). Also in this general locality, the Lord met His threefold temptation, coming through victoriously, having been with the wild beasts (Mark 1:13). When Bacchides, the Syrian general under Demetrius, took up the campaign against the Maccabees, it was to the wilderness of Tekoa that two of the brothers, Simon and Jonathan, escaped (1 Macc 9:33).

A town.

Tekoa is mentioned a number of times in Scripture, though not listed among Judah’s possessions in the OT Heb. of Joshua 15, but is found in the LXX of v. 59.

Both Jeremiah and Amos lived in the face of the wilderness of Judea. In Tekoa, the rustic Amos was born in the 8th century b.c., a prophet to the northern kingdom. Reading his book, one has the feeling that Amos haunted the heights, living in sight of “very wide horizons.”

Tekoa is in Judah, ten m. S of Jerusalem, and half as far S of Bethlehem, on a prominent elevation 2,700 ft. high, from which the Mount of Olives is visible, also Mount Nebo beyond the Dead Sea, the place from which Moses viewed the Promised Land. It looks down on a mass of desert hills. The scenes that influenced the herdsman of Tekoa are reflected graphically in Amos 4:13 and 5:8. The town lies between two valleys cutting deeply down to the Dead Sea through the wilderness of Judea.

According to 1 Chronicles 2:24 and 4:5, this place was extant at the time of the Heb. conquest of Canaan, having been founded by Ashhur, half-brother to Caleb (see 3). In 2 Samuel 14 is the record regarding the wise woman, “the Tekoite,” whom Joab, David’s general, employed to bring back by the use of a ruse, the fugitive Absalom. Certain Tekoites were engaged in wall-building. They were public spirited men, in contrast to their nobles who did not take part in the work. Whether these men were actually of Tekoa, or had adopted the name after settling in the capital, is undeterminable (Neh 3:5, 27). Tekoa is not mentioned by Ezra as one of the repopulated towns (ch. 2). In Tekoa lived Ira son of Ikkesh “the Tekoite” (2 Sam 23:26).

Rehoboam of the southern kingdom thought Tekoa of sufficient importance to warrant fortification (2 Chron 11:6; intimated by Josephus in Antiq. VIII. x. 1). The place was strategically situated as a military post for the protection of Jerusalem. Its defenses were maintained even in Jeremiah’s time, as a station for trumpet-signaling, in connection with which the prophet gives a play on the word (Jer 6:1).

Tekoa was a city of some prominence in early Christian centuries and in the Middle Ages. In the opening years of the 6th cent., a monastery was erected by a man named Saba; shortly after his death it became the scene of conflict between the orthodox and the Monophysites. A certain Willibald of some two centuries later made report of a church and a prophet’s grave in Tekoa. In the times of the Crusades, many Christians inhabiting Tekoa aided the Franks during the first siege of Jerusalem. The place was destroyed by Turks in a.d. 1138, citizens escaping to a large cave. The site of Amos’ tomb was confirmed by Isaac Chelo, a.d. 1134 (HDB, IV, 693). A number of traditions have centered in this place. Nathanael was one of the condemned infants of Herod’s slaughter, but he escaped to Tekoa. From near the tomb of Amos, the prophet Habbakuk was carried by angels to Babylon. Prophets met there to discuss divine things.

It seems most likely that the Tekoa of 1 Chronicles 2:24 and 4:5 is the town and not a man, no further mention of a man by that name being made. Its father (i.e. founder) was Ashhur, descendant of Hezron, grandson of Judah (Gen 46:12). See Amos.


G. A. Smith, Historical Geography of the Holy Land (1896); J. Bright, History of Israel (1959), 244, 360.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(teqoa’, or teqo`ah; Thekoe; the King James Version Tekoah; one of David’s mighty men, "Ira the son of Ikkesh," is called a Tekoite, te-ko’-it (teqo`i; 2Sa 23:26; 1Ch 11:28; 27:9; the "woman of Tekoa" [2Sa 14:2] is in Hebrew teqo`ith; in Ne 3:5 mention is made of certain Tekoites, te-ko’its teqo’im, who repaired part of the walls of Jerusalem):

1. Scripture References:

From here came the "wise woman" brought by Joab to try and make a reconciliation between David and Absalom (2Sa 14:2 f); it was one of the cities fortified by Rehoboam (2Ch 11:6; Josephus, Ant, VIII, ix, 1). The wilderness of Tekoa is mentioned (2Ch 20:20) as the extreme edge of the inhabited area; here Jehoshaphat took counsel before advancing into the wilderness of Judea to confront the Ammonites and Moabites. In Jer 6:1, we read, "Blow the trumpet in Tekoa and raise a signal in Beth-haccherim"--because of the enemy advancing from the North. Amos 1:1, one of the "herdsmen of Tekoa," was born here.

In Jos 15:59 (addition to verse in Septuagint only) Tekoa occurs at the beginning of the list of 11 additional cities of Judah--a list which includes Bethlehem, Ain Kairem and Bettir--which are omitted in the Hebrew. A Tekoa is mentioned as a son of Ashhur (1Ch 2:24; 4:5).

Jonathan Maccabeus and his brother Simon fled from the vengeance of Bacchides "into the wilderness of Thecoe (the Revised Version (British and American) "Tekoah") and pitched their tents (the Revised Version (British and American) "encamped") by the water of the pool Asphar" (1 Macc 9:33).

2. Later History:

Josephus calls Tekoa a village in his day (Vita, 75), as does Jerome who describes it as 12 miles from Jerusalem and visible from Bethlehem; he says the tomb of the prophet Amos was there (Commentary on Jeremiah, VI, 1). "There was," he says, "no village beyond Tekoa in the direction of the wilderness." The good quality of its oil and honey is praised by other writers. In the 6th century a monastery, Laura Nova, was founded there by Saba. In the crusading times Tekoa was visited by pious pilgrims wishing to see the tomb of Amos, and some of the Christian inhabitants assisted the Crusaders in the first siege of Jerusalem. In 1138 the place was pillaged by a party of Turks from the East of the Jordan, and since that time the site appears to have lain desolate and ruined, although even in the 14th century the tomb of Amos was still shown.

3. The Site of Tequ`a:

The site is without doubt the Khirbet Tequ’a, a very extensive ruin, covering 4 or 5 acres, about 6 miles South of Bethlehem and 10 miles from Jerusalem, near the Frank Mountain and on the road to `Ain Jidy. The remains on the surface are chiefly of large cut stone and are all, apparently, medieval. Fragments of pillars and bases of good hard limestone occur on the top of the hill, and there is an octagonal font of rose-red limestone; it is clear that the church once stood there. There are many tombs and cisterns in the neighborhood of a much earlier period. A spring is said to exist somewhere on the site, but if so it is buried out of sight. There is a reference in the "Life of Saladin" (Bahaoddenus), to the "river of Tekoa," from which Richard Coeur de Lion and his army drank, 3 miles from Jerusalem: this may refer to the Arab extension of the "low-level aqueduct" which passes through a long tunnel under the Sahl Tequ`a and may have been thought by some to rise there.

The open fields around Teqa’a are attractive and well suited for olive trees (which have now disappeared), and there are extensive grazing-lands. The neighborhood, even the "wilderness" to the East, is full of the flocks of wandering Bedouin. From the site, Bethlehem, the Mount of Olives and Nebi Samuel (Mizpah) are all visible; to the Northeast is a peep of the Jordan valley near Jericho and of the mountains of Gilead, but most of the eastern outlook is cut off by rising ground (PEF, III, 314, 368, Sh XXI).