te-ko'-a (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, 2Ch 1:1-17). 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. Am 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).
E. W. G. Masterman