Etam — eyrie. (1.) A village of the tribe of Simeon (1 Chr. 4:32). Into some cleft (“top,” A.V.,; R.V., “cleft”) of a rock here Samson retired after his slaughter of the Philistines (Judg. 15:8, 11). It was a natural stronghold. It has been identified with Beit ‘Atab, west of Bethlehem, near Zorah and Eshtaol. On the crest of a rocky knoll, under the village, is a long tunnel, which may be the “cleft” in which Samson hid.
(2.) A city of Judah, fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chr. 11:6). It was near Bethlehem and Tekoah, and some distance apparently to the north of (1). It seems to have been in the district called Nephtoah (or Netophah), where were the sources of the water from which Solomon’s gardens and pleasure-grounds and pools, as well as Bethlehem and the temple, were supplied. It is now ‘Ain ‘Atan, at the head of the Wady Urtas, a fountain sending forth a copious supply of pure water.