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Title: As-Samu  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Khirbat al-Simia, Eshtemoa synagogue, Hebron Governorate, Tarqumiyah, Idhna
Collection: Cities in the West Bank, Hebrew Bible Places, Hebron Governorate
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


As Samu'
Other transcription(s)
 • Arabic السموع
 • Also spelled es Samu' (official)
Samua (unofficial)
As-Samu, 2014
As-Samu, 2014
Official logo of As Samu'
As Samu' is located in the Palestinian territories
As Samu'
As Samu'
Location of As Samu' within the Palestinian territories
Governorate Hebron
 • Type Municipality
 • Head of Municipality abed ennabe elhawamde
 • Jurisdiction 13,800 dunams (13.8 km2 or 5.3 sq mi)
Population (2007)
 • Jurisdiction 19,649
Name meaning Es Semua (p.n.)[1]

As Samu' or es-Samu' (Arabic: السموع‎) is a town in the Hebron Governorate of the West Bank, Palestinian territories, 12 kilometers south of the city of Hebron and 60 kilometers southwest of Jerusalem.


  • Geography 1
  • History 2
    • Ottoman period 2.1
    • British Mandate era 2.2
    • 1948-1967 2.3
    • post 1967 2.4
  • Culture 3
  • References 4
  • Bibliography 5
  • External links 6


The area is a hilly, rocky area cut by some wadis. The Armistice Demarcation Line (ADL, Green line) runs generally east to west approximately five kilometers south of as Samu. The village of as Samu is located on twin hills with a wadi varying from shallow to deep between them.[2] According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics the town had a population of 19,649 in 2007.[3]


The Jerusalem Talmud mentions Eshtemoa as well as an amora active in the town during the 4th-century by the name of Hasa of Eshtemoa.[4] Eusebius of Caesarea (4th-century) describes Eshtemoa in the Onomasticon as being a Jewish town in the 'Daroma', north of Aniam, within the Eleutheropolis (Bet Guvrin) region. During Roman and Byzantine period, Eshtemoa was described as a large Jewish village.[5] What was earlier identified to be part of a 12th-century Crusaders tower, turned out to be a 4th-century synagogue, which was turned into a mosque at the time of Saladin, according to tradition.[6][7]

Ottoman period

In 1838, Edward Robinson identified the town of Semua with biblical Eshtemoa.[8] He described As-Samu as a "considerable" village,...."full of flocks and herds all in fine order". He also found remains of walls built from very large stones, some were more than 10 feet long.[9]

In 1863 the French explorer Victor Guérin visited the place.[10]

In 1883, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine described it as "A village of moderate size, standing high. On the north is an open valley, and the modern buildings extend along a spur which runs out west from the watershed. The ground is rocky on the hills, but the valleys are arable land. There are remains of an ancient castle in the village, and other fragments. A church is said once to have existed here, and the ruins to the west show that the town was once much larger. To the south there are olives in the valley. To the north there are rock-cut tombs on the hill-side ; the water-supply is from cisterns. The inhabitants number some 400 to 500 souls.[11]

British Mandate era

In the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities, As-Samu (called: AI Samu) had an entirely Muslim population of 1,600.[12]

In 1934, remains of the towns ancient synagogue were discovered and the site was later excavated in 1969, by Ze'ev Yeivin.[13]

In 1945 the population of As-Samu was 2,520, all Arabs, who owned 138,872 dunams of land according to an official land and population survey.[14] 30 dunams were plantations and irrigable land, 40,398 for cereals,[15] while 165 dunams were built-up (urban) land.[16]


In the wake of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, and after the 1949 Armistice Agreements, As-Samu came under Jordanian rule.

In 1966, Israel launched a full-scale military operation against the town, which resulted in the deaths of fifteen Jordanian soldiers and three Jordanian civilians; fifty-four other soldiers and ninety-six civilians were wounded. The commander of the Israeli paratroop battalion, Colonel Yoav Shaham, was killed and ten other Israeli soldiers were wounded.

post 1967

After Six-Day War in 1967, As-Samu has been under Israeli occupation.

It was reported in 2005 that 10,000 dunums of land in the towns of As Samu, Yatta and ad-Dhahiriya near Hebron were to be seized by the Israel Defense Forces for the construction of the separation wall.[17] Palestinian sources have alleged that settler violence from the nearby Israeli settlements of Ma'on and Asa'el has prevented them from accessing their fields.[18][19]


A headdress or 'money hat' (wuqayat al-darahem) from as-Samu (c. 1840s (with later additions)) is exhibited at the British Museum. The caption notes that the headdress was worn in the 19th Century and early 20th Century during the wedding ceremony, especially for the 'going out to the well' ceremony when the bride appeared in public as a married woman for the first time.[20] Generally, the headdress was considered to be one of the most important parts of the Palestinian costume.


  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 433
  2. ^ UN Doc
  3. ^ 2007 PCBS Census Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. p.121.
  4. ^ Ben-Zion Rosenfeld (2009). Torah Centers and Rabbinic Activity in Palestine 70-400 C.e: History and Geographic Distribution. BRILL. p. 81.  
  5. ^ Avraham Negev; Shimon Gibson (July 2005). Archaeological encyclopedia of the Holy Land. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 167–168.  
  6. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, pp. 412-413
  7. ^ Pringle, 1997, p. 118
  8. ^ Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 2, p. 194
  9. ^ Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 2, pp. 626-7
  10. ^ Guérin, 1869, pp. 173 -176, 196
  11. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, p. 403
  12. ^ Barron, 1923, Table V, p. 10
  13. ^ על מקור תוכניותיהם של בתי-הכנסת בדרום הר-יהודה [Sources for the Plans of the Synagogues in Southern Mount Hebron] (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2010-07-06. 
  14. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in S. Hadawi, Village Statistics, 1945. PLO Research Center, 1970, p. 50
  15. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in S. Hadawi, Village Statistics, 1945. PLO Research Center, 1970, p. 94
  16. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in S. Hadawi, Village Statistics, 1945. PLO Research Center, 1970, p. 144
  17. ^ UN Doc Chronological Review of Events Relating to the Question of Palestine; Monthly Media Monitoring Review March 2005
  18. ^ 14 May: Farmers and shepherds from Yatta and As Samu towns were denied access to their land by settlers from Ma'on settlement.
  19. ^ Relief web. According to Palestinian sources, a 30-year-old Palestinian man from the town of As-Samu' sustained multiple bodily injuries when a group of settlers beat him and dragged him to the nearby settlement outpost of Asael. The settlers then tied him to an electricity pole where the assault continued.
  20. ^ Money hat


  • Ben-Yehûdā, Ḥemdā and Sandler, Shmuel (2002). The Arab-Israeli Conflict Transformed: Fifty Years of Interstate and Ethnic Crises. SUNY Press. ISBN 0-7914-5245-X
  • Bowen, Jeremy (2003). Six Days: How the 1967 War Shaped the Middle East. London: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-3095-7
  • Barron, J. B., ed. (1923). Palestine: Report and General Abstracts of the Census of 1922. Government of Palestine. 
  • Dauphin, Claudine (1998). La Palestine byzantine, Peuplement et Populations. BAR International Series 726 (in French). III : Catalogue. Oxford: Archeopress.  (p. 972)
  • Hütteroth, Wolf-Dieter; Abdulfattah, Kamal (1977). Historical Geography of Palestine, Transjordan and Southern Syria in the Late 16th Century. Erlanger Geographische Arbeiten, Sonderband 5. Erlangen, Germany: Vorstand der Fränkischen Geographischen Gesellschaft.   (p. 123)
  • Hussein of Jordan (1969). My "War" with Israel. London: Peter Owen. ISBN 0-7206-0310-2
  • Mayhew, Chrsitopher and Adams, Michael (2006). Publish It Not: The Middle East Cover Up. Signal Books. ISBN 1-904955-19-3
  • Mills, E., ed. (1932). Census of Palestine 1931. Population of Villages, Towns and Administrative Areas. Jerusalem: Government of Palestine. 
  • Oren, Michael (2002). Six Days of War. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-515174-7
  • Prittie, Terence (1969). Eshkol of Israel: The Man and the Nation. London, Museum Press. ISBN 0-273-40475-X
  • Pringle, Denys (1997). Secular buildings in the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem: an archaeological Gazetter.  
  •   (p. 312)
  • The Design of the Ancient Synagogues in Judaea: Eshtemoa and Horvat Susiya

External links

  • SWP map 25
  • Welcome To The City of al-Samu'
  • Samu’a, Ta'ayush
  • As Samu' Town (Fact Sheet)
  • As Samu' Town Profile
  • As Samu' Areal Photo
  • The priorities and needs for development in As Samu' town based on the community and local authorities’ assessment

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