Coordinates: 31°24′N 35°04′E / 31.400°N 35.067°E / 31.400; 35.067
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As Samu'
Arabic transcription(s)
 • Arabicالسموع
 • Latines Samu' (official)
Samua (unofficial)
As-Samu, 2007
As-Samu, 2007
Official logo of As Samu'
As Samu' is located in State of Palestine
As Samu'
As Samu'
Location of As Samu' within Palestine
Coordinates: 31°24′N 35°04′E / 31.400°N 35.067°E / 31.400; 35.067
Palestine grid156/89
StateState of Palestine
 • TypeMunicipality
 • Head of Municipalityabed ennabe elhawamde
 • Total13,800 dunams (13.8 km2 or 5.3 sq mi)
 • Total26,011
 • Density1,900/km2 (4,900/sq mi)
Name meaningoriginally Eshtemoa, "Place where prayer is heard"[2]

As Samu' or es-Samu' (Arabic: السموع) (pronunciation) is a town in the Hebron Governorate of the West Bank, Palestine, 12 kilometers south of the city of Hebron and 60 kilometers southwest of Jerusalem. The town had a population of 26,011 in 2017.[1]


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.[3] According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics the town had a population of 19,649 in 2007.[4]


Ancient period[edit]

As-Samu' is built upon a tell[5] identified with Eshtemoa, an ancient Jewish settlement mentioned in various historical sources.[6][7]

In 1971, five pottery jars dated to the 9th-8th centuries BCE were found in as-Samu', bearing inscriptions written in the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet. These jars contained one of the largest silver hoards ever found in Israel and the Palestinian Territories.[7]

Classical period[edit]

In the 4th-century CE, Eshtemoa was described by Eusebius in his Onomasticon as a large Jewish village.[8][9] The Jerusalem Talmud mentions Eshtemoa as the place of residence of an amora (scholar) who dwelt in the town during the 4th century by the name of Hasa of Eshtemoa.[10]

In 1934, the remains of an ancient Jewish synagogue, now known as the Eshtemoa synagogue, were unearthed at as-Samu'. The synagogue is dated to around the 4th–5th century CE.[11][12] Four seven-branched menorahs were discovered carved onto door lintels and one of them is displayed in Jerusalem's Rockefeller Museum.[13] Beginning in the seventh century, the structure served as a mosque.[14]

Eshtemoa synagogue, an ancient Jewish synagogue found a as-Samu' and dated to the 4th–5th century CE

Middle Ages[edit]

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.[15][16]

Ottoman era[edit]

As-Samu in 1839, from The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt, and Nubia.

As-Samu' was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1517, and in the census of 1596 the village appeared as being in the Nahiya of Halil of the Liwa of Quds. It had a population of 16 households, all Muslim. They paid a fixed tax-rate of 33,3% on agricultural products, including wheat, barley, vineyards and fruit trees, in addition to occasional revenues, goats and bee-hives; a total of 3000 akçe.[17]

In 1838, Edward Robinson identified the town of Semua with biblical Eshtemoa.[18] 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 of which were more than 10 feet long.[19] In 1863 the French explorer Victor Guérin visited the place.[20]

An Ottoman village list from about 1870 found that as-Samu had a population of 298, in 77 houses, though the population count included men, only.[21][22]

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.[23]

British Mandate era[edit]

In the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities, As-Samu (called: Al Samu) had an entirely Muslim population of 1,600 inhabitants.[24] In the 1931 census, As-Samu, together with Khirbat al-Simia and Kh. Rafat had a total of 1,882 Muslims, in 372 houses.[25] In 1934, remains of the towns ancient synagogue were discovered and the site was later excavated in 1969, by Ze'ev Yeivin.[26]

In the 1945 statistics the population of as-Samu' was 2,520, all Muslims,[27] who owned 138,872 dunams of land according to an official land and population survey.[28] 30 dunams were plantations and irrigable land, 40,398 for cereals,[29] while 165 dunams were built-up (urban) land.[30]

Jordanian era[edit]

In the wake of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War and the 1949 Armistice Agreements, As-Samu was annexed by Jordan along with the rest of the renamed ‘West Bank’. In 1961, the population of Samu was 3,103.[31]

Samu Incident[edit]

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 were wounded. The villagers suffered 3 civilians killed and 96 wounded. According to David Dean Shulman, the villagers were unconnected to the incident that had triggered the reprisal. Much of the village was destroyed.[32] The commander of the Israeli paratroop battalion, Colonel Yoav Shaham, was killed and ten other Israeli soldiers were wounded.

Israeli occupation[edit]

As a result of the Six-Day War in 1967, 'as-Samu came under Israeli occupation. The population in the 1967 census conducted by the Israeli authorities was 3,784.[33] Under the Oslo Accords, the town was assigned to Area A.[34]

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.[35] 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.[36][37]


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.[38] Generally, the headdress was considered to be one of the most important parts of the Palestinian costume.

As-Samu' is also known for its handwoven kilims.[39]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Preliminary Results of the Population, Housing and Establishments Census, 2017 (PDF). Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) (Report). State of Palestine. February 2018. pp. 64–82. Retrieved 2023-10-24.
  2. ^ []
  3. ^ UN Doc[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ 2007 PCBS Census Archived December 10, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. p.121.
  5. ^ Yeivin, Ze'ev (2004). "The Synagogue at Eshtemoa' in Light of the 1969 Excavations". 'Atiqot / עתיקות. 48: 155–158. ISSN 0792-8424. The village is indeed built atop an ancient tell
  6. ^ Finkelstein, Israel (2013). "Geographical and Historical Realities behind the Earliest Layer in the David Story". Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament. 27 (2): 131–150. doi:10.1080/09018328.2013.839104. ISSN 0901-8328. Eshtemoa. The large village of es-Samu south-southwest of Hebron.
  7. ^ a b Kletter, Raz; Brand, Etty (1998). "A New Look at the Iron Age Silver Hoard from Eshtemoa". Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins. 114 (2): 139–154. ISSN 0012-1169.
  8. ^ Avraham Negev; Shimon Gibson (July 2005). Archaeological encyclopedia of the Holy Land. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 167–168. ISBN 978-0-8264-8571-7. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
  9. ^ Eusebius, Onomasticon - The Place Names of Divine Scripture, (ed.) R. Steven Notley & Ze'ev Safrai, Brill: Leiden 2005, p. 84 (§429), note 429 ISBN 0-391-04217-3
  10. ^ Ben-Zion Rosenfeld (2009). Torah Centers and Rabbinic Activity in Palestine 70-400 C.e: History and Geographic Distribution. BRILL. p. 81. ISBN 978-90-04-17838-0. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  11. ^ Mayer, L.A.; Reifenberg, A. (1939). "The Synagogue of Eshtemoa - Preliminary Report". Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society (JPOS). 19: 314–326. OCLC 873183425.
  12. ^ Avraham Negev; Shimon Gibson (July 2005). Archaeological encyclopedia of the Holy Land. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 167–168. ISBN 978-0-8264-8571-7. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
  13. ^ Léon Yarden (1971). The tree of light: a study of the Menorah, the seven-branched lampstand. East and West Library. p. 151. ISBN 9780852222805. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
  14. ^ Corpus inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae: a multi-lingual corpus of the inscriptions from Alexander to Muhammad. Vol. IV: Iudaea / Idumaea. Eran Lupu, Marfa Heimbach, Naomi Schneider, Hannah Cotton. Berlin: de Gruyter. 2018. p. 1412. ISBN 978-3-11-022219-7. OCLC 663773367.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  15. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, pp. 412-413
  16. ^ Pringle, 1997, p. 118
  17. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 123
  18. ^ Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 2, p. 194
  19. ^ Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 2, pp. 626-7
  20. ^ Guérin, 1869, pp. 173 -176, 196
  21. ^ Socin, 1879, p. 154
  22. ^ Hartmann, 1883, p. 142, also noted 77 houses
  23. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, p. 403
  24. ^ Barron, 1923, Table V, p. 10
  25. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 33
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 23
  28. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 50 Archived 2011-06-04 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 94
  30. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 144
  31. ^ Government of Jordan, Department of Statistics, 1964, p. 14
  32. ^ David Dean Shulman, 'On Being Unfree:Fences, Roadblocks and the Iron Cage of Palestine,' Manoa Vol,20, No. 2, 2008, pp. 13-32
  33. ^ Perlmann, Joel (November 2011 – February 2012). "The 1967 Census of the West Bank and Gaza Strip: A Digitized Version" (PDF). Levy Economics Institute. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  34. ^ B'Tselem Interactive Map
  35. ^ UN Doc[permanent dead link] Chronological Review of Events Relating to the Question of Palestine; Monthly Media Monitoring Review March 2005
  36. ^ 14 May:[permanent dead link] Farmers and shepherds from Yatta and As Samu towns were denied access to their land by settlers from Ma'on settlement.
  37. ^ 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.
  38. ^ Money hat
  39. ^ Samou'a Kilims, by Hamdan Taha


External links[edit]