The Mountain of Judah
and the Shephelah
67. Thamna, where Judah sheared his sheep - (Kh. al-Tibne ?)
A town in S Canaan (Gen 38:12). It was on his journey to Timnah that Judah is said to have mistaken his daughter-in-law Tamar for a ritual prostitute (Gen 38:12-19). The lack of detailed geographical clues makes it difficult to provide a firm identification. Many scholars (eg. Gold in IDB 4: 649) equate it with Timnah of the S Judean hill country, although its identification with Timnah/Tell el-Batashi seems equally probable in geographic terms. The discovery that Tell el-Batashi was a major city during the Bronze Age (Kelm and Mazar 1985) lends considerable strength to the second of these associations. Given that Timnah is a relatively common place name, it is entirely possible that a third location is referred to in these verses.
Bibliography: Kelm, G, and Mazar, A. 1985. Tel Batash (Timnah) Excavations: Second Preliminary Report (1981-1983). BASOR Supplement 23: 93-120.
Wade R. Kotter, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, ad v. "Timnah" (extract)
Michael Avi-Yonah (The Madaba Mosaic Map, Jerusalem 1954, 64)
The story of Gen. 38 is localized by Eusebius (On. 96, 24) between Diospolis and Jerusalem, on the way to the latter. Part of his wording is textually reproduced in the Madaba map. The usual identification with Khirbet Tibneh near el Burj, north-west of Beit Nattif, is unsuitable for several reasons. On the map Thamna is situated north of Nicopolis Emmaus, whereas Kh. Tibneh is far to the south; also the latter site could not be placed in the territory of Diospolis, as required by the text of Eusebius. Which site he had in mind cannot be determined at present.
Herbert Donner (The Mosaic Map of Madaba, Kampen 1992, 57)
Gen. 38:12f.; Eus. On. 96:24-26 from which the text is quoted. Biblical Thimna is most probably identical with Tall Batashi (coord. 141-132). The location does not agree, however, with the representation on the Madaba map, for Thamna is shown north of Nikopolis ('Amwas). The mosaicist obviously suffered from lack of space: he wanted to give a large representation of the famous Nikopolis and put it too much to the south.
For more sources and bibliography see:
Tabula Imperii Romani. Iudaea - Palaestina (Jerusalem 1994) s.v. "Thamna I", 247.
Map Section 6 Place Sources