The Mountain of Judah
79. Socho - (Kh. Shuwaikah)
SOCOH. A city in the Plain, in the northern part of the territory of Judah (Josh. 15:35), where the Philistines gathered to fight Israel (I Sam. 17: 1; Authorized Version: 'Shochoh'); and one of the cities fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chr. 11:7). It was taken by Pharaoh Sheshonq (biblical Shishak) of Egypt, and later restored to Judah. In the days of Ahaz it was conquered by the Philistines (2 Chr. 28:18; Authorized Version: 'Shochoh') but was again in the hands of Judah in the days of Hezekiah. In his time it was an administrative center, as is indicated by the numerous stamped jar handles with the seal of Socoh. Eusebius (Onom. 156,18) states that it is situated on the 9th mile, on the way from Beth-Gubrin to Jerusalem. Identified with Khirbet Abbad, where fortification remains of the period of the kings of Judah were found. Nearby Khirbet Shuweikeh, containing remains of the Byzantine period, may have retained the ancient form of the biblical name.
Avraham Negev (Ed.), The Archaeological Enctclopedia of the Holy Land, ad v. "Socoh" (extract)
Herbert Donner (The Mosaic Map of Madaba, Kampen 1992, 62)
The site is identical with Hirbat Abbad, 3 km southeast od Zakariya. Nearby Hirbat as-Suweka from early Arab times, preserves the ancient name. The village of Socho is displaced on the Madabe Map.
Leah Di Segni ("The Onomastikon of Eusebius and the Madaba Map", in The Madaba Map Centenary, Jerusalem 1999, 118)
When we follow the third side of the triangle, from Eleutheropolis northeastward to Jerusalem, along the Roman road that was the main route between the Holy City and the southern coast, we are somewhat surprised by the discovery that the whole territory of Eleutheropolis between the Eleutheropolis-Nicopolis and the Jerusalem-Hebron roads - a region thoroughly familiar to Eusebius and full of biblical memories - has completely disappeared. The only remainder is Socho, the double village of Sochoth on the ninth milestone from Eleutheropolis on the road to Jerusalem, traditional place of the battle between David and Goliath according to Peter the Deacon, probably quoting Egeria. The foreshortening of the perspective in this area is so sharp that Socho is misplaced next to Rama, near Bethlehem. However, even if we could bring ourselves to consider the mention of Socho as a symbolic reminder of the important thoroughfare on which this village was located, the omission of almost the entire Eleutheropolis region seriously challenges the belief that Eusebius could have been the source of the map for this part of the country. And the foreshortened perspective is not a real reason, for there was space enough to include at least some token memories of this well known and well populated area. Instead, the artist chose to fill the vacuum with the large caption IOUDA.
I believe, therefore, that there are grounds for suspecting that in the triangle between Jerusalem, Diospolis and Eleutheropolis, and in lesser measure in the area north of Jerusalem - that is to say, in most of biblical Judah - the Onomastikon is not the direct source of the Madaba map, although the map follows Eusebius in many details. (See also the complete article)
Bellarmino Bagatti (Ancient Christian Villages of Judaea and Negev, Jerusalem - in the press)
Kh. esh-Shuweika, H. Soche
After describing a visit to Beit Nattif, Tonneau says that on the other slope of the valley lies Kh. esh-Shuweikah, ancient Socho, which occupies a very strong position, being isolated between two valleys (RB 38 , p. 425). He recalls that Peter the Iberian, on his way from Maiumas to Jerusalem to receive episcopal ordination, reached Sohco on the evening of the first day (R. Raabe, Peter der Iberer, Leipzig 1895, pp.54-55), and that Moschus mentions Socho in Pratum Spirituale , ch.180, as a simple estate (ktema ), that is, somewhat less than a village. A monk with a miraculous image of the Virgin lived there in a cave. Several caves are seen in the khirbeh. These are mentioned also in the Schedule along with cisterns, foundations, and building remains. The place corresponds to Socho of the Judean Shephelah (Jos 15, 35) and is to be distinguished from the khirbeh of the same name located south of Hebron.
Eusebius in the Onomasticon says that Socho was a double village: one was on the mountain, the other in the valley on the Jerusalem-Eleutheropolis road. In its vicinity Christian pilgrims visited the site where David had slain Goliath.
Addition by Leah Di Segni (Jerusalem):
A two-room building with Byzantine mosaic pavements and two Greek inscriptions, still unpublished, was discovered in 1980 at the foot of the hill (ESI 1 , p.107).
Map Section 6 Place Sources