DISCUSSION

Ascalon, Gaza, Negev and Sinai

108. Iethor, also called Iethera - (Kh. 'Attir)


Judean city situated in the southernmost hill district and mentioned together with Shamir and Socoh (Josh. 15,48). It was a levitical city of the Kohathite family (Josh. 21,14; I Chron. 6,42). Jattir was one of the cities in southern Judah to which David distributed part of the spoils taken from the Amalekites (I Sam. 30,27). Eusebius identifies it with Lether, a large village 20 Roman miles from Eleutheropolis (Bet Guvrin), inhabited only by Christians (Onom. 108,1ff.). The site of Jattir is now called Khirbat 'Attir; its extensive ruins date from the Roman and Byzantine periods. The Madaba map shows Jattir in the wrong place, confusing it with Ether.

Michael Avi-Yonah, Encyclopaedia Judaica, ad v. "Jattir, Jethira"

Herbert Donner (The Mosaic Map of Madaba, Kampen 1992, 72)
This is a very difficult and presumably unsolvable problem. Eusebius confused two villages: 1. Jattir (in Greek: Jether) in Judah, mentioned in Josh. 15:48 and undoubtedly identical with Hirbat 'Attir (coord. 151-084), 6 km southeast of ad-Dahariya; 2. Ether in Simeon (Josh. 19:7), whose name is most probably false, and whose site is unknown. The mosaicist took from Eusebius the name Jether, slightly changed, but he obviously did not mean the village in southern Judah, for he represented it southwest of Beersheba, perhaps on the road to Elusa. Did he mean the Simeonite Ether? That's more than doubtful, because a village of this name does not seem to have ever existed. Or did he know a village with a similar name and combined it wrongly with Eusebius and the Biblical reference?

Leah Di Segni ("The Onomastikon of Eusebius and the Madaba Map", in The Madaba Map Centenary, Jerusalem 1999, 119)
Another intentional change of the Onomastikon tradition perhaps occurs in the case of Iethira. Eusebius mistakenly identified two different biblical places, Ether of Simeon (Jos 19:7) and Yathir of Judah (Jos 15: 48) with Iethira in the inner Daroma, near Malatha. The map shows Iethor he kai Iethera between Elusa and Gerara, namely, in the western Negev, suggesting a possible relocation of the Byzantine village and its alternative identification with Ether of Simeon; but since Arad is pictured between Elusa and Beersheba, only slightly to the east, we are brought to despair of ever locating anything in the map of the Negev as portrayed by the Madaba artist. (See also the complete article)

Bellarmino Bagatti (Ancient Christian Villages of Judaea and Negev, Jerusalem - in the press)

Kh. 'Attir, Yatir, Iethira

This site represents ancient Iethera or Iethora. In the fourth century Eusebius wrote in the Onomasticon (p. 108): "Iether of the tribe of Judah, priestly city, is today a very large village called Iethira, located at the twentieth milestone from Eleutheropolis. Its inhabitants are all Christians. It is situated in the region of Daroma near Malatha." We apprehend from this passage that the village was Jewish in origin, even a dwelling place of priests, and that later it was entirely converted to Christianity. We believe that the ancient site can be identified with present-day Kh. 'Attir.
The remains of two churches can probably be detected there (Mader, p. 224). A metal thurible with three chains found on the site is kept in the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem as can be learnt from the Gallery Book referring to the Persian-Byzantine periods (Jerusalem 1943, no. 1500), once available for consultation in said Museum.
Father Abel (Géographie, p. 356) says that the tell dominates the surroundings and offers pottery of the Israelite, Roman, and Byzantine periods during which last of which the churches were built.

For more sources and bibliography see:
Tabula Imperii Romani. Iudaea - Palaestina (Jerusalem 1994) s.v. "Iethira", 151.

Map Section 9 Place Sources

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Created Tuesday, December 19, 2000 at 23:40:35
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