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|Name meaning||"the place for pitching tents" (probable)|
|Also spelled|| Taqua (officially)
Built-up: 899 dunams
|Head of Municipality||Khaled Ahmad Hamida|
Tuquʿ (Arabic: تقوع, Hebrew: תקוע) is a Palestinian town in the Bethlehem Governorate, located 12 km southeast of Bethlehem in the West Bank. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), Tuqu' had a population of about 8,881 in 2007.
Tuqu' is well known for its vegetables. The town is a part of the 'Arab al-Ta'amira cluster which includes 15 other towns and villages including Za'atara, Beit Ta'mir, Hindaza, Khirbet al-Deir and al-Asakra. The village cluster has a land area of 217,636 dunams and Tuqu's built-up area consists of 899 dunams.
Tuqu' has Biblical importance as it was where Joab procured a "wise woman", who pretended to be in great affliction and skillfully made her case known to David. Her address to the king was in the form of an epilogue, similar to that of Nathan (2 Samuel 12:1-6). The object of Joab was — by the intervention of this "wise woman" — to induce David to bring back Absalom to Jerusalem (2 Sam. 14:2, 4, 9).
According to biblical sources, Ephrathites from Bethlehem and the Calebites from Hebron founded Tuqu'. It served as an administrative center and was fortified. The village was the birthplace of Ira, the son of Ikkesh — one of David's "mighty men". Tuqu' is also renowned for being the birthplace of the Old Testament prophet Amos.(Amos 1:1)
Tuqu' continued to be important until after the Crusader period where it served as a benefice to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. William of Tyre relates that the Christians of the village aided the Crusaders during the Siege of Jerusalem in 1099, by guiding them to local springs and food sources. Many of the villagers also joined the Crusader army. Zengid forces captured Tuqu' in 1138. The Knights Templar under Robert the Burgundian recaptured the town easily, but the Muslim Zengids counterattacked, leaving the town "strewn with Templar bodies" according to William of Tyre. Yaqut al-Hamawi described it as "a village famous for its honey" during a visit there in 1225.
The modern town of Tuqu' was relocated approximately two kilometers west of the ancient site and most of its original inhabitants migrated north to Bethlehem.
Amos' tomb is located in the village and several years after his death, the tomb became sacred; The Byzantines erected a church around 300 AD in his honor, which is visible today through its remains. The ruins consist of a double cave over what was a baptismal font, mosaic floors, and a Monophysite monastery is located near the tomb.
Just outside Tuqu' is Wadi Khreiton ("Chariton Valley"). The valley is notable for containing three prominent caves inhabited since the Paleolithic era: Umm Qatfa, Umm Qala'a and Erq al-Ahmar. The latter was inhabited since 8,000 BCE and traces of fire have been found in Umm Qala'a, dating back 500,000 years. Erq al-Ahmar is also believed to host the oldest surviving stove in history. In nearby Khirbet Tuqu', there are the remains of a Byzantine church and monastery.
According to a 1997 census by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), Tuqu' had a population of 4,890 inhabitants. There were only 24 Palestinian refugees, making up 0.5% of the population. There were 2,534 males and 2,356 females. In 2004, Tuqu's total population rose to 6,265 and in 2006 there was an estimated population of 6,669 inhabitants. The majority of Tuqu's Christian inhabitants emigrated to Bethlehem in the eighteenth century, thus Tuqu' currently has a Muslim majority. Tuqu's Christian emigrants formed Bethlehem's Qawawsa Quarter.
At the beginning of the Second Intifada and an incident in May 2001 in which the bodies of two 14-year-old Israeli boys were found near Tuqu', the town was been sealed off by the Israel Defense Forces, preventing around 1,200 residents from reaching their jobs in Bethlehem or in Israel. Many of Tuqu's inhabitants were also prevented from their traditional shepherding lands.. The blockade has since been relaxed.
In 2006, 60% of Tuqu's labor force faced unemployment due to Israeli closures and military barriers which prevent many workers from reaching their destinations. The remainder that are able to work, mostly work in construction in Israel (65%), while 20% work in agriculture, 8% in trade and commerce and 7% in governmental sectors. The town's municipal council has strove to boost Tuqu's economy by making it a tourist destination. The municipal hall will be built in front of the ruins of the Byzantine church's baptism basin to further urbanization of that area.
Tuqu' has been located in Area B since 1995, thus giving the Palestinian National Authority control over its administration and civil affairs. Originally, twelve tribal elders managed the town, but unable to plan and carry out internal improvements, they ceded their power to a council of younger men. Tuqu's first mayor, Suleiman Abu Mufarreh, initiated the construction of the municipal hall (baladyeh) and recovered Tuqu's stolen baptismal font, relocating it to be positioned in front of the municipal building.
It is governed by a municipal council consisting of eleven members, including the mayor. In the 2005 Palestinian municipal elections, the Hamas-backed Reform list the majority of the seats (eight), while the Independent local United Tuqu' list won three. Reform member Khaled Ahmad Hamida won the post of mayor, succeeding Raed Hamida.
- ↑ W. M. Thomson. The Land and the Book; or Biblical Illustrations Drawn from the Manners and Customs, the Scenes and Scenery of the Holy Land. Vol. II. New York, 1859.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2007 PCBS Census Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. p.117.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Taqou' village (1998) Mitri Raheb and Fred Strickert Palmyra publishing house via This Week in Palestine
- ↑ Tequ' Village: Location & Population Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem. 2007-08-09.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 Thekoa - (Tuqu'a) Studium Biblicum Franciscanum - Jerusalem.
- ↑ Howarth, Stephen. (1991). The Knights Templar Barnes & Noble Publishing, p.97.
- ↑ Pringle, Denys. (1993). The Churches of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem Cambridge University Press, pp.347-348.
- ↑ Wadi Khreitoun Zeitar, Leila. Centre for Cultural Heritage Preservation.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Teqou Municipality received three new Demolition Orders Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem. 2006-03-03.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Tqoa’ area Zeiter, Leila. Centre for Preservation of Culture and History.
- ↑ Palestinian Population by Locality and Refugee Status (1997) Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS)
- ↑ Palestinian Population by Locality, Sex and Age Groups in Years (1997) Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS)
- ↑ Two Israeli boys found bludgeoned to death Guardian News and Media Limited. 2001-05-09.
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 Prophet Amos’s Words Still Ring True Abu Ghazaleh, Sami. International Center of Bethlehem.
- ↑ Levin, Jerry. Save our heritage in the Holy Land Al-Ahram Weekly. October 2003.
- ↑ Local Elections (Round two)- Successful candidates by local authority, gender and No. of votes obtained Central Elections Commission - Palestine, p.25.
- In his book, "The David Story", Robert Alter, on page 275 refers to Tekoa as a village ten miles
north of Jerusalem.
- This entry incorporates text from the public domain Easton's Bible Dictionary, originally published in 1897.