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"Takua" redirects here. For the language of Vietnam, see Takua language.
For other places with similar names, see Tekoa.
Other transcription(s)
 • Arabic تقوع
 • Also spelled Taqua (official)
Teqoa (unofficial)
Skyline of Tuqu', 2010
Skyline of Tuqu', 2010
Tuqu' is located in the Palestinian territories
Location of Tuqu' within Palestine
Coordinates: 31°38′11″N 35°12′52″E / 31.63639°N 35.21444°E / 31.63639; 35.21444Coordinates: 31°38′11″N 35°12′52″E / 31.63639°N 35.21444°E / 31.63639; 35.21444
Palestine grid 170/115
Governorate Bethlehem
 • Type Municipality (from 1997)
 • Head of Municipality Khaled Ahmad Hamida
Area (built-up)
 • Jurisdiction 590 dunams (0.6 km2 or 0.2 sq mi)
Population (2007)
 • Jurisdiction 8,881
Name meaning "The Ruin of Tekua",[1] or "the place for pitching tents"

Tuquʿ (Arabic: تقوع‎, also spelled Teqoa) 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 8,881 in 2007.[2] The town is a part of the 'Arab al-Ta'amira village cluster, along with Za'atara, Beit Ta'mir, Hindaza, Khirbet al-Deir and al-Asakra. Tuqu has municipal jurisdiction over 191,262 dunams, but its built-up area consists of 590 dunams,[3] as 98.5% of the village's land is classified by Israel as Area C or Nature Reserves, and 1.5% as Area A.[4] Situated in the immediate vicinity is the Israeli settlement of Tekoa.


Ancient period[edit]

According to biblical sources, Ephrathites from Bethlehem and the Calebites from Hebron founded Tekoa. It served as an administrative center and was fortified by Rehoboam King of Judah against invasion from the south.[5]

Tekoa was the birthplace of Ira son of Ikkesh, one of King David's Warriors, and of the Hebrew prophet Amos.[6] It was where Joab procured a "wise woman" to induce David to bring back Absalom to Jerusalem. Some residents of Tekoa took part in the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem after the return from the Babylonian captivity.[7]

Islamic era[edit]

A sketch of Tuqu'[8]

During the Crusader period Tekoa served as a benefice to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Medieval chronicler 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.[6] Zengid Muslim forces captured Tekoa in 1138. The Knights Templar under Robert the Burgundian managed to recaptured the town easily, but experienced their first military defeat when Zengid forces counterattacked, leaving the area between the town and Hebron "strewn with Templar bodies" according to William of Tyre. He blamed the Templar defeat on their failure to pursue fleeing Muslim forces which allowed them to regroup just outside Tekoa.[9] Syrian geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi described it as "a village famous for its honey" during a visit there in 1225.[10][11]

In 1596 the village, known in Arabic as Tuqu', appeared in Ottoman tax registers as being in the Nahiya of Quds of the Liwa of Quds. It had a population of 62 Muslim households and five Christian households. It paid taxes on wheat, barley, olives, vines or fruit trees, and goats or beehives.[12]

The Byzantine baptismal font, described by Guerin in 1863, photographed in 1940

French explorer Victor Guérin visited the place in 1863, and he described finding the remains of a church almost completely destroyed, and an octagonal baptismal font, carved into a monolithic block of reddish limestone, measuring a meter and ten centimeters deep inside, and one meter thirty centimeters in diameter. On different sides of the octagon crosses were carved. At the bottom of the baptismal font the water flowed through an opening into a tank.[13]

The Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine in 1883 wrote that Khurbet Tequa "seems to have been large and important in Christian times. It is still inhabited by a few persons living in the caves [...] There is also a very fine octagonal font about 4 feet high and 4 feet 3 inches diameter of inscribed circle; on every other side is a design. Two of these designs represent crosses, a third is a wreath, the fourth is formed by two squares interlaced diagonally to one another. The font is of good reddish stone."[14]

Modern era[edit]

General view of the vicinity. The Israeli settlement of Tekoa is situated in the front, while Tuqu' is seen directly behind and the left of the settlement. To the right is the village of Khirbet al-Deir, part of the Tuqu' municipality.

According to the Applied Research Institute-Jerusalem (ARIJ), the modern town of Tuqu' was resettled in 1948 by Arabs from the local 'Arab al-Ta'amira tribe.[3]

In 1961, the population was 555.[15]

In May 2001, after two Israeli boys were found killed outside the nearby Israeli settlement of Tekoa, Tuqu' was temporarily sealed off by the Israeli Army. Consequently, residents could not reach their jobs in Bethlehem and Israel, and shepherds could not reach grazing lands outside the village.[16]

Archaeology and landmarks[edit]

According to the Bible (Amos 1:1) the prophet Amos was born here and at least since the 4th century his tomb has been reputed to be in the village.[10] The Byzantines erected a church around 300 AD in his honor,[6] 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.[5]

Byzantine ceramics have been found.[17]

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.[18] Erq al-Ahmar is also believed to host the oldest surviving stove in history.[19] In nearby Khirbet Tuqu', there are the remains of a Byzantine church and monastery.[20]

Various ruins were seen at the site in the mid-19th-century. These included the walls of houses, cisterns, broken columns and heaps of building stones, some of which had “bevelled edges” which supposedly indicated Hebrew origin.[21]


The majority of Tuqu's Christian inhabitants emigrated to Bethlehem in the eighteenth century.[5] Tuqu's Christian emigrants formed Bethlehem's Qawawsa Quarter.[20] Tuqu' currently has a Muslim majority and is settled by members of the 'Arab al-Ta'amira clan. Principal families include Badan, Jibreen, Sha'er, 'Emur, Nawawra, 'Urooj, Abu Mifrih, az-Zawahra, Sbeih, at-Tnooh, Sleiman and Sabbah.[3]

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.[22] There were 2,534 males and 2,356 females.[23] Tuqu's population was 8,881 in the 2007 PCBS census.[2]


Agriculture, particularly livestock, dominates Tuqu's economy. Dairy is produced and sold in local markets and in Bethlehem. Industry is virtually nonexistent, although there is a stone quarry and brick factory in the town. Unemployment is high at about 50% and mostly caused by Israeli restrictions on movement and access to the labor market in Israel proper as a result of the Second Intifada between 2000-04.[3]

As of 2008 around 45% of Tuqu's workforce was employed in the Israeli labor market while another 30% worked in agriculture. The remainder of economic activity was split between employment in the Palestinian government or trade and services.[3] Efforts have been made to attract tourists. A municipal center was built near the ruins of a Byzantine church in Tuqu'.[16] Tuqu' is well known for its vegetables.[5]


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.[24] The 13-member municipal council was established in 1997 to administer Tuqu' as well as the villages of Khirbet al-Deir, al-Halqum and Khirbet Tuqu' which were put under Tuqu's jurisdiction.[3] Its first mayor, Suleiman Abu Mufarreh, initiated the construction of the municipal hall and recovered Tuqu's stolen baptismal font, relocating it to the front of the municipal hall.[24]

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.[25]


  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 402
  2. ^ a b 2007 PCBS Census Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. p.117
  3. ^ a b c d e f Tuqu' Town Profile. Applied Research Institute-Jerusalem. 2008. Retrieved on 2012-03-13.
  4. ^ '15 Palestinians detained in Tuqu near Bethlehem,' Ma'an News Agency 19 March 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d Taqou' village (1998) Mitri Raheb and Fred Strickert Palmyra publishing house via This Week in Palestine
  6. ^ a b c Thekoa - (Tuqu'a) Studium Biblicum Franciscanum - Jerusalem.
  7. ^ Neh. iii. 5, 37.
  8. ^ Thomson, 1859, p. 425
  9. ^ Howarth, Stephen. (1991). The Knights Templar Barnes & Noble Publishing, p.97.
  10. ^ a b Pringle, 1998, pp. 347 - 348
  11. ^ le Strange, 1890, p. 542
  12. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 114
  13. ^ Guérin, 1869, p. 141
  14. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, p. 368
  15. ^ Government of Jordan, Department of Statistics (1964). First Census of Population and Housing. Volume I: Final Tables; General Characteristics of the Population. p. 23. 
  16. ^ a b Prophet Amos’s Words Still Ring True Abu Ghazaleh, Sami. International Center of Bethlehem
  17. ^ Dauphin, 1998, p. 928
  18. ^ Wadi Khreitoun Zeitar, Leila. Centre for Cultural Heritage Preservation.
  19. ^ Teqou Municipality received three new Demolition Orders Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem. 2006-03-03.
  20. ^ a b Tqoa’ area Zeiter, Leila. Centre for Preservation of Culture and History.
  21. ^ William Aldis Wright; Edmonds & Remnants (1865). A concise dictionary of the Bible for the use of families and students. John Murray. p. 924. Retrieved 6 June 2011. 
  22. ^ Palestinian Population by Locality and Refugee Status (1997) Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS)
  23. ^ Palestinian Population by Locality, Sex and Age Groups in Years (1997) Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS)
  24. ^ a b Levin, Jerry. Save our heritage in the Holy Land Al-Ahram Weekly. October 2003.
  25. ^ Local Elections (Round two)- Successful candidates by local authority, gender and No. of votes obtained Central Elections Commission - Palestine, p.25


External links[edit]