Beit Shemesh

The modern town of Beit Shemesh, Hebrew for "House of the Sun," takes its name from an ancient city now entombed by the tell on a rise on Route 38, 2 km (1 mile) south of the main entrance. Nearby are a number of wineries and breweries worth exploring.

This is Samson country. Samson, one of the judges of Old Testament Israel, is better known for his physical prowess and lust for Philistine women than for his shining spiritual qualities, but it was here, "between Tzorah and Eshta'ol," that "the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him" (Judges 13). Today, Eshta'ol is a moshav (a cooperative settlement composed of individual farms) a few minutes' drive north, and Tzora is the wine-producing kibbutz immediately to the west.

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Fodor's Essential Israel: with the West Bank and Petra

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