Esh'taol (Hebrews Eshtaol', אֵשׁתָּאוֹל [but defectively אֶשׁתָּאֹל in Jg 13:25; Jg 18:2,8,11], according to Fürst, narrow pass, but Gesenius suggests perhaps petition; Sept. Α᾿σθαώλ v.r. [in Jg 13:5] Ε᾿σδαόλ, Vulg. Esthaol or [in Jos 15:33] Estaob), a town in the low country of Judah, the Shephelah or plain of Philistia. It is the first of the first group of cities in that district (Jos 15:33) enumerated with Zoreah (Hebrews Zareah), or Zorah, in company with which it is commonly mentioned. Zorah and Eshtaol were two of the towns allotted to the tribe of Dan out of Judah (Jos 19:41). Between them, and behind Kirjath-jearim, was situated Mahaneh-Dan, the camp or stronghold which formed the head- quarters of that little community during their constant encounters with the Philistines. Eshtaol was one of the great strongholds of the Danites, and its inhabitants, with these of Zorah, were noted for their daring. SEE DAN. The 600 men who captured and colonized Laish were natives of these two towns (Judges 18). Here, among the old warriors of the tribe, Samson spent his boyhood, and experienced the first impulses of the Spirit of Jehovah; and hither, after his last exploit, his mangled body was brought, up the long slopes of the western hills to its last rest in the burying-place of Manoah his father (Jg 13:25; Jg 16:31; Jg 18:2,8,11-12). In the genealogical records of 1 Chronicles the relationship between Eshtaol, Zareah, and Kirjathjearim is still maintained (1Ch 2:53). In the Onomasticon of Eusebius and Jerome (s.v. Α᾿σθαώλ and Ε᾿σθαώλ), Eshtaol is twice mentioned —
(1) as Astaol of Judah, described as then existing between Azotus and Ascalon under the name of Astho (Α᾿σθώ);
(2) as Esthaul of Dan, ten miles north of Eleutheropolis. The latter position is quite in accordance with the indications of the Bible. It is connected with Zorah, Zanoah, and Bethshemesh (Jos 15:33; Jos 19:41); and as these three places have been identified, we may conclude that Eshtaol was situated close to the foot of the mountains of Judah, and in or near wady Surar. Schwarz (Palest. page 102) mentions a village named Stual, west of Zorah, but, apart from the fact that this is corroborated by no other traveler and by no map, the situation is too far west to be "behind Kirjath-jearim" if the latter be Kuryet el-Enab. The village marked on the maps of Robinson and Van de Velde, as Yeshua, and alluded to by the former (Researches, new ed., 3:154, who states that the name is pronounced Eshwa), is nearer the requisite position. Yeshua lies at the eastern extremity of the broad valley which runs up among the hills between Zorah and Bethshemesh. The mountains rise steep and rugged immediately behind it, but the village is encompassed by fruitful fields and orchards. Zorah occupies the top of a conical hill scarcely two niles westward, and a lower ridge connects the hill with the mountains at Yeshua. Upon that ridge the permanent camp, or gathering-place of Dan (Jg 13:25) was probably fixed (Robinson, Later Res. page 153 sq.). SEE MAHANEH-DAN.