Located on the western edge of the Judean foothills lies a triangular area of land known as the Valley of Elah. The Hebrew name Elah comes from the terebinth tree, related to the pistachio tree, and is quite populous in the region.
An easy drive from both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the Elah Valley and its surrounding hills and plains were allotted to the Israelite tribe of Dan. Because their territory overlapped that of the Philistines, a conflict was sparked that would eventually lead to a famous biblical showdown.
The valley was of great strategic importance—a corridor from the coastline up through the center of Judah and its stronghold cities: Bethlehem, Hebron, and Jerusalem. It was also the setting for the epic biblical battle between David, the future King of Israel, and Goliath, a Philistine giant from Gath.
The brook which runs through the heart of the valley during the rainy season adds texture to the David and Goliath story. It is most likely where David chose five smooth stones in preparation for his coming battle with the giant. And while there isn’t much in the way of landmarks in the valley, the scenery more than compensates—especially when you have your Bible open to 1 Samuel 17 and allow your imagination to take over!
In the opening of 1 Samuel 17, the story describes the encampments of the two armies: the Philistines and the Israelites. The Philistines were gathered on the southern side of the valley, between Socoh and Azekah. If you happen to visit the valley during the summer months, you can stand in the dry creek bed and see Tel Azekah to your right, a domed hill with a bald patch, and the tree-covered Tel Socoh to your left. The Israelites camped on the northern side of the brook.
In late March, the Elah Valley becomes a popular destination for day-tripping families, particularly in the area of Tel Socoh, which is also known as Givat HaTurmusim, or Lupine Hill. There, you can traipse through the endless wild blue lupines and form your own personal encampment in the spring sunshine!
Journey to the Elah Valley and see where the epic battle of David and Goliath took place!
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