Valley of Elah

Valley of Elah and surrounding area

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1 Samuel 17:2 Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and encamped in the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines.

1 Samuel 17:19 Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.

1 Samuel 21:9 The priest said, "The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the valley of Elah, behold, it is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you will take that, take it; for there is no other except that here." David said, "There is none like that. Give it to me."


(`emeq ha-'elah, "valley of the terebinth"; he koilas Ela; A, tes druos):

The scene of the events of 1 Samuel 17:2, referred to also in 1 Samuel 21:9. There can be no doubt that this is the Wady ec CunT ("valley of the tercbinth"), or part of it. This is the southernmost of the great valleys which cut through the Shephelah. Commencing near Hebron, close to Beit Sur, it descends under the name Wady es Sur in a more or less northerly direction until near Beit Nettif where it turns abruptly west and receives the name Wady ec CunT. Here it is joined by the Wady en Najil, coming from the North, and from the East by the Wady el-Jindy, down which descends an ancient road from Bethlehem. Where all these valleys coalesce the Wady ec CunT expands into a wide and level bottom, half a mile across. On a steep hill to the southern side and a little Southeast of the wide expanse is Kh. esh-Shuweikeh, the site of Socoh. That the great events of 1 Samuel 17:2 took place here there can be no doubt: the Philistines ranged themselves upon the southern hills; the Israelites to the North or Northeast. Upon the wide level valley the contest with Goliath occurred. The exact position of Saul's forces may be a matter of speculation, but the late Principal Miller of Madras, who made a special study of the locality (Least of All Lands, chapter v), considered that the little valley ascending Northeast from Wady ec CunT to Belt Nettif was probably the actual Vale of Elah and that here the Israelites had their fortifications. His elucidation of the whole story is most convincing.

E. W. G. Masterman

Valley of Aven (Bethel)
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