Valley of Elah

The Valley of Elah (Emek HaElah in Hebrew), is located near Bet Shemesh, just south west of Jerusalem and is most famous for being the scene of the battle between David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17.

FUN FACT: Israelis abbreviate David to “Dudu,” as in, “Jonathan, go to the microarray facility and and ask for Dudu.”

Anyway, my keilah (congregation) took a trip to Jerusalem and on the way back to Rehovot stopped briefly at the Valley of Elah. Although it’s famous for its hiking trails, we only stayed for 30 minutes to appreciate what happened there. The Bible is especially specific about the locations of the Philistine and Israelite camps. The Philistines were located on the south of the valley (11, 12), while the Israelites assembled at the north (2,3).

The story goes that David (Dudu), the future king of Israel, but currently a small shepherd (we think he may have looked something like this):

picked five smooth stones from a brook and approached the giant Philistine Goliath (he probably looked like this):

(shown here with his armor bearer)

and slew Goliath by hitting him on the head with a stone thrown from his sling, resulting in this:

The rest of the Philistine army (they probably looked like this):

surrendered and fled.

Although there isn’t much to see in terms of archaeology at the Valley of Elah, it’s one of the few places that were not lost to history. And even though there weren’t any remnants of David’s sling or Goliath’s helmet, it was still very cool to read passages (or have them translated to you from Hebrew) in the exact spot where they took place and imagine what it was like.

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~ by jonathanmtsai on March 7, 2011.

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