Posts Tagged ‘Tel Azeka’

We are still on day one of the tour. After leaving Beit Shemesh, we travel to the Elah Valley to remember the battle between the Israelites and the Philistines, between David and Goliath. Last time we came, we remembered this battle from the top of tel Azeka. This time, we are actually across the valley to the east of tel Azeka, on tel She’arayim, an Israelite city known for having two gates. That is what the word she’arayim means in Hebrew – “two gates.” This is significant because at the time of David, most Israelite cities had one gate. The city would be easier to defend if it only had one gate. This city, which overlooked the valley of Ela had two. It is also identified as Khirbet Qeiyafa. This city was a likely place for staging and supplying the Israelite army when it was facing off with the Philistines as recounted in 1 Samuel 17. It sits just north of where the Israelites were probably encamped.

ruins tel She’ayarim

tel She’ayarim ruins
Flat stones cover water channel

Looking west toward tel Azeka

Looking westward to tel Azeka
ruins tel She’ayarim
view looking south west from tel She’ayarim into the plain where the battle would have likely been
thick line denotes where reconstruction starts
ruins tel She’ayarim
carved out rock to hold post for wooden gate door
ruins tel She’ayarim

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Coming upon the story of David and Goliath in our study of 1 and 2nd Samuel, I was reminded of my recent visit to Tel Azeka in Israel.

Tel Azeka gives us a vantage point over the valley of Ela (Elah), the area where the story of 1 Samuel 17 took place. Looking west from the Tel, we can see where the three coastal cities of the Philistines would have been, Ashkelon (to the Southwest), Gath (the inland Capital), and Ashdod (to the Northwest).

The Philistines wanted the mountains in the area surrounding Tel Azeka because they wanted oil–olive oil. The pictures give you a glimpse of the fertile land on the low hills in this area.


View of Valley of Ela from Tel Azeka


View of Valley of Ela from Tel Azeka


View from Tel Azeka

From the photos above, you can view the valley of Ela (Elah) where the armies of Israel met the armies of the Philistines. The open area between the hills is where the armies were faced off.

Being on that Tel, it wasn’t hard to imagine the scene that day. It was probably sunny and bright as it was the day we visited. David would have traveled down from Bethlehem to bring supplies and to get news for his father.

The story opens . . .

Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle and were assembled at Socoh, which belongs to Judah; and they camped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together and they camped in the Valley of Elah, and assembled in battle formation to meet the Philistines. The Philistines were standing on the mountain on one side and Israel was standing on the mountain on the other side, with the valley between them.  I Samuel 17:1-3.

The rest is, as they say, history.

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