Elah (3)


We extract some interesting details concerning this noted valley from the latest description, that of Lieut. Conder (Tent Work in Palestine, 2:187,190): "The Great Valley of Elah (Wady es-Sunt) is the highway from Philistia to Hebron; it has its head not far froml Terkumieh, and runs down northwards, past Keilah and Hareth, dividing the low hills of the Shephelah from the rocky mountains of Judah; eight miles from the valley-head stands Shochoh, and Wady es-Sunt is here a quarter of a mile across; just north of this ruin it turns round westward. and so runs, growing leeper and deeper, between the rocky hills covered with brushwood, becoming an open vale of rich corn-land, flanked by ancient fortresses, and finally debouching at the cliff of Tell esSafieh. About two and a half miles south of the great angle near Shochoh there is a very large and ancient terebipth, one of the few old trees of the species along the course of the valley, which took its Hebrew name of Elah from them. This terebinth is towards the west side of the vale, just where a small tributary ravine joins Wfidy es-Sunt; and near it are two ancient wells, not unlike those at Beersheba, with stone water-troughs Tound them; south of the ravine is a high, rounded hill, almost isolated by valleys, and covered with ruins, a natural fortress, not unlike the well- known Tells which occur lower down the Valley of Elah." "Two points require to be made clear as to the episode of David's, battle with Goliath; one is the meaning of the expression, Gai or 'ravine', the other is the source whence David took the 'smooth stones.' A visit to the spot explains both. In the middle of the broad, open valley we found a deep trench. with vertical sides, inpassable except at certailn places — a valley in a valley, and a natural barrier between the two hosts; the sides and bed of this trench are strewn with rounded and water-worn pebbles, which would have been well fitted for David's sling. Here, then, we may picture to ourselves the two hosts, covering the low, rocky hills opposite to each other, and half hidden among the lentisk bushes; between them was the rich expanse of ripening barley and the red banks of the torrent, with its white, shingly bed; behind all were the distant blue hill-walls of Judah, whence Saul had just come down. The mail-clad champion advanced from the west, through the low corn, with his mighty lance perhaps tufted with feathers, his brazen helmet shining in the sun; from the east, a ruddy boy, in his white shirt and sandals, armed with a goat's-hair sling, came down to the brook, and, according to the poetic fancy of the rabbis, the pebbles were given voices, and cried: 'By us shalt thou overcome the giant.' The champion fell from an unseen cause, and the wild Philistines fled to the mouth of the valley, where Gath stood towering on its white chalk-cliff, a frontier fortress, the key to the high-road leading to the corn-lands of Judah, and to the vineyards of Hebron." (See cut on next page.)

Bible concordance for ELAH.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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