Oct. 21st - The Shephelah

 There should be a purple circle north at the intersection between Azekah, Qeiyafa & Socoh. That is where we stopped in the valley of Elah. Beth-shemesh, just north of that, should also be circled.

There should be a purple circle north at the intersection between Azekah, Qeiyafa & Socoh. That is where we stopped in the valley of Elah. Beth-shemesh, just north of that, should also be circled.

To make our last day in Israel (tomorrow) easier since we have an overnight flight afterwards, Barry decided to start slowing things down, so this morning he took us to the Shephelah. The Shephelah, or lowlands, of southern Israel are the hills between Jerusalem and the Mediteranean Sea.

In the time of the Joshua and the Kings of Israel, the Shephelah are where the major Philistine cities were located, blocking off the western end of their respective east/west valleys, making it difficult for the Isrealites to reach the coast. If you look at the slightly crooked map, you will see five valleys that run east and west across the Shephelah. Each valley had a Philistine city at the western end, and most of the valleys had an Israelite occupied city at the eastern end. Eventually the Philistine cities were captured, which gave Isreal easier access to the sea. 

 

 Bet-Shemesh (The Sorek Valley)

 This is a panoramic view of the north side of the Sorek valley. Through the valley in the distance on the left of the photo is Tel Azekah, and on the right side of the green hill with the tree standing alone is the area where Zoar would have been. The photo was taken from the tel of Beth-Shemesh. One of the significant Biblical events that took place in this valley is when the Philistines returned the Ark of the Covenant by way of a wooden cart pulled by oxen. The Israelites in Beth-shemesh would have heard the oxen lowing as they saw the driverless cart rolling up the valley from the left (2 Sam. 5-6). It was in Beth-shemesh that they used the wooden cart as fuel to offer the oxen as an offering to God on a great stone. It was also in Beth-Shemesh where 70 people died because they looked into the ark and decided to place it in storage at Kireath-Jearim for 20 years.

This is a panoramic view of the north side of the Sorek valley. Through the valley in the distance on the left of the photo is Tel Azekah, and on the right side of the green hill with the tree standing alone is the area where Zoar would have been. The photo was taken from the tel of Beth-Shemesh. One of the significant Biblical events that took place in this valley is when the Philistines returned the Ark of the Covenant by way of a wooden cart pulled by oxen. The Israelites in Beth-shemesh would have heard the oxen lowing as they saw the driverless cart rolling up the valley from the left (2 Sam. 5-6). It was in Beth-shemesh that they used the wooden cart as fuel to offer the oxen as an offering to God on a great stone. It was also in Beth-Shemesh where 70 people died because they looked into the ark and decided to place it in storage at Kireath-Jearim for 20 years.

 The Valley of Elah

 After our stop at Beth-Shemesh, our driver pulled off on the side of the road, and Barry and Gus took us for a walk down the side of the highway. Then we climbed over the side of the railing and walked on a dirt trail to a small mountain in the Valley of Elah, where Barry began reading 1 Sam. 17 to us, sharing the Biblical account of young David defeating Goliath in God's name with only a handful of 5 smooth stones that he collected from a brook. Barry pointed out that the first 3 verses are all about geography. The mountain we were stading at had a dry creek bed in front of it. Across the field from the mountain we were standing at was a smaller mountain covered in trees. We were standing at the place where the Israelites faced off against the Philistines for 40 days, and where millinea ago a newly annointed David killed Goliath. It was yet another powerful moment that suddenly provided us with better perspective and appreciation of a Biblical event where God delivered his people in an unexpected way! The light colored mountain on the left is where the Israelites stood, the tree covered mountain on the right is where the Philistines were. (We will uploa a higher resolution image when we get home.)

After our stop at Beth-Shemesh, our driver pulled off on the side of the road, and Barry and Gus took us for a walk down the side of the highway. Then we climbed over the side of the railing and walked on a dirt trail to a small mountain in the Valley of Elah, where Barry began reading 1 Sam. 17 to us, sharing the Biblical account of young David defeating Goliath in God's name with only a handful of 5 smooth stones that he collected from a brook. Barry pointed out that the first 3 verses are all about geography. The mountain we were stading at had a dry creek bed in front of it. Across the field from the mountain we were standing at was a smaller mountain covered in trees. We were standing at the place where the Israelites faced off against the Philistines for 40 days, and where millinea ago a newly annointed David killed Goliath. It was yet another powerful moment that suddenly provided us with better perspective and appreciation of a Biblical event where God delivered his people in an unexpected way! The light colored mountain on the left is where the Israelites stood, the tree covered mountain on the right is where the Philistines were. (We will uploa a higher resolution image when we get home.)

 Standing at the foot of the mountain in the Valley of Elah where the Israelites faced the Philistines. The dry brook is where David picked up his five smooth stones for his sling. (We will upload a higher resolution image when we get home.)

Standing at the foot of the mountain in the Valley of Elah where the Israelites faced the Philistines. The dry brook is where David picked up his five smooth stones for his sling. (We will upload a higher resolution image when we get home.)

 Tel Lachish

 Lachish is a city that was conquered during the days of Joshua. Its king allied himself with four other Amorite kings who attempted to repel the Israelites as they took possesion of the promised land. The Amorite coalition was unsuccesful (Josh. 10). The city was included in the inheritance of the tribe of Judah. Centuries later, the prophet Micah warned Lachish that the Assyrians would soon defeat them. In the 14th year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib took all the fortified cities of Judah, including Lachish. Hezekiah sent Sennacherib a message there (2 Kings 18:14), giving him tribute, hoping he could convince the Assryian king to leave them alone. Instead, the Assyrians left Lachish to approach Jerusalem! Hezekiah offered a passionate prayer to the Lord seeking deliverance, which God provided by sending a single angel to kill 185,000 of Sennacherib's men in a single night. The ramp on the left side of the picture includes the remainder of the Assyrian siege ramp.

Lachish is a city that was conquered during the days of Joshua. Its king allied himself with four other Amorite kings who attempted to repel the Israelites as they took possesion of the promised land. The Amorite coalition was unsuccesful (Josh. 10). The city was included in the inheritance of the tribe of Judah. Centuries later, the prophet Micah warned Lachish that the Assyrians would soon defeat them. In the 14th year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib took all the fortified cities of Judah, including Lachish. Hezekiah sent Sennacherib a message there (2 Kings 18:14), giving him tribute, hoping he could convince the Assryian king to leave them alone. Instead, the Assyrians left Lachish to approach Jerusalem! Hezekiah offered a passionate prayer to the Lord seeking deliverance, which God provided by sending a single angel to kill 185,000 of Sennacherib's men in a single night. The ramp on the left side of the picture includes the remainder of the Assyrian siege ramp.

 Tel Be'er Sheva (Beer-Sheba)

 One of the fascinating features of the Be'er Sheva site is its water system. There is a 55 foot, stone lined shaft with stairs leading to an underground resevoir that could hold up to nearly 185,00 gallons of water! At the opposite end of the resevoir is a feeder channel that collected water from the Hebron streambed. Several of us put on construction hats, and walked down the stairs, through the resevoir and out the feeder channel.

One of the fascinating features of the Be'er Sheva site is its water system. There is a 55 foot, stone lined shaft with stairs leading to an underground resevoir that could hold up to nearly 185,00 gallons of water! At the opposite end of the resevoir is a feeder channel that collected water from the Hebron streambed. Several of us put on construction hats, and walked down the stairs, through the resevoir and out the feeder channel.

 Walking through the ancient water resevior at Tel Be'er Sheva. 

Walking through the ancient water resevior at Tel Be'er Sheva. 

Tel Gath

 As we drove back to Jerusalem from the Shephelah, we passed the tel of Gath, the hometown of Goliath.  The tel has stones and trees on the hill in the background.

As we drove back to Jerusalem from the Shephelah, we passed the tel of Gath, the hometown of Goliath.  The tel has stones and trees on the hill in the background.

This may be the last post for this trip. We are making a couple more stops tomorrow, but I'm not sure how much access I will have to the internet. If possible, I will make a final post from the airport tomorrow evening. But if not, thank you for following along with us on our amazing journey! Barry, Norm and Gus have done an excellent job guiding, instructing and keeping us safe. Praise God for the opportunity to join this great group. If you ever have the chance to join Barry on one of his trips I would highly recommend it. Lord willing, we'll sign off tomorrow. 

Love to all, 

Jeremy & Anna