Valley of Elah

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Valley of Elah viewed from the top of Tel Azeka.

The Valley of Elah, Ella Valley, "the valley of the terebinth" [1] (Hebrew: עמק האלה Emek HaElah; Arabic: وادي السنط‎, Wadi es-Sunt), so called after the large and shady terebinth trees (Pistacia atlantica) which are indigenous to its parts, and best known as the place described in the Bible where the Israelites were encamped when David fought Goliath (1 Sam. 17:2, 19). It was near Azekah and Socho (17:1). On the west side of the valley, near Socho, there is a very large and ancient tree of this kind, 55 feet in height, its trunk 17 feet in circumference, and the breadth of its shade no less than 75 feet, it marks the upper end of the valley, and forms a noted object, being one of the largest terebinths in the area. Rising up from the valley on its extreme south-east end lies the hilltop ruin, Adullam, and on its north lies Khirbet Qeiyafa.

In July of 2019, the Elah valley came under the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, owing largely to its historical importance and wanting to curtail the encroaching city limits of Beit Shemesh to its north.[2]

Since the early 1970s, the valley has also contained a large satellite relay station, with an antenna farm containing some 120 satellite dishes of various sizes.

From 2010-14, the region around the valley was believed to be threatened by shale oil extraction through the CCR ground-heating process, with the Green Zionist Alliance and the grassroots group Save Adullam, among others, working to stop shale oil extraction in the region;[3][4][5] the plan was blocked in 2014 by zoning committee decision.

Extension of Elah Valley on its southeastern side, Wadi es Sur


The Valley of Elah has gained new importance as a possible point of support for the argument that Israel was more than a tribal chiefdom in the time of King David. At Khirbet Qeiyafa, southwest of Jerusalem in the Elah Valley, Prof. Yosef Garfinkel has discovered a fortified city from the Iron Age IIa dated sometime between 1050 and 915 BC; the fortifications have been said to support the biblical account of the United Monarchy at the beginning of Iron Age II.[6] Others are skeptical and suggest it might represent either a Judahite or Canaanite fortress.[7]

The Valley of Elah after the winter rains; Wadi es Sur
Elah Valley, spring of 2010

In the late 19th century, Conder and Kitchener described the Elah valley as being "one of the most fertile districts in Palestine, it is an open flat vale about half a mile across, and covered with corn; a narrow trench runs down the center full of white pebbles worn by the water in winter. Here and there large terebinths grow along its course (Butmet Wâdy es Sûr), and solitary oak trees (Ballûtet Kŭssis). On either side rise the stony hills covered with brushwood and wild growth."[8]

Khirbet Qeiyafa overlooking the Elah Valley


Terebinth (Pistacia atlantica) growing in the Elah Valley

Although many are plant species native to the Elah Valley, here are a few of the more popular plants (trees, flowers and herbs) that can be seen in the valley:

Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum)
Blue Lupine in Tel Socho of the Elah Valley


Here are a few of the animal species native to the Elah Valley:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Elah, Langenscheidt's Hebrew Dictionary, Dr Karl Feyerabend
  2. ^ Rubin, Yuval, ed. (2019). "The Elah Valley Declared a National Park". Bakitzur - Mateh Yehuda Regional Council and Jerusalem Area (in Hebrew). Tzur Hadassah: Rubin Publishers (509): 10. (25 July 2019)
  3. ^ Krantz, David (1 May 2011). "Israel: The New Saudi Arabia?". Jewcology.
  4. ^ Cheslow, Daniella (18 Dec 2011). "Shale oil project raises hackles in Israel". AFP.
  5. ^ Laylin, Tafline (5 March 2013). "Saudi Turns to Solar, Israel Stuck on Shale". Green Prophet.
  6. ^ Govier, Gordon "Archaeology: What an Ancient Hebrew Note Might Mean" Christianity Today 1/18/2010 [1]
  7. ^ Julia Fridman, 'Crying King David: Are the ruins found in Israel really his palace? ,' at Haaretz, 26 August, 2013.
  8. ^ C.R. Conder & H.H. Kitchener, The Survey of Western Palestine, vol. III, London 1883, p. 298

External links[edit]


Coordinates: 31°41′25.10″N 34°57′07.70″E / 31.6903056°N 34.9521389°E / 31.6903056; 34.9521389