The best view of the valley is from the commanding hilltop of Azekah. This strategic city was wisely fortified by Rehoboam, and it was one of the last cities to fall to the Babylonians in the invasion of Judah in 586 BC. The valley below is the location of the battle of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17.
The valley received its name from the Elah tree, a type of oak or terebinth tree. This large and old Elah tree still remains in the valley, reminding visitors of the day when trees proliferated in the Shephelah (cf. 1 Kgs 10:27).
The Brook Elah is famous for the five stones it contributed to the young slinger, David. Some surmise that David chose five stones instead of the one needed in case he needed to face Goliath’s four brothers.
Located on the east end of the valley is the site of Adullam. This place proved to be the perfect place for David to hide in his initial flight from Saul. As it today rests on the border between pre-1967 Israel and the West Bank, so in David’s day, this site was apparently in “no man’s land” where he could stay safely out of the path of Saul or the Philistines.
Cave of Adullam
1 Samuel 22 says that David hid in the “cave of Adullam.” Today there are many caves at the site and it is not clear which one or ones David used, as many have been used and modified in the years since. While he was here, 400 men who were in debt, distress, or discontent, gathered around David.
View of Valley from Socoh
This panoramic view of the Elah Valley from the south is an approximate view of what the Philistine army saw as they faced the Israelites in the battle commonly known as “David vs. Goliath.” The Philistines were encamped on the south side of the valley and King Saul’s forces occupied the hill on the northern side.
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See the related site of Gath. For historical images, see the David and Goliath and David the Fugitive pages at Life in the Holy Land.
The Valley of Elah (Gems in Israel) Interesting and informative, this article harmonizes the biblical history of the site with the experience of actually being there. Told from the perspective of a tour guide, this account of “David and Goliath” is complete with driving directions.
Elah (WebBible Encyclopedia) Briefly describes the origin of the word, in addition to the basic biblical facts about the site and other biblical uses of the name.
Elah Valley (Hike Israel) Details of 3–6 mile (5–10 km) hikes in the Elah Valley area, for those who wish to see the land close-up.
Why the Valley of Elah? (Israel Institute of Biblical Studies) An article that discusses the significance of David battling Goliath in this particular location.
The Valley of Elah—How Your Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary (Wayne Stiles) Musings based around the Elah Valley, as Stiles considers God’s power and faithfulness.
Azekah (WebBible Encyclopedia) Briefly describes the origin of the word, in addition to the basic biblical facts about the site with internal links to related topics.
Azekah (Nave’s Topical Bible) Lists verses for a topical study on the site of Azekah.
The Cruel End of Canaanite Azekah (Bible History Daily) Discusses the Canaanite history of Azekah, along with archaeological finds that contribute to our understanding of its destruction.
Adullam (WebBible Encyclopedia) Interests the reader with both physically and biblically descriptive facts, including internal links to related topics.
Archaeology in Israel: Adullam (Jewish Virtual Library) A helpful but short overview regarding the history and archaeology of Adullam.
Adullam (Encyclopedia Britannica) Basic information for the curious.