A day in the Shephelah

Today proved to be an exciting and profitable one for Larry Haverstock and me. We traveled south along highway 60 from Jerusalem, past Bethlehem, and almost to Hebron before turning back and heading west to the Elah Valley. On the way to Hebron one sees many examples of terraced farming, and vineyards in wadis.

In the Elah Valley vicinity we stopped at Socoh, the Brook Elah, and the Elah Fortress at Khirbet Qeiyafa. We also had a nice view of Azekah. This area is associated with the events of 1 Samuel 17 (David and Goliath).

The photo below shows the Iron Age, four chamber gate at the Elah Fortress. This is the northern gate which faces Azekah. This scene is reminiscent of the reference to the worthy woman in Proverbs 31.

Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. (Proverba 31:23 ESV)

Ferrell Jenkins in the Gate at Elah Fortress at Khirbet Qeiyafa

Ferrell Jenkins in the Gate at Elah Fortress at Khirbet Qeiyafa.

Next we went to the Midras Ruins to see the Roman period tomb with a rolling stone. This is the tomb that was vandalized more than 15 years ago. (At the moment the photo below is not showing when I preview it, but it is visible when I click on the link.)

Roman Period Tomb at Midras Ruins in the Shephelah. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Roman Period Tomb at Midras Ruins in the Shephelah. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Midras Ruins (Horvat Midras) in Israel are part of the Adulam Grove Nature Reserve east of Hwy 38 between the Elah Valley and Beit Guvrin. According to the Parks department sign at the site, the ruins are part of an ancient settlement including caves, pits, and other installations. The Carta touring atlas says the area was continuously inhabited from the time of the Kings of Judah to the Roman period.

For a more complete discussion of the Midras Ruins tomb, along with links to photos before the tomb was vandalized, read here.

We made a few photos of Tel Burna. This tel is often identified with Moresheth Gath, the home of the prophet Micah. The current excavators think it may prove to be biblical Libnah. One of the significant events that took place at Libnah is recorded here:

The Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria fighting against Libnah, for he heard that the king had left Lachish. (2 Kings 19:8 ESV)

The Tel Burna Archaeological Excavation is under the direction of Itzhaq Shai and Joe Uziel. Check their web site here.

Our last stop was for a photo of nearby Tel Zayit. The archaeologists who have worked there suggest that it may be Libnah or Ziklag. Hopefully we will learn something more definitive in the years to come. Ron E. Tappy is director of the Zeitah Excavations. Check their web site here.

We visited Lachish and Gath last Friday with our group. All in all, it was a wonderful day.

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