Today we got a fairly early start and went through the Shephelah to Lachish. This takes about an hour or so from Jerusalem. We did not go to visit Lachish, but to continue east to a small kibbutz called Shekef. From here we would try to locate Tel Eiton (also Tel ‘Eton and Tel Aitun). I had been in the area before but did not locate the tel. The reason for going so far out of the way to get to the site is that it is situated on Israel’s border with the Palestinian West Bank. Just before reaching Shekef we began to drive on the new highway 358 to Beersheba, parallel to the border. Soon we realized that we must be bypassing the place we want to go.
We backtracked and eventually after doing what men “never do”, ask for directions, we located Tel Eiton. Palestine is on the east side of the mound and a military firing range is on the west side. We decided it would be best to stick to the gravel road without straying too far to the left or the right — sort of like Joshua.
“Be very firm, then, to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you may not turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you will not associate with these nations, these which remain among you, or mention the name of their gods, or make anyone swear by them, or serve them, or bow down to them. (Joshus 23:6-7 NAU)
Tel Eiton currently is equated with biblical Eglon by many scholars. Recent excavations have been conducted under the direction of Prof. Avi Faust, now of Bar Ilan University.
Here is a photo of the tel from the south and perhaps a little to the east.
Eglon is mentioned at least eight times in the Bible, all in the book of Joshua (10:3, 5, 23, 34, 36, 37; 12:12). The Scripture emphasizes that Israel defeated the king of Eglon. Notice the relationship between Lachish, where we started our trek, and Eglon.
And Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Lachish to Eglon, and they camped by it and fought against it. They captured it on that day and struck it with the edge of the sword; and he utterly destroyed that day every person who was in it, according to all that he had done to Lachish. Then Joshua and all Israel with him went up from Eglon to Hebron, and they fought against it. (Joshua 10:34-36 NAU)
We also visited the following places.
Tel Bet Mirsim, a site identified as Debir by William F. Albright (Joshua 10:38, 39). Albright identified Tel Eiton as Libnah, but scholars today question this.
Tel Halif, north and slightly east of Beersheba, is thought by some to be biblical Ziklag, . Others place the biblical city at Tel Shera, northwest of Beersheba.
Finally we visit the Brook Besor and Tel el-Farah South. Israel calls the site Tel Sharuhen (1 Samuel 30). This tel is located in the Plain of Philistia, not far from the borders with Egypt and the Gaza Strip.
Hopefully we will be able to share more photos and information about this places with you at a later time. It is all very fascinating to the student of the Bible. Right now it is too late and I need to be sleeping.