A Giant of a Day

March 1, 2007

Earlier this week I had to check the local weather forecast for a project I was working on. As I looked at the 10-Day forecast, I noticed a theme–rain. However, there was one notable exception to this theme as the forecast for Wednesday (our field trip day) was “Sunny.” It was in that moment that I really started to get excited about Wednesday’s Shephelah Field Study.

And when I woke up yesterday morning, the forecast was right, the sun was shining, and the stage was set for another incredible field trip.

Our field trip took us to four separate valleys of the Shephelah (pronouced shfay-LAH). This is the Hebrew word for foothills, and it designates a specific geographical area between the hill country of Judah and the Coastal Plain. This area is also rich in Biblical history, botanical beauty, and straight-up fun.

We made our first stop at Beth-Shemesh in the Sorek Valley. Many of the events of the life of Samson took place in and around this valley. Todd walked us through the whole story–even acting out one part with a carefully selected prop. (Yeah, that’s a jaw bone.)


Beth-Shemesh is also the location where 70 men of Israel died for looking into the Ark of the Covenant. Clearly, Indiana Jones knew this Bible story.

Our next stop was one that I had been looking forward to since before coming to Israel. We went on top of the tel (hill) of the ancient town of Azekah, which towers above the Elah Valley.

You may ask, “What is so special about that?”

Did you ever sing that song “Only a Boy Named David” when you were a kid? Ever heard of a football game referred to as a “David vs. Goliath” matchup? Have you ever watched Hoosiers and heard the pastor read about David killing Goliath right before that small school wins the state championship?

It was 3000 years ago in the Elah Valley and with the help of the Lord that David slung a rock at the fearsome Philistine giant and won a great victory for Israel.

From the tel at Azekah, you can easily imagine the battle. You can picture the Israelites on one side of the valley and the Philistines on the other. You can almost hear the shouts of Goliath resonate through the valley. And you are reminded of the power of the Lord, who used a young man named David to slay the mighty giant.

Here’s a picture of a few friends imagining the battle.


After we left the Elah Valley, we stopped in Beth-Guvrin in the Guvrin Valley. Here we did not talk about as much biblical history at first, but we looked at some impressive remains from the Roman era as well as the times of the Crusaders. First, we visited the ruins of an ampitheatre that would have been used for gladitorial competitions. The remians were still in pretty good shape, so we even sent a few guys down to the bottom for a little re-enactment.


Of course, it’s important to remember that gladiators fighting there 2000 years ago weren’t playing games or having fun–they were fighting for their lives. Second, a small group of us checked out what was left of a Crusader era church. I could have spent a while exploring this place. The outside was pretty impressive with three big arches on the front, but that was only the beginning, for there was a lot left to explore inside the church and even underneath the church.


We enjoyed our lunches as we sat upon the ancient ruins, but this was only a brief stop in an action packed day.


To be continued…


2 Responses to “A Giant of a Day”

  1. Roberta Blakey said

    Thanks for your commentary. I almost feel like I was there. In 9 days I will be there!

  2. kabababrubarta said

    Nice design! kabababrubarta

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