The hike is centered around the Elah Valley, where the battle of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17) took place. We will walk on the ridges and hills above the valley, visit the sites of the biblical towns Azekah and Shaaraim and enjoy pastoral views of the Judean plains and mountains.
|Short versions||5.0 Km|
|Climb||300 m (Short 150 m)|
|Best||Dec - April|
|Possible||Nov - May|
(Short Version All year)
Biblical References (Old Testament)
The valley of Elah is a small valley, located in the Judean plains. Its Hebrew name, Elah, is named after the Terebinth tree. This valley was an important corridor from the coastal towns to the Judean mountains and the towns of Bethlehem and Hebron. The Elah valley was also the place of the famous Biblical battle between David and Goliath. (Further Reading)
Listen to 1 Samuel 17
Elah Valley Map
The Philistines are once again gearing up for war against the Israelites. Both sides gather their forces, with the valley of Elah separating them. Goliath emerges from the Philistine camp. He stands over nine feet tall and wears bronze armor.
David leaves his sheep with a shepherd and goes to the camp to bring food to his brothers and arrives just in time to see the soldiers taking up their positions.
David hears Goliath’s challenge. King Saul promises that the man who defeats Goliath will be given great riches and be given his daughter in marriage.
David asks Saul to fight Goliath. Saul gives David permission. He has David put on armor, but David is not comfortable with it and takes it off.
David finds five stones, puts them in his pouch, and then goes out to face Goliath with his sling. Goliath looks down at David and feels nothing but contempt. David tells Goliath that God is on his side.
Then, David slashes Goliath with a single stone to the forehead and beheads him with his sword. This causes the Philistines to flee, only to be pursued by the Israelites.
Note For those arriving by bus:
The bus the station is at point 4 (Junction between Roads 38 and 383 – See map). You can start and follow the hike from there.
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- From the car park (1) start by walking north on the ‡Blue‡ Marked trail. A short steep climb will bring us to the top of Tel Azekah (2), Where the biblical town Azekah stood in biblical times.
- From the top of the hill, there is a great view on the Judean mountains at the horizon and on the Elah valley just below us, where the famous battle between David and Goliath took place 3000 years ago. (See more details in the introduction for this hike).
- After enjoying the view and reading (or listening) again to 1 Samuel 17, continue to the northern end of the hill and find an unmarked trail that goes steeply down the hill.
- At the end of the steep slope (3) the trail meets an unmarked dirt road. Turn left and follow this dirt road for about 400 meters, until it reaches the main road #383.
If you chose to walk the short version of the hike, turn right, and follow the dirt road to join the full hike back at (7)!
- Turn rights and walk along the road about 300 m until the big junction with the main road #38 (4).
- Cross the road, turn right and walk 400 m along with road #38 until you see on your left a dirt road with ‡Blue‡ markers.
- Turn left and follow the ‡Blue‡ markers for 1.7 Km, climbing gently uphill on the dirt road until you are almost at the top of the hill. The ‡Blue‡ marked trail does not reach the top and starts descending to the other side (5).
- At this spot, look for an unmarked trail on the left that climbs to the top of the hill.
- At the top, we reach the ruins of the biblical town Shaaraim. (See more details in the introduction for this hike).
- After a tour of the interesting site and enjoying another view of the Elah Valley from a different direction, make your way back to (5), turn left and continue with the ‡Blue‡ marked trail a few more meters until a junction with a dirt road that is also a part of the INT (Israel National Trail).
- Turn right and follow the INT markers for 1.6 Km, until the trail reaches again road #38.
- Cross the road and continue to follow the INT for another 1.2 Km until it crosses a minor paved road (7). (The short versions rejoins here)
- Continue further with the INT for about 700 m (Now climbing rather steeply) to the Shiklon Ruins on the top of the hill (8).
- The ruins are from the Byzantine period and include Wells, stone fences and ancient wine-presses. Form the top there are also fine views on the Elah Valley and the Judean mountains.
- At this point, we leave the INT and turn right on a ‡Red‡ marked trail descending on the north side of the hill.
- After about 350 m the trail reaches a junction with several trails (In several marked colors). Pay attention and continue straight on the ‡Black‡ marked trail.
- After about 500 m you reach another junction with several trails (with several marked colors) (9). Pay attention and continue this time on the ‡Blue‡ marked trail. Follow it for about 800 m and reach the car park (1).
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