Posts Tagged ‘be’er sheva’

Beginning Week 3

August 6, 2013

We’ve continued our tour of the country, moved north to south, and now we have begun our central campaign.

Negev

The Negev is the desert region in Southern Israel, extending down to the Gulf of Aqaba. It is a beautiful region, with deserts and makhteshim—the “craters” caused by soft mineral eroding from beneath harder rock, causing the upper layer to collapse.

View of Makhtesh Ramon

View of Makhtesh Ramon in the Negev

Arad

Originally built in the Bronze Age, Arad is one of those cities in Israel that has always been there. The lower city excavations are Canaanite, featuring dwellings and palaces. The upper are mostly of Israelite origin, with a Hellenistic tower built in the middle of the fortifications.

Israelite Fortifications at Arad

Israelite Fortifications at Arad

Be’er Sheva

Beersheba is a oft-mentioned city in the Bible, from Abraham’s covenant with Abimelech to describing Israel’s territory as reaching from “Dan to Beersheba.” The tell itself commands a fabulous view of the surrounding country, which was necessary for the embattled city to defend itself.

Ancient City at Tel Be'er Sheva

Ancient City at Tel Be’er Sheva

Ashkelon

A tell that is near and dear to our hearts, we returned to take a few photographs and recall an ancient site that is best known as one of the Philistine pentapolis. Throughout its long history, this city has been an important port town, and is well known for its wine and oil.

Ashkelon, by the Sea

Ashkelon, by the Sea

Ashdod

Another member of the pentapolis, and now a cow pasture, Ashdod was the original resting place of the Ark of the Covenant after its capture by the Philistines. They learned a rather uncomfortable lesson from that incident, and hastily sent it home. It is also described as participating in sea-trade, due to its control of a port 4 miles away from the land-locked city.

Ashdod, Now a Cow Pasture

Ashdod, Now a Cow Pasture

Lachish

Lachish is an old favorite. As a city that was old before the Israelites conquered it, it came under control of Judah, and was established as a fortified city by Rehoboam, the final defense before an enemy could reach Jerusalem. It acted its part during the siege of Sennacharib, who destroyed the city and publicized the event through a series of reliefs in Nineveh.

Fortress at Lachish

Fortress at Lachish

Mareshah

Another of Rehoboam’s fortified cities, Mareshah was the site of a battle between King Asa of Judah and Zerah the Ethiopian. However, the city was taken by the Edomites after Judah’s fall to Babylon, and remained a vibrant city until it rotted away under the Hasmoneans. Today, visitors can explore many of the incredible caves under the city, including subterranean olive presses.

Olive Oil Press at Mareshah

Subterranean Olive Oil Press at Mareshah

Socoh

Positioned in the Elah valley, near Khirbet Qeiyafa, Socoh hosted the Philistines as they drew themselves up in battle array before the Israelite encampment at Qeiyafa. It was between these tells that David and Goliath had their famous “match,” and then the Philistines were pursued up the valley as they fled the wrath of their conquerors.

Tel Socho

Tel Socho

Gath (Tel es-Safi)

Speaking of Goliath, number 3 in our tour of the pentapolis was Tel es-Safi, commonly identified as Goliath’s hometown of Gath. It is a unique irony to note that the Brook of Elah runs along the foot of the tell—a ways downstream, it betrayed the giant by yielding a smooth stone to a young shepherd.

Tel es-Safi

Tel es-Safi, Commonly Considered as Gath