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Khirbet Qeiyafa

Yossi Garfinkel Podcast

yossi_garfinkel_fc Last fall, Florida College (with the help of Luke Chandler) arranged for archaeologist Yossi Garfinkel to speak in their Life Enrichment Series. The audio podcast of this event has recently been released on Florida College's Special Events podcast. Mr. Garfinkel discusses the recently concluded dig at Khirbet Qeiyafa, a site overlooking the Elah Valley in the Shephelah. His wisdom and wit come through as he discusses their findings and how it relates to the United Kingdom during the time of King David.

While you can not see the slides that he is presenting, a listener should not have any problem following the discussion. This is especially true if you have a fundamental understanding of the location of Khirbet Qeiyafa as well as basic archaeology. I encourage you to listen to this wonderful presentation.

Socoh, Azekah, Khirbet Qeiyafa

1_Socoh_Azekah_Qeiyafa In I Samuel 17, the Philistine armies have gathered at Socoh, and are encamped between Socoh and Azekah.  Across the Elah Valley, were the Israelites, with a river between them and their enemies.  To the left of this photo is Socoh with Azekah rising at the end of the valley.  To the right is the site of Khirbet Qeiyafa, the possible location of the Israelite camp.

View of Elah Valley from Azekah

1_Azekah_ViewofElahValley_Day1 As with so many views from high points or tels in Israel, much can be packed into one landscape.  This view from Azekah is significant enough itself, but from here looking east and slightly southeast, you can see the Elah Valley just beyond the road and green hill below.  To the right of the valley is Sochoh, on the left is Khirbet Qeiyafa, of much Biblical Archaeology fame and debate over the past few years.  Azekah, Sochoh, and the Elah Valley all feature in the account of David and Goliath (I Samuel 17).

New National Park Possible

New National Park Possible


The area of the Shephelah is very interesting. It is mentioned a number of times in the Old Testament and is often called the "Judean Foothills". It is a series of lowlands with hills and valleys that stretches 10-15 miles wide between the Coastal Plain and the Central Mountain Range. During the time of the conquest, this land was allotted to the tribe of Judah. By the time of the United Kingdom, this land had become a buffer area between the mountains (where the Israelites lived) and the plains (where the Philistines lived). One of the east-to-west running valleys in the Shephelah is the Valley of Elah, which was the sight of the epic battle between David and Goliath.

Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle. And they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered, and encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in line of battle against the Philistines. And the Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. - 1 Samuel 17:1-3

Recently, there has been some discussion about expanding some neighborhoods from the town of Beit Shemesh southward, possibly impacting the area around the Valley of Elah. I have been trying to follow this story closely in that I was not in favor of destroying the landscape around this site. Recently, there has been some wonderful excavations taking place at Khirbet Qeiyafa, which overlooks the valley. These excavations might have also been affected.

Luckily, it appears that a hold has been put in place on the neighborhood construction. In addition, they are considering protecting the area by making it a national park. (NOTE: You might have to use Google Translate to translate the web site from Hebrew to English.)

UPDATE: The article is now in English!

The picture at the top of this post is from Google Maps and is looking east down the Valley of Elah. From this perspective, the army of Israel would have been on the left ridge with the Philistines on the right. David slew Goliath in the valley near the stream bed. (NOTE: If you are reading this post from an email, you might to click on the title and go to the web page to see the picture.)

Casemate Walls at Khirbet Qeiyafa

Casemate Walls at Khirbet Qeiyafa


I am not an archaeologist. Although friends of mine that have participated in an actual dig in Israel (Ferrell Jenkins at Lachish, Luke Chandler at Khirbet Qeiyafa, Trent and Rebekah Dutton at Ashkelon) have told me to give it a try. Perhaps one day I will. Participating in a dig allows you to gain first hand knowledge of the people of past civilizations. Earlier today, I received the latest edition of Biblical Archaeology Review magazine. In it, there is a really good article by Yosef Garfinkel (and others) concerning the dig that he has been participating in since 2007. The dig has been centered around Khirbet Qeiyafa (possibly Biblical Sha'arayim), but they are in the process of moving next season to Lachish. (For more information about this particular dig, I encourage you to read Luke Chandler's blog. He has participated in the dig for several seasons.)

In the article, there is a fantastic picture of a casemate wall from the city. I tried to find the same picture on the Internet with no luck. However, I found a similar picture that I have included at the top of this post. (NOTE: If you are reading this post from an email, you might need to click on the title and view the post from the web to see the picture.) In the center of the picture, you can see a four-chambered gate which led into the city. However, along the edge of the city walls, you can see a series of small rooms very similar in size. The walls in these small rooms were thicker than normal walls. During peace times, the inhabitants of the city used these small rooms for storage. However, if the enemy decided to attack, these rooms could be quickly filled with dirt, rock and other debris, which would make the city more secure.

Thanks to the real archaeologists and their teams of volunteers, we can learn so much more about the land and the people in the Bible. And, by learning more about the land and the people, we can learn more about the Bible.

I have got to figure out a way to participate in a dig in the near future.

Credit: The picture at the top of the post comes from the Israel Antiquities Authority website.

Khirbet Qeiyafa

High on the hill, Khirbet Qeiyafa overlooks with Elah Valley.This morning, a new short film has debuted on the Internet. It is called "Khirbet Qeiyafa" and discusses the recent archaeology surrounding a site on the northern side of the Elah Valley in Israel. The film debuted on Luke Chandler's blog site and it is one that I encourage you to watch. The interesting thing about archaeology is that we are continually learning about past civilizations. And, as more and more dirt is moved away, the more that we learn.

In Israel, this is a beautiful site. While there, you can open up your Bible, read the story of David and Goliath from 1 Samuel 17, and the whole story comes to life.

If you are interested in traveling with Luke Chandler, he is planning a trip to Italy this fall. I'm sure that he would enjoy having you join him.