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Sorek Valley

Sorek Bees

4_Sorek_Bees_2 One night, in the city of Timnah in the Sorek Valley, Philistine men impudently answered Sampson’s riddle with the words:  “What is sweeter than honey?”  Today, that answer is still true, and bees still thrive in the Sorek Valley, just a few meters from the ancient site of Timnah.  Luckily, however, their keepers have found more hospitable housing for them than the carcass of a lion.

A Day In The Lowlands

A Day In The Lowlands


The lands of the Bible in this region has four longitudinal zones. There is the Coastal Plain, the Central Mountain Range, the Rift Valley and the Transjordan Plateau. However, there are a few smaller areas sandwiched in between those primary zones. One of the is the Shephelah. The Shephelah is a small area within the land given to the tribe of Judah with a fertile, rolling plain. Even today, there are plenty of crops growing all over this region. For our interest on this tour, we are interested in the Biblical events that occurred in this area.

We started our day by driving to the Sorek Valley, the stomping grounds of the judge Samson. The site at the eastern end of this valley is Beit Shemesh. We stood at this site and could envision Samson tying the foxes together and setting the fields ablaze. Also, we could see the milk cows dragging and cart behind them carrying the Ark of the Covenant.

elahOur next stop was at the Valley of Elah. After you visit this beautiful valley, you will never read the story of David and Goliath the same again. I am continually impressed by the geographical accuracy of the Biblical writer in telling this story. We stood in the valley and reread parts of the story describing those details. Afterwards, everyone went down into the brook to pick up some "small smooth stones" to take home.

Lachish was next on our list. Seeing this site helps you understand its strategic importance. You can still see the siege ramp built by the Assyrians as they captured the city. The dig season for this site is going to be starting in about a week. We could see the people beginning to move equipment into place in the gate area. I look forward to hearing what they find.

beershebaAfter a bit of a drive, we found ourselves at Beersheba. This site sits on the northern edge of the Negev. This is a beautiful site and easy to walk around and see. They have built a tall tower to view the landscape and we had the opportunity to walk through the water tunnel.

Our final stop of the day was at Nebi Samwil, just north of the city of Jerusalem. From this vantage point, you can see the Benjamin Plateau and overlook the city of Gibeon. The sun stood still here at one time, but not today. We took our pictures and then headed toward the hotel.

Our tour is quickly coming to an end. We have one more big day tomorrow before heading to the airport to catch a late-night flight. As I type this, I can hear the songs of the evening call to prayer for the Muslims. And, I can look out my hotel window and see the Jewish people walking home after finishing their prayers by the Western Wall.

I'll try to post tomorrow night, but time and Internet availability my limit the opportunity. But, I'll be back online soon.


The Ark in the Sorek Valley

Looking west down the Sorek Valley from the tel at Beth Shemesh.NOTE: This is seventh story in a series of posts following locations where the Ark of the Covenant visited. Other places we have visited include the Plains of Moab, the Jordan River, Jericho, Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, Shiloh and the Land of the Philistines. For seven months, the Ark of the Covenant plagued the Philistines. Consequently, no one wanted the Ark and it was passed between the cities of Ashdod, Gath and Ekron. Finally, they decided that the only way to rid themselves of the tumors was to return the Ark to the Israelites.

And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us how we should send it to its place.” So they said, “If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty; but by all means return it to Him with a trespass offering. Then you will be healed, and it will be known to you why His hand is not removed from you.” - 1 Samuel 6:2-3

So, the Philistines loaded the Ark onto a cart pulled by two milk cows and sent it down through the Sorek Valley toward the Israelite city of Beth Shemesh. Along with it, they included a chest that had five golden tumors and some golden rats to represent the plague that had been wrought upon them. As the cows and cart neared Beth Shemesh, the people were in the valley working in the fields and saw it coming.

Now the people of Beth Shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley; and they lifted their eyes and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it. Then the cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and stood there; a large stone was there. So they split the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. The Levites took down the ark of the Lord and the chest that was with it, in which were the articles of gold, and put them on the large stone. Then the men of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and made sacrifices the same day to the Lord. - 1 Samuel 6:13-15

Possible path the Ark of the Covenant took as it travelled from Ekron through the Sorek Valley to Beth Shemesh.

This section of the Sorek Valley runs basically east to west through the Shephalah. It is also mentioned a couple of other times in the Bible.

  • It served as a portion of the boundary between the Tribe of Dan and the land of the Philistines.
  • Samson's first wife came from Timnah, which sat in the western end of the valley (Judges 14:1-3)
  • Another one of Samson's wives, Delilah, lived in the Sorek Valley. (Judges 16:4)