Daily Archives: January 6, 2010

Over the Sorek Valley and Beth-shemesh

The Israelites took the ark of the covenant from the tabernacle at Shiloh to the battle field at Ebenezer when they were fighting with the Philistines (1 Samuel 4). The ark was captured by the Philistines and taken to Ashdod, then to Gath, and finally to Ekron before they decided to get rid of it. The ark was returned to Beth-shemesh (Beth Shemesh, Bethshemesh; 1 Samuel 4-6).

Now the people of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley, and they raised their eyes and saw the ark and were glad to see it. The cart came into the field of Joshua the Beth-shemite and stood there where there was a large stone; and they split the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the LORD. (1 Samuel 6:13-14 NAU)

Our aerial photo today shows a portion of the Sorek Valley. The mound of Beth-shemesh, with its archaeological scarring,  is visible in the lower right corner of the photo. The view here is NE, toward the Judean Mountains. The Sorek River bed is visible curving its way along the far side of the valley.

The Sorek Valley is associated with the account of Samson and Delilah.

After this it came about that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. (Judges 16:4 NAU)

Aerial view of Beth Shemesh and the Sorek Valley. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins 2009.

Aerial view of Beth-shemesh and the Sorek Valley. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins 2009.

The sites of Zorah and Eshtaol are located in the foothills of the Judean Mountains among the trees. These sites are associated with Samson.

Then the woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson; and the child grew up and the LORD blessed him. And the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol. (Judges 13:24-25 NAU)

The Sorek Valley continues to the left for a few miles toward Timnah, where Samson married a Philistine woman and performed many of his exploits (Judges 14-15).