In addition to the tours I led between 1967 and 2016 I have made numerous personal study trips with a variety of friends beginning as early as 1984. The largest number of those trips have been made with Leon Mauldin. On these trips we visit places that are difficult to reach by bus or take an unusual amount of time to reach — too time consuming for a group looking to see all they can in a typical 10-12 day tour.
In September, 2011, Leon and I spent some time in the south of Israel. One of the fascinating places we visited was the Brook Besor. Israelis call it Nahal Besor. Various English versions of the Bible use the terms Brook, brook or Wadi to describe the stream. For anyone who might wish to visit the area I will explain how we got there.
Using the modern maps at your disposal locate Beersheba (Be’er Sheva), then take highway 25 NW to highway 241 and turn left. Our first photo was made on the north side of highway 241 after we crossed the Besor.
The Brook Besor on the north side of highway 241. Notice the typical dry terrain of the Negev in the background. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
Water is flowing somewhere among these reeds and during the winter rains we may be sure that the water is visible. Notice the dry terrain in the distance.
A short distance from the location of this photo, on the south side of the highway we saw this impressive mound. It is easy to reach, at least in dry weather, using the road across the fields.
Tel Sharuhen on the banks of Nahal Besor. Most of the reeds like those we have shown in the photo above are on the opposite side of the tel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
The Arab name for this archaeological mound is Tell el-Farah (South) to distinguish it from Tell el-Farah (North), the site of biblical Tirza near Shechem (1 Kings 15:33).
The Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land (1990) entry begins with this description of the Tell el-Farah (South).
The site is some 14 miles south of Gaza and 16 miles west of Beer-Sheba, near the ancient Via Maris (Roads) connecting Egypt and Mesopotamia. W.M.F. Petrie identified Tell el-Farah with Beth-Pelet (Josh. 15:27; Authorized Version: ‘Beth-Palet’), but W.F. Albright’s identification with Sharuhen (Josh. 19:6) is now accepted by most scholars. Apart from the biblical reference, Sharuhen appears three times in Egyptian sources of the New Empire: in the description of the Hyksos expulsion from Egypt, when Amosi besieged the Hyksos for three years at Sharuhen; in the records of the first campaign of Tuthmosis III; and in those of the campaign of Pharaoh Sheshonq.
Sharuhen is mentioned only once in the Bible as a city of the tribe of Simeon (Joshua 19:1-8; see especially verse 6).
This area looks rather hidden from society, but it was on two major international highways in biblical times.
Leon and I were looking for the possible site where David left 200 men who were too exhausted to make the trek to chase those who had burned Ziklag and taken several captives including two wives of David (1 Samuel 30; see especially verses 9, 10, and 21). I can easily envision this area being the place of the crossing of the Besor.
Brook Besor on the north side of Tel Sharuhen. This picture including Ferrell Jenkins was apparently made by Leon Mauldin. You have a nice view of the Brook Besor. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.
From the south side of the tel we took the steps (lower left corner of the photo) to the top.
Approach to Tel Sharuhen from the south. View of Brook Besor. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
The following signs in Hebrew and English identify the site as Tel Sharuhen.
A nice sign identifying the tel as Tel Sharuhen. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
I was delighted when I saw these signs were new.
Sign in Hebrew and English identifying the mound as Tel Sharuhen. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
There are also signs at the site identifying Tel Sharuhen as part of the ANZAC Trail. This trail was made famous in 1917 when a light horse brigade of mostly Australian and New Zealand aboriginals defeated the Germans in the region.
The Anzac Trail of 1917. Tel Sharuhen is marked as number 6.
For those with further interest in the historic battle of 1917 I suggest two links. This link in the Times of Israel tells about the centennial retracing the route of the battle by descendants of the Aboriginal ANZAC soldiers in 2017.
More general information about the ANZAC Trail, including directions and a PDF of the map above, may be read here.
The seven photos in this post are sized suitable for use in a PowerPoint presentation for teaching.
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