David Harris

The valley of Elah. An access route in biblical times for invasion of the Judean plateau (the hill country), this valley in the Shephelah was guarded by encampments at Azekah and Socoh. 1 Samuel 17 recounts the invasion by the Philistines, when David slew Goliath, the Philistine, in the valley of Elah.

Today the fertile, alluvial soil supports farming by nearby agricultural settlements. By contrast, the surrounding hills are covered with scrub growth or are barren. Nearly horizontal layers of sedimentary rock compose the ridge in the background; this characteristic formation helps distinguish the Shephelah from the flanks of the Judean plateau to the east, where the rock layers dip steeply. A ledge of flint surrounded by white chalk, also typical of the Shephelah, dominates the foreground.