The Valley of Elah is located approximately 30 kilometers (20 miles) west-southwest of the city of Jerusalem. Several location in and around the Valley of Elah are mentioned numerous times in the Bible. Most notably, the Valley of Elah is the location of a single battle between the Israelites and the Philistines. This battle was won by the Israelites because David (and his faith in God) single-handedly defeated the Philistine giant Goliath.
The picture at right is of the Valley of Elah from the approximate location of Ephes-Dammim, looking toward the north. The Israelites would have been camped on the far ridge as they looked down on the battle between David and Goliath.
Now the Philistines gathered their armies together to battle, and were gathered at Sochoh, which belongs to Judah; they encamped between Sochoh and Azekah, in Ephes Dammim. And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and they encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in battle array against the Philistines. The Philistines stood on a mountain on one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. – I Samuel 17:1-3
A visit to this famous valley will make this story really come alive. By almost any standard, this valley is relatively small. It would be easy for the Israelites to hear the taunts of the Philistines for 40 days. And, when Goliath hit the ground, it would have been seen easily by both armies.
The valley is flanked by Azekah on the west and Sochoh to the east. On the northern side of the valley, extensive excavations have been taking place the last few years on Khirbet Qeiyafa, a Judahite city from Iron Age IIa. Khirbet Qeiyafa is thought by many to be the Biblical city of Shaaraim. For much more information about this excavation, you should read the blog by Luke Chandler, which is listed below.