Elah, Vale of
(`emeq ha-'elah, "valley of the terebinth"; he koilas Ela; A, tes druos): The scene of the events of 1Sa 17:2 ff, referred to also in 1Sa 21:9. There can be no doubt that this is the Wady ec CunT ("valley of the tercbinth"), or part of it. This is the southernmost of the great valleys which cut through the Shephelah. Commencing near Hebron, close to Beit Sur, it descends under the name Wady es Sur in a more or less northerly direction until near Beit Nettif where it turns abruptly west and receives the name Wady ec CunT. Here it is joined by the Wady en Najil, coming from the North, and from the East by the Wady el-Jindy, down which descends an ancient road from Bethlehem. Where all these valleys coalesce the Wady ec CunT expands into a wide and level bottom, half a mile across. On a steep hill to the southern side and a little Southeast of the wide expanse is Kh. esh-Shuweikeh, the site of Socoh. That the great events of 1Sa 17:2 ff took place here there can be no doubt: the Philistines ranged themselves upon the southern hills; the Israelites to the North or Northeast. Upon the wide level valley the contest with Goliath occurred. The exact position of Saul's forces may be a matter of speculation, but the late Principal Miller of Madras, who made a special study of the locality (Least of All Lands, chapter v), considered that the little valley ascending Northeast from Wady ec CunT to Belt Nettif was probably the actual Vale of Elah and that here the Israelites had their fortifications. His elucidation of the whole story is most convincing.
E. W. G. Masterman