The Ella Valley, in the southern Foothills of Judea, is the scene of one of the most famous stories in the Bible, the battle between David and Goliath. On visiting this valley you cannot help but feel that you are literally touching biblical history. The Ella River, which is usually dry except immediately after a downfall of rain, runs from east to west starting in the Hebron hills and ending as it joins the Lachish river close to the Mediterranean seashore.
The Ella Valley is a short stretch where the river traverses a small plain surrounded by hills.
After the conquest of the Ancient land of Canaan by the Israelites there began an ongoing war between the Israelites and the Philistines, with the Israelites being hemmed in to the hilly regions, mainly Judah, Samaria and the Carmel range, while the Philistines held sway over the coastal plains in the south and west, and over the large valleys in Northern Canaan. The Philistines were more suited to these areas as they used chariots and heavy armor.
Who were the Philistines? Most research indicates that the Philistines originated in the Aegean Islands, possibly Crete.
In the days of King Saul, there was a standoff between the Philistine army and the Israelite army in the Ella Valley. The Philistines were encamped beneath the hills at the south and western
fringes of the valley, the hill of Suchoh in the south and Tel Azeka in the west, whereas the Israelites were camped on the northern fringes of the valley. As was often the custom, the Philistines offered that one of their strongest fighters would fight one of the Israelites to decide the future, this, instead of an all-out battle. The rest of the story is well known and can be read in the book of Samuel-1 chapter 17.
The best views of the valley and the site of the battle is from the top of Azekah Hill, next to Haella Junction, or from Socho Hill, now known as Lupines hill, because of the beautiful Mountain lupines that flower on the hill towards the end of March.
Today the valley offers beautiful views, a well-developed archeological site from the Canaanite era on Azeka Hill, and a very good winery in the Netiv Halamed Heh kibbutz.