This morning we began our adventure near Kiriath Jearim, where the Ark of the Covenant was returned to the Israelites by the Philistines. We learned about how the Lord demonstrated his own trustworthiness through the people’s most basic needs: food, living water, shelter, and protection. Each of the major products of the land—wheat, barley, pomegranates, figs, dates, grapes, and olives—told a story of God’s goodness and blessing, if only his people would trust him.
The biblical city of Kiriath Jearim is best known for the house of Abinadab which held the Ark of the Covenant from the time of Samuel until the time of David (about 120 years). Kiriath Jearim was originally a Gibeonite city that fell within the tribal territory of Judah near the borders of Benjamin and Dan. The prophet Uriah, a contemporary of Jeremiah, was from Kiriath Jearim.
We also went into an underground cistern in Samson’s hometown of Beth Shemesh. We were reminded that we sometimes choose to carve cisterns of stagnant water for ourselves rather than receiving true life-giving Water, as the Lord charged his people in Jeremiah 2: 12-13: “Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. “
A border city between Judah and Dan, Beth Shemesh was given to the Levites. Beth Shemesh was the most important Israelite city in the Sorek Valley as it watched both east-west traffic through the Sorek Valley and north-south traffic along the “Diagonal Route.” Recent excavations have shown a thriving city here from the Middle Bronze Age through the Iron II period.
On the Tel of Azekah, we looked over the battlefield where David’s courage in the Lord defeated the threat of Goliath and the Philistines. Then we headed south to Tel Arad in the Negev Desert, where we sat under a tamarisk tree and looked over the landscape that Abraham would have gazed upon 4,000 years ago. In every aspect--the land, the seasons, the water—God has taught his people that we can walk by faith because he alone is faithful.
Tel Azekah and Elah Valley
The Brook Elah is famous for the five stones it contributed to the young slinger, David. Some surmise that David chose five stones instead of the one needed in case he needed to face Goliath’s four brothers.
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