Tel Azekah is a five-acre site overlooking the Valley of Elah. The Judea Mountains stand to the east. The Mediterranean Sea, located about twelve miles to the west, can be seen from the tel.
Archaeologists have identified at least four levels of civilization in the tel. Significant finds include a large fortress possibly from the time of Rehoboam (920 BC), an olive oil production facility, and an extensive cistern system.
Located in the Shephelah, Azekah guarded an important gateway to the mountains. The Valley of Elah provided access to Bethlehem?a mere twelve miles away?and Jerusalem. For that reason, the Philistines and other pagan cultures often tried to capture and hold Azekah.
Even the great empires of the east, Babylon and Assyria, used the Valley of Elah to enter the Shephelah. After traveling down the coastal plain and into the valley, Assyrian King Sennacherib destroyed Azekah. Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar also destroyed the city on his way to Jerusalem in 587 BC.
The valley of Elah, which lies below Azekah, was the site of the battle between David and Goliath (1 Sam. 17). The Philistine army was camped near Azekah, while the Israelites were on the other side of the valley.
Download the PDF