Emek Ha’Ela (Ela Valley) lies along Route 375 – near its junction with Road 38. (Ela being a Terebinth or Oak.)
A quick perusal of Samuel 17 will remind us that this was the scene of the battle of David and Goliath. Saul and his army were camped here and Goliath the giant challenged them daily to a one on one combat to settle the battle with the Philistines. David was the youngest of Jesse’s sons and was sent to check up on his brothers. He took up the challenge that had been refused by all of Saul’s army, found the armour to be too heavy and instead fought with a sling and shot and invoked the name of the L-rd and triumphed over Goliath. This became the definitive triumph of the principled and G-d fearing underdog over the bully.
Tel Socho – Turmus (Lupin) Hill
David married Saul’s daughter Michal and became a member of Saul’s court and close friend of Saul’s son Jonathan. In time he succeeded Saul – see more of David’s story in our article on Mt Zion.
There is nothing left to recall the battle today, but, there are some stunning views and if you go the top of Tel Sokka (Tel Sacha) and read the 1 Samuel 17 out loud it will do its magic.
About 2.5Km after Ela Junction along road 38 on the right there is an entrance to a dirt track that leads to Tel Sokka. The opposing army stood on the top of Tel Azka (on road 38 at Azka Junction and then in to Park Britannia)
Tel Socho is famous in Israel for the dramatic blossoming of the Turmus (Lupin) flowers in late winter and early spring. See the Turrmus (Lupin) Hill album.
Netiv HaLemed He
Further east along Road 375 you will find a more modern story of heroism, although unfortunately in this case the weak did not triumph.
Kibbutz Netiv HaLamed He (The Way of the 35) was established in 1949 and honours the 35 soldiers who in January 1948 undertook a forced march from the Bet Shemesh area to try and relieve the siege in Gush Etzion. They were spotted by some of the locals (one version is a shepherd whom they spared warned to Arabs.) They fought to the last man. Ultimately Gush Etzion fell and was not recaptured until the Six Day War of 1967. A couple of memorials commemorate their bravery. You can listen to an informative sound track as you enjoy the views.
Along Road 38 you will find the entrance to Park Britannia (Britain Park) – a pleasant place to relax. Follow the signs for Massua and enjoy the view. As mentioned Tel Azka is located within the park. There are many picnic and playground spots definitely a place to unwind and let everybody run around.
Getting to Emek Ha’Ela
From Road 38 turn east at Ha’Ela Junction on to road 375 which leads to the Jerusalem Hills and is a scenic route in its own right. This is Emek Ha’Ela or the Ela Valley.