David’s character is quite controversial. The Bible describes him as a hero and savior in the battle against Goliath, but later as a bandit and a mad man. He is the founder of a kingdom but does not hesitate to kill one of his loyal officers to covet his wife.
This special private tour will follow some of the sites that relate to the formative events that led David from shepherd to king.
The Battle Site of David and Goliath
The Book of Samuel presents the Philistines as more advanced than the Israelites. They were more organized and better armed with metal weapons. It is no surprise the Philistines even captured the Ark of the Covenant in one of the battles against the Israelites.
A pivotal moment in the balance between the two powers took place in the Shephelah during a battle. A young shepherd of the tribe of Judah slew, with just a sling, the mightiest Philistine warrior. His name was David.
Our tour will begin with a drive into the Shephelah, and a review of the battle site from the top of Azekah. We will also drive down to the brook, and try and trace pebbles like the ones David used.
Where David Drooled at Gath
David’s triumph saved the Israelites, but it made King Saul envious. David had to flee, and surprisingly he turned to the enemy, Achish King of Gath. Drooling at the gate his city, David hoped Achish would think he had gone mad, and would let him in.
Biblical Gath was identified only in the 1990’s and has been excavated in the last 20 years by an expedition from Bar-Ilan University. Recently, archaeologist uncovered the foundations of the city’s lower gate. Could this be the place where David acted like a mad man? We will visit the site and review the finds.
The Elusive Site of Ziklag
Eventually Achish gave David, and his people, a village in his territory called Ziklag. David used Ziklag as a base for raiding neighboring tribes, such as the Amalekites.
Ziklag is also where David heard of Saul’s death in a battle against the Philistines in Gilboa. In response, David expressed a beautiful lamentation, recited by some in funerals to this day. Soon after, David took the throne, moved to Hevron, united all the tribes under his control, and eventually established a new capital – Jerusalem.
The location of Biblical Ziklag is uncertain. Several offers were made in the past, but none were convincing enough. Recently a team excavating in the southern part of the Shephelah uncovered a site that bears levels of use both from the time of the Philistines, and the time of King David. Being so, they suggest this site could be the elusive site of Ziklag.
We will reach this new and intriguing site with off-road vehicles, review its finds, and discuss their meaning.
A gazelle lies slain on your heights, Israel.
How the mighty have fallen!
Tell it not in Gath,
proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon,
lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad
lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice.
Is this the very spot where this lamentation was said?