Biblical Geography and History

By Charles Foster Kent | Go to book overview
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XVI
THE SCENES OF DAVID'S EXPLOITS

David's Home at Bethlehem . The history of the united Hebrew empire gathers about the personality of its founder, David. The life of no other Old Testament character is recorded with greater detail and picturesqueness than that of the shepherd boy from Bethlehem. His native town was beautifully situated on a spur that ran eastward from the watershed of central Judah.(86) It is surrounded on three sides by deep valleys and looks eastward down upon the wilderness of Judea. About it are fields of wheat and barley and on the hillsides are vineyards and groves of olive and almond trees, for it is one of the two most fertile spots in the entire territory of Judah.(23) There are no springs in the village itself, the nearest being about eight hundred yards to the southeast. The inhabitants are dependent upon rock-cut wells or cisterns, of which there are many, or upon the water conducted by an aqueduct from the Pools of Solomon to the southwest. The territory about Bethlehem is pre-eminently the land of the shepherd.(87) The traveller today sees almost no cattle or large animals. Their absence is probably due to the limited supply of water and to the frequent outcrops of gray limestone, which make travelling dangerous for cattle and horses. The landscape is dotted with flocks of sheep and goats. The rocky pastures run up to the outskirts of Bethlehem, which appears to have been in ancient times simply a shepherd's village.

The Contest in the Valley of Elah . Bethlehem lies only ten miles south in a straight line from Saul's capital at Gibeah. Hence the journey of the messenger who summoned David to

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