Valley of Rephaim Hike

On our hike, we went to the Valley of Rephaim. This valley is an emek, which is a wide plain which made it able for us to travel through it, unlike a narrow canyon. This valley functions as a route from Betar to Jerusalem.

The Valley of Rephaim, which was encompassed by Transjordan, is known in the Bible as a home for giants (Deuteronomy 2:11). These giants symbolized glory, but now extinct, have become powerless. By the time of Moses, only Og was left of them in the Transjordan (Deuteronomy 3:11). The departed dead from that region has made an impact making Rephaim became known as “spirits” (Psalm 88:11, Isaiah 26:14, Proverbs 2:18, 9:18).

fighting reenactments in the valley

Part of the border between Judah and Benjamin is at an area of the Valley of Rephaim where it makes contact with the Shoulder of the Hinnom Valley (Joshua 15:8, 18:16).

The Valley of Rephaim is also the location where the Philistines attacked twice after David became king of Israel in Jerusalem. The name “Baal Perazim” was given to this place because the Lord broke forth against David’s enemies, just like the parallel of the water/springs which means to “break forth” from the rock. These four springs in the Valley of Rephaim were: Ein Lavan, Ein Hinyeh, Ein Balad, and Ein Yael.

The Valley of Rephaim is also known in the Bible to be the place where three of the thirty chiefs came down to David to the rock at the cave of Adullam, while a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim (1 Chronicles 11:15-19, 2 Samuel 23:13).

Also in Isaiah 17:5 it talks about the Valley of Rephaim, “And it shall be as when the reaper gathers standing grain and his arm harvests the ears, and as when one gleans the ears of grain in the Valley of Rephaim. In 2 Samuel, Giloah, which is in the Valley of Rephaim, was the hometown of Ahithophel, a counselor to David who sided with Absalom in the revolt against David.

The Valley of Rephaim is mentioned in Song of Solomon as well. It says in the Song of Solomon 2:17, “Until the cool of the day when the shadows flee away, Turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of Bether.” For this passage, our group did a reenactment of the verse, one of the couples in our group, Joel and Jenn were the ones who did. Joel read the passage and describe our location while Jenn pranced in front of him on the mountains of Bether.

Bether, or Betar was the last holdout of Bar Kochva, who led the second revolt of the Jewish people against Rome in 132AD-135AD. We also hiked to Hushah, which is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 4:4 and is the name of a descendant of Judah and has preserved its named as a city near Bethlehem.

The last stop on our hike was another spring. But after viewing the spring, we built a fire and boiled hot water for coffee and tea. Bill then spoke about Psalm 48 and we sang songs in Hebrew.

bonfire, stories, and hot tea

During our hike, we had to memorize Psalm 48:1-8. This Psalm became so much more vivid as I traveled in the land of the same person who wrote it. The Psalmist declares how great God is and how greatly he is to be praised. Not only did the beautiful scenery of His creation declare His glory but the fact that He is the one true God. This is shown in the battle victories He gave David against the Philistines in the Valley of Rephaim.   God has made himself known as a fortress (Psalm 48:3). For all the kings of the world may come against Him, but just like He did in 2 Samuel, He will leave them trembling (Psalm 48:6). Great is the LORD, He will guide us forever!

"Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised in the city of our God!" -Psalm 48:1

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