Tel Beit Shemesh, nestled in the picturesque rolling hills southwest of Jerusalem, may seem only an unassuming hill by the highway. But it can tell a thousand ancient tales! Although its many remains have not been restored, the Bible is everywhere: From the mound you can see Zorah and Eshta’ol (ancient cities that are now a kibbutz and a moshav, respectively) between which Scripture’s muscleman, the tragic hero Samson, was born. The Valley of Sorek stretches before you, where Delilah, Samson’s mistress, lived (Judges 16:4). Here also lived the enticing young Philistine woman to whom Samson convinced his parents to arrange his marriage (Judges 14:1-7).
Tel Beit Shemesh straddles an important geographical line –– between the highlands of Judeah to the east and Philistine territory to the west. The Bible relates that the people of this city stood in the fields you can still see today, and glimpsed the Ark of the Covenant returning to them from disastrous Philistine captivity. Excavations have revealed remains going back to the Canaanites, the Philistines and the Israelites. One outstanding find, a massive wall, indicates that Judean kings understood it to be essential to the defense of their realm.
Tel Beit Shemesh is located east of road 38 opposite the modern town of the same name.