Southern Arabah Valley

Throughout ancient times the southern extreme of the Arabah Valley was–and still is–a very desolate region, yet this land was home to two extremely productive wealth generators for King Solomon’s lucrative domain. Solomon had inherited the southern Arabah from his father David, who had subdued Edom during his reign and gained control over the region (2 Samuel 8:13-14). Solomon then capitalized on his unfettered access to the Red Sea by launching a fleet of trading ships from Ezion-geber. These ships would return every few years loaded with immense riches and exotic goods from faraway lands (1 Kings 9:26-28; 2 Chronicles 8:17-18; 9:21). Later King Jehoshaphat attempted to do the same, but his ships met with disaster before they were ever able to set sail (1 Kings 22:48-49; 2 Chronicles 20:35-37). Likewise, recent archaeology has concluded that the great copper mines of Timna, located about 17 miles (28 km) north of the Red Sea, likely produced vast wealth for Solomon during his long reign. Originally controlled and worked by Egypt for over a thousand years, this sprawling mining center eventually came under the control of Solomon, who also controlled the highly productive copper mines at Punon further north in the Arabah. Over 10,000 mine shafts and tunnels have been found throughout the Timna region, and research suggests that Solomon’s reign marked the peak era of Timna’s productivity. While the mines were still under Egyptian control a temple was built on the site to honor Hathor, the Egyptian goddess of love and patron goddess of miners. Timna has also been suggested as a possible location where the Israelites crossed the Red Sea immediately after their exodus from Egypt.

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