Eilat (Eloth)

   Eilat is the southern resort and port city in Israel. Nearby, on the Jordanian side, was the location of Eloth, a major ancient city for 3,000 years, which included King Solomon's sea port of Etzion-Geber.

 

City of Eilat - view towards west

 

1 Kings 9 26: "And king Solomon made a navy of ships in Eziongeber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red sea, in the land of Edom"

 

 

Home > Sites > Negev > Eilat (Eloth)

 

 

 

 

 

Contents:

Background

History

Location

Photos

* The City

* Umm Rash-Rash

* Eilat Mountains

* Flamingo

Biblical

Etymology

Links

Background:

 

   Eilat, the southern modern city of Israel, is a favorite holiday resort.  Eilat was an important city for the past 3,000 years due to its  access to the red sea, its location on the major trade routes, and being a border city. Its ruins are located on the shores of the neighboring Jordanian city of Aqaba.

   In ancient times its nearby port, called Etzion-Geber, was the base of the fleet of King Solomon and the Judah Kings, who traded with Ophir.

  

History highlights:

 

Over 3,000 years of history -

 

Year Period Event
~1250 BC Iron Age Moses and the Israelites passed Eilat and Etzion-Geber on their 40 years of wandering  (Biblical ref)
  ~950 BC Solomon made Etzion-Geber and Eilat a sea port  (Biblical ref)
  870BC King Jehoshaphat continues with the marine trade through Eilat (Biblical ref)
   760BC   King Uzziah returned Eilat back to Judah's control (Biblical ref)
   730BC   King Ahaz, the grandson of Uzziah, lost the city to Aram (Biblical ref)
  2nd C BC Greek Known as Berenice (Historical ref)
  late 1st C AD Roman Roman X Legion base on the border of the territory; called: Ailae - Prefefectus legioni decimae Fretensis
      An important border city; Known as Aelana or Ailae
  4th C AD   In Peutinger Roman map - listed as Haila
  4th-6th C Byzantine A large Byzantine city
  630AD Arabs Eilat falls to the Arabs, is spared but pays heavy tax
  632   Arab conquest and reconstruction; the city is called Aila or Ayla
  1116 Crusaders King Baldwin I arrives in Eilat and fortify it (calling it Helim - another form)
  1171   Crusaders lost the city to Saladin forces
  1182   Crusaders re-conquer and fortify the city
  1187   Saladin retakes the city;
      The city is relocated and a new fortress is built and called Aqaba-Aila
  13-15th C Mamlukes Under Mamlukes control, Aqaba-Aila continues to be an important city
  16th-19th C Ottoman Aqaba is a small Ottoman fishermen village
  1917 British "Lawrence of Arabia" takes Aqaba from the Ottomans (a famous movie scene)
  1920   British police station in Umm-RashRash, on the north-western side of the bay
  1932, 38-39   Archaeological excavations in Tell Halifa, east of the border, reveal ancient Etzion-Geber site
  1949 Israel Israeli forces take Umm-RashRash, increase the size of new state of Israel; Aqaba is part of Jordan
  1950   New city of Eilat is established on the Israeli side
  1955   Port of Eilat starts operation
  1956   Sinai war operations
  1959   Eilat declared a city

 

Location:

  

   Eilat is located on the south corner of Israel, bordering two countries - Jordan on the east and Egypt on the south and the west. An aerial photo of the bay of Eilat and the area around the city is seen below.

You can point & click on the purple points to navigate to the selected point.

 

 

Eilat in the Peutinger Map:

 

   The Peutinger Map (Tabula Peutingeriana) is a medieval map which was based on a 4th C Roman military road map. The map shows the major roads, with indication of the cities, and geographic highlights (lakes, rivers, mountains, seas). The roads are shown as brown lines between the cities and stations. Along the links are  stations and distance in Roman miles (about 1.5KM per mile).

 

 In the section shown on the right is the area of Eilat, drawn in a rotated direction (Egypt on the left, the Mediterranean sea on the top, and Jordan on the bottom). Eilat is marked as "Haila", and three roads pass here - to Jerusalem (to the right), through Petra to Damascus (bottom), and to Egypt via Mount Sinai (to the left). Sinai desert is marked as the place where the Israelites wandered 40 years, and Mount Sinai as the place where they accepted the laws of Israel.

 

  

 

 

Photos:

Photos in the first section by Uncle Amnon

 

 

(a) The City ("New Eilat")

  

  The modern city of Eilat (established in 1950)  is located on the north-west side of the Bay of Eilat. Its major income is based on tourism, and its fine hotels offer year round sunshine and beach access. The photo below shows a view of the beach, hotels on the right, the residential section on the left (west), and the colorful mountains in the background.

 

 Click on the photos to view in higher resolution...

City of Eilat - view towards west

 

  The Bay of Eilat and the Red Sea is seen in photo below. The city across the bay is Aqaba, the port city of Jordan and the location of the ancient city of Eloth and its port Etzion-Geber.

 

Eilat - view of the bay of Eilat/Aqaba

 

   Along the beach of Eilat is the modern port. On the south side of the port, closer to the Egyptian border, are several tourist attractions - a nature reserve of the coral reef,  the underwater Observatory marine park, and the Dolphin reef park.

 

Eilat - coral reef

 

Along Eilat's beach is a long boardwalk, as seen below.

 

Eilat - the beach boardwalk

 

(b) Umm Rash-Rash

 

  Umm Rash-Rash was a small British police station that operated on the north-west side of the bay during the years 1940-1948.  On March 10, 1949 the Israeli forces reached the station and raised the Israeli flag, establishing the Israeli control over the south most city in Israel. The soldiers arrived here after traveling the desert from Beersheba in the last military operation of the Israeli Independence war.

   The photo below shows the monument of the famous flag raising. The city was established a year later in the area around the police station.

 

Umm Rash-Rash and the ink flag

 

   Another view of the flag raising monument. Behind it is one of the original mud houses which was part of the British police station. The soldiers raised a makeshift Israeli flag, prepared from a shirt and ink, since they reached the site without a formal flag. The "ink flag" is a famous landmark and could be regarded as the cornerstone event of the modern city.

 

Umm Rash-Rash and the ink flag

 

(c) Eilat Mountains

  

   After climbing up the western mountains, the road leads along the Egyptian border towards north. Along the road are different rock formations and color, belonging to various geological periods.

   In the photo below an Ibex mountain goat (Ya'el) is seen crossing the road.

 

Eilat mountain road

 

   A male Ibex, accompanied by two females,  is seen below. As in Psalms 104:18: "High mountains for ibex and rocks to shelter hyrax"

 

Eilat mountains - Ibex

 

Another view of the Ibex mountain goat.

 

Eilat mountains - Ibex

 

You can explore the mountain area by joining a jeep tour or ride on camels.

 

Eilat mountains - camel rides

 

(d) Flamingo - bird watch

 

  Eilat and the Arava are one of the two major migration paths for birds between Europe and Africa. North of Eilat, just after the customs checkpoint, is a detour to the salt pools. This is a unique viewpoint for a flock of several hundred Flamingos who spend here the winter time.

   The mountains in the photo below, behind the pools, are the Edom mountains of Jordan. The vast valley - Arava -  is the path of the Israelite exodus (Deuteronomy 2 8: "through the way of the plain from Elath").

 

Eilat: Flamingo

 

 

Biblical sources:

 

(a) Deuteronomy 2, 8

 

The Israelites passed near  Eilat during the Exodus from Egypt:

 

"And when we passed by from our brethren the children of Esau, which dwelt in Seir, through the way of the plain from Elath, and from Eziongaber, we turned and passed by the way of the wilderness of Moab".

 

(b) 1 Kings 9 26-28, 10: 22

 

   King Solomon (~968-928BC) made Eilat and the city of Ezion-Geber a major port, and established maritime commerce with Ophir and Tharshish.

 

   "And king Solomon made a navy of ships in Eziongeber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red sea, in the land of Edom.  And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon. And they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to king Solomon".

 

   "For the king had at sea a navy of Tharshish with the navy of Hiram: once in three years came the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks".

 

(c) 1 Kings 22 49-50

 

King Jehoshaphat (~870 BC) continued to use the port of Etzion-Geber in the bay of Eilat  for maritime commerce:

 

   "Jehoshaphat made ships of Tharshish to go to Ophir for gold: but they went not; for the ships were broken at Eziongeber. Then said Ahaziah the son of Ahab unto Jehoshaphat, Let my servants go with thy servants in the ships. But Jehoshaphat would not.".

 

(d) 2 Chronicles 26 2

 

Uzziah (760 BC) returned Eilat back to Judah's control:

 

"Then all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in the room of his father Amaziah. He built Eloth, and restored it to Judah."

 

(e) 2 Kings 16 6

 

Ahaz (730BC), the grandson of Uzziah, lost the city to Aram:

 

"At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, and drave the Jews from Elath: and the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there unto this day".

 

Historical sources:

 

(a) Josephus Flavius - Antiquities VIII 6  4

 

The historian describes the site of Solomon's port, calling it "Berenice":

 

"Moreover, the king built many ships in the Egyptian Bay of the Red Sea, in a certain place called Ezion-geber: it is now called Berenice, and is not far from the city Eloth"

 

(b) Josephus Flavius - Antiquities IX 12  1

 

The historian describes the fall of Eloth to Aram during the time of Ahaz (730BC):

 

"...and when the king of Syria had taken the city Elath, upon the Red Sea, and had slain the inhabitants, he peopled it with Syrians; and when he had slain those in the [other] garrisons, and the Jews in their neighborhood, and had driven away much prey, he returned with his army back to Damascus".

Etymology (behind the name):

 

  • Eilat - the name of the Biblical city may have been based on the Pistacia (Hebrew: Ella) tree. It is mentioned in several Biblical sources.
  • Eloth, Elath - other versions of the name

 

  • Etzion-Geber  or just Etzion- The name of the ancient sea port near Eilat. Its meaning is not clear but may be based on the following words: Etzion - may mean "city"; Gever - In Hebrew means "Man" or "Rooster".

 

  • Aqaba (Akaba) - the Jordanian city, established by the Malukes near the ancient city of Eloth. It is a short form of Aqabah El Aila - Arabic for the "hillside of Eilat".

 

  • Umm Rash-Rash - unknown source. Umm is "Mother" in Arabic.

 

Links:

 

Eilat attractions:

 

 

 

  • Kings city - Biblical theme park

 

 

Nearby BibleWalks sites:

 

    * Timna Park     * Solomon's Pillars    * Yotvata

 

BibleWalks.com - walk with us through the sites of the Holy Land

 

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