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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible
VALE, VALLEY . ‘Vale’ is found in AV [Note: Authorized Version.] as the tr. [Note: translate or translation.] of two Heb. words ‘Ã§meq and shephÃ§lah; ‘valley’ represents five Heb. words, biq‘ah , gai ’, nachal , ‘Ã§meq , shephÃ§lah , and the Gr. phara [ n ] gx . For shephÃ§lah (a low-lying tract of ground) and biq‘ah (a broad plain) see art. Plain, and for nachal (wady) see art. Brook.
1. The word gai ’ (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] and RV [Note: Revised Version.] always ‘valley’) refers to a narrow gorge, a glen or ravine . A considerable number of such are named in the OT, e.g . the valley of Hinnom, beside Jerusalem; of Iphtah-el, between Zebulun and Asher; of Zeboim, S.E. of Gibeah; of Salt, etc., while several other valleys are mentioned without a special name being attached to them.
The reference in Psalms 23:4 to the ‘valley of the shadow of death’ may be simply figurative of a place of peril and loneliness, or, as Gunkel holds, the place through which the ancient Hebrews supposed the soul had to pass on the way to the under world.
In the Apocrypha, ‘valley’ is the translation of phara [ n ] gx and aulÃ´n , the former appearing in the NT ( Luke 3:5 ).
2. The word ‘Ã§meq (generally tr. [Note: translate or translation.] ‘valley’ but ‘vale’ in AV [Note: Authorized Version.] of Genesis 14:3; Genesis 14:8; Genesis 14:10; Genesis 37:14 and also in RV [Note: Revised Version.] of Genesis 14:17 , Joshua 8:13; Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:15 , 1Sa 17:2; 1 Samuel 17:19; 1 Samuel 21:8 ) means literally depression , and is ‘a highlander’s word for a valley as he looks down into it, and is applied to wide avenues running up into a mountainous country like the Vale of Elah, the Vale of Hebron, and the Vale of Aijalon’ ( HGHL [Note: GHL Historical Geography of Holy Land.] 384). Thus the ‘Ã§meq is broader than a gai ’ and not so broad or extensive as a biq‘ah (plain). A considerable number of vales are mentioned in the OT, e.g . of Siddim, of Shaveh, of Hebron, of Achor, of Aijalon, etc.
Other vales are mentioned without special names being attached to them. The fertility of the vale (1 Samuel 6:13 , Isaiah 17:5 ) and its suitability for cavalry operations ( e.g . Joshua 17:16 , Judges 1:18; Judges 1:34 etc.) are frequently referred to.
W. F. Boyd.
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Hastings, James. Entry for 'Vale, Valley'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdb/v/vale-valley.html. 1909.