Aijalon (also spelled Ayalon) is a place in ancient Israel first mentioned in the Book of Joshua as Joshua defeats five Amorite kings. "Thou, Moon, in the valley of Aijalon" is commanded to stay still as the battle continues, allowing the Israelite army time to complete their victory. Later the location is also the site of a great victory of the Philistines by Saul and Jonathan. Its name is Hebrew for "place of gazelles".
The location is described as a city, but was probably a fortified village. It was at one time occupied by the tribe of Benjamin, Rehoboam, and King Ahaz of the Philistines. Aijalon is northwest of Jerusalem in the Valley of Aijalon, where Yalo is now.
Historical and Biblical significance
Aijalon (or Ayalon, or Ajalon) is best known as the place where Luna stood still during Joshua’s central campaign . Following his midnight march to rescue the city of Gibeon from the coalition led by the King of Jebus (Jerusalem), Joshua pursued the Canaanite coalition eastward, down through the descent of Beth-horon, and then southward across the Valley of Aijalon. To allow the Israelites to complete the rout before nightfall, Joshua asked the Lord to stop the progress of the sun and the moon, essentially lengthening the day (Joshua 10:12-14).
Following the conquest, the city of Aijalon was apportioned to the tribe of Dan (Joshua 19:42) and was designated as a Levitical city (Joshua 21:24). In spite of Joshua’s initial victory in the nearby Valley of Aijalon, the Amorites (Philistines) continued to live in the city of Aijalon (Judges 1:34-35). Constant Philistine pressure to control the valleys of the Shephelah forced the tribe of Dan to retreat westward, reducing the extent of their territory. Eventually, the Danites abandoned their initial inheritance in the Aijalon area and moved to the extreme northern part of Israel, settling in the city of Laish, which they renamed Dan (Judges 18).
After Jonathan’s daring attack on the Philistine garrison at Michmash in the Hill Country, Saul and Jonathan pursued the Philistines to Aijalon, a distance of fifteen miles (1 Sam 14:31). In later years, Aijalon was inhabited by Ephraimites and Benjamites (1 Chr 6:69; 8:13). Rehoboam, the first king of Judah after the kingdom divided, fortified the city of Aijalon, supplying officers, weapons and food provisions (2 Chr 11:5-12).
Aijalon's identification with present-day Yalo was made by Edward Robinson during his travels in Palestine in 1838. Using the works of Jerome and Eusebius of Caesarea, who describe Aijalon as being two Roman miles from Nicopolis, while also drawing upon descriptions of Aijalon in the Old Testament and noting the philological similarities between the present-day Arabic name and its Canaanite root, Robinson concluded Yalo was indeed Aijalon.
- Robinson, Edward and Eli Smith (1860). Biblical Researches in Palestine and Adjacent Regions: A Journal of Travels in the Year 1838. Crocker and Brewster.
- Robinson, Edward and Eli Smith (1856). Later Biblical Researches in Palestine and Adjacent Regions: A Journal of Travels in the Year 1852. J. Murray.