AIJALON (Ayyalon) (Heb. אַיָּלוֹן; "place of deer"). (1) City situated in a broad valley (valley of Aijalon) which is one of the approaches to the Judean Hills. Volcanic activity occurring in the area in the latest geological period left some basalt traces and the hot springs found at *Emmaus in ancient times. Potsherds found on a large tell, about 3 mi. (5 km.) north of Babal-Wad, show continuous occupation from the Late Bronze Age onward. The village of Yalu is built on the tell.
The El-Amarna letters indicate that the region was included within the kingdom of Gezer in the 15th and 14th centuries, B.C.E. This kingdom was on hostile terms with Jerusalem, whose ruler Puti-Hepa complained that his caravans were being robbed in the valley of Aijalon ("Yaluna," EA, 287). In a letter to Amenhotep IV (EA, 273), the queen of the city of Zaphon (?) reports that the Habiru attacked the two sons of Milkilu, king of Gezer, in Ayaluna (Aijalon) and in Ṣarha
In 637 C.E., Aijalon was the headquarters of the Arab armies which suffered heavily at Emmaus. The region was badly damaged in an 11th-century earthquake. During the Crusades it was once again a battlefield and a fort was built there by the Crusaders (today *Latrun). It was also a scene of fighting during Allenby's campaign in 1917 and in the War of Independence (1948) a prolonged battle was fought in the region over the roads leading to Jerusalem. After the War of Independence, a few Israeli settlements were established in the region. These were considered border settlements, and during the 1950s they were under terrorist attack. In 1967 the whole area was occupied by the Israel Defense Forces, and the Arab inhabitants fled to Ramallah. In 1976 a large park was established on the deserted land of the Arab villages.
(2) Town in the territory of Zebulun where the judge, Elon, was buried (Judg. 12:12). Its location is unknown.
G.A. Smith, Historical Geography of the Holy Land (193125), 210–14, 250 ff.; Abel, Geog, 1 (1933), 399; 2 (1938), 240 ff.; Aharoni, Land, index; EM, S.V.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.