Looking at biblically-themed art or watching biblically-themed movies, one has to assume most of ancient Israel’s territory was desert. This is simply not true of a land of “milk and honey” – two products that require vegetation.
One example of geographical misinformation is in depictions of David and Goliath. The text of 1 Samuel gives a precise description of the location.
“The Philistines gathered their armies for battle. And they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered, and encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in line of battle against the Philistines. And the Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them.” (1 Samuel 17:1-3, ESV)
Here are some popular depictions of the Valley of Elah location.
Here is the actual location described in 1 Samuel 17:
Why is David v. Goliath portrayed in a desert instead of a green, fertile valley? Perhaps a) the producers/artists have never visited the Land or performed due diligence, or quite possibly b) the barrenness of the desert is believed to carry some artistic value. Maybe c) it’s just cheaper to animate/film in a desert. In any case, many modern media types just ignore the rich and detailed geographical setting.
Legends, tall tales and myths tend to sensationalize or ignore geographical details. When one looks at the Bible’s geography, the text consistently fits the reality. The Bible’s geographical details are impressive and undeniably real throughout its pages.
A visit to the Bible Lands permits us to visualize the events we read about. We literally “walk where they walked” and see the same hills, valleys, lakes, shores, (and in some areas… yes, deserts) featured throughout the Bible. Here is a nice 10-minute video showing the impressive geographical diversity within ancient Israel’s borders.