Map of Ancient Israel
Cities of Ancient Israel





Gazara

B10 on the Map

(Gezer).  Tell. Jezer. Greek form of name `Gezer'; 1 Macc. 4:15; stronghold of Simon Maccabeus, 13:43 ff. Gezer was an ancient city on the Shephelah above the Maritime Plain, 18 miles NW of Jerusalem and 17 miles SE of Jaffa (2 Sam 5:25; 1 Chron 14:16). The site was strategic since it guarded one of the few roads of access from Jaffa to Jerusalem.


Tell Jezer is the name of the 33 acre mound. Joshua could not conquer the city at the time of the Hebrew conquest, and it remained relatively independent until a pharaoh in Solomon's time gave it to Solomon as dowry when he married the pharaoh's daughter (1 Kings 9:15-17). It then became one of Solomon's chariot cities.


Excavations have shown that Gezer was first occupied in the 33rd century BC and continued to be inhabited until the late 1st century BC. The city had a high point of development between 1600 and 1460 B.C. Prosperity and massive building projects were characteristic of this period. A stone wall 10 feet thick and reinforced with square towers surrounded the city. The great high place with its row of 10 huge sacred pillars came early in this period. The water system consisted of a vertical shaft 27 feet deep, which could be entered from just inside the city's S gate. At the bottom of the shaft was a tunnel that extended 132 feet to a 28- by 80-foot cave of unknown depth.


Thutmose III of Egypt destroyed Gezer about 1468 BC, and it lay in ruins for decades thereafter. Then it revived but was destroyed again late in the 13th century by the Egyptian pharaoh Merneptah. Abandoned for a time again, it was occupied peacefully by the Philistines during the 12th and 11th centuries. Then about 950 an Egyptian pharaoh captured it and presented it to Solomon, after which the city entered another period of prosperity. A casemated wall and a Solomonic gate like that of Megiddo were found at Gezer.


The excavators found traces of the destruction by Pharaoh Shishak in 926 B.C., the Assyrians in the 8th century, and Nebuchadnezzar in the 6th century. The city became important again during the Hellenistic period, and it was a major base of operations against the Maccabean revolt. The town virtually ceased to exist by NT times.


The Gezer calendar, a tenth-century B.C. Heb. inscription citing the annual cycle of agricultural activities, was found there. Albright translated it as follows: His (or, a man's) two months are (olive)harvest; His two months are grain planting; His two months are planting; His month is hoeing up of flax; His month is barley harvest; His month is harvest and festival; His two months are vine tending; His month is summer fruit.




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