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August 4    Scripture

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Bible Cities : Gaza
Ancient Gaza

Map of Ancient Gaza

THE CITY OF GAZA was situated in the south-west corner of Canaan, a few miles from the sea. It belonged originally to the Avim; afterwards to the Philistines (Deut. 2:23). It was assigned to the tribe of Judah by Joshua, but was not conquered by them. Samson carried away its gates, and afterwards perished here amid the ruins of the great temple which he destroyed. It formed a part of the kingdom of David and Solomon. It was strongly fortified, and withstood Alexander the Great in a siege of five months. The modern city lies a little beyond the ruins of the ancient place, and has a population of about 15,000 souls. - Ancient Geography

Gaza in Easton's Bible Dictionary called also Azzah, which is its Hebrew name (Deut. 2:23; 1 Kings 4:24; Jer. 25:20), strong, a city on the Mediterranean shore, remarkable for its early importance as the chief centre of a great commercial traffic with Egypt. It is one of the oldest cities of the world (Gen. 10:19; Josh. 15:47). Its earliest inhabitants were the Avims, who were conquered and displaced by the Caphtorims (Deut. 2:23; Josh. 13:2, 3), a Philistine tribe. In the division of the land it fell to the lot of Judah (Josh. 15:47; Judg. 1:18). It was the southernmost of the five great Philistine cities which gave each a golden emerod as a trespass-offering unto the Lord (1 Sam. 6:17). Its gates were carried away by Samson (Judg. 16:1-3). Here he was afterwards a prisoner, and "did grind in the prison house." Here he also pulled down the temple of Dagon, and slew "all the lords of the Philistines," himself also perishing in the ruin (Judg. 16:21-30). The prophets denounce the judgments of God against it (Jer. 25:20; 47:5; Amos 1:6, 7; Zeph. 2:4). It is referred to in Acts 8:26. Philip is here told to take the road from Jerusalem to Gaza (about 6 miles south-west of Jerusalem), "which is desert", i.e., the "desert road," probably by Hebron, through the desert hills of Southern Judea. (See SAMSON -T0003208.) It is noticed on monuments as early as B.C. 1600. Its small port is now called el-Mineh.

Gaza in Fausset's Bible Dictionary ("fortified".) One of the five Philistine cities, Mentioned in the first and latest books of Scripture, and even now exceeding Jerusalem in size. It is the most southwesterly town toward Egypt, and lay on the great route between Syria and that country, being in position and strength (as its name means) the key of the line of communication. It withstood Alexander's siege with all his resources for five months. It is called Azzah Genesis 10:19 margin; Deuteronomy 2:23; Jeremiah 25:20. Gaza was assigned by Joshua to Judah (Joshua 15:47), but not occupied until afterward (Judges 1:18; compare Joshua 10:41), the Anakims occupying it still (Joshua 11:22; Joshua 13:8). The Philistines soon recovered it (Judges 13:1; Judges 16:1-21), and there Samson perished while destroying his captors. Solomon ruled over it (1 Kings 4:24). Hezekiah gave the decisive blow to the Philistines, "even unto Gaza and the borders thereof, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city" (2 Kings 18:8). Amos (Amos 1:6) threatened from God. "for three transgressions of Gaza and for four (i.e. for sin multiplied on sin, Exodus 20:5; Proverbs 30:15. Three and four make seven, the number implying completion of the measure of guilt) I will not turn away the punishment thereof, because they carried away captive the whole captivity (i.e. they carried all away and left none; see 2 Chronicles 21:17; 2 Chronicles 28:18) to deliver them up to Edom (the Philistines of Gaza, instead of hospitably sheltering the Jewish refugees fleeing before Sennacherib and other Assyrian, invaders, sold them as captives to their bitter foes, the Edomites; compare Isaiah 16:4). But I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, which shall devour the palaces thereof." "Pharaoh" Necho fulfilled the prophecy on returning from slaying Josiah at Megiddo (2 Chronicles 35:20) (Grotius). Or "Pharaoh" Hophra, on his return from the unavailing attempt to save Jerusalem from Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 37:5; Jeremiah 37:7; Jeremiah 47:1) (Calvin) In Zephaniah 2:4 there is a play on like sounds; Gazah gazuwbah, "Gaza shall be forsaken." In Zechariah 9:5 "the king shall perish from Gaza," i.e., its Persian satrap, or petty "king," subordinate to the great king of Persia, shall perish, and it shall cease to have one. Alexander having taken the city, and slain 10,000 of its inhabitants, and sold the rest as slaves, bound Betis the satrap to a chariot by thongs thrust through his soles, and dragged him round the city, as Achilles did to Hector. In Acts 8:26, "go toward the S. unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza which (not Gaza, but which way) is desert," refers to the portion of the road between Eleutheropolis and Gaza, which is without villages and exposed to Bedouin marauders of the desert. The words "which is desert" are the angel's words (not Luke's), to inform Philip, then in Samaria, on what route he would find the eunuch, namely, on the S. route, thinly peopled, but favorable for chariots, Robinson (2:748) found an ancient road direct from Jerusalem to Gaza through the wady Musurr, now certainly without villages. The water in wady el Hasy was probably the scene of the eunuch's baptism. Once Gaza was the seat of a Christian church and bishop; but now of its 15,000 inhabitants only a few hundreds are Christians, the rest Muslims. The great mosque was formerly the church of John when Gaza was a Christian city. An extensive olive grove lies N. of the modern Ghuzzeh., from whence arises its manufacture and export of soap. Its trade in grain is considerable, and still is heard the "grinding" of grain with millstones such as Samson was forced to work with in his prison house at Gaza. The Tel el Muntar or "hill of the watchman," east of Gaza, is the hill to which Samson carried up the gates. It commands a lovely and striking view on every side.

Gaza in Hitchcock's Bible Names strong; a goat

Gaza in Naves Topical Bible 1. Also called AZZAH A city of the Philistines Jos 13:3; Jer 25:20 One of the border cities of the Canaanites Ge 10:19 A city of the Avim and Anakim De 2:23; Jos 11:22 Allotted to Judah Jos 15:47; Jud 1:18 A temple of Dagon, situated at Jud 16:23 Samson dies at Jud 16:21-31 On the western boundary of the kingdom of Israel in the time of Solomon 1Ki 4:24 Struck by Pharaoh Jer 47:1 Prophecies relating to Am 1:6,7; Zep 2:4; Zec 9:5 Desert of Ac 8:26-39 -2. A city of the tribe of Ephraim Jud 6:4; 1Ch 7:28

Gaza in Smiths Bible Dictionary (the fortified; the strong) (properly Azzah), one of the five chief cities of the Philistines. It is remarkable for its continuous existence and importance from the very earliest times. The secret of this unbroken history is to be found in the situation of Gaza. It is the last town in the southwest of Israel, on the frontier towards Egypt. The same peculiarity of situation has made Gaza important in a military sense. Its name means "the strong;" and this was well elucidated in its siege by Alexander the Great, which lasted five months. In the conquest of Joshua the territory of Gaza is mentioned as one which he was not able to subdue. Jos 10:41; 11:22; 13:3 It was assigned to the tribe of Judah, Jos 15:47 and that tribe did obtain possession of it, Jud 1:18 but did not hold it long, Jud 3:3; 13:1 and apparently it continued through the time of Samuel, Saul and David to be a Philistine city. 1Sam 6:17; 14:52; 31:1; 2Sam 21:15 Solomon became master of "Azzah," 1Ki 4:24 but in after times the same trouble with the Philistines recurred. 2Ch 21:16; 26:6; 28:18 The passage where Gaza is mentioned in the New Testament Ac 8:26 is full of interest. It is the account of the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch on his return from Jerusalem to Egypt. Gaza is the modern Ghuzzeh, a Mohammedan town of about 16,000 inhabitants, situated partly on an oblong hill of moderate height and partly on the lower ground. The climate of the place is almost tropical, but it has deep wells of excellent water. There are a few palm trees in the town, and its fruit orchards are very productive; but the chief feature of the neighborhood is the wide-spread olive grove to the north and northeast

Gaza in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE ga'-za (`azzah, "strong"; Septuagint Gaza; Arabic Ghazzeh): One of the five chief towns of Philistia and probably the oldest, situated near the coast in lat. 31 degrees 30' and about 40 miles South of Jaffa. It is on a hill rising 60 to 200 ft. above the plain, with sand dunes between it and the sea, which is about 2 1/2 miles distant. The plain around is fertile and wells abound, and, being on the border of the desert between Syria and Egypt and lying in the track of caravans and armies passing from one to the other, it was in ancient times a place of importance. The earliest notices of it are found in the records of Egypt. Thothmes III refers to it in the account of his expedition to Syria in 1479 BC, and it occurs again in the records of the expedition of Seti I in 1313 BC (Breasted, History of Egypt, 285, 409). It occurs also in the early catalogue of cities and tribes inhabiting Canaan in the earliest times (Gen 10:19). Joshua reached it in his conquests but did not take it (Josh 10:41; 11:22). Judah captured it (Jdg 1:18) but did not hold it long, for we find it in the hands of the Philistines in the days of Samson, whose exploits have rendered it noteworthy (16:1- 3,11,30). The hill to which he carried off the gate of the city was probably the one now called el-Muntar ("watch- tower"), which lies Southeast of the city and may be referred to in 2 Ki 18:8, "from the tower of the watchmen to the fortified city," Gaza, with the other chief towns, sent a trespass offering to Yahweh when the ark was returned (1 Sam 6:17). Hezekiah defeated and pursued the Philistines to Gaza, but does not seem to have captured it. It was taken by Sargon in 720 BC, in his war with Egypt, since Khanun, the king of Gaza, joined the Egyptians and was captured at the battle of Raphia (Rawlinson, Ancient Monarchies, II, 142). It was probably destroyed (see Am 1:7). It was certainly dismantled by Alexander the Great in 332, when it dared to resist him. It was then exceedingly strong, verifying its name, and was most bravely defended, so that it took Alexander two months to reduce it. He put to death all the men and sold the women and children as slaves (Grote, History of Greece, XI, 467 ff). It was restored, however, and we learn that Jonathan forced it to submit to him (Josephus, Ant, XIII, v, 5; 1 Macc 11:62), and Alexander Janneus took it and massacred the inhabitants who escaped the horrors of the siege (Josephus, Ant, XIII, xiii, 3). Pompey restored the freedom of Gaza (ibid., XIV, iv, 4), and Gabinius rebuilt it in 57 BC (ibid., XIV, v, 3). Gaza is mentioned only once in the New Testament (Acts 8:26), in the account of Philip and the eunuch. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, it became a center of Greek commerce and culture, and pagan influence was strong, while the church rounded there was struggling for existence. Many martyrs there testified to the faith, until finally, under Theodosius, Christianity gained the supremacy (HGHL, 12th edition, 188). It fell into the hands of the Arabs in 634 AD, and became and has remained a Moslem city since the days of Saladin, who recovered it from the Crusaders in 1187, after the battle of Hattin. It is now a city of some 20,000 inhabitants, among whom are a few hundred Christians.

Gaza Scripture - 1 Chronicles 7:28 And their possessions and habitations [were], Bethel and the towns thereof, and eastward Naaran, and westward Gezer, with the towns thereof; Shechem also and the towns thereof, unto Gaza and the towns thereof:

Gaza Scripture - 1 Samuel 6:17 And these [are] the golden emerods which the Philistines returned [for] a trespass offering unto the LORD; for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Askelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one;

Gaza Scripture - 2 Kings 18:8 He smote the Philistines, [even] unto Gaza, and the borders thereof, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.

Gaza Scripture - Acts 8:26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.

Gaza Scripture - Amos 1:6 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not turn away [the punishment] thereof; because they carried away captive the whole captivity, to deliver [them] up to Edom:

Gaza Scripture - Amos 1:7 But I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, which shall devour the palaces thereof:

Gaza Scripture - Genesis 10:19 And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha.

Gaza Scripture - Jeremiah 47:1 The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Philistines, before that Pharaoh smote Gaza.

Gaza Scripture - Jeremiah 47:5 Baldness is come upon Gaza; Ashkelon is cut off [with] the remnant of their valley: how long wilt thou cut thyself?

Gaza Scripture - Joshua 10:41 And Joshua smote them from Kadeshbarnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon.

Gaza Scripture - Joshua 11:22 There was none of the Anakims left in the land of the children of Israel: only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod, there remained.

Gaza Scripture - Joshua 15:47 Ashdod with her towns and her villages, Gaza with her towns and her villages, unto the river of Egypt, and the great sea, and the border [thereof]:

Gaza Scripture - Judges 16:1 Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.

Gaza Scripture - Judges 16:21 But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.

Gaza Scripture - Judges 1:18 Also Judah took Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof.

Gaza Scripture - Judges 6:4 And they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, till thou come unto Gaza, and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass.

Gaza Scripture - Zechariah 9:5 Ashkelon shall see [it], and fear; Gaza also [shall see it], and be very sorrowful, and Ekron; for her expectation shall be ashamed; and the king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon shall not be inhabited.

Gaza Scripture - Zephaniah 2:4 For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation: they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day, and Ekron shall be rooted up.