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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary


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("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.

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Gaza'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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