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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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GATH . A city of the Philistine Pentapolis. It is mentioned in Joshua 11:22 as a place where the Anakim took refuge; but Joshua is significantly silent about the apportioning of the city to any of the tribes. The ark was brought here from Ashdod ( 1 Samuel 5:8 ), and thence to Ekron ( 1 Samuel 5:10 ). It was the home of Goliath ( 1 Samuel 17:4 , 2 Samuel 21:19 ), and after the rout of the Philistines at Ephes-dammim it was the limit of their pursuit ( 1 Samuel 17:52 [LXX [Note: Septuagint.] ]). David during his outlawry took refuge with its king. Achish ( 1 Samuel 21:10 ). A bodyguard of Gittites was attached to David’s person under the leadership of a certain Ittai; these remained faithful to the king after the revolt of Absalom ( 2 Samuel 15:18 ). Shimei’s servants ran to Gath, and were pursued thither by him contrary to the tabu laid upon him ( 1 Kings 2:40 ). Gath was captured by Hazael of Syria ( 2 Kings 12:17 ). An unsuccessful Ephraimite cattle-lifting expedition against Gath is recorded ( 1 Chronicles 7:21 ). The city was captured by David, according to the Chronicler ( 1 Chronicles 18:1 ). and fortified by Rehoboam ( 2 Chronicles 11:8 ). It was again captured by Uzziah ( 2 Chronicles 26:6 ). Amos refers to it in terms which imply that some great calamity has befallen it ( 2 Chronicles 6:2 ); the later prophets, though they mention other cities of the Pentapolis, are silent respecting Gath, which seems therefore to have dropped out of existence. The exact circumstances of its final fate are unknown. The topographical indications, both of the Scripture references and of the Onomasticon , point to the great mound Tell es-Safi as the most probable site for the identification of Gath. It stands at the mouth of the Valley of Elah, and clearly represents a large and important town. It was partially excavated by the Palestine Exploration Fund in 1899, but, unfortunately, the whole mound being much cumbered with a modern village and its graveyards and sacred shrines, only a limited area was found available for excavation, and the results were not so definite as they might have been.

R. A. S. Macalister.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Gath'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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