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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Gaza

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a city of the Philistines, made by Joshua part of the tribe of Judah. It was one of the five principalities of the Philistines, situated toward the southern extremity of the promised land, 1 Samuel 6:17 , between Raphia and Askelon. The advantageous situation of Gaza was the cause of the numerous revolutions which it underwent. It first of all belonged to the Philistines, and then to the Hebrews. It recovered its liberty in the reigns of Jotham and Ahaz, and was reconquered by Hezekiah, 2 Kings 18:8 . It was subject to the Chaldeans, who conquered Syria and Phenicia. Afterward, it fell into the hands of the Persians. It must have been a place of considerable strength. For two months it baffled all the efforts of Alexander the Great, who was repeatedly repulsed and wounded in the siege; which he afterward revenged in a most infamous manner on the person of the gallant defender Betis, whom, while yet alive, having ordered his ankles to be bored, he dragged round the walls, tied to his chariot wheels, in the barbarous parade of imitating the less savage treatment of the corpse of Hector by Achilles.

Dr. Wittman gives the following description of his visit to Gaza: "In pursuing our route toward this place, the view became still more interesting and agreeable: the groves of olive trees extending from the place where we had halted to the town, in front of which a fine avenue of these trees was planted. Gaza is situated on an eminence, and is rendered picturesque by the number of fine minarets which rise majestically above the buildings, and by the beautiful date trees which are interspersed. The suburbs of Gaza are composed of wretched mud huts; but within side the town the buildings make a much better appearance than those we had generally met with in Syria. The streets are of a moderate breadth. Many fragments of statues, columns, &c, of marble were seen in the walls and buildings in different parts of the town. The suburbs and environs of Gaza are rendered infinitely agreeable by a number of large gardens, cultivated with the nicest care, which lie in a direction north and south of the town; while others of the same description run to a considerable distance westward. These gardens are filled with a great variety of choice fruit trees, such as the fig, the mulberry, the pomegranate, the apricot, the peach, and the almond; together with a few lemon and orange trees. The numerous plantations of olive and date trees which are interspersed contribute greatly to the picturesque effect of the scene exhibited by the surrounding plains. These, on our arrival, were overspread with flowers, the variegated colours of which displayed every tint and every hue. Among these were the chrysanthemum, scarlet ranunculus, lupin, pheasant-eye, tulip, china-aster, dwarf-iris, lintel, daisy, &c, all of them growing wild and abundantly, with the exception of the lupin, which was cultivated in patches, regularly ploughed and sowed, with a view to collect the seeds, which the inhabitants employ at their meals, more especially to thicken their ragouts. The few corn fields, which lay at a distance, displayed the promise of a rich golden harvest; and the view of the sea, distant about a league, tended to diversify still more the animated features of this luxuriant scene." This and similar descriptions of modern travellers, which are occasionally introduced into this work, are given both as interesting in themselves, and to show that relics of the ancient beauty and fertility of the Holy Land are still to be found in many parts of it.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Gaza'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/wtd/g/gaza.html. 1831-2.

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