Another Philistine city from the 14th – 8th centuries BC. is Gath in the Bible (also called Gat). Whose remains were found on the hill of Tell es-Safi (Arabic: Tall aṣ-Ṣāfī). The Tell es-Safi is a hill settlement east of the Ashdod in Israel. North of the hill is the source of the Nahal Tsofita creek. Which soon joins the Nahal HaEla creek from the Elah Valley (Terebinthen Valley) to the northeast. About 8 kilometers north is the Tell Mine. You can see the biblical city of Ekronsuspected, also a place of the Pentapolis (Five City League).
Tell is identified with the biblical city of Gath in the Bible, from which the giant Philistine Goliath is said to have originated. James Porter expressed this assumption as early as 1857 after a journey through Philistia. The first excavations were carried out in 1899 by Frederick J. Bliss and Robert AS Macalister on behalf of the British Palestine Exploration Fund. In 1996, Prof. Aren Maeir of Bar-Ilan University started a large-scale excavation project. Indeed, in 2005, excavations uncovered a potsherd with two putative Indo-European names written in an early Canaanite script that bear similarities to the name Goliath. In 2010, a Philistine temple was discovered, inside which two column bases were found.
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History of Gath in the Bible
After that, the hill seems to have been uninhabited for a long time. In Byzantine times (4th – 7th centuries), a miniature village called Saphita existed in the area, which is mentioned on the mosaic map of Madaba. Later, the Crusaders built Blanche Garde Castle in the mid-12th century. Therefore, in this area, there is now a Muslim cemetery. It goes back to the inhabitants of the Arab village, which existed after the Crusader period until 1948. During the Palestine War of 1948/49, the Arab population was expelled from the town in July 1948 by Israeli Givati soldiers under the command of Shimon Avidan.
With the fall of Ashkelon to the Crusaders in 1153, Blanche Garde became part of the county of Jaffa and Ashkelon became the property of the future King Amalric I. This raised Blanche Garde in 1166 to an independent rule and gave it as a fief to Walter III. Brisebarre sold his feudal law of Beirut to the king in return. When Walter died, his younger brother Bernard (recorded as lord of Blanche Garde in 1186) took over the fief, while Walter’s son Gilles (recorded in 1198 – 1220) was probably still a minor. 1253 Gilles’s son Raoul († after 1265) was documented as lord of Blanche Garde.
Is the city of Gath mentioned in the Bible?
According to the Book of Joshua in the Old Testament, Gat was part of the Five Cities of the Philistines, which is said to have consisted of the cities of Gath in the Bible, Gaza. Ashdod, Ekron, and Ashkelon are believed to have even been its center. According to the book of Samuel, the kings of Gath in David’s time were March and his son Ashish. Of whom David was once a vassal ( 1 Sam 27:2-9 EU ).
Achish led the alliance of the five Philistine cities in the battle against Saul, from which David profited ( 1 Sam 29 EU ). In Assyrian annals of the mid-8th century, Gat is only mentioned as a small town ruled by Ashdod. Gat was born around 830 BC. Conquered and destroyed by King Hazael of Damascus ( 2 Kings 12:18 EU ). Later parts of the Bible no longer mention them.
Tel Tsafit National Park
The State of Israel has many national parks, including Tel Tsafit National Park, which opened just a few years ago. The Tel Tsafit (Tell es-Safi) is a hill controlling part of the ancient Via Maris (Strait of the Sea) that connected Egypt to Damascus. You have a good view of the southern coastal plain and the Scheele lowlands surrounding the park.
The mound contains remains of settlements from the early middle and late Canaanite periods, as well as traces during the reigns of the Assyrians, Persians, Romans, Crusaders, and Ottomans up to the present. In addition to the natural and cultural treasures, a 3-kilometer trail in the national park connects the most important sights.
- In 1265, the Staufer-loyal Baron Amalrich Barlais took over the reign of Blanche Garde, which the Mamelukes eventually conquered. The castle remains have not been archaeologically examined, as there is an Islamic cemetery.
- As a ring castle, the castle complex initially consisted of a single enclosing wall, which enclosed an area of approx. 16 by 16 meters. At the corners, it was reinforced with a total of four towers. This simple type of castle was already with the Romans, Byzantines, and Umayyadscommon and was quick and inexpensive to set up. After the fall of Ashkelon in 1153, the court was expanded and strengthened.
Gat or Gath in the Bible is a city mentioned several times in the Old Testament. The town is said to have been in the Philistine territory. In the Elah Valley between the towns of Gaza and Ashdod. She is said to have ruled over other localities and villages, such as Achilles. So, the city is already mentioned in the Amarna letters (14th century BC) as a Canaanite city-state neighboring Jerusalem; its king at that time was Šuwardata. Based on paleographic studies, Juan-Pablo Vita assumes that a scribe from Gezer wrote the letter of Šuwardata. This scribe also worked for the allied rulers of Ginti and Ashdod.
The first traces of the settlement of Gath in the Bible date back to the Chalcolithic. The more critical building structures date from the Late Bronze Age (approx. 1500 – 1200 BC) and the Iron Age I and IIB (approx. 1200 – 700 BC). Dating to the 9th century is a horned altar found during excavations in 2011. A ditch that could be identified around the Tell probably dates from the end of the 9th century. Possibly it testifies to the siege and conquest of Gath in the Bible by King Hazael of Damascus. On the other hand, the lack of finds of the Iron Age, the Assyrian conquest, and the city’s destruction by Sargon II around 711 BC.