a wine-vat, one of the five royal cities of the Philistines ( Joshua 13:3 ) on which the ark brought calamity ( 1 Samuel 5:8 1 Samuel 5:9 ; 6:17 ). It was famous also as being the birthplace or residence of Goliath ( 1 Samuel 17:4 ). David fled from Saul to Achish, king of Gath ( 1 Samuel 21:10 ; 27:2-4 ; Psalms 56 ), and his connection with it will account for the words in 2 Samuel 1:20 . It was afterwards conquered by David ( 2 Samuel 8:1 ). It occupied a strong position on the borders of Judah and Philistia ( 1 Samuel 21:10 ; 1 Chronicles 18:1 ). Its site has been identified with the hill called Tell esSafieh, the Alba Specula of the Middle Ages, which rises 695 feet above the plain on its east edge. It is noticed on monuments about B.C. 1500. (See METHEGAMMAH .)
(a wine press ), one of the five royal cities of the Philistines; ( Joshua 13:3 ; 1 Samuel 6:17 ) and the native place of the giant Goliath. ( 1 Samuel 17:4 1 Samuel 17:23 ) It probably stood upon the conspicuous hill now called Tell-es-Safieh , upon the side of the plain of Philistia, at the foot of the mountains of Judah; 10 miles east of Ashdod, and about the same distance south by east of Ekron. It is irregular in form, and about 200 feet high. Gath occupied a strong position, ( 2 Chronicles 11:8 ) on the border of Judah and Philistia, ( 1 Samuel 21:10 ; 1 Chronicles 18:1 ) and from its strength and resources forming the key of both countries, it was the scene of frequent struggles, and was often captured and recaptured. ( 2 Kings 12:17 ; 2 Chronicles 11:8 ; 26:6 ; Amos 6:2 ) The ravages of war to which Gath was exposed appear to have destroyed it at a comparatively early period, as it is not mentioned among the other royal cities by the later prophets. ( Zephaniah 2:4 ; Zechariah 9:5 Zechariah 9:6 ) It is familiar to the Bible student as the scene of one of the most romantic incidents in the life of King David. ( 1 Samuel 21:10-15 )
gath (gath; Septuagint Geth, "winepress"):
One of the five chief cities of the Philistines (Joshua 13:3; 1 Samuel 6:17). It was a walled town (2 Chronicles 26:6) and was not taken by Joshua, and, although many conflicts took place between the Israelites and its people, it does not seem to have been captured until the time of David (1 Chronicles 18:1). It was rendered famous as the abode of the giant Goliath whom David slew (1 Samuel 17:4), and other giants of the same race (2 Samuel 21:18-22). It was to Gath that the Ashdodites conveyed the ark when smitten with the plague, and Gath was also smitten (1 Samuel 5:8,9).
It was Gath where David took refuge twice when persecuted by Saul (21:10; 27:2-4). It seems to have been destroyed after being taken by David, for we find Rehoboam restoring it (2 Chronicles 11:8). It was after this reoccupied by the Philistines, for we read that Uzziah took it and razed its walls (2 Chronicles 26:6), but it must have been restored again, for we find Hazael of Damascus capturing it (2 Kings 12:17). It seems to have been destroyed before the time of Amos (Amos 6:2), and is not further mentioned in the Old Testament or Macc, except in Micah 1:10, where it is referred to in the proverb, "Tell it not in Gath" (compare 2 Samuel 1:20). Since its destruction occurred, probably, in the middle of the 8th century BC, it is easy to understand why the site has been lost so that it can be fixed only conjecturally. Several sites have been suggested by different explorers and writers, such as:
Tell es Safi, Beit Jibrin, Khurbet Jeladiyeh, Khurbet Abu Geith, Jennata and Yebna (see PEFS, 1871, 91; 1875, 42, 144, 194; 1880, 170-71, 211-23; 1886, 200-202).
Tradition in the early centuries AD fixed it at 5 Roman miles North of Eleutheropolis (Beit Jibrin, toward Lydda, which would indicate Tell es Safi as the site, but the Crusaders thought it was at Jamnia (Yebna), where they erected the castle of Ibelin, but the consensus of opinion in modern times fixes upon Tell es Safi as the site, as is to be gathered from the references cited in PEFS above. The Biblical notices of Gath would indicate a place in the Philistine plain or the Shephelah, which was fortified, presumably in a strong position on the border of the Philistine country toward the territory of Judah or Dan. Tell es Safi fits into these conditions fairly well, but without other proof this is not decisive. It is described in SWP, II, 240, as a position of strength on a narrow ridge, with precipitous cliffs on the North and West, connected with the hills by a narrow neck, so that it is thrust out like a bastion, a position easily fortified.
In 1144 Fulke of Anjou erected here a castle called Blanchegarde (Alba Specula). The writer on "Gath and Its Worthies" in PEFS, 1886, 200-204, connects the name Safi with that of the giant Saph (2 Samuel 21:18), regarding him as a native of Gath, but the most direct evidence from early tradition connecting Tell es Safi with Gath is found in a manuscript said to be in the library of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which informs us that Catherocastrum was situated on a mountain called Telesaphion or Telesaphy, which is clearly Tell es Safi. Catherocastrum must be the Latin for "camp of Gath" (PEFS, 1906, 305).
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