called also Azzah, which is its Hebrew name ( Deuteronomy 2:23 ; 1 Kings 4:24 ; Jeremiah 25:20 ), strong, a city on the Mediterranean shore, remarkable for its early importance as the chief centre of a great commercial traffic with Egypt. It is one of the oldest cities of the world ( Genesis 10:19 ; Joshua 15:47 ). Its earliest inhabitants were the Avims, who were conquered and displaced by the Caphtorims ( Deuteronomy 2:23 ; Joshua 13:2 Joshua 13:3 ), a Philistine tribe. In the division of the land it fell to the lot of Judah ( Joshua 15:47 ; Judges 1:18 ). It was the southernmost of the five great Philistine cities which gave each a golden emerod as a trespass-offering unto the Lord ( 1 Samuel 6:17 ). Its gates were carried away by Samson ( Judges 16:1-3 ). Here he was afterwards a prisoner, and "did grind in the prison house." Here he also pulled down the temple of Dagon, and slew "all the lords of the Philistines," himself also perishing in the ruin (Judg. 16:21-30 ). The prophets denounce the judgments of God against it ( Jeremiah 25:20 ; 47:5 ; Amos 1:6 Amos 1:7 ; Zephaniah 2:4 ). It is referred to in Acts 8:26 . Philip is here told to take the road from Jerusalem to Gaza (about 6 miles south-west of Jerusalem), "which is desert", i.e., the "desert road," probably by Hebron, through the desert hills of Southern Judea. (See SAMSON .)
It is noticed on monuments as early as B.C. 1600. Its small port is now called el-Mineh.
strong; a goat
(the fortified; the strong ) (properly Azzah ), one of the five chief cities of the Philistines. It is remarkable for its continuous existence and importance from the very earliest times. The secret of this unbroken history is to be found in the situation of Gaza. It is the last town in the southwest of Palestine, on the frontier towards Egypt. The same peculiarity of situation has made Gaza important in a military sense. Its name means "the strong;" and this was well elucidated in its siege by Alexander the Great, which lasted five months. In the conquest of Joshua the territory of Gaza is mentioned as one which he was not able to subdue. ( Joshua 10:41 ; 11:22 ; 13:3 ) It was assigned to the tribe of Judah, ( Joshua 15:47 ) and that tribe did obtain possession of it, ( Judges 1:18 ) but did not hold it long, ( Judges 3:3 ; 13:1 ) and apparently it continued through the time of Samuel, Saul and David to be a Philistine city. 1Sam 6:17; 14:52; 31:1; 2Sam 21:15 Solomon became master of "Azzah," ( 1 Kings 4:24 ) but in after times the same trouble with the Philistines recurred. ( 2 Chronicles 21:16 ; 26:6 ; 28:18 ) The passage where Gaza is mentioned in the New Testament ( Acts 8:26 ) is full of interest. It is the account of the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch on his return from Jerusalem to Egypt. Gaza is the modern Ghuzzeh , a Mohammedan town of about 16,000 inhabitants, situated partly on an oblong hill of moderate height and partly on the lower ground. The climate of the place is almost tropical, but it has deep wells of excellent water. There are a few palm trees in the town, and its fruit orchards are very productive; but the chief feature of the neighborhood is the wide-spread olive grove to the north and northeast
ga'-za (`azzah, "strong"; Septuagint Gaza; Arabic Ghazzeh):
One of the five chief towns of Philistia and probably the oldest, situated near the coast in lat. 31 degrees 30' and about 40 miles South of Jaffa. It is on a hill rising 60 to 200 ft. above the plain, with sand dunes between it and the sea, which is about 2 1/2 miles distant. The plain around is fertile and wells abound, and, being on the border of the desert between Syria and Egypt and lying in the track of caravans and armies passing from one to the other, it was in ancient times a place of importance. The earliest notices of it are found in the records of Egypt.
Thothmes III refers to it in the account of his expedition to Syria in 1479 BC, and it occurs again in the records of the expedition of Seti I in 1313 BC (Breasted, History of Egypt, 285, 409).
Judah captured it (Judges 1:18) but did not hold it long, for we find it in the hands of the Philistines in the days of Samson, whose exploits have rendered it noteworthy (16:1-3,11,30). The hill to which he carried off the gate of the city was probably the one now called el-Muntar ("watch-tower"), which lies Southeast of the city and may be referred to in 2 Kings 18:8, "from the tower of the watchmen to the fortified city," Gaza, with the other chief towns, sent a trespass offering to Yahweh when the ark was returned (1 Samuel 6:17).
Hezekiah defeated and pursued the Philistines to Gaza, but does not seem to have captured it. It was taken by Sargon in 720 BC, in his war with Egypt, since Khanun, the king of Gaza, joined the Egyptians and was captured at the battle of Raphia (Rawlinson, Ancient Monarchies, II, 142). It was probably destroyed (see Amos 1:7). It was certainly dismantled by Alexander the Great in 332, when it dared to resist him. It was then exceedingly strong, verifying its name, and was most bravely defended, so that it took Alexander two months to reduce it. He put to death all the men and sold the women and children as slaves (Grote, History of Greece, XI, 467). It was restored, however, and we learn that Jonathan forced it to submit to him (Josephus, Ant, XIII, v, 5; 1 Macc 11:62), and Alexander Janneus took it and massacred the inhabitants who escaped the horrors of the siege (Josephus, Ant, XIII, xiii, 3). Pompey restored the freedom of Gaza (ibid., XIV, iv, 4), and Gabinius rebuilt it in 57 BC (ibid., XIV, v, 3).
Gaza is mentioned only once in the New Testament (Acts 8:26), in the account of Philip and the eunuch. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, it became a center of Greek commerce and culture, and pagan influence was strong, while the church rounded there was struggling for existence. Many martyrs there testified to the faith, until finally, under Theodosius, Christianity gained the supremacy (HGHL, 12th edition, 188). It fell into the hands of the Arabs in 634 AD, and became and has remained a Moslem city since the days of Saladin, who recovered it from the Crusaders in 1187, after the battle of Hattin. It is now a city of some 20,000 inhabitants, among whom are a few hundred Christians.
See also AZZAH.
These files are public domain.