ge'-rar (gerar, "circle," "region"; Gerara):
A town in the Philistine plain South of Gaza (Genesis 10:19), where both Abraham and Isaac ' sojourned for a time, and where they came into contact with Abimelech, king of Gerar (Ge 20 and 26, passim). The place has not been fully identified, but the site is probably in one of the branches of Wady Sheri`a, at a place called Um Jerrar, near the coast Southwest of Gaza and 9 miles from it (SWP, III, 389-90). The site answers fairly well to the statements of Eusebius and Jerome, Eusebius, Onomasticon, that it was 25 (Roman) miles South of Eleutheropolis (Beit Jibrin). It is actually 30 English miles, but distances were not very accurately determined in early times. Gerar was known in the first 5 centuries AD, when it was the seat of a bishopric, and its bishop, Marcian, attended the Council of Chalcedon 451 AD, It was also the seat of a monastery.
The statements in Ge indicate that Gerar belonged to the Philistines, and we are led to infer that Abimelech was king of that people, but it is quite certain that they did not occupy this region until after the time of Abraham, in fact only a short time before the Exodus. It is probable, however, that the writer of Ge would refer to the country as it was known in his day. The town certainly existed in the Philistine period, for it is mentioned in connection with Asa, who defeated the Ethiopian host under Zerar and pursued them in their flight unto Gerar (2 Chronicles 14:13). Besides the locality of Um Jerrar, another place in the vicinity known as Jurf el-Jerrar has been thought by some to be the site of Gerar. Jerrar in Arabic means "jars," and it is doubtful whether it represents the Hebrew Gerar. Jurf means usually "steep declivity," or "precipice," and at the place mentioned many fragments of pottery were found, but this does not necessarily indicate the site of an ancient town. The site of Gerar is discussed in Thomson's LB, I, 196-99 (ed. 1882); Robinson's BR, II, 43-44; PEFS, 1871, 84; 1875, 162-64; 1881, 38.
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