Places of Interest
1. Gath (Tell Es-Safi) is located east of Ashkelon about 17 miles (28 km.) The word Gath means “winepress.”
1. Gath was one of the five main cities of the Philistines (Josh. 13:3; 1 Sam. 6:17).
2. The site is a large, multi-period site that is made up of many layers. Each layer represents a different phase in the history of the site.
3. Tell Es-Safi has a long history of settlement. The site was first settled sometime around 5000 BC. It has been continually settled until modern times. The last settlement there was an Arab village that was abandoned during the Israeli War of Independence in 1948.
4. It was a well-fortified walled city (2 Chron. 26:6).
5. Joshua and the Israelites were unable to conquer Gath despite the numerous conflicts between the Israelites and the inhabitants of Gath.
6. It wasn’t until King David that the city was conquered and became part of the Israelite Kingdom (1 Chron. 18:1).
7. Its name is most remembered as the home of the giant, Goliath, whom David slew (1 Sam. 17:4).
Gath in the Bible
1. It has archaeological remains that are unusual that reveal giants once lived here. This is affirmed by the Bible.
1 Chronicles 20:8: These were descended from the giants in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants. It was also the hometown of the warrior Goliath, who appears in the Bible.
2. It was one of the Philistine cities where the Ark of the Covenant resided before being taken to Ekron.
1 Samuel 5:8: So they sent word and gathered all the governors of the Philistines to them, and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?” And they said, “Have the ark of the God of Israel brought to Gath.” So they took the ark of the God of Israel away.
3. Goliath, the giant that young David slew was from Gath.
1 Samuel 17:4: Then a champion came forward from the army encampment of the Philistines, named Goliath, from Gath. His height was six cubits and a span.
4. When King Saul was seeking to kill David, David went to Gath to hide from Saul and acted like a crazy person because he feared the king of Gath.
1 Samuel 21:10-15: Then David set out and fled that day from Saul, and went to Achish king of Gath. 11 But the servants of Achish said to him, “Is this not David, the king of the land? Did they not sing of this one as they danced, saying, ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?” 12 David took these words to heart and greatly feared Achish king of Gath. 13 So he disguised his sanity while in their sight and acted insanely in their custody, and he scribbled on the doors of the gate, and drooled on his beard. 14 Then Achish said to his servants, “Look, you see the man is behaving like an insane person. Why do you bring him to me? 15 Do I lack insane people, that you have brought this one to behave like an insane person in my presence? Shall this one come into my house?”
5. Later, when King Saul was again pursuing David to kill him, David fled and lived in Gath for a while.
1 Samuel 27:2-3: So David set out and went over, he and the six hundred men who were with him, to Achish the son of Maoch, king of Gath. And David lived with Achish in Gath, he and his men, each with his own household—David with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the Carmelitess, Nabal’s widow.
Faith Lesson from the Philistines
1. While Gath proved to be a safe haven for David to flee to in times of need, it was still an enemy territory of the Israelites. Do we fear things and seek refuge in the wrong places instead of fully trusting in God for our safety and protection?
2. Gath and its idolatry represented all that was opposed to the nation of Israel, just as the Bible presents this world’s system as all that is opposite to God’s will for us. Are we in danger of loving this world's system and all it has to offer instead of God's kingdom and what it has to offer?
1 John 2:15–17: Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God continues to live forever.
3. This present world is our home for now, but we are called to live in this world as sojourners and ambassadors, not participating in the world’s evil. We should understand that our true citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). Are we living in the world but not participating in its evil? And do we realize that our true citizenship and home is in heaven?
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