Places of Interest
1. Gaza is located south of Ashkelon and Ashdod, it also is on the Mediterranean Ocean and was one of the cities of the Philistine Pentapolis. It is the southernmost city. Today, virtually no ruins remain from this city as it has been destroyed in later years due to what appears to be political reasons.
2. It was on a hill rising about 200 ft. (61 m.) above the valley floor. There were sand dunes between it and the sea, which was about 2 miles away.
3. Today, because ancient Gaza lies in the Gaza Strip, where land is scarce and Israeli interests are not valued, the remains of ancient Gaza are practically nonexistent.
Gaza in the Bible
1. In the conquest of the Promised Land, Joshua and the Israelites failed to conquer Gaza, along with several other main cities of the Philistines (Josh. 10:41, 11:22).
2. Later, the tribe of Judah captured Gaza but couldn’t control it for long, and it fell back into the hands of the Philistines (Judg. 1:18).
3. Samson had many encounters with the Philistines. In one encounter, Samson carried heavy gates from Gaza all the way to the Hebron area, a distance of around 42 miles (72 km.).
Judges 16:1: Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a prostitute there, and had relations with her.
Judges 16:3: Now Samson lay asleep until midnight, and at midnight he got up and took hold of the doors of the city gate and the two doorposts, and pulled them up along with the bars; then he put them on his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of the mountain which is opposite Hebron.
4. Samson met his death in Gaza.
Judges 16:28-30: Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 Then Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and braced himself against them, the one with his right hand and the other with his left. 30 And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” And he pushed outwards powerfully, so that the house fell on the governors and all the people who were in it. And the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed during his lifetime.
5. After the Philistines defeated the Israelites in battle and captured the Ark of the Covenant during the priesthood of Eli and his two wicked sons, Gaza, along with the other main cities of the Philistines, sent a trespass offering to God when the ark was returned to the Israelites at Beth-Shemesh (1 Sam. 6:17–18).
6. When Hezekiah reigned, he defeated and pursued the Philistines to Gaza but did not seem to have captured the city. However, the Assyrians later captured it in 720 BC.
7. In the New Testament, Philip was sent to Gaza to evangelize the Ethiopian eunuch.
Acts 8:26: But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Get ready and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.”
Faith Lesson from Gaza
1. The Israelites failed to conquer the people of Gaza and as a result, they caused continual problems for Israel. In the same way, if we fail to be victorious over sin and problems in our lives we will continue to suffer the consequences as well.
2. God used Samson to reveal Himself as God to those of Gaza. Therefore, they knew who the true God was and had no excuse for rejecting Him.
3. Unfortunately, Samson failed in many ways to fulfill the mission and calling God intended for him. He met his death in Gaza as a defeated, blind servant instead of a strong victorious, and successful servant.
4. What about us? Are we victorious successful servants of God or do we live weak defeated lives? God gives us all the power and grace we need to be victorious.
Romans 8:37: No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
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