|GAZA OR AZZAH |
Now Ghuzzeh, an ancient city in the southwest corner of Canaan, Genesis 10:19, belonging to the Avim, Deuteronomy 2:23, and afterwards to the Philistines. Joshua assigned it to the tribe of Judah, but did not conquer it, Joshua 10:41 11:21,22 13:3 15:47. Judah seems to have held possession of it for a while; but in the time of the judges it was independent, and one of the five chief cities of the Philistines, Judges 1:18 3:3 13:1 16:1-31. Samson carried away its gates, and afterwards perished under the ruins of its vast temple. The ark of God was there in the days of Eli, 1 Samuel 6:1-21. It yielded allegiance to David and Solomon, recovered its liberty in the reigns of Jotham and Ahaz, but was reconquered by Hezekiah, 2 Kings 18:8. At subsequent periods it was occupied by Chaldeans, Persians, and Egyptians, Jeremiah 47:1. About 96 B. C. the Jewish king Alexander Jannaeus captured and destroyed it. The Roman general Gabinius rebuilt it; and not long after the ascension of the Savior, a Christian church was planted there to struggle with the prevailing idolatry. In A. D. 634 it came under the Mohammedan yoke; and in the era of the Crusades had fallen into ruins. It was partially rebuilt and fortified, and is now a city of some 15,000 inhabitants. The few remains of the old city cover a large but low hill, two or three miles from the sea, once so strongly fortified as to withstand Alexander the Great for five months. The modern city lies more in the plain, which is exceedingly fertile, and abounds in gardens, date-trees, and olive-trees. There was a landing-place and "port" for ancient Gaza, but no harbor worthy of the name. It was often referred to by the prophets, Jeremiah 25:20 47:5 Amos 1:6,7 Zephaniah 2:4 Zechariah 9:5. The southern route form Jerusalem to Gaza, memorable in the history of the Ethiopian eunuch, is called "desert" in Acts 8:26, as passing through a region then destitute of villages.