The City of Gath: Goliath’s Home?

“A massive gate unearthed in Israel may have marked the entrance to a biblical city that, at its heyday, was the biggest metropolis in the region.

The town, called Gath, was occupied until the ninth century B.C. In biblical accounts, the Philistines — the mortal enemies of the Israelites — ruled the city. The Old Testament also describes Gath as the home of Goliath, the giant warrior whom the Israelite King David felled with a slingshot.

The new findings reveal just how impressive the ancient Philistine city once was, said lead archaeologist of the current excavation, Aren Maeir, of Bar-Ilan University in Israel.”-http://www.livescience.com/51737-goliath-city-gates-uncovered-israel.html

This archaeological event underscores the fact that not only are major finds being made, but also that some of these finds help to demonstrate the historicity of the Bible.  While the archaeologists are not saying that this proves that David slew Goliath, it does prove that a city named Gath did exist and that this city was quite large and thus presumably quite important.

Beyond this, this find also shows the influence which each culture had one upon the other.  “The team also found ironworks and a Philistine temple near the monumental gate, with some pottery and other finds typically associated with Philistine culture. Though the pottery represents a distinctive Philistine style, it also shows elements of Israelite technique, suggesting the cultures did influence each other in ways unrelated to war.”

The Philistines were a people who inhabited an area  comprised of at least five city states (the so-called Pentapolis): Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath.  Not a great deal is known about the Philistines; most of what is known comes from sources written by their neighbors: the Hebrews and the Egyptians.  We do not have inscriptions from the Philistines themselves.  Based upon the Egyptian inscriptions, it would appear that the Philistines are the “sea people” (and maybe the southern sea people) who repeatedly attacked Egypt.

In 2003, a statue of a king named Taita bearing inscriptions in Luwian (an ancient Indo-European language) was discovered during excavations conducted by German archeologist Kay Kohlmeyer in the Citadel of Aleppo. This King Taita described himself as being the King of the Palistin.  The similarities of the Palistins to the Philistines, has caused some some scholars to speculate that there is a relationship or a connection between the Hittite-Palistins and the Philistines.

Others have tried to differentiate the Philistines in the south from “relatives in the north” as being the ‘southern’ and ‘northern’ sea peoples.  Archaeological investigations north of the Philistine Pentapolis uncovered five significant sites inhabited by the ‘northern’ Sea Peoples—Aphek, Tell Qasile, Tell Gerisa, Jaffa and Dor—of which Dor is the largest.

Excavations at the northern Sea Peoples’ site of Dor, which Ephraim Stern directed for two decades, revealed that the Sikil city boasted a particularly strong defense wall and engaged in metallurgical activities. Cult objects discovered at Dor reflect both Aegean and Cypriot origins.

The Philistines seem to have appeared for a while upon the stage and then they disappear. They appear to have existed for about 200 or 300 years from about 1300 BC to 1000 BC.  Some have suggested that they came from Crete or Mycenae, the latter being based upon various similarities in pottery design.

Unlike the Mycenaean culture, the Philistines worshiped gods such as Baal, Astarte, and Dagon.  These gods are the same ones later worshiped by the Carthaginians.

The Philistines’ cities were carefully laid out and included industrial areas.  The city of Ekron had at least 200 olive oil production facilities which are estimated to have produced 1,000 tons of olive oil a year.  To put this in modern terms, that would amount to 30% of Israel’s current production of olive oil.

Returning to Gath, this city’s walls are extremely large and would have functioned as a means to counterbalance the Israelite nation nearby. In fact, researchers have said that the gate is largest one ever found in Israel.

None of this proves Goliath lived in Gath.  But if Gath existed, so too Goliath may have existed.

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