Tag Archives: Gaza Strip

Gaza is in the news again

After my first tour to the Bible Lands, including Rome, Greece (Athens and Corinth), Egypt, Lebanon, Syria (Damascus), Jordan, and Israel, in April/May, 1967, I decided to make a second tour the following year. For many years, I always added some new places on each tour. In 1968 I added Beersheba and Gaza. The Gaza Strip (named such because of the long, narrow size of the small entity) had been under Egyptian control for several decades until June, 1967
There was not much to see at Gaza. By the time we visited in 1968, Gaza was under Israeli control. We drove to the coast where there were only a few houses and some small fishing boats. This is one of the few slides that I have to illustrate the visit to Gaza.

Gaza on the Mediterranean Sea in May, 1968. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Gaza on the Mediterranean Sea in May, 1968. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Gaza is mentioned several times in the Old Testament. Here is a summary of these references.

  • Gaza was the southwestern boundary of the Canaanites in the table of Nations (Genesis 10:19).
  • The original inhabitants of Gaza were replaced by the Caphtorim, likely the ancestors of the Philistines (Deuteronomy 2:23).
  • Joshua defeated Canaanites “even as far as Gaza” (Joshua 10:41).
  • Joshua eliminated the Anakites except in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod (Joshua 11:21-22). We recognized these cities as later belonging to the Philistines.
  • Gaza is listed as belonging to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:47; Judges 1:18).
  • The Midianites oppressed Israel, “as far as Gaza”, for seven years (Judges 6:4).
  • Samson had contact with the inhabitants of Gaza (Judges 16).
  • Gaza is listed as one of the five Philistine cities in the time of the Israelite Judges (1 Samuel 6:17).
  • Solomon controlled territory as far southwest as Gaza (1 Kings 4:24).
  • Hezekiah defeated the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territory (2 Kings 18:8).
  • Jeremiah makes reference to Gaza being conquered by Pharaoh (Jeremiah 47:1).
  • The prophets of Judah pronounced judgments upon Gaza (Amos 1:6-7; Zephaniah 2:4; Zechariah 9:5).

The only New Testament reference to Gaza is in Acts 8:26. Philip the evangelist was instructed to go south on the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza. English translators struggle with the issue of whether the city was desert, or the road leading to the city ran through a desert area. (I will leave that for some other time.)

The first display one sees as he enters the archaeology wing of the Israel Museum is that of the anthropoid coffins from Deir el-Balah, a site south of Gaza city. The coffins, excavated by Trude Dothan in 1972, bear evidence of Egyptian influence. They date to the 13th century B.C.
Anthropoid Coffins from Deir el-Balah in the Israel Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Anthropoid Coffins from Deir el-Balah in the Israel Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Reprint from January 7, 2012.

Places less visited in Israel

Today we got a fairly early start and went through the Shephelah to Lachish. This takes about an hour or so from Jerusalem. We did not go to visit Lachish, but to continue east to a small kibbutz called Shekef. From here we would try to locate Tel Eiton (also Tel ‘Eton and Tel Aitun). I had been in the area before but did not locate the tel. The reason for going so far out of the way to get to the site is that it is situated on Israel’s border with the Palestinian West Bank. Just before reaching Shekef we began to  drive on the new highway 358 to Beersheba, parallel to the border. Soon we realized that we must be bypassing the place we want to go.

We backtracked and eventually after doing what men “never do”, ask for directions, we located Tel Eiton. Palestine is on the east side of the mound and a military firing range is on the west side. We decided it would be best to stick to the gravel road without straying too far to the left or the right — sort of like Joshua.

“Be very firm, then, to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you may not turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left,  so that you will not associate with these nations, these which remain among you, or mention the name of their gods, or make anyone swear by them, or serve them, or bow down to them.  (Joshus 23:6-7 NAU)

Tel Eiton currently is equated with biblical Eglon by many scholars. Recent excavations have been conducted under the direction of Prof. Avi Faust, now of Bar Ilan University.

Here is a photo of the tel from the south and perhaps a little to the east.

Tel Eiton (Tel Aitun), possibly biblical Eglon.

Tel Eiton (Tel Aitun) from the south (and east). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Eglon is mentioned at least eight times in the Bible, all in the book of Joshua (10:3, 5, 23, 34, 36, 37; 12:12). The Scripture emphasizes that Israel defeated the king of Eglon. Notice the relationship between Lachish, where we started our trek, and Eglon.

And Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Lachish to Eglon, and they camped by it and fought against it.  They captured it on that day and struck it with the edge of the sword; and he utterly destroyed that day every person who was in it, according to all that he had done to Lachish.  Then Joshua and all Israel with him went up from Eglon to Hebron, and they fought against it.  (Joshua 10:34-36 NAU)

We also visited the following places.

Tel Bet Mirsim, a site identified as Debir by William F. Albright (Joshua 10:38, 39). Albright identified Tel Eiton as Libnah, but scholars today question this.

Tel Halif, north and slightly east of Beersheba, is thought by some to be biblical Ziklag, . Others place the biblical city at Tel Shera, northwest of Beersheba.

Finally we visit the Brook Besor and Tel el-Farah South. Israel calls the site Tel Sharuhen (1 Samuel 30). This tel is located in the Plain of Philistia, not far from the borders with Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

Hopefully we will be able to share more photos and information about this places with you at a later time. It is all very fascinating to the student of the Bible. Right now it is too late and I need to be sleeping.