View of Iron I fortifications of Gath (Aren Maeir/Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project)
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Archeology and Science Corroborate Yet Another Historical Account Recorded in the Bible, the Military Siege and Violent Fall of Gath

Photo Credit: View of Iron I fortifications of Gath [Aren Maeir, Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project]

The Bible Says King Hazael of Syria Conquered Gath in a Military Siege

Then Hazael king of Syria went up, and fought against Gath, and took it: and Hazael set his face to go up to Jerusalem.

2 Kings 12:17 KJV

The city of Gath, the hometown of Goliath in the Old Testament, is mentioned over 30 times in the Bible, but scholars had long thought it was just a mythical city. Then in 1899, the long lost city of Gath was discovered at Tell es-Safi, Israel. Since 1996 it has been continually excavated over the past 28 years by Aren Maeir and his students of the Bar-Ilan University.

Archaeologists originally thought Gath had been destroyed slowly, over decades. New thermal demagnetization scientific studies however, reveal that it was destroyed in a catastrophic fire, which affirms the account in 2 Kings 12:17 of the Bible.

The new thermal demagnetization process allows the determination of the heating temperature that was present when mud bricks were fired. When mud bricks are heated in fire they take on the magnetic polarity present at the time and place of the heating which is then locked into the bricks as they cool.

One of the studied burnt mud bricks from Gath.
One of the studied burnt mud bricks. [Dr. Yoav Vaknin]

By incrementally heating and cooling those bricks again until they lose their magnetization, scientists can now determine the approximate temperature that was reached when they were originally fired and thereby magnetized. This, along with the orientation of the magnetic field in the bricks, can determine if the bricks where fired in a kiln before a wall was constructed or if they were burned by fire after the wall had been constructed. When mud bricks are fired before a wall is constructed, the magnetic polarity of all the bricks would have random orientations. When mud bricks in a wall are knocked down by a fire, then they take on the magnetic field at the time and place of the fire, making all the bricks’ magnetic polarity aligned.

Representative samples taken from a fallen mud brick wall in Gath
Fig 7. Representative samples taken from Wall SF09 in Tell el-Safi/Gath. (A) A general view of the wall and its vicinity. (B) A zoom-in view of a consolidated sample (labeled here SF09D). Thin branch impressions are visible on this sample and it most likely originated from the roof (SF09D is marked by an arrow in Fig 3d in Namdar et al. [9]). (C-D) A section through brick SF09C, labeled SF09M. The location of the section is marked by a black dashed line in (C) and in (A). (E) A section through brick SF09A, labeled SF09Q, after its southern part was removed. The location of the section is marked by a black dashed line here and in (A). (F) Section labeled SF09Q in brick SF09A. (G-H) A section in brick SF09N which was removed during the excavation. See S8 Fig for a photo of the other side of SF09 where seven additional samples can be seen. [Yoav Vaknin, Ron Shaar, Oded Lipschits, Adi Eliyahu Behar, Aren M. Maeir, Erez Ben-Yosef]

When archaeologists used the thermal demagnetization process on the bricks of the fallen walls in the ruins at Gath, they were able to determine that the temperature of the fire was much higher than would be used in a kiln. They also discovered that the magnetic polarity of all the bricks were aligned in the positions where they had fallen, rather than random.

Estimated Heating Temperatures of mud bricks found in Gath
Fig 9. Estimated heating temperatures of SF09Q. (A) Histogram of calculated heating temperatures of all the specimens from the section we cut in the in situ brick (SF09Q). (B) Sample SF09Q showing areas with estimated minimum temperature below 450⁰C (yellow) and above 450⁰C (red). (C) A representative calculation of the ancient heating temperature resulting in a relatively low temperature (400⁰C). (D) A representative calculation of the ancient heating temperature resulting in a relatively high temperature (580⁰C). [Yoav Vaknin, Ron Shaar, Oded Lipschits, Adi Eliyahu Behar, Aren M. Maeir, Erez Ben-Yosef]

This proved that the mud brick walls of Gath had been destroyed in a single catastrophic fire, rather than having fallen down over decades as originally thought. This, along with the extensive siege works found at the site, indicates that the city of Gath was indeed violently conquered in a military siege, dated during the reign of Hazael, just as described in the Bible.

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Aren Maeir Describing Evidence of 8th Cent. BC Earthquake at Tell es-Safi/Gath Mentioned in the Bible

The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.

Amos 1:1 KJV

Excavating The City Of Goliath – Prof. Maeir & Prof. Chadwick

Archeological Discoveries of Goliath’s Hometown – Gath

Exploring the Biblical City of 5 Giants – Goliath’s Hometown (Gath / Tell es-Safi)

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Biblical References of Gath

There was none of the Anakims left in the land of the children of Israel: only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod, there remained.

Joshua 11:22 KJV

They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines unto them, and said, What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel? And they answered, Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried about unto Gath. And they carried the ark of the God of Israel about thither.

1 Samuel 5:8 KJV

And these are the golden emerods which the Philistines returned for a trespass offering unto the LORD; for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Askelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one;

1 Samuel 6:17 KJV

And the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron even unto Gath; and the coasts thereof did Israel deliver out of the hands of the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.

1 Samuel 7:14 KJV

And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.

1 Samuel 17:4 KJV

And as he talked with them, behold, there came up the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, out of the armies of the Philistines, and spake according to the same words: and David heard them.

1 Samuel 17:23 KJV

And the men of Israel and of Judah arose, and shouted, and pursued the Philistines, until thou come to the valley, and to the gates of Ekron. And the wounded of the Philistines fell down by the way to Shaaraim, even unto Gath, and unto Ekron.

1 Samuel 17:52 KJV

And David arose, and fled that day for fear of Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath.

1 Samuel 21:10 KJV

And David laid up these words in his heart, and was sore afraid of Achish the king of Gath.

1 Samuel 21:12 KJV

And David arose, and he passed over with the six hundred men that were with him unto Achish, the son of Maoch, king of Gath.

1 Samuel 27:2 KJV

And David dwelt with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household, even David with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the Carmelitess, Nabal’s wife.

1 Samuel 27:3 KJV

And it was told Saul that David was fled to Gath: and he sought no more again for him.

1 Samuel 27:4 KJV

And David saved neither man nor woman alive, to bring tidings to Gath, saying, Lest they should tell on us, saying, So did David, and so will be his manner all the while he dwelleth in the country of the Philistines.

1 Samuel 27:11 KJV

Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.

2 Samuel 1:20 KJV

And all his servants passed on beside him; and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men which came after him from Gath, passed on before the king.

2 Samuel 15:18 KJV

And there was yet a battle in Gath, where was a man of great stature, that had on every hand six fingers, and on every foot six toes, four and twenty in number; and he also was born to the giant.

2 Samuel 21:20 KJV

These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.

2 Samuel 21:22 KJV

And it came to pass at the end of three years, that two of the servants of Shimei ran away unto Achish son of Maachah king of Gath. And they told Shimei, saying, Behold, thy servants be in Gath.

1 Kings 2:39 KJV

And Shimei arose, and saddled his ass, and went to Gath to Achish to seek his servants: and Shimei went, and brought his servants from Gath.

1 Kings 2:40 KJV

And it was told Solomon that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath, and was come again.

1 Kings 2:41 KJV

Then Hazael king of Syria went up, and fought against Gath, and took it: and Hazael set his face to go up to Jerusalem.

2 Kings 12:17 KJV

And Zabad his son, and Shuthelah his son, and Ezer, and Elead, whom the men of Gath that were born in that land slew, because they came down to take away their cattle.

1 Chronicles 7:21 KJV

Beriah also, and Shema, who were heads of the fathers of the inhabitants of Aijalon, who drove away the inhabitants of Gath:

1 Chronicles 8:13 KJV

Now after this it came to pass, that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them, and took Gath and her towns out of the hand of the Philistines.

1 Chronicles 18:1 KJV

And yet again there was war at Gath, where was a man of great stature, whose fingers and toes were four and twenty, six on each hand, and six on each foot: and he also was the son of the giant.

1 Chronicles 20:6 KJV

These were born unto the giant in Gath; and they fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.

1 Chronicles 20:8 KJV

And Gath, and Mareshah, and Ziph,

2 Chronicles 11:8 KJV

And he went forth and warred against the Philistines, and brake down the wall of Gath, and the wall of Jabneh, and the wall of Ashdod, and built cities about Ashdod, and among the Philistines.

2 Chronicles 26:6 KJV

Pass ye unto Calneh, and see; and from thence go ye to Hamath the great: then go down to Gath of the Philistines: be they better than these kingdoms? or their border greater than your border?

Amos 6:2 KJV

Declare ye it not at Gath, weep ye not at all: in the house of Aphrah roll thyself in the dust.

Micah 1:10 KJV
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