Holman Bible Dictionary 
1 Samuel 6:17 1 Samuel 17:4 2 Samuel 6:10-11
By far the most frequently mentioned Gath in the Old Testament is Gath of the Philistines. In addition to Gath, the other towns of the Philistine city-state system were Ekron, Ashdod, Ashkelon and Gaza ( 1 Samuel 6:17 ). We may reasonably assume that Gath was the principal city among the five and served as the hub of the pentapolis. In other words, Ekron, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Gaza were, in a sense, satellite cities of Gath.
Gath was strategically located for Philistine purposes. While we do not know the exact location, we do know the general area in which Gath was located. Based on information from the biblical accounts, Gath was located inland as opposed to the other Philistine towns which were on or near the coast. It was located in the Shephelah, that is, the band of foothills which lay between the coastal plain on the west and the central hill country on the east. Since the Israelites, at least during the period of the settlement, occupied the central hill country, Gath was in a position to protect Philistine territory from raids by the Israelites. At the same time it was convenient for the Philistines to initiate raids on Israelite communities from the city of Gath. Since a number of sites have been eliminated in recent years based on archaeological excavations, one of the most likely candidates for Philistine Gath is tell es-Safi, twelve miles east of Ashdod.
A number of the highlights of Gath's history are reflected in the Old Testament. Prior to the coming of the Israelites, Gath was a Canaanite city occupied by the Anakim, a group known for their large stature ( Joshua 11:21-22 ). During the conquest of Canaan, Joshua and the Israelites apparently did not take the sites of Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod ( Joshua 11:22 ). We may assume that these towns were taken by the Philistines at this point. Gath was one of the locations to which the Philistines took the ark ( 1 Samuel 5:8-9 ) and was the hometown of Goliath ( 1 Samuel 17:4 ) and Obed-edom ( 1 Chronicles 13:13 ). One of the most interesting bits of information is that at one point while Saul was in pursuit of David, David found sanctuary with Achish, the king of Gath, and perhaps became a vassal of the Philistines ( 1 Samuel 27:1-7 ). Eventually David defeated the Philistines and made Gath an Israelite town ( 1 Chronicles 18:1 ). Apparently Achish continued to be the king of Gath, perhaps as a vassal king, even during the reign of Solomon ( 1 Kings 2:39 ). During the period of the divided monarchy, Gath's history went through a series of changes. Rehoboam, the king for Judah (931-913 B.C.) fortified Gath and made it a fortress city of Judah ( 2 Chronicles 11:5-12 ). Hazael, king of Syria (about 843-797 B.C.), beseiged the city and captured it ( 2 Kings 12:17 ). Shortly thereafter, the inhabitants of Gath apparently rebelled against Hazael and established to some degree their independence. Finally, Uzziah, king of Judah (792-740 B.C.), partially destroyed Gath and made it once again a part of the territory of Judah ( 2 Chronicles 26:6 ). Around 711 B.C., Sargon II, the king of Assyria, conquered and perhaps destroyed the city. Apparently, at this point, Gath's history came to an end. This conclusion is reinforced by the fact that Gath is obviously omitted in the lists of Philistine sites mentioned by the prophets ( Jeremiah 25:20; Amos 1:6-8; Zephaniah 2:4; Zechariah 9:5-6 ).
Fausset's Bible Dictionary 
("a winepress"), Gath being in a vine-abounding country. One of the five great Philistine cities ( Joshua 13:3; 1 Samuel 6:17). Goliath's abode (1 Samuel 17). Its people were the "Gittites," of whom was David's devotedly loyal friend Ittai ( 2 Samuel 15:19-22). In undesigned coincidence with the presence of giants in Gath, according to 1 Samuel 17; 2 Samuel 21:19-22, is Joshua 11:22; "only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod there remained Anakims." Gath was one of the five cities to which the Philistines carried about the ark of God (the five formed one political unity), and thereby brought on the people God's heavy visitation with emerods. It was' represented by one of the five golden emerods and five golden inlet sent to propitiate Jehovah ( 1 Samuel 5:9; 1 Samuel 6:4-5; 1 Samuel 6:10-18).
David there reigned madness to save his life; a second time he visited king Achish, and had Ziklag assigned to him as a residence ( 1 Samuel 21:10-15; 1 Samuel 27:28). Thence he attached and drew after him 600 Gittite followers, with Ittai their chief ( 2 Samuel 15:18); probably some at the time of his sojourn in Gath, and most when he smote and subdued the Philistines ( 2 Samuel 8:1). Though tributary to Israel, Gath still retained its own king ( 1 Kings 2:89). Hazael fought against it and took it ( 2 Kings 12:17). Uzziah gave a heavy blow to Gath, breaking down its wall ( 2 Chronicles 26:6; Amos 6:2). "Hamath ... Gath, be they better than these kingdoms?" Gath, once "better (stronger) than" Israel and Judah, fell; how vain then is your confidence in the strength of mounts Zion and Samaria!
In Amos 1:6, etc., Zephaniah 2:4-5; Zechariah 9:5-6, Gath is omitted; probably it had lost by that time its place among the five primary cities. Hezekiah, after Uzziah, conquered Philistia ( 2 Kings 18:8; Isaiah 14:29-81). Tell es Safieh occupies the site of Gath, which lay on the border between Judah and Philistia, between Shocoh and Ekron ( 1 Samuel 17:1; 1 Samuel 17:52). Saul came down from the hills by the road from Jerusalem to Gaza, which passes near Shocoh, and encountered the Philistines near the bend in the valley. Saul was on the E. of the valley, the Philistines on the W., as they came from the W. Gath was from its strength often alternately in the hands of Judah and of Philistia ( 2 Chronicles 11:8). It lay on a hill at the foot of Judah's mountains, ten miles E. of Ashdod, and ten S.E. of Ekron.
Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible 
GATH . A city of the Philistine Pentapolis. It is mentioned in Joshua 11:22 as a place where the Anakim took refuge; but Joshua is significantly silent about the apportioning of the city to any of the tribes. The ark was brought here from Ashdod ( 1 Samuel 5:8 ), and thence to Ekron ( 1 Samuel 5:10 ). It was the home of Goliath ( 1 Samuel 17:4 , 2 Samuel 21:19 ), and after the rout of the Philistines at Ephes-dammim it was the limit of their pursuit ( 1 Samuel 17:52 [LXX [Note: Septuagint.] ]). David during his outlawry took refuge with its king. Achish ( 1 Samuel 21:10 ). A bodyguard of Gittites was attached to David’s person under the leadership of a certain Ittai; these remained faithful to the king after the revolt of Absalom ( 2 Samuel 15:18 ). Shimei’s servants ran to Gath, and were pursued thither by him contrary to the tabu laid upon him ( 1 Kings 2:40 ). Gath was captured by Hazael of Syria ( 2 Kings 12:17 ). An unsuccessful Ephraimite cattle-lifting expedition against Gath is recorded ( 1 Chronicles 7:21 ). The city was captured by David, according to the Chronicler ( 1 Chronicles 18:1 ). and fortified by Rehoboam ( 2 Chronicles 11:8 ). It was again captured by Uzziah ( 2 Chronicles 26:6 ). Amos refers to it in terms which imply that some great calamity has befallen it ( 2 Chronicles 6:2 ); the later prophets, though they mention other cities of the Pentapolis, are silent respecting Gath, which seems therefore to have dropped out of existence. The exact circumstances of its final fate are unknown. The topographical indications, both of the Scripture references and of the Onomasticon , point to the great mound Tell es-Safi as the most probable site for the identification of Gath. It stands at the mouth of the Valley of Elah, and clearly represents a large and important town. It was partially excavated by the Palestine Exploration Fund in 1899, but, unfortunately, the whole mound being much cumbered with a modern village and its graveyards and sacred shrines, only a limited area was found available for excavation, and the results were not so definite as they might have been.
R. A. S. Macalister.
People's Dictionary of the Bible 
Gath ( Găth ), Winepress. One of the five cities of the Philistines, 1 Samuel 5:8; 1 Samuel 6:17; Amos 6:2; Micah 1:10; a stronghold of the Anakim, Joshua 11:22; home of Goliath, 1 Samuel 17:4; place whither the ark was carried, 1 Samuel 5:8; where David sought refuge, 1 Samuel 21:10-15; was strengthened by Rehoboam, 2 Chronicles 11:8; taken by Hazael of Syria, 2 Kings 12:17; probably recovered by Jehoash, 2 Kings 13:25; broken down by Uzziah, 2 Chronicles 26:6; was probably destroyed before the time of the later prophecies, as it is omitted from the list of royal cities. See Zephaniah 2:4; Zechariah 9:5-6. Probably Tel es-Safi, 15 miles south of Ramleh and 12 miles southeast of Ashdod.
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary 
A city of the Philistines, and one of their five principalities, 1 Samuel 5:8 6:17 . It was a notable city, in the border of the Philistines nearest to Jerusalem; but its site has long been lost. It was the home of Goliath, 1 Samuel 17:4 . Compare Joshua 11:22 2 Samuel 21:19-22 . Here David sought a refuge form Saul, 1 Samuel 21:10 27:2-7 . It came under his power in the beginning of his reign over all Israel, 1 Chronicles 18:1 , and continued subject to his successors till the declension of the kingdom of Judah. Rehoboam rebuilt or fortified it, 2 Chronicles 11:8 . It was afterwards recovered by the Philistines, but Uzziah reconquered it, 2 Chronicles 26:6 . Its inhabitants were called Gittites, Joshua 13:3; and David had tow of them in his service, who faithfully adhered to him during the rebellion of Absalom, 2 Samuel 15:18-22 .
Morrish Bible Dictionary 
One of the five royal cities of the Philistines, and to which Goliath belonged. It is not mentioned as having been given to any of the tribes. It was to this city that the ark was carried when taken in war. 1 Samuel 5:8 . To Achish king of Gath David resorted when his faith failed him as to God's protection. 1 Samuel 27:2-4 : cf. 1 Samuel 21:10,12 . Afterwards when he was king and in power he took Gath and her towns out of the hand of the Philistines. Uzziah also fought against the place and broke down its walls. 1 Chronicles 18:1; 2 Chronicles 26:6 . After Micah 1:10 we hear no more of Gath among the cities of the Philistines: cf. Zephaniah 2:4; Zechariah 9:5,6 . It may have been ruined. Its site is identified with Tell es Safl, 31 43' N, 34 51' E , where there are extensive ruins and cisterns hewn out of the rock. It commanded the entrance to the valley of Elah.
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary 
One of the ‘five cities of the Philistines’, Gath was famous as the home of a number of giants, the most famous of whom was Goliath ( Joshua 13:3; 1 Samuel 6:17-18; 1 Samuel 17:4; 2 Samuel 21:18-22; see also Anak ). It also became well known as the place where David took refuge from Saul ( 1 Samuel 21:10-15; 1 Samuel 27). Certain men of Gath became close friends of David. When David became king of Israel, he entrusted some of these men with important responsibilities ( 2 Samuel 6:10-11; 2 Samuel 15:19-21; 2 Samuel 18:2). Others became full-time soldiers in David’s army ( 2 Samuel 15:18). (For a map of the region and other details see Philistia .)
Easton's Bible Dictionary 
Joshua 13:3 1 Samuel 5:8,9 6:17 1 Samuel 17:4 1 Samuel 21:10 27:2-4 Psalm 56 2 Samuel 1:20 2 Samuel 8:1 1 Samuel 21:10 1 Chronicles 18:1Methegammah
Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary 
the fifth of the Philistine cities. It was a place of strength in the time of the prophets Amos and Micah, and is placed by Jerom on the road between Eleutheropolis and Gaza. It appears to have been the extreme boundary of the Philistine territory in one direction, as Ekron was on the other. Hence the expression, "from Ekron even unto Gath," 1 Samuel 7:14 .
Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary 
A city in the land of the Philistines, from Gath, a press. Hence Gath-opher, to dig at the wine press, from Chaphar, to dig; and Gath, a press. So Gathrimmon, the press of the pomegranate, from Garb, a press; and Rimmon, a pomegranate tree.
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature 
(Heb. itd. גִּת , a wine-vat, as in Isaiah 63:2, etc.; Sept. usually Γέθ ; JoSephuS Γίττα or Γέττα ), one of the five royal cities of the Philistines ( Joshua 13:3). It was one of the cities upon which the ark is said to have brought calamity ( 1 Samuel 5:8-9), and which offered in connection therewith a trespass-offering, each one a golden emerod ( 1 Samuel 6:17). Goliath, of the family of giants which Joshua spared ( Joshua 11:22), of which other members may be found mentioned in Scripture ( 1 Chronicles 21:5-8; 2 Samuel 21:19-22), has rendered Gath a word familiar from our childhood; but it is not certain whether Goliath was a native or merely a resident of Gath ( 1 Samuel 17:4). To Achish, king of Gath, David twice fled for fear of Saul ( 1 Samuel 21:10; 1 Samuel 27:2-7; Psalms 56). At his own entreaty David received from Achish the city of Ziklag. David dwelt in the country of the Philistines "a full year and four months." David's connection with Gath throws light on the feelings which dictated the words ( 2 Samuel 1:20), "Tell it (the death of Saul and Jonathan his son) not in Gath." Micah also ( Micah 1:10) says, "Declare it (the wound come unto Judah, Micah 1:9) not at Gath." It was conquered by David, and fortified both by him and by Rehoboam ( 2 Samuel 8:1; 1 Chronicles 18:1; 2 Chronicles 11:8). From 2 Samuel 15:18, it appears that David had a band (600 men) of Gittites in his service at the time of the rebellion of Absalom. Their devotedness to him under Ittai their leader forms a beautiful episode in the history of David's varied fortune ( 2 Samuel 15:19 sq). Shimei's visit to Gath and its fatal consequences to himself may be read in 1 Kings 2:39-46. In the reign of Solomon mention is made of a king of Gath ( 1 Kings 4:24), who was doubtless a tributary prince, but powerful enough to cause apprehension to Solomon, as appears from the punishment he inflicted on Shimei. Under Jehoash, Hazael, king of Syria, took Gath ( 2 Kings 12:17); from his successor, Benhadad the place was recovered ( 2 Kings 13:24). It must, however, have soon revolted; for Uzziah ( 2 Chronicles 26:6), finding it neceessary to war against the Philistines, "broke down the wall of Gath." Probably the conquest was not of long duration. This constant withstanding of the power of Jerusalem shows that Gath was a place of great resources and high eminence — a conclusion which is confirmed by the language employed by the prophets ( Amos 6:2; Micah 1:10). The ravages of war to which Gath was exposed appear to have destroyed it at a comparatively early period, as it is not mentioned among the other royal cities by the later prophets ( Zephaniah 2:4; Zechariah 9:5-6).
Gath occupied a strong position ( 2 Chronicles 11:8) on the border of Judah and Philistia ( 1 Samuel 21:10; 1 Chronicles 18:1). It was near Shocoh and Adullamb ( 2 Chronicles 11:8), and it appears to have stood on the way leading from the former to Ekron; for when the Philistines fled on the death of Goliath, they went "by the way of Shaaraim, even unto Gath and unto Ekron" ( 1 Samuel 17:1; 1 Samuel 17:52). Yet, with all these indications, there has been great uncertainty as to the site (Iteland, Palest. page 785 sq.). Josephus places it in the tribe of Dan (Ant. 5, 1:22; in Ant. 8:10, 1, he calls it Ipan, Εἰπάν , by an error of the copyist, Reland, page 747). The accounts of Eusebius and Jerome are confused. In the Onomast. (s.v. Γεθθά ) they both say, "Gath, from which the Anakim and Philistines were not exterminated, is a village seen by such as go from Eleutheropolis to Diospolis, at about the fifth milestone." Yet in the same connection Ensenbius mentions another Gath (or Γεθθά ), a large village between Antipatris and Jamnia, which he considered to be that to which the ark was carried ( 1 Samuel 5:8); hence the Crusaders identified Gath with Jamnia (Gesta Dei, page 886). On the other hand, Jerome says (On Micah 1 ), "Gath is one of the five Philistine cities laying near the confines of Judah, on the road from Eleutheropolis to Gaza; now it in a vary large village." On Jeremiah 25, the same authority declares that Gath was not far from Azotus. Yet in his preface to Joasah he says that Geth, in Opher, the nuative place of the prophet, is to be distinguished. Bonfrmae suggests (In the Onomast. s.v.) that there were several places of the same name, and this may account for the discrepancies. Dr. Robinson sought in vain for some traces of its site (Researches, 2:421); yet Schwarz (Palest. page 121) says it still remains in "a village by the name of Gatha, three English miles south of Jaffa, on the shore of the Mediterraenean" — a statement confirmed by no other traveler. See GITTAIUSI. Thomson (Land And Book, 2:360) contends for Beit-Jibrin or Eleutheropolies as the true site; but Mr. Portem, who made a special visit to Philistia, in 1857 for the purpose of discovering the spot, argues for its identification with the conspicuoushill now called Tell Es-S Â Fieh. This hill stands upon the side of the plain, of Philistia, at the foot of the mountains of Judah, ten miles east of Ashdod, and about the same distance south by east of Ekron. It is irregular in form, and about 200 feet high. On the top are the foundations of hn old castles and great numbers of hewn stones are built up in the walls of the terraces that run along the declivities. On the northeast is a projecting shoulder, whose sides appear to have been scarped. Here, too, are traces of ancient buildings; and here stands the modern village, extending along the whole northern face of the hill. In the walls of the houses are many old stones, and at its western extremity two columns still remain on their pedestals. Round the sides of the hill, especially on the south, are large cisterns excavated is the rock ( Hand-book for Syria and Pal. page 252). (See Mizpeh). The inhabitants are called GITTITES ( גַּתַּי , Sept. Γετθαῖος ). (See Gath- Hepher); (See Gath-Ribmmon); (See Moresheth-Gath).
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia 
gath ( גּת , gath ; Septuagint Γέθ , Géth , "winepress"): One of the five chief cities of the Philistines ( Joshua 13:3; 1 Samuel 6:17 ). It was a walled town ( 2 Chronicles 26:6 ) and was not taken by Joshua, and, although many conflicts took place between the Israelites and its people, it does not seem to have been captured until the time of David ( 1 Chronicles 18:1 ). It was rendered famous as the abode of the giant Goliath whom David slew ( 1 Samuel 17:4 ), and other giants of the same race ( 2 Samuel 21:18-22 ). It was to Gath that the Ashdodites conveyed the ark when smitten with the plague, and Gath was also smitten ( 1 Samuel 5:8 , 1 Samuel 5:9 ). It was Gath where David took refuge twice when persecuted by Saul ( 1 Samuel 21:10; 1 Samuel 27:2-4 ). It seems to have been destroyed after being taken by David, for we find Rehoboam restoring it ( 2 Chronicles 11:8 ). It was after this reoccupied by the Philistines, for we read that Uzziah took it and razed its walls ( 2 Chronicles 26:6 ), but it must have been restored again, for we find Hazael of Damascus capturing it ( 2 Kings 12:17 ). It seems to have been destroyed before the time of Amos ( Amos 6:2 ), and is not further mentioned in the Old Testament or Macc, except in Micah 1:10 , where it is referred to in the proverb, "Tell it not in Gath" (compare 2 Samuel 1:20 ). Since its destruction occurred, probably, in the middle of the 8th century bc, it is easy to understand why the site has been lost so that it can be fixed only conjecturally. Several sites have been suggested by different explorers and writers, such as: Tell es Sâfi , Beit Jibrı̂n , Khurbet Jeladı̂yeh , Khurbet Abu Geith , Jennata and Yebna (see PEFS , 1871, 91; 1875, 42, 144, 194; 1880, 170-71, 211-23; 1886, 200-202). Tradition in the early centuries ad fixed it at 5 Roman miles North of Eleutheropolis ( Beit Jibrı̂n , toward Lydda, which would indicate Tell es Sâfi as the site, but the Crusaders thought it was at Jamnia ( Yebna ), where they erected the castle of Ibelin, but the consensus of opinion in modern times fixes upon Tell es Sâfi as the site, as is to be gathered from the references cited in PEFS above. The Biblical notices of Gath would indicate a place in the Philistine plain or the Shephelah, which was fortified, presumably in a strong position on the border of the Philistine country toward the territory of Judah or Dan. Tell es Sâfi fits into these conditions fairly well, but without other proof this is not decisive. It is described in SWP , II, 240, as a position of strength on a narrow ridge, with precipitous cliffs on the North and West, connected with the hills by a narrow neck, so that it is thrust out like a bastion, a position easily fortified. In 1144 Fulke of Anjou erected here a castle called Blanchegarde ( Alba Specula ). The writer on "Gath and Its Worthies" in PEFS , 1886, 200-204, connects the name Sâfi with that of the giant Saph ( 2 Samuel 21:18 ), regarding him as a native of Gath, but the most direct evidence from early tradition connecting Tell es Sâfi with Gath is found in a manuscript said to be in the library of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which informs us that Catherocastrum was situated on a mountain called Telesaphion or Telesaphy, which is clearly Tell es Sâfi . Catherocastrum must be the Latin for "camp of Gath" ( PEFS , 1906, 305).
Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature 
Gath, one of the five princely cities of the Philistines, of which mention is made in . It was one of the cities upon which the ark is said to have brought calamity , and which offered in connection therewith a trespass-offering, each one a golden emerod . Goliath, of the family of giants which Joshua spared , of which other members may be found mentioned in Scripture , has rendered Gath a word familiar from our childhood; but it is not certain whether Goliath was a native or merely a resident of Gath . To Achish, king of Gath, David fled for fear of Saul (;; Psalms 56). At his own entreaty David received from Achish the city of Ziklag. David dwelt in the country of the Philistines 'a full year and four months.' It was conquered by David, and fortified both by him and by Rehoboam (;; ). From , it appears that David had a band (600 men) of Gittites in his service at the time of the rebellion of Absalom. Their devotedness to him under Ittai their leader forms a beautiful episode in the history of David's varied fortune (, sq.). Shimei's visit to Gath and its fatal consequences to himself may be read in . In the reign of Solomon mention is made of a king of Gath , who was doubtless a tributary prince, but powerful enough to cause apprehension to Solomon, as appears from the punishment he inflicted on Shimei. Under Jehoash, Hazael, king of Syria, took Gath from his successor, Benhadad, the place was recovered . It must, however, have soon revolted; for Uzziah , finding it necessary to war against the Philistines, 'broke down the wall of Gath.' Probably the conquest was not of long duration. This constant withstanding of the power of Jerusalem shows that Gath was a place of great resources and high eminence—a conclusion which is confirmed by the language employed by the prophets . 'Gath,' says Jerome, (on Micah 1), 'is one of the five; Philistine cities lying near the confines of Judah, on the road from Eleutheropolis to Gaza; now it is a very large village.' On Jeremiah 25 the same authority declares that Gath was not far from Azotus. Modern travelers give no description of the place.
There was a Gath-hepher belonging to the children of Zebulun (, sq.), the birth-place of the prophet Jonah , lying not far from Sepphoris on the road to Tiberias. Another Gath (Gath rimmon, ) lay in the territory of Dan. It was a Levite city . In the time of Eusebius it was a very large village, 'twelve miles from Diospolis, as you go hence to Eleutheropolis.'
The Nuttall Encyclopedia 
Goliath's town, a city of the Philistines, on a cliff 12 m. NE. of Ashdod.
- ↑ Gath from Holman Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Gath from Fausset's Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Gath from Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible
- ↑ Gath from People's Dictionary of the Bible
- ↑ Gath from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Gath from Morrish Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Gath from Bridgeway Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Gath from Easton's Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Gath from Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary
- ↑ Gath from Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary
- ↑ Gath from Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
- ↑ Gath from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
- ↑ Gath from Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature
- ↑ Gath from The Nuttall Encyclopedia