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a city on the Mediterranean shore, remarkable for its early importance as the chief center of a great commercial traffic with Egypt
It is one of the oldest cities of the world (Genesis 10:19; Joshua 15:47). Its earliest inhabitants were the Avims, who were conquered and displaced by the Caphtorims (Deuteronomy 2:23; Joshua 13:2, 3), a Philistine tribe. In the division of the land it fell to the lot of Judah (Joshua 15:47; Judges 1:18). It was the southernmost of the five great Philistine cities which gave each a golden emerod as a trespass-offering unto the Lord (1 Samuel 6:17). Its gates were carried away by Samson (Judges 16:1-3). Here he was afterwards a prisoner, and “did grind in the prison house.” Here he also pulled down the temple of Dagon, and slew “all the lords of the Philistines,” himself also perishing in the ruin (Judges 16:21-30). The prophets denounce the judgments of God against it (Jeremiah 25:20; 47:5; Amos 1:6, 7; Zeph. 2:4). It is referred to in Acts 8:26. Philip is here told to take the road from Jerusalem to Gaza (about 6 miles southwest of Jerusalem), “which is desert”, i.e., the “desert road,” probably by Hebron, through the desert hills of Southern Judea. (See SAMSON.)
It is noticed on monuments as early as B.C. 1600. Its small port is now called el-Mineh.