Gath (Heb. itd. גִּת, a wine-vat, as in Isa 63:2, etc.; Sept. usually Γέθ; JoSephuS Γίττα or Γέττα), one of the five royal cities of the Philistines (Jos 13:3). It was one of the cities upon which the ark is said to have brought calamity (1Sa 5:8-9), and which offered in connection therewith a trespass-offering, each one a golden emerod (1Sa 6:17). Goliath, of the family of giants which Joshua spared (Jos 11:22), of which other members may be found mentioned in Scripture (1Ch 21:5-8; 2Sa 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 (1Sa 17:4). To Achish, king of Gath, David twice fled for fear of Saul (1Sa 21:10; 1Sa 27:2-7; Ps 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 (2Sa 1:20), "Tell it (the death of Saul and Jonathan his son) not in Gath." Micah also (Mic 1:10) says, "Declare it (the wound come unto Judah, verse 9) not at Gath." It was conquered by David, and fortified both by him and by Rehoboam (2Sa 8:1; 1Ch 18:1; 2Ch 11:8). From 2Sa 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 (2Sa 15:19 sq). Shimei's visit to Gath and its fatal consequences to himself may be read in 1Ki 2:39-46. In the reign of Solomon mention is made of a king of Gath (1Ki 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 (2Ki 12:17); from his successor, Benhadad the place was recovered (2Ki 13:24). It must, however, have soon revolted; for Uzziah (2Ch 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 (Am 6:2; Mic 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 (Zep 2:4; Zec 9:5-6).
Gath occupied a strong position (2Ch 11:8) on the border of Judah and Philistia (1Sa 21:10; 1Ch 18:1). It was near Shocoh and Adullamb (2Ch 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" (1Sa 17:1,52). 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 (1Sa 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-Sâfieh. 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.