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Monday, November 19 2012

Gaza In History And Prophecy

Gaza (also rendered into English as "Azzah" e.g. Deuteronomy 2:23, 1 Kings 4:24 and Jeremiah 25:20 in the KJV), meaning strong, is an ancient Philistine ("Palestine" is an alternate English pronunciation of Philistine) city on the southeastern Mediterranean coast. Much of its history was due to its location on a major trade and military route between Egypt and the Middle East. That "way of the land of the Philistines" is prominently mentioned in the Scriptures at the time of the Exodus:


"13:17 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go [see Israel In History and Prophecy: The Exodus], that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:

13:18 But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea [see also Paul's Geography Lesson]: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt." (Exodus 13:17-18 KJV)

The Philistines were cousins to the Canaanites. Noah's son Ham was the father of Cush, Mizraim, Phut, and Canaan (Genesis 10:6; see also The Family Of Ham). The Philistines ("Philistim" in the verse below) were descendants of Mizraim, while the Canaanites were the descendants of Canaan. While the Canaanites held Gaza within their inhabited territory, subsequent history records that the Philistines, who were a more militarized and aggressive people, inhabited Gaza and the surrounding area and cities.

"10:13 And Mizraim begat Ludim, and Anamim, and Lehabim, and Naphtuhim, 10:14 And Pathrusim, and Casluhim, (out of whom came Philistim,) and Caphtorim.

10:15 And Canaan [see also The Sin Of Canaan] begat Sidon his firstborn, and Heth, 10:16 And the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite, 10:17 And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite, 10:18 And the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad.

10:19 And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha." (Genesis 10:15-19 KJV)

When the Israelites entered the promised land in the time of Joshua, the Israelites advanced far into the Gaza area and beyond, "even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon."

Joshua and The Five Kings

"10:40 So Joshua [see Israel In History and Prophecy: Joshua] smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded. 10:41 And Joshua smote them from Kadeshbarnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon.

10:42 And all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time, because the LORD God [see Who Is The LORD?] of Israel fought for Israel." (Joshua 10:40-42 KJV)

When the promised land was divided among the tribes of Israel, "Gaza with her towns and her villages, unto the river of Egypt, and the great sea" were given to Judah (see Abraham's Seed: From The Nile To The Euphrates).

"15:20 This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Judah according to their families ... 15:47 Ashdod with her towns and her villages, Gaza with her towns and her villages, unto the river of Egypt, and the great sea, and the border thereof" (Joshua 15:20,47 KJV)

Later, in the time of the Judges (the era of Israelite history that followed the era of Joshua), Judah was given to begin driving back the invaders that had been allowed to encroach upon Israel's dominion. "Judah took Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof."

"1:1 Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the LORD, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?

1:2 And the LORD said, Judah [see Who Were The First Jews?] shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand. ... 1:18 Also Judah took Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof." (Judges 1:1-2,18 KJV)

The two or three centuries of the Judges (see Israel In History and Prophecy: The Judges) were a time of repeated unfaithfulness by the Israelites, for which the LORD allowed Israel's enemies to grow strong over them for a while, after which the LORD gave the Israelites a deliverer, or judge, to take back their lost territory. Gideon and Samson are two of the most famous of the Judges.

"6:1 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years. 6:2 And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel: and because of the Midianites the children of Israel made them the dens which are in the mountains, and caves, and strong holds.

6:3 And so it was, when Israel had sown, that the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east, even they came up against them; 6:4 And they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, till thou come unto Gaza, and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass." (Judges 6:1-4 KJV)

Samson's battles were mostly with the Philistines of Gaza (see Delilah: Why The Fatal Attraction?). It was at Gaza that Samson was eventually captured and blinded by the Philistines - and where he died.


"16:21 But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house. 16:22 Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven.

16:23 Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand.

16:24 And when the people saw him, they praised their god: for they said, Our god hath delivered into our hands our enemy, and the destroyer of our country, which slew many of us.

16:25 And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport.

And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars.

16:26 And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them.

16:27 Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport.

16:28 And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.

16:29 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. 16:30 And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines.

And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life." (Judges 16:21-30 KJV)

At the time when Eli permitted the capture of the Ark, when Samuel was just being established as a prophet of the LORD (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Samuel), the Ark was taken to Gaza and the nearby Philistine towns - each one eager to pass the Ark on because of the wrath that the LORD inflicted upon them for as long as they held it.

A Philistine Soldier

"5:8 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.

5:9 And it was so, that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts." (1 Samuel 5:8-9 KJV)

"6:17 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; 6:18 And the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both of fenced cities, and of country villages, even unto the great stone of Abel, whereon they set down the ark of the LORD: which stone remaineth unto this day in the field of Joshua, the Bethshemite." (1 Samuel 6:17-18 KJV)

Despite David's also fighting the Philistines (e.g. David's famous battle with the Philistine giant Goliath), during the civil war between David and Saul (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Saul and David and Israel In History and Prophecy: The Civil War), David sought refuge in the Philistine area of Gaza for some time.

"27:1 And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of Israel: so shall I escape out of his hand." (1 Samuel 27:1 KJV)

After Israel divided into Israel and Judah, the battles with the Philistines of Gaza became a federal fight for Judah against the Philistines (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Kingdom Of Judah), rather than a tribal fight against the Philistines when Judah was merely one of the tribes of the united kingdom of Israel (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Israel and Judah).

"18:5 He [i.e. Hezekiah Of Judah] trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. 18:6 For he clave to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses.

18:7 And the LORD was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not.

18:8 He smote the Philistines, even unto Gaza, and the borders thereof, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city." (2 Kings 18:5-8 KJV)

Gaza was still on the ancient route between Africa and the Middle East at the beginning of the "New Testament" as it had been at the time of the Exodus (the Exodus was a journey of the Israelites from Africa to Asia). The famous incident of Philip and the Ethiopian happened at Gaza.

Philip and the Ethiopian

"8:26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip [see also The Crossing Of Philip And Saul], saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. 8:27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, 8:28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. 8:29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

8:30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

8:31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me?

And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

8:32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: 8:33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.

8:34 And the eunuch [see also The Royal Eunuchs] answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

8:36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

8:37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.

And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

8:38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. 8:39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

8:40 But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea." (Acts 8:26-40 KJV)

Gaza is mentioned by the prophets of ancient time, and the yet future. Jeremiah described how the wrath of the LORD came upon the Philistines at the same time as His wrath came upon unfaithful Judah, just before Judah was taken away to their seventy years exile in Babylon (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Back To Babylon).

The Pharaoh's Chariot

"47:1 The word of the LORD [see also What Does Word of God Mean To You?] that came to Jeremiah the prophet [see The Prophets: Jeremiah] against the Philistines, before that Pharaoh smote Gaza.

47:2 Thus saith the LORD; Behold, waters rise up out of the north, and shall be an overflowing flood, and shall overflow the land, and all that is therein; the city, and them that dwell therein: then the men shall cry, and all the inhabitants of the land shall howl.

47:3 At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his strong horses, at the rushing of his chariots, and at the rumbling of his wheels, the fathers shall not look back to their children for feebleness of hands; 47:4 Because of the day that cometh to spoil all the Philistines, and to cut off from Tyrus and Zidon every helper that remaineth: for the LORD will spoil the Philistines, the remnant of the country of Caphtor.

47:5 Baldness is come upon Gaza; Ashkelon is cut off with the remnant of their valley: how long wilt thou cut thyself?

47:6 O thou sword of the LORD, how long will it be ere thou be quiet? put up thyself into thy scabbard, rest, and be still. 47:7 How can it be quiet, seeing the LORD hath given it a charge against Ashkelon, and against the sea shore? there hath he appointed it." (Jeremiah 47:1-7 KJV)

Gaza is also mentioned in yet-future prophecies of the wrath of the LORD that is going to come upon the entire world. With Gaza so close to the "ground zero" point of Christ's return at Jerusalem, it's inevitable that "the remnant of the Philistines shall perish, saith the Lord GOD" (keeping in mind the resurrection that all unconverted people will have in their due time; see The Eighth Day: Empty Cemeteries and, for the unconverted people of Judah, Israel In History and Prophecy: The New Covenant).

"1:6 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they carried away captive the whole captivity, to deliver them up to Edom: 1:7 But I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, which shall devour the palaces thereof: 1:8 And I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and him that holdeth the sceptre from Ashkelon, and I will turn mine hand against Ekron: and the remnant of the Philistines shall perish, saith the Lord GOD." (Amos 1:6-8 KJV)

The wrath of the LORD is coming upon all of humanity, so that they will cast away their heathen man-made religions, and their lust for war, and turn to the LORD (see What Is The Day Of The LORD? and What Happens After The Messiah Returns?).


"1:14 The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.

1:15 That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, 1:16 A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers.

1:17 And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung.

1:18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land." (Zephaniah 1:14-18 KJV)

In that day, "Gaza shall be forsaken" because its people will have found the LORD.

"2:4 For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation: they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day, and Ekron shall be rooted up. 2:5 Woe unto the inhabitants of the sea coast, the nation of the Cherethites! the word of the LORD is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant.

2:6 And the sea coast shall be dwellings and cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks.

2:7 And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed thereupon: in the houses of Ashkelon shall they lie down in the evening: for the LORD their God shall visit them, and turn away their captivity." (Zephaniah 2:4-7 KJV)

Fact Finder: How are the people of Judah and Canaan related today?
See What Does The Bible Really Say About Canaanites?

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This Day In History, November 19

461: Libius Severus was declared Emperor of the Western Roman Empire (see also A History Of Jerusalem: Pompey And The Caesars and Pax Romana: The Birth Of The Roman Empire).

1095: The Council of Clermont began. It was called by Pope Urban II for sending the First Crusade (see also Constantine's Crusades In History And Prophecy).

1493: Christopher Columbus discovered (it wasn't a "discovery" for the people who were already there) the island that is today known as Puerto Rico (Columbus called it San Juan Bautista) during his second voyage to the New World (for a map of the four voyages of Columbus, see Thanksgiving In History and Prophecy).

1521: Milan was invaded by papal armies under Colona, beginning the war between the Hapsburg and Valois dynasties.

1600: Charles I, king of Scotland and England, was born. His authoritarian rule led to civil war and his eventual execution.

1620: The English "Pilgrims" on the Mayflower sighted land on the east coast of North America.

1703: The "man in the iron mask," a prisoner in the Bastille prison in Paris, died. His true identity is unknown; he was the subject of literary works by Francois Voltaire and Alexandre Dumas.

1809: During the Peninsular War, 30,000 French defeated 50,000 Spanish at the Battle of Ocana.

1858: British Columbia became a military colony of Britain. It had been administered by the Hudson's Bay Company (the company that Britain made contract with to develop commerce routes and trading posts through much of Canada), but thousands of U.S. gold miners and outlaws ignored the border and refused to heed the company's established legal authority (mostly by shooting at company officers). To prevent the lawless horde from violently taking over the territory and its people, it was temporarily made a military colony of Britain, whereby law and order was restored.

1866: As requested by the people who lived there, Vancouver Island (named after British Captain George Vancouver, an officer in the British navy who explored much of the west coast of North America), which had been a separate British colony, was included in the territory of British Columbia.

1897: The start of the Great City Fire of London.

1911: The first Marconi wireless transmission from Italy was received in New York.

1941: During the Second World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars), the Australian warship Sydney engaged the German raider Kormoran in a fierce naval battle in the Indian Ocean, 300 miles west of Australia. After the battle the Sydney sailed off and was never seen again, with 645 presumed dead.

1942: During the Second World War (see Presidential Quotes On War, Terrorism, Religion), Russian forces began a counter-offensive against the invading German army at Stalingrad.

1947: King George VI declared Philip Mountbatten to be the Duke of Edinburgh, in preparation for Mountbatten's wedding to George's elder daughter, Princess Elizabeth (today Queen Elizabeth II), the next day.

1954: The U.S. and Canada began the construction of a radar warning system across northern Canada to give warning of approaching Russian nuclear bombers (Canada has the U.S. on its southern border and Russia on its northern border).

1977: Egyptian President Anwar Sadat departed for his peace visit to Israel. As his Presidential aircraft entered Israeli airspace, Israeli fighter jets escorted it to Ben-Gurion Airport. 10,000 police were on alert upon his landing.

1998: During the Monica Lewinsky fornication in the Oval Office investigation, the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee began impeachment hearings against U.S. President Bill Clinton.


Copyright © Wayne Blank