GATH, one of the five chief cities of the Philistines. It is frequently mentioned in the historical books of the Old Testament, and from Amos vi. 2 we conclude that, like Ashdod, it fell to Sargon in 711. Its site appears to have been known in the 4th century, but the name is now lost. Eusebius (in the Onomasticon) places it near the road from Eleutheropolis (Beit Jibrin) to Diospolis (Ludd) about five Roman miles from the former. The Roman road between these two towns is still traceable, and its milestones remain in places. East of the road at the required distance rises a white cliff, almost isolated, 300 ft. high and full of caves. On the top is the little mud village of Tell es - Safi ("the shining mound"), and beside the village is the mound which marks the site of the Crusaders' castle of Blanchegarde (Alba Custodia), built in 1144. Tell es - Safi was known by its present name as far back as the 12th century; but it appears not improbable that the strong site here existing represents the ancient Gath. The cliff stands on the south side of the mouth of the Valley of Elah, and Gath appears to have been near this valley (1 Sam. xvii. 2, 52). This identification is not certain, but it is at least much more probable than the theory which makes Gath, Eleutheropolis, and Beit Jibrin one and the same place. The site was partially excavated by the Palestine Exploration Fund in 1899, and remains extending in date back to the early Canaanite period were discovered.
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