Gezer - Encyclopedia




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GEZER (the Kazir of Tethmosis [Thothmesj III.'s list of Palestinian cities and the Gazri of the Amarna tablets), a royal Canaanite city on the boundary of Ephraim, in the maritime plain (Josh. xvi. 3-10), and near the Philistine border (2 Sam. v. 25). It was allotted to the Levites, but its original inhabitants were not driven out until the time of Solomon, when "Pharaoh, king of Egypt" took the city and gave it as a dowry to his daughter, Solomon's wife (1 Kings ix. 16). Under the form Gazera it is mentioned (1 Macc. iv. 15) as being in the neighbourhood of Emmaus-Nicopolis (`Amwas) and Jamnia (Yebnah). Throughout the history of the Maccabean wars Gezer or Gazara plays the part of an important frontier post. It was first taken from the Syrians by Simon the Asmonean (1 Macc. xiv. 7). Josephus also mentions that the city was "naturally strong" (Antiq. viii. 6.1). The position of Gezer is defined by Jerome (Onomasticon, s.v.) as four Roman miles north (contra septentrionem) of Nicopolis ('Amwas). This points to the mound of debris called Tell-el-Jezari near the village of Abu Shusheh. The site is naturally very strong, the town standing on an isolated hill, commanding the western road to Jerusalem just where it begins to enter the mountains of Judea. This identification has been confirmed by the discovery of a series of boundary inscriptions, apparently marking the limit of the city's lands, which have been found cut in rock - outcrops partly surrounding the site. They read in every case nu 1 0nn, "the boundary of Gezer," with the name Alkios in Greek, probably that of the governor under whom the inscriptions were cut. The site has been partially excavated by the Palestine Exploration Fund, and an enormous mass of material for the history of Palestine recovered from it, including remains of a pre-Semitic aboriginal race, a remarkably perfect High Place, the castle built by Simon, and other remains of the first importance.

See R. A. S. Macalister's reports in Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement (October 1902 onwards). Also Bible Sidelights from the Mound of Gezer, by the same writer. (R. A. S. M.)

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